December 31, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

Confused over California’s new gun laws? Here’s when they take effect — Between state legislation and voter-approved ballot initiatives, 2016 saw passage of sweeping new gun regulations in California. Taken together, the new laws will add a host of restrictions for California’s more than 6 million gun owners, from where you buy your ammunition to how you store your guns and who can borrow them. Sacramento Bee articleHanford Sentinel article: ‘Local gun owners could get around new laws’

National popular vote for president the goal of new California proposals — California would step up efforts to bring about a system of electing U.S. presidents by popular vote instead of the electoral college under new legislation as well as a proposed November 2018 ballot measure. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown

Sutter Brown, first dog of California, dead at 13 — Sutter Brown, the gubernatorial pooch who softened Gov. Jerry Brown’s image and brightened the California Capitol with his love for belly rubs and treats, has died. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleKQED report

Valley politics

Less conflict among Fresno County supervisors expected as moderates join board — The Fresno County Board of Supervisors will be a much different group with the departure of senior members Debbie Poochigian and Henry R. Perea starting this week. Fresno Bee article


Central Americans again surging across border in sign U.S. policies have failed – A new surge of migrants have rushed to the U.S. border this fall as deportations of those here illegally have dropped to the lowest levels in nearly a decade. McClatchy Newspapers article

Afghan refugees in Sacramento fight PTSD — Sacramento has emerged as a leading destination for Afghan refugees who were awarded Special Immigrant Visas because of their service to coalition forces in the war. More than 2,000 such visa holders and their family members have settled here since October 2010, with others arriving daily. These former translators, engineers and doctors are often dismayed to discover that their credentials mean nothing here, and they must start over in bug-infested, low-rent apartments with minimum-wage jobs. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

California Coastal Commission handicapped by poor billing, audit finds — A blip in the California Coastal Commission’s $22.8 million budget that forced it to ask for a state loan earlier this year could become a regular occurrence because its leadership does not believe it has enough staffing to collect its bills on time. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

This Congress filled the fewest judgeships since 1952. That leaves a big opening for Trump — President-elect Donald Trump will take office with a chance to fill more than 100 seats on the federal courts, thanks mostly to an extraordinary two-year slowdown in judicial confirmations engineered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. LA Times article

 News Stories – Top Stories

A tax cut for Californians? Yes, really — Californians are about to enjoy a rare tax cut. Statewide sales tax rates will fall a quarter-point effective Jan. 1 with the expiration of a temporary tax increase approved by voters four years ago. Sacramento Bee articleBakersfield Californian article

A passenger puzzle: Why did Amtrak draw fewer Valley riders in 2015-16? — Ridership on Amtrak’s San Joaquin train service through the Valley was above 1 million for the sixth consecutive year. But despite the addition of more trains on the route, the number of people taking the trains continued a three-year slide – the result, operators say, of low gasoline prices and aggressive competition from low-cost bus lines. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Auto sales expected to match last year’s record, but may be plateauing — Growth and vitality: For seven years, that has been the central story for the U.S. auto industry. That story’s coming to an end — the growth part, anyway. LA Times article

Bay Area cities brace themselves for higher sales tax, despite state decrease — Bay Area voters this year generously approved taxing themselves in large numbers — and they’ll feel the pinch at the cash register in 2017 as local sales taxes across Silicon Valley take effect even as a state tax expires. San Jose Mercury News article

Construction permits up in Tulare, Visalia — Construction permits for 2016 in the county’s two largest cities will likely be up compared to 2015 totals. With December totals yet to be added, the number of permits on most key categories issued in 2016 has matched or increased those from 2015. Visalia Times-Delta article

Business notes: Walmart, bank mergers — After battling with determined opponents for almost a decade Walmart and the City of Porterville have been given the green light to build a planned superstore in Porterville. Visalia Times-Delta article

2016 Hanford business openings and closings — Over the past year there has been a variety of business openings and closings in Hanford. The much-anticipated Costco drew a crowd of people to the store’s open-house preview on Oct. 26 with people signing up for memberships and trying free food samples. Hanford Sentinel article

Empower Program offers training, guidance for young adults in Merced County – If you’re a young adult, out of high school and unsure of what your next step in life will be, the Empower Program could provide some guidance. The program offers paid and unpaid work experience, assistance with General Education Development fees, vocational training and mentoring. It’s designed for “out-of-school youth,” or adults ages 18 to 24. Merced Sun-Star article


California’s wet December drawing to a close with more rain — California’s wet December is drawing to a close with even more rain and snow in a welcome respite amid years of drought. AP article

Denair-area family’s donated almonds nourish children — An almond-growing family is donating nuts for children to snack on at several locations in and near Stanislaus County – along with kernels of knowledge about the industry. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Foon Rhee: The issue on which California is less progressive than the nation — In 2016, California imposed the most death sentences – nine – of any state. California also has by far the most inmates on death row – 749. Twice in the last four years, voters have refused to repeal capital punishment. Could the ugly reality of the death penalty actually returning to California turn the tide? Rhee in Sacramento Bee


Undocumented Ph.D. makes history at UC Merced – Yuriana Aguilar is now a postdoc in Chicago, continuing her cardiovascular research. She says she’s currently feeling very insecure about the fate of undocumented students like her once President-elect Trump takes office. KQED report

David Roy: Fresno Pacific University: Ask yourself, would Jesus provide sanctuary for undocumented students – The licensed marriage and family therapist writes, “After weighing the guiding spirit of Fresno Pacific University and protecting the well-being of FPU, President Richard Kriegbaum decided against making FPU a sanctuary for undocumented students. It was his right and his responsibility as president to make this decision. But how he supported his decision by affirming FPU as an institution committed to “wise public policy” and as a “Christ-centered university” is confusing and problematic. Roy op-ed in Fresno Bee

Districts partner with law enforcement – Between Visalia Unified, Tulare City and Tulare Joint Union High school districts, there are more than 43,000 students enrolled at 62 schools. Each district partners with local law enforcement to provide police services at campuses. Currently, there is a total of 15 School Resource and Youth Service Officers between all three districts. Visalia Times-Delta article

Investigation questions how Stanford reviews alleged sexual assaults — A high-profile news report published this week has returned the national spotlight to frustrations over how sexual assaults on college campuses, in the Bay Area and nationwide, are handled by academic institutions. KQED report


No bounceback for Delta fish — The Delta smelt has survived 2016, but that’s about where the good news ends. Surveys that wrapped up this month revealed no real increase in smelt numbers despite a wetter year with more freshwater flow in the Delta. Stockton Record article

Other areas

Bill McEwen: There was Dylan Noble, Lee Brand. Pot and a big water bill. But 2016 was Trump’s year — He came here twice, the first time to show his face in the heart of California and win the support of local farmers and the second time to pick up a Valley record $1.25 million in campaign contributions. I am talking about Donald Trump, the businessman turned politician who owned 2016. It was as if someone handed him the pink slip to the world and told him to take it for a spin like it was a Ferrari with a full tank of gas. McEwen in Fresno Bee

Counting down the top five news stories of 2016 in Merced County – Concluding our look at the top news stories in Merced County from the past year, we examine the factors contributing to poor health in the community, bitter fights on the Los Banos school board including public corruption charges, a nasty recall campaign, finger pointing and an election that swept out incumbents. Merced Sun-Star article

Top 10 local stories of the year kept Modesto Bee journalists busy – Here are the top 10 stories of the year as voted by Bee readers. Modesto Bee article

Stockton Record No. 1 story: Drama surrounding Mayor Silva – He called himself “The People’s Mayor.” Love him or hate him, Anthony Silva had a way of making headlines. Among his accomplishments were calling attention to the plight of the homeless and urging reforms at the animal shelter. Stockton Record article

Hawk, heroin bust, arson top 2016 headlines – Local police and fire departments kept busy this year tying up old cases, busting a local heroin ring and responding to numerous cases of arson. Hanford Sentinel article

You heard that right. The best quotes of the year – A great quote can really make a news story sing. A bunch of them strung together is a particularly fun read. So here you go, the best quotes of 2016. Bakersfield Californian article

Notable deaths in the central San Joaquin Valley in 2016 – The list of people with central San Joaquin Valley ties who died in 2016 ranges from civil rights leaders to farmers, young to old. Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Sacramento Bee –- On New Year’s Day, let’s be hopeful. Our list includes an easing of the drought, more affordable housing, a vibrant Sacramento riverfront and maybe even a Kings playoff run.