February 25, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Jerry Brown wants to spend nearly $450 million on flood control following dam emergency – After successfully appealing to the Trump administration for help with the Oroville Dam emergency, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday that he wants to accelerate state spending to reduce flood risks as he asked Washington to expedite federal environmental reviews on several projects, including repairs to the dam’s spillway. Sacramento Bee articleKQED reportSan Francisco Chronicle article

Nunes on speaker’s circuit form Bakersfield to Monterey, but not at a town hall — Devin Nunes of Tulare, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, will end his week much as it began – as a featured speaker during a gathering of devoted conservatives. Fresno Bee article‘Protestors take to Nunes’ street’ in Visalia Times-Delta

Dan Morain: Kevin McCarthy displays his clout, for good and ill — As he regularly does, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was mining for Silicon Valley campaign money at a fundraiser at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco this month. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Protests against Valadao, others — Protestors were at the doorstep of Rep. David Valadao’s, R-Hanford, office Thursday on Irwin Street to highlight the notion that he and other Republican members of Congress “refused” to conduct local town hall meetings during the Congressional recess this week. Hanford Sentinel article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California Republicans see a way out of irrelevance in the era of Trump — With Trump in the White House, a party long out of step in Democrat-dominated California sees an opportunity. Republicans like Stone say they should have a more relevant role as a bridge between the state and a GOP Congress and White House. A state that voted for Hillary Clinton, they say, still needs to maintain its financial ties with the federal government. Sacramento Bee articleEast Bay Times articleLA Times article

California Republicans to consider resolutions on ‘sanctuary cities,’ Obamacare at state convention — California Republicans meeting for their annual convention will vote Sunday on resolutions supporting President Trump’s efforts to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities, increase vetting of immigrants from certain Muslim-majority countries and repeal Obamacare. LA Times article

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom asks Trump for cooperation with California on marijuana regulation — Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a leading supporter of Proposition 64, sent a letter to President Trump on Friday, urging him not to carry through with threats to launch a federal enforcement effort against recreational marijuana firms that will be legalized in California. LA Times article

New calls Spencer’s marijuana take ‘grossly uniformed’ — The day after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer warned states of “greater enforcement” of federal laws against marijuana use by President Trump’s Justice Department, Lt. Gavin Newsom called Spicer’s comments “grossly uninformed.” San Francisco Chronicle article


AP Exclusive: DHS report disputes threat from banned nations — Analysts at the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence arm found insufficient evidence that citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries included in President Donald Trump’s travel ban pose a terror threat to the United States. AP article

Trump immigration policies pose conflict for police in ‘sanctuary cities’ – President Trump’s sweeping new immigration policies — which include efforts to shine a harsh national spotlight on cities that released undocumented immigrants who went on to be accused of serious crimes — are sharply increasing the legal and political risks confronting local law enforcement officials. New York Times article

Agency plans to award Mexico border wall contracts by April – U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Friday that it plans to start awarding contracts by mid-April for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico, signaling that he is aggressively pursuing plans to erect “a great wall” along the 2,000-mile border. AP article

Mexico rejects U.S. plan to deport Central Americans to Mexico – Mexico has informed the Trump administration that it cannot accept non-Mexican nationals whom U.S. authorities arrest along the  border and seek to remove from U.S. territory,  the nation’s internal security chief said Friday. LA Times article

Immigration at forefront of Merced’s final town hall meeting – Concerns about immigration policies and how federal positions are shifting took center stage at a final town hall meeting hosted by Merced City Council members and the city’s staff. Merced Sun-Star article

Jail policies unchanged by new immigration rules – New federal directives to beef up immigration enforcement are unlikely to have much effect on Kings County law enforcement agencies. Hanford Sentinel article

ICE ends detention contract with Santa Ana – The federal government is ending a contract to house immigration detainees in a Southern California city that recently declared itself a sanctuary for immigrants, officials said Friday. KQED report

Sacramento Bee: Is Trump building a blueprint for mass deportation? – President Trump’s executive orders and enforcement memos issued by the Department of Homeland Security dramatically expand the groups at risk of deportation. If Congress appropriates the money, there will be 10,000 more Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents and 5,000 more at Customs and Border Protection. This looks like the “deportation force” the White House insists it won’t create. Sacramento Bee editorial

Gripped by fear of ICE raids and deportations, one town tries to separate fact from rumor – Santa Paula offers a window into the fear, uncertainty and confusion that have gripped heavily Latino immigrant communities since Trump took office. The president has vowed a big increase in deportations of those in the country illegally, but his administration has yet to provide firm details of his plan. That has created a vacuum where rumors, social media hoaxes and neighborhood gossip can pass for facts and stir panic. LA Times article

Trying to avoid immigration raids? There may soon be an app for that — As President Donald Trump’s administration moves forward with rules aimed at deporting undocumented immigrants, and fears of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids grow in the immigrant community, one software developer has an idea to help people avoid detainment. Celso Mireles, a 27-year-old developer, is working on creating a smartphone app that will notify users when an ICE raid is taking place nearby, according to ViceMcClatchy Newspapers article

Other areas

California officials and the marijuana industry are ready to fight a federal crackdown – Warned of a possible federal crackdown on marijuana, California elected officials and cannabis industry leaders said Friday they were preparing for a potential showdown in the courts and Congress to protect the legalization measure approved by state voters in November. LA Times article

Leaked House GOP plan to replace Obamacare draws immediate fire – A leaked draft of the House Republican legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act is drawing strong criticism from health care advocates and Democrats who say the proposal will irrevocably weaken the nation’s health care system. McClatchy Newspapers article

These angry voters are telling Republicans: Repeal Obamacare already — Congressional Republicans got an earful at rowdy town halls this week. But many of the voters who say they got those very same lawmakers elected to office are delivering their own message: Ignore the rabble-rousers and fulfill your campaign promise to repeal Obamacare. McClatchy Newspapers article

Attorney General Xavier Becerra tells Democratic leaders in Atlanta that California will continue battling Trump’s policies – Taking the national stage as a leading foe of President Trump’s policies, California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Friday told a meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Atlanta that his state is fighting federal efforts to roll back protections for immigrants and the environment. LA Times article

Dianne Feinstein banters with protestors asking for town hall: ‘I kind of enjoy it’— Republican members of Congress aren’t the only politicians getting protested in California. The San Francisco chapter of Indivisible, a liberal organizing group that has shown up in force at constituent meetings across the country in recent weeks to “resist” the Trump administration’s agenda, crashed a talk with U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Friday asking the veteran Democrat to host a town hall. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Mayor Steinberg opens side business as consultant — Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg on Friday announced he will open his own consulting firm as a side business to his elected duties. Steinberg said in a letter to the city that the eponymous consultancy will have two clients to begin: The California Hospital Association and Meristem, a private educational facility for those on the autism spectrum. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

After first month, Valley voters for Trump praise the brash and ‘politically incorrect’ president — An informal canvass this month of Trump voters among the “reddest” cities in the central San Joaquin Valley found mostly praise for the president – with a chastisement or two for his seemingly insatiable need to tweet. Fresno Bee article

Trump administration sought to enlist intelligence officials, key lawmakers to counter Russia stories — The Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia, a politically charged issue that has been under investigation by the FBI as well as lawmakers now defending the White House. Washington Post article

Trump’s blistering speech at CPAC follows Bannon’s blueprint – Stephen K. Bannon brought the battle plan. President Trump brought the fight. A day after his secretive chief strategist laid out a hard-edged new definition of conservatism animated by attacks on “the administrative state,” globalism and the “corporatist media,” Mr. Trump delivered a visceral gut punch of a speech that executed almost all of the tactics that define the forever-war philosophy of the Trump-Bannon West Wing. New York Times article

Trump denounces FBI over leaks, demanding investigation – President Trump on Friday assailed the F.B.I. as a dangerously porous agency, charging that leaks of classified information from within its ranks were putting the country at risk — and calling for an immediate hunt for the leakers. New York Times article

Press corps protests White House briefing that excluded some media outlets – The group that represents journalists who cover the White House on Friday protested the exclusion of some news outlets from an on-the-record briefing that replaced the normal on-camera briefing open to all members of the news media. McClatchy Newspapers articleSacramento Bee editorialLA Times articleWashington Post article

Dems invite immigrants to Trump’s first address to Congress – Democrats have invited immigrants and foreigners to President Donald Trump’s first address to Congress in an effort to put a face on those who could be hurt by the Republican’s policies. AP article

Droves of locals backed write-in president — Hundreds of Kings County voters snubbed the mainstream presidential candidates this year, instead casting their ballots for candidates ranging from Bernie Sanders to Mickey Mouse. Hanford Sentinel article

Kansas shooting likely to test what Trump views as a hate crime — The shooting at a bar in a suburb of Kansas City of two Indian immigrants, one of whom died, is likely to become the first test of the Trump administration’s view of what role the federal government should play in crimes against ethnic and racial minorities. McClatchy Newspapers article

News Stories – Top Stories

Feds deny request to keep Don Pedro Reservoir spillway open; closure could come Monday — Federal officials on Friday denied a request to keep the Don Pedro Reservoir spillway open, to the chagrin of operators concerned about future storm runoff in their Tuolumne River watershed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the spillway must be closed to reduce the threat of flooding on the lower San Joaquin River, which is fed by the Tuolumne. Modesto Bee article

Dispensary seeks to enter recreational pot market, but Tulare County says no — Last year, the CannaCanHelp medical marijuana dispensary, located in an industrial building off the beaten track, booked $5.5 million in sales. That’s $15,000 a day. Now the company wants to branch into recreational marijuana in the wake of last year’s passage of Proposition 64, which legalized recreational use of marijuana by adults in California. But taking advantage of the business opportunity in conservative Tulare County is proving difficult for the company. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

New growers group will promote ‘sun-grown’ marijuana in California – In the latest sign of the maturing marijuana industry in California, a group of mostly Humboldt County-based growers is launching a new organization on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, to narrowly focused on representing the interests of sun-grown farmers. Sacramento Bee article

Confusion brewin’ over brewery district – Confusion brews as the new microbrewery district starts up in east downtown Visalia. The microbrewery district overlay zone, which goes from Murray to Mineral King and Santa Fe to Ben Maddox, is said to help revitalize a part of town that has been vacant for many years. Visalia Times-Delta article

Fulton Mall fountain and benches moved for street construction — The Dancing Waters fountain and mosaic benches on Fulton Mall were moved from their longtime spots to make way for the construction of the new Fulton Street in downtown Fresno. Fresno Bee article

Two new positions bolster Stockton mayor’s staff – Mayor Michael Tubbs says he conducted a “nationwide search” that attracted more than 40 applicants, but in the end he found the staff he was looking for right in his own backyard. Tubbs publicly announced the hiring at this week’s City Council meeting of 29-year-old Max Vargas, a graduate of University of the Pacific and the McGeorge School of Law, as his senior policy adviser. He also announced that Daniel Lopez — a 38-year-old graduate of Franklin High School and California State University, Sacramento — was his choice as his public information officer. Stockton Record article

Three businesses slated to move into Clovis business park — A small business park north of Clovis Community College on Herndon Avenue will soon be home to at least three businesses by the end of the year. Fresno Bee article

Family Christian store in Fresno closing — Family Christian is closing all its 240 stores, including the one in Fresno, after 85 years in business. It has billed itself as the “world’s largest retailer of Christian-themed merchandise.” Fresno Bee article

San Francisco firm spills internet users’ data in massive leak — San Francisco internet-services firm Cloudflare has been leaking internet users’ personal data out into the digital world, possibly for months. Potentially affected? Just about everyone who uses the internet. San Jose Mercury News article


Tulare County orange trees could be answer for citrus industry problems – A research center near Visalia is in the process of breeding a citrus tree resistant to a disease that has the industry on edge. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports. Valley Public Radio report

Kings County declares drought, flood emergencies — In an apparent contradiction in terms, the Kings County Board of Supervisors voted Thursday to declare a local flood emergency and extend the local drought emergency declaration. Hanford Sentinel article

Foon Rhee: What lessons did we learn from the Oroville Dam drama? — The renewed focus on dam safety is a good thing. So is the attention brought by the Oroville Dam drama to the broader problem of how we have let our infrastructure fall apart with spotty maintenance and lack of money for repairs. Just like nervous homeowners who live near dams, it turns out that the state needs its own kind of flood insurance. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

‘This happened in my city. I am responsible’: San Jose mayor vows to fix alert issues after flooding –  San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo assumed responsibility Friday for failing to properly notify thousands of residents who were forced to flee as floodwaters inundated their neighborhoods this week. LA Times articleSan Jose Mercury News article

On the front lines at Oroville Dam: Little sleep, lots of OT – When the first alarms went out earlier this month that Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway might collapse, a “small city” sprang up almost overnight on the hillsides flanking the imperiled dam. KQED report

Storms tear up Turlock baseball fields, cancel tournaments — Pedretti Park, a city baseball and softball facility, lost 100 redwoods to drought, a safety screen of eucalyptus trees and 90 feet of fencing to the rain and high winds. City crews hope to get the park up and running again by next weekend. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Shooting kills 5-year-old, injures 7-year-old – The community is reeling after a 5-year-old was killed and a 7-year-old wounded when someone fired into the vehicle they were traveling in Thursday evening. Community activists joined police on Friday in asking people to come forward and identify whoever is responsible for what Police Chief Lyle Martin called a “despicable act.” Bakersfield Californian article

Teens, cops, community come together at conference — Fresh-faced and awkward at 16, the Bakersfield High School sophomore seemed like a pretty typical teenager. Until he mentioned that by age 13, he was affiliated with a local criminal street gang, and that his older half-brothers are serving time in prison on murder convictions. Bakersfield Californian article

New Oakland police chief has high hopes for troubled force — Anne Kirkpatrick doesn’t throw around the word “reform” when discussing Oakland’s troubled police department. As much as Kirkpatrick is known in law enforcement circles for her efforts at overhauling police agencies, the term feels too involuntary, too backward-looking, said the woman who will become Oakland’s first female police chief Monday. Instead, she wants to lead a “transformation.” San Francisco Chronicle article


Harvey Hall to receive honorary degree – Harvey Hall, Bakersfield’s longest-serving mayor and who retired from office last year, will be awarded the honorary degree of doctor of humane letters at Cal State Bakersfield’s spring 2017 commencement ceremony, college officials announced. Hall was surprised with the news Friday morning on campus, to which he was brought on the pretense of having breakfast with President Horace Mitchell. An honorary doctorate is CSUB’s highest honor. Bakersfield Californian article

UC Merced STEM majors mentor Lorena Falasco Elementary students through experiments – Experiments using fire and drones excited students at Lorena Falasco Elementary on Friday morning as college students showed off their skills to interest the sixth-graders in the pursuit of science. Los Banos Enterprise article

Seven Hoover High students sickened from ingesting drug-laced cookies — Seven Hoover High School students, including one who was hospitalized, became ill Friday afternoon apparently after eating drug-laced cookies, according to the Fresno Police Department. Fresno Bee article

Kings County schools unaffected by Trump transgender bathroom ruling – This past week, President Donald Trump’s administration repealed federal guidelines allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choosing. However, the decision is not expected to impact schools in Kings County or others throughout the state. Under California law, transgender students may continue to use the bathroom of their choice. Hanford Sentinel article

Report: Fresno State followed procedure in football player’s heatstroke incident — Fresno State’s strength and conditioning, training and medical staff followed best practices and procedures before, during and after the summer conditioning workout where Fresno State offensive lineman Shane Gama suffered from heatstroke, according to an independent review commissioned by the university. Fresno Bee article

Taking up the challenge – What was, not too long ago, a barren plot of land thick with weeds, is now a bustling pristine military-style academy, home to hundreds of young men and women considered to be at-risk. For many, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to turn their lives around, and they are all there by choice. Stockton Record article

Fresno State winemaster trained hundreds of winemakers during his long career — Former Fresno State winemaster and internationally known enologist Ken Fugelsang died Monday from cancer. He was 70 years old. Mr. Fugelsang is credited with helping to build Fresno State’s enology department into a world-class program, known for producing skilled winemakers and award-winning wines. Fresno Bee article


Even with all the rain, crews are prepping for a big fire season – California fire officials are already preparing for a hot fire season despite the ample rain and snow the regions received. Valley Public Radio report

Modesto’s sewer system fix working — The city’s temporary fix to keep Tuolumne River water from entering and overwhelming Modesto’s sewer system is holding, and city crews continued to work Friday to reinforce and strengthen their work. Modesto Bee article

Health/Human Services 

Patsy Romero: For cancer survivors, health insurance really matters – The volunteer with the American Red Cross and six-year breast cancer survivor writes, “The healthcare debate has developed into a political boxing match that rages while Americans wait nervously to see what the future holds. The availability and affordability of their healthcare coverage is at stake. For cancer patients and their families this is a matter of life and death. Research by the American Cancer Society shows that uninsured Americans are less likely to get screened for cancer, more likely to have their cancer diagnosed at an advanced stage, and less likely to survive that diagnosis than their insured counterparts. Romero op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

 Other areas

Douglas E. Griffin: It’s been two years since Molly Griffin died.  Her dad’s advice to families: Put away your phones and enjoy each other – The vice president for the trust division and general counsel for the California Baptist Foundation writes, “I wanted Hector, the drunken driver who caused Molly’s death, to know of the forgiveness available to him. Having done so publicly and in court, I can only pray that God will reveal his purpose to Hector in what has happened. So my advice: Kick the stimuli addiction and rejoice in the time you have, my friend. Power off the phone and use your energy for what matters.” Griffin op-ed in Fresno Bee

David Torres: Fair board must balance transparency with other concerns – The Bakersfield attorney and member of the Kern County Fair Board writes, “As an attorney, I am very familiar with the First Amendment to our Constitution and fully appreciate the need for an independent and zealous press corps. However, in some instances, the need for the public to be kept abreast of a public agency’s actions must be balanced with the requirement to conform with the laws of this state as well as respect an individual’s right to privacy, especially when there is pending litigation.” Torres op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Gruner reminds journalists their work matters more than ever — George F. Gruner, a journalist whose 46-year career included 33 years at The Fresno Bee, spoke Thursday at the presentation of awards named in his honor. Here is the text of a speech he delivered to the group of journalists and supporters at the Fresno Art Museum. Merced Sun-Star article

Dick Hagerty: When you’re sitting at a traffic light, think of Doug Carmody — During Modesto’s rapid growth years, no one had a greater impact on the changing face of downtown than Douglas Carmody. For 33 years, starting in 1954, Carmody served as director of Parking and Traffic. The changes during his tenure brought a dramatic new way in how Modesto looked and functioned. Hagerty column in Modesto Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Journalists from several major news organizations were barred from a question-and-answer session Friday at the White House. It was an outrage, but not a surprise since President Donald Trump calls any negative stories “fake news” and labels the media the “enemy of the American people”; Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee –- Trump’s attack on the press is also an assault on the public; President Trump’s executive orders and enforcement memos issued by the Department of Homeland Security dramatically expand the groups at risk of deportation. If Congress appropriates the money, there will be 10,000 more Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents and 5,000 more at Customs and Border Protection. This looks like the “deportation force” the White House insists it won’t create.