January 18, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

In lawmakers’ first hearing on state budget, Gov. Jerry Brown’s staff gets grilled on $1.5-billion mistake — Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget team offered a seemingly simple explanation on Tuesday for an almost $1.5-billion accounting error in California’s healthcare program for the poor. LA Times article

Trump vs. California: How the battle will be waged — California lawmakers are bracing for a fight against soon-to-be President Trump and top officials in his administration who have said they will push for policy and legal changes that would threaten several of the state’s progressive laws. From immigration to gun control to environmental protections, the state finds itself at odds with Trump, who will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday. San Francisco Chronicle article

State budget

Early education advocates raise concerns about governor’s budget — To the dismay of early education advocates, Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to change the plan outlined in the current budget and defer funding for more full-day state preschool slots until the 2018-19 fiscal year. EdSource article

Valley politics

Sacramento Bee: McCarthy may be hazardous to his own district’s health — The repeal of the Affordable Care Act will fall hardest on places like the California district of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy if Republicans in Congress kill Obamacare. Sacramento Bee editorial


Undocumented immigrant sues San Francisco over sanctuary law — An undocumented immigrant who was handed over to federal immigration officials after reporting his car stolen to San Francisco authorities is suing the city. AP article

Other areas

State Senate bill makes it easier for pot businesses to pay taxes — California lawmakers want to make it easier for marijuana dispensaries to pay their taxes, saying many cash-only businesses are forced to drive long distances with thousands of dollars to make an in-person payment. San Francisco Chronicle article

Hundreds rally for Planned Parenthood at state Capitol amid defunding threats — Pink scarves, hats and boxing gloves symbolizing opposition to threats to defund Planned Parenthood were the fashion du jour Tuesday outside the state Capitol, where hundreds of people from around Northern California rallied to support the network of health clinics that treat many of the state’s low-income women. Sacramento Bee article

Robin Abcarian: Who could be against a Children’s Bill of Rights? You probably won’t be surprised – It was a little like being in an alternate reality Tuesday morning, as dozens of parents and children gathered on the state Capitol steps to protest a bill aimed at improving the lives of California’s 9 million children. Abcarian in LA Times

Presidential Politics

California has largest block of lawmakers vowing to boycott Trump inauguration – Of lawmakers planning to boycott the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, California’s congressional contingent makes up the largest block by far. Fourteen congresswomen and -men from California have announced their plans to skip Friday’s ceremonies transferring power from outgoing President Barack Obama to his successor, Trump. That number represents about 30 percent of the 47 lawmakers who have said definitively that they would skip the inauguration. Sacramento Bee article

McNerney says he’s now boycotting Trump inauguration – Congressman Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, made it clear on Tuesday that he is, in fact, boycotting the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Friday, a day after his office insisted the decision was due to scheduling conflicts. Stockton Record article

Cathleen Decker: Donald Trump’s transition has hurt his popularity, not helped – Donald Trump’s transition to the presidency has seen his popularity decline, not expand, and he will enter the White House on Friday far weaker in that regard than any president in decades. Decker in LA Times

California shows low expectations for Trump, but support for some immigration plans — California’s expectations for Donald Trump’s presidency are in the cellar, with little more than a third of voters believing it will be a success, a new Hoover Institution Golden State Poll shows. But a plurality of voters holds more positive than negative views about some of Trump’s more controversial positions, including his call to restrict immigrants from certain countries, end sanctuary cities and to deport undocumented immigrants. Politico article

Startups concerned about Trump’s plans for H-1B visas — The H-1B visas, which allow highly skilled workers to spend three to six years at sponsoring companies in the U.S., are a big deal in the Bay Area. Tech firms particularly rely on them to fill engineering positions. But President-elect Donald Trump is widely expected to change the way the H-1B visa system operates, which could impact how tech hiring is done. San Francisco Chronicle article

Trump’s missing Cabinet secretary – Word leaked out two weeks ago that Trump was poised to pick former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, but the announcement never came. Now, sources say Perdue’s status as the favorite may be in doubt amid a last-minute push for former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, who offers Trump one last chance to put a Hispanic in the Cabinet. Politico article

Former ‘Apprentice’ contestant accuses Donald Trump of unwanted sexual advances, files defamation suit – A former contestant on TV’s “The Apprentice” on Tuesday filed a defamation lawsuit against President-elect Donald Trump, whom she has accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward her. LA Times article

Heading east to hail the chief — It’s not every day you get to go to the nation’s capital to watch a U.S. president sworn in. Several local residents will be doing just that this week. Hanford Sentinel article

State lawmaker wants students taught about ‘Russian interference’ in last year’s presidential election — California schools would be required to teach how the Russian government “conspired to influence” last year’s presidential election under a bill written by a Bay Area legislator. LA Times article

 News Stories

Top Stories

UC Berkeley study: Repeal of Obamacare would cost Valley more jobs than lost to drought — A University of California blog post Tuesday says a repeal of Obamacare would cost the San Joaquin Valley an estimated 24,000 jobs – which is more than were lost statewide in 2015 because of the drought. Repealing the Affordable Care Act would result in 17,000 fewer jobs from a reduced demand and funding for health care services, said the UC Berkeley Labor Center for Labor ResearchFresno Bee article

Bakersfield City School District raises teacher pay, woos bilingual ed teachers with bonuses – Bakersfield City School District teachers are expected to approve a two-year contract Wednesday that includes a multi-year pay increase but also temporarily adds three work days to their calendar year, a teacher’s union representative said. Bakersfield Californian article

UC President Janet Napolitano hospitalized, fighting cancer — University of California President Janet Napolitano has been hospitalized for side effects related to cancer, which was diagnosed in August but made public only on Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle articleSacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Commercial pot growing unwelcome in Tulare County despite state’s voters backing marijuana — The Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to continue its ban on growing nonmedical marijuana in unincorporated areas for another two years. The ban is aimed at commercial growers. It’s still legal to grow up to six plants at a private residence under Proposition 64, as long as it’s indoors. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

UC Merced business incubator is looking at branching into Atwater, Modesto — New funding could help the UC Merced Venture Lab expand not only in Merced but also into Atwater and Modesto, the university announced Tuesday. Merced Sun-Star article

Grocery store in the works for south Merced area, city officials confirm — Residents in south Merced will soon be able to stay in their neighborhood when going on a trip to the grocery store, city officials have confirmed. Merced Sun-Star article

Mystery raises at tax board prompt demand for reforms — On a summer day in 2015, 16 high-level managers at the Board of Equalization received special pay raises that the department still can’t explain. They ranged in value from 1.9 percent to 10 percent. In each case, they followed standard wage increases that went to all state employees that year, swelling pay for certain executives by as much as 17.5 percent. Sacramento Bee article

The country’s highest paid big-city mayor is reportedly right here in San Francisco — San Francisco isn’t the biggest city in the world, but its mayor makes the biggest salary in the United States. Mayor Ed Lee is the highest-paid mayor of a major U.S. city, according to a report from the American City Business Journal. Lee, who is serving a second term, makes $289,000San Francisco Chronicle article


California storms: State to keep conservation rules for now – Despite drenching rains and heavy snowfall this winter, California moved Tuesday to keep in place its statewide water conservation rules — at least for another three months or so. San Jose Mercury News article

Valley farmers aim to provide bees with appetizers, dessert to go with main meal – About a month from now, billions of bees will get to work pollinating nearly 1 million acres of California almonds. On a small part of that acreage, growers are providing other flowers for the bees to dine on before and after the almond bloom. They hope to strengthen the insects against disease and other challenges that have reduced their numbers in recent years. Modesto Bee article

Fresno State grant to assist water technology entrepreneurs — Fresno State received a $500,000 grant for the International Center for Water Technology on campus, which will create a program to guide entrepreneurs through the water, energy and agricultural industries, university spokesman Geoff Turner said. Fresno Bee article

Too warm to grow crops? Farmers work to temper climate change effects – The valley’s fruit and nut trees need cold temperatures in the winter in order to go to sleep and wake up healthy in the spring. New research suggests that in as little as 30 years, it may be too warm in the valley to grow these trees due to climate change. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports that the agriculture industry is taking the issue very seriously.  Valley Public Radio report

Dairy industry hit by lawsuit, owes consumers cash refund — In August of 2016, a settlement agreement was made between National Milk Producers Federation, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Dairy Farmers of America, Inc., Dairylea Cooperative, Inc., and Agri-Mark, Inc. (defendants) and anybody who indirectly purchased milk and fresh milk products, (plaintiffs). Visalia Times-Delta article

Modesto triumphs in Del Rio well lawsuit, though appeal considered — Modesto did not violate the civil rights of some rural homeowners north of town who weren’t notified before city leaders decided to sink a well serving the nearby Del Rio community, appellate justices said in a ruling Friday. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Lois Henry: Video of beating tells only part of story, but the public needs more – If it weren’t for video, you would not be reading this story. No one would have believed Jarred Allen’s tale of how he was beaten by Kern County sheriff’s deputies. And the public wouldn’t have this small glimpse into how our justice system works when cops’ actions come into question. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

District attorney clears officers in fatal Ceres shooting – Two Ceres police officers who fatally shot a man last year were cleared of wrongdoing by the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, but a lawsuit filed on behalf of the 8-year-old son of the man who was killed has just begun. Modesto Bee article

Black Lives Matter protestor gets a clean slate from judge after he stays out of trouble — A judge on Tuesday dismissed a criminal case against one of the Fresno Police Department’s harshest critics – the Rev. Floyd Harris Jr. And Judge Adolfo Corona did it in Fresno County Superior Court without giving Harris a criminal record. Fresno Bee article

Judge postpones hearing for man accused of killing sheriff’s deputy — A judge delayed the murder case against a man accused in the shooting death of a Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputy after a psychologist submitted a report on the defendant’s mental capability. Modesto Bee article

Turlock chooses Amirfar, 26-year-veteran of department, as its new police chief — Nino Amirfar, who has been serving as Turlock’s interim police chief since August, has had the “interim” removed from his title. The city of Turlock announced Amirfar’s selection as its new police chief in a news release issued Tuesday morning. Modesto Bee article

Bee lawyer goes to court to stop effort to close accused cop killer hearing — With the lawyers for Luis Bracamontes, a suspect in the killing of two deputies, once again trying to close a court hearing in the case from public view, an attorney for The Sacramento Bee filed a motion Tuesday to block closure of the Friday afternoon hearing. Sacramento Bee article


A special-needs student was tube-fed bleach at school. Now her mom is suing the district — The mother of a Fresno Unified special-needs student who was tube-fed bleach at school last year is suing the district for negligence and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.” Fresno Bee article

Community leaders demand public input on selection of next Fresno Unified superintendent — Community leaders are calling for Fresno Unified School District trustees to be more transparent about their plans for replacing outgoing Superintendent Michael Hanson, who announced last month he plans to the leave the district this summer. Fresno Bee article

Artist, CSUB office join forces in Bakersfield love-fest — He’s an artist who taps into community pride in his work, and it’s the office devoted to advancing our local university: Call it a Bakersfield love-fest, squared. Ten of Larry Jason’s bold, pop-artish depictions of famous signs and landmarks now grace the walls of the CSUB University Advancement office, which has undergone a remodel. Bakersfield Californian article

DeVos says she won’t for private school voucher plan on states – At a contentious confirmation hearing that mostly broke along party lines, Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be secretary of education, said she wouldn’t try to force states to adopt private school voucher programs along the lines of those she has promoted around the nation for several decades. EdSource articleAP articleNew York Times article

Interview: Fresno Bee education reporter Mackenzie Mays on Fresno Unified – On this week’s Valley Edition we are joined by the Fresno Bee’s Education Reporter Mackenzie Mays. She covers Fresno Unified extensively and brings us an update on happenings in the district. To listen to the interview between VE Host Joe Moore and Mays click play above. Valley Public Radio report

Report: Innovative science instruction boosts academic performance among English learners – English learners can dramatically improve their science skills when teachers blend science lessons with language instruction, according to a new report released by an Oakland education nonprofit. EdSource article

Schools in Lindsay, San Joaquin added to pesticide monitoring list – Two areas in the central San Joaquin Valley have been added to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s air monitoring list, and will begin giving samples this month. Fresno Bee article

Larry White: Concerns in teaching by the book — The Use of Texts: the good, the bad and the ugly. No, I am not referring to the type of texts from our phones that allow us to make quick connections with our friends, although there are definitely questions about that usage as well. I am referring to the “everyone please turn to page 200, chapter 4, section 3. Read and answer the questions at the end of page 205” type of texts, short for textbooks. White column in Stockton Record


California says oil companies can keep dumping wastewater during state review – Many of these wastewater wells are near Central Valley farmland, where groundwater has been a critical water source as reservoirs dried up during the state’s historic drought. KQED report

Death toll from California’s winter storms continues to rise — An 81-year-old woman in Bakersfield who drowned after being swept away in floodwaters is the latest confirmed storm-related death in California, authorities said. LA Times article

Death Valley sees more damage from visitors driving off-road — Rangers are taking stronger measures to try to prevent visitors from driving on dry lake beds and other fragile areas at Death Valley National Park. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Repealing Obamacare without replacement would hike premiums 20 percent and leave 18 million uninsured, report says — Repealing Obamacare without a replacement would result in higher costs for consumers and fewer people with insurance coverage, according to a report Tuesday from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget OfficeLA Times articleKQED report

Land Use/Housing

San Francisco housing shortage leaves little room for families — San Francisco has no official definition of “family housing,” but Heather Hawkins knows what it isn’t. It isn’t the little two-bedroom flat in Bernal Heights that she paid more than $4,000 a month to rent, where her baby slept in the closet of her sister’s room, and where space was so tight she knew the number of steps between every point. Seven steps from her bed to the toilet. Thirteen steps from her bed to the girls’ room.  San Francisco Chronicle article


High-speed rail: Planners pitch ‘preferred’ route around Chowchilla — A potential east-west bullet-train route along Highway 152 in Madera County is being pitched by high-speed rail planners and engineers as the best option for a Y-shaped junction for the train lines near Chowchilla. Fresno Bee article

Joel Fox: Enough already! More woe for high-speed rail — Anyone who thinks the high-speed rail project will be completed within the cost figures projected by the rail authority, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Of course, the promise to taxpayers on the cost of the rail was broken ages ago. Remember, voters were told if they supported a nearly $10-billion bond to help build the bullet train the overall project would cost about $33 billion with other financial help coming from the private sector (which hasn’t come)? Fox in Fox & Hounds

Other areas

Former Bakersfield councilman Jeff Tkac died from self-inflicted gunshot wound, coroner’s office says — Newly elected Bakersfield City Councilman Jeffrey Glen Tkac died from a gunshot wound and his death is a suicide, according to a coroner’s release Tuesday.  Bakersfield Californian article

Advocates call for more openness in wake of high-profile Valley suicides – Every year in America, around 42,000 people kill themselves. Suicide is the second most common non-illness related cause of death, but prevention advocates say the issue remains hidden and stigmatized. Recently, a series of high-profile events have recently brought suicide into the spotlight in the Central Valley. Many suicide advocates are now saying that the key to prevention is talking about it. Valley Public Radio report

Heavy storms put Castle Air Museum’s historic aircraft at risk – The winter storms that have beaten down on Merced County underscore the need for indoor and covered storage for the historic aircraft at Castle Air Museum, officials said. Merced Sun-Star article

Stockton mayor notes ‘signs of progress’ – Ten years ago, during the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, a 16-year-old high school student stood in front of dozens of people and gave a speech. On Monday, the same boy returned, except now he’s a 26-year-old man and he’s Stockton’s first black mayor. Stockton Record article

‘A promise not to forget’: Vigil honors schoolyard slaying victims – The bell tolled slowly during a moment of silence inside the crowded church, once for each of the five children who lost their lives when gunman Patrick Purdy opened fire on a Stockton schoolyard on Jan. 17, 1989. Stockton Record article

Galt animal activists played role in bringing down circus – The oddsmakers wouldn’t have given Pat Derby and Ed Stewart much of a chance. In one corner was the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, a cultural staple for generations, run by a family now worth billions of dollars. Stockton Record article

Michael Fitzgerald: Surviving the Ghost Ship fire – The night of Oakland’s Ghost Ship fire, Sam Maxwell, 32-year-old son of Bill and Wendi Maxwell of Stockton, sent his mother a late-night text: “I’m alive. I’m out.” Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Fresno Grizzlies acquire emoji that reinforces city’s status as taco capital of U.S. — The emoji, popularly used when discussing tacos and taco-related news on social media and text messaging, was acquired through a tax-deductible donation of $5,000 to The Unicode ConsortiumFresno Bee article

Journalists can be called to testify in San Bernardino County corruption case, judge rules – A San Bernardino County judge Tuesday ruled that prosecutors can call numerous journalists to testify in the ongoing public corruption trials of a former county supervisor and others. LA Times article

Dan Walters: Kevin Starr loved California and conveyed that as he chronicled its history — Kevin Starr was by no means a household name in California, having nowhere close to the high profiles of the state’s entertainers, sports figures and politicians. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno 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 Bee –- The repeal of the Affordable Care Act will fall hardest on places like the California district of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy if Republicans in Congress kill Obamacare; Anyone who has blown a tire by driving over a pothole knows that there are real costs to crumbling roads. The state needs to step in.