February 23, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

A 27-year pace to close California gender-wage gap is too slow, lawmakers say — Twenty-seven years is too long to wait for the state to close a persistent wage gap in its workforce, lawmakers told a group of state department leaders on Wednesday. That’s how long state officials estimate it will take to eliminate the 20.5 percent disparity between the average earnings of men and women who are employed by the state.  Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: Workers’ compensation factions maneuver on bill — As chronicled in this space on other occasions, California’s multi-billion-dollar system of compensating workers for job-related illnesses and injuries is a political jungle in which the strong prey upon the weak.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Trump administration withdraws Obama transgender bathroom directive – The Trump administration Wednesday told public school districts across the nation that they no longer have to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. McClatchy Newspapers articleAP articleNew York Times article

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown makes surprise visit to Oroville Dam — Nine days ago, with the Oroville Dam under stress and battered by more harsh weather, Gov. Jerry Brown said he had no immediate plans to visit the site, suggesting “I don’t think they need politicians fluttering around.” On Wednesday afternoon, however, as management of the situation stabilized amid a break in the rain, Brown made a surprise visit to the incident command post at Oroville. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

California’s top Republican ignored business plea to help Caltrain — Business leaders at the Bay Area Council business group did their best at a recent fundraiser for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to persuade the Bakersfield Republican to get behind Caltrain electrification — but no dice. San Francisco Chronicle article

Assemblyman Arambula victim of botched Tower District burglary — The Tower District home of state Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula was broken into over the weekend, but the burglar fled after an alarm sounded in the home, a spokesman said Wednesday. Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Delaine Easton kicks off 2018 bid: ‘Time for California to have a woman governor’ — Former California Superintendent of Public Instruction Schools Delaine Eastin acknowledges that being the only declared female candidate is the least of her challenges in her quest to become the next state’s governor. Politico article

This California gubernatorial candidate wants state-funded ‘universal basic income’ for everyone – Zoltan Istvan, whose long-shot presidential campaign in 2016 included a campaign bus shaped like a coffin, says he’s jumping into California’s 2018 race for governor. LA Times article

California voters could make it easier to raise taxes to build transit and low-income housing under new legislation — A Sacramento-area assemblywoman wants Californians to decide if it should be easier to raise taxes or issue bonds to finance transit, water, parks and low-income housing projects. Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) has proposed a constitutional amendment that would lower the margin needed for local governments to pass a tax hike or bond measure to pay for such efforts from a two-thirds supermajority to 55%. LA Times article


Immigrants change up their routines, brace for arrest — Around the country, President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. have spread fear and anxiety and led many people to brace for arrest and to change up their daily routines in hopes of not getting caught. AP article

Immigrants hide, fearing capture on ‘any corner’ – If deportation has always been a threat on paper for the 11 million people living in the country illegally, it rarely imperiled those who did not commit serious crimes. But with the Trump administration intent on curbing illegal immigration — two memos outlining the federal government’s plans to accelerate deportations were released Tuesday, another step toward making good on one of President Trump’s signature campaign pledges — that threat, for many people, has now begun to distort every movement.  New York Times articleLA Times article

Lack of court hearings for undocumented immigrants violates Constitution, Sacramento lawsuit charges – For a year and a half, Jose Garcia-Alcazar has been sitting in jails in Richmond and Elk Grove while his lawyers fight the government’s efforts to deport him to his native Mexico. For more than six months now, Garcia-Alcazar, who has three children who are U.S. citizens, has not had a hearing to determine whether he is eligible for bail while the immigration courts figure out what to do with him. Lawyers for the former car-wash employee in Rohnert Park call his extended stay in jail a case of indefinite detention. Sacramento Bee article

Immigration enforcement left to feds — Police departments in the county’s two largest cities will not do local immigration enforcement, following a long-standing practice. The sheriff’s department will also follow the same practice. Visalia Times-Delta article

Mexico to Trump: We won’t take your unwanted immigrants – Mexico is not happy – actually, angry – about President Donald Trump’s expectation that it would hold tens of thousands of apprehended migrants who can’t be immediately deported, regardless of where they come from. McClatchy Newspapers article

Mexicans consider daunting prospect of deportee camps – Mexicans fear deportee and refugee camps could be popping up along their northern border under the Trump administration’s plan to start deporting to Mexico all Latin Americans and others who entered the U.S. illegally through this country. San Francisco Chronicle article

Green card holders worry about Trump’s efforts to curtail immigration — Alondra Juarez, a green card holder in Los Angeles, says she is not taking any chances. On a recent morning, she was one of dozens lined up outside the office of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, or CHIRLA.  NPR report

Other areas

With Obamacare’s future uncertain, hundreds rally at state Capitol for single-payer healthcare in California – The details of their plan are still hazy, but proponents of a single-payer healthcare system in California are already ramping up pressure on lawmakers to back publicly funded universal coverage. Hundreds rallied at the state Capitol on Wednesday to back SB 562, a measure introduced last week that would establish a single-payer system in California. LA Times article

Activists plan vigils and ‘search parties’ Thursday near the homes of California’s Republican members of Congress — After weeks of protests outside the offices of Republican members of Congress failed to persuade them to hold town halls meetings, activists are planning “search parties” and candlelight vigils outside the homes of seven California representatives Thursday evening. The rallies, largely centered around immigration and healthcare concerns, will focus on the homes of Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and Steve Knight (R-Lancaster). Activists also plan to demonstrate outside the office of Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) at noon. LA Times articleFresno Bee articleModesto Bee article

McClintock meets with critics, supporters at Sonora town hall meeting – Rep. Tom McClintock jousted with critics and heard praise from supporters at a Wednesday night town hall meeting on health care, immigration and other issues. Modesto Bee article

Cities and counties tell legislators they’re struggling to keep up with legalized marijuana industry – As state officials scramble to begin licensing marijuana sales by the end of the year, cities and counties have already begun issuing their own permits for medical pot and putting local regulations and taxes in place, officials said Wednesday. LA Times article

Fearing President Trump’s next steps, California lawmakers review their options under Clean Air Act – In a sign of uneasiness over President Trump’s environmental agenda, state lawmakers hosted a hearing Wednesday to discuss how California’s air quality policies rely on federal regulations.  LA Times article

Senator Dianne Feinstein calls for changes in Olympic sports law to protect children from abuse – Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced Wednesday she is crafting legislation to amend the federal law that governs Olympic sports organizations in America, triggering potentially far-reaching changes in how the organizations that put together the United States’ Olympic teams deal with allegations of sexual abuse that arise from their ranks of tens of thousands of local coaches, and millions of child athletes across the country. Washington Post article

Republicans mount an effort to remake the leadership – and perhaps the political influence – of CalPERS board – A quarter of a century after a bitter political fight for control of California’s largest public employee pension fund, a new effort by Republicans in the state Capitol seeks to again dilute the influence of public employee unions by reshaping the agency’s board of directors. LA Times article

Judge blocks California law on posting actors’ ages – A California law that restricts a popular Hollywood website from posting actors’ ages raises First Amendment concerns and does not appear likely to combat age discrimination in the entertainment industry in any meaningful way, a federal judge said Wednesday. AP article

Democrats’ best bet to retake the House? Follow the sun — There has been no shortage of reports that President Trump is still very popular in the bars and diners of the old industrial towns that decided the 2016 presidential election. But if you want to meet the voters who will decide the biggest political story of the 2018 congressional elections, you might have to fly right over the blue-collar workers of Youngstown, Ohio, and go talk to the real housewives of Orange County, Calif. Yes, it’s early. But if we’re already breathlessly checking in on Altoona, Pa., then add the O.C. to the mix. New York Times article

Presidential Politics

Trump differs with his appointees on protecting safety net – Mr. Trump has surrounded himself with conservatives bent on cutting back or eliminating many of the programs he has championed, like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. New York Times article

Poll: Majority of Republicans back Trump’s Russia policy – Republicans remain firmly supportive of President Donald Trump’s overtures to Russia, even as the GOP’s congressional leaders are wary. A new McClatchy-Marist poll found large majority of Republicans, 73 percent, appear ready to dismiss leadership’s concerns about getting too close to the longtime adversary amid worries about alleged meddling of U.S. elections and the annexation of Crimea. McClatchy Newspapers article

How Trump’s campaign staffers tried to keep him off Twitter — President Donald Trump’s former campaign staffers claim they cracked the code for tamping down his most inflammatory tweets, and they say the current West Wing staff would do well to take note. The key to keeping Trump’s Twitter habit under control, according to six former campaign officials, is to ensure that his personal media consumption includes a steady stream of praise. Politico article

President Trump would be biggest hurdle in LA’s Olympics bid – International Olympic Committee members will decide this September if the 2024 Summer Games will be in L.A. or Paris. One IOC member from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia called Trump’s travel ban “totally contrary to Olympic ideals.” KQED report

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories – Top Stories

Dueling consultants question what’s a Yosemite National Park name worth — A Yosemite National Park trademark challenge now turns, in part, on two dramatically different estimates of what some famous names are worth.  McClatchy Newspapers article

California wants to give a tax credit to working poor but people aren’t signing up – California officials and nonprofit groups want to encourage poverty-level workers to take advantage of the state’s earned income tax credit, which put an average of $519 in the pockets of people who received it in the 2015 tax year. The biggest challenge, supporters say, is getting eligible workers who file a tax return to claim the credit, as well as encouraging workers who don’t file a return to do so and take advantage of the program. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Deportation fears depress California Dream Act college aid applications – Undocumented 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 articleEast Bay Times articleLA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Kern fair increases admission, parking fees – Just like the gravity-defying carnival rides, the cost of attending the 2017 Kern County fair is going up, up, up after the fair’s board of directors approved increases in adult ticket prices, parking and carnival wristbands at its monthly meeting Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Commission studies Stockton mayor’s salary again – Roughly two years ago at this time, an obscure arm of the city’s government emerged from the shadows with a recommendation that led to the slashing of then-Mayor Anthony Silva’s salary.  Wednesday afternoon, the Salary Setting Commission reconvened for the first time since 2015, meeting for one hour before a City Hall audience of one service dog and four human beings, including Councilwoman Christina Fugazi. Stockton Record article

CVS to close two Valley stores — CVS is closing stores in Madera and Visalia as part of a cost-cutting plan that will close 70 stores this year.  Fresno Bee article

Sacramento mayor lands private dollars toward housing plan for homeless people — Bolstering his attempt to use federal affordable housing vouchers to shelter Sacramento’s homeless, Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced a partnership with Sutter Health at Tuesday night’s Sacramento City Council meeting that could provide $20 million in funding to strengthen his proposal – and possibly double that if the city lands federal dollars. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Bee: A deal on homelessness that can’t be refused – A windfall of about $40 million would pay for addiction treatment and mental health services for hundreds of homeless people. All Sacramento County has to do is agree to go along with Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s plan. Sacramento Bee editorial

Sacramento will hire teens for parks jobs and expand youth programs — By a unanimous vote, council members moved to dedicate nearly $600,000 toward programs like the one that helped Dickson, and others that provide parks jobs, internships and training for Sacramento teenagers. It includes money to hire 25 young people to work part-time landscaping city parks and four program leaders that the city hopes will be promoted from the ranks of its young workers. Sacramento Bee article

Elk Grove Indian casino faces new challenge from gambling watchdog group – The Wilton Rancheria tribe’s bid to bring a casino to suburban Elk Grove encountered a key roadblock Tuesday, when the project’s foes filed an appeal against the federal government’s decision to take land into trust for the tribe.  Sacramento Bee article

Hanford Dunkin’ Donuts opens March 8 – The first Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant in the Central Valley is about to open in Hanford. The popular East Coast-based restaurant is planning to hold a grand opening March 8 at 1695 W. Lacey Blvd., which is located on 12th Avenue just east of the Hanford Mall. Hanford Sentinel article


Water level rise at Don Pedro not cause for concern, authorities say — Those who have been keeping an eye on the numbers at Don Pedro Reservoir the last couple of days might have noticed something that seems troubling: since officials opened a spillway to release water, the level actually has been rising. Modesto Bee articleJeff Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Rain has subsided, but flood warnings remain – Modesto-area waterways remain at or near flood stage, but there is no rain expected in the area for at least a few days. Rain is not expected to return to the area until Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Modesto Bee article

Amid Oroville emergency, California Legislature moves to make flood-control fixes – As heavy winter storms continue to hammer California, the Legislature is launching a review of dam and levee safety and bracing for major investments necessary to shore up flood control throughout the state. Sacramento Bee article

America’s aging dams are in need of repair — Nearly 2,000 state-regulated high-hazard dams in the United States were listed as being in need of repair in 2015, according to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. A dam is considered “high hazard” based on the potential for the loss of life as a result of failure. By 2020, 70 percent of the dams in the United States will be more than 50 years old, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. New York Times article

Emergency flood declaration issued by Fresno County over high river levels, weakened levee — A local emergency flooding declaration has been declared by Fresno County officials because of the weakened levee operated by Tranquillity Irrigation District and the continued high water flows into local waterways from reservoir releases.  Fresno Bee article

14,000 households remain under flood evacuation order in San Jose — As the waters receded from the swamped homes, schools and businesses in San Jose on Wednesday, thousands of residents in the nation’s 10th largest city remained pitched into a state of uncertainty and sadness in the wake of a “100-year event” flood.  San Francisco Chronicle articleSan Jose Mercury News article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Merced police stats on use of force didn’t include an officer-involved shooting – A crime statistics report this week from the Merced Police Department had a notable omission – an officer-involved shooting. During a presentation to the City Council on Tuesday, Chief Norm Andrade said officers went all of 2016 without discharging their firearms on the job. That failed to account for a Jan. 30, 2016, incident that was reported on the department’s Facebook page. Merced Sun-Star article

Despite what you might think, crime fell in Merced in 2016, police chief says – Overall crime in Merced is down by 2 percent, a fact that contradicts what many city residents may believe, according to police Chief Norm Andrade. The largest swing in statistics came in homicides, with only one recorded in the city in 2016, compared with 11 reported the previous year. Merced Sun-Star article

Modesto sees nearly 5 percent drop in violent crime — Serious crimes, including homicide, burglary and auto theft, dropped nearly 5 percent last year in Modesto compared with 2015. Modesto Bee article

CHP officer dies from injuries suffered in motorcycle crash during chase in south Sac – A California Highway Patrol officer died from injuries he suffered Wednesday when he was involved in a crash during a high-speed chase in south Sacramento and thrown from his motorcycle. Lucas F. Chellew, 31, an 8-year veteran of the CHP died at 6:11 p.m. at UC Davis Medical Center, authorities announced in a 9:30 p.m. news conference at the hospital. Sacramento Bee article

Man charged with killing Sacrament, Placer deputies can’t get fair trial in capital, lawyers say — Citing vast media coverage of the October 2014 slayings of two Sacramento-area deputies and the nationwide debate over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, lawyers for slaying suspect Luis Bracamontes say their client cannot get a fair trial and are asking a Sacramento Superior Court judge to move the case to another county. Sacramento Bee article


Students, parents urge Fresno Unified board to become ‘safe haven’ – Fresno Unified students, parents and community members urged the school board to pass a resolution protecting undocumented students at a meeting Wednesday night.  Fresno Bee article

Turlock university hosting Dreamers summit on Friday – California State University, Stanislaus, will hold a Dreamers Summit on Friday morning with up-to-date immigration information for students and immigrant youth. The half-day forum will offer immigration policy updates and resources, including all available information on actions of the new administration of President Donald Trump. There also will be updates on AB-540, the state law that allows certain non-residents who attended California high schools to pay in-state fees to attend state colleges. Modesto Bee article

UC President Janet Napolitano blasts Trump immigration crackdown as backward step – University of California President Janet Napolitano blasted the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown on Wednesday, calling it a step backward that would make communities less safe. LA Times article

Are California’s jeopardized Middle Class Scholarships worth saving? – Fewer students qualify for the awards than the state first projected, and many of those who do get relatively small checks under program rules that offer less to applicants whose families make more. And because there’s no income floor written into the law, a third of scholarship recipients come from low-income families making less than $80,000—even though the program was designed to help middle-income families making $80,000 to $150,000 annually who don’t qualify for much other relief. CALmatters article

The state plans to keep its promises to transgender students, says California schools chief – With news that the Trump administration is rolling back former President Obama’s guidance on protecting transgender students, State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is reminding California students of their rights LA Times article

Merced County Office of Education presents annual education report – A group of students who make up more than 11 percent of Merced County’s enrollment was at the center of attention Wednesday during a presentation of the Merced County Office of Education’s annual report. The roughly 5,000 students with special needs participate in more than 70 special day classes for those who have disabilities ranging from speech and language impairments to autism. Merced Sun-Star article

Kings Canyon Unified picks one of its own to become superintendent – John Campbell, Kings Canyon Unified’s deputy superintendent, was named superintendent on Tuesday. Campbell will replace Juan Garza, who announced his plans to retire earlier this month after leading the district for 15 years. Fresno Bee article

Turlock school board moves to general elections, may shrink to five members – Turlock Unified took the first steps to shift its trustee elections to even-numbered years and is weighing changing its board from seven members to five, both in reaction to citizen apathy.  Modesto Bee article

Connecting engineering with education — Dams, antibiotics, buildings, bridges, highways and solar panels are just a few examples of engineered products in our society. This week is National Engineers Week, and the students in Lemoore High School’s Engineering Pathway are in their second year of learning the basics of engineering. Hanford Sentinel article


Port of Oakland: Big-rig smog checks reflect change in trucking industry — For trucking companies at the Port of Oakland, the hardest part is mostly over — if they’re still in business, that is.  San Jose Mercury News article

Other areas

Is disruption new normal for Stockton city council meetings? – In the aftermath of Tuesday night’s chaotic City Council meeting, which was interrupted by sign-bearing protesters venting anger over shootings by law enforcement officers, two fundamental questions presented themselves. Is this the new normal at City Council meetingsStockton Record article

Tulare council votes to become less transparent – Tulare City Council approved removing detailed travel reports for each council member from board meeting agendas. Visalia Times-Delta article

Andreas Borgeas: Moving Fresno County forward with your public service – The Fresno County supervisor writes, “There are exciting ways to serve our community. Fresno County’s boards and commissions are designed to expand the link between members of the public and government service to enhance our community’s quality of life. Membership on a board or commission is one of the most effective ways a citizen can become an active participant in civic affairs.” Borgeas op-ed in Fresno Bee

Dear Governor: What Kern needs on its fair board — With the resignation of Rusty Graham from the Kern County Fair board of directors, Gov. Jerry Brown has the opportunity to appoint a community member who understands the board’s obligation to be open, honest and accountable to the public — the same public that makes the fair the most popular, even beloved, entertainment and cultural attraction in the area.  Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Laith Hammoudi was one of tens of thousands of people ensnared in the ban imposed by President Donald Trump on travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, Iraq included. Federal courts halted that ban, but Hammoudi, like many aspiring Americans, remains stuck in a Kafkaesque limbo. Surely, there is room for them in this welcoming nation.

Sacramento Bee –- A windfall of about $40 million would pay for addiction treatment and mental health services for hundreds of homeless people. All Sacramento County has to do is agree to go along with Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s plan; Why Gary Gray is a promising pick to lead UC Davis.

Stockton Record – Road woes: Weather having impact on California drivers.