January 21, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Trump inauguration speech stirred strong feelings among Californians in Congress – Democratic members of California’s congressional delegation reacted with a mix of defiance and resignation to Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, as the nation’s largest state prepares to deal with a president that it overwhelmingly rejected in the election. Californians in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus charged that Trump’s inauguration speech was a continuation of anti-immigrant rhetoric from the campaign trail. McClatchy Newspapers articleStatements from Congressmen David Valadao and Jim Costa on Trump inauguration in Fresno Bee

Obama administration made last-minute modifications to California’s nearly $1-billion bullet train grant —  In the final hours of the Obama administration, the Federal Railroad Administration on Thursday made key modifications to a $928-million grant to the California bullet train agency.  The grant extends the deadline for completion of construction in the Central Valley to 2022 from 2018. The project is building 118 miles of rail structures in the Central Valley as the first part of a high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco, which the state estimates will cost $64 billion. LA Times article

Trump takes quick action that could imperil Obamacare individual mandate – Hours after taking office, President Donald Trump signed an order Friday aimed at propelling the demise of former President Barack Obama’s prized health care act. McClatchy Newspapers articleAP articleWashington Post articleNew York Times article

Valley politics

Kumar recall moves forward in Tulare — Tulare County Registrar of Voters has certified a recall petition for Dr. Parmod Kumar from the Tulare County Local Healthcare District Board of Directors as of Friday. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California Politics Podcast: And so it begins — This week: President Trump takes office, and the great guessing game begins for what it means here in California. Also, we look at some new sizzle for the 2018 election cycle, and a closer look at the debate over what comes after the Affordable Care Act. With John Myers of the Los Angeles Times and Anthony York of the Grizzly Bear Project.  California Politics Podcast


On immigrant Dreamers, Trump tells top senator: ‘We don’t want to hurt those kids’ – President Trump told a top Democratic senator Friday that he did not want to “hurt” young immigrants who have been living illegally in the U.S. since childhood but are otherwise law-abiding. LA Times article

LA City Council approves hiring ‘immigrant advocate’ at City Hall — In a move with symbolic timing, the Los Angeles City Council chose the day of Donald Trump’s swearing-in as America’s 45th president to approve the hiring of an “immigrant advocate” at City Hall. LA Times article

 Presidential Politics

These Californians buck their blue state and flock to Trump inauguration – California residents played many different roles on Inauguration Day. Some paraded, like members of the Merced County Sheriff’s Posse, back for their fourth inaugural parade appearance. Some organized, like Tracy teacher West Walker, a leader of Californians for Trump. Many came as presidential inaugural novices, like former Orange Cove Mayor Pro Tem Glenda Hill. McClatchy Newspapers articleSan Jose Mercury News articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Concern, solidarity expressed at local inauguration rally – “Terrified” could best describe the audience gathered outside Kern County Superior Court Friday, just hours after the inauguration of 45th U.S. President Donald Trump. Weary, nervous and uncertain were also words heard in the crowd of about two dozen people stationed at the Liberty Bell for the “Day of Unity” rally, sponsored by youth-led publication South Kern Sol and community group Building Healthy Communities. Bakersfield Californian article

Locals react to Trump inauguration — Joe and Mona Neyer of Visalia, who publish a monthly magazine devoted to new and used farm equipment sales, were about 100 yards from the podium when Donald Trump took the oath of office Friday. Visalia Times-Delta article

Merced County residents ‘optimistic’ about President Trump – Several Merced County residents journeyed to the nation’s capital Friday to see President Donald Trump formally take office, including the Merced County Sheriff’s Posse, headed by Sheriff Vern Warnke. Merced Sun-Star article

Merced residents, crowd at UC Merced protest Trump’s inauguration — A group of about 40 people on Friday marched onto the Childs Avenue overpass and hung a banner over Highway 99 protesting Donald Trump and his presidency. Merced Sun-Star article

Women at Trump’s inauguration are baffled by upcoming Women’s March — Women who cheered President Donald Trump and danced at the inaugural balls in Washington on Friday said the Women’s March scheduled for Saturday has them baffled and indignant that one group would presume to speak for all women. McClatchy Newspapers article

Analysis: Raw, angry and aggrieved, President Trump’s inaugural speech does little to heal political wounds – There was no pivot. There was no olive branch, no binding of wounds, no lofty summons to the better angels of our nature. The 16-minute inaugural address that President Trump delivered was Trumpism distilled to its raw essence: angry, blunt-spoken and deeply aggrieved. LA Times article

California members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus had some strong words for Trump: ‘Get  used to seeing our faces’ – Several of California’s 55 members of Congress are either immigrants or the children of immigrants. Hours after President Trump took the oath of office Friday, they had a warning for him: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus isn’t going to accept immigration raids and a border wall. LA Times article

California politicians protest in pink at Donald Trump’s inauguration — While many congressional Democrats from California skipped the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Reps. Jackie Speier, Nanette Barragán and Ami Bera all attended in pink to protest Trump’s treatment of women. Sacramento Bee article

Quick change for White House website: Law and order in, climate change gone — Just moments after President Donald Trump took the oath of office Friday, the official White House website was transformed into a set of policy pledges that offered the broad contours of the Trump administration’s top priorities — a list that included fierce support for law enforcement bordering on vigilantism, an immediate elimination of the White House’s policy page on climate page and a notable absence of any directives involving President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Washington Post articleKQED report

Shawn Hubler: Make America sick again? In California, GOP could pay a price — Californians aren’t known for getting political at the doctor’s office. But come 2018, the 14 Republicans representing California in Congress might be busier defending themselves than they might think. Hubler column in Sacramento Bee

Fact-checking President Trump’s inaugural address – Generally, inaugural addresses are not designed to be fact-checked. But President Trump’s address was nothing if not unique, presenting a portrait of the United States that often was at variance with reality. Here’s a guide to understanding whether the facts back up his rhetoric. Washington Post article‘Full text of inaugural address as prepared for delivery’ in Washington Post

Overseas, some react with alarm to Trump’s ‘America First’ pledge – In countries around the world, small demonstrations and alarmed reactions greeted Mr. Trump’s ascent to power and his inaugural pledge: “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first.” But some world leaders embraced the new reality, seeking to accommodate a galvanizing political force whose message has been echoed in mass movements across continents.  New York Times article

The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun — The effort to impeach President Donald John Trump is already underway. At the moment the new commander in chief was sworn in, a campaign to build public support for his impeachment went live at ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org, spearheaded by two liberal advocacy groups aiming to lay the groundwork for his eventual ejection from the White House. Washington Post article

California Senate leader Kevin de Leon on the inauguration: ‘I can’t say our country is united’ — Kevin de León didn’t say much during Friday’s inauguration ceremony, and neither did most of the staff and supporters gathered to watch it in his Echo Park office Friday. LA Times article

News Stories

Top Stories

‘A hidden health crisis’: Toxic stress driving up Kern death rates — An invisible disease has been killing middle-aged white people throughout the southern San Joaquin Valley at higher rates than ever before. The disease is toxic stress, a result of childhood trauma and other environmental stressors like poverty, food insecurity and basic living needs not being met. Bakersfield Californian article

Unused vacation, sick pay cost Merced County more than $1 million in 2016 — Merced County paid more than $1 million at the end of 2016 to employees who cashed out unused sick and vacation time, a perk officials say encourages staffers to come to work and is more generous that policies offered in nearby counties, a Sun-Star investigation has learned. Merced Sun-Star article

State’s flu season taking toll; twice as many outbreaks as normal – This flu season is shaping up to be among the worst in a decade, with more people infected far earlier than usual and more of them ending up hospitalized, state public health workers said Friday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Jobs and the Economy

Unemployment rates rise throughout Valley – Jobless rates rose throughout the eight-county San Joaquin Valley region in December 2016 but remain below the December 2015 rates, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department.  Here are the December 2016 numbers, followed in parentheses by the November 2016 and December 2015 numbers:

  • Fresno– 9.5 percent (9.3, 10.2)
  • Kern– 9.9 percent (9.1, 10.4)
  • Kings– 9.8 percent (9.3, 10.7)
  • Madera– 9.4 percent (8.9, 10.5)
  • Merced– 10.8 percent (9.4, 11.8)
  • San Joaquin– 8.0 percent (7.7, 8.7)
  • Stanislaus–8.3 percent (7.9, 9.1)
  • Tulare—11.5 percent (10.8, 12.2)

Job growth slowing in California; unemployment creeps up in Valley – California job growth slowed to a crawl in December, state officials reported Friday, suggesting a slowdown in the economy. Payrolls across the state grew by just 3,700 jobs in December, the Employment Development Department said. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Jobless rate in Fresno County drops to level not seen since 2007 — Fresno County’s annual average unemployment rate dipped below 10 percent last year – the first time it has been in single digits since 2007. The preliminary estimate is based on figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department for December. December’s monthly unemployment rate was 9.5 percent. It was the 63rd straight month of year-over-year improvement compared with the same month the year before. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Noel Perry, Ethan Elkind and Bethony Jones: State’s climate policies are boosting San Joaquin Valley’s economy – Perry, founder of Next 10; Elkind, director of climate programs for the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at UC Berkeley; and Jones, associate chair of UC Berkeley’s Donald Vial Center on Employment in the Green Economy write, “The bottom line is that California’s major climate programs are boosting the San Joaquin Valley’s economy. Lawmakers should remember that as they consider next steps, including extending the cap-and-trade system beyond 2020 in the face of a legal challenge and the potential loss of supporting policies at the federal level.” Perry/Elkind/Jones op-ed in Fresno Bee

Bill McEwen: Let’s raise the roof at Poverello House — The staff and volunteers at Poverello House are miracle workers. They have been since day one in 1973 when founder Mike McGarvin saw hunger on the streets of downtown Fresno and served the first batch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of the back of his car. But there comes a time when the daily miracles collide with reality. What Poverello House needs now is your support of the $2.5 million Raise the Roof campaign to rebuild its worn-out facilities. McEwen in Fresno BeeThe Business Journal article

STAND must provide documents in New Grand Save Market dispute — A judge ruled Friday that the nonprofit seeking to purchase the shuttered New Grand Save Market must provide documents related to the pending transaction for review by attorneys for the dollar-store chain that wants to buy the blighted property. Stockton Record article

Tribe wins major ruling in Elk Grove casino project — In a major boost for a proposed $400 million Indian casino in Elk Grove, the federal government has agreed to let the tribe acquire 36 acres of land in the suburb for the embattled project. Sacramento Bee article

HUD suspends FHA mortgage insurance rate cut an hour after Trump takes office —  An hour after Donald Trump assumed the presidency Friday, his administration indefinitely suspended a pending rate cut for mortgage insurance required for FHA-backed loans, which are popular with first-time home buyers and those with poor credit. LA Times article

Bay Area job growth is slowest in years — Bay Area job growth in 2016 was the slowest in several years, according to a state labor report released Friday, yet economists say they aren’t worried that this spells trouble for the region’s economy in 2017. East Bay Times article


Bob Holmes and Steve Webb: Maximum flows not achieving maximum benefits for Stanislaus salmon – Holmes, chairman of the South San Joaquin Irrigation District board of directors, and Webb, chairman of the Oakdale Irrigation District board of directors, write, “The study released this week by FishBio on the impact of fall pulse flows on salmon in the Stanislaus River should be mandatory reading for the men and women at the state water board. It uses scientific data gathered over 11 years to burst the myth that ‘more water equals more fish.’” Holmes/Webb op-ed in Modesto Bee

Next federal farm bill awaits ideas from Modesto area – It’s time to start sketching out the next federal farm bill, a five-year plan that affects producers and consumers of food. A Feb. 7 meeting in Modesto will be part of the process. It is one of five hosted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to gather ideas that could be sent on to Congress. Modesto Bee article

Roseville, Placer to join Sites Reservoir plan.  What it means for water storage plan – In a boost for the proposed Sites Reservoir northwest of Sacramento, the city of Roseville and the Placer County Water Agency have agreed to invest in the $4.4 billion project.  Sacramento Bee article

Thieves steal hundreds of beehives primed to pollinate Central Valley almonds – Montana beekeeper Lloyd Cunniff shipped his 488 hives of bees in fresh, new pallets to Northern California in late December, hoping to pollinate acres of almond trees in the Central Valley. But the bees never got to pollinate because thieves got to them first. LA Times article

Chicken industry pushes against movement that wants svelter, slower-growing birds — The chicken industry is pushing back against a growing campaign to move away from breeding larger birds that bulk up quickly, saying the “slow-growth” movement would use more energy, cost shoppers more money and possibly result in less protein on people’s plates. LA Times article

Plan targets farm labor abuses — North America’s largest produce industry groups have unveiled a plan aimed at ridding abusive labor conditions from supply chains, in a closely watched effort prompted by growing demand from consumers to know more about the food they eat. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Former Fresno deputy police chief says he is not guilty, but nephew links him to alleged drug sales – A nephew of Fresno’s former deputy police chief Keith Foster has pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to distribute and/or possess with intent to distribute marijuana. Fresno Bee article

NTSB report: Sun glare in pilot’s eyes contributed to fatal crash of law enforcement plane – The crash last year of a law enforcement plane that killed both the pilot and a deputy sheriff in Tulare County was partly caused by sun glare in the pilot’s eyes, according to the final accident report by the National Transportation Safety Board. Fresno Bee article

Police: 4 people shot in southeast Fresno — A 12-year-old boy is in critical condition after he and three other people were shot Friday afternoon in southeast Fresno, police report. Fresno Bee article

Kings considering anti-theft technology — Kings County sheriff’s deputies are considering adopting a new technology that could put a major dent in agricultural equipment theft and other cases of rural stealing. Hanford Sentinel article

Sacramento cop slaying suspect to lawyers: ‘I want to kill one of you’ — Luis Bracamontes, a suspect in the killing of two deputies, insisted Friday that he is guilty and wants to be sentenced to death, then threatened to kill his lawyers during an explosive court hearing that ended with deputies holding him by the scruff of his neck until he calmed down and was escorted back to jail. Sacramento Bee article

LA council members call for closer look at LAPD’s often-criticized disciplinary system —  As City Hall pushes a proposal that could give civilians a greater role in disciplining Los Angeles police officers, city lawmakers on Friday called for a closer examination of the police department’s often-criticized disciplinary system that could open the door to further changes. LA Times article


Reactions mixed at Fresno State as students watch Trump become president — The inauguration of Donald J. Trump as America’s 45th president caught the attention of Fresno State students, who gathered Friday in the Student Union to watch the event live on television. And, as occurred during the campaign, opinions were mixed. The mood was quiet as Trump took the oath of office and gave his first speech as president. Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield City School District administrators receiving raises, CSU Bakersfield mobility ranks among highest nationally — Three top administrators at the Bakersfield City School District are expected to receive raises and bonuses Tuesday, boosting most of their annual salaries to more than $160,000. Also, students graduating from Cal State Bakersfield are more likely to climb the rungs of society and earn higher incomes than graduates of other colleges and universities, according to a report released this week. Bakersfield Californian article

Sara Sandrik: The real scoop on school meals – The public information officer for the Merced City School District writes, “I recently had a chance to learn a lot more about the food we serve at Merced City School District campuses, and I’m happy to share that in this case looks can be deceiving in a good way. That’s because some of the items are made to appeal to kids’ palates while still meeting strict nutritional guidelines.” Sandrik column in Merced Sun-Star


San Joaquin County declares state of emergency – The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Friday to declare a local emergency due to the storms the region has experienced so far in 2017. Stockton Record article

Thunderstorms, feet of snow, flooding all part of wild winter weather – Friday’s wild weather will give way to scattered showers Saturday before the third and final storm in the current series of systems arrives. Fresno Bee articleModesto Bee article

California regulators detail path toward hitting ambitious climate goal – and the state has a lot of work to do — If California wants to hit its goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it has a lot of work to do. That’s the inescapable conclusion from a new reportreleased by the Air Resources Board on Friday, which detailed a range of proposals for new regulations. LA Times article

Kern River oilfield leaks shuts down nearby road — An oil leak has closed down a portion of China Grade Loop, Chevron reported Friday morning.  At about 7:30 a.m., Chevron worked discovered a small oil leak in Chevron’s Kern River oil field, a mile north of China Grade Loop near Chevron Way. Bakersfield Californian article

 Health/Human Services 

Fresno County woman confirmed as first Zika case through sexual contact – A woman is the first person in Fresno County confirmed to have contracted the Zika virus through sexual transmission, county health officials said Friday. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Flu season claims two more lives in Stanislaus County and an infant is seriously ill — Two more adults have died from the flu in Stanislaus County. The county Health Services Agency said the seasonal flu claimed the life of a 41-year-old man who had no underlying medical conditions. The man, whose name was not released, died on Wednesday. Modesto Bee article

First child death from flu reported this season in California as cases rise sharply — State public health officials on Friday morning reported the first death of a child in this year’s flu season. The death was in Riverside County. LA Times article

Health group’s mobile clinics aims to bring mammograms to more Merced women — A pink bus can solve the problem for women in Merced County who haven’t received a mammography screening in more than a year. Merced Sun-Star article

With group homes coming to an end, Stanislaus County seeks families to care for troubled foster kids — State-mandated reforms to foster care will eliminate group homes in Stanislaus and other counties, and bring other changes expected to challenge the child welfare system. Modesto Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Court allows 24th Street work to proceed; opponents to appeal — The City of Bakersfield will resume all work on the 24th Street widening project after a state appeals court denied opponents’ request for an injunction, officials announced Friday. Bakersfield Californian article


California drivers: Say goodbye to the Botts Dot, the bump that made your car go thump — California’s iconic Botts Dot, the bump that warns you’re drifting out of your lane, has reached the end of its road. After more than a half century of service, the safety device created by Elbert Botts in a Sacramento lab and once described by a state official as a loyal old dog, is expected to be relieved of duty sometime this year. Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee –- Instead of delivering the unifying message that America desperately needed, President Donald Trump gave a version of his campaign rally speeches. We are disappointed that Trump did not sound more presidential.