February 15, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories

Dan Walters: As cap and trade awaits fate, auction tests market — Whither cap and trade? California’s high-profile – and highly controversial – program of selling greenhouse gas emission allowances will be tested again next week in the year’s first quarterly auction. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

State analyst warns about uncertainty over size of California’s pot industry and a possible federal crackdown — Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to merge regulations of medical and recreational marijuana sales in California is a wise move, but officials should be careful in allocating large amounts of money to the new system, the state Legislative Analyst’s Office concluded Tuesday. LA Times article

State budget

Oroville Dam drags state’s $65 billion infrastructure annual price tag into the open — Shock over the emergency evacuation downriver from the Oroville Dam has given way to serious questions about how California is coping with its aging infrastructure — which the American Society of Civil Engineers says would cost the state a staggering $65 billion per year to fix and maintain after years of neglect.  San Jose Mercury News article 

Gov. Brown 

Trump administration approves Jerry Brown’s disaster requests – Federal emergency officials approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s requests to pay for winter storm damages and to support California’s unfolding response to the emergency at the crumbling Oroville Dam, the White House announced Tuesday. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Valley politics 

Five pull papers for Bakersfield Ward 5 council seat – The race for the Ward 5 seat on the Bakersfield City Council could get very crowded, very fast. The nomination period for the June 6 special election to replace Councilman Jeff Tkac, who died last month, opened this week. Five people have already pulled papers. Bruce Freeman, Ryan Nance, Noel Pineo, Ty Hudgens and Larry Koman pulled nomination papers in the past two days. Bakersfield Californian article 

Dear Kevin – More letters to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) in the Bakersfield Californian.  Bakersfield Californian article


California members of Congress say they aren’t getting answers on immigration raids: ‘My constituents are freaked out’ – Several Democratic members of California’s congressional delegation said Tuesday they still don’t have details about who in their districts was arrested in last week’s immigration raids, and why they were targeted. LA Times article 

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand draws protests over his sanctuary city stance – A small but vocal group of protesters greeted Fresno Mayor Lee Brand as he prepared to address the Fresno Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. Fresno resident Shannon Kurtz, armed with a megaphone, served up a medley of chants on the sidewalk along with several other people outside The Grand 1401 at Tuolumne and Fulton streets. Fresno Bee article 

Federal immigration agents arrest a DACA-eligible ‘Dreamer’ in Seattle, lawsuit says — Immigration agents have detained and threatened to deport a 23-year-old immigrant in Seattle who came to the U.S. illegally as a child and had received protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a new lawsuit says. LA Times article; New York Times article; McClatchy Newspapers article

Other areas 

Colorado governor talks pot challenges in California Capitol – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told California state senators Tuesday to set standards for edible marijuana goods and driving under the influence of cannabis as soon as possible to avoid repeating mistakes his state made when it legalized recreational pot. AP article 

Obamacare is more popular than ever, so now Democrats get around to hitting GOP on it — Now that it’s on the chopping block, Obamacare has never been more popular. And with Republican attempts at a rapid repeal sputtering, Democrats are hoping to exploit a legislative lull. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Victor Davis Hanson: The Oroville disaster is yet another example of California’s decline – The poor condition of the dam is almost too good a metaphor for the condition of the state as a whole; its possible failure is a reflection of California’s civic decline. Hanson op-ed in LA Times 

Anthony Kennedy worries that civic discourse has become too ‘hostile’ and ‘divisive’ — Anthony Kennedy would like you to be more polite. At a summit Tuesday on civic education in California schools, the U.S. Supreme Court justice and Sacramento native son lamented the harm that contemporary American rhetoric has done to our democracy, as an example to both younger generations and other countries. Sacramento Bee article 

Hemorrhoids and Nickelback are more poplar than Congress, Schwarzenegger says in call for redistricting reform — Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday noted the deep unpopularity of members of Congress as he pushed for redistricting reform across the nation. LA Times article 

Quiet IRS change could undermine Obamacare, supporters say — Following an executive order from President Trump to “minimize the economic burden” of the Affordable Care Act, the Internal Revenue Service said it is backtracking on its plan to reject 2016 tax returns that do not indicate whether the taxpayer complied with the act’s individual mandate. San Francisco Chronicle article

Presidential Politics

Robin Abcarian: In the Central Valley, drought fears ease, but farmers contend with a new threat: Trump – Del Bosque is, as usual, worried about water. But he’s also worried about immigration, and about President Trump’s vow to deport people who are here illegally. Del Bosque, and just about every grower he knows, depends on migrant labor for harvests. Abcarian in LA Times

Nunes and Schiff both call for investigations into the Flynn scandal, just different kinds – The two leaders of the House Intelligence Committee are calling for more investigation into Flynn’s contact with Russia, but different kinds. After Flynn resigned, Nunes praised his military service in a brief statement that didn’t mention why the former general quit. LA Times article 

Rep. Devin Nunes says Flynn is just first to go from Trump team – Devin Nunes, a Republican congressman from Tulare, California, who is chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence tells Bloomberg View’s Eli Lake, “First it’s (Michael) Flynn, next it will be Kellyanne Conway, then it will be Steve Bannon, then it will be Reince Priebus.”  Bloomberg View article in Fresno Bee 

Flynn’s ouster deepens questions about Trump’s relations with Russia – Trump’s decision to jettison Flynn after only 24 days in office has deepened questions about current and former Trump aides’ dealings with Moscow and about Trump’s often-stated pledge to forge closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, an autocrat most U.S. lawmakers consider an implacable foreign adversary.  LA Times article 

Older judges and vacant seats give Trump huge power to shape American courts – Mr. Trump could soon find himself responsible for appointing a greater share of federal court judges than any first-term president in 40 years, in large part because of a growing number of older judges and a stack of vacancies on the federal courts. New York Times article 

Trump was told weeks ago that Michael Flynn withheld truth on Russia – President Trump was informed more than two weeks ago that his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had not told the truth about his interactions with Russia’s ambassador, and the president eventually asked for Mr. Flynn’s resignation after concluding he could not be trusted, a White House official said on Tuesday. New York Times article; LA Times article 

Trump, DeVos, Spicer addressed school choice – without publicly using the word ‘voucher’ – On Tuesday, in what was billed as a “parent-teacher conference listening session,” Trump and DeVos met with educators and parents, and vouchers weren’t mentioned once — at least not according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s briefing, the White House pool report and atranscript provided by the White House. LA Times article 

Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence – Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former U.S. officials. New York Times article

Boycotting companies tied to president new weapon in U.S. politics – What started out last year as a straightforward boycott of Donald Trump and his family’s businesses became a lot more complicated when the New York City developer was elected president of the United States. San Francisco Chronicle article

Danny Morrison: That’s why Trump won? Don’t fall for it — Nice try, Trumpeteers. A new political game, developing since Nov. 8, is easily the most comical thing I have seen since Dan Quayle misspelled “potato.” The game involves voters who find themselves suffering from buyer’s remorse using a defensive phrase in their efforts to deflect their error in choosing our commander in chief. I’ve affectionately named the game, “Trump Card.” Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Oroville Dam operators say they’re ready for next key hurdle: Wednesday night’s storm — There’s another storm bearing down on troubled Oroville Dam, set to begin late Wednesday. But state officials say they believe the precipitation will be mild enough – and the reservoir empty enough – to handle this latest challenge.  Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

Health law repeal could hit county budgets hard – Much of the focus on the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act has been on the newly insured people that stand to lose their coverage. But there could be consequences that reach far beyond just people’s health care and impact nearly every taxpayer in the Central Valley. Valley Public Radio’s Jeffrey Hess reports repealing the law without a replacement has some county lawmakers worried.  Valley Public Radio report

Jobs and the Economy 

Flood damage in Merced County likely to cost millions – County officials estimate recent storms and flooding have caused millions of dollars in damage to county infrastructure and private property, losses they hope will be covered by state and federal agencies. Merced Sun-Star article 

California Senate gives 10 percent raises to 71 employees to close gender pay gap – Capping a yearlong assessment of pay equity among its ranks, the California Senate late last year gave 10 percent raises to 71 employees to shrink a lingering gap between what male and female employees earn. Sacramento Bee article

Mayor Brand addresses Fresno business leaders – Unity, balance and business were some of the key themes covered by Fresno Mayor Lee Brand in a brunch talk before business leaders Tuesday.  The Business Journal article

Sacramento Bee: How hiring spike chipped away at pension reform – There are some murky questions about an unusual hiring spree at the end of 2012 by some local and state agencies before badly needed pension reform kicked in. Sacramento Bee editorial

Joel Fox: Mayors don’t see eye to eye on infrastructure fix – Can a Northern California big city Democratic mayor and a Southern California big city Republican mayor find common ground when it comes to infrastructure improvements? Sacramento’s Darrell Steinberg and San Diego’s Kevin Faulconer both want infrastructure improvements but place a different emphasis on how to get the job done. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Fresno gas prices on the rise – Gas prices are on the rise in Fresno and the rest of the state. In the Fresno area, prices rose 4 cents in the past month to an average of $2.80 per gallon of unleaded gasoline, according to AAA of Northern California. Prices in the Visalia-Tulare-Porterville area rose 6 cents to an average $2.77 a gallon. Fresno Bee article

Merced County numbers to be revealed at second Homeless Summit – The Merced County Continuum of Care is set to unveil the January tally of people living on the streets, which marks the first year it will have comparable numbers since changing the counting method last year. Merced Sun-Star article 

Visalia temp staffing firm settles discrimination complaint — A Visalia temp agency has agreed to pay $24,500 and take other measures to settle a complaint by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a woman who alleged that she was a victim of discrimination and retaliation. Fresno Bee article 

Federal government grants Wilton tribe control of land for Elk Grove casino — The Indian tribe that plans to build a casino in Elk Grove announced that the federal government has taken 36 acres that it purchased into trust for the tribe. The action means the land is now considered sovereign tribal ground, which paves the way for the casino to be built without the approval of the City of Elk Grove or other local authorities. Sacramento Bee article 

Cigna moves to terminate merger with Aetna and seeks $14.8 billion – Health insurer Cigna Corp. announced Tuesday that it will unilaterally terminate its $54-billion merger agreement with Anthem Inc. after a federal judge rejected the deal. The news came hours after insurance giants Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. announced a mutual decision to abandon their $37-billion merger agreement. LA Times article 

Bay Area startup will deliver craft beers to Sacramento doorsteps — A Bay Area startup will begin offering its craft beer delivery service Thursday in Sacramento. Albany-based Hopsy, started in January 2016, has been delivering craft brews to more than 10,000 customers in the Bay Area, primarily to Oakland, Berkeley and most of San Francisco. Sacramento Bee article 

Yellen hints at rate hike next month while noting uncertainty in economic outlook – Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen on Tuesday painted a largely upbeat picture of the economy, telling lawmakers that somewhat faster wage growth is in store for workers, even as she signaled that the central bank would consider raising interest rates as early as next month. LA Times article 

Judge Oks $1.2 billion compensation in VW emissions cheating scandal — A federal judge in San Francisco granted initial approval Tuesday to a deal worth at least $1.2 billion that aims to compensate the owners of roughly 78,000 Volkswagens with 3-liter engines that were rigged to cheat on emissions tests. AP article


San Luis Dam near Los Banos days from filling for first time since 2011 – The San Luis Reservoir is expected to fill in the next two weeks for the first time since 2011, a sign that users likely will have all the water they need this year, according to water officials. The 2 million-acre-foot storage space west of Los Banos is 92 percent full, according to the state Department of Water Resources. Merced Sun-Star article 

World Ag Expo:  Cannabis a huge market for these lights. They work on strawberries, too — Cannabis growers may not be the exact target market for the World Ag Expo, but there is at least one vendor at Tulare gathering who understands who his potential customers are. Thomas Barczyk of Poland-based Grow-Spec is a partner in a company that produces grow lights for indoor gardening and farming. The LED lights offer a wide spectrum of colors, depending on the needs of the plant. Fresno Bee article 

World Ag Expo: Look, Bessie! It’s a fitness tracker for cows — Imagine being able to track your cattle’s vitals without touching them. It’s possible, thanks to a Colorado tech company called HerdDogg. The company, exhibiting for the first time at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, has developed a system that can measure a cow’s movement and temperature, and sync that information to your mobile phone.  Fresno Bee article 

Hot-button topics to dominate expo — As the 50th edition of World Ag Expo starts today in Tulare, several key issues are likely to be the focal point of discussion among farmers and others in the know. Non ag types are often dazzled by the whiz-bang gadgetry and the massive tractors on display. But it’s the conversations between growers that reveal what’s on the minds of industry insiders headed to the annual extravaganza. Hanford Sentinel article 

Lois Henry: My day at the ‘Disneyland for farmers’ – It’s called the World Ag Expo and, brother, they aren’t kidding. I traveled to Tulare on a foggy Tuesday morning expecting your basic fairground-size lot full of shiny tractors and a bunch of guys wearing feed caps looking at ‘em. OK, both of those were there — in abundance. But so, so much more. The whole thing is just … vast.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian 

Tire recycling businesses at World Ag Expo — Two World Ag Expo exhibitors have an elegant solution for discarded tires: recycle them. A Wyoming-based company turns open-pit haul truck and loader tires into perpetual water tanks while a business with several distribution centers uses nylon, bias ply truck tires sidewalls as weight for those in the farm and dairy industry. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Jeff Jardine: Water creates a high-stakes game on San Joaquin, Tuolumne and other N. California rivers – After five years of staring at empty reservoirs and rivers that looked more like creeks, everyone seems to be watching water again. Water, overflowing rivers and levees and streams. More water than we’ve seen in a decade. The most water, perhaps, since the 1997 flood, with no guarantee there won’t be a repeat. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Modesto Bee: Would more dams help with all this water? – It’s just conjecture, but would Oroville have been filled so full if Sites Reservoir were available? Would we be swimming if Don Pedro and Exchequer didn’t hold back the flows? Modesto Bee editorial 

Area mounts massive protest against state water proposal – Worth Your Fight, a campaign of the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts to rally opposition to a state water proposal, is an effort rich in numbers. Modesto Bee article 

Oroville dam inspectors ignored integrity of hillside that eroded – Inspectors visited Oroville Dam 14 times since 2008 but never considered the integrity of the hillside that eroded below the emergency spillway, leading to a near catastrophe that forced the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people downstream, state records show.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Oroville is a warning for California dams, as climate change adds stress — California’s water infrastructure is suffering from age and stress, and older dams may not be designed to deal with severe weather patterns brought by global warming. New York Times article; Sacramento Bee article; Sacramento Bee editorial 

Modesto, irrigation districts, county, other cities form agency to manage groundwater – Stanislaus County leaders on Tuesday approved a groundwater management agency for the Modesto and Oakdale area in a territory that’s been ground zero for debates over pumping and dry residential wells. Modesto Bee article

Dairy farmers brace for possible flooding – Dairy farmers worried about flooding from the San Joaquin River will gather at noon Wednesday to hear about emergency plans. Modesto Bee article

Stanislaus County declares flooding emergency — The flooding in Stanislaus County, and the threat of more to come, prompted an emergency declaration by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The action “allows the county to access more resources to better assist with costs to fix local roads and assist residents affected by rising water levels and flooding,” a news release said. The amount of money from state and federal sources is not yet known. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Judge: Jury should decide whether college student threatened police when he was shot – A federal judge has ruled that a civil rights, wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a Fresno City College student who was fatally shot by two Fresno police officers three years ago can proceed to a jury trial. Fresno Bee article

Hanford Police Department test drives drones – As drones become more commonplace, local law enforcement is looking for ways to use the machines for solving crimes. The Hanford Police Department has been experimenting with drones for the past few months. Chief Parker Sever said the department hasn’t purchased a drone for official use. However, two officers have been using their personal drones on the job. Hanford Sentinel article 

Homeless man wins harassment settlement from San Diego police — The city of San Diego has agreed to pay $15,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a homeless man who accused police of harassment and improper arrests. LA Times article 

Yolo County DA, police announce arrest in Davis mosque vandalism — A Davis woman has been arrested in connection to the vandalism of a Davis Islamic Center that occurred last month, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.  Sacramento Bee article 

Friend who supplied rifles to San Bernardino terrorists agrees to plead guilty — The man accused of buying two of the weapons used in the 2015 San Bernardino terror attacks has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and lying while purchasing a firearm, according to court documents filed Tuesday. LA Times article 

In 2016, crime in San Diego drops to rates comparable to the late 1950s and early 1960s — San Diego’s crime rate last year was the second-lowest in 47 years, city officials said Tuesday. The rate of violent crime dropped by nearly 5%, the lowest in four decades. LA Times article


Deportation fears depress California Dream Act college aid applications – documented students in California are lagging far behind last year’s numbers in applying for state-funded financial aid for college, apparently because of fears that information on the forms could be used to possibly deport the young people and their families, officials say. EdSource article

Who should be interim leader of Fresno Unified? Board meets to choose — The Fresno Unified school board will meet in closed session Wednesday to discuss hiring an interim superintendent to replace Michael Hanson, who was ousted last month. According to a special meeting agenda, the board will meet to consider appointing an interim to replace acting superintendent Bob Nelson, Hanson’s former chief of staff who was sworn in after the board terminated Hanson without cause. Fresno Bee article 

Brooke Ashjian: Morale is high in Fresno Unified following Hanson departure – School board president Brooke Ashjian told Valley Public Radio in an interview on Valley Edition that he believes morale in the district is the “highest I’ve ever seen it” following the departure of longtime superintendent Michael Hanson on February 1Valley Public Radio report 

College of the Sequoias fights hunger on campus – To wage a war against student hunger, College of the Sequoias offers Giant Pantry, an emergency student pantry for those facing food insecurity. On Feb. 10, college administrators came together with local partners to celebrate the pantry’s success.  Visalia Times-Delta article 

San Francisco educators still waiting for promised teacher housing — For years, district officials blamed laws prohibiting affordable-housing funds from being used for particular occupations, but then-state Sen. Mark Leno solved that problem with legislation allowing teacher housing to go forward five months ago. Still, nothing.  San Francisco Chronicle article 

One-fifth of LA public high school students said they’d been bullied last year — Add fighting bullying to the long list of priorities for which the nation’s second-largest school system has good intentions but sluggish follow-through. One in 5 Los Angeles high school students and 1 in 4 elementary students said they had been bullied last school year, according to a survey conducted as part of a newly released internal audit.  LA Times article


El Nino triggered unprecedented erosion across California’s coast – El Niño may not have brought much rain to Southern California, but it has taken its toll on the Golden State’s beaches. A new study looking at the waves, water levels and coastal changes at 29 beaches across California, Oregon and Washington has found that the 2015-16 El Niño winter season triggered unprecedented erosion across much of the West Coast. LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Amid Obamacare uncertainty, insurance giant Humana plans to leave marketplaces in 2018 – Humana Inc., one of the nation’s largest health insurers, will stop selling Obamacare health plans next year, the company announced Tuesday. The move threatens to rattle jittery insurance markets and further complicate Republicans’ push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. LA Times article 

Proposed smoking ban in Modesto parks gains steam – Modesto took another step toward banning smoking in all of its 75 city parks. The City Council’s Great Safe Neighborhoods Committee on Monday unanimously forwarded the proposal to the full council for approval. The committee is made up of council members Kristi Ah You, Doug Ridenour and Tony Madrigal. Officials did not say when the proposal would come to the council. Modesto Bee article 

Robert Price: A love triangle that was never going to work out — You might think the story of Roger Logan and his recently liberated abdominal cavity was one of desperation, peril and resolve. And it was: Mississippi man rides 2,000 miles in the back of a cargo van to Bakersfield for surgery to remove a 140-pound tumor from his hideously distended belly, knowing he might never wake up. But it’s a love story, too. Roger Logan and his wife Kitty will spend Valentine’s Day at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital puttering up and down the hallways, he in the biggest, slowest electric wheelchair you can imagine, she walking alongside attentively. Price column in Bakersfield Californian


Cannella bill would allow self-driving car pilot project at Castle – Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, has introduced a bill that would pave the road for autonomous car testing and research at Castle Commerce Center. Senate Bill 251, co-authored by Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, would allow the roads at Castle to be used for the testing of driverless vehicles by a remote operator. Merced Sun-Star article

Construction of Bakersfield’s Centennial Corridor freeway nears — For years going from east to west in Bakersfield has been a major ordeal. The State Route 58 freeway for decades has hit a dead-end where it meets Highway 99. Travelers on the highway have been force to take the surface streets of Rosedale Highway to continue traveling on SR 58. That soon could change though, as the Centennial Corridor Freeway project aims to connect SR 58 from Highway 99 to the new Westside Parkway freeway, which already exists north of the Kern River. The project is slated to begin construction in a few months. Valley Public Radio report 

U.S. says cancelled flights declining, fewer bags getting lost — The government says U.S. airlines canceled fewer flights in 2016 than any year on record while also posting record-low numbers for lost bags and passengers getting bumped off oversold flights. AP article

Valley Editorial Roundup 

Fresno Bee – Questions remain about how the electric car industry will take shape under a Trump administration that’s openly skeptical of how man-made carbon emissions affect climate change. But for now, California and Tesla have the fast track on building the nation’s next transportation network.

Merced Sun-Star – 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; It’s just conjecture, but would Oroville have been filled so full if Sites Reservoir were available? Would we be swimming if Don Pedro and Exchequer didn’t hold back the flows?

Modesto Bee – It’s just conjecture, but would Oroville have been filled so full if Sites Reservoir were available? Would we be swimming if Don Pedro and Exchequer didn’t hold back the flows?

Sacramento Bee –- There are some murky questions about an unusual hiring spree at the end of 2012 by some local and state agencies before badly needed pension reform kicked in; With the Oroville Dam crisis averted for the moment, state and federal lawmakers must address some suddenly pressing questions, and not just about fixing those spillways.