December 9, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

House approves California water plan that splits state’s Democratic senators — The House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved the biggest federal reset of California water use in a generation, setting the stage for easier dam-building, more recycling and potentially happier Central Valley farmers. McClatchy Newspapers articleVisalia Times-Delta articleSacramento Bee editorial: ‘Feinstein, McCarthy strike water deal, but war goes on’LA Times article

Party money paramount in California Democrats’ supermajority success — Monday’s legislative swearing-in ceremonies made it official: Democrats had restored their two-thirds supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature. The achievement rested heavily on millions of special-interest dollars moving to and from political party campaign committees, state filings show, effectively avoiding candidate contribution limits and obscuring the true source of the money. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Final Stanislaus election results show record numbers, Clinton victory — Stanislaus County residents finally saw the complete results from the history-making Nov. 8 election almost a month after the polls closed. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Antonio Villaraigosa: Uniting cities and states to protect our values, leverage policies – The former mayor of Los Angeles and current candidate for California governor writes, “We should take a hard look at how we can use the combined power of our forward-thinking cities and states to leverage better national policies. And we have the benefit of three extraordinary governors, California’s Jerry Brown, Oregon’s Kate Brown and Washington’s Jay Inslee, who have demonstrated the courage to act boldly in the past. Just imagine how much we could accomplish if these three governors agreed to work to bring our cities and states together on important policies that could become a breakwater against the national tide of Trumpism?” Villaraigosa op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Joel Fox: When it comes to taxes, California likely to react rather then seek reform — While academics and editorialists are urging the legislature to deal with tax reform (see this week’s L.A. Times editorial), changes to the tax system will likely be a reaction to federal tax moves or economic slowdowns. At a tax forum put on by the California Chamber of Commerce last week, experts gave their opinions about the opportunity to change the state tax system. The consensus: reform will take time. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Sacramento proposed Indigenous Peoples Day in October – until Italian Americans objected — After backlash from local Italian Americans, the Sacramento City Council this week shelved a plan to make Christopher Columbus share his October holiday with indigenous people. Sacramento Bee article

Barr’s withdrawal gives Garcetti a clearer path in reelection bid — Charter school founder Steve Barr has abandoned his bid to unseat Eric Garcetti, helping the mayor’s campaign as he seeks a second and final term. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Obama is rushing to Trump-proof the White House — Obama is trying to put the people and policies in place that he wants to outlast his presidency in the final weeks before Donald Trump takes over. And his supporters want more, way more. Every president tries to push through last-minute policies before their time in office comes to a close. But this year has a more frantic feel as special interest groups push Obama to do more, not just because the president-elect is of a different party but because few people know what he will do. McClatchy Newspapers article

Bill Whalen: Why is California so arrogant and aggrieved about Trump? – California isn’t the only blue-governed state determined to toss marbles in Trump’s path. Some New York City congressmen want The Donald to foot the bill for protecting his Manhattan digs. But what separates the Golden State is its arrogance, as though we are America’s lone path to enlightenment. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

Trump picks Southern California fast-food executive Andy Pudzer for Labor secretary – Fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be the next Labor Department secretary, turned around the Southern California-based parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s with help from scantily clad women hawking oversized burgers in racy ads. LA Times articleNew York Times article

Rob Lapsley: Will standing up to Trump hurt California’s economy? – The president of the California Business Roundtable writes, “California’s top elected leaders are making it clear they will push back hard against any efforts by President-elect Donald Trump to undermine their progressive policy agenda. These not-so-veiled threats, in combination with the supermajorities legislative Democrats hold, are giving the business community grave concern that job growth could be collateral damage in a partisan agenda against the Trump administration.” Lapsley op-ed in Sacramento Bee

California Air Resources Board chair sounds off on new EPA head – California’s top pollution regulator says her agency is not changing its approach to climate change and air regulation due to the election of Donald Trump and his nominee for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Capital Public Radio report

Michael Fitzgerald: Many are still trying to dump Trump – On Dec. 19, the 538 members of the Electoral College formally elect Donald Trump. But there is a wee technicality: In 21 states, electors are not legally bound to vote as their state did. Which means, though it may be the last pitch of the last inning of the last game in the World Series, Election 2016 ain’t over. And Kimba Livesay is going down swinging. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Foon Rhee: What will Trump do about shift to part-time work? — When Trump becomes president, the problem of part-time work lands in his lap. A study out this week shows how big a challenge that is – about 6 million employees who have to work part-time because their hours were cut or because they can’t find full-time work. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

News Stories – Top Stories

College affordability a festering problem in California, poll finds – With tuition hikes being discussed for California’s public universities, a new poll shows a strong majority of residents identifying college affordability as a big problem, including at least half of adults across wide partisan, income, and age groups. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Undocumented students should feel safe at Merced college campuses, faculty and administrators say — Merced-area faculty and administrators have tried to ease the fears of undocumented students in recent weeks amid discussions about changes to immigration policies that could be a reality under a new presidential administration. Merced Sun-Star article

Pop-up valley fever clinic offers specialty care to kids – Valley Children’s launched a pop-up clinic once a month in Bakersfield where doctors who specialize in the disease can treat kids. It’s been so successful that hospital officials are planning to host more pop-ups in Kern County, said Nael Mhaissen, an infectious disease specialist who works in the clinic. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Price of new homes in Fresno goes up by thousands; streets, parks are the reason – One measure that would add thousands of dollars to the price of new homes or commercial buildings in Fresno to cover the costs of infrastructure was approved Thursday by the Fresno City Council. But a second measure to cover the cost of expanding water service to new development projects has been pushed off for two months to resolve complaints by the building industry. Fresno Bee article

Sacramento asks developers to open wallets to keep city streets from clogging – To avoid clogged streets, city officials say they plan to impose a “transportation impact” fee on most new construction to help fund more and wider streets and improve biking and pedestrian facilities. The concept, they say, is for developers – and by extension the people who buy or rent new housing units – to help pay to manage the extra traffic they will cause. Sacramento Bee article

Senate agrees to waive most California National Guard bonus repayments – The Senate overwhelmingly approved a $619-billion defense authorization bill Thursday that includes direct help for thousands of California National Guard soldiers and veterans facing repayment demands for long-ago enlistment bonuses. LA Times article

Valley homeowners coming up from underwater mortgages – New data from real estate information firm CoreLogic finds more Central Valley homeowners coming up for air from underwater mortgages. The Business Journal article

The One Million Worker Challenge: Where will the Summit go next after year of success? — New investments in workforce development programs continue to receive strong bipartisan support in California, offering a unifying strategy for reducing poverty and restoring upward mobility. But even with an additional $200-million infusion for career technical education in this year’s budget, California’s economic regions, industry clusters, and educational and training institutions have a long way to go to achieve an integrated system that serves students, recalibrates workers, and meets employer needs. California Economic Summit report

Union training partnership aims to give formerly incarcerated more than a job – When Thomas Reese III was 15 years old, he made a poor decision that led to an 18 years to life sentence. After 17-1/2 years, he was released and needed to get his life on track. He found construction work, which kept him and his family afloat, but didn’t provide benefits or job security. He found a chance at a better life with the newly-formed Los Angeles Reentry Workforce Collaborative, which trains the formerly incarcerated for union jobs in construction. California Forward article

Rollback of truck safety rules may be just the beginning – The trucking industry scored a victory this week when Republican lawmakers effectively blocked Obama administration safety rules aimed at keeping tired truckers off the highway. But there’s more coming down the road. LA Times article

American Dream slips out of reach for millennials, study finds — Since the 1940s, it has become less and less likely that children will grow up to earn more than their parents, according to a working paper authored by researchers from Stanford and Harvard universities and UC Berkeley, which was released online Thursday. LA Times article

Will Major League Soccer’s expansion timing finally be revealed? — Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber is expected to discuss the league’s timeline for expansion during his annual State of the League address on Friday. Sacramento Bee article


Modesto rain stays ahead of average, but Sierra snow lags – The Modesto Irrigation District reported 0.39 inches in its downtown gauge as of 5 p.m., bringing the total to 3.88 inches for the rainfall year that started July 1. The historical average to date is about 2.5 inches. The more important Sierra Nevada snowpack is not doing so well. It stood at 52 percent of average in the central part of the range as of Thursday, the California Department of Water Resources reported. Modesto Bee article

Fernando Aguilera: State’s water grab hurts more than just farmers – The president of the Merced Soccer Academy writes, “The state of California’s proposed Bay Delta water plan is being portrayed as a water fight between supposedly wealthy farmers and fish. When there is so much more at stake to us all, I have to ask why?” Aguilera op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

John Lindt: Tulare County goes nuts — Setton Pistachios is expanding their southern Tulare County plant in Terra Bella adding a 60,000 square-foot warehouse, says plant manager Lee Cohen. Lindt in Visalia Times-Delta

Robin Abcarian: Salmon on rice: finding a delicious balance between Sacramento Valley farmers and fish — Tuesday, I visited a couple of projects in the Sacramento Valley that are aimed at helping salmon on both ends of the life cycle. They are collaborations between farmers and environmentalists, two groups that are often at each other’s throats in the never-ending battle over who is entitled to California’s precious water supply. Abcarian column in LA Times

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Family of fallen Deputy Dennis Wallace to receive cleats from NFL player – Indianapolis Colts long snapper Matt Overton wore special cleats in honor of fallen Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Dennis Wallace during an NFL game on Thanksgiving night. Now the shoes are headed to Wallace’s family. The Sheriff’s Department said it in a post on its Facebook page that it had received the cleats from Overton, a Tracy High graduate, on Thursday.  Modesto Bee article

Credit skimming, cloning hits Kings County — Local criminals are now using high-tech methods to empty your bank account and run up credit cards without ever touching your cards. The Hanford Police Department is seeking information in connection with possible credit card cloning. Police said an unidentified man and woman used account information from two FAST Federal Credit Union customers to make fraudulent charges at stores in Hanford, Lemoore and Visalia. Hanford Sentinel articleFresno Bee article


Stan State professors pitch in to help broke students – Mention college days and images pop up of pizza parties, racing to finish a put-off paper and the joy of a semester over. But for more than a third of Stan State students, hopes for the future coexist with hunger today, and the winter chill lasts longer than a dash between classes. “Blankets were the first thing to go,” noted Carlene Dyer, a California State University, Stanislaus, student helping to organize the Campus Food Pantry in the student union building. The pantry, stocked with blankets, toiletries and food, opened Nov. 23 and now stands much depleted. Modesto Bee article

California students see sizable pay increases after earning health care certifications — New research shows that students who earn health care certifications at California’s community colleges make significantly more money as they fill labor gaps for health care organizations across the state. California Economic Summit report

Merced County schools making strides to bring in more health professionals — Helping young Merced County students imagine themselves in college and pursuing a career in health is the idea behind Compass, a program that partners UC Merced students with local middle and high schoolers who may one day reverse the shortage of Valley health care providers. Merced Sun-Star article

Who killed Mrs. Medeiros? It’s up to Buhach students to figure it out — About 90 students at Buhach Colony High School in Atwater spent the day Thursday collecting evidence at the crime scene of the grizzly “slaying” of the school’s instructional coach, Jennifer Medeiros. Merced Sun-Star article

Homeless U: A college student’s life without shelter – “Most people don’t think that if you’re in college that you could possibly be homeless,” says social work professor Rashida Crutchfield of California State Long Beach. But her research has uncovered a troubling world where students struggle to survive both in and out of the classroom. KQED report

Trump school voucher plan would face huge obstacles in California – President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Betsy DeVos to be his secretary of education virtually guarantees that his administration will try to promote a “school choice” agenda, which includes giving vouchers to low-income children that could be used to help pay for, among other things, private school tuition. EdSource article

California schools seek to increase understanding of special education students with ‘Inclusive Schools Week’ — Some California school districts – including San Francisco Unified and Los Angeles Unified – are part of a nationwide initiative that seeks to increase awareness of students with disabilities and of the importance of creating a school environment where every student feels included. EdSource article

Billions at stake: UC Berkeley’s day in court vs. Harvard/MT over CRISPR – It’s called CRISPR-Cas9 — one of the century’s biggest scientific breakthroughs in genetic engineering — and now three major universities are battling it out in court over who owns a patent on the revolutionary technology. KQED report

Stanford class pulls students out of the tech bubble and into the real world of government bureaucracy — They’re some of the brightest students in the country — a group of wunderkinds known for hacking their way through any problem thrown at them. So what could possibly stump a Stanford University student? Government bureaucracy, it seems. LA Times article


Clean air: At what price? — Although the San Joaquin Valley has some of the most stringent smog-fighting laws in the United States, people should brace for even harsher rules that could affect home stoves and fireplaces, farmers, restaurants, food processors and Modesto’s Gallo winery, as well as cars, trucks and other vehicles.  Modesto Bee article

Democrats’ domination may save California climate program — As Democrats in Congress confront the specter of watching as the country’s climate policies are dismantled by President-elect Trump, key gains by the party in California could help Sacramento take over as the nation’s leader in the fight against global warming. KQED report

Health/Human Services 

San Joaquin County supervisors expected to OK extra Trauma Center funding — After nearly losing its Level III Trauma Center designation, San Joaquin General Hospital may be increasing its workforce to keep the center up to national standards. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider allocating funds for eight new positions to the trauma program, effective Dec. 26. Stockton Record article

Worried by concussions, parents and doctors push for safety in children’s sports — As professional sports teams assess concussion rates, pediatricians are calling on parents and coaches to take a closer look at children’s participation in sports that frequently cause contact injuries. California Health Report article

Land Use/Housing

Fresno council delays hearing on rental housing-inspection plan – A highly anticipated proposal by Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin for the city to begin interior inspections of apartment units has been delayed for a couple of months. Fresno Bee article

Fresno Bee: Spineless delay in slumlord fight by Fresno City Council – It’s difficult to imagine a more disgusting and spineless decision than the unanimous decision by the Fresno City Council on Thursday to delay a vote on Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s proposed rental-housing inspection ordinance. Fresno Bee editorial

City Council launches ‘historic’ plan for west Fresno development — A land-use plan described as “historic” for west Fresno received an initial approval by the Fresno City Council on Thursday. The proposed Southwest Fresno Specific Plan will eventually steer how more than 3,200 acres west of Highway 99 and south of Highway 180 – one of the most impoverished areas of the city – will be developed in coming decades. Fresno Bee article


Capitol Corridor train shook violently; passengers feared it would topple — The Federal Railroad Administration has launched an investigation into why a Capitol Corridor train suddenly lurched violently back and forth, injuring several passengers, on tracks near Davis Wednesday morning. Sacramento Bee article

Can you hear me now? Proposal would allow phone calls on airline flights — Airlines passengers would be allowed to make phone calls during flights using Wi-Fi with the permission of the air carrier under regulations the Department of Transportation proposed Thursday. Flight attendants and others have complained that the calls could be disruptive. AP article

Other areas

Hanford council ready for fresh start — The Hanford City Council turned over a new leaf this week, with two new members, a new mayor and a new vice mayor. Dental hygienist Sue Sorensen, who previously served on the council from 2008 to 2012, was sworn in for a four-year term that will end in 2020. Hanford Sentinel article

New roles on Lemoore City Council — The Lemoore City Council elected a new mayor and mayor pro tem after the newly elected members were sworn in at Tuesday’s meeting. Ray Madrigal is now mayor with Eddie Neal as mayor pro tem. Council members Holly Blair and Dave Brown were sworn into four-year terms. Hanford Sentinel article

Oakland fire: Ghost Ship missing from Fire Department records, never inspected — The warehouse illegally converted into the Ghost Ship art collective where 36 people died in an inferno last week was not listed in a city database of commercial buildings that require yearly fire safety inspections — and no records exist of any inspections of the structure, according to a city employee familiar with the database and inspection records. San Jose Mercury News articleLA Times article

Fresno Chaffee Zoo and Harris Construction end dispute on African Adventure project – Fresno Chaffee Zoo Corp. agreed Thursday night to settle a lingering money dispute with contractor Harris Construction over the company’s work on the zoo’s African Adventure exhibit, which opened more than a year ago. Fresno Bee article

Dan Walters: California Hall of Fame a good idea, but some honorees are a little odd — As that class of eight demonstrates anew, having governors make the selections on their own – first Schwarzenegger and since 2011 Jerry Brown – has produced a very erratic, even inexplicable, mélange that reveals more about their quirks than it does about California. The list is way overloaded with entertainment and sports figures – more than a third – who had little or nothing to do with how California evolved from what it was to what it is. And the presence of some is just plain weird.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – It’s difficult to imagine a more disgusting and spineless decision than the unanimous decision by the Fresno City Council on Thursday to delay a vote on Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s proposed rental-housing inspection ordinance.

Modesto Bee – Wells Fargo victims deserve their day in court.

Sacramento Bee –-Wells Fargo victims deserve their day in court; McCarthy, Feinstein and others extolled the compromise. Some of it is praiseworthy. But no one should kid themselves. This bill will result in damage to the environment. And it won’t end California’s water wars.

Stockton Record – Fred Weibel personifies all of the attributes you’d want in a Stocktonian of the Year. Most of all, he cares about others. Deeply.