January 6, 2017


Political Stories- Top stories

Legislature doesn’t look like California, but in some ways it’s closer than before — The California lawmakers who returned to the Capitol this week as a group are younger and much more reflective of California’s diverse racial and ethnic makeup than their counterparts about two decades ago. In all of those categories, though, the state’s residents continue to look a lot different than the 120 people who, for the next two years, will be crafting a state budget, voting on hundred of bills, and taking other actions affecting their constituents’ lives. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: California’s attention-seeking politicos attack Trump, but hold weak hand — In an overwhelmingly Democratic state, ambitious politicians are trolling for attention, even in the national media, with risk-free, vainglorious denunciations of Trump.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

State budget

California voters just approved more taxes, but the new state budget could still be lean on cash –  In the six years since Gov. Jerry Brown returned to the state Capitol, his relatively parsimonious approach to state budgets has been consistent enough to leave few watchers expecting major surprises. But recent events in California and the nation suggest the fiscal proposal Brown unveils next week could be his most circumspect to date, even after voters in November approved billions of dollars in additional taxesLA Times article

California’s new budget program will take millions more to finish — A massive overhaul of the state’s accounting system launched in 2005 will take another two years and an extra $237 million to finish, according to a report released Thursday by state Auditor Elaine Howle. That estimate may be optimistic. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown 

House GOP asks Jerry Brown: How would you replace Obamacare? – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has written to Gov. Jerry Brown and the leaders of other states soliciting their input for replacing Obamacare.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Colleagues stunned by apparent suicide of Bakersfield city councilman — Newly sworn-in Bakersfield City Councilman Jeff Tkac took his own life Thursday, several sources told The Californian, stunning colleagues who saw no troubling signs during his second council meeting earlier in the week. Bakersfield Californian article

Jazz band and cheerleaders help welcome new Fresno mayor, council members — With all the appropriate pomp and ceremony – including a jazz band and cheerleaders – Fresno City Hall said goodbye to a former mayor and City Council members, and greeted a new administration Thursday. Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Former LA Rams star Rosey Grier says he plans to run for governor of California — California’s 2018 race for governor just might get a little more fearsome. Former Los Angeles Rams football player Rosey Grier, who was a member of the famous “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line in the 1960s, says he plans to run for governor. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article


Congress looks to start building a Mexican border wall within months – In a bid to swiftly deliver on one of President-elect Donald Trump’s chief campaign promises, congressional Republicans are exploring ways to begin funding a barrier on the U.S. southern border starting as soon as April. Washington Post article

In challenge to Trump, California lawmaker seeks expansion of in-state tuition for immigrants in the U.S. illegally — In another challenge to the immigration crackdown proposed by President-elect Donald Trump, a California lawmaker proposed Thursday to greatly expand the number of students in the country illegally who can get discounted, in-state resident tuition at state universities. LA Times article

Other areas

California police would have to disclose the use of more surveillance devices under this proposed law —  In what will likely become another battle over the balance between privacy and public safety, new legislation at the state Capitol would expand the list of electronic surveillance devices that California law enforcement agencies must disclose to the public. LA Times article

Can a law stop distracted driving? California hopes to find out – Thousands of people die in distracted driving accidents every year, and California is hoping to do something about it. This week, as a new law went into effect in the state with an aim toward cutting the number of drivers using smartphones, federal data is scheduled to be released that shows that more than 3,400 people were killed in accidents that involved at least one distracted driver in 2015.  New York Times article

Joel Fox: Eric Holder to save the CA economy? — What caught my attention when legislative leaders hired former United States Attorney General Eric Holder was not the obvious rationale expected of the Democratic majority promising resistance to a Trump presidency on issues of immigration, climate change and health care, or even the need and expense for such a move considering the state Attorney General’s role to stand up for California, but the expectation that Holder’s law firm will help preserve California’s economy. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Danny Morrison: Do the ‘write’ thing and erase ‘eracism’ — We, as a community, need to continue to share dialogue with one another regarding race and multiculturalism. I will continue to do my part to expose racial inequities, cultural imbalances and lack of diversity. I hope that by reading them, readers might better see things from a POC’s perspective and be more responsive to the reality that surrounds us all. Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian

Sacramento City Council embraces transparency provisions pushed by Mayor Steinberg — After a year of unsuccessful efforts by advocacy groups to strengthen a proposed sunshine ordinance, the Sacramento City Council on Thursday embraced a stronger transparency plan presented by Mayor Darrell Steinberg. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Sen. Dianne Feinstein will stand between Trump’s nominees and power – Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has positioned herself at the busy intersection of law and politics, starting with next week’s confirmation hearing for President-elect Donald Trump’s contentious choice for attorney general. McClatchy Newspapers article

Early presidential primary could benefit one Californian above others – Unsaid by Mullin and other supporters of shifting the primary date up from June is that it could benefit one Californian in particular: Newly-minted U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, whose gut appeal among party loyalists has been landing her on White House shortlists long before she arrived in Washington. Sacramento Bee article

Farm groups pitch Trump on picking former California Lt. Gov. Maldonado as Agriculture secretary — On the heels of Abel Maldonado’s visit with President-elect Donald Trumplast week, major farm groups in California are urging the incoming president to pick the former lieutenant governor to lead the federal Agriculture Department. LA Times article

Americans don’t want to scrap Obamacare without something to replace it, new poll shows — The vast majority of Americans do not support Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act without enacting a replacement, a new nationwide poll finds. LA Times article

Bill Whalen: What will Feinstein, Harris do on judicial nominees? — California has nine vacancies on the federal bench. Traditionally, unless both home-state senators support a nominee, the nomination won’t go forward. That gives Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris extraordinary sway on California judicial nominees. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

News Stories

Top Stories

Economic outlook: Solid, but not great – The economic outlook for San Joaquin County is solid and good, but it’s not great for the near-term, according to experts. The San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted its seventh annual Business Forecast Conference at University of the Pacific on Thursday, and Jeffrey Michael, the college’s director of the Center for Business and Policy research, said he feels pretty good about 2017. Stockton Record article

Tenants of Fresno’s Hotel California must clear out after city says it’s a fire hazard — Fresno officials red-tagged a central-Fresno motel Thursday after deeming it a fire hazard. City Manager Bruce Rudd said Hotel California, near Roeding Park at 530 N. Weber Ave., is unsafe because of bad wiring. The hotel owner will have to relocate the tenants while fixes are made. Otherwise, the city will work with local agencies to find them new shelter and charge the owner for any costs. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Atwater leaders at odds over city’s financial standing –  A special meeting to discuss the city’s finances has some of its members calling to declare a “fiscal emergency” in the city budget. Merced Sun-Star article

Dole plant to close, 30 workers affected – A central Stockton food processing plant that makes a frozen yogurt product sold in grocery stores is shutting down at the end of the month, eliminating jobs for 30 production and management employees. Stockton Record article

Closing: Fresno costume and party store to sell last plastic lobster decoration — After 63 years, downtown Fresno costume and party shop Valley Novelty is closing. The store, at 2902 Ventura St., is planning to close Jan. 16. An 80 percent off sale is rapidly thinning the merchandise on the shelves, leaving behind an odd collection of items ranging from big red plastic lobster decorations to foam heads that once held wigs. Fresno Bee article

Department stores, once anchors at malls, have become millstones – For decades, a corner spot at the mall was a sure path to success for big American department stores like Macy’s. Not anymore. Those stores have been outmaneuvered by online retailers like Amazon and discount retailers like T. J. Maxx. And now the pace of change is accelerating, transforming the retail industry faster than expected. New York Times article

Local Macy’s stores spared from closing – As department stores shutter, Visalia’s Macy’s Sears and Kmart have been saved from the chopping block. Visalia Times-Delta article

Donna Davis: Starting a business? Here’s how SBA helped Valley entrepreneurs last year – SBA’s Region XI administrator writes, “As December drew to a close, the SBA celebrated the successes of entrepreneurs across the San Joaquin Valley who used our capital, counseling and contracting initiatives to start and grow their companies last year. Looking to 2017, the SBA will continue making our programs and services smart, bold and accessible – because when small businesses succeed, this region and our nation do, too.” Davis op-ed in Fresno Bee

More than 1,200 homeless veterans living on LA streets still need housing — More than 1,200 veterans are living on Los Angeles streets, thwarting Mayor Eric Garcetti’s repeated pledges to end the city’s soaring rates of veteran homelessness, officials said Thursday. LA Times article

Eagle Mountain pushed forward to bring casino to Porterville — Eagle Mountain is moving forward with plans to open its casino in Porterville. A public scoping meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 23 to go over plans to relocate the Tule River Indian Tribe’s Eagle Mountain Casino to a location in the south part of Porterville. Visalia Times-Delta article

Steinberg asks city to examine Arden Mall’s ban on unaccompanied teens — After listening to a black grandmother voice concerns about perceived racial profiling, Mayor Darrell Steinberg on Thursday asked the Sacramento city attorney to review a policy at Arden Fair mall that banned unaccompanied minors the day after Christmas. Sacramento Bee article


Drought persists as rain outlook improves — The new year is off to a wet start following one of Kings County’s best years for rain in a while, but a year that still didn’t bring enough rain to bring totals to annual averages. Hanford Sentinel article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

‘Freed But Forgotten’ – New report examines unintended impacts of Prop 47 — It’s been over two years now since California voters approved Proposition 47, a measure which categorized many drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. It’s led to a reduction in the state’s prison population. But it’s also led to other issues, like the many former felons who are now out of jail, but lacking support services to transition to freedom. Valley Public Radio report

Fresno County deputy in crash is recovering in hospital, family says — The family of a Fresno County Sheriff’s deputy who was hurt in a crash Tuesday on Highway 180 near Chateau Fresno has released a statement on his condition. He was still hospitalized as of Thursday. Fresno Bee article

Robin Abcarian: Drug war overkill: A pot bust against legal growers in Yolo County seems to go too far —  If ever you needed proof that we live in an age of confusion about marijuana laws, let me share with you the story of Ted Hicks and Ryan Mears, two Sacramento-area entrepreneurs who decided to start a legal medical cannabis business last year and ended up on the business end of assault rifles wielded by officers from a multi-agency, anti-drug task force. Abcarian column in LA Times


Dorothy Leland: Why Trump should continue DACA – UC Merced’s chancellor writes, “Our DACA students are American in every other way that matters. Some have served honorably in our armed forces. They are law abiding. They have worked hard to learn a new language, adapt to new ways and excel as students. They are an important part of our future, and they give me hope.” Leland op-ed in Modesto Bee

California schools earn C- in national ranking — Education leaders in recent years have lauded achievement gains and progress of California’s K-12 students, but an annual national report card has rated the Golden State below mediocre — a solid C-minus, 10th from the bottom among the 50 states and Washington, D.C. East Bay Times article

Sacramento Bee: UC Davis, Sacramento make a promising team – As UC Davis moves beyond Katehi’s unfortunate end, the university and the city should work to build on her vision of moving some parts of the university to this east side of the causeway.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Migrant students pass over winter break for exercise camp — While most Bakersfield kids spent their winter vacation lazing about the house, watching television or vacationing with family, about 50 migrant students gave up their holiday break to attend a nutritional exercise camp. Bakersfield Californian article

Fong was first Asian teacher at Stockton Unified — Esther Fong, who in 1950 became the first Chinese-American educator in the Stockton Unified School District and who taught second grade for several decades, has died. She was 88. Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services

Death rate from cancer projected to be 25 percent lower than it was 25 years ago, report says —  In the year to come, an estimated 1,688,780 in the United States are expected to get a cancer diagnosis, and cancer will claim the lives of a projected 600,920. That death toll, however grim, represents a death rate from cancer that is 25% lower than it was a quarter-century ago — a drop driven by steady reductions in smoking rates and advances in early detection and treatment. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Lenny Mendonca and Pete Weber: No one is coming to the rescue to solve California’s housing crisis.   Let’s do it ourselves – The co-chairs of the California Forward Leadership Council write, “California Forward and the California Economic Summit are committed to supporting these efforts in the year ahead—pushing for legislative solutions that address the scale of the problem and assisting communities that want to move forward now. Today, though, too many groups are still in their corners, waiting for someone else to move first. We know where this leads—to gridlock, to empty solutions, and to premature declarations of victory. To solve the housing crisis, we will have to do more. We will have to do it together. Most importantly, we have to start now.” Mendonca/Weber op-ed in California Economic Summit

Jo Anne Mounce: Cities in need of state to help on housing issues – The Lodi City Council member writes, “For the 2017 session, the state legislature must confront a number of critical problems, and for a growing number of Californians the most pressing issue remains the difficulty of finding an affordable place to live. Contributing to these challenges is a lag in private market housing construction levels and the elimination of affordable housing resources.” Mounce op-ed in Stockton Record


Hanford bus terminal could be moved — The bus station in downtown Hanford is too crowded and may need to relocate, according to officials familiar with the operation of the Kings Area Rural Transit bus system serving primarily Hanford and Lemoore. Hanford Sentinel article

Other areas

What the government isn’t telling you: The pig incident at the fair — A state inquiry into whether the Kern County Fair falsified documents to allow a disqualified pig to be sold at auction is complete, but the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which conducted the investigation, has refused The Californian’s repeated requests for a copy of the report. Bakersfield Californian article

Mark Salvaggio: New county chief should wield power – The former Bakersfield City Council member writes, “The next three years will be interesting to watch as our board continues to struggle with eliminating the County’s huge general fund and fire fund deficits. Will the board make the additional necessary budget cuts like they did a few months ago? Will the board streamline the various departments? Will the board eliminate waste via Lean Six Sigma, a methodology system that needs more public scrutiny and buy-in to earn credibility with both county employees and the public eye? Will the new CAO stick to a hard hiring freeze or capitulate to department head requests for new hires? Our supervisors are now on the right budgetary path now. They have put a few departments under the authority of the CAO’s office. They need to stick to it.” Salvaggio op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

David Collins: Homeless animals deserve respect, too – The sales representative with Commercial Trade, Inc. writes, “In light of the current situation at our local animal shelters, let’s consider adopting household animals instead of buying, spay and neutering current pets and notifying the authorities of stray animals in our communities. All of which helps to power the awareness that homeless animals deserve respect, too.” Collins op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Michael Fitzgerald: Why KCRA ‘went dark’ on DirecTV — The NBC affiliate has “gone dark” on DirecTV in a contract dispute with the cable provider. If you surf to the KCRA cable channel, all you see is a lame sign. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Instead of attacking Obamacare, a program that has worked to provide coverage to 20 million Americans, Congress ought to turn its attention to the health care cost drivers. One place to start is with the high cost of drugs.

Merced Sun-Star – Let’s not block the road to driverless cars.

Sacramento Bee –- As UC Davis moves beyond Katehi’s unfortunate end, the university and the city should work to build on her vision of moving some parts of the university to this east side of the causeway; Why Trump’s denial on Russian hacking is so dangerous.