December 29, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

How to influence the California Legislature? New spending details revealed — The quarter that covered July 1 through the end of September was so important that companies, unions, trade associations and other groups paid $84.4 million to lobby officials on bills and regulations during the three-month period, according to state lobbyist disclosure filings. Sacramento Bee article

DMV licensed 800,000 undocumented immigrants under 2-year-old law — Two years after the implementation of AB 60 on Jan. 1, 2015, an estimated 806,000 undocumented residents have received driver’s licenses, according to Department of Motor Vehicles statistics this month. About 14,000 of these licenses were issued in November alone, the DMV said. San Jose Mercury News article

Gov. Brown

Brown names two to California’s troubled utilities agency — Gov. Jerry Brown appointed two former top aides Wednesday to a state panel that has been roiled by allegations of lax oversight and cozy dealings with utilities.  Brown named his former adviser, Clifford Rechtschaffen, and former deputy legislative affairs secretary, Martha Guzman Aceves, to the California Public Utilities Commission. AP articleSacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Silva reflects on four years as Stockton mayor – Somehow it was fitting this week when outgoing Mayor Anthony Silva posted a Facebook video of himself removing his nameplate at City Hall and replacing it with one bearing the name of his successor, Michael Tubbs. After all, the 42-year-old Silva relied heavily on Facebook as one of his key communication tools throughout his endlessly eventful and controversial four years as Stockton’s top elected official. Stockton Record article

Fresno Bee: Expect smooth hand-off when Brand takes over as Fresno mayor — Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin cleaned out the office she has called home for eight years last week, posted a picture on Twitter and tweeted “Out w/the old, in w/the new! Making room for 2017 and @LeeBrand3.” We expect a smooth transition next week when Lee Brand becomes Fresno’s fourth strong mayor. Fresno Bee editorial

Valadao spends holiday visiting troops in Middle East — Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, has been traveling through the Middle East during the holiday season, meeting service members and military personnel as part of the bipartisan Congressional Delegation to the Middle East, according to spokeswoman Anna R. Vetter.  Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Patt Morrison: Barbara Boxer is leaving the U.S. Senate but not the struggle —  By this time next week, another woman will occupy the desk in the U.S. Senate where Barbara Boxer sat for more than 20 years. It’s the same seat once occupied by liberal lions Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern. But it was marching, not sitting, that created Boxer’s big national moment: In 1991, she and several other Congresswomen walked from the House over to the Senate to demand that senators seriously consider Anita Hill’s sexual harassment charges against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.  Morrison in LA Times

Other areas

Retirement watch: 4 California members of Congress who might bow out by 2018, and one who almost definitely will —  So far, none of California’s 55 senators and representatives have announced plans to retire ahead of the 2018 election. But after weeks at home with family during the holidays to talk about the future, such declarations could come soon. LA Times article

How will California’s newest laws affect you? – Starting Jan. 1, Californians’ lives will be governed by hundreds of new laws including added controls on guns, harsher sanctions against criminals, extra restrictions on ride-hailing firms such as Uber and Lyft, and a boost in the minimum wage. We read every new law so you don’t have to. LA Times article

Joe Mathews: Why California must accept more corruption — Raise a glass and bend your mind around this California New Year’s resolution: In 2017, let’s become more tolerant of political corruption. While the idea may sound strange, so are the ways we make decisions in California. Mathews in Sacramento Bee

Presidential Politics

California’s former lieutenant governor could become Trump’s Agriculture secretary — President-elect Donald Trump is considering former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado to lead the Agriculture department, a move that would bring greater diversity to the Republican’s Cabinet. LA Times articleMcClatchy Newspapers articleKQED report

Who paid for all those job applicants to visit Trump Tower? – Since the election, more than 100 potential appointees to Donald Trump’s administration have traveled from all over the country to Manhattan to meet with the president-elect. The ways these transition meetings are financed have been as varied as the candidates themselves. McClatchy Newspapers article

Report: 8 years of Obama vacations cost $85 million — As America’s first family enjoys its eighth and final vacation in Hawaii, new estimates put the price tag of the Obamas’ annual trip at $3.5 million or more. McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump weighs letting veterans opt out of V.A. care — President-elect Donald J. Trump is considering a plan to allow military veterans to opt out of medical care at Veterans Affairs hospitals and instead see private doctors of their choosing, a senior transition official told reporters here on Wednesday. New York Times article

 News Stories – Top Stories

Kevin Valine: Modesto awaiting details on higher pension costs – A top city official says Modesto is waiting for more details to emerge to gauge the impact of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s decision to lower what it expects to earn on its investments, which will require public-sector agencies to pay more toward their employees’ pensions. Modesto Bee article

Attorneys take aim at a frustrated fan of iconic Yosemite hotel – Will Etling of Solvang believes he’s speaking for countless Yosemite National Park visitors who fondly recall the grandeur of The Ahwahnee, the hotel that was renamed the Majestic Yosemite Hotel in March because of a trademark dispute between the National Park Service and former park concessionaire Delaware North Companies. But the hotel’s new concession operator, Aramark, was not amused by Etling’s means of expressing dismay over the loss of the historic name. Fresno Bee article 

Jobs and the Economy

Businesses thrive in 2016 – Another full year has come and gone and Tulare County is making improvements across the board in employment, beautification and industrialization. Visalia Times Delta article

Business owners raise questions over Prop 64 – On Nov. 8, Proposition 64 passed with a with nearly 60 percent of Californians voting in favor legalizing recreational marijuana. However, 55 percent of Tulare County residents were not in favor and their reservations over legal pot have sparked concern. Since the election, both the Visalia Chamber of Commerce and the Visalia Economic Development Corporation have been inundated with questions regarding the proposition. Visalia Times-Delta article

Some question meters to combat panhandling in U.S. cities, like those in Pasadena – In cities across the country, parking-style meters collect loose change from donors in an attempt to cut down on panhandling — a strategy critics argue is wrongheaded and in vain. AP article

As mortgage rates increase, how much more will buyers pay? – Loan rates have climbed three-fourths of a point since late October. Given that punishing down payments and large monthly mortgage bills have been part of the natural order here for years, what does it all add up to for the brave folks who are out there hunting for a house? San Jose Mercury News article

Sacramento Bee: Why CalPERS and CalSTRS are wise to be cautious – Both pension funds need to be as careful with their money as they’re forcing their members to be. Sacramento Bee editorial

Sacramento housing market continued to hum along in midautumn – Sacramento County’s housing market continued to hum along in November, with significant buyer demand driving midautumn sales. Resales of single-family homes in the county totaled 1,675 in November, up more than 24 percent from 1,347 in November 2015, according to Wednesday’s report by Irvine-based real estate market tracker CoreLogic. Sacramento Bee article

Did the City of Industry put this brewery out of business, or was it poor business management? — The holidays should be a festive time for Matt Weinberg, co-owner of the once-thriving Skyscraper Brewing Co. But any visions that dance in his head this year likely include his award-winning Lug Nut Lager swirling down the drain, along with the rest of his business. LA Times article

Temporary homeless center gained traction as word spread. It will reopen Thursday — The temperature was 45 degrees and falling Tuesday night when Alex Lovatos, Timothy Butsch and their pitbull-basenji mix Odie arrived at the pool house at Southside Park, looking for a warm place to sleep. It was their second night at the newly opened warming center, a pilot program between Sacramento city and county that provides a way for homeless people to escape the cold on nights when no other seasonal shelters are open and temperatures drop below 40 degrees. The trio has been sleeping under the freeway at Fourth and U streets, Odie snuggled at the bottom of a shared sleeping bag to keep warm. But Butsch, 25, said it was too cold out, and they were grateful for a place to go. Sacramento Bee article


Water officials: Mountain snowpack low, but it’s early — It’s too soon to declare an end to California’s five-year drought despite the heaviest rain in three decades falling early in the wet season, officials said Tuesday. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which provides roughly one-third of California’s water supply, measures at 72 percent of normal for water content, according to the state’s Department of Water Resources’ electronic monitors. AP article

State extends deadline for river flow comments – Critics and supporters have two extra months to comment on the state plan to increase flows on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers – a move aimed at finding compromise. The State Water Resources Control Board changed the deadline for written comments from Jan. 17 to March 17. The last chance for oral testimony remains Tuesday in Sacramento. Modesto Bee article

George Radanovich and Tom Nassif: Blurred lines: Farm labor board hires another UFW activist – Radanovich, president of the California Fresh Fruit Association, and Nassif, president/CEO of Western Growers, write, “Did it ever occur to the governor and the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board that the California employer might have an appropriate and just role in the welfare of the farmworker? You wouldn’t think so after the appointment of yet another UFW-trained activist to the ALRB staff.” Radanovich/Nassif op-ed in Fresno Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Racial profiling law raises concerns – As the only San Joaquin Valley member on an advisory board for a new statewide anti-profiling law, Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson has one goal in mind: Fix what he sees as the law’s many shortcomings. Hanford Sentinel article

Former Fresno police officer says Chief Dyer, staff mistreated him after fatal shooting – Junus Perry, a highly decorated officer before he left the Fresno Police Department in 2010, says he was mistreated by Chief Jerry Dyer and his administrative staff after he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder stemming from the fatal shooting of a Roosevelt High School student in April 2008. Fresno Bee article

Man gunned down for Stockton’s 48th homicide of year – The San Joaquin County Coroner’s Office has not released the victim’s name. His death represents the 48th homicide Stockton police have investigated this year. Stockton Record article

Danny Morrison: Are DUI checkpoints even legal? — Like me, I’m sure you’ve occasionally come across checkpoints that add unnecessary drive time to your travels. Maybe you’re frantically trying to be on time for a social event. Maybe you’re just trying to get home with multiple kids in tow. It can be really frustrating. I get it. But I believe embracing these occasionally exasperating exercises are a necessary evil in combatting DUI incidents that have cost countless resources, money and lives. Nationally, there’s a DUI death every 53 minutes. And that amounts to costs of more than $44 billion. It’s a problem. Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian

This Manson family member is the longest-serving woman in California prisons.  Will she get parole? — Confined to a California prison since 1971, former Manson family member and convicted murderer Patricia Krenwinkel is now the longest-serving female inmate in the state’s correctional system.  On Thursday, the 69-year-old will have a chance at freedom when a review board considers whether to recommend her for parole. LA Times article


Stanislaus State to add 4-year teaching credential program – California State University, Stanislaus, will use a $240,127 grant to add a combined bachelor’s degree and teaching credential program designed to scoot out new teachers in four years. Modesto Bee article

Year of change in education in Kings County – There were changes in education in Kings County this past year. School districts in the county welcomed new leaders at the helm and new board members were seated after the November election. Local communities mourned when two educational leaders died. Six local school bond measures passed in November and school building construction is on the horizon. Hanford Sentinel article

‘Planking’ as punishment is in line with district policies, San Diego Unified says in response to complaint – An elementary school’s use of “planking” and other physical exercise to curb misbehavior among students is justified and within discipline policies, according to San Diego Unified’s official response to a formal complaint. LA Times article

Runa Lemminn: Public high school students who are involved in club sports should be exempted from taking P.E. class – The full-time student at CSU Bakersfield writes, “Most people would agree that physical education for our youth is important, if for no other reason than to get them in the habit of some type of physical activity on a daily basis. Currently, public high schools in the Bakersfield area require most students to take two years of physical education, regardless of their extra-curricular activities. While I agree that P.E. is an important subject for our youth, it is a waste of time to require a student who is already involved with club sports on an ongoing basis to take high school P.E.” Lemminn op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

A majority ruled she was raped by a Stanford football player. That wasn’t enough — Stanford has an uncommonly high bar for sexual assault cases, so a football player was never punished despite two panels ruling in favor of the accuser.  New York Times article


‘Someone hold me’: Central Valley reacts to quakes near Nevada border — Central Valley residents leaped onto Twitter early Wednesday after they were rattled by a series of earthquakes centered near the Nevada border. Fresno Bee articleMerced Sun-Star article


Kings County renews battle with high-speed rail – Kings County is again at odds with the California High Speed Rail Authority joining a lawsuit that would block the Authority from using Prop1A monies to help build the Central Vally line. The suit was filed Dec. 12 in Superior Court of California in Sacramento. Visalia Times-Delta article

Gary Kovacic: California’s high speed rail project conjures memories from the past – The eminent domain attorney with Sullivan, Workman & Dee, LLP writes, “The Transcontinental Railroad was ultimately a good thing for the United States — linking the East with the West and expanding the landscape of our nation. The California High Speed Rail Project has the potential to be equally beneficial in the long run by creating another transportation option between our northern and southern population centers and tying the Valley to the rest of the state. However, that success should not come at the expense of California farmers who today have access to protections that were not available to Native American tribes, exploited laborers, and even the buffalo 150 years ago.” Kovacic op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Turlock plans $2 million remake of Fulkerth, Golden State crossing — A major Turlock intersection bordering the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds will be partially closed through a chunk of 2017, with the city putting out to bid for a $2 million makeover at Golden State Boulevard and Fulkerth Road. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Top stories of 2016 in Merced County: Counting down from 15 to 11 — During the next three days, we will count down the top stories of 2016 in Merced County. The list was compiled by the Sun-Star’s newsroom staff based on a variety of factors including attention from online readers and which stories are most likely to affect the lives of Merced County residents. Merced Sun-Star article

Valley Edition: A Year in Review — This week on Valley Edition we look back at some of the top stories that aired on our program in 2016. We’ll learn about how residents devastated by the Erskine Fire are working to rebuild, how drought-ravaged East Porterville is beginning to make progress on brining running water to area homes, and much more. KVPR report

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – We expect a smooth transition next week when Lee Brand becomes Fresno’s fourth strong mayor.

Sacramento Bee –- Why CalPERS and CalSTRS are wise to be cautious.