January 14, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Jerry Brown’s budget probably understates California revenue, analyst says — Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget for the year beginning July 1 probably understates California income tax collections by billions of dollars, the Legislature’s non-partisan fiscal analyst said in a report FridaySacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Immigration attorneys confront fear, anxiety, confusion a week before Trump’s inauguration — With less than a week until Donald Trump’s inauguration, immigrants in Fresno are getting increasingly anxious about the president-elect’s looming promises to crack down on illegal immigration and change course on the Obama administration’s approach to legal immigration. Fresno Bee article

State budget

Budget signals education funding ‘flattening out’ — School districts have enjoyed far more generous funding increases from the state since 2012. Per-student funding has spiked $3,600 since Brown was elected in 2010 and overall, school spending is up 51 percent. But while per-pupil spending has increased roughly $1,100 annually since 2011-2012, it’s projected to grow just $331 this year. Bakersfield Californian article

School leaders decry any delay in spending state bond money – The governor’s call this week to delay spending of Proposition 51 state school bond funding until rules for spending it are more equitable to small districts is irking local school leaders in growing districts that desperately need the money. Bakersfield Californian article

Gov. Brown’s budget encourages students to reach higher – Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2017-18 budget will help continue the state’s support of career pathway and technical education programs in higher education. Visalia Times-Delta article

California Politics Podcast: Budget bonanza —  This week’s podcast episode is solely devoted to an in-depth discussion of Gov. Jerry Brown’s new state budget plan and the political wrangling in Sacramento that depends, in so many ways, on what happens in Washington. With John Myers and Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times, Marisa Lagos of KQED News and Anthony York of the Grizzly Bear Project. California Politics Podcast

Gov. Brown 

Jerry Brown to GOP on Obamacare: Don’t just shift costs to states — As the Republican-led Congress moved to repeal the federal health care law, Gov. Jerry Brown warned Friday that dismantling the Affordable Care Act without passing a suitable alternative wouldn’t just leave millions of Californians without care. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Denham, despite pressure from health advocates, sides with GOP on Obamacare repeal measure — Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, sided with fellow Republicans in a House of Representatives vote Friday that’s a step toward repeal of the Affordable Care Act. His vote was bound to spark an outcry in his district, which is well-populated by the poor and households that rely on health insurance through Obamacare. Modesto Bee article

Fugazi won’t let potential council isolation affect her service — In her professional life, City Councilwoman Christina Fugazi is a high school teacher, so it probably should come as no surprise that when she recently received the new committee assignments of Mayor Michael Tubbs, she immediately set about analyzing the selections. Fugazi, who is in the middle of her first term representing District 5, quickly made a discovery. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Xavier Becerra’s nomination as California AG cruises through Assembly — The California Assembly voted overwhelmingly Friday to confirm Rep. Xavier Becerra as the next state attorney general. Sacramento Bee article


‘I left my tacos on the table and took off running.’ Immigrant remember the workplace raids of the 1980s — In the 1980s, the federal government launched aggressive immigration raids in Mexican and Central American communities in Los Angeles. Raids were carried out at homes; bus stops, nightclubs, vast agricultural fields and warehouses. They were so frequent that, for many immigrants in the country illegally, their children and other Latinos, it became a fact of life.  LA Times article

Other areas

Speaker’s office overhauls communications support for Assembly Democrats — Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon is dismantling and replacing a unit of his office that assists with communications for members of the Democratic caucus. The restructuring of the Speaker’s Office of Member Services, which maintains member websites, creates and sends mail on their behalf, and provides video and audio services, is being led by Rendon communications director John Casey, who said Thursday that the plan is still in development. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Valley residents say it’s worth it to head east to see Trump swearing-in ceremony – Donald Trump was soundly defeated last November in California, but that certainly didn’t mean he lacked Golden State supporters. Now, some of the most fervent among that group – including backers from the central San Joaquin Valley – are preparing to head to Washington, D.C., next week to watch him be sworn in as the nation’s 45th president. Fresno Bee article

Under Trump, police abuse settlements face uncertainty – As Chicago agrees to revamp its policing, settlements with police departments known as consent decrees may face a threat from the incoming administration. New York Times article

Trump aides respond to report that raises legal questions about calls with Russian ambassador — Members of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team tried Friday to clarify the nature of contact between the incoming national security advisor and a senior Russian official after a report raised questions about whether the interactions may have been illegal. LA Times article

Do they need a ‘damn satellite’ Trump worries about California scientists – At the conference last month where Gov. Jerry Brown declared the state would “launch its own damn satellite” if the Trump administration restricts access to climate data, a group of scientists from the University of California gathered in a side room to figure out how to do just that. Sacramento Bee article

Andrew Fiala: Donald Trump gave his father-in-law a government job.  Is that a good idea? – The professor of philosophy and director of The Ethics Institute at Fresno State writes, “Nepotism violates the spirit of open access and equal opportunity that democratic societies celebrate. Democratic people should be wary of nepotistic political dynasties, whether the family in question is Kennedy, Bush, Clinton or Trump.” Fiala column in Fresno Bee

 News Stories – Top Stories

California’s bullet train is hurtling toward a multibillion-dollar overrun, a confidential federal report warns — California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco. LA Times article

Fresno rain record broken with deluge; Millerton Lake steadily rising – The rain total from Thursday’s storm broke a 108-year-old record, said David Spector, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford. The old record set in 1909 was 0.82 inches. Thursday’s total was 0.85 inches. Total rainfall for Fresno for the season so far is well above normal, Spector said. Since Oct. 1, 8.42 inches of rain has fallen. The average rainfall for the same period is 4.34 inches. The rain season is from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

UC Berkeley study predicts positive economic benefit from California’s minimum wage increases — A new study by UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment crunches the numbers for a bunch of these factors to try to predict the impacts of California’s rising minimum wage, which will gradually increase to $15 per hour over the next six years. The study’s authors came to two major conclusions: The state’s higher wages will lead to large increases in pay for workers, and they will not result in major job losses. KQED report

Foon Rhee: How California is leading the charge on Fight for 15 – California didn’t get the nation’s biggest minimum wage increase at the start of 2017. But its 50-cent hike to $10.50 an hour did help the most workers by far (more than 1.7 million, or nearly 11 percent of the workforce) and produce the largest increase in total wages (nearly $1.5 billion a year). Rhee in Sacramento Bee

Emergency Food Bank sees greater need, fewer resources – The numbers are in for the Emergency Food Bank, and they continue to be staggering. Stockton Record article

Chargers’ move shows California is done spending public money on the NFL – The Chargers’ dramatic split from the city of San Diego may be a sign that California is officially done spending public money on sports franchises. LA Times article

Report: Raiders to file relocation papers requesting a move to Vegas – The Oakland Raiders will file relocation papers with the NFL requesting a move to Las Vegas, according to reports. Once that’s done, the NFL owners are expected to vote on the move in late March. The Raiders would need approval from 24 of the league’s 32 owners. AP article

LA 2024 committee says it has a plan to protect taxpayer dollars in hosting the Olympics – The leader of a private committee bidding to bring the Summer Olympics back to Los Angeles appeared before city officials Friday to once again face questions about whether the multibillion-dollar sporting event might pose a threat to taxpayer dollars. LA Times article

In the shopping cart of a food stamp household: Soda – Food stamps are supposed to help improve nutrition for the poor, but a study shows that, just like everyone else, food stamp users buy soda and junk food. New York Times article

Wells Fargo quarterly earnings fall in wake of bogus-accounts scandal – Wells Fargo & Co. on Friday reported a 6% drop in fourth-quarter profit in the wake of a scandal over its employees creating as many as 2 million accounts without customer authorization. LA Times article


From drought to deluge: How one California river tells the store of a waning drought — Torrents of meltwater coursed down the granite crevices below the moonscape of the Desolation Wilderness. Just miles from its source in the High Sierra, the South Fork of the American River was already roaring down toward the oaken foothills, bursting over the spillways of dams that humans had erected to control it. LA Times article

After ‘pretty extraordinary’ snowfall, ’Sierra Nevada braces for another battering from atmospheric river – Afoss the Sierra Nevada this weekend, residents and officials are assessing the damage from a series of powerful storms before a new round from the atmospheric river arrives next week. LA Times article

California farm labor board chairman quits in anger — William B. Gould IV, California Gov. Jerry Brown’s appointee to lead the board charged with protecting the rights of the state’s farmworkers, announced his resignation Friday, accusing the state bureaucracy of stalling one of his key proposals. LA Times article

Ex-senator Isadore Hall loses congressional bid, gets $142,095 appointment – Two months after losing his congressional bid in an upset, former state Sen. Isadore Hall has found his way back into California politics. Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday appointed the Compton Democrat to the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, which oversees collective bargaining rights for farmworkers in the state. The position on the five-member board, which pays $142,095 annually, requires Senate confirmation. Sacramento Bee article

EPA’s bee decisions are sweet for growers, but they sting environmentalists — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency backed away from tough restrictions on how pesticides can be used while honeybees are pollinating crops, and it declared that three of the pesticides most closely associated with bee deaths are safe in most applications. LA Times article

Stanislaus area farmers will head south for World Ag Expo — Some of the top tinkerers in the business of farming will show their wares down in Tulare next month. The 50th annual World Ag Expo will draw an estimated 100,000 patrons and 1,500 vendors, some of them from the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Rules for body cameras are left to local police as lawmakers struggle to pass statewide regulations —  Over the past two years, police departments up and down California have outfitted their patrol officers with body-worn cameras in an effort to boost community trust in law enforcement. At the same time, state lawmakers have tried and failed to pass a half-dozen major bills to address a range of issues including when officers turn the cameras on and off and when the public might see the video. The Legislature’s inability to agree to body-camera rules reflects deep divisions within the state’s ruling Democratic caucus on how to tackle the privacy and transparency issues raised by the new technology.  LA Times article

Fresno police plan video exchange sites to deter internet robberies — A series of robberies perpetrated through social media and the internet is prompting police to issue a warning to Fresnans not to become a victim of what Chief Jerry Dyer calls “completely preventable” robberies. Fresno Bee article

DA clears police officers in shooting of armed mentally ill man in south Sacramento — The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office on Friday ruled that three officers who shot a mentally-ill homeless man in South Sacramento acted lawfully and will not face charges. Sacramento Bee article

San Francisco police shooting wounded man in apparent psychiatric crisis; body camera footage withheld — A man shot and critically injured after fighting with San Francisco police officers last week had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, according to members of his family who are questioning whether police followed new SFPD policies designed to de-escalate encounters with people in psychiatric crisis. KQED report

Tim Ward: More difficult to recruit good lawmen (and women) – Tulare County’s district attorney writes, “Several years ago, my wife was the victim of a robbery. There are two things she remembers vividly to this day: The gun her attacker used and the police officer who responded to her call. She remembers the officer’s professionalism and his concern. That officer is now Police Chief Jason Salazar of the Visalia Police Department. He made a difference that day and continues to do so today. So to those of you thinking about a career in law enforcement, we need you. For those of you who are protecting all of us today, thank you. Stay safe. We need you.” Ward op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Tulare-Kings Academy future of law enforcement — In a time when police are heavily scrutinized, there are 40 Tulare-Kings Counties Basic Peace Officer Academy graduates preparing to put on the blue. Visalia Times-Delta article

Turlock to name new police chief Tuesday — Stanislaus County’s second-largest city is getting a new police chief, five months after the last one resigned. The Turlock City Council on Thursday voted unanimously during a closed session to allow the city manager to hire a police chief, but the name of the candidate is being withheld until next week. Modesto Bee article

First he yelled that he was guilty.  Now suspect in cop killing wants to be his own lawyer —  Luis Bracamontes, accused in the killing of two deputies, is trying to fire his defense lawyers and represent himself in his death penalty case, a move his attorneys fear would allow him to attempt to plead guilty or no contest and then try in court to consent to a death sentence. Sacramento Bee article


Bill McEwen: Fresno Unified needs an interim boss and it’s Larry Powell – There’s no question about whom the board should select as the interim superintendent. Larry Powell has the leadership skills, knowledge of the district’s needs, and the personality to do the job – and do it exceedingly well. And he wants the job. McEwen in Fresno Bee

Fresno Unified trustees quiet about rare special meeting — Fresno Unified trustees met for more than two hours in a closed meeting Thursday – but had nothing to say when they emerged. The rare closed special meeting was to discuss “discipline/dismissal/release/reassignment/resignation” of an employee, according to the agenda, though it does not specify who. Discussion with legal counsel about anticipated litigation was also to be discussed. Fresno Bee article

Foon Rhee: Why ‘Dreamers’ at UC should feel very lucky — When María Blanco took a new job at the end of 2014, no one knew that a billionaire reality TV star would launch a long-shot presidential bid by disparaging Mexican Americans and would demonize immigrants all the way to the White House. Now, if President-elect Donald Trump takes his own campaign promises literally and deports many more undocumented immigrants, Blanco will be on the front lines trying to shield University of California students. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

Los Rios Community College District vows to protect undocumented students – Los Rios Community College District trustees voted unanimously this week to protect the rights of undocumented immigrant students, the latest such move by a California school system since President-elect Donald Trump was elected in November. Sacramento Bee article

Kathryn Forbes: CSU personnel management contributes to discrimination problems – The professor in the Women’s Studies Program at Fresno State writes, “Human resource managers across industries, especially those in hulking bureaucracies like the CSU, work to comply with equal opportunity law in ways that cause the least amount of disruption to the organization’s operations. This is why we so often find human resources managers obsessed with procedural compliance without a parallel effort to reduce discrimination.” Forbes op-ed in Fresno Bee

Los Banos charter school renewal faces uncertain future – The future of Green Valley Charter School rests on whether the Los Banos Unified School District board believes the charter is succeeding despite a push to close the school by the state charter school association, citing poor student performance. Los Banos Enterprise article

‘There’s nothing more important’ – Michael Crutchfield, operations manager at C&S Wholesale Grocers, towers over several small Roosevelt Elementary School preschoolers as he makes his way to sit and read to them. Stockton Record article

Protests shut down controversial UC Davis event with alt-right editor and former pharma exec — A noisy demonstration at UC Davis on Friday led organizers to cancel a controversial event featuring Breitbart News editor and “alt-right” favorite Milo Yiannopoulos and Martin Shkreli, the hedge-fund founder and former pharmaceutical executive reviled for raising the price of a potentially life-saving drug by 5,000 percent. Sacramento Bee articleAP article


California cities, counties survey damage from heavy storms –  County and state officials say it’s too soon to peg a damage estimate from days of stormy weather that turned streets into rivers and living rooms into swimming pools in Northern California. AP article

EPA moves to preserve gas mileage requirements before Trump takes office — The Environmental Protection Agency could have waited until April of next year to set fuel economy standards for cars and passenger trucks in stone. Instead, it did so Friday — exactly a week before President-elect Donald J. Trump is to be sworn into office. LA Times article

Jack Ohman: A California landmark falls in a forest, but it’s spirit stays – When last week’s storm took down the Pioneer Cabin redwood tree in Calaveras County, California lost a landmark. But visitors can honor it in other ways. Ohman in Sacramento Bee

Obama just expanded protections along the California coast – and how he did it could foil any effort to Trump his action — In what is likely Barack Obama’s final environmental action before Donald Trump moves into the White House, the president has just expanded the existing California Coastal National Monument — adding a mix of lighthouses, rocky outcroppings, stands of redwoods and significant Native American grounds that will be knitted into the existing federal preserve on and off the coast from Humboldt County to Orange County. CALmatters article

Health/Human Services 

Legionnaires’ disease diagnosed in Fresno nursing home patient – Fresno County’s health officer alerted hospitals and nursing homes three months ago that cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been increasing in the county and nationwide – and three weeks ago a resident of a northeast Fresno nursing home was diagnosed with the respiratory disease. Fresno Bee article

Tulare Regional Medical Center’s secret loan: Benzeevi got the fee — The $500,000 secret loan last year from Tulare Regional Medical Center to Southern Inyo Hospital had a third beneficiary, HealthCare Conglomerate Associates. Documents obtained by the Tulare Advance-Register/Visalia Times-Delta show that the financially troubled Inyo County hospital, which is going through bankruptcy, agreed to pay HCCA a $3,125 fee to “guarantee” repayment of TRMC’s money. None of the money in the loan was provided by HCCA. Visalia Times-Delta article

Steinberg Institute gets $1.5 million from Sutter for mental health – Sutter Health will donate $1.5 million to the Steinberg Institute to advance mental health services and promote an understanding of mental illness throughout California, the institute announced Friday. Sacramento Bee article

Pasadena heart surgery patients warned of possible infections — Pasadena’s Huntington Hospital has sent letters to all patients having open heart surgery in the last four years warning them that they may have been infected with a dangerous bacteria. LA Times article

Key state HIV program in disarray after contract switch — A change in contractors for a state-run AIDS program has resulted in enrollment delays and left some patients unable to get necessary medications and timely medical care, according to legislators and nonprofit organizations across California. KPCC report

Other areas

Lemoore city manager on administrative leave – Lemoore City Manager Andi Welsh was placed on administrative leave Wednesday. Lemoore Mayor Ray Madrigal said Welsh was on administrative leave until further notice and declined to comment on the reason why. Hanford Sentinel article

Merced County Fair updates logo for first time in 43 years — The Merced County Fair has a new logo. The logo will appear on the fair’s website, social media accounts and signage around the fairgrounds in the coming months, fair officials announced in a statement. The new logo depicts rows of crops and a flag, replacing the former logo featuring an antique plow that was used since 1974. Merced Sun-Star article

For the first time, U.S. coin to show Liberty as a black woman — For the first time on a coin, Lady Liberty will be depicted as a black woman. The U.S. Mint unveiled the commemorative $100 gold coin Thursday as part of its 225th anniversary celebration. The 2017 American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin shows the woman’s head in profile with a crown of stars. McClatchy Newspapers article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee –- As President Obama exits, how do we judge his legacy?