January 19, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Fearing Trump, California drops undocumented health insurance request — California has withdrawn its request to the federal government for permission to allow undocumented people to obtain health insurance from the state exchange, with a lawmaker linking the decision to concerns about the incoming Trump administration. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Have climate change policies helped the San Joaquin Valley? New report says yes – As California lawmakers prepare for another round of debating the best way to combat climate change, a new study says the San Joaquin Valley is benefiting economically from the state’s policies on global warming. LA Times article

Dianne Feinstein hints at re-election bid: ‘Well, that’s sort of true’ – U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave her standard answer Wednesday when asked whether she planned to seek re-election when her term comes up in two years: If she can produce for the people of California, “then I will continue to produce,” she said. Sacramento Bee articleKQED reportLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Gov. Brown 

Gov. Jerry Brown touts partnerships with China amid warnings about the future — In another example of how the state plans to stand apart from the incoming administration in Washington, Brown went to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco on Tuesday to speak at a Lunar New Year celebration to reaffirm what he called the state’s “great interest” in working with China. LA Times article

Dan Morain: Brown hands out a plum and dims his legacy — Isadore Hall III is no William B. Gould IV, and the workers who harvest California’s crops will be worse off for it. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Becerra clears Senate committee, promises to enforce death-penalty speed-up — Vowing to fight President-elect Donald Trump and his incoming administration, Rep. Xavier Becerra on Wednesday soared through another major hurdle on his way to becoming California attorney general.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

California’s pot czar on upcoming marijuana regulation: ‘We will not fail’ — In addition to the Bureau of Marijuana Control, state agencies on public health, taxation, consumer affairs, water, fish and wildlife, and pesticide control all will play a part in regulating cannabis. California’s 58 counties and 482 cities will decide on local rules, including whether to accept or ban pot businesses or commercial cultivation. “We will not fail. We will make this happen by Jan. 1, 2018, because we have to,” Ajax said. “It may not be pretty. But we will get there.” Sacramento Bee article


As soon as he is inaugurated, Trump will move to clamp down on immigration – Aides are clearing the way for President-elect Donald Trump to take the first steps toward transforming the immigration system as soon as he takes office Friday, fulfilling a major campaign pledge while deepening the fears of immigration advocates about what’s to come. LA Times article

A passport stamp gives Dreamers hope as the Trump era looms – Students who came to the U.S. illegally as children traveled recently to Mexico. Upon return, their passports were stamped, giving them proof of legal entry — which one day could come in handy. New York Times article

On immigration, mayors urge Trump to take bipartisan approach — Mayors from across the country urged the incoming Trump administration on Wednesday to take a bipartisan approach to immigration, calling for comprehensive reform and keeping programs that protect the temporary status of Dreamers and the families of those serving in the armed forces. KQED report

Other areas

Legislature curbs free speech for ‘worthy’ aims – then come the lawsuits – Back before the internet made it so easy to find a celebrity’s age, a 29-year-old actress landed the role of a 17-year-old girl—and helped propel “Beverly Hills 90210” into a hit TV show in the 1990s. That was the story actress Gabrielle Carteris told state lawmakers last year as she lobbied for a bill to strip actors’ ages from commercial websites used in casting. Now the president of the Screen Actors Guild, Carteris said she would never have been able to land the career-making role today because of websites like IMDB.com that publish actors’ ages. In response, lawmakers—sweeping aside First Amendment concerns that the government doesn’t have the right to keep anyone from publishing information such as a birth date—approved Assembly Bill 1687, and the governor signed it into law. CALmatters article

Police could face more restrictions at schools under two new bills – Two state lawmakers want to tackle how schools discipline their students and have introduced bills that would tighten rules for how police officers can operate on school sites. LA Times article

As the Women’s March on Washington builds steam, Valley residents look to take part – As thousands of protesters prepare to descend on the nation’s capital Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington, some residents of the central San Joaquin Valley are preparing to join in sister marches across California. Fresno Bee articleDympna Ugwu-Oju op-ed in Fresno BeeModesto Bee article: ‘Women’s March on Washington will have a sister event in Modesto on Saturday’

Stephen Schilling: ‘Hope’ is not a real strategy for replacing Obamacare – The CEO of Clinica Sierra Vista writes, “Repealing Obamacare without having a replacement plan ready to go is like pushing over the cart and just watching to see where the apples roll. Too many Americans – those who depend on Obamacare for medical insurance coverage, those whose services and costs will be affected by repeal, and taxpayers who will end up paying the tab for an increasing number of Americans returning to hospital emergency rooms for ‘primary care’ – depend on a more thoughtful, careful approach to ‘repeal and replace.’” Schilling op-ed in Fresno Bee

Joel Fox: In LA: Taxing business to publicly finance political campaigns? — A Los Angeles City Councilman wants to get rid of private money in politics by approving a public financing scheme potentially funded by taxing members of the business community. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Presidential Politics

California strikes a bold pose as vanguard of the resistance – In the months since the election of Donald J. Trump, California has turned into a laboratory of resistance — championing legal, legislative and political strategies to counter Republican policies while pressing the kind of new Democratic policies that presumably will not be coming out of Washington anytime soon. New York Times article

Trump’s EPA pick won’t guarantee California’s right to tougher auto emission rules – During a contentious confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Donald’s Trump nominee to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said he’d open up a review of new federal auto emissions standards and also review waivers granted to California to enact auto standards stronger than those of the federal government. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Trump taps former Georgia governor for agriculture secretary — After weeks of speculation, former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was selected to serve as President-elect Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary, according to an official knowledgeable of the nomination but not authorized to speak publicly. McClatchy Newspapers articlePolitico article

Where will Trump begin in slashing Trump-era regulations? – Donald Trump’s ascendance to the White House has raised hopes among U.S. businesses for the most significant rollback of regulations since the Reagan administration. LA Times article

President-elect pays out $25-million Trump University settlement – Three days before his presidential inauguration, Donald Trump paid out $25 million in compliance with the settlement reached in three Trump University lawsuits. LA Times article

FBI, 5 other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump — The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump, two people familiar with the matter said. McClatchy Newspapers article

George Skelton: Trump’s inauguration is a reminder that rebelling against the ruling class is in America’s DNA – OK, enough of the negative. There’s something genuinely positive here that illustrates America’s greatness with or without Trump. And it’s worth celebrating. It’s simply that American democracy performed, although awkwardly, as the founders basically envisioned: Common folk could stand up against the establishment elite and boot them out the door. Of course, the founders reserved that right basically only for white men — no women, slaves or Native Americans — so we’ve come a long way. Skelton column in LA Times

Crowd of 200,000 will include a few from Tulare County — Joe and Mona Neyer have been publishing the monthly California Farm Equipment Magazine from Visalia for 34 years and got tickets to the inauguration through their congressman Devin Nunes, (R-Tulare).  Visalia Times-Delta article

Nominee Betsy DeVos’s knowledge of education basics in open to criticism – Until Tuesday, the fight over Betsy DeVos’s nomination to be secretary of education revolved mostly around her support of contentious school choice programs. But her confirmation hearing that night opened her up to new criticism: that her long battle for school choice, controversial as it has been, is the sum total of her experience and understanding of education policy. New York Times article

Old media continue to dominate as a source of campaign news, survey shows — As expected, voters who sided with President-elect Trump got their news from significantly different sources than those who sided with Hillary Clinton, but perhaps surprisingly, traditional media dominated on both sides. LA Times article

 News Stories – Top Stories

One lawsuit down, but high-speed rail still faces five more cases — A lawsuit filed in 2014 by Kern County against the California High-Speed Rail Authority will be dismissed under the terms of a settlement announced Wednesday afternoon by the state agency. Fresno Bee articleBakersfield Californian article

Should California drought rules be lifted? State ponders question as storms roll in — With rivers roaring and more rain coming, California’s drought cops are wrestling with a complicated question: Should they keep patrolling the beat? A chorus of urban water districts Wednesday urged the State Water Resources Control Board, California’s chief drought regulator, to allow the state’s emergency conservation rules to expire. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Foreclosure program helps save Fresno nearly $56 million in economic activity – The Keep Your Home California program created in 2010 to help struggling homeowners has delivered more than $24 million to Fresno County in its first five years. In turn, the state-run and federally-funded program has helped the county preserve $56 million in economic activity for the area such as labor income and tax revenue that would have otherwise been lost, according to a report released Wednesday. Fresno Bee article

Bitwise stretches tech into two historic downtown warehouses – Two historic warehouses in downtown Fresno will be part of the latest round of expansion for Bitwise Industries’ growing roster of technology tenants. Bitwise, the self-proclaimed “mothership of technological education, collaboration and innovation” in Fresno, announced Wednesday that it will grow from its current South Stadium location at Van Ness Avenue and Mono Street into three additional sites, including the J.B. Inderrieden building – better known as the former site of the Old Spaghetti Factory at Ventura and R streets – and the State Center Warehouse & Cold Storage building at R and Mono streets. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal articleValley Public Radio report

Developers unveil plan for lifestyle center at East Hills Mall – The new owners of the East Hills Mall announced Wednesday plans to renovate the property into a 350,000-square-foot “destination open-air lifestyle center” with restaurants, shopping and a brand new movie theater.  Bakersfield Californian article

New Grand Save property turns into 3-way court battle – As he sat outside a downtown courtroom Wednesday morning, the head of the nonprofit agency seeking to redevelop a barren swath of Airport Way voiced frustration over the seemingly endless legal impediments blocking progress on the vacant and disused stretch from Eighth to 10th streets. Stockton Record article

Kings County makes demographic gains – Kings County has made advances in several demographic categories, according to the latest numbers from the California Department of Finance. Kings County’s population increased .4 percent in 2015, rising from 149,738 to 150,373. The biggest gains were in Corcoran, which grew 2.1 percent, and Lemoore, which grew 2 percent. Hanford Sentinel article

California’s poorest may finally be feeling rising economy – Applications for cash welfare reached their lowest point in at least six years in 2016, which economists say might indicate California’s poorest are finally feeling the effects of an improving economy. KPCC report

Nail salon workers allege wage theft, indicate larger exploitation – Many nail salons in California may be systematically cheating their employees, according to a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court by the civil rights organization Asian Americans Advancing Justice.  KQED report

Oracle paid white men more than women, blacks, Asians: labor department lawsuit — In an explosive lawsuit that threatens lucrative federal contracts, the U.S. Department of Labor has accused Bay Area tech giant Oracle of paying white men more than other workers and favoring Indians for technical jobs. San Jose Mercury News article

JD Rental Homes settles class-action suit with maintenance workers for $3 million — JD Home Rentals, one of the Valley’s largest property-management companies, has quietly reached a settlement in a class-action lawsuit brought by former maintenance workers for $3 million.  Fresno Bee article

Yellen says politics don’t sway Fed’s monetary policy — Days before Donald Trump will be sworn in as president, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen started and ended a speech in San Francisco Wednesday by saying that the central bank does not favor one party over another. San Francisco Chronicle article


California has the snow.  It just needs to keep it frozen – With another round of winter storms hitting California this week, the question isn’t just how much rain and snow they will dump, but how cold they will be. The coldness of storms can make the difference between one that adds to the fast-rising snowpack — an essential source of water for the state — and one that also leaves a wet mess. LA Times article

Sneaky tactics claimed in Oakdale Irrigation District fallowing trial — A judge will rule soon whether Oakdale water leaders skirted state law in last year’s fallowing proposal, the judge said Wednesday at the end of a short civil trial that could affect future fallow-for-money programs. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Thieves might think twice if new way of detecting them catches on — The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office is offering free kits to 1,200 farmers to mark their property with “mineral DNA” that could make it easier to trace stolen property – and even catch the thief. Sheriff Mike Boudreaux rolled out the program Wednesday at the International Agri-Center in Tulare. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Sacramento mayor wants officers to spend a week learning how to approach mentally ill – Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg wants all city police officers to spend a week learning how to deal with mentally ill people. The plan, which will be presented by interim Police Chief Brian Louie to the City Council on Thursday, would cost $750,000 over two years. While the department will look for grants, Steinberg said he will seek city budget funds if necessary, calling mental illness the “unattended issue of our time.” Sacramento Bee article

Two selected as Bakersfield Police Department assistant chiefs — Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin announced Wednesday that Greg Terry and Evan Demestihas have been selected as assistant police chiefs. Terry, employed by the Bakersfield Police Department since February 1997, was the lieutenant in charge of the Investigations Division before his selection. Demestihas has been with the department since August 2001 and was the lieutenant in charge of Internal Affairs. Bakersfield Californian article

Placer residents fight against state placement of sexually violent predator near Lincoln — In a rare move, the state wants to place a sexually violent predator in rural Placer County, leading the Sheriff’s Office to distribute fliers warning residents about Dariel Shazier before a judge approves his placement. Sacramento Bee article

Video shows police cornering mentally ill man and fatally shooting him: ‘This was an execution’ — Graphic surveillance video released Wednesday shows a throng of Fontana police officers surrounding a legally blind and mentally ill man in a convenience store before an officer opens fire, killing him. LA Times article

Newly released video of San Francisco Police Department shooting shows tensions escalating – Video of a San Francisco police officer shooting an unarmed man in a heated confrontation shows that a second officer tried to subdue the man with baton blows moments earlier but was knocked to the ground. San Francisco Chronicle article

As LAPD braces for Inauguration Day protests, some question police tactics durig past demonstrations – As Los Angeles braces for a fresh wave of protests Friday when Donald Trump becomes the nation’s 45th president, the city’s police department will face a familiar challenge: how to balance protesters’ constitutional rights with public safety. LA Times article

Oakland City Council’s startling move on police oversight pacts — Citing the millions of dollars it has paid to comply with court-ordered reforms to its Police Department, the Oakland City Council has balked at renewing contracts with consultants who are steering the 14-year-old effort. San Francisco Chronicle article


Livingston schools officially ‘safe havens,’ regardless of immigration status – Amid a push for Merced County cities to become “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants, the Livingston Union School District’s governing board last week voted for its schools to be “safe havens” for students. Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno Unified board is mum after meeting with Hanson for hours behind closed doors – Fresno Unified trustees met with outgoing Superintendent Michael Hanson and attorneys in closed session for more than four hours on Wednesday – but had nothing to say when they emerged. Fresno Bee article

From Pakistan to the Valley: New president chosen for Fresno Pacific — Joseph Jones, who has worked in administrative positions in Christian colleges for the past 25 years, has been named president of Fresno Pacific University.  Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

In a first, Bakersfield City School District uses local-control dollars to open wellness centers — Citing a need to address student health holistically, the Bakersfield City School District has opened three multi-million dollar regional wellness centers funded with a new kind of state education dollars, a first in California, officials said Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Bill would provide $20,000 grants to help recruit teachers in high-demand subjects – Students in teacher preparation programs who commit to teach math, science, bilingual education or special education could receive grants of $20,000 under a new bill introduced in the state Legislature. EdSource article

State to require water systems to test school water for lead – The state water board is now requiring public water systems to offer free lead testing to schools. Even if a water supply is clean at the source, lead can still appear in buildings like schools.  Valley Public Radio report

Feds sue nation’s largest student loan servicer, accusing it of cheating borrowers – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued the nation’s largest servicer of student loans Wednesday, alleging that Navient Corp. cheated borrowers, resulting in higher payments for Americans struggling to pay back their student loans. LA Times article

Students respond enthusiastically to new science standards in ‘early adopter’ districts – California’s new science standards were in full flower last week at a middle school in Oakland when 8th-grader Amy Zhang strung together a battery, wire and carpentry nail and marveled when not one, not two, but five paper clips jumped to the nail magnetically. EdSource article

West Hills College Lemoore student union now open — West Hills College Lemoore students can grab a cup of coffee and order a transcript all in one location now. The school opened its new student union on Tuesday. Hanford Sentinel article

Los Banos school board begins superintendent search — The Los Banos Unified School District may get a permanent superintendent by July as the search process ramps up in 2017.  Los Banos Enterprise article

Most students don’t learn about sexual assault until college.  By then, it’s too late — As the woman he assaulted made clear in a statement – viewed by more than 2.5 million people within a day of its publication – Stanford’s efforts to educate students about sexual violence were lost on Turner. His case painfully proves a point educators and activists have been making with increasing urgency: Teaching teenagers about sexual assault in college is “too little too late.” McClatchy Newspapers article


Global warming drives record heat for third straight year — For three years in a row now, our Earth has experienced record high temperatures. On Wednesday, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that globally, 2016 was the hottest year since modern record keeping began in 1880. KQED report; LA Times articleNew York Times article

Sequoia and Kings National Park fee increase — Over the last few years, the National Park Servicehas increased the entrance fee into Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. Despite a higher entrance fee, Mike Theune, a Sequoia and Kings park ranger said the parks have seen an exponential increase in visitors. Visalia Times-Delta article

Health/Human Services 

Study: Whites dying at increasing rates in Fresno, Tulare, Kern, Kings counties – Young and middle-aged whites in the Southern Central Valley are dying at an increasing rate, researchers said Wednesday at the release of a preliminary report that they said reveals a “health crisis of white death.” Fresno Bee article

Woman dies from flu-related illness in Fresno County, first such death this season — An unidentified woman has become the first flu-related death in Fresno County this influenza season, the county Department of Public Health announced Wednesday. So far this season, 44 people have died nationwide from flu-related illnesses, the health department said. County health officials encourage vaccinations for everyone over the age of 6 months. Fresno Bee article


Chowchilla, Fairmead voice concerns over high-speed rail route — Chowchilla city officials are eager to avoid a high-speed rail line that could disrupt plans for an industrial park, and Fairmead residents fear effects the route would have on the low-income community. On Wednesday, the California High-Speed Rail Authority disappointed both. Fresno Bee article

North County Corridor slams on brakes – again — Another delay has stalled the unveiling of documents crucial to the North County Corridor, a future east-west expressway skirting Modesto, Riverbank and Oakdale. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Jeff Jardine: Abstract art play structure, Beard Brook Park worth saving, restoring — Both – the park and the art/play structure – are worth saving. And like the abstract itself, that will require some imagination. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

 Fresno 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.

Sacramento Bee –- Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, City Council and Board of Supervisors must act quickly to find emergency shelter for homeless people. The cold, wet weather has put hundreds who sleep outdoors and camp along the American River Parkway at risk; Why Obama’s defense of Manning commutation wasn’t entirely convincing.