February 28, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Gaping partisan divide evident as leaders discuss Russia-Trump investigation — In case you were worried, the partisan divide in Congress is as gaping as ever. On Monday, the senior Republican and Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee held separate news conferences to address what they saw as the principal issues to be addressed during their “bipartisan” investigation of possible collusion between Russia and members of the campaign of President Donald Trump. Devin Nunes mentioned. McClatchy Newspapers articlePolitico articleAP article

If the White House comes after California pot, what will that mean? – On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said medical marijuana would not be targeted. But many medical marijuana companies are currently looking to expand into providing pot for recreational use, so making a firm differentiation could be difficult. Whether Spicer’s statements materialize into actual boots on the ground remains to be seen. But what could happen in the central San Joaquin Valley if the feds moved against California cannabis? Fresno Bee article

State budget

How LA Sen. Holly Mitchell went from the Legislature’s ‘moral compass’ to a top budget crafter — In her new role, compromise is inevitable. She’ll have to own a final budget plan that will undoubtedly fall short in addressing the causes she champions. Her dream job presents a test: As she grows her Capitol clout, can Holly Mitchell still be Holly Mitchell? LA Times article

Valley politics

Kristin Olsen election to state GOP post for full term — Former state Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen of Riverbank was elected to a full term as vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party at the party’s state convention over the weekend. Modesto Bee article


The real goal of Trump’s executive orders: Reduce the number of immigrants in U.S. — Behind President Trump’s efforts to step up deportations and block travel from seven mostly Muslim countries lies a goal that reaches far beyond any immediate terrorism threat: a desire to reshape American demographics for the long term and keep out people who Trump and senior aides believe will not assimilate. LA Times article

Trump administration may have to go to court – even if it doesn’t want to right now – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday denied a motion by government lawyers to hold off on reconsidering its rejection of the Trump administration’s Jan. 27 executive order that suspended travel from seven majority-Muslim countries. Sacramento Bee article

This immigrant never dreamed she’d attend a presidential address – In a pointed political statement designed to put a human face on the immigration issue, a former Fresno resident and University of California, Merced, alumnus will attend President Donald Trump’s address Tuesday to a joint session of Congress. McClatchy Newspapers article

Undocumented immigrants enter ‘survival mode’ in Sacramento as deportation threat grows — Undocumented immigrants in Sacramento are selling their furniture and cars to rid themselves of bulky items in case they’re deported. Those who have money set aside are sending it to loved ones in Mexico or Central America, convinced that the U.S. government will seize their cash to help build a southern border wall.  Sacramento Bee article

California lawmakers demand federal records on Southern California immigrant arrests — Democratic leaders of the California Legislature are seeking clarification of federal immigration enforcement policy after round-ups of undocumented immigrants earlier this month sparked renewed fears of increased deportation raids under the Trump administration.  Sacramento Bee articleKQED report

‘No random ICE stops on the streets of America,’ Homeland Security chief tells governor – Virginia Gov. McAuliffe also met privately with Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, and said the secretary assured him during an hourlong talk that Trump’s enforcement actions were only targeting criminals — despitewidespread reports of otherwise law-abiding immigrants being detained for being in the U.S. illegally. LA Times article

Other areas

The political time bomb at the heart of Republican Obamacare alternatives: Higher costs for more Americans — Developing House Republican plans to replace Obamacare would scale back government insurance subsidies for millions of low- and moderate-income Americans who rely on the aid to buy coverage. LA Times article

De Leon takes responsibility for ejection of Janet Nguyen as GOP demands probe — California Senate President Kevin de León on Monday took full responsibility for a Republican senator’s controversial ejection from the floor in the Senate’s first session since the incident occurred last week.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

How much will you pay for fix California roads? Comparing the plans – Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders have set an April 6 deadline to reach any agreement on a package to raise billions of dollars for road maintenance, repairs, goods movement and public transit. Those plans would increase various taxes and fees. Assembly Republicans, meanwhile, have their own proposal that gets the bulk of its funding from redirecting money that now goes to the general fund. Sacramento Bee article

LA County sues California over ‘partisan’ redistricting law – The next remap of California’s political lines is more than four years away, but some legal fights already have begun. Monday, Los Angeles County asked a judge to block a 2016 California law putting a new commission in charge of redrawing county supervisors’ districts after the 2020 census, contending in a lawsuit that the constitution does not allow a “state-imposed experiment in redistricting by partisan, unaccountable and randomly selected commissioners.” Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Joel Fox: Prioritizing infrastructure means considering all state spending – Notable in the reaction to Governor Jerry Brown’s Friday press conference outlining money for dam and water infrastructure, while declaring the need for California to tackle all its infrastructure backlog, was the response from one of the leaders of the fight for improved infrastructure. California Business Roundtable president Rob Lapsley issued a release echoing the governor’s call on structural improvements and cost, but focused on “the real issue at hand” — state spending. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Gun rights activists win round in free-speech court case against state of California — A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Monday against the state for continuing to demand the removal of a blog post that listed the home addresses of legislators who voted for California’s newest gun control measures.  Sacramento Bee articleAP article

As high-profile incidents fade from the headlines, California lawmakers shy away from police accountability bills – The lack of legislation speaks to the substantial political influence of law enforcement within the Capitol and a waning sense of urgency on police accountability issues as some of the highest-profile examples of alleged misconduct fade from the headlines, advocates said. LA Times article

Danny Morrison: Dear black community of Bakersfield … we will stand — We can scream “Black Lives Matter!” all we want, but if we don’t combine our community efforts to locate those who murder our children, it sends a strong (and wrong) message to our babies. And how can we all work together when our pastors refuse to work together? This isn’t an “out with the old and in with the new” situation. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach. This is a call for us all to push our generational, educational, sociological and attitudinal differences to the side and combine our forces to impact these children. With the black churches playing a pivotal role. Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian

More bomb threats at Jewish schools and community centers, and another Jewish cemetery vandalized – Threatening calls are pouring in to switchboards of Jewish schools and community centers with alarming frequency. Although authorities said no bombs had been located so far, the threats were tying up bomb squads and detectives, terrifying children who have been repeatedly evacuated from their classrooms and prompting some worried parents to withdraw their children. LA Times article

San Francisco’s Market Street reopened after bomb threat to Anti-Defamation League – A block of San Francisco’s busy Market Street was shut down in both directions for more than two hours at rush hour Monday evening because of a bomb threat at the offices of the Anti-Defamation League, authorities said. San Francisco Chronicle article

Palo Alto: ‘Threatening phone call’ spurs evacuation of Oshman Family Jewish Community Center — On the same day bomb threats were called into at least 20 Jewish institutions across the United States, the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto was evacuated Monday after receiving a similar “threatening phone call.” San Jose Mercury News article

Sacramento Bee: Ann Ravel doesn’t go quietly, which is good — The six-member Federal Election Commission is made up of three Republicans and three Democrats. Under its rules, a tie vote means the commission takes no action. On most significant issues, the commission, born out of the Watergate scandals, deadlocks. These days, the watchdog rarely barks or bites. Sacramento Bee editorial

Presidential Politics

Big surge for military in Trump budget, big cuts elsewhere — President Donald Trump is proposing a huge $54 billion surge in U.S. military spending for new aircraft, ships and fighters in his first federal budget while slashing big chunks from domestic programs and foreign aid to make the government “do more with less.” AP articleLA Times articleNew York Times article

Despite Trump’s pledge, governors expect little federal spending on infrastructure – President Trump said again Monday that he was preparing to spend big on infrastructure. But even as he spoke, administration officials and congressional leaders were telling governors to expect little new federal investment in roads, bridges, transit systems, dam repairs and other water works. McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump’s promised cuts to foreign aid could hit some anti-drug programs hard – he Office of Management and Budget on Monday declined to say how precisely President Donald Trump intends to cut every other federal department to find $54 billion to increase military spending. But one budget category is clearly in his sights, said one OMB official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity per White House policy: foreign aid. McClatchy Newspapers article

Foon Rhee: The truth about the press, if Trump can handle it – The press is not the opposition party. The media is not the enemy of the American people. Negative stories are not fake news. And when Trump keeps making these claims, he isn’t just attacking the press; he is chipping away at one of the pillars of our democracy. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

Ralph Korn: It’s mainstream America’s turn to be heard — God bless our President! As Americans, we need to stop whining and get behind him and do what we can to help make America great again. Korn op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories – Top Stories

Modesto considers freeze on hiring, promoting as pension costs loom — Modesto is considering a freeze on hiring and promoting workers and a review of spending to help the city weather drastically higher pension costs and a potential recession within several years.  Modesto Bee article

Dan Walters: Faced with crisis, California water managers stepped up — Gov. Jerry Brown paid brief homage to the state’s water managers during a press conference last Friday, calling the circumstances – accurately – “quintessentially expert kinds of things” and adding, “We have a very expert Department of Water Resources.” Yes, we do. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Bakersfield may cancel trash subsidy for seniors – A popular City of Bakersfield trash rebate program for seniors is on the chopping block. Since 1987, city homeowners older than 65 have been getting a 50 percent rebate on the trash service fees they pay on their property tax bill. Bakersfield City Council members could end that discount on March 8. Bakersfield California article

Jobs and the Economy

PG&E electricity bills will rise this week amid rate restructuring – PG&E on Monday unveiled a restructuring of how the utility charges people for electricity, a move that will impose a steep increase in electric bills for residential customers. San Jose Mercury News articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Downtown Stockton Chase-Starbucks to move forward – In the end, the council decided the potential for new jobs and additional tax revenue outweighed reservations about whether the project’s design was out of step with efforts to make downtown friendlier for pedestrians and bicyclists.  Stockton Record article

Stockton council to talk all things pot at special meeting – Nearly four months after Stockton voters approved two medical cannabis ballot measures, the City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday to begin to put the new policies into action.  Stockton Record article

Up in smoke: Federal taxes a big burden for pot shops — Thanks to an arcane federal law written and passed in the fever pitch of the war on drugs, marijuana dispensaries are unable to take advantage of the vast array of deductions that other businesses rely on to lower their tax bills each year.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Stan Thurston: Merced should insist on level playing field for contracts – The former Merced mayor writes, “The city of Merced does not have a policy or ordinance that deals with ex parte communications during procurement proceedings. Dozens, if not hundreds, of California cities have such policies, ordinances or other mechanisms to discourage ex parte communications.” Thurston op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

With Trump hitting brakes on Caltrain upgrade, San Francisco puts its cash on hold — The Trump administration’s decision to delay federal funding to convert Caltrain from diesel to electric power is already having a ripple effect in San Francisco. San Francisco Chronicle article

SpaceX will fly two people around moon next year — SpaceX said Monday it will fly two people to the moon next year, a feat not attempted since NASA’s Apollo heyday close to half a century ago. AP articleLA Times articleNew York Times article


Turlock Irrigation District closes spillway gate at Don Pedro Reservoir – A week after it opened, the spillway gate at Don Pedro Reservoir was fully closed just before 5 a.m. Monday, the Turlock Irrigation District reported. Based on the weather forecast of sunny days ahead, the district began the closure overnight, spokesman Brandon McMillan said. Modesto Bee article

Dry weather promises a reprieve for region’s nearly full reservoirs – Forecasts for a dry near-term future come as Merced County reservoirs approach capacity. The San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos is 97 percent full and the east side’s Lake McClure reached 91 percent as of Monday, according to the state Department of Water Resources. Each total is beyond the respective reservoir’s historic average. Merced Sun-Star article

Giant chasm revealed as water stops flowing at Oroville Dam – Water stopped cascading down Oroville Dam’s fractured main spillway Monday, revealing a gaping wound from a beating that lasted nearly three weeks.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

California’s water system built for a climate we no longer have — Many Californians are still in disbelief that after five years of too little water during the drought, now the problem is too much water. Heavy winter storms have done more than cause problems at Oroville Dam, where thousands of people were evacuated after erosion of a critical spillway. They’ve also stressed thousands of miles of levees and flood infrastructure downstream of the major dams. Some say it’s a wake-up call because the state’s warming climate could mean more of the same. KQED report

Yes, California’s drought is all but over, and the dramatically revived Cachuma Lake proves it — Heading into February, things were looking grim here in the rugged hills north of Santa Barbara. While much of California was emerging from five years of drought, this giant reservoir had dwindled to a weedy channel at just 7% of capacity and was perilously close to being written off as a regional water supply.  LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Operation Baby Face snares nine in Tulare County sex predator ring – Operation Baby Face has snared seven adults seeking to have sex with a purported 14-year-old girl who was a decoy, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office said Monday. Additionally, two men were arrested earlier in the month for seeking sex with a teen boy, also a decoy, authorities said. Fresno Bee article

Positive reinforcement: Stockton PD, SJ Sheriff’s Office, CHP honor best of their forces – A common thread — some might call it the thin blue line — connects nine of the area’s best peace officers who were recognized Monday evening during the 48th annual Law Enforcement Night hosted by Stockton’s Italian Athletic Club. Stockton Record article

Woman fatally shot in Ripon was Modesto restaurateur – The woman fatally shot by a Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputy Sunday morning after a pursuit that began in Modesto and ended in Ripon has been identified as a Modesto business owner. Modesto Bee articleStockton Record article

San Francisco cop wrestles pantless man in scene that has some wondering if de-escalation has gone too far – A video of a San Francisco police officer grappling with a homeless man who falls on him repeatedly and loses his pants is causing some to question if the city has put too many restrictions on its officers’ use of force. Sacramento Bee article

Judge deals setback to San Francisco police union in fight over use-of-force policy – A San Francisco judge on Monday turned back an effort by the city’s police union to go to arbitration over a new use-of-force policy that bars officers from shooting at moving vehicles and using a neck hold on suspects known as the carotid restraint. San Francisco Chronicle article

2 years after San Francisco police shooting, advocates demand action — Advocates for a young man killed by plainclothes San Francisco police officers in the Mission District two years ago gathered Monday to demand that city prosecutors file charges against the officers, disputing the police account that the dead man had a knife and posed a deadly threat.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Merced County education officials double down on support for immigrant student safeguards — The county’s top education officials have doubled down on their commitment to educate students, regardless of immigration status, by passing a “safe and secure schools” resolution. The resolution passed last week by the Merced County Board of Education avoids terms such as “safe haven” or “sanctuary” but reaffirms that students have the right to attend campuses that are “safe, secure and peaceful.” Merced Sun-Star article

Community colleges fear deportation concerns are driving away undocumented students – California Community Colleges are reporting a significant drop in financial-aid applications from undocumented immigrants that officials believe is tied to deportation fears under President Donald Trump. As of Monday, 1,781 undocumented community college students have received Cal Grant awards under the California Dream Act. Applicants must file by Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

Common Core in California likely to continue despite Trump opposition – Opposition by President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to the Common Core is unlikely to slow implementation of the new standards in English language arts and math in states like California, where there has been little opposition to the standards. EdSource article

Fresno State’s Castro says talk of new Valley medical school should include UC – Fresno State President Joseph Castro says he wants to see any new effort to build a public medical school in the San Joaquin Valley be a collaboration between the UC and CSU systems. Valley Public Radio report

Saul Jimenez-Sandoval: If a performance arts center is built, it belongs at Fresno State – The dean of Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities writes, “A performing arts center located in the heart of Fresno on Shaw Avenue will uplift Fresno State’s artistic pursuits while providing a venue worthy of showcasing the best of student and faculty talent. Dance, theater and music, along with visual arts, merit a space on par with their level of excellence, which in turn can positively impact our entire Central Valley.” Jimenez-Sandoval op-ed in Fresno Bee

Parents offered advice, urged to ‘think big’ for children at annual conference — Switching smoothly between English and Spanish, Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch on Saturday told a theater full of Merced County parents and community members that, as a child, her parents had a bigger dream for her. Merced Sun-Star article


Tulare supervisors to consider funding for tree removal — Supervisors will consider approving the second phase of a project to remove dead or dying trees and other debris near county roads in three mountain communities. Visalia Times-Delta article


Jeff Jardine: End of bemoaning bumpy roads is still years down the road in Stanislaus County, cities — Indeed, the weather is beyond our control. But there is hope for a day, albeit a few years from now, when we won’t be moaning about driving on rough city streets and county roads. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

LAX breaks ground on a $1.6-billion midfield terminal that will add 12 gates for aircraft — Marking another milestone in the massive renovation of Los Angeles International Airport, city officials broke ground Monday on a $1.6-billion midfield passenger terminal that will have a dozen gates for aircraft. LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The storms of 2017 offer Brown and legislators a grand opportunity to return to what helped build California in the first place: infrastructure.

Sacramento Bee –- The Best Picture error was the talk of the Academy Awards. But the more buzzworthy story was the way the academy handled questions of inclusiveness, globalism and free speech in the era of Trump; The six-member Federal Election Commission is made up of three Republicans and three Democrats. Under its rules, a tie vote means the commission takes no action. On most significant issues, the commission, born out of the Watergate scandals, deadlocks. These days, the watchdog rarely barks or bites.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers: Death of a servant and hero, cleaning up Stockton and other issues.