January 20, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Rural, conservative California will have more power under Trump — Two politically powerful Californians who have gotten to know Donald Trump say liberals shouldn’t fear him. They promise that Trump behaves a lot differently than the bullying, blustery presence he cuts when he’s before the public. “He’s really a nice guy when you’re with him,” said Rep. Devin Nunes, the Tulare Republican who is a member of Trump’s transition team and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committe on Intelligence. “He’s very inquisitive. He really works very hard.” “He’s very intuitive. He listens. He asks lot of questions. He listens to opinions of people who he doesn’t agree with,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, the second highest-ranking Republican in the House. “People have a misimpression of him. They shouldn’t be fearful about him.”  San Francisco Chronicle article

Dan Walters: California politicians emulate Trump by fear-mongering — Tellingly, the California politician who’s reacted most mildly to Trump is Gov. Jerry Brown who, after a half-century in politics, understands the syndrome. Unfortunately, less experienced, self-important politicians are not following Brown’s example, apparently hoping that shrill, apocalyptic calls to arms will qualify them as anti-Trump gladiators. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Bill Whalen: After Trump’s election, more California Republicans buy into state as a model — The funny thing: California Republicans apparently don’t drink from the same well of bitterness. So suggests a newly published Hoover Institution Golden State Poll, which posed a simple question: Is California’s government a model for other states to follow? Whalen column in Sacramento Bee


Joel Fox: Californians opposed to Trump’s immigration ideas? Poll results may surprise you — California’s political leaders, the generals of the so-called Trump resistance, may be surprised that they don’t have as many troops behind them as they imagined according to the new Golden State Poll released by the Hoover Institution. In issues dealing with immigration—sanctuary cities, deportations, and denying immigration from certain countries—the poll showed split support rather than overwhelming support for the positions the political leaders identified as “California values.” Fox in Fox & Hounds

Other areas

For the first time in history, California dealers sell more than a million guns in a single year – Pass a new gun control law, watch gun sales explode until the law takes effect. That pattern has played out several times over the years in California, but never so much as in 2016, related largely to a spike in sales as buyers rushed to beat a ban on certain rifles, new figures from the state Department of Justice show. Sacramento Bee article

On Kevin McCarthy’s home turf, Democratic legislators warn against Obamacare repeal – Democratic legislators took their pro-Obamacare message on the road Thursday, convening a hearing in Bakersfield to examine the repercussions of repealing the Affordable Care Act. The state Senate health committee pointedly held its hearing in the Central Valley — far afield form the state Capitol and the home districts of most members in attendance, but the home turf of key Republican members of California’s congressional delegation including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy. LA Times articleSacramento Bee articleBakersfield Californian article

If GOP defunds Planned Parenthood clinics, health centers can’t handle patient flood – Contrary to recent claims by House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, R-Wis., experts say the nation’s community health centers don’t have the staffing or funding to handle the estimated 400,000 people who could lose access to care if Planned Parenthood’s federal Medicaid funding is shuttered.  McClatchy Newspapers article

It’s time to tax candy in California, state lawmaker says – Californians might soon vote on whether to tax candy, potato chips and other snacks if lawmakers approve a new proposal from a Los Angeles legislator. LA Times article

One California lawmakers hopes the state will inspect marijuana candy to make sure it isn’t marketed to children — The coming sale of marijuana-infused candy and baked goods for recreational use in California has one lawmaker demanding close inspection of every wrapper by the state to make sure the products are not marketed to minors.  LA Times article

Duf Sundheim: A New Declaration needed to bring gap between government and people – The former chairman of the California Republican Party and member of the California Forward Leadership Council writes, “In 1976 people voted for change. They did the same in 1980, 1992, 2000, 2008, 2010, 2016. It is about time they get the change they want. We need a new pact between the people and our government. We need a New Declaration. And no group is better positioned to lead that effort than those attending the 50 State Solution meeting in San Francisco on January 26.” Sundheim commentary in California Forward

Presidential Politics

Sacramento Bee: Why California is key for Trump to promises on jobs – As Donald Trump becomes our 45th president Friday, he promises to be “the greatest job producer that God ever created.” We suspect most Americans would be satisfied if he’s just a very good one. To do that, he must appreciate the importance of California as a job-creating engine and put together his economic strategy accordingly. Sacramento Bee editorial

Schwarzenegger dings Trump on Agriculture pick — Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined Latinos and California Republicans in expressing his frustration and disappointment Thursday after Donald Trump bypassed Abel Maldonado for agriculture secretary. Politico article

Donald Trump’s Cabinet is complete: No Latinos for first time since 1989 – Donald Trump’s preferred Cabinet is now complete — and it’s the least diverse by any president, Republican or Democrat, since the 1981 inauguration of Ronald Reagan. It’s also the first since 1989 not to include a Latino member. LA Times articleAP article

Inaugural protest planned all over Trump-defiant California – As Donald Trump takes the oath of office in Washington, many people in California who vowed to fight him will be out in the streets and plazas Friday protesting. Marches and rallies are planned from downtown Los Angeles to the Golden Gate Bridge to the Capitol of the state that’s become the center of anti-Trump country. AP article

Michael Fitzgerald: A congressman skips the Trumpfest – Today, hundreds of thousands gather in Washington, D.C., for Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. Rep. Jerry McNerney is conspicuously absent. The Democratic congressman from Stockton says he is boycotting the event not to protest against Donald Trump but against “irregularities” in campaign 2016. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Valley students trek to Trump – Eight-year-old Ricky Prado will get to check off a lot of firsts in the next few days. His first time on a plane, his first trip to Washington D.C., and his first time attending a presidential inauguration. Visalia Times-Delta article

Withrow and other valley folks anticipate inaugural in D.C. – Stanislaus County Supervisor Terry Withrow took what he called a once-in-a-lifetime trip to watch the presidential inaugural in Washington D.C. “I think everyone should do it once,” Withrow said on the eve of the ceremonies. Modesto Bee article

Ag groups mostly positive to Perdue nomination – Agriculture industry associations reacted mostly favorably to the nomination of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for agriculture secretary but critics suggested Donald Trump’s last cabinet selection indicated rural America is low on his list of priorities. Visalia Times-Delta article

Intercepted Russian communications part of inquiry into Trump associates – American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said. New York Times article

Bakersfield residents flock to D.C. for inauguration – As the nation’s capital gears up for one of the biggest parties of the year, hundreds of Bakersfield and Kern County residents were already there Thursday, primed and ready to be witness to history. In fact, a spokesman for Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, told The Californian that more than 250 tickets were distributed through the congressman’s office to local constituents. Bakersfield Californian article

Tears, fears and call for action mark interfaith vigil on inauguration eve – Stories of despair and calls for action to protect the most vulnerable and all “who feel their belonging in our country is being questioned and threatened” was the focus of an interfaith vigil in Fresno on the eve of the presidential inauguration. Fresno Bee article

Modesto vigil aims to support those with post-election fears — A group of Modesto-area faith leaders plans a Solidarity Vigil this weekend to send a message of unity and support to anyone who fears for their future at the dawn of a new presidency.  Modesto Bee article

Jack Ohman: Donald Trump and Lincoln’s second inaugural – The latest from the Sacramento Bee’s Pulitizer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist.  Ohman editorial cartoon in Sacramento Bee

Bernie Sanders campaign reportedly owes Solano County cities more than $82,000 — The presidential campaigns of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders are leaving some cities that hosted their rallies with a bit of a financial strain.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 News Stories

Top Stories

California drought continues to shrink, federal government says — Overall, 44 percent of the state remains in severe drought conditions or worse, down from 49 percent a week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The improved area, roughly 5.1 million acres, is mostly in the central Sierra Nevada, which has been hit with major snowstorms in recent weeks.  San Jose Mercury News articleKQED report

No CSU for Stockton anytime soon – For many years, the prospect of Stockton getting its own California State University campus has been the dream of community leaders. That dream hit a speed bump Thursday with the release of a state report that a new public university campus is not warranted anywhere in California at this time. Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

San Francisco and its unions agree to extend contracts two years — Unions representing 26,000 San Francisco municipal employees have reached a tentative agreement with the city to extend existing contracts by two years, averting a bargaining process that was set to begin later this month.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Jackpot! Vegas looks to score big win by landing Raiders — First the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. Soon, maybe, the Las Vegas Raiders. Once looked on with disdain by major sports leagues, this gambling city is now just 24 votes away from cashing in on one of the biggest sports jackpots ever. The Raiders made it official Thursday by filing for relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, the culmination of a whirlwind romance to bring an NFL team to a city that the league had previously gone out of its way to shun because of sports betting fears. AP articleKQED reportSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

After threatened strike, SEIU Local 1000 votes for a new contract – A month after calling off a threatened strike, state government’s largest union announced on Thursday that its members had approved a new 42-month contract that will get its members a $2,500 bonus and a cumulative raise of 11.5 percent.  Sacramento Bee article

Marijuana: A career opportunity? – At a school career day event recently, a few students approached San Joaquin Delta College horticulture instructor Michael Toscano and asked him, in so many words: “Can you teach me how to grow marijuana?” They were serious, he said. With the passage of Proposition 64 last November legalizing recreational marijuana use, a brand-new industry will emerge in the years to come with legitimate jobs for those willing to learn. Stockton Record article

Report: Climate policies boost the San Joaquin Valley – California has a reputation for progressive climate policies, and a new study shows it’s having an economic impact the San Joaquin Valley. Valley Public Radio report

Fresno airport gets renovation and name change to Wyndham Gardens — The Holiday Inn Fresno Airport has undergone a $3 million renovation and a name change. The 210-room hotel, at 5090 E. Clinton Way across from the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, is now known as the Wyndham Garden Fresno AirportFresno Bee article

TV ad rips Elk Grove casino project.  Who is behind it? — The fight over a proposed Indian casino in Elk Grove is intensifying, with an obscure nonprofit group airing a blistering TV commercial saying the casino would inundate the suburb with drugs, prostitution, bankruptcies and other woes. The 30-second spot, which aired last weekend on KXTV ABC 10, was sponsored by a Sacramento group called the Council on Prosperity and Accountability. Sacramento Bee article

LA office market has best quarter since the financial crisis as entertainment and tech firms keep expanding – Big office leases by such companies as Warner Music Group, City National Bank and Kite Pharma helped soak up 2.1 million square feet in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, the most in a quarter since 2000, brokerage CBRE Group Inc. said. LA Times article

Developers join the campaign for a quarter-cent sales tax to fund homeless services — The campaign for a measure to levy a quarter-cent countywide sales tax for homeless services has gathered more than $1 million in early contributions, including hundreds of thousands of dollars from large development, real estate and construction firms, county records show. LA Times article

Downtown LA businesses try outreach to find permanent housing for homeless — Each morning John Johnson and Sydney Sheiner set out to chat up the people who frequent places such as the Central Library’s Maguire Gardens, the 4th Street overpass and Pershing Square. They make up one of the two homeless outreach teams funded by the downtown business improvement district. Their mission is to contact, interview and assist the roughly 130 homeless people living at any time in the west side of downtown, from 1st Street to Olympic Boulevard. LA Times article

In Trump era, where are the diversity efforts in Silicon Valley headed — With high-profile companies from Facebook to Airbnb making pronouncements in support of diversity, you’d think that the very people hired to address the problems inside tech companies would feel comfortable talking about the challenges of their job. Not necessarily. KQED report

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em – and you will at cigar festival — With the cost of lighting up going up, courtesy of a voter-approved increase in tobacco taxes, it might seem an odd time to start a cigar festival. But Dave Porter of Shafter doesn’t see it that way. In fact, he thinks the timing couldn’t be better for aficionados to get together, which is why he’s organizing Bakersfield’s first cigar festival on Jan. 26. Bakersfield Californian article


Study questions Stanislaus releases for salmon in fall – A new study concludes that salmon have not benefited much from autumn water releases into the lower Stanislaus River. The research by the Fishbio consulting firm backs up claims by the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts that the October releases are wasting water from New Melones Reservoir. Modesto Bee article

Modesto Bee: Study: Salmon don’t want too much water — In a peer-reviewed study published this week, FishBio looked at river conditions and flows from October through December, when the most salmon were moving up the Stanislaus River. The scientists caution against jumping to conclusions, but they say the state frequently releases too much water. Modesto Bee editorial

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Drug lord ‘El Chapo’ extradited to U.S. — Mexico’s most notorious drug kingpin, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who gained fame for his daring prison escapes and an interview with Hollywood stars while a fugitive, was extradited Thursday to the United States to face trafficking and other charges, Mexican and U.S. authorities said. LA Times articleNew York Times articleAP article

Obama commutes prison sentence of California Healthcare Collective pot dealer — President Barack Obama on Thursday commuted the 20-year prison sentenced imposed on Richard Ruiz Montes, convicted in 2008 for his role in the Modesto’s pot-dealing California Healthcare CollectiveMcClatchy Newspapers articleSacramento Bee article

Sacramento council approves program to train police to deal with mentally ill – Sacramento City Council members on Thursday unanimously approved giving all Sacramento police officers a week of training to better deal with people with mental illness. Sacramento Bee article

Suspect arrested in arson fire at Tower District’s Livingstone’s restaurant — Fresno Fire investigators Thursday identified Justin Joseph Silva, 33, as the person responsible for setting a fire at Livingstone’s Restaurant & Pub, closing the longtime Tower District watering hole and throwing dozens of employees out of work just before Christmas.  Fresno Bee article


Matt Rexroad: UC needs to prioritize online education – The Yolo County supervisor writes, “The most inefficient part of higher education is a campus that is only open 12 hours a day, four and a half days a week, particularly in expensive downtown Sacramento. The UC system should be using its enormous resources to educate the world through the internet, which is the greatest information resource the world has ever known.” Rexroad op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Stockton Unified teachers ratify new contract – As the sunshine broke apart dark ominous clouds, the same could be said inside the First Congregational Church as Stockton Unified teachers were happy to be officially ratifying a new contract. Of the teachers who turned out to vote, 90 percent voted in favor of the new contract, union officials said Thursday night. There are 1,800 members of the union, and 882 of them voted, according to union officials. Stockton Record article

Teachers mount protest against Trump’s education agenda and to ‘protect public schools’ –  On the eve of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, teachers unions on Thursday mounted a statewide protest involving thousands of teachers and supporters in California to “protect public schools” and to urge lawmakers in Washington to reject the nomination of billionaire Betsy DeVos, who Trump selected to become the next U.S. education secretary. EdSource article

Nan Austin: Sex-ed materials need more than a switch to digital – Modesto City Schools just considered new DVDs for its fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade health videos on family life and sex education to dump VHS tapes they no longer have enough VCRs to play. But not only the technological format needs an update. Austin in Modesto Bee

Clovis Unified buys building that housed bankrupt ITT Technical Institute — Clovis Unified School District is buying the school building at Clovis and Highway 168 that was previously home to ITT Technical Institute. District trustees approved the $5.7 million purchase during Wednesday night’s board meeting. Fresno Bee article

Dehorning goat ‘isn’t pretty’ but necessary lesson for these ag students — Burning the horns off a goat isn’t a gentle process. The seniors in North High School’s agriculture program have learned that in the classroom, but they got a firsthand look Thursday, when they assisted in the dehorning of a couple of baby goats — or a kid and a doe, as these students know them. Bakersfield Californian article

City College of San Francisco wins back accreditation after years of uncertainty – After a five-year dispute with the oversight commission that sought to revoke its accreditation, City College of San Francisco — one of the nation’s largest community colleges — has been reaffirmed for a full term of seven years, school officials said. LA Times article

Folsom Cordova school board accused of trying to ‘sanitize’ history – A standing-room-only crowd voiced overwhelming support for a controversial middle school history teacher and accused the Folsom Cordova Unified School District board of unjustly forcing him to retire. Parents, students said the board’s action would have a chilling affect on teachers and promote the “sanitizing” of history. Sacramento Bee article

Pleasanton: Teachers advised not to watch inauguration live during class — The Pleasanton Unified School District has advised its teachers against watching live coverage of the presidential inauguration in class, out of concern for the heated rhetoric and safety issues that might arise from the event. East Bay Times article

Sacramento school chief says he will leave at end of the year — Jose Banda, hired 30 months ago as Superintendent of the Sacramento Unified School District, announced Thursday night during a trustee meeting that he will leave the district at the end of the school year.  Sacramento Bee article


Pickett Solar completes two large ag solar projects — Fresno’s Pickett Solar announced it has completed two major solar installations in Fowler, with one of them recognized as one of the largest agricultural solar projects in the country. The Business Journal article

 Health/Human Services 

 Last day of Covered California enrollment is approaching — Individuals hoping to enroll for health insurance under Covered California, the state’s Affordable Care Act option, have until Jan. 31 to do so.  Merced Sun-Star article

 Perez: Repealing health law would hurt Kern County budget, hospital – The California State Senate’s health committee held a rare hearing in Bakersfield this afternoon discussing the local impact of President Elect Trump’s quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez testified that while Kern Medical has seen its financial health improve in recent years, that could change quickly if the law is rolled back. Valley Public Radio report

California’s community clinics, big Obamacare beneficiaries, worry about their future – Paula Wilson has seen some tough times in her 23 years as the CEO of Valley Community Healthcare, a clinic that provides care for the poor in North Hollywood, Calif. But nothing was quite like November 9, the day after the U.S. elections, when walking around the office “was like coming into a funeral,” she said. KQED report

Daryn Kumar and Gary West: Access is crucial in any health care reform – Kumar, CEO of Memorial Medical Center, and West, president and CEO of JS West, write, “There are tremendous unknowns that lie ahead in 2017 with the arrival of a new administration and congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. From the perspective of health care leaders and a family business that has served this region’s agricultural economy for generations, there is a critical priority that must remain – an assurance that Californians will continue to have access to safe and affordable health care coverage.” Kumar/West op-ed in Modesto Bee

City devastated by OxyContin use sues Purdue Pharma, claims drugmaker put profits over citizens’ welfare – A Washington city devastated by black-market OxyContin filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the painkiller’s manufacturer Thursday, alleging that the company turned a blind eye to criminal trafficking of its pills to “reap large and obscene profits” and demanding it foot the bill for widespread opioid addiction in the community. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Hidden Valley Park issue flares up again — The future of the vacant, city-owned, 19-acre parcel next to Hidden Valley Park was once again a hot topic of discussion at this week’s Hanford City Council meeting. The issue of what to do with the land remains controversial. Hanford Sentinel article


New high-speed rail report stirs fear — Many Kings County farmers don’t like high speed rail, which continues to buy up right of way across the ValleyVisalia Times-Delta article

Number of firearms in carry-on soar, but Sacramento International Airport has comparatively few — A record number of firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at the nation’s airports in 2016, but Sacramento International was not among the airport leaders of guns confiscated by TSA employees. Sacramento Bee article

Are fewer California teens opting to get behind the wheel – Getting a driver’s license has long been a teenage rite of passage, an anxiously awaited four-wheeled step up the ladder to adulthood. That tradition, though, has shown signs of easing into the slow lane, with government numbers suggesting a decline in teenagers behind the wheel. Sacramento Bee article

Highway 59 indefinitely closed – A stretch of Highway 59 south of Merced remains closed for the foreseeable future and road crews are preparing for additional flooding and closures as more rain was expected to pelt the San Joaquin Valley. Los Banos Enterprise article

 Tesla’s self-driving system cleared in deadly crash — Eight months after a fatal crash involving a Tesla Motors car operating in a computer-assisted mode, federal auto-safety regulators said their investigation of the car found no defects in the system that caused the accident and said Tesla’s Autopilot-enabled vehicles did not need to be recalled. New York Times article

 American Airlines is banning carry-on bags and overhead bin use for basic-economy passengers — Flying American Airlines just got a bit more affordable. On Wednesday, the world’s largest airline released details of its upcoming low-cost basic-economy fare class. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

The Navy’s West Coast air base is getting its first F-35C fighter jets — The first F-35C fighter jets to be based at Lemoore Naval Air Station, the Navy’s West Coast air base, will arrive next week, the Navy said. Four are to arrive Wednesday morning. Fresno Bee article

McCabe will continue on Livingston council after winning appointment – The Livingston City Council appointed Alex McCabe to fill a vacant seat this week after a winning candidate declined to serve as a council member. Merced Sun-Star article

Four young people died.  Did teen driver cause accident, or is Union Pacific to blame? — A civil trial that began Thursday in Fresno County Superior Court will determine whether Union Pacific railroad was at fault for the deaths of driver Michaela Helen Smith, 19, of Sanger, and passengers Reuben Fernandez, 20, Angelina Marie Velasquez, 18, and David Alonzo Jr., 21, all of Fresno. Alexandra Sanchez Martinez, then 19, of Fresno, was the lone survivor. Union Pacific contends Smith was at fault because she failed to stop before the tracks.  Fresno Bee article

Homeless man dies on Sacramento City Hall grounds during stormy night — An unidentified homeless man died early Wednesday evening while sleeping on Sacramento City Hall grounds, city officials said Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – As Donald Trump becomes our 45th president Friday, he promises to be “the greatest job producer that God ever created.” We suspect most Americans would be satisfied if he’s just a very good one. To do that, he must appreciate the importance of California as a job-creating engine and put together his economic strategy accordingly.

Merced Sun-Star – In a peer-reviewed study published this week, FishBio looked at river conditions and flows from October through December, when the most salmon were moving up the Stanislaus River. The scientists caution against jumping to conclusions, but they say the state frequently releases too much water.

Modesto Bee – In a peer-reviewed study published this week, FishBio looked at river conditions and flows from October through December, when the most salmon were moving up the Stanislaus River. The scientists caution against jumping to conclusions, but they say the state frequently releases too much water.

Sacramento Bee –- As Donald Trump becomes our 45th president Friday, he promises to be “the greatest job producer that God ever created.” We suspect most Americans would be satisfied if he’s just a very good one. To do that, he must appreciate the importance of California as a job-creating engine and put together his economic strategy accordingly; As Californians know all too well, money matters in politics. And policymakers in the nation’s capital should confront the likelihood that offshore money washes through our political system.