December 8, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

If feds try to ID deportable immigrants using Cal data, state will block access — California is preparing for the possibility that the administration of President-elect Donald Trump—who campaigned on a promise to deport at least 2 million people—might demand access to various state databases that would reveal the names and locations of undocumented immigrants, such as the one maintained by the DMV. But in a state where Democrats hold the governor’s office and supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature, lawmakers say if the Trump administration does come knocking for such state data, their answer will be a vociferous “no.” That would likely kick off what could be a protracted fed-versus-state legal battle—one in which people on both sides predict their argument would prevail. CALmatters article

California’s water future will change as a result of this bill set for House approval — A California water bill set for House approval on Thursday that’s split the state’s two Democratic senators will make it easier for the incoming Trump administration to build new Western dams.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Valley politics

Like mother, like son: Madera mayor follows family tradition, an apparent family first — Andy Medellin was about 12 when his mother, Margaret, began her political career as a Madera City Council member. He hated it. “Mom was gone a lot,” Medellin said. “She was on the phone a lot. She didn’t come home at 5 (p.m.) every day. She wasn’t around on the weekends.” Medellin grew up. He married and had kids of his own. And in doing so, he learned to appreciate his mother’s 12 years on the council. Fresno Bee article

Tulare council takes shape — Tulare City Council looked very different Tuesday night after new officials took their seats and a new mayor was appointed. Carlton Jones was picked as Tulare Mayor, making him the first African-American to be the city’s top elected official. Jones takes over for David Macedo, who has been on council since 1998 and was previously mayor between 2002 and 2004. Visalia Times-Delta article

The election is over, but there’s still an empty seat on Livingston City Council – The Livingston City Council held off on swearing in new members Tuesday, saying the city staff did not get certified election numbers in time. The council voted unanimously to bump welcoming new members to the Dec. 20 meeting, when the process also will begin to fill a vacant council seat for the city of about 13,500 residents. Merced Sun-Star article

Falasco loses Los Banos school board set to Munoz by 3 votes — Dominic Falasco already attended his last meeting as a Los Banos Unified School District trustee in November after he lost his re-election bid by three votes. Los Banos Enterprise article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California’s Sen. Barbara Boxer bids farewell to Congress after 33 years — Sen. Barbara Boxer of California bid farewell to Congress on Wednesday after 33 years as a liberal champion, choking up as she read a letter from jazz great Sonny Rollins thanking her for “making life beautiful” for the people she’s represented. McClatchy Newspapers article

George Skelton: When the door opened unexpected by Xavier Becerra, he walked in and impressed — The latest prime example of luck and competence is Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), named by Gov. Jerry Brown last week to replace Sen.-elect Kamala Harris as California attorney general. Becerra, 58, will be a solid addition to the political bench of potential candidates for governor or U.S. Senate, assuming he performs well as California’s top cop. Bet on it. Skelton column in LA Times


California Democrats push back on White House stance that President Obama can’t pardon ‘Dreamers’ – Led by members of the California delegation, dozens of House Democrats are again pleading with President Obama to pardon hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to whom he granted temporary deportation deferrals. LA Times article

California bill creates deportation ‘safe zones’ for undocumented immigrants — Ahead of an expected hardline approach on illegal immigration under President-elect Donald Trump, California officials are proposing to further restrict the ability of federal authorities to detain and deport the approximately 2.3 million undocumented immigrants living in the state. Sacramento Bee article

Trump promises relief for ‘Dreamers,’ but immigrant advocates are taking no chances — President-elect Donald Trump has made many promises on immigration, including a new one Wednesday to “work something out” for the so-called Dreamers — young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. LA Times article

Other areas

Attacks on police officers would be classified as hate crimes under California bill — Alarmed by a wave of shootings targeting police officers, state Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear) has introduced a bill that would make an attack on law enforcement a hate crime in California, allowing stiffer penalties for those convicted.  LA Times article

‘Californta’ pins welcome back legislators with error — California state legislators might want to spend part of the next two years on bolstering education policy. Spelling, specifically. Lawmakers commonly wear lapel pins identifying them as elected officials. Less common, though, are pins that misspell the name of the state the lawmakers represent. Sacramento Bee article

Man says he was stabbed by California’s KKK leader after an argument over a KKK rally in Anaheim — The man police say was stabbed by the head of the California chapter of the Ku Klux Klan over the weekend contends he was attacked because of an argument over an Anaheim Klan rally that resulted in several stabbings earlier this year. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

California ballots have all been counted – more than 14.6 million and most of them for Hillary Clinton – Hillary Clinton, whose presidential bid came up short in the electoral college, handily beat President-elect Donald Trump in California by more than 4.2 million votes — almost double the number of ballots cast for Trump, helping boost her lead in the national popular vote. LA Times article

The debt limit monster is coming back, in time for Trump’s first 100 days – Congress is brewing up a budget mess that could turn President-elect Donald Trump’s first 100 days into a fiscal donnybrook. First, it likely will vote this week to extend the current federal budget just long enough that it expires in the early spring. Second, it’s put off until the same time the political monster called the debt limit and the need to authorize more borrowing. And all of it will aggravate fault lines and threaten hopes of cooperation or comity just as Trump pushes for dramatic changes in taxes, health care and infrastructure. New York Times article

Donald Trump picks Scott Pruitt, ally of fossil fuel industry, to lead EPA – President-elect Donald J. Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the Environmental Protection Agency, a transition official said, signaling Mr. Trump’s determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate changeNew York Times articleLA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

ACLU: Valley children – especially Latinos – are most vulnerable to pesticides near schools – The American Civil Liberties Union is calling for stricter pesticide regulations near schools, pointing out that children living in the Central Valley – especially Latinos – are the most vulnerable in California. Fresno Bee article

Program to boost community college transfers, grad rates – A statewide community college program championed by Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian that would streamline the transfer process and boost graduation rates launched Wednesday, officials announced. The California Guided Pathways project, which is based on a national reform model to increase student success, will be rolled out at 20 of California’s 113 community colleges, including BC. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

California leads country with most job gains – California’s employment picture improved last month, with 29,000 new private sector jobs added. Experts see the trend continuing into next year. The Employment Report by ADP, a leading human resource provider, showed private sector jobs climbed to 216,000 nationwide with California leading the country with the most job gains. Capital Public Radio report

Modesto approves $6 million for fire engines, ladder trucks – The Modesto City Council approved Tuesday night a proposal to spend nearly $6 million over 10 years to lease five engines and two ladder trucks, which officials say will help the Fire Department upgrade its aging fleet. Modesto Bee article

Merced supervisors to adopt rules for controversial discretionary funds – The outgoing Merced County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to adopt new policies this month that will tighten guidelines and add transparency to the discretionary funds supervisors hand out. Merced Sun-Star article

Livingston first banned commercial cannabis – now it’s looking at diving in – With the electorate ushering in recreational cannabis use in the state, Livingston’s leaders are taking a second look at their policies related to the plants. The city passed an ordinance in January that allows medical marijuana patients to grow two plants outdoors. With the approval of Proposition 64, all Californians are allowed to grow six plants indoors for recreational use. Merced Sun-Star article

More Bay Area residents struggling than poverty statistics indicate – Close to 30 percent of the Bay Area’s residents aren’t able to make ends meet as they contend with high housing costs, suggesting poverty is more widespread in the region than official reports indicate, according to a study published Wednesday. San Jose Mercury News article

California National Guard commander will call for forgiving most improper bonuses — The California National Guard commander who led a five-year push to claw back improper enlistment bonuses from thousands of soldiers will urge Congress on Wednesday to let many of them keep the money, according to his prepared testimony. LA Times article

Is Sacramento really a finalist for big truck factory? Grab a dictionary — Is Sacramento a finalist for a massive electric-truck factory, or isn’t it? It apparently depends on how you define the term. Sacramento Bee article

Home prices up in Kings County – Home prices in Kings County, including distressed sales, increased by 5.3 percent in October 2016 compared to October 2015, according to data released this week by real estate analysis firm CoreLogic. Hanford Sentinel article

Nathan Petty: Hope and expediency no way to budget – The Bakersfield accountant writes, “Did our legislators, supervisors, council and board members vote for these pension enhancements knowing of the harm which would result? I don’t think so. They simply replaced prudence and courage with hope and political expediency. Needless to say, hope and political expediency alone are never a good basis for decision making.” Petty op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

San Bernardino reaches ‘watershed’ moment in bankruptcy. What’s next? – The city of San Bernardino reached another milestone on its way to recovery Wednesday when a federal judge said she would approve the city’s bankruptcy plan, which clears the way for the city to exit Chapter 9 protection in the next few months. Here are some questions and answers about the settlement and what happens next to the city of more than 200,000 people. KPCC report

Did the emptying of mental institutions contribute to homelessness? – After patients were released from mental hospitals, there wasn’t always a place for them to go. On this week’s episode, we explore if deinstitutionalization was a factor in the Bay Area’s homeless crisis. Bay Curious is a new podcast from KQED that’s all about answering your questions about the Bay Area. KQED report

Big retailers tricked shoppers into thinking they were getting a great deal, claims LA city attorney – The Los Angeles city attorney’s office said it plans to sue four big retailers for deceptive advertising which allegedly misled shoppers into believing that thousands of products were on sale at a hefty discount. LA Times article

Feds crack down on deceptive reverse-mortgage ads — The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Wednesday that it has fined two Southern California reverse-mortgage firms for deceptive advertising practices, saying the companies wrongly told borrowers they could not lose their homes. LA Times article

SunPower to cut 2,500 jobs amid struggles in solar industry – A San Jose solar company announced plans Wednesday to cut 2,500 jobs, including about 200 in California, as part of an effort to restructure operations and reduce expenses. LA Times article


Tulare County considers emergency groundwater ordinance — Tulare County is perhaps the hardest hit region of the state when it comes to drought. Today there are almost 600 dry domestic wells in the county alone. Now the board of supervisors there is considering whether the county needs an emergency groundwater ordinance to help stop wells from going dry. KVPR report

Kettleman City water treatment plant gets green light — The rural Kings County community of Kettleman City, long plagued by unsafe drinking water, now has a clear path toward a clean water supply. KVPR report

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Modesto police officer is cleared in fatal gas station shooting – The Modesto Police officer who fatally shot an armed and masked robber at the Cruisers Gas Station last year was justified in his actions, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday. Modesto Bee article

How to prevent accidental shooting? Get more training, sheriff decides — The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday demonstrated how a deputy was wounded by his service pistol in an accidental discharge and emphasized that additional training was being implemented to prevent another such incident. Fresno Bee article

Who’s monitoring cameras in the sky? Sacramento police unveil ‘real-time’ hub — Eighteen video feeds of intersections across Sacramento fill the video wall in the Sacramento Police Department’s “real-time crime center.” Those are just SPD cameras – on the other side of the room, a bank of TV screens displays Regional Transit’s camera feeds of light-rail tracks. Sacramento police unveiled their $500,000 experiment in technology-aided police work Tuesday. The center has been in use since June, but the department had some kinks to work out before unveiling it to the public, officials said. Sacramento Bee article


Sacramento school district may become ‘safe haven’ fighting deportation, hate speech – Sacramento City Unified School District trustees will vote Thursday on whether to declare itself a “safe haven” that will protect students fearful of deportation or hate speech, joining a growing number of districts around the state taking action after the presidential election. Sacramento Bee article

Jeff Jardine: And the new Yosemite Community College District says … let new members vote next week to pick interim chancellor – Four candidates interviewed Wednesday to serve as interim chancellor of the Yosemite Community College District. Each impressed, offering a particular skill set and background that no doubt would benefit the district while the board of trustees seeks a permanent replacement for the retiring Joan Smith. So who got the job? No one … yet. The board members made the best choice for the time being. They voted unanimously to push the decision off until next week’s meeting when three newcomers – Darin Gharat, Leslie Beggs and Jon Rodriguez – are seated. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

New Los Banos school board shoots down controversial agreement, ousted trustees claim violations – Shouting and finger pointing colored a brief but contentious special school board meeting Wednesday in Los Banos. Two new trustees were sworn in to the Los Banos Unified School District board before a special board meeting Wednesday, leading to a shift in power on the board and the denial of a second hearing on a controversial work agreement that would have probed district officials’ emails and electronic documents. Los Banos Enterprise article

Sacramento State grad, victim of Oakland warehouse fire, was budding star in psychology – Jennifer Mendiola wasn’t just any psychology student. She was a potential star. A fourth-generation Sacramento native and a Ph.D. student at UC Merced, she was researching the factors contributing to risky behavior and poor health decisions. She and two colleagues at Merced published articles in a pair of prestigious medical journals in the past year. The topic: the wariness among California Latinos to get flu shots and the effect that has on public health. Sacramento Bee article

Political divide on campuses hardens after Trump’s victory – Conservatives and liberals on campuses across the country have been clashing throughout the campaign — and throughout this year of protest. But the conflict has gained new intensity since the election, and students, faculty and administrators say they expect tension to get worse once the presidential baton is passed on Inauguration Day in January. New York Times article

Former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi in line to become feminist institution leader – Former UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi is in position to lead the school’s Feminist Research Institute. The program, established in 2015, funds and promotes the study of how gender, sexuality, race and other social structures affect research, according to its websiteSacramento Bee article

 As charter schools grow, they face challenge of hiring amid a teacher shortage –  California struggles with a teacher shortage, charter schools face distinct challenges recruiting teachers. Those challenges are exacerbated by the rapid expansion of charters, with the number of schools more than doubling in the past decade. EdSource article

Chevron donates $80,000 to Castle STEAM Academy – Castle STEAM Academy, Panama-Buena Vista Union School District’s ambitious project to transform one of southwest Bakersfield’s poorest schools, received $80,000 from Chevron to develop an engineering lab, officials announced. Bakersfield Californian article

Homeless students struggle to find housing in San Francisco without support – The phrase “starving student” has become so well accepted in the college vernacular that California State University (CSU) campuses have done little to no research into how many of their enrolled students are homeless, according to a report from earlier this year. But, more than 10,000 students in California labeled themselves as “independent homeless youth” on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid in 2013-2014. KQED report

Tulare County Office of Education grants Sycamore Valley charter review – Sycamore Valley Academy will not shut it’s doors anytime soon. Tulare County Office of Education’s board approved the school’s charter petition renewal at a meeting Wednesday afternoon. The board also approved a charter petition request for the proposed addition of a new school –– Blue Oak Academy. Visalia Times-Delta article

Retired school counselor helps Stanislaus colleagues cross that bridge – Retired Riverbank High counselor Tim Fast is still in the habit of helping folks. After a 30-year career giving advice to kids, Fast spent 11 years guiding Stanislaus and Merced county teachers through retirement finances as a contract benefits counsel for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, better known as CalSTRS. Modesto Bee article

Stockton Unified School District police chief resigns to protect state Assembly – The Stockton Unified School District on Wednesday confirmed that district Police Chief Bryon Gustafson has resigned. Gustafson’s last day with the department will be Dec. 16 and on Jan. 4, he will be sworn in as the Chief Sergeant-at-Arms for the California State Assembly in Sacramento. Stockton Record article

In diverse California, a young white supremacist seeks to convert fellow college students — Nathan Damigo brought his message of white separatism to an unusual place: an ethnic studies class at Cal State Stanislaus called Searching for America. Speaking to a crowd filled with black and Latino students, he wove a country song tale of whites becoming an endangered minority in America and compared their plight to Native Americans — before describing his fantasy for a utopian homeland for whites not unlike Indian reservations. LA Times article

LA school board won’t vote to approve superintendent’s strategic plan — After months of review, haggling and soul searching, Los Angeles Board of Education members this week avoided voting on a strategic plan developed by Supt. Michelle King. She’ll go ahead with it anyway. LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Stem cell agency okays $15 million for new research — After a hiccup last month, the California stem cell agency this week  coughed up $15 million for a quartet of researchers looking into Alzheimer’s disease, cartilage repair, arthritis and sickle cell disease, but not before lopping off a big chunk of one proposal. Capitol Weekly article

Moms can burn 500 calories ‘breastfeeding baby and watching Netflix,’ Merced expert says — In order to support and encourage mothers to breastfeed, Merced community organizations are bringing in more lactation consultants and specialists. Through a grant, Partners to Improve Community Health Initiative, community members are able to take a prep course, “Grow Your Own,” that prepares them for the exam to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or IBCLC. Merced Sun-Star article

Land Use/Housing

‘The next Summerset’: Fresno motel tenants left without heat as city presses for fixes — The latest chapter in Fresno’s substandard housing crisis is a rundown motel near Roeding Park, where tenants have been without heat for more than a year, units suffer from vermin and mold and city officials acknowledge the place essentially operates as an illegal apartment complex. Fresno Bee article

Stockton area rent climbing quickly – The cost of renting a home in the Stockton-Lodi area is going up faster than most other metropolitan areas in the country, according to an independent market and analytics survey firm. Stockton Record article

Fresno Bee: Mayor-elect Brand gets early test with rental inspection vote — In the least, Brand needs to back Swearengin’s proposal. It would be better if he were to propose changes that strengthen it further – even if that means upsetting his friends at the California Apartment Association. Fresno Bee article

Joe Mathews: California waterworld: Ships may be our affordable housing of the future — If you haven’t heard yet of seasteading – that’s the ocean form of homesteading – you soon will. Because where else does California have to go? Mathews in Fresno Bee

Other areas

When 36 died in Oakland: Delving into what happened, and why – Less than one week after a blaze ripped through a ramshackle warehouse known as the Ghost Ship, this shocked city is grappling with an array of questions about what precisely happened, many of them deeply troubling. To try to answer them, The New York Times is deploying a team of journalists across Oakland as part of an investigative reporting effort. New York Times article

Raging Oakland warehouse fire trapped victims in smoke —  The fire that killed 36 people during a party at an Oakland warehouse started on the ground floor and quickly raged, with smoke billowing into the second level and trapping victims whose only escape route was through the flames, federal investigators said Wednesday. AP articleLA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Mayor-elect Lee Brand gets early test with rental inspection vote.

Merced Sun-Star – Trying to make sense of the tragedy in Oakland.

Modesto Bee – Trying to make sense of the tragedy in Oakland.

Sacramento Bee –- Beaches are a public trust, not reserved solely for billionaires; Starved of cash, some regional parks are languishing far short of their potential. A proposed shift of some developer fees from building small parks to larger regional ones makes a lot of sense.