February 12, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Dan Walters: Regulators in Sacramento and Washington need oversight — What is happening in both capitals demonstrates that very often the real-world impact of legislation is determined more by its implementing rules than its presumed intent. Presidents and governors, being political animals, take expansive views of their rule-making authority, and some oversight is needed to maintain a healthy balance.  Assemblymember Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) mentioned. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

John Myers: What does the state spend more money on, prisons or schools? — Let’s not beat around the bush. There are an awful lot of Californians who don’t know where the state government spends most of their hard-earned tax dollars. It’s a problem that’s been going on for years. Myers in LA Times

Valley politics

Oakdale Irrigation District incumbents violated campaign law in 2015, spurring FPPC warning — California elections enforcers gave relative slaps on the wrist to two Oakdale Irrigation District officeholders for violating state rules in 2015 races, and a third remains under investigation. Modesto Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Feinstein fundraising machine fires up for re-election run – Aspiring Senate hopefuls got some bad news the other day when Sen. Dianne Feinstein sent out invites for a “Feinstein for Senate 2018” campaign kickoff fundraiser March 18 in Bel-Air. San Francisco Chronicle article

With term limits and political roadblocks ahead, what’s next for California Senate leader Kevin de Leon? — Kevin de León has started his third year as leader of the California state Senate facing threats to his left-leaning agenda from President Trump, and uncertainty over the future path of his political career. The Los Angeles Democrat says he is so focused on his job and playing defense against Washington that he has not decided what he will do when term limits force him from the Senate in 2018. LA Times article


Immigration arrests heighten fears in Southern California as hoaxes, false rumors swirl – In immigrant communities across Southern California, the arrests capped a week of anxiety as they waited for Trump’s promised crackdown. In addition to the federal immigration action, the communities were rattled by widespread false reports on social media of nonexistent raids and police checkpoints aimed at deporting non-citizens. LA Times article

Protestors gather, march against Trump’s executive actions — Up to 200 people gathered at Woodward Park near Audubon and Friant avenues Saturday to protest President Donald Trump’s executive orders restricting travel from predominantly Muslim countries and defunding organizations that provide abortion services. Fresno Bee article

Other areas

David Brooks: Watch history being made in D.C.; make history yourself in Fresno — Today, I’d say the most pivotal spot on earth is Washington, D.C. The crucial questions will be settled there: Can President Donald Trump be induced to govern in some rational manner or will he blow up the world? Does he represent a populist tide that will only grow or is some other set of ideas building for his overthrow? Are the leading institutions – everything from the Civil Service to the news media to the political parties – resilient enough to correct for the Trumpian chaos? Washington will either preserve the world order or destroy it. I sent the Fallows Question to the Fallowses themselves, and they agreed in part with my Washington answer. But they also said that the most important place to be now might be places like Erie, Pa., Columbus, Ohio and Fresno. Brooks column in New York Times

Anti-Planned Parenthood protests in Fresno outnumbered by supporters of clinics — In an effort to join national groups protesting Planned Parenthood, a small Fresno group stood across the street from the Fulton Street clinic on Saturday. But their protest was quickly drowned out by a larger, and louder, crowd of clinic supporters. Fresno Bee article

Large Planned Parenthood support rally eclipses opposition in Modesto – On a day designated nationally to protest Planned Parenthood, the handful of people opposing the reproductive health care provider was eclipsed by a rally of hundreds supporting it in Modesto. Modesto Bee article

Lewis Griswold: Ex-Democrat goes to Berkeley to hear a speech but witnesses a riot — Susan Walsh of Visalia traveled to Berkeley to see right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos give a speech – and found herself in the middle of a chaotic protest that gave a black eye to the home of the Free Speech Movement.  Griswold in Fresno Bee

Warring Democrats put rage on ice for party chairman’s contest — The race to become the next chair of the Democratic National Committee—the top job in a newly out-of-power party—was supposed to be the latest showdown between the Democrats’ incensed liberal wing and a more moderate establishment. Maybe both sides needed a break. McClatchy Newspapers article

Swift repeal of Obama rules leaves staffer steaming — Joe Pizarchik spent more than seven years working on a regulation to protect streams from mountaintop removal coal mining. It took Congress 25 hours to kill it. Politico article

Presidential Politics

Inside the black bloc militant protest movement as it rises up against Trump — Scorned by critics on both the left and right and hunted by police, the black bloc is bringing its radical tactics to the massive protest movement sparked by the presidency of Donald Trump. LA Times article

Tech firms find their voice in resisting Trump, for now – President Trump’s controversial travel and immigration ban is giving the tech industry something many of its members have long craved: a political stand on a cause that is not motivated primarily by profit. San Francisco Chronicle article

Willie Brown: A day without women: ‘General strike’ against Trump gains traction – When it comes to calling out our new president, it’s the nation’s women who are leading the charge. Whether it was the huge Women’s March or Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor, women have been at the forefront. So I’d like to pass on a suggestion that’s been making the rounds for the past week, ever since the idea was posted on the Twitter account of the Women’s March: How about a day without women? Brown column in Sacramento Bee

A presidential golf outing, with a twist: Trump owns the place — President Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan toured Trump’s golf courses and stayed at his resort in Florida, drawing attention to properties from which he has not divested himself.  New York Times article

Marcos Breton: This Latino preacher from Sacramento spoke at Trump’s inauguration.  Is he regretting it now? — A Latino evangelical leader had never been asked to read Scripture at a presidential inauguration until Donald Trump invited the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez to do so in front of a global audience on Jan. 20, a remarkable turn of events given Rodriguez’s passionate advocacy for immigrants and Trump’s rhetorical hostility toward them. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

 News Stories – Top Stories

High-speed rail taking shape even as opponents try to kill it – For many Californians, the plan to run high-speed trains between San Francisco and Los Angeles remains in the realm of fantasy. The project is short on cash, behind schedule and in the crosshairs of Republicans in Congress who’ve asked the Trump administration to hold back federal support for a key piece of the rail line. But don’t express doubts around people like Erik Lundgren. The Madera County contractor, who was laying utility lines on a recent weekday near the zoo in central Fresno, is among more than 1,000 workers whose long hours on a backhoe or cement truck are making the $64 billion vision an unmistakable reality. San Francisco Chronicle article

As emergency spillway flows, state says repairs to crippled Oroville Dam could run $200 million — For the first time since Oroville Dam was completed in 1968, water from its storm-swollen reservoir overtopped the emergency spillway Saturday, sending sheets of water down a forested hillside and adding to the murk and debris churning in the Feather River below. Sacramento Bee articleKQED reportSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

With pension reform looming, these California departments went on a hiring spree – On the eve of major pension changes that would crimp retirement benefits for new hires, a handful of California government agencies went on a holiday hiring spree. Sacramento Bee article

Hanford council advances idea of bed tax hike — The Hanford City Council is moving forward with the idea of raising the hotel bed tax by 4 percent and devoting the increase to downtown revitalization efforts. Hanford Sentinel article

Unease over immigration hurting tech recruiting – Facing uncertainty about their prospects for working in the U.S. and wary of exposing themselves and their families to complications with their immigration status, some tech workers are choosing to put any plans to change jobs on hold, recruiters say. San Francisco Chronicle article

Robin Abcarian: LA may finally get cannabis right, and help minorities get a stake in the industry – After years of barely controlled chaos, Los Angeles voters will have the opportunity on March 7 to finally harness the city’s unruly cannabis industry. Proposition M will give the City Council authority to regulate, tax and create an enforcement scheme for medical and recreational marijuana. LA Times article

Anxiety over politics, economy could cut Valentine’s Day spending — Since emerging from the recession, American consumers have been willing to spend plenty of dollars on romance. This year, maybe not so much. It appears that a fair number of Sacramento-area residents are cutting back on Valentine’s Day spending. Sacramento Bee article


No rain in sight, but threat of dam overfill puts communities on flood notice — After the recent heavy rains and showers, much of the central San Joaquin Valley and foothill areas will see about five days without rain, with new concerns focused on water releases from overfilled dams.  Fresno Bee article

North Delta island levee lowered in hopes of avoiding downstream flood damage – Work crews took emergency action Saturday to lower a portion of the ring levee surrounding the McCormick-Williamson Tract in an attempt to avoid a catastrophic “flood pulse” that last occurred in the floods of 1997. Sacramento Bee article

Modesto Bee: This is a drought? Water board must be kidding – The State Water Resources Control Board’s decision to leave emergency drought rules in place is inexplicable. Modesto Bee editorial

Lois Henry: It may be raining now, but we need to live like it’s dry — Water Resources was absolutely right to keep us mindful of the drought, which is still a big, big problem for areas like Santa Barbara, missed by most of the recent storms, and parts of Tulare County, where residents have relied on bottled water for several years now. Not to mention flooding in the Tahoe area as warm rains melt the snowpack. We are not past the drought. In fact, I would argue that California is never “past” drought. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

World’s largest farm equipment and technology trade show opens Tuesday in Tulare — Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the World Ag Expo in Tulare opens Tuesday for another three-day extravaganza featuring the latest in farming tools and technology. Spread out over 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space of the sprawling International Agri-Center, it is the largest event of its kind in the world, organizers say. Fresno Bee article

Ludlow would replace Oakdale Irrigation District’s Santos if she’s recalled in April — If most voters southeast of town decline to recall Linda Santos in an April 25 special election, she would keep her Division 4 seat on the Oakdale Irrigation District board. If she is turned out of office, Nate Ludlow would take her place. He is the only candidate running to succeed Santos, after the late withdrawal of a woman who said she was spooked by early-morning vandals outside her rural home. Modesto Bee article


Stan State students honored with Turlock mayor’s public policy award — Two California State University, Stanislaus, students and Turlock residents were honored as 2016 Mayor’s Public Policy Award winners for their research project titled “Bridge the College Campus and Downtown Turlock Gap.” Nathan Straubinger and Logan Martinez received $3,000 for their research efforts, and were the second recipients of the award instituted by Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth. Modesto Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Survey says, area schools’ water does well in random testing commissioned by expert Kennedy — The test results brought good news. With one exception, the numbers all came back at or below EPA standards. Those from Gregori, in fact, matched or were close to those posted on the school’s website under its Consumer Confidence Report for water quality. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Most Sacramento area schools do not test drinking water for lead – Sacramento County’s largest school districts don’t regularly test the water coming from their spigots, based on a Bee review of practices across the region. When they do test, it is generally in response to foul color or odors, which are not indicators of lead. Sacramento Bee article

UC Berkeley police shift to safety over force at protests – The most forceful action by UC Berkeley police recently against hordes of demonstrators protesting a campus appearance by right-wing agitator Milo Yiannopoulos was to shoot pepper-and-paint balls at them from a distance. Compared with past demonstrations, campus police in this case were positively kind. San Francisco Chronicle article

Health/Human Services

Modesto ponders smoking ban in all city parks — Modesto is considering banning smoking in all of its 75 city parks as well as in certain other public spaces. The City Council’s Great Safe Neighborhoods Committee will take up the proposal at its Monday meeting and could recommend it be sent to the full council for adoption. The meeting is open to the public. Modesto Bee article


‘This is the worst I have seen’: California’s roads are in dire shape, former Caltrans director says —  In more than four decades as a top transportation planner in California, Will Kempton says the state’s roads have never been in as bad condition as they are right now. LA Times article

Other areas

Stephanie Taylor: Hanford retains its charm, sense of place – The Sacramento artist writes, “Hanford’s dynamic Civic Park exists today because preservationists anticipated the value of the city’s past and outstanding architecture. Sometimes a ‘sense of place’ doesn’t need to be created, just preserved.” Taylor op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Modesto Bee – The State Water Resources Control Board’s decision to leave emergency drought rules in place is inexplicable.

Sacramento Bee –- Why Tesla is in the driver’s seat of the electric car industry; A historic effort to help California’s working poor save for retirement has been targeted by congressional Republicans desperate to please Wall Street. It’s reprehensible and misinformed.