January 15, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

California vs. Trump: What at stake for the Golden State? — Following months of fast and furious speculation, secessionist plots and preemptive actions from left-leaning California politicians, it gets real Friday: Donald Trump will become the president of the United States. And he’ll also be the president of 39 million Californians — thousands of whom took to the streets in protest days after his election. San Jose Mercury News article

Nunes advice to California GOP: Don’t compromise, use statewide ballot initiatives — The speech still is more than a month distant, but Rep. Devin Nunes already knows what he plans to tell California Republicans at their winter organizing convention – take the offensive, but in an unconventional fashion. Fresno Bee article

State budget

John Myers: The rules for how California pays its schools may lead to a surprising result this year – If this sentence leaves you confused, you’re not alone: Education spending rises under Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget, but some California schools are bracing for cuts. That both statements are true is a reflection of the byzantine rules that govern the flow of dollars to K-12 schools and community colleges. Myers in LA Times

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Peter Thiel considering bid for California governor — Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire and outspoken Donald Trump supporter, is considering a 2018 bid for California governor, according to three Republicans familiar with his thinking.  Politico article

Other areas

So ‘Redskins’ isn’t the only racially disparaging nickname seeking U.S. protection — The California-based Dykes on Bikes, a self-described group of “lesbian motorcycle riders,” has roared to the support of an Asian-American band called The Slants in a high-profile Supreme Court case about the ability to trademark offensive names.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Dianne Hardisty: Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Can two men from Alabama rise to greatness? – Today, another senator from Alabama has been nominated to a top federal justice post. Like Hugo Black, Jeff Sessions has been painted as a racist. In 1986, that accusation derailed President Ronald Reagan’s effort to appoint him to the federal bench. But like Black, Sessions, who was elected to the Senate in 1997, will likely enjoy the collegial “tradition” of having his attorney general nomination confirmed. We can only hope the job will positively shape and grow another senator from Alabama. Hardisty in Bakersfield Californian

Presidential Politics

Trump’s approach might seem new, but Arnold Schwarzenegger tried it first.  It was a disaster — President-elect Donald Trump may have mocked the rocky debut of successor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the faux boardroom chair of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” but as he makes his own start in the Oval Office, Trump may find he has a few things to learn from his reality TV replacement. LA Times article

At least one in five California members of Congress are skipping Trump’s inauguration — As of Thursday night, 39 of California’s 55-member delegation said they planned to attend the inauguration, where members of Congress have some of the best seats to view the peaceful transfer of power. That includes all 14 of the delegation’s Republicans. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) said: “I attended both of Obama’s. You better believe I’ll be attending Trump’s!” But at least 12 California House Democrats are skipping the inauguration. LA Times articleMcClatchy Newspapers: ‘Here are the members of Congress boycotting Trump’s inauguration’

Cathleen Decker: Trump kicks off Martin Luther King weekend with disparaging tweet against civil rights icon John Lewis — Unwilling to let criticism pass, Donald Trump on Saturday pilloried as “all talk … no action” national icon John Lewis, who was repeatedly beaten by police and nearly lost his life during protests in the long struggle for civil rights. Decker in LA TimesAP articleNew York Times article

Race is an integral part of Obama’s story, and he embraced its complexity — On policy and in speeches, Obama showed a determination to pursue equality for all minorities. But he faced resistance — not only from the right but also from allies on the left who felt he wasn’t moving decisively enough. That resistance, along with high-profile instances of racial violence that rekindled a national debate over racial progress, resulted in an uneven record for the Obama administration on the issue of race. LA Times articleNew York Times article

Erika D. Smith: Obama was the hope, change Americans of color needed – To black Americans, indeed to every of group of historically marginalized Americans, he was so much more. His presidency was the equivalent of dropping a boulder in a lake that seemed still on the surface, but was roiling underneath. The Obamas were a disruptive force to the country, and we’re still feeling the waves. Smith column in Sacramento Bee

Obama, who sought to ease partisanship, saw it worsen instead — President Obama leaves office with job approval ratings comparable to the high final marks for Presidents Reagan and Clinton. But unlike them, Obama’s support is overwhelmingly party-based. LA Times article

Lockheed Martin CEO tells Trump the cost of F-35 will be ‘significantly’ lower — For the second time in a few weeks, an aerospace giant emerged from a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump with news that the cost of a big-ticket program could be cut. It was the latest sign that defense contractors may have to play a new game when it comes to contract negotiations. LA Times article

Gerald Haslam: We’re stuck with the Electoral College process, until the winners want to change the process — Anachronism or not, only when the winning side, too, wants to move beyond the Electoral College, are we apt to change it. Until then it will be presidential politics as usual. Haslam op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 News Stories – Top Stories

Dan Walters: Droughts and storms prove again California needs more storage — Perhaps it’s because misplaced environmental sensitivity is stronger in the north, or perhaps because one superagency dominates water planning in the south while in the north, it’s scattered among hundreds of agencies that incessantly spar with each other. We’ve gotten two wake-up calls – one a severe drought, the other a series of major storms – that tell us we’ve neglected the state’s most important issue. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Carmen George: Fresno State AD reveals molestation as a child, tells other victims ‘don’t be ashamed’ — In a residential treatment facility last month, 44 years of anxiety, guilt and shame began to lift off the shoulders of Fresno State Athletic Director Jim Bartko. Bartko checked himself into Sierra Tucson, which provides rehabilitation services in Tucson, Ariz., on Dec. 20 with the intent of addressing issues with insomnia and anxiety that began as a child. After some inconclusive tests, a therapist asked Bartko a poignant and terrifying question: “Why did you not sleep when you were 11?” George in Fresno Bee

No criminal cases impacted by ‘tainted’ cops, so far — When former Bakersfield cops Damacio Diaz and Patrick Mara became criminals and drug dealers, the work they had done as detectives became tainted with the smell of corruption. In mid-October, Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green sent more than five dozen letters to defense attorneys informing them that they had represented clients in recent years whose cases involved one or both of the dirty detectives. Three months after those letters were sent, the results are less than impressive. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto pays more, so outlying water customers can pay less – If you live or do business almost anywhere in Modesto, your water bill is higher than if City Hall hadn’t bought several outlying water systems 21 years ago. If you’re in Del Rio or Grayson, your water bill is far lower than it should be, because Modesto water customers are subsidizing you. The same is true for a few neighborhoods in Ceres and Turlock. Modesto Bee article

Michael Fitzgerald: A trend Stockton definitely must stop – Stockton’s General Plan yields this radioactive nugget: “The personal income gap between residents in the city of Stockton and California is growing.” Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Can LA support two NFL team? It’s a challenge – When Dan Reeves moved the Rams from Cleveland to Los Angeles in 1946, the owner made a prediction about his new home. “It’s going to be the greatest professional football town in the country,” Reeves said. Seventy-one years later, the boast about the nation’s second-largest market remains an open question. LA Times article

Villapudua named CEO of Hispanic chamber – Just a week after their final meeting as San Joaquin County Supervisors, Carlos Villapudua and Moses Zapien have landed new roles that will keep them involved in the community. The San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce this week announced Villapudua has been appointed as its new chief executive officer. The Community Partnership for Families of San Joaquin also announced this week that Zapien has joined its board of directors. Stockton Record article

A failed marriage: 49ers and Santa Clara — If you want to understand why the relationship between the San Francisco 49ers and Santa Clara’s political leadership has broken down — and why the lawyers have been summoned — you could do worse than consider the analogy of a failing marriage. San Jose Mercury News article

San Jose: Retired firefighters who owe tens of thousands speak out — Four months after he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, retired San Jose Fire Capt. Tom Gianatasio got another dose of dreadful news: He owes $34,042 because of a city error causing pension overpayments for two decades. San Jose Mercury News article

Eagle Mountain Casino wants to move off mountain to greener pastures – The Tule River Indian tribe plans to relocate Eagle Mountain casino to an off-reservation site in Porterville that is easier to get to. The Bureau of Indian Affairs announced it has started an environmental review process to bring the property into federal trust, one of several steps required for the move to take place. Fresno Bee article

California alcohol-delivery business did homework before starting out – Starting a business from scratch in California is daunting enough, but imagine the challenges of a new enterprise with hundreds of couriers delivering liquor to Golden State doorsteps. That’s what faced the three co-founders of Los Angeles-based Saucey Inc., the alcohol-delivery business that added Sacramento to its service markets in early December. Sacramento Bee article

Some malls are banning teens amid disturbances and unruly gatherings fueled by social media – Following a series of high-profile incidents in recent years, more than 100 shopping centers have instituted curfews or bans on unaccompanied minors, according to a trade group. The restrictions often are on Friday and Saturday nights. LA Times article

SpaceX sends 10 satellites into orbit, lands rocket booster on drone ship in first flight since September explosion — Four months after a launch pad explosion, SpaceX returned to flight Saturday morning, delivering 10 satellites into orbit and landing its first-stage booster on a floating drone ship. LA Times articleNew York Times article

Nowhere left to run to: The final days of the circus — On Saturday, officials of the company that owns the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that it will close in May, ending a 146-year run that dates back to a time before automobiles or airplanes or movies, when Ulysses S. Grant was president and minstrel shows were popular entertainment. AP articleNew York Times article


Storms leave best water outlook in half-decade – The soggy first half of January has water managers thinking that maybe, just maybe, the drought is finally ending. The storms built the central Sierra Nevada snowpack to 163 percent of average as of Friday, according to the California Department of Water Resources. That is the main source for irrigation districts in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, and part of the city of Modesto’s supply. Modesto Bee article

Lois Henry: Water, water everywhere, but can we keep it? – Storms are dumping, rivers are rising and lakes are filling — finally. Will we be able to squirrel that water away for the next dry spell? Or will California flush it out to sea? Yes and yes. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Falcons, drones, data: A California winery battles climate change — On a misty autumn morning in Sonoma County, Katie Jackson headed into the vineyards to assess the harvest. It was late in the season, and an army of field workers was rushing to pick the grapes before the first rains, however faint, began falling. But on this day, Jackson, the vice president for sustainability and external affairs at Jackson Family Wines, was not just minding the usual haul of cabernet, chardonnay and merlot grapes. She also checked on the sophisticated network of systems she had put in place to help crops adapt to a changing climate. New York Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Modesto police tops in nation for National Night Out program, participation – The Modesto Police Department’s crime prevention unit received the first-place award from the National Association of Town Watch for its National Night Out efforts in 2016. Modesto topped the 100,000 to 300,000 population category by working with 452 neighborhoods that participate in the Aug. 2 event. Modesto Bee article

Sheriff: Man killed after Fresno pursuit had handgun in car – A man who died Wednesday night when his car hit a pole during a brief pursuit by a Fresno County sheriff’s deputy was carrying a handgun in his car, a sheriff’s spokesman said Thursday. Fresno Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Naming soccer park after slain Deputy Wallace a no-brainer in Hughson – A no-brainer if one ever existed. Dennis Wallace created and then built Hughson’s youth soccer program into an organization that serves hundreds of children, hosts major tournaments and engages the entire community. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

‘Nobody thought to save this man’s life,’ says brother of mentally ill man killed by police — On Friday, the District Attorney’s Office released findings that the three officers acted lawfully out of fear for their safety when Dazion charged after an officer with two knives. But Damon Flenaugh said there is a difference between legal and moral, and he is troubled by the “callous” treatment of his brother in the videos. Sacramento Bee article

Marcos Breton: The man hired to fix the image of Sacramento police and the heartbreak that brought him here — Tasked with repairing any broken trust is Arturo Sanchez, the city’s new assistant manager, who arrived in Sacramento last week. Sanchez also will play a major role in helping the city hire a new police chief. And he will help negotiate a new labor deal with city cops. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Lenore Anderson: Invest in prevention and treatment instead of prison expansion – The executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice writes, “Instead of stopping cycles of addiction and crime, taxpayers essentially subsidize it. Prison growth starved investment opportunities into prevention and dug a deep hole: incarceration or nothing. Proposition 47 and other reforms are helping us start to claw our way out.” Anderson op-ed in Sacramento Bee


UC Davis embroiled in another free-speech controversy — Five years after the pepper-spraying of peaceful protesters swamped UC Davis with negative publicity, another free-speech controversy thrust the normally quiet campus into the national spotlight this weekend. On Friday, the Davis College Republicans canceled speeches by a far-right website editor and a notorious former pharmaceutical executive after raucous protesters created an atmosphere that campus administrators and police deemed dangerous. Sacramento Bee articleRobin Abcarian column in LA Times


Dick Hagerty: Farewell to one of state’s towering icons — An old friend died this week – in fact, it was a very old friend indeed. Something like 2,000 years old, give or take a century. The Pioneer Cabin Tree at Calaveras Big Trees State Park was a victim of our recent stormy weather, but its ultimate demise started nearly 150 years ago at the hands of greedy and foolish men. Hagerty column in Modesto Bee

Health/Human Services 

Preparing for cancer surgery? Hospital choice is critical, experts say — More than 1,000 cancer patients in the central San Joaquin Valley need surgery every year, and their chances of survival hinge in part on which hospital they choose. Fresno Bee article

Donald W. Blount: Life, faith and hope – once again — I wrote last week about my family’s holiday struggle with Crohn’s disease to try and shed a little light on this condition, which afflicts some 700,000 people nationwide. At that time I had no plans to revisit the topic soon. My 11-year-old daughter, Mia, was home and life was returning to semi-normal. Blount in Stockton Record

Wearable sensors help diagnose Lyme disease in Stanford study — A next step for smart watches and fitness trackers? Wearable gadgets gave a Stanford University professor an early warning that he was getting sick before he ever felt any symptoms of Lyme disease. AP article

Other areas

Lewis Griswold: He served his small California city and was ‘always willing to help out’ – Former Farmersville mayor J.W. “Jay” Kemp has died. He was 86. Mr. Kemp was an early leader of Farmersville after it became a city. It’s still a small city with a population of 11,600. Griswold in Fresno Bee

Stanislaus County first responders sent out with prayers – First responders from across Stanislaus County gathered at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Modesto on Saturday for the annual Blue Mass, a chance for the community to thank the emergency personnel and offer prayers as they go back out to serve in the new year. Modesto Bee article

Ten journalists battle efforts to make them testify in a San Bernardino county corruption case — n Southern California journalists are fighting an effort by prosecutors to compel them to testify in the San Bernardino County corruption trials of a developer, a former supervisor and other former county officials. LA Times article

Mike Klocke: Obituaries provide a glimpse into ordinary people — Read the obituaries. Last year, I made that suggestion to readers, pointing out that the heartfelt, creative and passionate words written by families upon the loss of a loved one can give us a glimpse of who we are in Central California. Klocke in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup

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

Sacramento Bee –- To young people who want to know why there is still a struggle, why people need to make their voices heard, and why we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., we say this: We have many miles to go before we reach the mountaintop.