January 2, 2018




Local/Regional Politics:


U.S. eyes increased pumping from biggest federal water project


The Trump administration said Friday it will look at revving up water deliveries to farmers from California’s Central Valley Project.


Valley cities ready to capitalize on legalization of recreational Marijuana


Much of Coalinga’s history is tied to the oil wells of Western Fresno County, but now the city’s new cash cow could be cannabis. “Amazingly enough that you say that. We’re still refining oil here in Coalinga right,” said Coalinga Mayor Nathan Vosburg. He says two companies have already been approved to manufacture Marijuana there. “It’s called trim or raw product and then they put it into a system and that system extracts all the oils and those oils are used mostly for medicinal purposes,” said Vosburg.

See also:

·       Fresno’s change on medical pot sparks opportunity The Business Journal

·       Fresno misses out on tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales  ABC30

·       Recreational pot coming to California — but not BakersfieldBakersfield Californian


Devin Nunes, targeting Mueller and the FBI, alarms Democrats and some Republicans with his tactics

The Washington Post

Rep. Devin Nunes, once sidelined by an ethics inquiry from leading the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe, is reasserting the full authority of his position as chairman just as the GOP appears poised to challenge special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

See also:

·       Republicans Are Quietly Putting Their Anti-Mueller Plans into Action (Cong. Nunes cited)  Vanity Fair

·       Nunes rips DOJ for failure to release Trump-Russia dossier documents  TheHill


Jim Costa opines on tax law, DACA and Congress

Fresno Bee

Now that 2017 is almost over, the next big issue for Democrats on Capitol Hill will be legislation to aid so-called Dreamers – children born in foreign counties and brought here without documentation but who grew up as Americans – to keep them from deportation, Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, said Friday. “That will be our No. 1 priority,” he said in a meeting with local reporters.


Residents sought to fill advisory committees spots

Visalia Times-Delta

Visalia administrators are looking for applicants to fill 25 vacancies in seven advisory committees. Local residents are encouraged to apply for committees that draw their interest. An application is kept on file for two years for appointment consideration. If appointed, committee members can serve up to three, two-year terms.


Valley Children’s ITS Division earns national recognition

Clovis Roundup

Valley Children’s Information Technology Services (ITS) division is one of five healthcare networks to be named one of the “Best Hospital IT Departments” in the country by The Healthcare Information and Management System Society (HIMSS), a cause-based, nonprofit organization focused on better health that leads efforts to optimize health engagements and care outcomes using information technology.


Process to bring boutique hotel to downtown Visalia a step closer

Visalia Times-Delta

The Historic Courthouse Square building, long a target for vandalism and a constant eyesore for downtown Visalia, has been officially sold. County Supervisors approved the $2.361-million transaction last week, pushing the effort to turn the old courthouse building into a boutique hotel a step closer to reality.


Visalia District Cemetery embezzlement

Visalia Times-Delta

Former Visalia Public Cemetery District Manager Dona Shores, arrested last week in Tulare by Visalia police, may have embezzled more money over a longer period of time, district officials said Wednesday. Shores was arrested on Dec. 22 on suspicion of stealing more than $1 million over a five-year period from 2011 to 2016. “We have reason to believe [the alleged embezzlement] was going on beyond those five years,” cemetery attorney Kris Pederson said. “We have the last five years confirmed. We believe the embezzlement was occurring since 2005. I don’t think this is the end of the story.”


Progress being made on opening Tulare hospital?

Visalia Times-Delta

The closure of the Hillman Medical Center has had a significant economic impact on local businesses, much like when Tulare Regional Medical Center closed in central Tulare. A mechanic shop reported a slow down of motorists bringing in their cars for service and a mom-and-pop taqueria noticed a drop in food orders.

See also:

·       Tulare hospital saw plenty of changes during 2017  Visalia Times-Delta


Miracle Mile business district gets last-minute reprieve

Stockton Record

In the past year, the Miracle Mile has survived an alleged embezzler, a shutdown by the city of nine businesses at the Empire Theatre, and now, an effort to terminate an association that was established a decade ago to provide marketing, security and beautification to the midtown neighborhood.


Kern County unemployment rate stays steady

Bakersfield Californian

Kern County’s employment rate stayed steady in November at 7.4 percent, according to a new report from the Employment Development Department. Bakersfield had a 6.6 percent unemployment rate, a slight decrease from 6.7 percent in October. California City had the highest rate with 15.6 percent in November, according to the report, a slight improvement from 15.8 percent in October.


Kern County’s economy has room for cautious optimism in 2018

Bakersfield Californian

The people who live and breathe the study of Kern County economic statistics see signs of home and evidence of lingering challenges as they review 2017 and look forward to 2018. Optimism is Richard Chapman’s job as CEO of the Kern Economic Development Corp., an independent agency tasked with improving Kern County’s economy and marketing the county to major firms and businesses that might choose to locate jobs and operations here.


Bullet train: A dispute over stations

Capitol Weekly

It’s a tale of two stations. Bakersfield, California’s ninth-largest city in terms of population with more than 380,000 residents, is trying to decide where to put a bullet-train station. This battle has lasted for years. First, a geography lesson. The city can be roughly divided into five zones — central, southeast, northeast, northwest, and southwest. U.S. Highway 99 cuts the city into east and west and the Kern River (yes, it really is a river; this year there was water) divides north and south.

See also:

·       High-Speed Rail Authority leaves Bakersfield Homeless Center in limbo  Bakersfield Californian

·       Bakersfield focus in bullet train battle Capitol Weekly


State Politics:


How will California’s 2018 laws affect you?

Los Angeles Times

Starting Jan. 1, Californians’ lives will be governed by hundreds of new laws including new controls on concealed weapons, unprecedented state protections for those in the U.S. illegally, an increase in the minimum wage, legal sales of recreational marijuana and even a new state dinosaur.

See also:

·       California new laws for 2018 Sacramento Bee

·       Drive, Walk or Take Transit? These New California Laws Are for You  KQED

·       Walters: Just a few new gun laws this year, but one’s a puzzlerCALmatters


California’s top marijuana regulator talks legalization

ABC News

California’s legal pot market opens for business on Jan. 1. The day will be a milestone, but what exactly will happen then and, especially, in the weeks and months to come is unclear. Lori Ajax is the state’s top pot regulator and has been at the center of the effort to establish rules for a legal pot economy valued at $7 billion. Here’s her thoughts on what to expect

See also:

·       New era opens in California with first sales of recreational marijuana SFGate

·       California rolls its own recreational pot sales out for 2018Associated Press

·       California Today: Legalization Is Here! Shrug. New York Times


California Today: Big Issues Loom on the 2018 Ballot

New York Times

California is choosing a new governor next year. And a lieutenant governor. But this being California, the real action is more likely to revolve around citizen initiatives which, since their populist-inspired creation in 1911, have tended to have more impact on how California works (or doesn’t work) than do elected officials. So far, 38 of them are in the works for 2018. Not all of them are going to draw enough signatures to make the ballot, but some of them are. Here are three worth watching now.

See also:

·       Get up to speed: 10 hot topics that will shape California campaigns in 2018 CALmatters

·       The biggest California political questions of 2018 The Mercury News

·       Money, Republican malaise and Tom Steyer: These are the things to watch for in California’s 2018 statewide elections Los Angeles Times

·       Walters: 2018’s slate of ballot measures still cloudy CALmatters

·       Will Latinos vote in ’18? + Why John Chiang loves SF + KDL starts on DiFi over DACA  Sacramento Bee


Dispute over endorsing candidates divides California’s Democratic Party

Los Angeles Times

California’s primary election is months away, but Peter Allen has been inundated with mailers, texts and phone calls since the fall from Democrats who want to secure his support. Among the latest batch was a holiday card from Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom with a photo of the gubernatorial candidate and his wife, four children, dog and two pet rabbits.


Morain: California congressional Republicans seek gas tax repeal

Sacramento Bee

Now that most of California’s House Republicans have voted for a tax overhaul that will raise taxes for many of their constituents, you have to wonder what more good cheer they’ll bring us in the new year. I’m thinking roads and other infrastructure.


California Senate Democrats are considering some ideas to counter the GOP tax plan

Los Angeles Times

Democrats in the California Senate are planning to write legislation to lessen the effects of the elimination of popular tax breaks in the GOP’s overhaul of the federal tax system. To finance broad-based corporate tax cuts and reductions in individual tax rates, the GOP plan caps the deductibility of state and local income and property taxes — a benefit used often in suburban areas of California.


Joe Mathews: Are California’s strongman governors bullying the state?

Desert Sun

Who is the most powerful governor in California history? The next one. Our state’s governorship has grown so great in reach and power that it now constitutes a second American presidency. California governors routinely sign international treaties. They head a state government that operates as a fourth branch of American government — employing regulations, lawsuits, and the size of the California market to check the president and Congress. Here at home, our governors dominate not only policy but also California’s civic conversation itself.


California governor’s race is likely to be decided in Los Angeles County

Los Angeles Times

For the hopefuls in California’s race for governor, the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles County is as mesmerizing as the blanket of lights that glistens every night from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Long Beach coast.

See also:

·       5 of 6 candidates for California governor oppose death penaltySan Francisco Chronicle


Myers: As year ends, California lawmakers are graded by the people who might count the most: interest groups

Los Angeles Times

There were 2,980 bills introduced and debated in the California Legislature in 2017, a bumper crop of proposals and symbolic, formal resolutions. But in raw political terms, some bills mattered more than others. And this is the time of year it becomes clear that politically powerful interest groups were keeping score.


Skelton: Santa can’t fix these problems with California’s state government

Los Angeles Times

Several items on my Christmas political wish list never got delivered. Maybe next year. But probably not. Some of the items are just too expensive politically for the legislative elves to package up and give out.


Walters: California’s Capitol wakes up to a new ambience


The Capitol awakens from its autumnal hibernation this week with a much-changed institutional ambience. An ever-expanding sexual harassment scandal has already claimed the careers of two legislators, and others are at risk. The scandal-caused resignations of Assemblymen Raul Bocanegra and Matt Dababneh, plus the health-related departure of Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, mean the Assembly’s Democrats will return to Sacramento without a two-thirds supermajority.


Walters: Will California spend its surplus, or save it?


In November, the Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, issued his annual“fiscal outlook” that sets the stage for the next state budget cycle. In early January, Gov. Jerry Brown will offer his own fiscal outlook as he proposes a 2018-19 budget, his last. Chances are, Brown’s take will not vary much from Taylor’s – that in the near-term, the state’s finances look rosy, thanks to a strong economy, but the state’s longer-term situation is much cloudier.


Walters: State auditor blocked in seeking judicial records


State Auditor Elaine Howle has a fearsome reputation for tunneling deeply into public agencies and finding nuggets of information that officials would prefer to remain hidden. Recently, for instance, the Legislature directed Howle to delve into the complex finances of the University of California, and its cloistered executives, especially President Janet Napolitano, went into full DEFCON 1 mode.


Walters: Demography may be California’s destiny


One of the hoariest myths about California goes something like this: As they take refuge in their homes from sub-freezing temperatures and snow, residents of Eastern and Midwestern states watch telecasts of Pasadena’s Rose Parade on New Year’s Day, which is seemingly always bathed in balmy sunshine. On the spot, many decide to move to California, contributing to its high population growth.


California Supreme Court struggles as vacancy drags on

San Francisco Chronicle

When the California Supreme Court voted 4-3 Dec. 21 to give ailing patients broad rights to sue pharmaceutical companies for defective warning labels on generic drugs, the deciding vote was cast by a judge from a lower court.


Federal Politics:


Republican Tax Plan Calculator

Wall Street Journal

Calculate your taxes and discover the potential effect of the GOP tax plan.


Democrats in High-Tax States Plot to Blunt Impact of New Tax Law

The New York Times

Democrats in high-cost, high-tax states are plotting ways to do what their states’ representatives in Congress could not: blunt the impact of the newly passed Republican tax



JCT: New tax law won’t pay for itself


Congress’s tax scorekeeper said Friday that the tax-cut package President Trump signed earlier in the day won’t fully pay for itself through economic growth. After accounting for macroeconomic effects, the bill would reduce federal revenue by $1.07 trillion over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT).


What a Revealing Video Shows Us About the Tax Reform Debate

National Review

I’d urge you to watch the video below. CBS talked to three different families in three very different financial circumstances — a single mom in North Carolina who makes less than $40,000 per year, a married couple in Rhode Island with no kids who make $150,000 per year, and California parents with three kids who make more than $300,000.


Opinion: California needs to stop being Washington’s cash cowSacramento Bee

The tax bill signed into law by President Donald Trump last week caps the federal deduction for state and local taxes and requires California’s most productive citizens to pay much more to Uncle Sam. Unless, that is, California changes its system of taxation, something I’m advocating.

A guide to figuring out if California will flip the House for Democrats this fall

Los Angeles Times

Now that the year of the midterm elections has arrived, the battles will start to pick up speed as Democrats try to reclaim control of the House. The path to the 24 seats Democrats need passes through California — and that means they need to win at least a handful of the Republican seats they hope to flip. As the contests take shape, watch these trends to get a sense of what the 2018 elections might bring.

See also:

·       California Poses Problem for GOP as 2018 Dawns  Wall Street Journal

·       Dems aim to turn tax plan into cudgel in 2018 midterms PBS NewsHou

Congress facing host of issues when lawmakers return in January

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Lawmakers dashed out of town Friday for the holidays, but they face mounting financial issues, a budget showdown, an immigration bill and measures to shore up public health care exchanges when Congress returns in early January.


Trump administration set to unveil $1 trillion infrastructure proposal in 2018

Washington Examiner

The Trump administration is expected to unveil an infrastructure package in the new year, after putting the issue on the sidelines amid other GOP priorities in 2017. The White House is working to release a roughly 70-page infrastructure proposal sometime in January for members of Congress to use as a cornerstone for drafting the legislation in 2018.


In a 30-minute interview, President Trump made 24 false or misleading claims

The Washington Post

President Trump gave an impromptu half-hour interview with the New York Times on Dec. 28. We combed through the transcript and here’s a quick roundup of the false, misleading or dubious claims that he made, at a rate of one every 75 seconds. (Some of the interview was off the record, so it’s possible the rate of false claims per minute is higher.)

‘We have tapped into something’: Tom Steyer’s Impeachment drive builds digital army to take on Trump


When billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer launched a digital petition drive to impeach President Donald Trump two months ago, some Democratic Party leaders dismissed it as an unhelpful vanity project — and even Steyer thought he’d top out at a million signatures. But nearly 4 million digital signatures later, the philanthropist and environmental activist’s unlikely campaign has seized on an issue — impeaching Trump — that could become part of the Democratic mainstream in 2018.




A look back at U.S. public opinion in 2017

Pew Research Center

In his first year as U.S. president, Donald Trump represented a clear break in style and substance from his predecessor, Barack Obama – and from many of the chief executives who came before them. The businessman-turned-politician upended Washington with unrestrained rhetoric and an “America First” agenda that included renegotiating international trade pacts, withdrawing from a worldwide climate change agreement and curtailing immigration into the United States.

How Facebook’s Political Unit Enables the Dark Art of Digital Propaganda


Under fire for Facebook Inc.’s role as a platform for political propaganda, co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has punched back, saying his mission is above partisanship. “We hope to give all people a voice and create a platform for all ideas,” Zuckerberg wrote in September after President Donald Trump accused Facebook of bias.


Domino theory: closure of Reed printing affecting small newspapers across county

Bakersfield Californian

The Kern River Courier, a weekly newspaper that has served the Kern River Valley for 14 years, delivered its final issue Thursday. Hurt by the recent closure of Reed Print Inc., its printer, the Courier becomes one of the several regional newspapers forced to cease publication. The paper’s demise marks the end of an era in the Kern River Valley.


College-Educated Women Are Moving Away From GOP

Wall Street Journal

When Republicans regained control of the House in 2010, they were propelled by a big swing toward the party among women. Now, signs are emerging Republicans could be handicapped in 2018 by women shifting away from the GOP.


Post-Christian America — Can a Polarized America Survive?

National Review

If I had to pick one of the most under-appreciated and under-reported stories of 2017, it would be that a post-Christian America is a more vicious America, and that the triumph of secularists is rendering America more polarized, not less. Remove from the public square biblical admonitions such as “love your enemies” and the hatred has more room to grow. When the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — wither, then the culture is far more coarse.


California could be hit by an 8.2 mega-earthquake, and it would be catastrophic

Los Angeles Times

The magnitude 8.2 earthquake that ravaged southern Mexico on Sept. 7 was the largest to shake the country in nearly a century. Like California, Mexico is a seismically active region that has seen smaller quakes that have caused death and destruction. But the Sept. 7 temblor is a reminder that even larger quakes — while rare — do occur.



Sunday, January 7, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: 2018: The Political Forecast​ – Guests: John Myers with the LA Times and Dan Walters with CalMatters. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director, Mark Keppler.


Sunday, January 7, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580AM/105.9FM (KMJ) – Maddy Report: “State Politics: The Year Past & the Year Ahead”– Guests: John Myers with the LA Times and Dan Walters with CalMatters. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director, Mark Keppler.  


Sunday, January 7, at 7:30 a.m. on UniMas 61 (KTTF) – Informe Maddy“Follow the Money!” A Primer on the Calif Budget Process  Guest: Edgar Cabral, Analista Oficina de Analisis Legislativo. Host: Maddy Institute Program Coordinator, Maria Jeans.


Support the Maddy Daily HERE. Thank you!


Topics in More Detail…





So long, 2017. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out

Fresno Bee

As the full, hideous picture of 2017 comes into focus, you curl into a ball, whimpering, asking yourself over and over: Did that really happen?


Thumbs up, thumbs down

Fresno Bee

Clean up on Aisle One when baby is born in market. What are judges trying to keep secret? Bryson DeChambeau plays a round with President Trump.


Can you afford a California home? Take that answer to the 2018 voting booth

Sacramento Bee

California voters should insist that candidates for governor detail plans to confront income inequality, housing, education and health care.


Think California is ready for legal marijuana? Think again

Sacramento Bee

Regulators have worked hard since Proposition 64 passed, but signs of the coming chaos accompanying legal recreational marijuana are everywhere. It all starts Jan. 1.


Editorial: CHP fatality highlights legal marijuana danger

The Mercury News

The Christmas Eve death of a California Highway Patrol rookie officer serves as a tragic warning of the dangers ahead with the Jan. 1 legalization of marijuana.


What happened to that simpler tax code? Property tax rush shows Trump didn’t deliver

Sacramento Bee

If anything, the Republican tax rewrite made things even more complicated. Just ask the Californians waiting in line to prepay property taxes.


Allowing employers a ‘moral exemption’ from offering birth control coverage is immoral

Los Angeles Times

There are few things more profoundly important to a woman than controlling when and if she has children. Almost all sexually active women have used at least one type of birth control in their lifetimes. One of the hallmarks of the 2010 Affordable Care Act is that it promised women comprehensive preventive care at no out-of-pocket cost if they were covered by employer-sponsored health insurance plans.


Wildfires are natural disasters, but Congress refuses to budget for them

Los Angeles Times

In a year of extraordinary natural disasters from hurricanes to floods to wildfires, here’s another record-setter: Fiscal year 2017 was the U.S. Forest Service’s most expensive fire season yet. The cost of battling blaze after ever-bigger blaze across the country topped $2.4 billion.


Goodbye to the incandescent light. Climate change means you have to go, but you’ll be missed

Los Angeles Times

This week marks not just the start of a new year, but a bright new day for energy conservation. Or maybe it’s the tragic end of an era, with a beloved product now wiped out of existence by a government forcing its environmental agenda on the rest of us. Which view you take depends on how strongly you feel about interior lighting.


The feds are right: California students deserve to know how their schools are performing

Los Angeles Times

The question isn’t so much why California’s school-improvement plan was sent back to the state for some major fixes, but why officials ever thought it had a chance of passing muster with the U.S Department of Education.


Drilling in the Arctic refuge to give tax cuts to the rich is dangerously stupid

Los Angeles Times

The Republican tax bill that President Trump signed into law last week contains enough noxious items to attract the scrutiny of the Environmental Protection Agency (if it still investigated toxic things). Experts are still working to understand all the repercussions, because the GOP rushed it through without hearings or in-depth analysis.


The Great Rules Rollback

Wall Street Journal

Amid the debate over tweets and tax reform, perhaps the most significant change brought by the first year of the Trump Presidency has been overlooked: reining in and rolling back the regulatory state at a pace faster than even Ronald Reagan. This is a major reason for the acceleration of animal spirits and faster economic growth in the past year.




Arax: Mexican workers drawn to harvest California crops despite hardships and talk of a wall

Fresno Bee

There’s a stretch of Highway 99 in the middle of California where the new plantings of almonds at last give way to vineyards. This is where Selma, raisin capital of the world, still lives and dies by the grape. When the berries sugar up fast, as they have this year, harvest comes early.


USDA withdraws welfare rules for animals certified ‘organic’


The Trump administration is rolling back Obama-era rules for how animals should be treated if their meat is going to be sold as “certified organic.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its plan to withdraw the final rules, which were originally set to take effect on March 20 after having been delayed three times.


Inside Trump’s Cruel Campaign Against the U.S.D.A.’s Scientists

Vanity Fair

The folks at the Department of Agriculture laid on a friendly welcome for the Trump transition team, but they soon discovered that most of his appointees were stunningly unqualified. With key U.S.D.A. programs—from food stamps to meat inspection, to grants and loans for rural development, to school lunches—under siege, the agency’s greatest problem is that even the people it helps most don’t know what it does.


California Marijuana: Where to buy pot in the central San Joaquin Valley

Fresno Bee

For the first time in more than 100 years, it will be legal in California to buy marijuana for recreational use. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy to find – especially if you live in the central San Joaquin Valley. State licenses for recreational sales will kick in on New Year’s Day. Legal pot shops are expected to open their doors on that day in a few cities, such as San Diego and Berkeley, but most California local governments are still either wrestling with their consciences on marijuana or working to get their rules in order.


California’s top marijuana regulator talks legalization

ABC News

California’s legal pot market opens for business on Jan. 1. The day will be a milestone, but what exactly will happen then and, especially, in the weeks and months to come is unclear. Lori Ajax is the state’s top pot regulator and has been at the center of the effort to establish rules for a legal pot economy valued at $7 billion. Here’s her thoughts on what to expect


California Weed Entrepreneurs Will Make $5.2B In 2018 With Almost No Banks To Put It In


California cannabis entrepreneurs will earn $5.2B in revenue in 2018 as recreational use becomes legal there. The state of California will collect about one billion dollars in accompanying marijuana taxes. These numbers, estimated by Matt Karnes, industry analyst and managing partner of New York’s GreenWave Advisors, point to the giant need for banking and financial services in the nascent legal cannabis industry.  These services however are generally not available says Karnes, and are federally illegal.







San Jose leads array of California cities with spiking violent crime

The Mercury News

In an unwelcome role reversal, San Jose, which has long touted itself as one of the country’s safest big cities, saw street violence continue a recent ascent over the past year while Oakland and San Francisco trended in the opposite direction.


Amid rising gun violence, accidental shooting deaths have plummeted. But why?

Los Angeles Times

A country music festival in Las Vegas: 58 dead. A Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas: 26 dead. The streets of Baltimore last year: nearly 300 dead. Gun violence has received no shortage of attention. But one bright spot has gotten much less: the number of accidental shooting deaths has steadily declined.


Replacing judicial discretion with automated formulas poses risk


Letting a computer make a formulaic decision removes a judge’s authority to obtain in court the facts, determine the risk inherent in letting an accused defendant walk our streets, set bail and apply superior human understanding to evaluate the facts.


Prop. 57 swings pendulum from ‘warehousing’ to early parole

San Diego Union-Tribune

One of two men who crafted a $3.3 million investment scam around an innovative medical syringe was sentenced to prison last month for more than 35 years. He could get out in five. That disparity is created by Proposition 57, approved by California voters last year to reduce the state prison population and give nonviolent offenders an early second chance to mend their ways.


Public Safety:


California doctor develops breathalyzer measuring THC on breath


John Travolta’s description of pot laws in Amsterdam from the movie Pulp Fiction fittingly summarizes the state of California Law as of January first. “Yeah, it’s legal but it ain’t hundred percent legal, I mean, you just can’t walk into a restaurant, roll a joint and start puffin’ away,” said Travolta. Recreational Marijuana will be legal, but the laws are still pretty complicated, and police are expecting a rough adjustment.

See also:

·       Some states put a THC limit on pot-smoking drivers — Here’s why California doesn’t San Francisco Chronicle


A deadly effect of the booming economy – fatal car wrecks at 20-year high

Sacramento Bee

More people died in Sacramento car crashes in 2016 than during any of the last 20 years, according to new government figures. Vehicle crashes killed almost 260 people in the four-county area during 2016, up 22 percent from 2015.


The Hidden Victims of American Gun Violence

The Atlantic

The massacre in Las Vegas this October earned a macabre superlative: the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, with 58 innocents killed and more than 500 injured. The outpouring of attention and support was swift and far-reaching. CNN published portraits of all 58 victims. A man from Chicago made 58 crosses to honor the fallen. Zappos offered to help pay for the 58 funerals. An anonymous man even paid for 58 strangers’ dinners in memory of those who died.




California’s Political Fires

Wall Street Journal

Wildfires continue to ravage California, and the bravery of firefighters trying to prevent damage to homes and property has been inspiring. But this being 2017 in America, the state’s progressive politicians are blaming the fires on humanity’s sins of carbon emission. To the contrary, the conflagrations should be a wake-up call to regulators and politicians who have emphasized acts of climate piety over fire prevention.


Thomas Fire now 273,400 acres, largest in California history

Fresno Bee

The Thomas Fire burning in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties hit a milestone Friday: The largest recorded wildfire in modern California history. The blaze, which began Dec. 4, grew to 273,400 acres Friday and officially surpassed the Cedar Fire, which burned 273,246 acres across San Diego County in 2003. The Thomas Fire has destroyed more than 1,000 structures.


California wildfires in 2017: A staggering toll of lost life and homes

Sacramento Bee

This year will go down as one of the worst in California wildfire history, the latest state fire statistics show.



California’s largest ever fire was a force that could not be stopped

Los Angeles Times

The fire left the mountains ghostly gray, vast slopes frozen still but for dust devils wandering the ash. Fire crews were conducting a last big operation in the high country, burning a ridge above Hartman Ranch to keep the main fire from mushrooming into a road-less wilderness where condors soar.


Parts of California, West may never look the same after wildfires

San Francisco Chronicle

As hotter and bigger fires blaze through the West and yet another year passes with a disastrous toll, America’s wildlands are having a harder time bouncing back. Some spots, from the singed valleys of Wine Country to the steep slopes of the Sierra, may never look the same.






Kern County’s economy has room for cautious optimism in 2018

Bakersfield Californian

The people who live and breathe the study of Kern County economic statistics see signs of home and evidence of lingering challenges as they review 2017 and look forward to 2018. Optimism is Richard Chapman’s job as CEO of the Kern Economic Development Corp., an independent agency tasked with improving Kern County’s economy and marketing the county to major firms and businesses that might choose to locate jobs and operations here.


Anna Smith: Bright outlook for the economy in 2018

Bakersfield Californian

Over the holidays, my husband and I spoke on multiple occasions around dinner tables with family members – mostly farmers. They spoke about downtown’s revitalization, expanding businesses, new product lines and growth industries like technology and healthcare. A common thread: their excitement for the future of our community.


What to expect from the U.S. economy in 2018


The end of the year is a good time to look back at the economy for 2017 and, more importantly, to look ahead to 2018. In a conversation on NPR, I took a look back at the economy in 2017, what we learned, and what to expect economically in 2018. Here’s a summary of the discussion:


The U.S. Economy Is Looking Good for 2018

US News

The American economy is firing on all cylinders heading into 2018, as employment, stock and consumer confidence numbers look the best they have in years – in some cases in U.S. history. The unemployment rate sat at 4.1 percent in November, which ties the lowest it’s been in nearly 17 years. Job gains, meanwhile, have been consistent, and employers are actively recruiting to fill millions of vacancies across the country.


California tops U.S. in per capita income growth

Press Enterprise

The California economy may be cooling this year but its per capita income growth still tops the nation. I filled my trusty spreadsheet with new federal data on this broad measure of state-by-state cash flows and found that in 2017’s first nine months, California incomes rose an average 3.3 percent vs. last year’s first three quarters. That was the nation’s largest increase just ahead of Arkansas, Washington, Maryland and North Carolina.


De León: California economy depends on undocumented workers

The Mercury News

In California, 1 in 10 workers is undocumented, approximately 3 million in all. They pay an estimated $3 billion in state and local taxes. They contribute $180 billion annually to our GDP. To attack them, as the president has, is to attack our economic prosperity.



November 2017 Job Report

Center for Jobs and the Economy

California Employment Development Department’s (EDD) latest release shows on a seasonally adjusted basis, total employment was up 101,900 from October, while the number of unemployed dropped by 68,700. The labor force rose by 33,200.


Kern County unemployment rate stays steady

Bakersfield Californian

Kern County’s employment rate stayed steady in November at 7.4 percent, according to a new report from the Employment Development Department. Bakersfield had a 6.6 percent unemployment rate, a slight decrease from 6.7 percent in October. California City had the highest rate with 15.6 percent in November, according to the report, a slight improvement from 15.8 percent in October.


Minimum wage to hit $11 for many Californians

Sacramento Bee

California’s minimum wage will increase another 50 cents per hour on Jan. 1. The new minimum rate for workers at larger businesses – those with 26 or more employees – will be $11 per hour. Smaller firms will have to pay $10.50.


Workplace laws in 2018 could impact job seekers, parents and ex-offenders

The Mercury News

New laws will take effect Monday that could have a big impact on how parents, ex-offenders and job seekers navigate California workplaces.


More workers say their bosses are threatening to have them deported

Los Angeles Times

The deal the worker struck was simple: $150 a day to tile a bathroom and stucco the walls of a home in Arcadia. The pay was to come at the end of each day but never did, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by the California labor commissioner. After six days with no pay, the lawsuit alleges, the worker finally confronted his boss, who then snapped, called him a “wetback” and threatened to report him to immigration authorities.


California Increasing Family Leave Benefits In 2018


Imagine being a brand-new dad – with a baby who needs to go to the doctor or hospital every couple of days because of a skin condition, and a mom still recovering from a high fever during childbirth. But your employer only lets you take a few days off before demanding your return to work. Otherwise, you’d lose your job.






Federal government finds flaws in California’s plan to improve lowest-performing schools


The U.S. Department of Education has cited substantive flaws in California’s plan detailing how it will improve low-performing schools and use billions of dollars of federal education aid under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The Dec. 21 letter to state education officials could initiate lengthy negotiations between federal and state officials over clarifications and technical changes to California’s100-page funding application.


Inside the fight over how to address San Francisco’s ‘state of emergency’ for black student achievement

Los Angeles Times

Black students in San Francisco would be better off almost anywhere else in California. Many attend segregated schools and the majority of black, Latino and Pacific Islander students did not reach grade-level standards on the state’s recent tests in math or English tests.


How cheap talk fuels bad school accountability


Usually, we claim to have little use for people who are all talk. We mock second-guessers and those Monday-morning quarterbacks who tell others what theyshould have done. Like most people I know, I’ve always been most impressed by those who do things. Build things. Repair things. Whether we’re talking about fixing a car or teaching algebra, what matters is taking responsibility for a task and then doing it well.


Lynchpin of teachers union power returns to the Supreme Court


Last week, the US Supreme Court announced that it would hear Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). While it is among the biggest cases on the court’s docket next year, it certainly holds the biggest stakes when it comes to public education. The case deals with mandatory union agency fees, which plaintiff Mark Janus, a child support specialist at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, argues violate his First Amendment rights to free speech and free association.


Spread of fake news prompts literacy efforts in schools

PBS NewsHour

Alarmed by the proliferation of false content online, state lawmakers around the country are pushing schools to put more emphasis on teaching students how to tell fact from fiction. Lawmakers in several states have introduced or passed bills calling on public school systems to do more to teach media literacy skills that they say are critical to democracy. The effort has been bipartisan but has received little attention despite successful legislation in Washington state, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Mexico.


As child care costs soar, public preschool spots are limited


In perhaps an unexpected twist, historically conservative strongholds like Oklahoma and West Virginia are leading efforts to bring preschool to all. “They have in common a low-wage workforce, relatively low education levels and the desire to change that,” said Steven Barnett of the National Institute for Early Education Research. “Whatever they say, politicians in West Virginia know the future of their state is not coal miners.”


Higher Ed:


New California Laws Aim to Give Community College Students Faster Route to Four-Year Degree

The 74

California community college students now have a faster route to a four-year degree, thanks to two new state laws enacted this fall. In October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 705, allowing more students access to college-level courses instead of remedial courses when they start community college, and AB 19, giving all first-time students in the state a free year of community college.


Do only a fraction of California’s Latino and black students go to four-year colleges?

PolitiFact California

Democratic candidate for California governor Antonio Villaraigosa recently described the lack of poor and minority students at state universities as a “crisis.” The former Los Angeles mayor rattled off statistics about the severity of the problem during an interview with San Diego TV station KUSI on December 6, 2017: “I believe it’s really important that the next governor focus on the fact that we have about an 80 percent (high school) graduation rate. For poor kids, it’s closer to 70 percent. About 13 percent of them are going to a 4-year college and only 9 percent of them are graduating (from college).”


A New Year’s Resolution For Higher Education: Debt-Free in ’18


In higher education, we should be thinking of people like this every day, not only during the holidays. Nearly 30 years later, economic security is ever more clearly a direct product of education, of which we’re the gatekeepers.


Americans Losing Faith in College Degrees, Poll Finds

Wall Street Journal

Americans are losing faith in the value of a college degree, with majorities of young adults, men and rural residents saying college isn’t worth the cost, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey shows.






Push to use pension funds on climate issue grows


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week proposed a “roadmap” for divesting the $200 billion New York state pension fund from fossil fuel investments, joining a move to use shareholder clout to reduce greenhouse gas-emissions believed to cause climate change. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced on the same day that he will give the trustees of the five New York City pension funds, valued at $191 billion in October, a proposal to “de-carbonize” their investment portfolios, including fossil fuel divestment.


A Conservative Takes on Climate Change

The Weekly Standard

The contest for loneliest person on the right in Donald Trump’s Washington would be hard fought among free traders, pro-immigration libertarians, neoconservative globalists, and fiscal hawks convinced of the necessity of entitlement reform. But none of these could possibly be as lonely as the conservative Republican who believes climate change is a serious threat that his party should make a priority. That person is Jay Faison.


‘Strange season’: Is it really winter?

Stockton Record

Not since 1959 has Stockton staggered into the new year with less than an inch of total rainfall. But that’s exactly what’s just happened. It almost seems like we’ve gone from drought, to flood, right back to drought.




Signs of recovery: Is exodus of workers due to oil slump over?

Bakersfield Californian

A new report released by the California Department of Finance is easing concerns that Kern County was seeing an exodus of workers and their families because of falling oil prices. The county has experienced solid population gains for the better part of seven decades, said Peter Smith, a demographer with Kern Council of Governments, or KernCOG, which keeps track of local demographic changes and helps plan local transportation needs. But those population gains have slowed and in some categories shifted into reverse.


50-megawatt energy storage facility proposed for Fresno County

The Business Journal

Battery storage for renewable energy is becoming more important in California, although most projects, so far, are small. Battery technology allows the capture and storage of energy during times of reduced demand for use during times of high demand. That saves costs for the user when supply is low, for example, when the sun is not out or the wind does not blow.






Congress must aid ‘Dreamers’ and children who need health care

Sacramento Bee

Republican leaders and President Donald Trump rushed to deliver tax cuts thatmostly benefit the wealthy and corporations. But somehow they couldn’t find the time to rescue programs that help vulnerable children and young people before heading home for the holidays.


Congress Won’t Act; Now Community Health Centers Weigh Closures

Pew Charitable Trusts | Stateline

Unless Congress provides funding before the end of the year, many of the nation’s 9,800 community health clinics will face service cuts or closure — potentially crippling a vital part of the health system that provides care in poor and underserved communities across every state.


California among 23 states with widespread flu activity

Sacramento Bee

Does it seem like everyone around you is getting sick? There’s a widespread reason for that. California is one of 23 states where influenza activity is reportedly widespread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC’s weekly “FluView Report” says that widespread flu activity is up from 12 states, nearly doubling last week’s number. Other nearby states with widespread activity are Arizona, Idaho and Oregon.


California gives Medi-Cal enrollees something to smile about

Los Angeles Times

Susan Inglett’s dental coverage changed just after she got a root canal on one of her top teeth. It was 2009, and California was in the midst of a budget crisis. To cut costs, Medi-Cal, the state health insurance program for low-income residents, eliminated nonemergency dental benefits for adults.


More now say ACA has had a positive than negative effect on U.S.

Pew Research Center

While the future of the Affordable Care Act is in question, the public increasingly thinks the law has had a positive impact on the country. Today, more Americans say the 2010 health care overhaul has had a mostly positive than mostly negative effect on the country (44% versus 35%), while 14% say it has not had much effect.


Obamacare’s Individual Mandate: A Bipartisan Failure

National Review

Seemingly lost in the news of last week’s big tax-cut victory for the GOP was the repeal of the individual mandate — the Obamacare provision that required Americans to have health coverage or else pay a penalty.


How expensive would a single-payer system be?


During remarks at the White House to a group of Republican senators, President Donald Trump pushed the visiting lawmakers for repeal-and-replace legislation for the Affordable Care Act. Trump warned them that some Democrats are becoming increasingly interested in pursuing a “single-payer” health insurance system, in which the federal government, rather than private insurers, pays all medical expenses.


Top 10 health care surprises from Year One of Trump


President Donald Trump stormed into office last January confident that he could knock off Obamacare in a nanosecond. It didn’t turn out that way — and from drug prices to the Tom Price travel scandal, a lot of health policy didn’t go according to plan. Here’s a look at 10 health care surprises from 2017.


Generic drugs had a great 2017

Washington Post

During his first year in office, President Trump took no direct action to lower the country’s sky-high prescription drug prices, something that he vowed to tackle during the 2016 campaign. But Trump’s man running the Food and Drug Administration is striving to move the needle in this area with a concentrated push toward expanding generic drug competition.


Human Services:


As health workers deal with mass shootings and fires, more hospitals are looking to help them cope

Los Angeles Times

The tragedies that play out in hospitals affect not just patients and their families, but the nurses and doctors who care for them.




Have deportations increased under Donald Trump? Here’s what the data shows…


Immigration advocates once dubbed then-President Barack Obama the “deporter-in-chief.” Will President Donald Trump take over that title? Trump got to the White House promising “law and order” and directed immigration officials to deport anyone in the country illegally — no exceptions.


Pick them from a bin? Donald Trump mischaracterizes diversity visa lottery


President Donald Trump’s claims about bad people coming into the United States have expanded to include not just people who get here illegally, but also immigrants who arrive legally after being vetted by the U.S. government.


Congress heads toward showdown over ‘Dreamers’


Congress is barreling toward a showdown over immigration in January.Lawmakers were locked in a flurry of closed-door negotiations and meetings with top White House officials as they tried to make progress on an agreement before wrapping up their work for the year. Instead, both chambers adjourned without a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, kicking the fight into 2018. The program allows certain immigrants, called dreamers, who came to the United States illegally as children, to work and go to school here.




Land Use:


The high cost of low income: Affordable housing projects spur debate on investment

The Business Journal

The City of Fresno will invest $500,000 and provide a $600,000 loan to help get off the ground a project to build an 88-unit, low-income apartment building in the city’s south end. But most of the City Council members who voted to approve the money said they did so grudgingly, believing the project’s $38.3 million cost is too high.


New Supermarket in Low-Income Neighborhood May Trigger Economic and Health Improvements


Opening a new supermarket in a low-income neighborhood may improve residents’ economic well-being and health, even if residents don’t necessarily buy healthier food from the store, according to a new RAND Corporation study.




Three California housing issues to watch in 2018

Los Angeles Times

Rising rents and home prices forced California’s housing crisis to the front of Gov. Jerry Brown’s and lawmakers’ agenda in 2017. Legislators passed the most comprehensive package of housing bills in recent memory designed to increase spending on low-income development and encourage more construction in general. But the bills, according to independent analyses, won’t do much to make housing cheaper in the state. Expect more focus on housing issues at the Capitol and on your statewide ballot in 2018. Here are three to watch.


California’s real estate gold rush is even boosting Stockton, but at what price?

Los Angeles Times

Now Stockton – something of a northern cousin of once-bankrupt and long-beleaguered San Bernardino — finds itself at the top of a list of California cities with the greatest increase in home prices over the last five years, at 92%. What happened?


Evaluation of Housing for Health Permanent Supportive Housing Program


Housing for Health (HFH), a division within the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS), was established to provide supportive housing to DHS patients with complex medical and behavioral health issues who were experiencing homelessness. HFH goals are to improve patients’ health, reduce costs to the public health system, and demonstrate DHS’s commitment to addressing homelessness within Los Angeles County.


As West Coast fights homelessness, kindness is contentious


Mohammed Aly does not see any reason why he shouldn’t try to ease the lives of Orange County’s homeless. But the authorities — and many of his neighbors — disagree. Aly, a 28-year-old lawyer and activist, has been arrested three times as he campaigned on behalf of street people. Recently, he was denied permission to install portable toilets on a dried-up riverbed, site of an encampment of roughly 400 homeless.




Cases Could Open Door To Pension Cuts For California Workers


For decades in California, a sacrosanct rule has governed public employees’ pensions: Benefits promised can never be taken away. But cases before the state Supreme Court threaten to reverse that premise and open the door to benefit cuts for workers still on the job. The lawsuits have enormous implications for California cities, counties, schools, fire districts and other local bodies facing a sharp rise in their pension costs.




Reconsider your commute: Work on Truxtun Avenue widening, starting next week, will slow things down

The Bakersfield Californian

West Bakersfield residents heading into and out of downtown by way of Truxtun Avenue could soon be facing more delays than usual. But it will be worth it, eventually.

Drive, Walk or Take Transit? These New California Laws Are for You


A quick rundown of new California laws affecting vehicle owners, drivers, bridge users, parking-ticket payers, pedestrians and transit passengers.


California drivers are paying more. Here’s why that might get overturned in 2018

Los Angeles Times

A political dispute over how to pay for the repair of California’s pothole-plagued roads and crumbling bridges is spilling over into 2018, with new vehicle fees taking effect, followed by court dates and ballot measures. The increase in gas taxes and vehicle fees to raise more than $5.2 billion annually for road and bridge repairs and improvements to mass transit was approved in April by the Democratic-controlled Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown.


Bullet train: A dispute over stations

Capitol Weekly

It’s a tale of two stations. Bakersfield, California’s ninth-largest city in terms of population with more than 380,000 residents, is trying to decide where to put a bullet-train station. This battle has lasted for years. First, a geography lesson. The city can be roughly divided into five zones — central, southeast, northeast, northwest, and southwest. U.S. Highway 99 cuts the city into east and west and the Kern River (yes, it really is a river; this year there was water) divides north and south.


On driverless cars, infrastructure, and traffic: A short-read Q&A with David Levinson


The world is on its way to ending traffic, and that’s in part thanks to the pioneering work of transportation researcher and thought leader David Levinson. In this episode, we discuss how autonomous vehicles and other breakthrough tech will affect the future of transportation, and how infrastructure policy can keep up with the coming changes. We also discuss whether America has reached peak car ownership, if human driving will be eventually banned, and if we are culturally ready for a driverless future.




CA water: Contaminated water flows from San Joaquin Valley taps

Fresno Bee

At the end of 2017, California finds itself at a major crossroads. With Washington, D.C., refusing to lead on the issues that matter to most Americans and putting California values in its crosshairs, our Golden State has done a fantastic job of showing the rest of the country – and the world – that things can be different.


US eyes increased pumping from biggest federal water project

Fox Business

The Trump administration said Friday it will look at revving up water deliveries to farmers from California’s Central Valley Project, the largest federal water project in the United States, in what environmental groups called a threat to protections for struggling native salmon and other endangered species.

See also:

·       Administration eyes pumping more water to Central Valley farmland   SFGate

·       U.S. eyes increased pumping from biggest federal water projectABC30


Worth Noting: City reduces water consumption through new project

Bakersfield Californian

The City of Bakersfield has completed a project aimed at reducing water consumption.On Nov. 30, the city’s Recreation and Parks Department finished a project that involved the installation of an irrigation control system called Rain Bird Maxicom at 24 parks across the city with the goal to reduce consumption by 30 percent.


California Says Nestle Lacks Permits To Extract Millions Of Gallons Of Water


California regulators say Nestle may have to stop collecting a large portion of the water it bottles from the San Bernardino National Forest, because it lacks the legal permits for millions of gallons of water. Nestle sells the water under the Arrowhead label. The State Water Board says that of the 62.6 million gallons of water that Nestle says it extracted from the San Bernardino spring each year on average from 1947 to 2015, the company may only have a right to some 8.5 million gallons. Those numbers come from a nearly two-year investigation.


California: The Flood That Could Change Everything

Weather Channel

On the first day the storm will seem just like the others. But once the water starts falling on Southern California this time, it won’t stop. Not for a day. Not for two days. Not even three. For 10 days the water will fall and hit the earth until the earth there can no longer contain it. California’s first megaflood in more than a century has only just begun.




Little Hoover Commission’s Carole D’Elia remembered for her passion to improve lives

Sacramento Bee

Whether volunteering with a local mother’s club or overseeing studies for an independent government watchdog agency, Carole D’Elia was dedicated to making life better for people in her community and throughout California, say friends and colleagues. Carole was a frequent guest on The Maddy Report…


A ‘Billion Dollar’ deal in Bakersfield? Tune in Wednesday to find out

Bakersfield Californian

When the third season of “Billion Dollar Buyer” debuts Wednesday on CNBC, Bakersfield viewers have a bigger reason to tune in than expecting an enjoyable hour of reality television. The episode of the series that follows businessman Tilman Fertitta, CEO and owner of Landry’s Inc., as he attempts to strike a deal with small-business owners has a strong local connection. Bakersfield’s Autonomy Farms will be featured, along with Santa Monica clothing retailer Too Pretty, in Wednesday’s show.


Clovis North Wind Ensemble lands once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

Clovis Roundup

Clovis North High School’s Wind Ensemble made history as the first band in the Central Valley to be invited to perform at The Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference, the world’s largest instrumental music education conference. The Wind Ensemble performed a final concert on Friday, Dec. 15 at Clovis Unified Performing Arts Center before leaving for the Chicago conference, which starts Dec. 20 and runs through Dec. 23.