February 17, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

Dan Walters: Rendon tires of Trump talk, while de Leon keeps ranting — As Rendon was signaling that he wants to attend to California’s matters, his counterpart in the Senate, President Pro Tem Kevin de León went on another rant, this time about repealing a federal regulation affecting his pet program. De León sponsored “Secure Choice,” a state-operated retirement system for privatesector workers who lack employer-paid pensions, but it required a federal waiver from pension protection laws. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

California legislators propose a $2-billion bond for higher education facilities for the 2018 ballot – A proposal introduced Thursday by Democratic state senators would chip away at the billions of dollars’ worth of facility upgrades at UC and Cal State campuses — if voters approve it. LA Times article

Gov. Brown 

Bill Whalen: It’s time for Brown to shake up his routine — If California’s governor wants to protect Medi-Cal, he should sit down with fellow House Leader Kevin McCarthy. If Jerry Brown wants to score big on infrastructure money, then lead a governors’ march on Washington seek face time with President Donald Trump. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

People at town hall challenge Denham to ‘show your face,’ speak to constituents about ACA repeal – About 300 people gathered in a Modesto church for a town hall Wednesday evening, urging Republicans in Congress not to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Union groups and health advocates kept up pressure on Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, to not support dismantling the federal health program unless there’s a new plan that protects consumers and covers more people. Modesto Bee article

Conservative group to Valadao: Repeal, replace Obamacare — A conservative nonprofit group is running TV and online advertisements in the 21st Congressional District asking people to contact Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, and ask him to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  Hanford Sentinel article

It has taken eight years, but now there is a City Council election in Clovis — It’s been a while since the Clovis City Council has had an election. The last time was 2009. Arnold Schwarzenegger was California’s governor, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency, and the San Francisco Giants hadn’t won their first World Series since moving west. Now Clovis voters go to the polls March 7 to consider two unopposed candidates and choosing between two candidates for a third seat. Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Sen. Dianne Feinstein to raise money in LA for her reelection bid – Sen. Dianne Feinstein will raise money on March 17 in Los Angeles for her 2018 reelection campaign. Donors are being asked to contribute or raise up to $10,000 to attend the luncheon at the Hancock Park home of Jon Vein, the co-founder of a software company and a former Hollywood executive who was a member of Hillary Clinton’s national finance committee during her unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign. LA Times article

For California Republicans, the political landscape is getting worse – In a state where Democrats control every statewide office and super-majorities in both houses of the Legislature, California Republicans have long pointed to local government as one reason to hold out hope. But since 2015, the California Republican Party has begun to fade at the lowest levels of government, too, further dimming the party’s prospects in the nation’s most populous state. Politico article

Antonio Villaraigosa scoops up contribution from fellow former LA Mayor Richard Riordan — Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan has chipped in to boost the gubernatorial bid of a fellow Angeleno ex-mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa. Riordan, a Republican who served as mayor from 1993 to 2001, gave $14,100 to Villaraigosa’s 2018 campaign committee last week. LA Times article


Trump seeks pause in legal fight with revised travel ban – The Trump administration said in court documents on Thursday it wants a pause in the legal fight over its ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations, so it can issue a replacement ban as it strives to protect the nation from terrorism. AP article

Valley businesses close, students stay home in Day Without Immigrants demonstration – A range of Valley businesses – from convenience stores to a taco truck, a tea shop to the cafe at Fresno City Hall – closed Thursday and took part in A Day Without Immigrants, a nationwide effort to show how critical they are to the nation’s economy and daily life. There was an unexpected result of the protest: thousands of schoolchildren skipping classes across the Valley. Fresno Bee articleMerced Sun-Star article

Day Without Immigrants around the state:

The White House has found ways to end protection for ‘Dreamers’ while shielding Trump from blowback — While President Trump wavered Thursday on whether he will stop shielding from deportation people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, his aides have identified at least two ways to quietly end their protections without his fingerprints. LA Times article

Mexico senators, California lawmakers discuss plans for those who may be deported – A delegation of Mexican senators met with California Democratic lawmakers over the past two days to talk about what they can do to help undocumented immigrants who may be at risk of deportation under President Donald Trump. Capital Public Radio report

Federal immigration raids net many without criminal records, sowing fear — The U.S. government said the series of ICE raids last week netted at least 683 “criminal aliens,” the first major immigration enforcement wave under President Trump. But a growing chorus of activists, lawyers and lawmakers have pointed to a sharp discrepancy between what ICE says it is doing and what immigrant families are seeing and reporting in cities across the nation. Washington Post article

Lines softening on San Francisco funding of public defense for immigrants — San Francisco supervisors indicated Thursday they would be willing to provide Public Defender Jeff Adachi with funding to hire more attorneys to defend detained immigrants facing deportation proceedings. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Republicans in the California Assembly propose bills they say will limit voter fraud – including showing a photo ID – Republicans in the state Assembly introduced a variety of bills on Thursday that they said would limit instances of voter fraud in California, weeks after President Trump’s unproven accusations of widespread problems in the state and elsewhere. LA Times article

Medi-Cal leader not speculating on repeal of Affordable Care Act – Diana Dooley doesn’t like to speculate about a repeal, replacement or repair of the Affordable Care Act, but the secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency knows changes are coming. Fresno Bee article

GOP lawmakers get details on Ryan Obamacare repeal plan and advice on how to sell it — House Republican lawmakers were urged to stick to the script from House Speaker Paul Ryan when discussing their still-evolving Obamacare repeal plan during February’s congressional recess. Many could face angry constituents at town hall meetings.  McClatchy Newspapers articleKQED report

Congress’ cannabis caucus ready to butt heads with anti-pot attorney general – Congress is forming a cannabis caucus with high hopes of protecting a pot industry besieged by fears of a potential federal crackdown. McClatchy Newspapers article

California lawmaker raises possibility of delaying licenses of recreational marijuana sales – Amid concerns that California may not be ready to issue licenses for the sale of marijuana by next year, one state lawmaker raised the possibility Thursday of the Legislature stepping in to delay taxes and permits. LA Times article

Inspired by Measure S, California lawmaker takes aims at anti-growth ballot measures – Assembly Bill 943 from Democratic Assemblyman Miguel Santiago increases the threshold from a simple majority to a two-thirds supermajority for passage of any local ballot measure that would block or delay development. LA Times article

California legislator resurrects his effort to end daylight saving time — Daylight saving time won last year, but Assemblyman Kansen Chu wants a rematch. The San Jose Democrat has introduced another bill targeting the divisive biannual changing of our clocks. Sacramento Bee article

Map shows where Northern California hate groups can be found — Eight Bay Area organizations made the list — only two fewer than in the entire state of Montana. The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the white nationalist Counter-Currents are active in liberal San Francisco, but keep a low profile. And, as San Francisco Chronicle reporter Kevin Fagan notes, they’re not too eager to return calls. San Francisco Chronicle article

Presidential Politics

Trump says ‘I inherited a mess,’ blasts media and detractors at combative news conference – President Trump on Thursday aired his grievances against the news media, the intelligence community and his detractors generally in a sprawling, stream-of-consciousness news conference that alternated between claims that he had “inherited a mess” and the assertion that his fledgling administration “is running like a fine-tuned machine.” Washington Post articleLA Times articleNew York Times articleAP articlePolitico article

Republicans in Congress gambled on Trump and won. Here’s why they’re worried now – As the first 100 days tick away, and rank-and-file Republicans head home for a weeklong recess, there is a growing worry that Congress will face a drip-drip-drip of new revelations about the Trump White House that will overshadow the rest of the Republican agenda, such as repealing Obamacare, enacting tax reform and cutting government spending. LA Times article

Gorsuch now closer to Supreme Court than Garland even was despite Democrats blocking — The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch on March 20, the committee chair announced Thursday. Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he expects the hearings for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to last three to four days, according to Politico. Questioning of Gorsuch would begin the next day, and the committee would hear other expert testimony. McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump’s base unfazed by recent allegations, criticisms – While a growing number of Republicans in Congress are calling for investigations into the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia last year, the president himself Thursday dismissed the story as “fake news” based on “illegal” leaks. And that’s good enough for Trump’s supporters. San Francisco Chronicle article

Trump’s inroads in union ranks have labor leaders scrambling – Many unions have interests aligned with the president’s and are adapting his themes to their objectives, even while denouncing much of his agenda. New York Times article

Democrats look to exploit Trump’s troubles — Democrats were reeling just a month ago, worried that their party was locked out of power, rife with infighting and bedeviled by questions of how it can win coming elections. Then Donald Trump took office. McClatchy Newspapers article

At the World Ag Expo farmers remain optimistic about Trump, but wary –  Despite losing California badly in November’s election, President Donald Trump drew broad support from the state’s agriculture industry. Among the farmers Valley Public Radio interviewed at the show this week, there was broad general hope about the future of the agriculture industry under President Trump. Valley Public Radio report

Here’s why the 2018 Senate elections will be crucial for President Trump and his Democratic foes – With control of the House, a filibuster-proof Senate majority could empower President Trump and his congressional allies to push through legislation and approve high-level appointees, such as Supreme Court nominees, with Democrats in the minority powerless to stop them. LA Times article

Trump’s silence on a documented rise in episodes of anti-Semitism is ‘mind-boggling,’ group says – For a second straight day, President Trump refused to directly address questions Thursday about a documented rise in anti-Semitic episodes in the United States, prompting renewed concern from prominent Jewish groups. LA Times article

Pudzer is out as Labor pick, and California unions aren’t mad about it — Some labor groups in California said they are cautiously optimistic about the new choice. KQED report

News Stories

Top Stories

Fires, floods, earthquakes add up to plenty of California disaster declarations — This year’s heavy rains and the ongoing crisis at Oroville Dam recently prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to do what he and his predecessors have done many times before: ask for federal help. Once approved, presidential declarations – the most common is a major disaster – open the door to assistance from a range of federal programs, such as money to fix roads or help with living expenses for people thrown out of work. California knows the programs well. Sacramento Bee article

Water managers see no parallel between Isabella and Oroville – Despite rainfall totals not seen since 2011, experts say the situation at Isabella Dam, located 40 miles upstream from Bakersfield, shares no meaningful parallels to the crisis at Lake Oroville that led to an evacuation order affecting some 188,000 residents in downriver communities. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

PG&E profits amid rising customer bills — PG&E profits soared in the fourth quarter, an increase powered primarily by the favorable timing of a rate case and sharp rises in customers’ gas bills. San Jose Mercury News article

Gas prices going up in Merced and around the state – and aren’t slowing down – Gas prices are on the rise in Merced, where the average on Thursday came in at 58 cents higher than a year ago, according to AAA of Northern California.  Merced Sun-Star article

Manchester Center marketplace will have modern farm style theme — The south side of Fresno’s Manchester Center is starting to go gray – a sign of the renovation work that has taken over parts of the aging mall in recent months.  Fresno Bee article

Lyon report: Region’s residential real estate market off to good start in 2017 — The greater Sacramento residential real estate market got off to a good start in January, according to the latest monthly report by Lyon Real Estate. Lyon said Thursday that new pending sales in the four-county region jumped 17 percent after dipping slightly in December. Despite numerous days of rain last month, the 1,972 new escrows also marked a 4 percent increase over January 2016. Sacramento Bee article

California fights to keep state-run retirement plan option – California legislators are fighting a resolution in Congress that could derail plans to create a state-run retirement plan for private-sector employees who don’t have one at work. San Francisco Chronicle article

Why San Francisco keeps losing tech conferences – Google Glass is a footnote to tech history. And so, too, may be the big tech showcases that made San Francisco a mecca for Silicon Valley engineers and executives seeking to put their wares on display before the world. The Bay Area’s largest tech companies — Google, Apple and Facebook — are all moving their developer conferences out of the city and farther south. San Francisco Chronicle article

Facebook’s Zuckerberg, bucking tide, takes public stand against isolationism — Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, on Thursday stepped into the raging debate about globalization. In a 5,800-word letter he posted publicly, Mr. Zuckerberg expressed alarm that what was once considered normal — seeking global connection — was now seen by people and governments around the world as something undesirable. New York Times article

Dora Westerlund bestowed with prestigious James Irvine Leadership Award — When she was three years-old Dora Westerlund already exhibited a special gift. It was a special blend of drive and determination to become an entrepreneur. Vida en el Valle article


How full are Northern California rivers and reservoirs? – These three graphs show key California reservoir conditions and river stages for the upper and lower Sacramento Valley. The images are from the California Department of Water Resources’ Data Exchange Center and the National Weather Service.  Sacramento Bee article

Oroville Dam: ‘The threat level is … much, much lower’ – After four days of relentless pounding, the operators of Oroville Dam dialed back water releases on the dam’s heavily damaged main spillway Thursday, even as forecasts show another “atmospheric river” poised to strike the region early next week.  Sacramento Bee articleSacramento Bee: ‘High-altitude photos show water and its threat to communities near Oroville Dam’Sacramento Bee editorial

With the crisis at Oroville Dam become a catalyst for change? – State officials have remained focused on quick fixes at the dam needed to prevent catastrophic flooding, but some are already thinking about how the crisis could spur long-term shifts in policy. LA Times article

With heightened focus on dam safety, Lake Isabella project moves forward — With heightened concerns in the public about the state of critical infrastructure following the spillway crisis at Oroville Dam in northern California, many are asking if Isabella Dam is safe. We recently spoke with Sam Winder, senior project manager for the Corps on the Isabella project about those safety and the pace of the retrofit.  Valley Public Radio report

World Ag Expo Day 3: A beautifully wet day for a tractor parade – Melvin Monteiro of Tulare tried for years to organize a tractor parade at the World Ag Expo. On Thursday, the final day of the expo, he got his wish. About 25 pieces of farm equipment rolled down Median Street, sloshing through muddy puddles left by a steady rain. Despite the cold and wet weather, Monteiro said the parade was a success. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta video

A broken levee is flooding miles of Tulare County farmland — A broken levee in southern Tulare County near Alpaugh has flooded several square miles of farmland and two or three mobile homes are reportedly affected.  Fresno Bee article

Anna C. Smith: Speak up; keep the Kern River flowing – The 2017 chair of the Keep Bakersfield Beautiful board of directors writes, “Contact your city council member and insist they institute and support measures to keep water flowing in the Kern River through Bakersfield. They have the power to demand it. I would argue that the health of a river flowing through a city is the report card by which that place should be judged. How do we fare if we let ours run dry?  Smith op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Criminal Justice/Prisons

California limits video-only visits for county jail inmates – California regulators pushed back Thursday against what had been a growing movement to end in-person visits in county jails. Future jails must include space for face-to-face visits, the Board of State and Community Corrections decided on a 7-2 vote. AP article

Man shot by Merced police charged with assaulting an officer — A man shot by a Merced police officer last week was charged Thursday with assaulting a police officer.  Merced Sun-Star article

Man accused of killing sheriff’s deputy ordered to state hospital – A man accused of killing Stanislaus County sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace will be sent to a state hospital to restore his mental competency before he can return to face criminal charges in the deadly shooting.  Modesto Bee article

Three teens arrested in Ceres in connection with human trafficking ring — Three teenagers, including a 15-year-old girl, were arrested by Ceres police on Thursday on suspicion of participating in a prostitution ring involving minors. Modesto Bee article

Oakland ‘retracts’ policy for police to report illegal warehouses — Oakland’s assistant police chief ordered officers Thursday to immediately begin reporting unpermitted parties and illegally converted warehouses to their superiors — but in an erratic about-face, city officials rescinded the policy four hours later. San Francisco Chronicle article


At least 31 kindergarteners struck ill at Endeavor Elementary — Roughly 20 percent of Endeavour Elementary School’s kindergarten class called in sick Thursday after roughly 31 were infected with what public health officials are speculating could be norovirus. Bakersfield Californian article

Rethinking classroom design to promote creativity and collaboration – Today’s students in robotics and engineering classes might find themselves working in spaces designed for different purposes – sometimes with kitchens that were built for home economics classes. But efforts are underway in Silicon Valley to transform classroom environments, with an eye to getting students to work together and stimulate ideas that the traditional classroom doesn’t naturally promote. EdSource article

At Independence, energy students become teachers for a day — At a table set up at Independence High School’s gym Thursday, sophomore Jocelyn Serrano showed eighth graders how to play a game that looks a bit like beer pong, but replaces Coors Light with Diet Coke and challenges students to answer difficult science questions when they land a ping pong ball in a cup. Bakersfield Californian article


Modesto endorses plan to replace iconic bridge — The City Council on Tuesday put its support behind a plan to demolish and replace the Seventh Street Bridge and create a plaza to honor the century-old Modesto landmark. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Joe Williams remembered for dedicating his life to the community – As Joe Williams lay in a Fresno hospital battling an illness that would later take his life, one of his closest friends said he asked those around him one question: “Have I done enough?” Mr. Williams, the first African American elected to the Fresno City Council, who in the 1970s led the city’s antipoverty work, died Feb. 8. Family, friends and colleagues celebrated his life and accomplishments with tears, laughter and music on Thursday morning at Peoples Church in northeast Fresno. Fresno Bee article

Len Ross, aka Fresno’s ‘Mr. Junior Golf,’ has died.  He was 96 — Len Ross, a former Fresno Unified teacher and administrator known best for the opportunities and inspiration he provided young people as the director of the junior golf tournament that bears his name, has died at the age of 96. Fresno Bee article

Vatican-led meeting in Modesto tackles walls and social justice – A four-day global social justice meeting in Modesto got off to a rousing start Thursday night, with a cardinal from the Vatican exhorting attendees to be agents of change when it’s never been needed it more. Modesto Bee articleAP article

San Francisco pet stores can no longer sell non-rescue animals — Pet stores in San Francisco can only sell rescue animals under new legislation passed on Tuesday by the city’s Board of Supervisors. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Californians are paying Cadillac taxes and getting clunker roads in return from a Legislature steered by the Democrats. It’s past time to incorporate GOP thinking into a plan that works for everyone; Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee –- Immunization has saved millions in the Third World, Bill Gates announces. So why do Robert De Niro and Robert Kennedy Jr. stoke the anti-vax movement here? The Oroville Dam crisis was an infrastructure problem. But it also raised questions about the outdated manuals governing the state’s dams.