January 12, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

California revenue is growing. So why the talk of deficits? — The paradoxical budget picture is a result of revenue growing more slowly than economists had predicted after years of rapid increases from a hard-charging economy. While Brown expects revenue to be up 3 percent next year, the governor and lawmakers assumed revenues would be even higher when they planned the current budget, and they spent accordingly. Costs are higher than expected, too. AP article

California’s Dianne Feinstein has pacemaker installed after Sessions hearing — Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California had a pacemaker installed in what her staff is describing as an “abundance of caution.” Feinstein’s office said she underwent the 90-minute procedure at George Washington University Hospital on Tuesday. Her staff called it a voluntary and non-emergency decision. McClatchy Newspapers articleKQED report

State budget

George Skelton: With prudent budget crafting, Brown again shows that he’s the adult in the Capitol – The “Good Brown” was on vivid display Tuesday — the prudent, sage governor respected by Californians of wide-ranging political beliefs. This was the popular, dominant side of Gov. Jerry Brown’s emerging legacy — the adult in the state Capitol, the political tutor, the check on runaway spending. Skelton column in LA Times

Voters approved a $9 billion school bond, but Gov. Jerry Brown is not ready to spend it – Gov. Jerry Brown, who last year registered deep skepticism about the $9 billion statewide school construction bond, is withholding the proceeds until the Legislature approves more rigorous independent auditing procedures. Sacramento Bee article

Medical associations disappointed in new tobacco tax money spending plan – California’s top medical and dental associations say they’re disappointed in Governor Jerry Brown’s plans for how to spend new state tobacco tax money. Capital Public Radio report

Joel Fox: Riding the budget tiger — Forget about the budget proposal introduced by Gov. Jerry Brown yesterday. The budget plan that will matter is the revised version issued in May–even more than usual–after we learn more about the economy and plans from the new Trump Administration, both of which could have major impacts on the budget. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Gov. Brown’s budget shows support for Medi-Cal — Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget shows continued support for California’s Medicaid program as talks of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act gain momentum. Capital Public Radio report

Valley politics

Jeff Jardine: Recall campaign against district attorney: For real, or just saber-rattling by former mayor? — If you drove along the 400 block of McHenry Avenue in Modesto last weekend, you might have seen an electronic sign next to Sabatino’s Ristorante bearing the words “Recall Fladager.” No surprise that it was next to Carmen Sabatino’s restaurant; he has been Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager’s harshest critic during her 10-plus years in office. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Other areas

State senators urge House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to ‘abandon the political rhetoric’ on Obamacare — When House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy asked top political figures across the country for input on how to replace the Affordable Care Act, it seemed unlikely that officials in California, a state that has enthusiastically adopted the healthcare law, would eagerly brainstorm on a potential repeal. Sure enough, top Democrats in the state Senate — President Pro Tem Kevin de León of Los Angeles and Health Committee Chairman Ed Hernández of West Covina — responded this week with a grim take on congressional Republicans’ efforts to unwind Obamacare. LA Times article

State watchdog agency investigating after Times report on political donations – A state agency that enforces campaign finance laws has launched an investigation in response to a Times report on political donations connected to the developer of a Harbor Gateway apartment project. LA Times article

Republican-led Senate takes first step to repeal Obamacare – The Senate early Thursday passed a measure to take the first step toward dismantling President Obama‘s healthcare law, responding to pressure to move quickly even as Republican lawmakers and President-elect Donald Trump grapple with what the replace it with. LA Times articleNew York Times articleMcClatchy Newspapers article

California is friendly territory, but a national defunding worries Planned Parenthood – In California, Planned Parenthood finds itself in uncommon territory. Nationally, the healthcare provider has become a controversial symbol of the fraught debate over abortion. But in California, the organization has enjoyed dependable support for decades from the state’s most powerful politicians. The federal proposal to dry up money for Planned Parenthood could have major implications in the Golden State. LA Times article

Dan Morain: An anniversary of a rampage, spent bearing witness and advocating — Had events not conspired on Tuesday, Amanda Wilcox and her husband, Nick, would have hiked up Buttermilk Trail to a special spot above the Yuba River. Instead, on Jan. 10, they found a different way to honor their daughter. They drove from their home in Penn Valley to the Capitol to bear witness, and to witness the confirmation hearing for Xavier Becerra, Gov. Jerry Brown’s nominee to be the next California attorney general.  Morain in Sacramento Bee

California lawmakers wants teens to learn how to spot fake news — A California lawmaker is taking steps he hopes will combat fake news. Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez introduced a bill Wednesday to help high schools teach students to tell real news from fake. AP article

Eric Holder to lead Democrats’ attack on Republican gerrymandering — Emerging as Mr. Obama’s chief collaborator and proxy is Eric H. Holder Jr., the former attorney general of the United States and a personal friend of the president. He has signed on to lead the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a newly formed political group aimed at untangling the creatively drawn districts that have helped cement the Republican Party in power in Washington and many state capitals. New York Times article

Presidential Politics

Democrats didn’t stand a chance against Russia’s elite hackers.  They’re too good — When Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chief received a bogus email that an elite Russian hacking unit allegedly sent, he clicked on its infected link, giving the hackers access to 58,000 or so emails. Such a hack is known as “spearphishing,” and it turns out to be only the simplest tool in a sophisticated Russian hacking kit, according to a report issued Wednesday by FireEye, a Milpitas, California, cybersecurity company whose experts have been examining the group since 2007. McClatchy Newspapers article

 News Stories – Top Stories

Reservoirs starting to fill in California, but nobody is saying the drought is over — As a result of the nearly weeklong deluge, water is flowing into California lakes and reservoirs, prompting dam operators to release supplies in advance of a storm expected next week. But it’s too early to say if the series of storms is a drought-buster. Fresno Bee article

Big storms end drought across much of Northern California – Deluged with a series of relentless storms this winter, nearly half of California is no longer in a drought for the first time four years, including the Bay Area, a stark turnaround after one of the worst natural disasters in state history, according to a new federal report out Thursday morning. San Jose Mercury News article

Where are California’s Latino doctors? New programs try to grow next generation — As the state’s Latino population continues to expand and older Latino physicians move toward retirement, hospitals and medical schools are responding to the need by charging forward with plans to recruit the next generation of Spanish-speaking medical professionals. Sacramento Bee article

Rural Kern fire stations to see staff cuts – Staffing at nine Kern County Fire Department stations will shrink on Monday, more fallout from the county’s budget woes. The stations will remain open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year but with only two firefighters on shift rather than the current three. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Sign of better times: New hires — Twenty-three recently added employees raised their right hands and repeated oaths of office Wednesday afternoon, an indication that after years marked by layoffs and attrition, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office is nearing a return to full strength. Stockton Record article

 Branding bud: Marijuana companies want California to issue trademarks for pot – The sandwich baggie brimming with buds is gradually becoming a thing of the past in California. In its place, an era of name-brand marijuana is emerging. CALmatters article

Sacramento poised to state accepting applications for commercial pot cultivation — The city of Sacramento soon may begin accepting applications from businesses wanting to cultivate marijuana. A City Council committee this week voted to lift Sacramento’s moratorium on commercial cannabis cultivation. The action means that aspiring marijuana businesses would be able to apply for cultivation permits beginning April 2 under a new ordinance that could position the capital city as regional hub for commercial pot production. Sacramento Bee article

Chaffee Zoo nears 1 million visitors in 2016, says more projects to come – Fresno Chaffee Zoo set a record for attendance in 2016, with nearly 1 million visitors flocking to the zoo in Roeding Park. The zoo announced Tuesday that 964,091 visitors came through the zoo gates last year, a 19 percent increase in public attendance over 2015’s 808,914 visitors. February saw the largest monthly increase in visitors with 87,878 guests – double the 43,943 that came in February 2015. Fresno Bee article

Sources: Chargers plan to announce move from San Diego to LA — The Chargers plan to announce as early as Thursday that they are moving to Los Angeles for the 2017 season, league sources said, ending a 55-year stint in San Diego and returning to their birthplace. The franchise played its inaugural season in Los Angeles in 1960 before moving to San Diego in 1961. ESPN article

Sacramento councilman seeks to ease anti-camping law for homeless; draws cheers from homeless rights activists — For over a year, homeless rights activists have descended on Sacramento City Hall, demanding an end to the city’s ban on urban camping. They’ve slept on the sidewalk on cold winter nights, staged sit-ins and have been hauled away by police. After all that, they suddenly have an ally on the City Council. Sacramento Bee article

Raises climb quickly in new Cal Fire contract – California state firefighters will receive substantial raises of up to 13.8 percent this year, according to newly released details from a proposed contract that their union negotiated just before Christmas.  Sacramento Bee article

Apple to hit $1 trillion in total iPhone, IOS revenue this year: report — Apple’s iPhone and the firm’s iOS operating system are surely cash cows for the Cupertino tech titan. But exactly how lucrative have they been? Extremely, according to a new report from market-intelligence firm Asymco. Or you might even say obscenely, given the amount of loot involved. San Jose Mercury News article

Welcome back, RJ’s: Northwest hot spot reopens — There were many tears in the beers at RJ’s Bar & Grill at what the regulars thought would be the last last call in the wee hours of July 1. But the tears have turned to cheers now that the northwest hangout is back in business, with new owners, a new look and a newish menu. Bakersfield Californian article


Is the great California drought finally quitting? – The state’s biggest reservoirs are swelling. As of this date, the Sierra Nevada have seen as much snow, sleet, hail and rain as during the wettest years on record. Rainy Los Angeles feels more like London than Southern California. So is the great California drought finally calling it quits? LA Times article

Kathleen Tiegs and Brent Hastey: Water infrastructure bill is a landmark moment for California – The Association of California Water Agencies leaders write, “On Dec. 16, President Barack Obama signed what probably is the most important federal water legislation in a quarter of a century – the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act – or WIIN. Make no mistake about it – this is a landmark moment in California water.” Tiegs/Hastey op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Rain fills Kings River channel – The Kings River is flowing again in Kings County, and it might be the most water since 2011, according to officials. Hanford Sentinel article

Weeks of rain are rapidly reviving California’s drought-ravaged lakes — As of Tuesday morning, 154 of the largest reservoirs tracked by the California Department of Water Resources had filled to about 97% of their collective average for the day, said Maury Roos, a longtime state hydrologist. Just a year ago, many were at or below 50% of average. LA Times article

Produce industry releases plan for ending abusive Mexican farm labor conditions – North America’s largest produce industry groups have unveiled a plan aimed at ridding abusive labor conditions from supply chains, in a closely watched effort prompted by growing demand from consumers to know more about the food they eat. LA Times article

Tulare County crops reap benefits of rain – Fields continue to be prepared and planted to winter wheat and barley forage. The growth of planted grains and field crops continue grow at an excellent rate, reaping the benefit from this past week’s ongoing precipitation. The forecast for optimal returns continues to look good. Sorghum seed continues to be received for future planting. Visalia Times-Delta article

World Ag Expo names top products — Automated Ag Systems owner J.J. Dagorret said making the World Ag Expo 2017 Top 10 Products list is “fantastic.” Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

White and black police officers are sharply divided about race, Pew finds – A new national survey of law enforcement officers found that the vast majority feel their jobs are harder than ever before, after the police-involved shootings of black Americans over the past several years. New York Times article

Clearing the air on what legalized pot means for local law enforcement – Those smoking “recreationally” prior to the proposition’s passage clearly knew it was illegal. Now, however, some people may incorrectly believe that the pot legalization includes public smoking, said Modesto Police Department spokeswoman Heather Graves. It does not. Modesto Bee article

Hanford Police Department expansion continues – The Hanford Police Department is making slow-but-steady progress to expand its police station following last year’s failure of Measure K. Hanford Sentinel article

Summit shows face of human trafficking – When Melinda Griffith’s family met their daughter Adrianna’s boyfriend in 2010, he appeared to be a nice, respectful young man. But over the course of a few months, Melinda Griffith began noticing changes in her daughter’s behavior. Stockton Record article

Waterford ‘safe exchange’ zone aims to reduce scams, violence – Blind meetings to buy and sell goods advertised online have led to incidents of people being robbed or worse. To help combat such crimes, Waterford Police Services has established a “safe exchange zone” in front of City Hall. Modesto Bee article

One dead when sheriff’s pursuit ends in crash at northwest Fresno intersection – One man is dead after his car collided with others and wrapped around a light pole trying to outrun Fresno County sheriff’s deputies in northwest Fresno late Wednesday night, said Fresno police Sgt. Jerardo Chamalbide. Fresno Bee article

Senior citizen raped by Sacramento cop gets $1.35 million – The septuagenarian stroke victim repeatedly raped at her apartment over a three-year span by a Sacramento police beat cop will receive $1.35 million from the city of Sacramento and the apartment complex where she lived in a settlement announced by her attorneys Wednesday. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento police officer faced review for saying ‘just hit him with a baseball bat’ – A Sacramento police officer faced a disciplinary review for calling suspect Dazion Jerome Flenaugh a “freak” and suggesting that a bystander should hit him with a baseball bat in a verbal exchange captured on dashcam video about 16 minutes before other officers shot Flenaugh dead. Sacramento Bee article

Two LAPD officers who shot and killed a 16-year-old in Boyle Heights last year hadn’t turned on their body cameras — Two Los Angeles police officers who shot and killed a 16-year-old last year in Boyle Heights didn’t turn on their body cameras until after the shooting, according to a report made public Wednesday. LA Times article


State board chooses new way of measuring school progress on tests — After hours of discussion, the State Board of Education on Wednesday settled two much debated issues that will enable state officials to move ahead this year with the state’s new school accountability system. EdSource articleLA Times article

Lincoln considers ‘safe haven’ status – In the aftermath of the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Lincoln Unified School District officials began to receive a flood of questions and concerns from parents who feared sending their children to school. Stockton Record article

Teachers union tells Fresno Unified board Superintendent Hanson must go now – The Fresno Teachers Association is demanding the Fresno Unified school board usher Superintendent Michael Hanson out of his job immediately – expediting his plans to resign in AugustFresno Bee article

College creates career center dedicated to helping career technical education students — A broken-down car or unreliable childcare can make the difference between completing a certificate program and getting a good job or continuing the cycle of struggle familiar to the hundreds of students pursing Career Technical Education (CTE) at community colleges across the state. Merced College has designed a new support system specifically to assist these aspiring students in completing their coursework and transitioning from school to employment. California Economic Summit report

Kern High School District hires lobbyist, Bakersfield City School District seeks new trustee – Jenny Hannah, a county facilities chief who led the developer-backed lobbying group behind Proposition 51, the state’s $9 billion school construction bond, has been hired as the new Kern High School District facilities director. Bakersfield Californian article

Keith Wolaridge: CARB directives will impact quality of education – The member of the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District Board writes, “The bottom line is this: Higher costs for energy, construction and student transportation divert precious resources away from the classroom. There will be less money for technology, books, supplies, and teachers; less money for manageable class sizes that provide the best environment for learning.” Wolaridge op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

UCSF receives historic half-billion-dollar donation – One of the largest educational gifts in U.S. history — $500 million — went to a California university Wednesday. When UCSF chancellor Sam Hawgood heard about the donation, he was grateful, of course — and shocked. KQED reportSan Jose Mercury News article

Business mentors benefit local students – A Lemoore program has community members mentoring teens to be successful in business. Young Entrepreneur Academy Program Manager Brittany Reece recruits business mentors to help students in the program succeed with starting their own business. Hanford Sentinel article

Merced County students get courtroom experience in mock trial – High school students from around the county on Wednesday played the parts of prosecutors, defense attorneys and witnesses during a fictional human-trafficking case heard at the Courthouse Museum in the county’s first mock trial. Merced Sun-Star article

Los Angeles Valley College pays $28,000 in bitcoin ransom to hackers – The Los Angeles Community College District paid a $28,000 ransom in bitcoin last week to hackers who took control of a campus email and computer network until a payment was made. LA Times article

Sacramento State finds new education dean in Moscow — Alexander “Sasha” M. Sidorkin has been named the new dean of the College of Education at Sacramento State. Sidorkin formerly was the dean of the Graduate School of Education and the director of the Center for the Study of Innovation in Education at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Sacramento Bee article


Storm surge: Levees under patrol as water problems in Delta grow – Flooding concerns intensified in the Delta on Wednesday as huge volumes of water surged down creeks and streams into the low-lying river estuary. Stockton Record article‘Dramatic rescues, scares in storm’s aftermath’ in Stockton Record

Flooding reported in Gustine area, no evacuations necessary, county says — Parts of rural Merced County near Gustine have seen flooding in agricultural areas following recent showers, Merced County officials said Wednesday. Merced Sun-Star article

Few problems have come up from the rain that’s come down — It appears that Modestans have avoided serious problems with the recent rains. Modesto Bee article

Health/Human Services 

Hospitals overrun with flu patients; Visalia hospital opens tent for overflow — With flu season in high gear, hospital emergency departments have been functioning at capacity and one – Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia – has erected a tent outside to make room for visitors. The 570-square-foot reception tent is freeing space in the indoor waiting room for use as a treatment area, said Dr. Edward Hirsch, chief medical and quality officer. Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Kern sheriff’s union opposes county building lockdown — The Kern Law Enforcement Association on Wednesday came out against a decision to beef up security at the Kern County Administrative Center by requiring the public to go through a metal detector and checkpoint. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Oak SPCA on a short leash — The Valley Oak SPCA was thrown a bone after the shelter nearly shuttered on Jan. 1. “We’ve been told for the last year or two that the SPCA has been trying to find a home, it’s just taken longer than expected,” Visalia’s Mayor Warren Gubler said. “We’re giving them six more months.” Visalia Times-Delta article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – President-elect Donald Trump’s first press conference in nearly six months displayed how he is trying to redefine acceptable behavior for the leader of the free world; The Dogs Dig ’Em baking ministry launched by the St. Francis Homeless Project and the Fresno County Office of Education’s Kids Cafe 2019 are two efforts that our community should support and take great pride in.

Merced Sun-Star – Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal on Tuesday reminded us of California weather – always hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

Modesto Bee – Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal on Tuesday reminded us of California weather – always hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

Sacramento Bee –- President-elect Donald Trump’s first press conference in nearly six months displayed how he is trying to redefine acceptable behavior for the leader of the free world; Trump, Kennedy and the threat of an anti-vax vaccine policy.