January 23, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Dan Walters: Feel-good efforts won’t solve California’s housing crisis — Two new documents – a report by the state housing agency and Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2017-18 budget – focus harsh economic reality on fanciful political “solutions” to the state’s severe housing crisis. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Trump’s judicial picks will affect far more than the Supreme Court – Federal courts will now turn to the right, as President Donald Trump puts his hands on the judicial tiller. Forget, for the moment, the sole Supreme Court vacancy that rivets so much political attention. Nationwide, an additional 113 federal judicial vacancies await immediate filling. These will be the judges who touch people’s lives, far more often than the justices on the highest court. McClatchy Newspapers article

How much is your vote worth? Here’s what California House candidates spent in 2016 – If you want to snag one of California’s 53 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, start saving: The average winner in 2016 spent $1.5 million to be a part of the country’s largest congressional delegation. LA Times article

State budget

Legislative Analyst Office believes Brown is lowballing numbers — Forecasters from the Legislative Analyst’s Office predicted in November that state revenues this year and next would be healthy, and they’re sticking to it in their latest budget outlook, despite economic pessimism underlying Gov. Brown’s proposed budget for next year. The difference could be a couple of billion dollars for K-12 schools and community colleges next year. EdSource article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California attorney general nominee faces final hurdle — In their first official action since Donald Trump became president, California lawmakers are poised vote Monday on confirming an attorney general nominee who has vowed to defend the state’s liberal policies against the Trump administration and the Republican Congress.  AP article

Other areas

Republicans race to find ACA repeal compromise – President Donald Trump wants Congress to move quickly this week to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, but congressional Republicans are far from consensus on a repeal-and-replace effort that won’t leave millions of their constituents without insurance. McClatchy Newspapers article

After they marched, 500 women learned how to run – for office – The day after the Women’s March brought half a million people to Washington, 500 women from across the country spent Sunday learning how to run for office. The candidate training held by EMILY’s List, the largest Democratic women’s group in the country, focused on overcoming the “intimidation factor” when navigating political campaigning, especially for women of color. It was the group’s largest training event. McClatchy Newspapers article

Visalia organizers: Women’s rights are human rights — Marchers wore heavy coats and gloves to keep warm as they headed down Court Street. Minutes into the march, a woman started humming, “We shall, we shall overcome.” Her friend began singing along quietly. Soon the entire crowd joined in. Visalia Times-Delta article

The battle over who goes to which bathroom is only heating up – The new year was barely a few days old before “bathroom bills” started popping up in state legislatures around the country. Despite the political and economic smack-down that North Carolina experienced last year after passing its own effort to restrict public restroom rights for transgender people, more states might be following suit this year.  McClatchy Newspapers article

The latest battlefront in the abortion wars: Regulations to bury or cremate fetuses — Over the last two years, at least five states have introduced requirements that healthcare facilities bury or cremate the remains from abortions, and in some cases also from miscarriages and stillbirths. The rules in Arkansas and North Carolina have already taken effect. Texas, Louisiana and Indiana are embroiled in lawsuits challenging their regulations, with a decision in the Texas case expected as soon as this week. LA Times article

New broadband privacy rules face perilous future — A fledgling federal rule to prevent Internet providers from harvesting and selling information about customers’ Web browsing without their consent appears destined for the chopping block under the Trump administration. San Francisco Chronicle article

Capitol Weekly Podcast: UC Davis Republicans — UC Davis College Republicans pulled the plug on a January 13 speaking event featuring far-right firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos and pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli after protests against the duo’s appearance overwhelmed campus security. The event was destined to court controversy – Breitbart editor Yiannopoulos is a vocal opponent of feminism and was banned from Twitter for conducting a harassment campaign against actress Leslie Jones; Shkreli came to prominence in 2015 for raising the price of a lifesaving drug that combats parasitic infections from $13.50 to $750 per pill in one day. Capitol Weekly Podcast

Presidential Politics

Trump aides defend inflated inauguration figures as ‘alternative facts’ — President Trump’s senior advisors defended White House attacks on the news media and incorrect claims about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, accusing news organizations Sunday of trying to undermine Trump’s legitimacy. LA Times articleWashington Post articleMcClatchy Newspapers articleNew York Times article

George Skelton: California is right to fight Trump.  His idea of states’ rights is clearly limited – President Donald Trump began his inaugural address with words that might have heartened nervous California Democrats. But then he warmed up and reverted to the familiar campaigner-in-chief. Like many Republican leaders, Trump preached states’ rights — or seemed to. Skelton column in LA Times

Trump won’t release his tax returns because people don’t care, top adviser says — Kellyanne Conway, a senior aide to President Donald Trump, said Sunday that he has no plans to release his tax returns, a marked shift from Trump’s pledge during the campaign to make them public once an audit was completed. Washington Post articleNew York Times article

Rocky first weekend for Trump troubles even his top aides – The lack of discipline troubled even senior members of Mr. Trump’s circle, some of whom had urged him not to indulge his simmering resentment at what he saw as unfair news coverage. Instead, Mr. Trump chose to listen to other aides who shared his outrage and desire to punch back. By the end of the weekend, he and his team were scrambling to get back on script. New York Times article

Trump’s White House sets an unapologetically aggressive tone in its first days – The presidential campaign is over, but Trump aides stuck to their election-year tactics in their first weekend in the White House. Over and over, aides laid down markers that they would continue to unapologetically present their version of events and challenge any perceived slights. LA Times article

Why Obama struggled at court, and why Trump may, too – Former President Barack Obama’s record, of winning about half his cases, is an outlier. But since the Reagan administration, each succeeding president has done worse than the last. New York Times article

Wikileaks blasts Trump’s decision to not release taxes, possibly ending a new alliance – In the span of a few years, WikiLeaks, the hacking organization responsible for some of the biggest leaks of classified information in recent history, enjoyed a surge in popularity among Republicans in the U.S. Now, that might be coming to a screeching halt. With two tweets Sunday, the organization offered a stinging critique of President Donald Trump. Specifically, WikiLeaks blasted the Trump administration’s announcement that it would not release his tax returns, a decision that is legal but departs from past precedent. McClatchy Newspapers article


  1. Craig Jenkins: Must we invoke Navy regulations against Trump? – The Bakersfield attorney and registered Republican writes, “Vice President-elect Mike Pence and our elected congressmen, including McCarthy, need to prepare immediately to deal with Trump’s projected and virtually assured inability to serve our country as a rational, ethical and safe president. Keying on Barack Obama’s Farewell Address, all American citizens and true patriots need to support ways and means to make America safe again. We can’t afford to await the passage of four years. We can’t waste any time.” Jenkins op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Will Trump’s tough talk on immigration cause a farm labor shortage? — In the Central Valley, there’s a bumper sticker you see all over the place. It’s shaped like California, and reads “My job depends on Ag.” In California, that agriculture depends on immigrant labor. Many farmers in the state supported President Donald Trump despite his hard-line stance on immigration. So as the new Trump administration takes office, what’s the thinking of those involved in the region’s biggest industry? NPR report

Fresno Unified teachers union faces anonymous criticism over bargaining, dues — An anonymous email sent to Fresno Unified employees bashes the Fresno Teachers Association for demanding a more public bargaining process and threatening to strike. In an email sent Jan. 12 from the address “savefta@gmail.com,” the sender claims that the FTA’s 4,000 members are being lied to by union leadership, alleging that member dues have been wrongly raised and that members should not attend contract negotiations like they’ve been encouraged to do. Fresno Bee article

Modesto draws interest for LA passenger flights — The president of Great Lakes Airlines reiterated his company’s interest in providing passenger flights between Modesto and Los Angeles. But Great Lakes needs pilots for those flights, and its search comes as the airline industry weathers a pilot shortage, which has hit smaller, regional carriers – including Cheyenne, Wyo.-based Great Lakes – hard. Modesto Bee article


Series of storms brings January rain total to 4 inches — A series of storms that hit the Valley throughout January have brought more than 4 inches of rain to some areas of Tulare County.  Visalia Times-Delta article

After years of drought, Sacramento confronts an old foe: Flood risk — In the years before California’s drought, it wasn’t unusual for Sacramentans to spend winters worrying about floods. After more than five years with little rain, the past two weeks delivered a bracing reminder that the region remains vulnerable to rising waters and overtopped levees. Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento police on right path to restore public trust — Sacramento police don’t have near the problems that Oakland police have had. But after the deaths of Mann and Flenaugh, the Sacramento Police Department’s reputation is blemished. With more training and the right community-minded chief, the Sacramento Police Department can rebuild trust. Sacramento Bee editorial

San Diego Sheriff’s Department begins using drone to find missing people, document crime scenes — Sheriff’s homicide detectives showed up at the house first. Next came the drone. As detectives began investigating the fatal shooting of a Pala woman last week, two deputies flew the drone over the outdoor homicide scene, taking aerial photos and videos that would become evidence. LA Times article

For new San Francisco Police Department Chief William Scott, earning officers’ trust is key — When William Scott is sworn in as San Francisco police chief Monday, he will be taking control of an embattled department facing a daunting set of challenges. But on the eve of his swearing-in ceremony, Scott told The Chronicle that it is not the push for reform, nor the outspoken union, nor the vocal activists calling for progress he sees as his biggest challenge — it’s earning the trust of his rank-and-file officers as an outsider chief. San Francisco Chronicle article

Glendale police provides tracking devices to families with members with dementia and other cognitive issues — The Glendale Police Department hopes a wearable piece of technology can help reduce the time it takes to locate a missing person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of cognitive disorders. LA Times article


Modesto City Schools to split board areas in time for November vote — The Modesto City Schools board took a decisive step toward dividing the district’s sprawling high school territory into seven trustee areas, pledging to get it done in time for election of a majority of its seats in November. Modesto Bee article

Marian Kaanon and Ken Riddick: Youth focus on a brighter future, but need help to grasp it – Kaanon, president and CEO of the Stanislaus Community Foundation, and Riddick, publisher and president of the Modesto Bee and Merced Sun-Star, write, “With local philanthropists and our partners in education and business, Stanislaus Futures and Focus on Futures will provide ‘last dollar in’ scholarships to college-bound students who demonstrate financial need. This will help fill a much-needed gap between a student’s financial aid package and the true cost of college.” Kaanon/Riddick op-ed in Modesto Bee

Pay more or move – tough choice faces UC Davis students in tight rental market — The Sterling project offers a glimpse into the polarizing debate in the community about new growth that has effectively stalled since Davis voters rejected the ambitious 46-acre Nishi Gateway project last year. City regulations generally prohibit developing the surrounding farmland, so new units would likely come from infill projects. The debate has pitted the university against some local residents, who believe UC Davis should bear sole responsibility for constructing housing to keep up with its enrollment goals. The school plans to add about 6,000 students over the next decade, up from 35,000 today. Sacramento Bee article


Stormy weather Sunday results in closures, multiple wind advisories – Stormy weather Sunday resulted in hazardous driving conditions in parts of Kern County, with some roads closed due to flooding, and strong, gusty winds reported on the Grapevine. Bakersfield Californian article

Widespread flooding, mudslides, evacuations as biggest storm in years batters California — The third in a series of powerful winter storms unleashed a deluge in Southern California on Sunday, flooding numerous roads and freeways, setting new rainfall records and stranding some in dangerously rising waters. LA Times article

Judge set to sentence PG&E in criminal case tied to blast — Pacific Gas & Electric Co. says it is prepared to pay the maximum fine of $3 million after a jury convicted the company of deliberately violating pipeline safety regulations before a deadly natural gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area.  AP article

Health/Human Services 

Only a third of California doctors are people of color, but 60 percent of its residents are — Fewer than half of doctors and nurses are people of color in California, a state where 60 percent of the population identifies as Latino, Asian American or African American, according to a new report. But mentoring, school support and other social programs can help end this disparity, states the report from Berkeley public policy group The Greenlining Institute. California Health Report article

A new path to help for victims of domestic violence — With SafeChatSV, survivors can reach a trained domestic violence advocate Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, between the hours of 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The interface of the chat system looks like any other website, which protects user privacy, and has an escape button at the top of the website, so users can exit the chat quickly if they feel unsafe. California Health Report article

Land Use/Housing

Stockton General Plan might require change in culture – The preliminary vision statement, released last October, envisions the Stockton of two decades from now as a “regional destination” with a bustling downtown and vibrant neighborhoods, well-paying jobs for residents young and old, and an array of transportation options that reduce the city’s carbon footprint. But perhaps the most important words in the statement appear in the sixth and final paragraph. Stockton Record article

Rescue Mission facing code violations, seeking new location for men’s program — After a routine inspection by the Merced Fire Department, the leaders of the Merced County Rescue Mission are looking for a safer facility for residents and those who rely on the mission’s services. The fire department visited the mission’s building on Canal Street on Jan. 10. Though the building wasn’t deemed uninhabitable, fire personnel found numerous safety hazards, Chief Michael Wilkinson said. Merced Sun-Star article


Why did Sacramento commuter train suddenly jolt? Amtrak isn’t saying — More than six weeks after a Sacramento passenger train jolted violently, injuring one passenger and causing others to fear it would derail, Amtrak officials still have not disclosed what happened and whether they have implemented safety changes. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Modesto probe of wastewater workers slogs along — It’s been about 12 weeks since The Modesto Bee wrote about several Modesto wastewater employees apparently goofing off on the job, seemingly taking an extra long lunch break on one workday and one of them appearing to be sleeping in his truck on another. And the city’s investigation into those allegations of public employee malfeasance? “It’s going slow,” Deputy City Manager Joe Lopez said. Modesto Bee article

Modesto clergy group gathers diverse crowd in solidarity against hate — Sunday’s event in downtown Modesto was organized by an ecumenical group with eight or so members from a variety of religious affiliations that meets regularly to foster communication. The event included music and speakers sharing their personal stories, guidance and hope. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California’s crumbling roads require a bipartisan fix.

Sacramento Bee –- Sacramento police are on right path to restore public trust.