February 19, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

A Trump ally in Congress warns his state, California, to make nice – Mr. McCarthy left no doubt that his loyalties in this fight were east of the Mississippi River. He assailed California’s Democratic leaders for provoking the president, and warned that it could prove damaging to the state, particularly as the Trump administration created an infrastructure program to pay for public works projects across the nation. New York Times article

Kevin McCarthy and Vince Fong: California’s common ground with Washington – House Majority Leader McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and state Assemblymember Fong (R-Bakersfield) write, “The Golden State has a golden opportunity if Sacramento and D.C. can work together. On two key infrastructure issues — water and highways — we have much to gain by working side-by-side to jump-start long overdue infrastructure projects throughout this state. Together, we have long worked to solve problems in the Central Valley on these very issues, and, with a new administration, we have new opportunities to take this progress statewide.” McCarthy/Fong op-ed in San Francisco Chronicle

John Myers: California campaign spending broke records in2016 – expect more of the same in 2018 — An analysis by The Times finds that more than $488.8 million was spent on California ballot measures in 2016, far surpassing any previous statewide election. That total was driven both by the sheer volume of propositions — the longest ballot in more than 16 years — and a handful of supersized battles. Myers in LA Times

Valley politics

GOP group seeks to shore up Valadao — The Republican National Congressional Committee (RNCC) has added Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, to its Patriot Program. The program raises money for congressional incumbents the RNCC thinks are most vulnerable to defeat in the general election of November 2018. Hanford Sentinel article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California Democrats are trying to harness a new wave of progressive energy — For the Democrats in California’s congressional delegation, this weeklong Presidents Day recess reflects both a new opportunity and a dilemma: Can the surge of anger and activism in Democratic California be harnessed to win more elections? LA Times article


DHS chief proposes prosecuting parents of children smuggled into U.S. – Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has issued new orders to agency heads that considerably expand the number of immigrants who can be detained and deported under new executive orders President Donald Trump signed last month. McClatchy Newspapers articleWashington Post article

Marcos Breton: State Latino leaders are ready to fight Trump on immigration: Here’s why their approach is all wrong – One could argue that the Trump administration’s immigration platform promotes a brand of nationalism that rejects the very multiculturalism that Becerra, de León and others rode to elective office. If this is true, California’s leaders not only are taking on a formidable opponent – they are battling a foe that views them as the problem. You can’t fight that enemy by appealing to sympathy, because the enemy has none. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Hundreds march through downtown for making Fresno a sanctuary city — A few hundred people gathered at Fresno City Hall on Saturday afternoon for a march downtown protesting the presence of federal immigration agents in the city and Mayor Lee Brand’s decision against making Fresno a sanctuary city. Fresno Bee article

‘You and your family are fired … Love you’: Dozens lose jobs over immigration protest — In at least five states, roughly 60 people lost their jobs this week after they skipped work to participate in the “Day Without Immigrants” protest on Thursday, according to local media reports. McClatchy Newspapers article

Agencies more concerned with safety — A number of law enforcement agencies in San Joaquin County have issued public alerts and internal memos reiterating their immigration enforcement policies in recent weeks. Officials said local law enforcement officers currently have no role in ascertaining whether a victim, witness or suspect is in the United States illegally. Stockton Record article

Thousands rally for immigrant rights in downtown LA – Thousands of activists marched through the streets of downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to oppose immigration enforcement raids and demand that local officials take concrete steps to thwart the “deportation machine” under President TrumpLA Times article

LA’s moves to protect immigrant street-food vendors come with a catch — L.A. is the only major U.S. city where selling food on the sidewalk is illegal. President Trump’s immigration policies have pushed the City Council to change the law. But the devil is in the details. KQED report

Other areas

New California bills take aim at prescription painkillers, concealed guns in schools – After regaining their supermajorities in both the Senate and Assembly in November’s election, California Democrats are not shying away from the big issues this year. Universal health care, affordable housing, immigration enforcement and major road repairs are all on the table — not to mention proposals to end Daylight Saving Time and allow cities to decide whether to keep bars open longer. San Jose Mercury News article

Democrat to quit election board, setting up political fight – Ann M. Ravel of the Federal Election Commission is leaving early because of gridlock. By tradition, Senate Democrats would select the replacement, but, by law, the choice belongs to the president. New York Times article

‘California is a nation, not a state’: A fringe movement wants to break from the U.S. – Bolstered by the election of President Trump, the group, Yes California, is collecting the 585,407 signatures necessary to place a secessionist question on the 2018 ballot. Its goal is to have California become its own country, separate and apart from the United States. Washington Post article

Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe in Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, dies at 69 — Norma McCorvey, who was 22, unwed, mired in addiction and poverty, and desperate for a way out of an unwanted pregnancy when she became Jane Roe, the pseudonymous plaintiff of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that established a constitutional right to an abortion, died Saturday at an assisted-living facility in Katy, Texas. She was 69. Washington Post articleLA Times articleNew York Times article

Presidential Politics

Trump’s gap between talk, action could benefit California – President Trump’s first month in office has been long on tweeted threats and broad promises of changes to come, but short of real action. For California, that might be a good thing. San Francisco Chronicle article

Trump reverts to campaigning a month into his term. This time, his opponent is the media – President Trump returned to campaign mode Saturday with a clear opponent in mind — the media — declaring before thousands of cheering supporters that “fake news” was undermining his nascent administration’s accomplishments. LA Times articleWashington Post articleNew York Times article‘Fact check: What Trump got wrong at his rally’ in New York Times

Other presidents have battled the press.  But never like Trump – He’s not the first president to have issues with the press — Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln had complaints too — but President Trump has taken his battle with the media to new heights and made his complaints unusually public and caustic. LA Times article

McCain tweaks Trump by saying suppressing free press is ‘how dictators get started’ – Senator John McCain issued a stinging rebuke of President Donald Trump’s criticism of the press as the “enemy of the American People,” saying that intimidating and suppressing the news media is “how dictators get started.” McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump attack may reopen debate on splitting Ninth Circuit in San Francisco – President Trump has turned his wrath on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, charging that the court that blocked his travel ban is “in chaos” and “frankly, in turmoil.” San Francisco Chronicle article

Donald W. Blount: Asking questions that must be asked — Transparency, the public’s right to know, is what allows our society to operate and prevent governmental malfeasance. It gives us a voice into how our communities develop. But dark clouds have settled over Washington, D.C., brought there by a president who appears to want us to work for him, instead of the other way around. Blount column in Stockton Record

Willie Brown: Good news now for Trump, but bad news may be just around the bend – Ranting. Raving. Unhinged. President Trump predicted the media would use one of the two R-words to characterize his demeanor during his — ahem — wide-ranging news conference the other day. In fact, many commenters all but said he seemed bonkers. Don’t be fooled — he didn’t do a lick of damage with the people who put him in office.  Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

Victor Davis Hanson: Trump faces nothing but bad choices in the Middle East — Trump, a political outsider, did not create the monster. Rather, he inherited from past U.S. leaders the three-headed hydra of the Middle East.  Hanson column in Fresno Bee

Treason: It’s a provocative charge being leveled against Trump, and one that rarely amounts to much — Casually tossing out political rhetoric is one thing, provocative as it may be. The laws that define treason are quite specific, however, making it unlikely in the extreme the accusations that Trump and his aides conspired against America will go anywhere beyond the purview of late-night comedians and the president’s hardest-core detractors. LA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

3-D imaging could answer fundamental questions about valley fever — A Phoenix-based laboratory is capturing detailed images of the fungus that causes valley fever, hoping to better understand how it works. The research could shed light on why the disease spreads at higher rates for Americans of African, Filipino and Mexican descent than others, said Bridget Barker, an assistant professor at Northern Arizona University and the Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute, or TGEN. Bakersfield Californian article‘Juan Solis lives his life in the shadows, his health destroyed by valley fever’ in Bakersfield Californian

Living in poverty, pollution can change everything – even down to the molecular level — At 42, JePahl White’s life has been filled with surgery scars and misery. He needed two kidney transplants because the first one failed. He also had surgery for a cancerous kidney tumor. Then there was open-heart surgery. He blames the kidney, cancer and heart problems on dirty air, contaminated water and life in a poverty pocket called west Fresno. And he’s not the only one who thinks people in west Fresno face disadvantages. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto council decides against hiring retail expert — Modesto has decided against spending as much as $60,000 to hire a firm that helps cities attract more stores, restaurants and other retailers to help them boost their sales tax revenues. Modesto Bee article

Long-distance Uber, Lyft drivers’ crazy commutes, marathon days, big paychecks – Like Barber, many of the far-flung drivers commute to San Francisco weekly for a marathon stint of three or four 12- to 16-hour days. Often, they aim for bonuses tied to goals such as working 50 hours or totaling 120 rides a week. Some sleep in their cars and shower at gyms or sponge off in gas station restrooms; some cram together in cheap East Bay motels; some, like Barber, are lucky enough to bunk with friends. San Francisco Chronicle article

Farewell voyage of the Sherman – When and if it floats off into the sunset, the Sherman will leave a lot of history, unfilled expectations and unrealized potential in its 94-year-old wake. Stockton Record article

Afghan refugees given a leg up in finding Sacramento-area jobs– Afghan refugees in the Sacramento area are receiving job search and training help to find work in construction, renewable energy and other industries. Sacramento Bee article

SpaceX launches rocket from historic moon pad — A SpaceX rocket soared from NASA’s long-idled moonshot pad Sunday, sending up space station supplies from the exact spot where astronauts embarked on the lunar landings nearly a half-century ago. AP article


Presidents Day storm could be biggest one yet – Officials released some impressive facts Saturday as Mother Nature took a respite from the stormy conditions that roared through the area Friday. But the scariest fact may have come from forecaster Brooke Bingaman at the National Weather Service in Sacramento: It’s likely the worst is still ahead of us. Modesto Bee article

Specter of ’97 flood looms large near Tuolumne River as residents brace for new storm — Elizabeth Herroz flips between two photos on her phone. One of her house in January 1997 and one today. Water inundates the single-story home just south of the Tuolumne River in the former, and in the latter it is dry with gray clouds overhead. Modesto Bee article

Government severely misjudged strength of Oroville emergency spillway, sparking a crisis – Interviews and records suggest that the near-catastrophe grew out of fundamental problems with the original design of the emergency spillway that were never corrected despite questions about its adequacy. LA Times article

Living beneath a wall of water: Can Oroville residents trust the dam will hold? – Life isn’t exactly back to normal yet in Oroville. The mandatory evacuations ended last Tuesday, but not everyone has returned home, and folks in town have suitcases packed in case they’re ordered to leave again. Sacramento Bee article

Releasing water a Oroville Dam a lingering problem – While it’s unclear if expanding the lake’s discharge capacity would have averted the recent problems — which included the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people from downstream communities on the Feather River — the records highlight the ongoing and complicated safety demands of the nearly 50-year-old dam. San Francisco Chronicle article

Dan Schnur: Dam disaster revealed a lack of heart at the top – As nearly 200,000 Northern Californians abandoned their homes last week in the face of potentially devastating floodwaters, as they fought through paralyzing traffic past shuttered gas stations and boarded-up storefronts seeking shelter at sold-out motels and overwhelmed relief centers, their governor had a message for them. “We live in a world of risk,” said Jerry Brown. “Stuff happens.” Schnur column in San Francisco Chronicle

Flooding near Lamont causes headaches, damage — Lamont floods. It’s a reality that’s become so common in wet years, that maintenance crews just show up without being called out. Bakersfield Californian article

Wet winter has improved Colorado River basin’s water forecast, but the drought endures — There is one place where the precipitation has been particularly welcome and could be transformative: the Colorado River basin, which provides water to nearly 40 million people across seven states. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Jeff Jardine: A new plea to the governor, times two, to keep killers in 1979 Modesto murder case locked up – If you are tired of reading about the repeated parole hearings from the 1979 murders of Modesto residents Phil and Kathy Ranzo, just think how tired and emotionally drained the Ranzo family members must feel every time they attend one. Jardine in Modesto Bee

Infamous ‘hot felon’ walks the runway – Jeremy Meeks’ icy blue eyes enticed the internet in 2014 and kept it hooked on through 2016 in a rags-to-riches narrative that not even Lifetime could have created — and which continued last week on the runway. Washington Post article

Veteran defense attorney retires after 30-plus years working Kern County cases — After more than 30 years defending clients in Kern County courtrooms, Michael C. Lukehart is closing up shop. The veteran defense attorney, known for his professionalism, erudition, dry sense of humor and pithy quotes regarding not only his own cases but various legal matters both in the county and nationwide, has decided it’s time to pursue other interests. Bakersfield Californian article


BC rolls out public health degree to train ‘change agents’ — Responding to a dearth of homegrown public health specialists and an expanding lack of community literacy in health issues, Bakersfield College launched a Public Health Sciences transfer degree this year with plans to add a certificate program within months. Bakersfield Californian article

Dan Walters: Law school enrollment, bar exam passage rate dropping in California – The passage rates are particularly low for non-white students and those from poor families, a state Assembly hearing on the issue this month was told. Meanwhile, the Assembly Judiciary Committee was told, low bar exam passage rates are reducing the supply of lawyers and legal interns to handle the needs of consumers, particularly low-income Californians. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Restaurants helping literacy efforts — Eat, drink and be literate. Six downtown restaurants are part of a new placemat project, launched this week by the University of the Pacific, the Downtown Stockton Alliance and First 5 San Joaquin. Stockton Record article


Health/Human Services 

New report finds children at a higher risk of lead exposure in several California cities – In several neighborhoods across California, many children face an invisible health threat: lead poisoning. Found in paint dust from homes and apartments built before 1978, long-term exposure to lead has been shown by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to cause health problems ranging from anemia to learning disabilities. California Health Report article

Lois Henry: Drive-by journalism doesn’t help clear the air on local pollution — Speaking of The Guardian, it recently came out with another “blockbuster” on our local air quality. We don’t usually comment on how other media portray life in the Golden Empire, but when a piece is this hackneyed, I can’t shut my yap. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Other areas

Difficult to remember, impossible to forget: San Joaquin Japanese look back on internment — Harumi Tanaka, 84, had finished fourth grade in Linden and was 10 years old when her family was forced to assemble at the San Joaquin Fairgrounds before being sent by train to Rohwer, Arkansas. She remembers a friend visiting her at the fairgrounds and bringing her popsicles. Stockton Record article

‘Something is missing here now’: Homeless man made Capitol Park a tidier place — He usually arrived shortly after sunrise, his white T-shirt tucked neatly into his jeans, long before the lobbyists and lawmakers and tourists converged on the California state Capitol in Sacramento. Randall Koroush spent his nights outdoors, lying down under the I Street Bridge or in a hidden nook behind a church. But for more than 20 years, he devoted his days to the 40 acres of gardens that surround California’s historic statehouse. Capitol Park was his home, and every day he worked to keep it tidy. Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Modesto Bee – There must be an investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia.