January 17, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

In California, Democratic politicians’ plans rest on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s future — As top California Democrats plot their future career moves, a critical piece of information is missing: Will Sen. Dianne Feinstein seek reelection? Speculation about the 83-year-old senator’s plans took on new urgency this year, as ambitious statewide politicians decide whether to run for governor with Gov. Jerry Brown termed out. LA Times article

Dan Walters: Those who use California’s roads should pay to fix them — The operative ethos of those seeking a new injection of money not only for highways and local roadways, but public transportation systems, is to do whatever is necessary to get the requisite votes for enactment, no matter how it may violate fiscal principle or previous promises. Maintaining and enhancing a huge roadway network that takes a pounding from a huge traffic load is costly, and we have neglected it for far too long. Whatever it costs, the burden should fall on its users without flim-flam. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Nunes heads Congress Intelligence Committee — Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) will continue heading the House Intelligence Committee for the 115th Congress while fellow Central Valley U.S. Representative David Valadao (R-Hanford) will belong to three subcommittees, including agriculture.  Visalia Times-Delta article


What taxpayers need to know when cities declare themselves sanctuaries — Cities across Southern California have named themselves immigrant-friendly “sanctuary cities” as they take a stand against President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to deport millions living in the country illegally. But their actions are not without risks — political, legal and budgetary. So what should taxpayers know when their officials declare their cities as sanctuaries? KPCC report

Other areas

‘We are not going back’: California Democrats protest GOP efforts to dismantle Obamacare — Democratic leaders on Monday urged Californians to fight GOP efforts to dismantle Obamacare, saying lives and jobs were at stake. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Big money names behind Trump’s inaugural start to come in despite his secrecy plan – Some names have been leaked out or been released by the donors themselves. Chevron gave $500,000 and will sponsor additional events and Boeing pledged $1 million, according to the companies. AT&T and JPMorgan Chase also donated, according to the companies. Other corporate donors include those who donated to Obama’s inauguration or had declined to contribute to the Republican National Convention last summer, including UPS, Bank of America and Deloitte, according to the New York TimesMcClatchy Newspapers article

Trump’s pick for education secretary could put school vouchers back on the map — Fifteen years ago, a controversial question about America’s schools dominated headlines, prompted ballot measures in California and other states and led wealthy philanthropists to dig deep into their pockets in the name of educational reform. Should government money pay for students to attend private — even religious — schools? Betsy DeVosDonald Trump’s pick for Education secretary, whose confirmation hearings begin Tuesday, was one of the biggest backers of the yes camp. LA Times article

McNerney won’t attend inauguration, says it’s not a protest – Congressman Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, is the latest lawmaker to reveal he will not be attending the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Friday, but his office insists it’s not a boycott but a scheduling conflict. Stockton Record article

Liz Ortega: Trump’s rise fits American character well – The CSU Bakersfield graduate with a B.A. in political science writes, “No one should be shocked by Donald Trump. He is not dissenting and he is no demagogue. He is merely voicing what most of you want to say but may fear to say due to the backlash from your counterparts. And if he is not voicing some of the thoughts you hold but know may be deemed as ‘un-American,’ you may share them with those closest to you instead. Though America has evolved over the decades, separate but equal is still alive today. Maybe the land of the free really just a façade.” Ortega op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Trump’s accidental creation: A new women’s movement – Not only did the first female presidential nominee of a major political party lose after her victory was taken for granted, but she lost to a man caught on tape boasting about groping women. Now, the sadness, alarm and ensuing determination that many young American women felt after the door slam of the 2016 election has become a catalyst for a resurging women’s movement. McClatchy Newspapers article

Latinos who voted for Trump look toward Inauguration Day with no apologies — Some Latinos have been called traitors and faced criticism from family and friends for their support of Trump. But they believe they will be proved right in the end. LA Times article

Trump voters set own priorities for first 100 days — Donald Trump is planning to pursue a conservative agenda that closely reflects the priorities of those who voted him into office — and those priorities differ from the general population. Politico article

For Trump, three decades of chasing deals in Russia — Mr. Trump repeatedly sought business in Russia as far back as 1987, when he traveled there to explore building a hotel. He applied for his trademark in the country as early as 1996. And his children and associates have appeared in Moscow over and over in search of joint ventures, meeting with developers and government officials. New York Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

Kern delays reductions in firefighter staffing — The Kern County Administrative Office has delayed, for now, a plan to reduce staffing at nine largely rural fire stations after the Kern County Firefighters union objected.  Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare County supervisors to consider marijuana ordinance – The Tulare County Board of Supervisors again will take up the issue of commercial nonmedical marijuana activity in the unincorporated areas when they meet Tuesday. Supervisors will consider extending an interim ordinance that bans all commercial, nonmedical marijuana use and activities. Visalia Times-Delta article

Jobs and the Economy

Marijuana shops are trying to look like the Apple store – Cannabis entrepreneurs, borrowing from successful retailers such as Apple and Whole Foods, are opening dispensaries with natural light, spacious displays and open-floor plans. With weed now legal for recreational use in California and seven other states, such amenities could attract an anticipated glut of new customers who are less familiar with cannabis and may be put off by the industry’s generally dingy shopping experience. LA Times article

 A Silicon Valley down payment could buy you an entire house in much of U.S. – The median 20 percent down payment on a house in metro San Jose is $192,320. Give or take a few bucks, that sum is equal to the median nationwide value of an entire house: $192,500. San Jose Mercury News article

Reverse mortgages cost some surviving spouses their Bay Area homes – Reverse mortgages, which are typically used to supplement retirement income, allow homeowners to relinquish equity in their home in exchange for regular payments. In the past, just one spouse was often listed on the reverse mortgage application as a way of qualifying for a higher amount or in instances where the other spouse was not yet 62. But there was a downside many homeowners didn’t anticipate: If the mortgage wasn’t in someone’s name, the remaining occupant had to either pay back the loan or face foreclosure. San Jose Mercury News article

Sacramento makes Zillow’s list of hottest housing markets for 2017 – Zillow announced its Top 10 hottest housing markets for 2017, and Sacramento has made the cut. Sacramento, coming in at No. 10 on the list, was pegged as one of the more affordable large metro areas in California. Zillow says home prices are rising quickly, but still 58 percent less expensive than the median home in the Bay Area. Sacramento Bee article

LA organizers propose linked, simultaneous Olympic ceremonies for Coliseum, Inglewood stadium – As LA 2024 officials finalize their bid to bring the Summer Olympics back to Southern California, they have faced a difficult choice regarding the location of the opening and closing ceremonies. LA Times article

City of Davis struggles to rein in panhandling – gently – Dino Tramontini has been visiting downtown Davis multiple times a week for years, and he said there have always been homeless people in the city. But while most homeless people in Davis previously were “harmless,” he said, some are now more threatening. Tramontini said he wants homeless people in Davis to be treated humanely and fairly, but he also wants to feel safe with his family downtown. Sacramento Bee article

Oakland: Airbnb issue highlights city’s gentrification fears — As city leaders here take their first steps toward regulating Airbnb, they have made one concern abundantly clear: they don’t want what San Francisco has. Not gentrification that forces long-term residents out of the city’s diverse neighborhoods, not a community divided by tension between techies and everyone else, and not an affordable housing crisis exacerbated by Airbnb and other short-term rentals. East Bay Times article

After years of record profits, airlines face turbulence in 2017. Could higher airfares follow? — Although U.S. airlines are expected to remain profitable in the near future, industry watchers say 2017 could mark the end of the industry’s financial nirvana. An expected increase in fuel and labor costs is likely to be the biggest source of turbulence, along with uncertainty about the effect that the incoming Trump administration might have on travel from Mexico and the Middle East to the U.S. LA Times article

American Apparel starts mass layoffs as company winds down operations — American Apparel was once a fashion industry trailblazer with its colorful basics, provocative marketing and commitment to U.S. manufacturing. But after years of financial strife and corporate intrigue, the company began laying off 2,400 workers in Southern California on Monday — kicking off its final chapter as the country’s largest garment maker. LA Times article

State Farm isn’t cutting rates fast enough and could be fined billions, insurance regulator says — The California Department of Insurance says State Farm is not moving fast enough to lower its rates for homeowners and renters and it could face billions of dollars in fines if it doesn’t speed up the process. LA Times article

Walmart to add about 10,000 retail jobs in U.S. — Wal-Mart plans to add about 10,000 retail jobs in the U.S. as it opens new stores and expands existing locations. The world’s biggest retailer said Tuesday that there will also be about 24,000 construction jobs generated by its expansion plans. AP article


Bill Allayaud: Play fair in debate over reclaimed water – The California Director of Government Affairs for the Environmental Working Group in Sacramento writes, “Last Nov. 29, The Californian published an opinion by Guillermo Ceja of Clean Water Action, questioning columnist Lois Henry’s enthusiastic support for the use of treated oilfield wastewater for irrigating crops (“Community Voices: Testing lacks on crops and oilfield wastewater”). Mr. Ceja accurately pointed out that the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board formed an independent food safety expert panel ‘to ascertain the possible risks associated with using produced water on crops’ precisely because the safety of this practice is uncertain.” Allayaud op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

San Jose building with Cesar Chavez ties named National Historic Landmark — Before Cesar Chávez became a national civil rights and labor leader, he worshiped at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in east San Jose. Now the hall on that church campus where Chavez learned to organize impoverished farmworkers is a national historic landmark, recognizing its status as a property of “exceptional value to the nation.” KQED report


Gov. Brown’s new budget lacks new funds to combat teacher shortage –  In his proposed budget for the coming year, Gov. Jerry Brown indicated that he wants California to continue addressing the statewide shortage of qualified teachers with ongoing initiatives rather than by funding new reforms. EdSource article

How the UC is bracing for an escalation of political clashes ahead of Trump — As Donald Trump prepares to be inaugurated Friday as the nation’s 45th president, university students and officials are bracing for an escalation in campus political clashes and the sticky free-speech issues they present. LA Times article

Kern High School District paid $11.7 million in legal settlements last year – The Kern High School District and its insurers paid more than $11.7 million last year to settle legal disputes over a wide range of issues, from special education students alleging they received inadequate education to somebody struck by a district vehicle, according to settlements reviewed by The Californian. Bakersfield Californian article

Did Fresno Unified let speaker harass teacher? Or did free speech rules prevent action? — A civil trial that begins Tuesday will probe whether the Fresno Unified School District was protecting the public’s right to free speech or just allowing someone to sexually harass a teacher at a school board meeting nearly three years ago. Fresno Bee article

Growing pains in Manteca: Who pays for the new schools? – Manteca Unified School District and the building industry are deadlocked over how to correct an imbalance that has forced the district to bus children miles out of the way. There simply aren’t enough schools closer to their new homes to accommodate all that southside growth. Stockton Record article

Charter school advocates in two states oppose aspects of Trump ‘school choice’ proposal – Charter school associations in two states — California and Massachusetts — are expressing concerns about different parts of Trump’s school choice plan.

In a letter to California legislators last month, the California Charter School Association came out strongly against any effort by the Trump administration to extend private school vouchers to the state. EdSource article

 21st century tools help Tulare students succeed — At Garden Elementary School in Tulare, Stacy Sayre-Bostrom’s fourth grade class is taking math education to the next level. She and her students use DreamBox, an interactive computer program, on a daily basis. The love of the program turned into a fun competition when the class participated in the DreamBox Learning Math challenge – and won. Visalia Times-Delta article

Modesto City Schools moves forward with split to voting areas — Modesto City Schools trustees will consider moving forward on plans to split the district into voting areas at its Tuesday meeting. The board will also get a progress report on community-driven budget planning, and community activists whose 10-point plan was only partially addressed in this year’s budget plan will return with a longer list for 2017-18. Modesto Bee article


Another San Joaquin County levee breach — Emergency officials reported another levee break on Monday afternoon, this time on the south bank of the Mokelumne River just east of Lodi. Water from the 3- to 4-foot wide breach was flooding a 100-acre vineyard but was not threatening any buildings, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office reported. Stockton Record articleSacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services 

 California’s stem cell agency will run out of money in three years. Should voters OK spending more? — Today, the future of the program is unclear. The agency calculates that it will run out of cash in just three years. Whether it lives on could depend on the likelihood of another multibillion-dollar bond issue, not to mention the success – or the lack of success – of as many as 60 or more clinical trials and even the policies of the newly elected president of the United States, Donald Trump. Sacramento Bee article

Victim services grant will aid foster children by expanding CASA — The Merced County District Attorney’s Office will expand victim services with the Court Appointed Special Advocates program, thanks to a $373,000 grant from the federal Victims of Crime Act. The grant will enable the District Attorney’s Office to hire a victim witness advocate who will work with CASA and also provide resources for the program to recruit and train additional advocates. Merced Sun-Star article

Being rude to your doctor could have fatal consequences, study finds – Have something negative to say to your doctor? Keeping your mouth shut could keep you healthier, researchers at the University of Florida found. Sacramento Bee article

After decades of service to Merced County, two longtime health providers retire — After years of postponing their departures due to concern for their patients, Dr. Salvador Sandoval and physician assistant Jerry Lewis finally have stepped into retirement. The two Golden Valley Health Centers medical practitioners closed out 2016 with a celebration of their more than 35 years of service to the area. Merced Sun-Star article


Amtrak considering adding another Fresno-Sacramento trip — The authority that runs the Amtrak San Joaquin rail line is considering adding more service between Fresno and Sacramento and wants to hear from the public about it. Currently, there are two daily round trips between Bakersfield and Sacramento and five daily round trips between Bakersfield and Oakland. All of the trains include central San Joaquin Valley stops. Fresno Bee article

Modesto still ‘in the mix’ for passenger flights — A regional airline will be taking another look at Modesto and Stockton as it considers expanding its service in California. Great Lakes Airlines – a small, Wyoming-based carrier – will be at the Stockton Metropolitan Airport on Wednesday and the Modesto Airport on Thursday to hold meet and greets with pilots. The airline will hold another one at Carlsbad’s airport Jan. 23. Great Lakes held meet and greets in the fall at the three cities, according to Modesto Airport Manager Mark Germanowski. Modesto Bee article

RT debates beer ads on buses — Sacramento Regional Transit last week renewed its debate over whether to allow alcohol ads on buses, and the agency came up with a delicate compromise. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Valley communities remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley Monday remembered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Fresno Bee articleBakersfield Californian photo galleryVisalia Times-Delta articleMerced Sun-Star articleModesto Bee articleJeff Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Danny Morrison: I have a dream as well, but it’s for Kern County – I have a Kern County dream. A dream where one day this county recognizes the seriousness of our homeless problem. Where county resources are allocated specifically for the purpose of caring for the unsheltered population. Where county officials recognize that making mental health options readily available to the displaced would ultimately save money and countless lives. And where homelessness is seen as a temporary setback and not a life sentence. Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian

Bakersfield gets grant to alter homeless owner pets, feral cats – The City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center and partners Bark Avenue Foundation and Wings of Rescue have received a $3,200 grant to pay for animals to get fixed. Bakersfield Californian article

10 things you need to know: The Story of Us — For the first time, The Californian has published online “The story of us,” a collection of history pieces, old photos, columns and an exhaustive timeline chronicling 150 years of Kern County history.  Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – In his new budget, Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to decouple the inability to pay traffic fines with the potential loss of drivers licenses. In the interest of fairness, that makes a great deal of sense.

Merced Sun-Star – In his new budget, Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to decouple the inability to pay traffic fines with the potential loss of drivers licenses. In the interest of fairness, that makes a great deal of sense.

Modesto Bee – In his new budget, Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to decouple the inability to pay traffic fines with the potential loss of drivers licenses. In the interest of fairness, that makes a great deal of sense.

Sacramento Bee –- Donald Trump’s feud with Rep. John Lewis further divided America on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. If he launches a war of words with an enemy once he’s president, it could lead to a real military confrontation; Sacramento City Council members and Sacramento County supervisors plan to hold the first joint meetings in recent memory. While there are countywide and regional boards that include both council members and supervisors, it’s more meaningful for the two full bodies to hold a session in public.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers: Flood waters can be dangerous, work on human trafficking problem in San Joaquin County and other issues.