February 26, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Devin Nunes offers advice to California GOP: ‘We have to be willing to lose’ — Rep. Devin Nunes, finding his voice as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Trump transition team, told fellow California Republicans Saturday that the party can chart its way back to relevancy by repeatedly sponsoring reform-minded ballot measures. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

John Myers: If you think it’s time to rein in money in politics, look to Sacramento or to California’s voters – If there’s any lesson Ann Ravel could take away from her time in Washington spent watching the big money of political campaigns, perhaps it’s this: If you want something done right, do it yourself. And so when it comes to shining a brighter light on some of the more mysterious money in politics, Ravel sees no sense in waiting for action from the nation’s capital. Myers in LA Times

Gov. Brown 

Sacramento Bee: Jerry Brown shouldn’t squander the Oroville Dam crisis — If we Californians are to live and prosper in our re-engineered state, we will need to pay for it, or, as Gov. Jerry Brown said last week, “belly up to the bar.” Where the money would come from is unclear. Sacramento Bee editorial

Valley politics

Robert Price: For McCarthy, this is the moment to put constituents’ concerns first — The other day I offered Kevin McCarthy a deal he just couldn’t pass up: a sponsored town hall discussion of Republicans’ plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. We would make it invitation only, keep it to 30 guests, bar the doors and make sure a good portion of the participants were in his corner. He passed it up. Price column in Bakersfield Californian

Jeff Jardine: Why didn’t Denham schedule town hall meeting to face his constituents? — They all but filed a missing person’s report on Rep. Jeff Denham this month, stopping just short of offering a reward to anyone who could find our local congressman and convince him to appear at a town hall meeting. No such luck. Denham wanted no part of a gathering in the 10th Congressional District similar to the three 4th District Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Roseville, braved in his, including a two-session verbal bloodletting Wednesday night in Sonora. Jardine column in Modesto BeeModesto Bee editorial

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California GOP buoyed by story of Vietnamese refugee silenced by Senate Democrats — California Republicans, deeply in the minority at the Capitol and without a statewide standard-bearer, often grumble about the lack of respect afforded to their leaders by the majority party. Nguyen’s silencing provides not only a vivid example of those gripes, but it gave the Republicans huddled at their annual spring convention here a rare issue to coalesce around. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

As state attorney general, Xavier Becerra gets to battle Trump – and discourage rivals in 2018 — The race for California attorney general in 2018 has been shaken up by the so-called “Trump factor,” with the state’s newly appointed top lawyer, Xavier Becerra, seeing his profile boosted to the national stage by legal challenges to the Republican president. LA Times article


Immigration agents discover new freedom to deport under Trump – The Trump administration’s far-reaching plan to arrest and deport vast numbers of undocumented immigrants has been introduced in dramatic fashion over the past month. And much of that task has fallen to thousands of ICE officers who are newly emboldened, newly empowered and already getting to work. New York Times article

Steve Lopez: Trump needs to stop terrifying immigrant families and consider the real cost of mass deportations — I think Trump is absolutely right to go after hard-core criminals. But I wonder how many taxpayers want to invest in prosecuting and shipping Mario Vargas back to Mexico, or to begin rounding up and deporting millions more like him. If Trump is such a great businessman, why doesn’t he produce a breakdown on the costs and benefits, including the impact on the economy, wages and the price of goods? Lopez column in LA Times

Other areas

With Obamacare in jeopardy, California considers going it alone with ‘single-payer’ system – With President Trump now vowing to put forward a replacement for the Affordable Care Act in March, some California politicians and healthcare advocates are once again promoting the idea of a state-run “single-payer” system that operates like MedicareLA Times article

Congress returns, with health care, Supreme Court on agenda – Congress returns to Washington this week to confront dramatic decisions on health care and the Supreme Court that may help determine the course of Donald Trump’s presidency. AP article

Report warns of state money fallout from health law repeal – A report to governors about the potential consequences of repealing the Obama-era health care law warns that federal spending cuts likely would create funding gaps for states and threaten many people with the loss of insurance coverage. AP article

Dr. Richard Bertken: Trump travel ban could have ‘hazardous’ effect on Valley medical care – The clinical professor of medicine at University of California San Francisco-Fresno writes, “It was an established fact then that big-city public hospitals – even those with longstanding medical school affiliations – could not fill their residency positions without recruiting foreign medical graduates. But this axiom missed a key point: the growing output of America’s medical schools was inadequate to meet unanticipated growth in demand for medical services.” Bertken op-ed in Fresno Bee

Democrats elected the first Latino leader of Democratic Party — Former labor secretary Thomas Perez was elected the first Latino chair of the Democratic National Committee on Saturday, narrowly defeating Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) at the end of a contentious battle over the fate of the beleaguered party in the age of President Trump. Washington Post articleLA Times articleNew York Times article

Rancor over development, crime shadow LA mayor’s race — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s toughest competitor in his campaign for a second term might not be another candidate. Anxiety over taller, denser development, a jump in violent crime and the city’s notoriously fickle voters together inject a faint hue of uncertainty into what otherwise looks like a lopsided contest. AP article

Presidential Politics

Trump says he won’t attend correspondents dinner this spring – President Donald Trump, who has been criticizing the news media and is famously thin-skinned, says he won’t be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner — sparing himself the dubious honor of being an in-the-house target of jokes. AP articleLA Times article

Voices of California Republicans on Trump: ‘At least he’s doing something’ – Republican activists at the state party’s annual spring convention in Sacramento are delighting in President Trump’s surprise victory this fall. Many pointed to his power to energize their shrinking ranks. But even those who praised the businessman and political newcomer acknowledged that he remains a polarizing political force. A sampling of the sentiments. Sacramento Bee article

California Republicans on Trump: Love the president you’re with — There was a duality at the first California Republican Party convention of the Trump era. For the 1,200 convention-goers, nothing felt sweeter than having a GOP president and control of Congress for the first time in more than a decade. But below the smiles was a hesitance to fully embrace Donald Trump — not politically surprisingin a state where the New York City developer has a 37 percent approval rating among all voters. San Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

Nunes rejects GOP call for independent prosecutor into Russian ties – Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, rejected calls from his fellow Republican for a special prosecutor to investigate purported ties between Russia and members of President Trump’s administration and campaign. San Francisco Chronicle article

Darrell Issa on need for independent prosecutor: Russia is ‘evil’ – Republican Rep. Darrell Issa said Russia and its President Vladimir Putin are “evil” at the California Republican Party convention in Sacramento on Saturday, and called for an independent probe into Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election.  Sacramento Bee articlePolitico article

Willie Brown: Trump taking his reality show to floor of Congress – President Trump’s speech to senators and House members Tuesday night isn’t technically a State of the Union address — it’s being billed as a speech to a joint session of Congress. That’s probably appropriate, because it’s likely to be more about the state of Donald Trump than the state of the rest of us. After all, the presidency is his reality show. We’re just the audience. Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

Trump ruled tabloid media. Washington is a different story – This New York-iest of politicians, now an idiosyncratic, write-your-own-rules president, has stumbled into the most conventional of Washington traps: believing he can master an entrenched political press corps with far deeper connections to the permanent government of federal law enforcement and executive department officials than he has. New York Times article

Whose news is fake? Here’s the latest in Trump’s war with the press – Every president since 1981 has attended the annual White House Correspondents’ Assn. dinner. That year, President Reagan missed out. The reason? He needed to recover after a would-be assassin fired a bullet into his chest a few weeks earlier. LA Times article

Robin Abcarian: A California town hall agenda: How to resist Trump, help refugees and defend Muslims – It was a meeting of the California resistance, and turnout was good. In Glendale on Friday evening, Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff hosted a town hall about the U.S. refugee program and President Trump’s constitutionally suspect Muslim ban. Abcarian column in LA Times

Transgender GOP delegate says Trump administration will protect the LGBTQ community — Gina Roberts, a champion target shooter and supporter of President Trump, says she wishes everyone would take a deep breath and relax about the controversy over transgender students using bathrooms. LA Times article

Dianne Hardisty: Editorial cartoons: Great antidotes for bloated egos – Since Donald Trump was sworn in as president in January, editorial cartooning has kicked into high gear. And the new president’s combative nature, compulsive tweeting, political stumbles and thin skin have been the gifts that keep on giving to the nation’s cartoonists. Hardisty in Bakersfield Californian

News Stories – Top Stories

Dan Walters: Cities, counties and schools feel sharply increasing pension costs — With the pension cost squeeze hitting home, local government and schools are looking at a pending state Supreme Court case for potential relief. If the court upholds appellate court rulings, they may be empowered to reduce future pension benefits, or at least seek reductions in contract negotiations. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Bill could undo Kern High School District’s vote to allow guns on campus – You know that monthslong, at-times overwrought debate over whether guns should be allowed on Kern High School District grounds? The one that resulted in policies allowing certain teachers and other members of the public to carry? It may have all been for naught. Bakersfield Californian article


Watch how fast a five-year drought can disappear – Watching the changing map through the arc of California’s five-year drought, perhaps the most startling feature is how fast things turned around in the course of just a few months. KQED report

San Joaquin River’s flood challenge – A strange thing happened shortly after the San Joaquin River climbed above flood stage earlier this month. One day, for no apparent reason, the river receded by nearly a foot at Vernalis. Stockton Record article

Can Oroville Dam’s badly damaged spillway hold up through rainy season? — For three weeks, Oroville Dam’s fractured main spillway and the surrounding hillsides have taken a nearly nonstop pounding. The stunning waterfall crashing down what’s left of the 3,000-foot concrete span has split the spillway in two and carved massive canyons on either side. Sacramento Bee article

David Bunn and Thomas Howard: State protects underground sources of drinking water – Bunn, director of the Department of Conservation, and Howard, executive officer of the State Water Resources Control Board, write, “The fact that we have an oil industry in California is evidence that some of our aquifers are naturally mixed with petroleum. Any fair and accurate assessment of how California regulates oil industry injection should begin with that understanding.” Bunn/Howard op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Troubled waters: Solutions sought for man-made flooding in Lamont — Even a moderate storm can send floodwaters from the 470 square miles of mountain range between Walker Basin and Tehachapi down Caliente Creek into Lamont. This isn’t a natural problem. It’s a problem that has been systematically built, over decades, by farmers seeking to protect their land, crops and investments from flooding. Bakersfield Californian article

Danielle Shapazian: In California’s great valley, we feed the world as the world feeds us – The Fresno nurse and writer writes, “The worry has been floating for a while. ‘How much financial risk can I carry this time around?’ Farmers clump in local fields and coffee shops to ponder the question as they weigh hope against last year’s numbers. In the San Joaquin Valley, a new growing season has arrived.” Shapazian op-ed in Fresno Bee


Madera Unified appoints Todd Lile as interim superintendent — After firing Superintendent Edward González, Madera Unified School District board unanimously voted to name Todd Lile as the district’s interim superintendent on Wednesday. Lile has been the district’s chief academic officer for secondary education. Fresno Bee article

First Japanese American woman to lead a four-year university used to call Sacramento home — Judy Sakaki will be formally installed as president of Sonoma State University in an April 20 ceremony. But she took the reins at the college on July 1, becoming the first Japanese American woman to lead a four-year university in the United States. Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

Women in graduate homes prepare to live on their own – Modesto-based Valley Recovery runs one of the few residential drug treatment programs for women, and two years ago added graduate homes to help recovered clients transition to living on their own. Women in the program still have a case manager and attend 12-step meetings, but focus more on honing job skills, managing a budget and becoming self-sufficient. Modesto Bee article‘Valley Recovery hopes women’s detox center will help transform lives’ in Modesto Bee

Lewis Griswold: Veteran gets a service dog to ease the stress of amputated leg, PTSD — For 15 years, Gerald Whittaker has been training dogs at the Assistance Service Dog Educational Center in the old schoolhouse north of town. Some of the dogs he trains are for veterans who have traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder, or both. Griswold in Fresno Bee

Land Use/Housing

Developers of affordable housing in California are on pins and needles over Trump’s tax plan — President Trump’s election has thrown a wrench into low-income housing development across the country, especially in California. His promise to cut business tax rates has large banks and other investors backing away from a tax credit program that reduces what companies owe in taxes in exchange for investing in low-income housing projects. LA Times article


Michael Fitzgerald: A project on the right beam — The bullet train people announced that a San Joaquin County construction firm is making the largest girders in California history for the high-speed rail line. Con-Fab California of Lathrop is making concrete I-beam girders seven feet tall and over 172 feet long. If you laid these immense beams across the football field, they’d squash the cheerleaders on either side. Especially since each beam weighs 210,000 pounds. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Other areas

Modesto agrees to pay nearly $750,000 to settle lawsuit, but plaintiff is now dead — Patricia Mugrauer sued Modesto last year after a police officer entered her home without her permission or a warrant and pushed the frail, disabled senior, causing her to fall and break her hip. She settled her lawsuit last month for nearly $750,000, but Mugrauer won’t collect a dime. She died Jan. 26, a week after her settlement, at the age of 69. But one of her attorneys says Modesto is not off the hook and owes the money to his client’s estate. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Is President Trump building a blueprint for mass deportations?

Modesto Bee – Dozens of town hall meetings have been canceled. Like tortoises, some representatives have retreated into their shells waiting for the coast to clear; Visiting editors: Being single in Modesto and being singled out by Trump.

Sacramento Bee –- If we Californians are to live and prosper in our re-engineered state, we will need to pay for it, or, as Gov. Jerry Brown said last week, “belly up to the bar.” Where the money would come from is unclear.