February 16, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Nunes’ defense of ex-national security adviser raises his profile – and ire against him – Congressman Devin Nunes, the Republican from Tulare whose national profile has been rising as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is suddenly facing a firestorm of controversy in Washington, D.C., unlike anything he has faced in his 14 years in Congress. Fresno Bee article

Becerra says he is ‘very concerned’ about immigration officials detaining man in deferred action program – State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said Wednesday he is concerned about federal immigration agents detaining a 23-year-old man in Washington state who came to the U.S. illegally as a 7-year-old and later received protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. LA Times article

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown to Congress: Protect California’s private retirement program — Gov. Jerry Brown, in a letter to the state’s congressional delegation, pushed back against a Republican-led repeal of federal labor regulations allowing California to create state-run investment accounts for millions of private-sector workers without retirement plans. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

House intel chairman dismisses call for expanded Russia probe – House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, in a Wednesday morning interview with POLITICO, reacted angrily to calls for a new probe following a New York Times bombshell report about such communications. The California Republican vowed to continue his panel’s ongoing probe of Russia, but accused Democrats of politicizing the issue. Politico article

Progressive group calls for Rep. Devin Nunes to resign post over comments about Trump’s former national security advisor — A California progressive group says it will demand Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) step down as chairman of the House Select Intelligence Committee during a protest at his Clovis office Wednesday. LA Times article


Padilla warns immigration consultants to comply with California rules — California Secretary of State Alex Padilla warned the immigration consulting industry Wednesday that officials will be watching closely for anyone trying to scam undocumented immigrants panicked by recent federal raids and President Donald Trump’s pledge to crack down on people in the U.S. illegally. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

California lawmaker wants to bar the state from compelling landlords to disclose a tenant’s immigration status – A state Assembly member wants to ensure that no state office or entity in California would be able to compel a landlord to obtain and disclose information on a tenant’s immigration status. LA Times article

LA City Council votes unanimously to decriminalize street vending — The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to decriminalize street vending — a move long sought by immigrant advocates who argued that sidewalk sellers should not face criminal charges that could place them at risk of being deported.  LA Times article

ICE officials: Rumors of Bay Area roundups not true —  Rumors that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is rounding up undocumented residents throughout the Bay Area are just that — rumors, according to a spokesman for the federal agency. San Jose Mercury News article

Other areas

Three Californians are on the Republicans’ list of their most vulnerable members of Congress – The Republicans have named their top 10 most vulnerable incumbents in Congress, and three Californians are among them. The National Republican Congressional Committee added Reps. David Valadao of Hanford, Steve Knight of Palmdale and Darrell Issa of Vista to its list of “patriots,” or those believed to be most vulnerable to Democratic challenges in 2018. LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Democrats should find room in the car for Republicans – In this state so dominated by Democrats, a freshman Republican from Bakersfield might seem easy to ignore. But Assemblyman Vince Fong’s pedigree includes having worked for a decade for U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, also of Bakersfield. And in Republican-controlled Washington, McCarthy will have a say over federal money earmarked for roads and other infrastructure. Sacramento Bee editorial

Assembly Speaker: ‘I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump’ – Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon had a message for California newspaper publishers Wednesday: “I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump.” Sacramento Bee article

Joel Fox: The Oroville dam and the fight for infrastructure funding – Might a pending disaster of the Oroville Dam spillway collapse move the legislature to a compromise on infrastructure funding? Fox in Fox & Hounds

Senate panel supports confirmation of Lori Ajax as California pot czar – A state Senate panel recommended confirmation of Lori Ajax as California’s chief of marijuana regulation on Wednesday after she promised equal opportunity in making licenses available.  LA Times article

Last call at California bars could be 4 a.m. under proposed law— Closing time might get a little later at your favorite drinking spot thanks to a state senator who has proposed legislation to allow cities to decide how late alcohol can be served. LA Times article

Ed Coghlan: Yes, Washington, there is a political middle – On NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, host Chuck Todd made a comment in the guise of a question that talked about the “hollowed-out middle” of American politics, namely how hyper-partisanship will endure because voter behavior in the primaries only results in very conservative Republicans and very liberal Democrats. The story of growing division is a common theme in political cable news, which can often focus on partisan conflicts and Twitter wars. Well, Chuck, while that might be true where you live and obviously guides how you produce your program, it isn’t the case where I live. Coghlan in California Forward

California state senator proposes banning prescriptions of powerful painkiller oxycodone for those under 21 – Seeking to stem the growing opioid abuse crisis, a California state senator is proposing to prohibit prescriptions of the painkiller oxycodone for anyone under the age of 21. LA Times article

A congressman saw danger in a town-hall meeting. Police saw it differently — 
Daniel Hahn, the chief of police in Roseville, wants to be clear: His department did not shut down a recent town-hall meeting staged by Republican Rep. Tom McClintock. Nor did it tell McClintock he had to leave for his own safety because of an unruly crowd. Sacramento Bee article

GOP’s grand visions for Congress now look like a mirage — Congressional Republicans, who craved unified control of the government to secure their aggressive conservative agenda, have instead found themselves on a legislative elliptical trainer, gliding toward nowhere. New York Times article

Congress blocks rule barring mentally impaired from guns – The Republican-led Senate voted Wednesday to block an Obama-era regulation that would prevent an estimated 75,000 people with mental disorders from being able to purchase a firearm. The measure now goes to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.  Politico article

KKK, other hate groups showing up in Bay Area — It turns out that the Bay Area’s reputation as a bastion of tolerance doesn’t make it immune to hate groups — eight of them, in fact, according to a new list compiled by a national watchdog group. San Francisco Chronicle article

Presidential Politics

Trump blames Flynn crisis on leaks from U.S. intelligence officials — Less than 48 hours after he fired Michael Flynn as his national security adviser, President Donald Trump rose to Flynn’s defense Wednesday and bemoaned the leaks that uncovered Flynn’s conversations with a Russian official. McClatchy Newspapers article

While Congress struggles to replace Obamacare, Trump administration is moving to reshape health insurance on its own – With congressional Republicans struggling to develop an Obamacare alternative, the Trump administration is taking steps on its own to loosen government regulation of the nation’s health insurance markets, a longtime conservative goal. LA Times article

Health advocates blast new Trump proposals to stabilize Obamacare market — The Trump administration and new Healthy and Human Services Secretary Tom Price are under fire over new proposed rules introduced on Wednesday to help stabilize the troubled individual insurance market.  McClatchy Newspapers article

After election, Trump’s professed love for leaks quickly faded — As a candidate for president, Donald J. Trump embraced the hackers who had leaked Hillary Clinton’s emails to the press, declaring at a rally in Pennsylvania, “I love WikiLeaks!” To the cheering throngs that night, Mr. Trump marveled that “nothing is secret today when you talk about the internet.” The leakers, he said, had performed a public service by revealing what he called a scandal with no rival in United States history. Now, after less than four weeks in the Oval Office, President Trump has changed his mind. New York Times article

Trump is showing a reluctance to take responsibility for White House chaos — Nearly a month into his first term, Trump’s instinct seems to be to instead return to the role he’s shown he is more comfortable in: fighting back against treatment he views as unfair to him or to those close to him. And rather than putting controversy to rest, his approach has generated even more turmoil. LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories – Top Stories

Questions swirl around federal probe into California water districts — A reported federal investigation that’s stalled part of a California irrigation-drainage deal does not extend to the small San Luis Water District in western Fresno and Merced counties, a top district official said Wednesday. McClatchy Newspapers article

Kevin Valine: Modesto City Council doesn’t want to go there on sales tax increase – This should not surprise anyone: The City Council does not want to talk about putting a public safety tax on the November ballot. Councilwoman Kristi Ah You asked Tuesday for a discussion to be put on the agenda of a future council meeting, but she did not garner enough votes from her colleagues. Valine in Modesto Bee

Jobs and the Economy

The withering California dream – by the numbers – The California dream isn’t dead. It just upped and moved to South Dakota. Less than half of people born in California in 1980 are making more money than their parents did as young adults. That’s the lowest percentage of children out-earning their parents that California has seen since at least 1940.  CALmatters article

Former Mayor Harvey Hall to fund program that changes downtown Bakersfield and changes lives – Steve Nelson and Shaun Mcconnell pick up trash and do some groundskeeping work, including weeding and gum and graffiti removal, downtown five hours a day, four days a week. Their jobs of making the city’s entertainment hub feel a little more welcoming is part of the Street Ambassador Program, which supports the revitalization of downtown and gives people like Nelson and Mcconnell who’ve needed a job an opportunity to better themselves. And that program will continue for another year thanks to former Mayor Harvey Hall, whose Harvey L. Hall Charitable Family Foundation will fund the program for 2017 by donating $80,000, it was announced Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Dianne Hardisty: Beauty and the booze: Salons now (legally) serving alcohol – Rinse and Riesling? Buzz and Bud? Perm and Pinot Noir? What’ll you have? OK, I’ll stop. You get the idea. Starting after the first of the year, it became legal in California for beauty salons and barbershops to serve customers beer and wine. Hardisty in Bakersfield Californian

Buzzkill? More like buzz delayed for booze at movies – If you want a Bud Light with your movie, you’ll still need to drink it at home for now. The Bakersfield City Council, asked to usher in a new trend in movie-going Wednesday, told a theater chain seeking to sell alcohol to reapply for a permit and come back for the sequel. Bakersfield Californian article

Experts: Gas prices have hit bottom, ready to rise through May – The feel-good run of low gasoline prices is coming to an end, and a steep price run-up at the pump is likely to occur between Presidents Day and Memorial Day, according to energy experts.  Sacramento Bee article

Fig Garden nabs Anthropologie, Paper Source stores – Clothing store Anthropologie is moving to Fig Garden Village and the shopping center is also adding a Paper Source store. Anthropologie will leave its prominent spot at Fashion Fair that it occupied since 2006 and open a 8,920-square-foot store next to Banana Republic at Fig Garden this summer, the shopping center announced Wednesday.  Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Prepare to pay more at Jacob Myers Park – Riverbank city leaders on Tuesday upped the warm-weather parking fee at popular riverfront Jacob Myers Park from $5 to $7, and outlawed marijuana where tobacco smoking already is banned, including city buildings and most parks. Modesto Bee article

Christine Lollar: Time to pool resources to help homeless youth – The director of Homelessness Resources for United Way of Kern County writes, “Of the thousands of Kern homeless vouchers, 25 are designated for youth. No youth safe havens exist in our community. Most emergency homeless support usually focuses on reunification and staff are mandated reporters (due to being county employees or having child care centers on their sites). The closest Runaway Homeless Youth program is in Fresno. Something must change. As a community it is time to pool together to create Housing First solutions for youth.” Lollar op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

BART wants to ask voters for bridge toll hike — Fresh from winning voter approval of a $3.5 billion bond measure, BART is looking at asking for another $1.5 billion as part of a bridge-toll increase that could go on Bay Area ballots as early as next year.  San Francisco Chronicle article

State worker’s lawsuit nets five years of back pay, and her old job — A California Department of Justice agent who won a lawsuit that compelled her department to pay her five years of back wages was among the highest paid workers in California last year.  Sacramento Bee article

San Francisco firing up a marijuana department — San Francisco would have its own independent department of marijuana under legislation headed to the Board of Supervisors. San Francisco Chronicle article


State data show nearly 300 water systems out of compliance – The state has released new data on California’s drinking water–and they reveal almost 300 public water systems are out of compliance with state standards. Valley Public Radio report

World Ag Expo: She’s traveling the country telling farmers’ stories — Natalina Sents, a recent Iowa State graduate, has been crisscrossing the country as part of year-long project sharing farmers’ stories on a blog, whyifarm.com. The project, funded by the Becks Hybrids seeds of Indiana, has brought Sents to the World Ag Expo. Fresno Bee article

Waterwise: Calling for ag water advocacy at World Ag Expo – World Ag Expo seminar panelist Kay Mercer, who spoke at a water workshop, urged farmers and growers to get more active in raising awareness about agriculture and water. Visalia Times-Delta article

Homegrown company goes big at expo – Stan Brown, president of BECO Dairy Automation Inc., has seen the Hanford-based company change dramatically since the days when his father, Mike Brown, squirted milk into a bucket. Those early years are hard to envision now that BECO has become a supplier of cutting-edge dairy technology and a regular exhibitor at World Ag Expo in Tulare. Hanford Sentinel article

A by the numbers look at the World Ag Expo – Fresno’s Bill Lopez was counting the gizmos he had picked up while walking the World Ag Expo grounds on Wednesday. Visalia Times-Delta article

Officials confident Oroville Dam will withstand new rainstorm: ‘It’s holding up really well’ – Even as rain began to fall in Northern California on Wednesday, state officials said the storms forecast over the next few days will not be enough to test the integrity of the Oroville Dam or its two damaged spillways. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

George Skelton: Dam officials should have listened to those warnings about Oroville.  Now we’re stuck paying the price – Turns out, environmentalists had warned dam officials more than a decade ago that the emergency spillway was vulnerable and should be lined with concrete. It wasn’t. Government officials went into denial mode. Pouring concrete would cost lots of money. No one leaped forward with their checkbooks. Skelton column in LA Times

Oroville puts focus on dam spillways—aging and some never tested – When operators of Oroville Dam suddenly ordered evacuations on Sunday, it focused a big spotlight on a crucial piece of California’s flood-control infrastructure – spillways. McClatchy Newspapers article

Oroville Dam’s flood-control manual hasn’t been updated for half a century – The critical document that determines how much space should be left in Lake Oroville for flood control during the rainy season hasn’t been updated since 1970, and it uses climatological data and runoff projections so old they don’t account for two of the biggest floods ever to strike the region. Sacramento Bee article

Oroville’s homeless felt stranded during evacuation – The homeless people didn’t have smartphones, televisions or radios to tell them that the emergency spillway of the Oroville Dam could fail within the hour — and that a mandatory evacuation was under way. The warning that Sunday afternoon reached a homeless encampment along the Feather River when somebody yelled to them: “The dam is breaking! Get out now!” San Francisco Chronicle article

Stanislaus County dairy farmers prepare to move cows if water rises – Dairy farmers beside the surging Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers made plans Wednesday to truck their cows elsewhere if need be. Modesto Bee article

LA braces for what could be biggest storm of the season: Flooding, mudslides possible – A powerful new storm is expected to arrive in Southern California on Friday, and it could provide a walloping, with possible flash flooding, mudslides and rock slides. LA Times article

Kathryn Phillips and Ron Stork: Lessons California should learn from the Oroville Dam debacle – Phillips, director of Sierra Club California, and Stock, senior policy advocate at Friends of the River, write, “The Oroville Dam debacle is a wake-up call to California. If we heed the call, we may be able to avoid what could certainly be other disasters and wrong turns in the state water system as we head into an age typified by extreme weather events associated with climate change.” Phillips/Stork op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

California prisons fight to reduce dangerous valley fever infections among inmates – When the wind kicks up in the town of Coalinga, dust devils whirl over almond orchards and pumpjacks. You can even see the narrow brown funnels from the grounds of Pleasant Valley State Prison, on the outskirts of town. KQED report

Suspect shot by Newman police officer dies at hospital – A male suspect shot by a Newman Police Department officer responding to a report of a fight with weapons at a home has died, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department reported Wednesday afternoon. Modesto Bee article

More details released on officer-involved shooting on Highway 99 – A report of a suicidal man armed with a knife on Highway 99 led to an officer-involved shooting and closed the highway for several hours Wednesday morning. The suspect was taken to a hospital, where he is listed in critical condition. Modesto Bee article

Activists take to the streets on Valentine’s Day – Amelia Lopez idealized her old sister. Lopez saw her as a mother figure — they were 10 years apart. “She would call me every night before bed to tell me she loved me,” she said. In June 2016, Lopez’s sister was killed by her boyfriend. On Tuesday, Lopez, 17, shared her story with the participants of Visalia’s One Billion Rising. It was the first time she had spoken about her sister’s death, in public. Visalia Times-Delta article

Russian scheme allegedly used stolen identities of Sacramento-area high school students — He went by the moniker of “Non 202” and he made a name for himself from Moscow to Sacramento in the hacking industry. By the middle of 2014, he had broken into the American Express accounts of 119,000 customers all over the U.S., authorities said, and he and his partners had made off with between $300,000 and $400,000 in an alleged fraud scheme that used phony online businesses created with identities stolen from Sacramento-area high school students. Sacramento Bee article

Crime fell across much of Sacramento in 2016 – but some neighborhoods did better than others — Violent crime dropped slightly and property crime dropped sharply in the city of Sacramento from 2015 to 2016, bucking a nationwide trend, according to figures released by police Wednesday afternoon. Sacramento Bee article


Fresno Unified votes to keep Bob Nelson on as interim superintendent – In a rare unanimous decision, the Fresno Unified school board voted Wednesday to hire acting superintendent Bob Nelson as the district’s interim leader while it conducts a national search for a permanent superintendent. Fresno Bee article

Madera County dismisses Superintendent Edward Gonzalez — Madera Unified terminated the contract of Superintendent Edward González on Wednesday night. The school district’s board of trustees voted in closed session before announcing their unanimous 7-0 vote. Fresno Bee article

EdSource poll: Child care and preschool costs force parents to make difficult tradeoffs — The high cost of child care and preschool is placing a financial strain on California families and has forced many parents of young children to make difficult tradeoffs regarding work and family life, including choosing lower quality programs or even leaving the workforce altogether. EdSource article

Education roundup: Teachers wanted, CSUB celebrates alumni — The Kern County Superintendent of Schools office and Bakersfield City School District will host two job fairs downtown next month for prospective educators for the largest gathering of school district recruiters in one location. Also, a late pioneering doctor and researcher who dedicated his life to fighting valley fever, and a South High School student who has committed herself to teaching kindness, responsibility and self-love, have been awarded the 2017 Wendy Wayne Award for Exemplary Ethical Behavior from Cal State Bakersfield’s Kegley Institute of Ethics. Bakersfield Californian article

State Center Community College District awarded $1.5 million grant — The State Center Community College District (SCCCD) has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office to support the launch of the Central Valley Promise (CVP) program. The program responds to low college going rates in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties by partnering with regional K-16 educators on shared educational initiatives, instructional alignment, student preparation, and technology. The Business Journal article

After Los Banos rejects charter school renewal, Green Valley board must choose how to proceed — Green Valley Charter School officials are fighting to keep the school open for the 2017-18 school year. The Los Banos Unified School District board’s governing board last Thursday voted 4-3 not to renew Green Valley’s charter. The vote came after a California Charter Schools Association representative recommended the board not renew the charter, citing low test scores.  Merced Sun-Star article


Nonprofit land trust turns over 3,000 acres to Mojave National Preserve – The Mojave Desert Land Trust announced Wednesday that it had handed over ecologically and historically significant land to the park. The 110 parcels already are surrounded by the national preserve. They include juniper and yucca stands and a century-old homestead site. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

First flu death reported in Visalia — Tulare County health officials reported the county’s first flu-related death of the season Wednesday. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article

Memorial Medical Center honors student who donated organs after fatal accident at Yosemite — The Donate Life flag is raised in front of Memorial Medical Center of Modesto, signifying the hospital at Coffee Road and Briggsmore Avenue is honoring an organ donor.  Modesto Bee article

15 physicians: NICU closure excludes local physicians — The Kaweah Delta Healthcare District Board of Directors, with the urging of hospital administrators and support of the Medical Executive Committee, have decided to close the NICU to any physicians other than those contracted through Valley Children’s Medical Group. This would give all rights to manage patient care in the NICU to a Valley Children’s neonatology team under an exclusive contract, and would NOT allow other qualified, skilled and experienced local physicians to care for babies in the NICU. Physicians’ op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Land Use/Housing

Clovis to get mixed-income senior assisted living community — A mixed-income senior assisted living community is coming to Clovis. Innovative Development and Living Solutions of California, a new local nonprofit community development corporation, and its partners are investing $10 million in Magnolia Crossing at the corner of Sierra Avenue and Highway 168. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday morning. Fresno Bee article

Judge says Richmond rent control can remain in effect, for now — Richmond’s new rent control law will remain in effect, at least for now, after a state court judge denied the California Apartment Association’s request for a preliminary injunction pending a decision on its lawsuit seeking to overturn the voter-approved law.  San Francisco Chronicle article


The price tag for winter storm damage to California highways? More than $400 million – Rough weather this winter has taken a toll on California’s vast network of roads and highways, and state officials calculated the cost Wednesday at $401 million. LA Times article

Rough weather puts rails at risk in Northern California – The derailment and the collapse of tracks elsewhere in Northern California this winter offer a reminder of how extreme weather can disrupt train operations and pose safety risks. The railroads face a federal deadline to install new safety technology that can slow or stop trains when it senses hazards up ahead on the rails. Sacramento Bee article

Mike Slayden: Let’s improve the relationship between motorists and cyclists – The founder and executive director of Off the Front writes, “I encourage city leaders to keep education and safety at the top of the list in the next draft of the master plan. And motorists, please remember you have at least a 3,000-pound advantage, our lives are in your hands.” Slayden op-ed in Fresno Bee

Other areas

Fresno County librarian resigns; cites personal reasons for departure — Fresno County Librarian Laurel Prysiazny resigned Tuesday, Fresno County officials confirm. The resignation is effective immediately. She told supervisors in a letter that the resignation was due to health issues. Fresno Bee article

Foon Rhee: Is Sacramento ethics reform finally going to happen? — We’re more than two years into a push on ethics and transparency at Sacramento City Hall, and what is there to show for it? Not a whole heck of a lot. But that is about to change, finally and thankfully. Tuesday, a City Council committee put its final touches on a beefed-up ethics code and a new ethics commission that will be up for a vote by the full council on March 7. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California’s Department of Water Resources estimates in a 2013 report that one in five of us lives in areas threatened by floods, and that there are more than 1,500 dams and reservoirs. No one should believe that Oroville Dam is the only one at risk.

Sacramento Bee –- Putting Elk Grove casino in an empty mall may be best of bad options; In this state so dominated by Democrats, a freshman Republican from Bakersfield might seem easy to ignore. But Assemblyman Vince Fong’s pedigree includes having worked for a decade for U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, also of Bakersfield. And in Republican-controlled Washington, McCarthy will have a say over federal money earmarked for roads and other infrastructure.