January 10, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Four big questions for Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget — The well-being of California’s volatile revenue mix is a constant of state budgets, and Gov. Jerry Brown has regularly warned of looming red ink since returning to the statehouse six years ago. But this month’s inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, along with his fellow Republicans retaining control of Congress, has injected a heavy dose of trepidation into the Democrat-controlled budget process that formally begins Tuesday when Brown releases his proposed spending plan for the year beginning July 1. Sacramento Bee article

Lawmakers cite transportation, housing as top priorities — When Gov. Jerry Brown unveils his budget proposal Tuesday morning, Democratic lawmakers will be particularly interested in how the governor approaches two key policy areas: transportation and housing. KQED report

State budget

Dan Walters: California’s secret budget process could use more sunshine — For the last half-decade, final budgets have been written by the Big 3 – the governor and Democratic leaders – and trailer bills have been shamelessly used to bypass public notice on major changes of law, often on matters that have little or no connection to the budget. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

New Fresno County supervisors, board chairman take their seats — Two new Fresno County supervisors were sworn in Monday, joining a veteran supervisor who was re-elected and a new chairman who vowed the board would work more cooperatively with the city of Fresno. Newcomers Nathan Magsig, a former Clovis city councilman, and Sal Quintero, a former Fresno city councilman, were sworn in with Andreas Borgeas, who begins his second four-year term representing a district that mainly covers northwest Fresno. Brian Pacheco succeeded Buddy Mendes as board chairman. Fresno Bee article

Shuklian, Crocker to be sworn in as Tulare supervisors — The first Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting this year will serve to welcome two newly-elected members. Amy Shuklian, former Visalia mayor, and Kuyler Crocker will be sworn in for the first time, taking the Oath of Office from Tulare County Superior Court Assistant Presiding Judge Brett Alldredge. Supervisor Pete Vander Poel, who ran practically unopposed in June, will also be sworn in. Visalia Times-Delta article

Standing on ceremony – A ceremony in the heart of downtown Stockton tonight will mark the beginning of a new era in the city’s governance. Though their terms officially began Jan. 1, Mayor Michael Tubbs and city council members Jesús Andrade, Susan Lenz and Dan Wright will be publicly sworn in during a special meeting beginning at 5:30 p.m. today at downtown’s ornate 2,000-seat Bob Hope Theatre, 242 East Main Street. Stockton Record article

FPPC fines Measure U committee — The Lodi Unified Measure U committee has been fined $4,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to file a pre-election statement and several contribution reports by an Oct. 27 deadline. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California lawmakers to vet governor’s attorney general pick – Attorney General nominee Xavier Becerra, who has vowed to defend California’s liberal policies against President-elect Donald Trump, faces his first confirmation hearing Tuesday before a mostly friendly Democratic-controlled panel of the state Assembly. AP article

Sanders Democrats claim victories in California delegate elections — It may be a stretch to call it a battle for the soul of the party, but last weekend, thousands of California Democrats filed into union halls and recreation centers to help choose some of their rank-and-file delegates. While the numbers are still being tallied, a group led by the California Nurses Association and other self-described Bernie Sanders-progressives are claiming it won a majority of the delegate slots chosen over the weekend, as well as the bulk of the 80 executive board seats up for renewal.  Sacramento Bee article


California can stop the border wall with environmental lawsuits, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom says — President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the border will run into resistance in California, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said in an interview with The Golden State podcast . The state could sue under the California Environmental Quality Act or its federal equivalent, said Newsom, utilizing a common tactic to delay or kill all sorts of development projects around the state. LA Times article

Other areas

California Republican challenges state’s hiring of Eric Holder to fight Trump policies — A California Republican state lawmaker is challenging the legality of a move by Democrats in the legislature to hire former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to help in any legal battles with President-elect Donald Trump’s administration. Reuters articleSacramento Bee article

Democrats and their allies are planning a huge fight to save Obamacare — Energized by Republican moves to roll back the Affordable Care Act, leading patient advocates, consumer groups, labor unions and Democratic officials are mobilizing a nationwide campaign to defend the law and protect millions of Americans who depend on the law and other government health programs. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

 Should tax dollars pay to send Merced County Sheriff’s Posse to Trump parade? — While hundreds of people dined inside the Elks Lodge in Merced to raise money for the Merced County Sheriff’s Posse’s trip to the presidential inauguration later this month, protesters braved the rain outside to denounce the trip and the tax dollars that could be used on it. The 14 horses in the posse already are being moved, according to their handlers, across the country for the Jan. 20 ceremony when President-elect Donald Trump officially takes over.  Merced Sun-Star article

Vote on attorney general nominee is ‘make or break’ for pot legalization, backers say — Backers of marijuana legalization on Monday stepped up their pressure on the U.S. Senate to block the confirmation of Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions as the next attorney general. Sessions, a staunch opponent of legalization, angered proponents in April when he called pot “dangerous” and said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” McClatchy Newspapers articleLA Times article

Tom Steyer heads back into battle, starting with an ad against secretary of state pick Rex Tillerson – As Steyer and other environmentalists regroup, the California billionaire is hoping to use this week’s confirmation hearings in Washington to re-energize activists. In an ad campaign to air in Washington, D.C., California and five other states, Steyer nonprofit NextGen Climate is taking aim at Trump’s pick for secretary of State, former ExxonMobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson. LA Times article

Tom Fife: Get ready for the right thing: Trump as 45th president – Last November, Donald Trump became the most popular Republican presidential candidate in US history by winning over 62.4 million votes in the 2016 general election. His vote total makes him the third most popular presidential candidate in history. Only Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have received more votes. Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta

Joe Altschule: George Orwell had it right — Look at these Orwell quotes from 30 to 50 years ago to see their exquisite relevance to our political circumstances today. When you read Orwell’s words; think Donald Trump. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

Jack Ohman: The Trump Cabinet diversity of Senate confirmation hearings – The Sacramento Bee’s editorial cartoon gives his take on Trump’s Cabinet diversity.  Ohman editorial cartoon in Sacramento BeeCalifornia Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Pot’s legal in California. So why are people still getting busted in Yosemite? — Think pot is now legal in California? Try telling that to the National Park Service rangers ready to bust people caught with marijuana in Yosemite, Redwood, Death Valley and other federal lands across the state. The federal government says it’s not backing off on citing people who are caught with marijuana in California’s national parks, monuments, recreational areas and other federal lands regardless of the landslide vote that legalized recreational marijuana in the state. McClatchy Newspapers article

California storms fill drought-parched reservoirs – The powerful storms that soaked Northern California over the past week did more than trigger power outages, mudslides and flash floods. They sent roughly 350 billion gallons of water pouring into California’s biggest reservoirs — boosting their storage to levels not seen in years, forcing dam operators to release water to reduce flood risks and all but ending the five-year drought across much of Northern California, even though it remains in the south, experts said Monday. San Jose Mercury News articleLA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto council to consider pay raises for police chief, other officials – Modesto’s police sergeants, lieutenants, captains and its police chief are set to receive pay increases of more than 10 percent over slightly more than 2 1/2 years in proposals the City Council is expected to approve Tuesday. But all of them will pick up more of the cost of their pensions, paying an additional 3 percent of their salaries starting in June. That will bring their total contribution to 12 percent of their pay. Modesto Bee article

Bad news for Bay Area mega-commuters: Sacramento now leads the nation in rent growth – A new survey by the RentCafe website shows that Sacramento leads the nation in annual rent growth, with a 12.2 percent spike from December 2015 to December 2016.  No. 2 in the nation is Stockton — yes, Stockton, where year-over-year rent growth was 10.6 percent. The average rent in Sacramento is now $1,193. In Stockton, it’s $991. San Jose Mercury News article

Bakersfield Californian: Residency should be the only requirement to use Hart Park – We get it. We understand that operating costs have risen, maintenance needs have grown and revenues are down. Way down. But putting those very legitimate concerns on the backs of the people who enjoy Kern County’s Hart Park, and asking county personnel to manage it, is not the way to go about it. Bakersfield Californian editorial

Visalia homeless encampment cleaned up – A homeless encampment in north Visalia was cleaned removed, along with nearly 50 homeless men and women who were asked to leave Monday. Law enforcement began the process about a month ago to clean up the area around Ben Maddox Way and the St. Johns River. Visalia Times-Delta photo galleryVisalia Times-Delta article

Luis Chavez looks forward to building southeast Fresno economy – New Fresno City Council member Luis Chávez expects big changes in Fresno, and especially in southeast Fresno. He points to the Fancher Creek Town Center development as a catalyst. “It will be a game-changer for southeast Fresno,” said Chávez. “It will be better than Riverpark because it has the same developers and they’ve learned from it. It will be a better version.” Vida en el Valle article

Gas prices continue to climb in Merced and surrounding area – Merced-area gasoline prices rose by 9 cents over the past week, according to national fuel cost tracker AAA. The area’s current average retail cost of gas is $2.72 a gallon, up 17 cents from the same time last month. Merced Sun-Star article

LA needs to borrow millions to pay cover legal payouts, city report says — Los Angeles budget officials are warning that the city needs to immediately borrow tens of millions of dollars to avoid dipping into its emergency reserve fund after several high-profile lawsuit payouts. LA Times article

Sacramento hopes to spark an economy of cool, starting with Art Street – Mayor Darrell Steinberg on Tuesday will ask the City Council to authorize $500,000 to fund experimental art, food and technology projects in a bid to help Sacramento overcome its stodgy image and draw more business and tourism. Sacramento Bee articleErika D. Smith column in Sacramento Bee

San Diego County supervisors add to their pension payouts during last term in office — On Tuesday, item #7 on the San Diego County Supervisors’ agenda is the final reading of an ordinance that effectively increases their pay by about 12 percent within the next year. This is not simply a pay raise; this is a step-up in the formula by which their pay is raised. In other words, it increases the size of San Diego County supervisors’ pay and benefit increases indefinitely into the future. KPBS report

Suncrest Bank announces $15-per-hour minimum wage – Visalia-based Suncrest Bank has announced the introduction of a $15-per-hour minimum wage for all of its non-commission based employees, which will go into effect immediately. The Business Journal article

Candy maker Mars is buying LA-based animal hospital chain for $7.7 billion — VCA Inc., which consolidated chunks of the pet health industry to grow into a leading chain of animal hospitals, agreed to be bought by candy and pet-care giant Mars Inc. for $7.7 billion in cash, the companies said Monday. LA Times article

San Francisco 49ers sue Santa Clara over allegations of contract breach – The San Francisco 49ers is suing Santa Clara claiming city leaders “falsely accused” the NFL team of violating its contract — and now it wants a judge to settle the score by requiring the city to sign documents verifying no breaches occurred. San Jose Mercury News article

Yahoo to change name, trim board if Verizon deal gets done – Yahoo will adopt a new corporate identity and slash the size of its board if the proposed $4.8 billion sale of its digital services to Verizon Communications goes through. AP articleNew York Times article

Would the 2024 Olympics really generate $11 billion locally? – Staging the 2024 Olympic in Los Angeles could generate up to 79,307 new, full-time mostly temporary jobs and as much as $11.2 billion in economic activity in Los Angeles, Olympic organizers announced Monday. The $11 billion in spending would primary benefit Southern California’s tourism industry, which includes hotels and restaurants and other tourist attractions. KPCC report

Saucey alcohol delivery service up and running in Sacramento — When the three founders of Saucey were formulating their business model for an alcohol delivery service, they looked at California’s liquor stores and concluded that the business model was based largely on convenience and impulse. Sacramento Bee article


Storms have added 33.6 billion gallons of water to Lake Tahoe since Jan. 1 – The series of storms over the last few weeks in the Sierra Nevada have been very good to Lake Tahoe. According to the National Weather Service, the lake has gained about 33.6 billion gallons of water since Jan. 1 — and the lake has risen about one foot. LA Times article

Dean Florez: Rain is here.  What’s the plan to capture it? – The California Air Resources Board member and former California State Senate majority leader writes, “Running water into the ocean for a state that could capture it for tougher drought days ahead is the challenge for the new leadership in Sacramento, especially on the water policy committees, which have problem-solving chairs who realize that California only has a two-year supply of water in its reservoirs — before these rains. When the rain stops, will we have more stored, saved and available than in the past? That is the leadership challenge.” Florez op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

San Joaquin County supervisors will discuss intentional non-ag Delta flooding – The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors will conduct a public hearing Tuesday to consider extending an interim urgency ordinance that would prohibit the flooding of agricultural land in the Delta in manners considered inconsistent with common practice. Stockton Record article

How the Sacramento Weir works — The Sacramento Weir is the only manually operated weir on the Sacramento River system. While the system’s five other weirs overflow automatically once the river reaches a certain elevation, the 1,920-foot-long Sacramento Weir consists of 48 gates that must be opened with a long hooked pole. The gates are opened when the river level at the I Street Bridge reaches 29.87 feet. The weir, built in 1916, was last opened in December 2005. Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

D.A. declines to file charges against students who claimed police abuse, unfair arrest — No criminal charges will be filed against two black college students who alleged in a video they were racially targeted, assaulted and arrested on bogus charges by the Bakersfield Police Department, prosecutors said Monday. Bakersfield Californian article

Sentencing date set for robbers – Jaime Ramos and Pablo Ruvalcaba will be sentenced next month after pleading guilty to murder in Stockton’s Bank of the West robbery in 2014. Stockton Record article

Tulare County Sheriff welcomes 11 new employees – The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department welcomed 11 new employees to the department on Monday, including the second Pathways Scholar, Hector Negrete. The scholarship was started three years ago for college-bound students in the sheriff’s Explorer program. Students with a passion for joining the department are put through the police academy and placed into their community once they’ve graduated. Visalia Times-Delta article

Proposed change to LAPD disciplinary system could result in more leniency for officers – A proposal that would give civilians a greater role in the discipline of Los Angeles police officers accused of serious misconduct could also lead to more leniency for officers facing termination or lengthy suspensions. LA Times article

Theme park crime: Counterfeiters prefer Disneyland; shoplifters like Universal Studios Hollywood — Police reports show that crime rates at Southern California theme parks are extremely low, but each park wrestles with unique crime problems such as shoplifting at Universal Studios Hollywood and car burglary at Knott’s Berry Farm. At Disneyland, reports of counterfeit money are more common than incidents of grand theft or credit card fraud. LA Times article


Fresno Bee: Fresno Unified search should be national and transparent — It still is early in the process, but it appears the Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees has several good ideas on hiring a successor to longtime Superintendent Michael Hanson, who is leaving the district this summer. Fresno Bee editorial

New café is helping Fresno’s special education students – and serving up good lattes, too — The new coffee shop in town is aiming to teach valuable lessons to the students that work there – and the customers they serve. Kids Cafe 2019, which opened Monday at 2019 Mariposa Mall, serves up a variety of coffee drinks, as well as soups and sandwiches – and also works as a hands-on classroom for some of Fresno County’s special education students. Fresno Bee article

Blog post lands Sacramento State professor on Fox News, prompts barrage of hate mail — Sacramento State history professor Joseph A. Palermo set off a conservative firestorm after writing that people who deny climate change “shouldn’t be allowed” to use social media, GPS-directed drones or nuclear weapons. Sacramento Bee article


‘Absolute shock’ over loss of ‘tunnel tree’ – People across the region are mourning the demise of Calaveras Big Trees’ iconic Pioneer Cabin Tree, the tunneled-out sequoia that apparently plummeted to the earth during Sunday’s storms. Park volunteer Jim Allday of Arnold discovered the scene and took photos that quickly spread via social media. Thousands have since shared their dismay. Allday said late Sunday that the public’s reaction has been “just amazing.” Stockton Record articleSacramento Bee articleModesto Bee articleNPR report‘Tribute to a tunnel tree’ in Stockton RecordLA Times article

Yosemite Valley cleanup under way after storm leaves a mess, but not much damage – Yosemite Valley’s cleanup got under way Monday after the storm-swollen Merced River reached its flood peak early in the morning and began receding. Visitors can begin returning Tuesday, although for a while services will be limited, Yosemite National Park officials said. Fresno Bee article

Heavy rain impacts foothills, Kaweah Lake – Locals and visitors to the area experienced heavy rainfall throughout the weekend due to a “Pineapple Express” storm system. Overnight, the Kaweah River filled with water making its way up to the backyards of some residents. Visalia Times-Delta article

North Fork flooding sends mobile home owners scrambling for higher ground — Residents on Church Street in North Fork and at Bass Lake Mobile Home Park were evacuated from their homes early Monday morning as water from Bass Lake and rain-swollen creeks and streams flooded the area. Fresno Bee article

Wine country among areas hit hard by California storms – Wine country in Sonoma County was among the hardest hit areas, with up to 13 inches of rain since Friday. Rolling hills and vineyards along the scenic route known as River Road were submerged Monday with just the tips of vines visible in completely flooded fields. AP article

 At Lost Lake, flooding provides research opportunity – Lost Lake Park just below Friant Dam in Fresno County was closed to the public on Monday due to flooding. But federal scientists say the flooding was controlled and not historical—and it provided an opportunity for scientific study. Valley Public Radio report

New California dam proposed to combat climate change concerns — Americans have had one primary reason for building dams over the past century: capturing water for growth, whether on farms or in cities. Now a new dam proposed on California’s Bear River offers another reason: adapting to climate change. KQED report

U.S. had near record heat, costly weather disasters in 2016 — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that 2016 was the second hottest year in the U.S. as Alaska warmed dramatically and nighttime temperatures set a record. The U.S. also notched its second highest number of weather disasters that cost at least $1 billion in damage: 15 separate ones together caused $46 billion in damage and 138 deaths. AP article

Health/Human Services 

Stanislaus County’s new supervisor wants to help foster youths, and she’s in favor of Laura’s Law — As she begins a new chapter in her life, as a county supervisor, former state Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen said water and economic development are priorities. However, she also wants to channel her energy into programs for foster youths and improving mental health in Stanislaus County, she said.  Modesto Bee article

Muted response from health care industry as millions stand to lose insurance — The speed of Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act has stunned health industry lobbyists, leaving representatives of insurance companies, hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical makers in disarray and struggling for a response to a legislative quick strike that would upend much of the American health care system. New York Times article


That ‘new bus’ smell: FAX service reduces wait times to and from Fresno State – Fresno State President Joseph Castro joined city transit leaders Monday to mark the ceremonial start of FAX15, a new bus service with more buses, greater frequency and shorter waiting times for passengers. The city’s transportation department bought 20 new buses for the service, which will roll on portions of Shaw and Cedar avenues to and from the university every 15 minutes. Fresno Bee article

Jeff Jardine: The numbers don’t lie: Females are Stanislaus County’s better drivers – Women, for generations, rode alongside and some drove only when necessary, while others never drove at all. So of course men considered themselves the better drivers. That is no longer the case in Stanislaus and many other California counties, and hasn’t been for at least a decade if not much longer, according to the numbers compiled by the California Highway Patrol. Males were at fault in 34 of the 46 traffic deaths in Stanislaus County in 2016, and in 46 of 58 in 2006. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

San Diego’s public transit growth hits speed bump — Just over a year after the passage of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan, the city’s goal of dramatically shifting its residents’ commuting habits away from cars and toward public transit is slipping further from reach. KPBS report

Other areas

Kern supervisors to consider security checkpoint at county headquarters — Next time you want to visit the elections office, pay your property taxes or attend a meeting of the Kern County Board of Supervisors, you’ll probably have to go through an airport-style security check. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian  We get it. We understand that operating costs have risen, maintenance needs have grown and revenues are down. Way down. But putting those very legitimate concerns on the backs of the people who enjoy Kern County’s Hart Park, and asking county personnel to manage it, is not the way to go about it.

Fresno Bee – It still is early in the process, but it appears the Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees has several good ideas on hiring a successor to longtime Superintendent Michael Hanson, who is leaving the district this summer.

Sacramento Bee –- While Trump isn’t covered by federal ethics laws, his Cabinet picks are. The least he can do is make sure they don’t break the law and are worthy of the public’s trust; The incoming administration should pay heed to the need to continue the nonpartisan practice of funding levee reinforcement. Failure to pay sufficient attention to sensible flood control invites death and disaster, and is bad politics.