February 3, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown, legislators headed for budget clash? – A major factor in whether the budget conflict escalates into a toe-to-toe showdown is a multibillion-dollar disagreement on projected revenues. While Brown’s Department of Finance sees flattening revenues that fall short of fully financing current services and programs, the Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, sees revenues next year running $4 billion higher – more than enough money to placate the Legislature’s demands. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Brand: Only difference between Fresno and sanctuary cities ‘are words with no definition’ – Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, in an effort to calm concerns about his recent statement that Fresno won’t be a sanctuary city for refugees and undocumented immigrants, said Thursday the only difference between Fresno and other cities “are words with no definition.” Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Gov. Brown

Daniel Borenstein: Gov. Brown’s pension reform effort has failed — Gov. Jerry Brown’s attempt at pension reform has failed. Since 2012 passage of his much-heralded changes to state retirement laws for public employee, the pension debt foisted on California taxpayers has only grown larger. Borenstein in East Bay Times

Valley politics

Democrats put early target on Denham’s seat in Congress – The Democratic Party announced Thursday that it is already targeting the seat of Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, in the 2018 election. The committee did not specify possible candidates or the level of spending this time around. It did say it hopes to harness anger over Donald Trump becoming president. Eggman based much of his campaign on Denhman’s support for the Republican billionaire. Modesto Bee article

Bakersfield Ward 5 race collecting interest; Hanson undecided — The open Ward 5 Bakersfield City Council seat is already drawing a lot of interest from potential candidates. The final candidate list won’t solidify until March 10, when the nomination period closes. And potential candidates can’t even begin pulling nomination papers until Feb. 13. Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Obamacare repeal is a giant risk for California’s dwindling Republicans — The last major Republican stronghold in California is one of the nation’s most dependent areas on Obamacare, creating an enormous political risk for the GOP congressmen who represent the area and are eager to repeal the health care law. McClatchy Newspapers article


Contempt orders charge Trump Administration flouting courts in enforcing travel ban – At least one contempt of court citation has been filed against President Donald J. Trump and another is likely to be submitted on Friday, charging that the administration has defied court orders by denying entry to the United States by an untold number of immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Sacramento Bee article

Iranian man barred from entering U.S. lands at LAX; first to return after court order – An Iranian man who was barred from entering the United States under President Trump’s travel ban returned to Los Angeles on Thursday, the first person allowed into the country after a legal challenge to the White House’s executive order. LA Times article

Visa ban amended to allow Iraqi interpreters into U.S. – The Trump administration amended its visa ban on Thursday to allow emigration by the families of Iraqi interpreters who served the United States government and military forces deployed in their country. New York Times article

Tech industry opposition to Trump travel ban escalates – The tech industry’s opposition to President Trump escalated Thursday as corporate leaders drafted a letter warning of the economic risks of his immigration policies, Uber’s chief executive quit an administration advisory board and Lyft pulled its ads from Breitbart News, the site founded by the White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.  Washington Post article

Nancy Pelosi calls Trump’s chief strategist a ‘white supremacist’ — House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called President Donald Trump‘s chief strategist a white supremacist Thursday, saying he has no business serving on the National Security CouncilSan Francisco Chronicle article

Nan Austin: U.S. shuts door on desperate friends, family of many here – Images of airport outrage around the globe greeted President Donald Trump’s executive order blocking refugees and citizens of seven Middle Eastern countries. But away from the crowds, in homes and coffee shops, a note of desperation and sense of betrayal can be heard in the reaction of immigrants already here. Austin in Modesto Bee

Trump order bashes hopes of would-be entrepreneurs — With her graduation from Boston University nearing, the wheels were turning for Bidshahri’s education startup. She had filed for a trademark and hired an employee, and was already talking to investors. She was even looking at Bay Area apartments, slowly coming to terms with how much an apartment South of Market or in the Mission would cost. It was all worth it, she reasoned: Where else would you go to change the world? But now, by virtue of her passport, her world has changed. Her status in a country that she thought held many more promises for a young entrepreneur is riddled with uncertainty. San Francisco Chronicle article

Joel Fox: Untested consequences come with legislative pushback on immigration order — In their haste to confront the Trump Administration on immigration, lawmakers on the local and state level are making proposals that have untested consequences for businesses and residents and even some of the immigrants themselves. Two examples: the Los Angeles proposal to legalize street vendors, whether the vendors are legal citizens or not; and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher’s AB 206 to require workers compensation applied to day laborers no matter their immigration status. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Kellyanne Conway cites ‘Bowling Green massacre’ that never happened to defend travel ban — Kellyanne Conway has taken “alternative facts” to a new level.

During a Thursday interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the counselor to the president defended President Trump’s travel ban related to seven majority-Muslim countries. At one point, Conway made a reference to two Iraqi refugees whom she described as the masterminds behind “the Bowling Green Massacre.” Washington Post article

Why conservatives are more likely than liberals to believe false information about threats —  In an electoral season that has blurred the line between fact and fantasy, a team of UCLA researchers is offering new evidence to support a controversial proposition: that when it comes to telling the difference between truth and fiction, not all potential voters are created equal. LA Times article

Other areas

After night of violent protests, Berkeley cleans up damage – Berkeley residents woke up Thursday to boarded-up businesses, shattered glass and the remnants of fires — sprawling destruction left by protesters in the wake of a scheduled speech by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Breitbart editor reaches new level of celebrity in the Trump era – Yiannopoulos’ online videos and college tour have made him a hero for young conservatives and libertarians in search of their own flashy, ideological counterweight to the politically motivated celebrities who entertain and inspire their peers on the left. Many of his speeches, including the one planned at UC Davis, are sponsored by College Republicans, with protests reviving a timeless campus debate over the limits of free speech. Sacramento Bee article

GOP campaign to repeal Obamacare stalls on details – Congress’s rush to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, once seemingly unstoppable, is flagging badly as Republicans struggle to come up with a replacement and a key senator has declared that the effort is more a repair job than a demolition. New York Times article

California lawmakers can’t figure out what to do with Airbnb. Here’s why – Short-term rental legislation has failed in Sacramento for multiple reasons, those on all sides of the issue said, including cities’ reluctance to let the state involve itself in local tax collection and the relative political strengths of both Airbnb and labor unions, which are typically the industry’s most powerful adversaries. Hotel-worker unions in particular are troubled by the effects short-term rentals could have on the hotel business and the livelihoods of workers. LA Times article

Is political civility at the state Capitol still possible in the age of Trump? – Courteous and gracious. Friendly. Warm. That’s how the dictionary defines the word “cordial.” It sure doesn’t describe American political discourse right now. But on Wednesday night, a bipartisan group of California lawmakers, staff and lobbyists gathered for the annual “Cordial Caucus Karaoke Night.” Capital Public Radio report

Bill Whalen: With Democrats in trouble, here’s an idea to amp up Trump protests in California – Trump isn’t winning. I can point you to polling numbers that show his job approval tanking last weekend amidst the bungled rollout of his immigration executive order. Democrats may think this is a ticket back to power. In fact, the protests visibly illustrate a Democratic flaw: an over-reliance on the so-called “ascendant” portion of the American electorate – women, minorities and the well-educated. If you disagree with that grim assessment, feel free to protest. These days, it’s not like you have to look far to find one. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

Danny Morrison: Talking about race isn’t racist, it’s reality — I welcome anyone who possesses any level of rationality to try writing about the injustices that plague the communities of color in Kern County. Rejection of multiculturalism is going the way of the dinosaur. It’s just a matter of time. Clinging to negative racial stereotypes only slows us down. Open your eyes and hearts to those who are different than you. That’s who I speak for. And that’s what I’m here for.  Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian

Inga Barks: Don’t base law on who’s yelling the loudest — Let liberals cry all they want about President Trump’s executive order and firing his acting AG because of her refusal to defend it. It only shows that they fear they may lose. I say let it have its day in court! Conservatives like me aren’t afraid of the constitution, even if it doesn’t rule our way. If Trump is wrong, so be it. If Prop. 8 was wrong, so be it. But let’s have the discussion. Law shouldn’t be judged based on whose ox is getting gored, who yells the loudest, or personal emotion. Barks column in Bakersfield Californian

Presidential Politics

 California shellackin’: Trump lost ground in Republican-leaning cities around state – President Donald Trump has suggested that fraud caused him to lose California by almost 4.3 million votes, a major component of the Republican’s 2.8 million vote loss nationwide. He has pledged to launch a “major investigation” of voting procedures. If so, he may want to head to the town of Atherton. Sacramento Bee article

Trump’s Justice Department may crack down on thriving pot industry, but it is too big to jail? — Those who have been in the business since the early days of medical marijuana caution the legions of newcomers that federal busts and seizures could quickly make a comeback. Sessions very deliberately left that option open during his confirmation hearing. LA Times article

Trump says not to worry about his phone calls.  But they’re just the start of how he’s shifting foreign affairs – President Trump tried Thursday to shrug off worries over reports of combative phone calls with stalwart allies, telling Americans, “Don’t worry about it.” But his reassurances only underscored concerns about whether his freewheeling efforts to reorder decades of U.S. foreign policy in two weeks will jolt strategic relationships beyond repair. LA Times article

GOP’s foreign policy elders worry Trump is causing permanent damage – Fear is spreading among the Republican Party’s foreign policy heavyweights that President Donald Trump’s inexperience and quick temper could permanently damage long-standing alliances and undercut America’s standing in the world. McClatchy Newspapers article

In twist, Trump embraces pillars of Obama’s foreign policy on Israel, Russia and Iran – President Donald Trump, after promising a radical break with the foreign policy of Barack Obama, is embracing key pillars of the former administration’s strategy, including warning Israel to curb construction of settlements, demanding that Russia withdraw from Crimea and threatening Iran with sanctions for ballistic missile tests. New York Times article

Trump hints at cutting federal funds to UC Berkeley after violent protest over Milo Yiannopoulos – A speech by conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled at UC Berkeley on Wednesday amid violent protests that prompted President Trump to suggest cutting federal funding to the university. LA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleSacramento Bee articleKQED report

Trump’s funding threat to UC Berkeley has no legal basis – yet, experts say — Such a move would be unprecedented, experts say — perhaps for a simple reason: The president, and even Congress, do not appear to have the legal authority to carry it out.  San Jose Mercury News article

Trump’s EPA Senate pick poised to survive Senate fight, but his brewing battle with California will be harder to win – President Trump’s nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency survived a rancorous committee vote Thursday, putting him on the path to full Senate confirmation and a confrontation with California. LA Times article

‘So far I couldn’t be happier.’ Red California backs Trump, sees protests as overreaction – Although more than 60% of Californians voted to put Hillary Clinton in the White House, Allison Azama — a Donald Trump supporter — is in the majority here in the largely affluent, white suburbs that stretch north from Sacramento. And she’s a bit perplexed by the nationwide protests against the president’s executive order suspending refugee arrivals and banning entry to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries. LA Times article

4 in 10 Americans want Trump impeached, five in 10 wish Obama were still president, poll says – Another poll has reaffirmed what most people already believed: Donald Trump is among the most polarizing presidents in modern political history. Public Policy Polling (PPP) released the results of a new survey Thursday that found that, less than two weeks into Trump’s presidency, 40 percent of Americans want him impeached. McClatchy Newspapers article

Feinstein signals she’ll lead Democrats against Gorsuch – Sen. Dianne Feinstein signaled Wednesday that she is likely to lead Democratic resistance to President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, saying the high court has been functioning just fine with a vacancy for nearly a year. San Francisco Chronicle article

Schwarzenegger offers to swap jobs with Trump ‘so people can finally sleep comfortable’ – Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took his strongest swipe yet at President Donald Trump on Thursday after his fellow Republican saidpeople should pray for Schwarzenegger because of the low ratings on “Celebrity Apprentice.” LA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Trump vows to ‘destroy’ law banning political endorsements by churches — President Trump vowed on Thursday to overturn a law restricting political speech by tax-exempt churches, a potentially huge victory for the religious right and a gesture to evangelicals, a voting bloc he attracted to his campaign by promising to free up their pulpits. New York Times article

 Worries mount for gay-rights backers as Trump team sends mixed signals – While some say Trump has established a clear pro-gay record, critics fear that the president has sent conflicting signals and his administration might end up leading a full-scale assault on gay rights. McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump to order review of Dodd-Frank financial regulations, suspend retirement advisor rule – President Trump will take aim at financial regulations on Friday, ordering a review of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law that could lead to major changes and suspending a conflict-of-interest rule for retirement advisors before it goes into effect this spring, according to a senior administration official. LA Times article

Betsy Devos, pick for Education secretary, is most jeered – Some Senate offices reported receiving more calls opposing Betsy DeVos than any other Trump nominee after a confirmation hearing in which she seemed ignorant of federal education law. New York Times article

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick quits Trump advisory council — Amid controversy over President Trump’s immigration ban that spurred a #DeleteUber movement, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will resign from the president’s economic advisory council, the company confirmed on Thursday.  San Francisco Chronicle articleKQED reportNew York Times article

Spencer Bateman: An end to presidential xenophobia – The Bakersfield native and graduate of Centennial High School writes, “If our leaders are unable to stand up to a president who vilifies the millions of American Muslims that we call family, they are unfit to retain public office. If our leaders cannot retain the moral character and unabating resolve that has carried our great nation to its status as the global leader, they cannot continue to lead. We will remain a shining city on a hill, with or without them.” Bateman op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

White House nixed Holocaust statement naming Jews – The State Department drafted its own statement last month marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day that explicitly included a mention of Jewish victims, according to people familiar with the matter, but President Donald Trump’s White House blocked its release. Politico article

Asian American politicians accuse Trump of turning nation into a ‘cauldron of intolerance’ — California Treasurer John Chiang and Controller Betty Yee and 26 other Asian American politicians in California and around the nation have sent a letter to President Trump asking him to rescind his executive order banning citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya from entering the U.S. for 90 days. LA Times article

News Stories

Top Stories

Sierra snow survey shows snowpack at 153 percent of average — Snow continues to dump on the Sierra in rates not seen in more than a decade. The state’s snow survey measured about 90 inches of snow and 28.1 inches of “snow water content” at Phillips Station off Highway 50, the highest measurement for February since 2005, state figures show. The figure was 153 percent of the historical average for the Phillips site, near Twin Bridges.  Sacramento Bee articleAP articleStockton Record article

Creating a safe space for California Dreamers — In a dorm for first-generation, low-income students at the University of California, Merced, the undocumented bond over hopes and, of course, fears. New York Times article

Fresno council approves rental housing inspection plan 4-3 — The Fresno City Council on Thursday night narrowly approved a plan to begin routine interior inspections of rental properties, bringing to fruition an idea that city leaders have debated on and off for at least 20 years. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno tweaks incentive agreement for Ulta cosmetics warehouse – A package of tax rebates and other economic incentives worth up to $18 million for Ulta Inc. to lure a large Ulta distribution center to Fresno is undergoing some tinkering since it was approved in November by the Fresno City Council. Fresno Bee article

Freeze leaves officials with Sierra parks and forests uncertain about firefighter hiring – Central San Joaquin Valley officials with the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service are waiting for guidance about how a federal civilian hiring freeze will play out for temporary and on-call firefightersFresno Bee article

Wonderful buys Florida’s largest citrus marketer, exporter – Wonderful Citrus, which sells Valley-grown mandarins under the brand Wonderful Halos, announced it has purchased Florida’s largest citrus marketer and exporter. Based in Delano, Wonderful Citrus is one of the brands under The Wonderful Co., owned by Los Angeles billionaires Lynda and Stewart Resnick. The Business Journal article

California poverty: The high cost of just about everything — High housing costs, electricity and gas prices are the main reasons California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, according to state Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes. Capitol Weekly article

In annual pruning, state zaps dozens of unfilled jobs – Cut faster. That was the message Thursday when members of the state Personnel Board gathered to strike dozens of unused job titles from the rosters of different government departments. In an annual culling of long-vacant jobs, the board eliminated about 60 titles. Sacramento Bee article

River Park closures, moves and maybe a renter for World Sports Café space — Changes are brewing at River Park, with some high-profile closures and moves happening that are – hopefully, eventually – paving the way for some new stores or restaurants. Fresno Bee article

Merced County Food Bank makes effort to reach more people who need food — To make sure food is available and reaching families who need it, a CalFresh outreach coordinator position has been added to the Merced County Food Bank staff, officials confirmed.  Merced Sun-Star article

Turlock’s Turf Club needs someone to bet on it — Turlock’s Turf Club, an off-track betting site for years, has again closed its doors. The Turf Club was operated by the Stanislaus County Fair until dwindling finances made it impossible to keep going, as my colleague Jeff Jardine reported last year. But fair officials found a renter to keep it going last fall. Modesto Bee article

Mayor: Two sides make ‘tremendous progress’ in settling dispute over Major League Soccer bid – Sacramento’s soccer war may be nearing a peaceful resolution. Following months of behind-the-scenes feuding, Sacramento Republic FC president Warren Smith and lead investor Kevin Nagle made “tremendous progress” toward settling a dispute that has threatened to derail the city’s bid for a Major League Soccer team, Mayor Darrell Steinberg reported late Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

LA 2024 bid documents show average ticket prices of more than $1,700 for opening ceremony – If Los Angeles wins the right to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, organizers would seek to offset the estimated $5.3-billion budget with average ticket prices of more than $1,700 for the opening ceremony and $250-$450 for marquee events such as the gymnastics final and basketball gold-medal game. LA Times articleAP article

Sacramento audit: Two firefighters worked ‘almost 70 percent of the time they are living’ – Sacramento firefighters worked more than a quarter-million overtime hours in 2015, with some firefighters working thousands of extra hours, according to a new city audit released Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

Snapchat company’s IPO filing might be LA’s biggest ever – Snapchat app maker Snap Inc. filed papers Thursday to move forward with what’s expected to be the biggest initial public offering ever for a Los Angeles company and one of the highest valued in U.S. history. LA Times article


 Water, water everywhere in California, and not enough reservoir space to store it – After five years of drought, could California really have so much rain and snow there’s no room to store all the water? The answer – as the state’s water picture careens from bust to boom – is yes. Sacramento Bee article

San Joaquin County set to declare simultaneous flood, drought emergencies – Despite heavy rains that caused flooding and levee damage last month, San Joaquin County leaders are expected to declare a drought emergency on Tuesday. While also declaring a flood emergency. Stockton Record article

Breanne Ramos: Clearing up misconceptions about the Farm Bill – The executive director of the Merced County Farm Bureau writes, “I was astonished to read the opinion piece “Farm subsidies are not working as intended” (Jan. 21). This piece, written by Ryan Nasbil and Vincent Smith of the American Enterprise Institute, buys into a long-believed misconception that agriculture cannot seem to escape – that ‘direct’ subsidies are being paid to farmers to the tune of $20 billion annually. It’s a misconception that money is simply handed to any farmer who asks.” Ramos op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Finding a home for Fresno County child molester puts residents on high alert — A Squaw Valley mobile home on Sage Lane that was destroyed by a fire last month is no longer being considered as a home for convicted child molester Jeffrey Snyder, authorities said Thursday. Fresno Bee article

Officer names, more details release in fatal Modesto officer involved shooting — Modesto Police on Thursday released more details about a deadly officer-involved shooting, including the names of the officers. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento settles fatal police shooting of Joseph Mann for $719,000 – The city of Sacramento has announced it has resolved a civil lawsuit in the July fatal police shooting of Joseph Mann, confirming reports from earlier in the week. Sacramento Bee article

San Francisco police suspend participation in FBI task force — San Francisco police will suspend the department’s much-criticized collaboration with FBI counterterrorism efforts, police said Wednesday, in an announcement that was celebrated by civil liberties and immigration advocates who have long called for stricter oversight of local participation in federal enforcement. San Francisco Chronicle article

Dozens of women and children rescued in human-trafficking sweep in California that nets 474 arrests – A multi-agency crackdown on human trafficking in California last week ended with hundreds of arrests and dozens of victimized women and children being rescued, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced. LA Times article


Peter Weber and Sarah Woolf: This is our road map to Fresno Unified’s next superintendent – The Fresno civic leaders who served on the FUSD Superintendent’s Task Force that produced the Choosing Our Future report in 2004 write, “Community input is critically important. Our recommendation is that each trustee appoint three members to a superintendent selection committee, one of whom must have a strong background in education, while the others are selected to ensure our diverse community is well represented. That committee should hold town-hall meetings to solicit input on what kind of qualities we want in the new superintendent. The bar is set high. We urge the board to come together to attract a great superintendent to build on the work Mike Hanson started.” Weber/Woolf op-ed in Fresno Bee

State, new teachers to pay more to shore up state teachers pension fund — Significantly more money from the state budget and a bigger portion of recently hired teachers’ pay will go to the state teachers pension fund to make up for projected lower investment earnings. EdSource article

Berkeley campus chaos spurs questions at free-speech bastion – Chaos that erupted at the University of California, Berkeley, to oppose right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was shocking not just for the images of protesters setting fires, smashing windows and hurling explosives at police, but because of where it took place. AP articleNew York Times articleSacramento Bee editorialLA Times article

Evangelical Christians will shape Trump’s education agenda – Evangelicals played a large role in getting President Donald Trump to the White House, and now they will shape Trump’s education agenda. McClatchy Newspapers article

Eli Broad’s opposition to Betsy Devos reveals faultlines in charter school movement – Broad’s opposition to DeVos, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be U.S. secretary of education, underscores the complexity of the politics of the charter school movement, and is revealing further fault lines in it. EdSource article

UC Merced faculty sign open letter asking Trump to uphold Paris Climate Agreement — Nearly 100 UC Merced faculty, along with others from California universities, have signed an open letter calling on President Donald Trump and his administration to stay committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and upholding the Paris Climate Agreement. Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno State faculty members sign climate change letter to Trump – Nearly three dozen Fresno State faculty members have joined 2,344 California college professors who signed an open letter