December 28, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

In the U.S. Senate, Boxer is out and Harris is in – – so what does that mean for the Valley? — Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, an Exeter-based growers lobby, said Harris is “an unknown quantity to us. We were concerned that her initial focus seemed San Francisco-oriented, and those with a historical San Francisco-oriented base don’t necessarily pay much attention to the San Joaquin Valley, let alone agriculture.” This is the challenge for Valley interests who look to Congress for help or guidance on key issues such as trade, immigration and, especially, water. Others worry about her in strictly political terms. For instance, will she be a player in Valley state or congressional races that feature a viable Democratic Party candidate? Fresno Bee article

Study predicts ACA repeal would result in 3,000 job losses in Stanislaus County — A research center predicts that repeal of the Affordable Care Act would eliminate more than 200,000 jobs in California and impact the state and local economic picture. In a study released last week, the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center said that counties such as Stanislaus with large populations in the Medi-Cal program would be hardest hit. Stanislaus would lose a projected 3,000 jobs, while 4,000 job losses are predicted for San Joaquin County. Modesto Bee article

Gov. Brown

On Willie Brown, Jerry Brown, Dianne Feinstein, egg nog and ‘idle speculation’ — Jerry can be many things in “Willie’s World.” The San Francisco Chronicle column by the city’s esteemed former mayor and ex-state Assembly speaker Willie Brown has over the years floated Gov. Jerry Brown for everything from Hillary Clinton’s running-mate to the ideal contender for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics 

Zapien still wants to make a difference — Come Jan. 11, San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors chairman Moses Zapien will no longer be in the political spotlight as he passes his seat representing the county’s third district to Tom Patti. Zapien experienced a sort of meteoric rise to the county’s top seat in just four years, and earlier this month he said he didn’t know where the immediate future might take him. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Legal pot may induce more teens to smoke it, UC Davis study suggests — Does legalizing recreational marijuana cause more teens to smoke it? That’s highly possible, according to a new UC Davis study, which found teens in Washington state were “significantly” less aware of its potential harm and more likely to have smoked pot after it became legal. Sacramento Bee article


Houses of worship poised to serve as Trump-era immigrant sanctuaries — Protecting immigrants is shaping up to be a priority of the religious left, an amorphous collection of people and groups reflecting many faiths and ethnicities. It has been jolted into action by Mr. Trump’s victory and his selection of an attorney general nominee who supports a crackdown on immigrants. New York Times article

Other areas

New year, new committee chairs for California Assembly – Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced committee chairs Tuesday, maintaining leaders of some panels from last session, filling vacancies in others, and shuffling some spots. Sacramento Bee article

California gun sales more than double ahead of new gun control limits — With six new gun control bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in July, sales of semi-automatic rifles have more than doubled in California over last year. AP article

Paula Lee: Why ‘strong mayor’ is a bad idea, no matter who is mayor – The co-president of the League of Women Voters of Sacramento County writes, “The League of Women Voters spent a year working to defeat the strong-mayor proposal, backed by $1.2 million from special interest donors. We were strongly opposed to this city charter change for many good-governance reasons. However, the key reason we support the current council-manager system is because it keeps the council accountable to voters. If Sacramento is a city of neighborhoods, the council is how neighborhoods have a voice at City Hall. New Mayor Darrell Steinberg can be a great leader and accomplish great things for Sacramento as a “strong mayor” without changing our form of government.” Lee op-ed in Sacramento Bee

News Stories –Top Stories

Michael Fitzgerald: Will pensions bankrupt Stockton again? — I apologize if this sounds apocalyptic, but the city of Stockton may go bankrupt again. How likely is a “Chapter 18?” What’s on the horizon is cause for very serious concern. And the culprit, to the surprise of no one, is pensions. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Electronic readings of Sierra snowpack: 10.5 inches, 72 percent of Dec. 27 average — The California Department of Water Resources announced that electronic readings of the Sierra Nevada snowpack Tuesday pegged its statewide water content at 10.5 inches, 72 percent of the Dec. 27 average. Manual readings, which supplement the department’s electronic data, will be taken on dozens of snow courses during a 10-day period around Jan. 1. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Forecast for 2017 downtown Merced business health looking good — The busiest time of year for Merced retailers didn’t end on Dec. 25, as many local retailers launched after-Christmas sales to cap off a busy year of development for downtown Merced. Merced Sun-Star article

Foster Farms Bowl kicks off Wednesday night; fight against hunger is the winner – The Foster Farms Bowl has a winner already – the United Samaritans Foundation in Turlock, one of the anti-hunger groups benefiting from Wednesday night’s game. Modesto Bee article

De Luxe Cleaners, opened in Great Depression, closing after 81 years — In the throes of the Great Depression, Joseph and Audrey Bertolani defied the logic of the time. They borrowed some money from a local business owner in 1935 to open De Luxe Cleaners on McHenry Avenue. Modesto Bee article

Southern California home prices keep rising, and sales jump — Southern California home prices and sales rose in November compared with a year earlier, according to a report released Tuesday. The six-county region’s median price reached $465,000 last month, up 5.9% from November 2015, real estate data firm CoreLogic said. Sales soared 24.1%. LA Times article


East Porterville residents urged to connect to city water system before March deadline — Tulare County officials are urging East Porterville residents to opt into the city’s water system for free before the extended deadline of March 1. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Aubrey Bettencourt: What state water board is doing wrong – The executive director of the California Water Alliance writes, “After years of working on water, environment and agriculture issues in California, it remains a mystery to me why the appointed State Water Resources Control Board and several other environmental boards and commissions so often don’t understand the pushback from ordinary Californians on their regulatory agenda. The latest example is occurring during the public comment period on the plan to vastly increase unimpaired water flows from eastern and southern tributaries into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.” Bettencourt op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Calaveras County marijuana farmers face uncertain future — The future of Wittke’s newly regulated industry is in doubt, however, after voters sent packing two county supervisors who last year supported temporary rules that allow existing commercial medical marijuana farms to continue operating. Two other supervisors who also supported the rules did not run for re-election, meaning an almost entirely new board will evaluate the cannabis controversy with fresh eyes come January. Stockton Record article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Bakersfield police release name of officer who shot man armed with rifle last week — Police have released the name of a Bakersfield police officer who shot a man armed with a rifle during a traffic stop last week.  Christian Hernandez has been with the BPD since July 2013, police said, and last week’s incident marks his first officer-involved shooting. Bakersfield Californian article

Brik McDill: Expectation bias plays a role in our survival — Let’s all take a slow, deep breath regarding the tragic fatal shooting of Francisco Serna. I can honestly say thank god it wasn’t I who had to make that nanosecond decision about whether or not to fire that fatal round on that fatal night. McDill column in Bakersfield Californian

No. 4 story: Gun violence claims two innocent victims – Two chilling stories of innocent victims of gun violence shocked a community and continue to tear at the heart. The slayings of 3-year-old Melanie Martinez and 57-year-old Sor Rith were caused by gun violence, likely from gangs, according to Stockton Police. Both were in seemingly safe places. Those events were voted by Record staff as the No. 4 story of 2016. Stockton Record article

2016: Families find justice — Two high-profile murder trials came to a resolution in 2016, while another is just beginning. Visalia Times-Delta article


Nan Austin: California may prove golden for school kids under Trump – Forget Trump Tower – he can run the country from 30,000 feet. Seeing the plane drove home, in a way words on a page could not, the immense power being handed over on Jan. 20. What this means around our jittery globe, only time will tell, but in California we have some stability built in by state law and sheer size. Here are some thoughts from the peanut gallery about what the next year will bring in education here. Austin in Modesto Bee

Vincent E. Petrucci, founder of Fresno State enology program, dies — Vincent E. Petrucci, founder of the viticulture and enology programs at Fresno State, died Tuesday, the school announced. “If it wasn’t for Vincent, Fresno wouldn’t be the place for all the wineries to recruit from, “ Bo Barrett of Napa Valley winery Chateau Montelana said in a 2015 interview. “He has done so much for the business.” Fresno Bee article

Facebook charter school collaboration draws fans and skeptics –Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is three years into his second big investment in education reform, after his first investment of $100 million in Newark public schools was widely criticized as being a waste of money. He’s given $120 million to invest in Bay Area schools, but this time he’s choosing to work with programs already claiming success. One is a Bay Area-based network of charter schools called Summit that says it’s redefining how teachers teach. KQED report


California to drivers: Starting Sunday, don’t hold that cellphone – In Sacramento, where distracted driving has reached dangerous levels, drivers expressed mixed feelings this week about a new state law cracking down on cellphone use by motorists. Starting Sunday, drivers no longer will be allowed to hold their cellphones in their hands for any reason, including using any of a phone’s apps, such as music playlists. Sacramento Bee article

‘I just hope it’s not too awkward’: The names of Metro stations and bus lines are now for sale — Under a policy approved this month by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the name of practically every part of Los Angeles County’s sprawling transit system will be up for sale, from train stations and bus lines to maintenance facilities, ticketing machines and parking garages. LA Times article

Winton man is second to be killed by train in less than a week — A 33-year-old Winton man died Monday night after being struck by a freight train outside Merced, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office reported. Merced Sun-Star article

Other areas

Devastating wildfire, meth-dealing cops and former principal charged with murder among year’s top breaking news stories – This past summer’s deadly Erskine Fire achieved a grim benchmark: It quickly developed into the most devastating conflagration in Kern County history. As such, it leads this year’s tally of noteworthy crime and disaster stories, taking its place alongside crooked cops, alleged child killers and a wave of shootings that swept through the Bakersfield area. Bakersfield Californian article

Fatal NASL crash topped 2016 Lemoore news – The biggest news story out of Lemoore this year didn’t involve the city. It was a crash at Naval Air Station Lemoore that raised a lot of questions about security at the Navy jet base, led to a full-blown investigation and prompted changes to try to make sure mistakes aren’t repeated in the future. Hanford Sentinel article

Lois Henry: Putting another busy year to bed — Amazing as it is, we’ve all made it through another year. Time to take stock of 2016. Or, as I like to put it, “Where the heck did those 12 months go?” Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Cities ranked from most caring to least caring – Madison, Wis., is the most caring city in the nation, according to a report by the WalletHub personal finance website, while San Bernardino, Calif., is the least caring. McClatchy Newspapers article

Not quite a full tribute: San Diego officials streamline ‘honorary’ naming of streets —  San Diego is making it easier to name portions of city streets after prominent people and organizations by creating a streamlined “honorary” policy. Instead of changing the name of a street, San Diego will post a second sign at affected intersections identifying it also as an honorary street. LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Sacramento Bee –- A remembrance at Pearl Harbor shows what foreign policy is – nuanced, delicate and often orchestrated, with repercussions that can last for decades. It is not conducted by tweets fired off in anger or pique – and the sooner President-elect Donald Trump figures that out, the safer America and the world will be.