January 9, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

This California Republican is hoping he’ll have more luck with his immigration reform idea under Trump — Rep. Jeff Denham has been at odds with his own party’s leadership on immigration reform before, but he’s trying again with this Congress, hoping a single comment from the president-elect is a sign his idea might have a chance. The Turlock Republican wants Congress to allow people who were brought to the country illegally as children to have the option to become citizens through military service. LA Times article

Obamacare repeal could punch $15 billion hole in state budget – When Gov. Jerry Brown unveils his 2017-18 budget Tuesday, there will be one huge question mark hanging over the proposal: What will it cost California when congressional Republicans follow through on their promise to dismantle Obamacare?  KQED report

State budget

California governor preps to release budget amid uncertainty — Gov. Jerry Brown will release a proposed state spending plan this week without knowing the answers to key questions that will have a massive effect on the state’s finances. Will California take a hit from new federal spending priorities under President-elect Donald Trump? How will the stock markets respond, affecting the incomes of wealthy taxpayers who provide a disproportionate share of state revenue? Depending on the answers, the budget proposal may be short-lived and substantially overhauled by the time Brown issues his required revision in May. AP article

Other areas

George Skelton: Eric Holder could be California’s MVP, or he could be a bust.  But odds are recruiting him was a good idea — Will Holder really hustle for his new Sacramento team? We’ll find out. But for now, his signing by state Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) seems smart. Skelton column in LA Times

Dan Walters: State Bar gets the message, begins to split functions — After the Legislature adjourned without passing a dues bill last year, the state Supreme Court authorized the State Bar to continue collecting most of its dues, which reduced the financial impact of the stalemate, although it did not get as much dues-collection authority as it had sought. With no immediate need for a dues bill, it appears that the Legislature will back off and allow the State Bar to work its way through the issue. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Steven Maviglio: Why aren’t Democrats bolder with supermajority? – The Democratic political consultant in Sacramento writes, “Democratic leaders should be applauded for quickly erecting roadblocks to Trump and GOP congressional efforts to shred the nation’s safety net and erase scores of landmark environmental and labor laws. But Democrats also should use their historic supermajority to get things done here in California, or they risk losing it in 2018.” Maviglio op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Capitol Weekly Podcast with David Quintana — We kick off 2017 with a visit to lobbyist David Quintana, the brains behind the Back to Session Bash – the hottest political party of the season – which is on track for Thursday, January 12. We get the lowdown on the origin of the bash, the best and worst moments of past Bashes, what, exactly, Coolio was buying at Rite Aid while he was supposed to be performing – and dig for details about this year’s SPECIAL GUEST.(Spoiler: NOT Beyonce.) Also featuring Viviana Becerra as official BtSB fact checker!  Capitol Weekly Podcast

Presidential Politics

California mogul with Mideast ties guides Trump’s inaugural – Thomas J. Barrack Jr. drew worldwide attention for bailing out Michael Jackson when the singer’s Neverland Ranch was on the brink of foreclosure. A couple years later, Barrack’s purchase of Miramax studios with actor Rob Lowe and other partners vaulted him into the Hollywood elite. Barrack was chairman of Miramax for six years. LA Times article

Obama says he didn’t underestimate Putin but did misjudge potency of misinformation – President Obama insisted in an interview that aired Sunday he did not underestimate Russian President Vladimir Putin when he dismissed Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign assessment that the country was the top U.S. geopolitical foe. But Obama acknowledged he may have misjudged Russia’s ability to tamper in the American electoral process. LA Times article

Trump was the elephant in the ballroom at Golden Globes — The biggest presence at Sunday’s Golden Globes was a TV star who didn’t show up, didn’t win an award, was not thanked and was only rarely mentioned by name. Hollywood’s first awards show of the year was — like so much in today’s headlines — brought to you by Donald J. Trump.  New York Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

How much did Kern High School District’s chicken suit victim take home after legal fees? — Mitch Carter, the former Bakersfield High School senior who infamously donned a chicken costume during a 2010 pep rally and then got pummeled by his teammates, gave up almost half his $10.5 million settlement to pay legal fees, according to documents reviewed by The Californian. Bakersfield Californian article

Another ruling says pension set at hire can be cut – A second appeals court panel has unanimously ruled that the public pension offered at hire can be cut without an offsetting new benefit, broadening support for what pension reformers call a “game changer” if the state Supreme Court agrees. Calpensions article

Jobs and the Economy

Rights battles emerge in cities where homelessness can be a crime – Growing numbers of homeless encampments have led to civic soul-searching in Denver and in cities around the country, from Philadelphia to Seattle. Should cities open up public spaces to their poorest residents, or sweep away camps that city leaders, neighbors and business groups see as islands of drugs and crime? New York Times article

A death blow for homeless tent city in Sacramento? — As the rivers keep rising, more and more homeless men and women move out of the woods and on to city streets. Sacramento’s homeless crisis is as severe as ever. A group of advocates pushing for a permitted homeless “safe ground” continue their campaign. But it sounds like they don’t have any friends left at City Hall. Sacramento Bee article

Jose Gaspar: What’s in store for East Hills Mall? — The new owners are being clandestine about their plans for the 36-acre plot of land whose biggest tenants are Wal-Mart, Target and a discount movie theater. Long gone are the main anchor stores such as Mervyn’s, Gottschalks and Harris. Today the enclosed part of the mall houses mostly small, family-run shops while many sites remain vacant, and it’s been that way for years. Gaspar column in Bakersfield Californian

Maintenance fees could go up in three north Merced homeowner districts — Three assessment districts in north Merced are facing increases in maintenance fees, and the city plans a town hall-style meeting to answer questions from homeowners there. Merced Sun-Star article

Homeless Merced residents seek shelter from the storms — For those in the community who live outside, the Merced shelter is prepared to help them keep dry and warm during what has been predicted as the most flooding the region has seen in the past 20 yearsMerced Sun-Star article


Walt Shubin: Quit your bellyaching and restore the San Joaquin River – The acting chairman of Fresno nonprofit Revive the San Joaquin writes, “We Californians pride ourselves on being good environmental stewards. What better test of our commitment than to follow the science, learn to live within nature’s limits and make the San Joaquin a great river again? Shubin op-ed in Fresno Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fitz’s Stockton: When life after crime does pay – F. Scott Fitzgerald (no relation) might not have written, “There are no second acts in American lives,” if he’d met Jeremy Meeks. Meeks is the Stockton gangsta whose hunky mug shot vaulted him to completely unexpected international Z-list celebrity in 2014. Fitz’s Stockton in Stockton Record

On Duty with the CHP: Hard hats and coveralls — For the California Highway Patrol, the safety of the motoring public is our top concern. But it isn’t just men and women dressed in tan uniforms, driving black-and-white cars or riding shiny motorcycles who are out there trying to save lives. The CHP has another division of men and women working hard to ensure traffic moves smoothly and safely throughout our state – motor carrier specialists. On Duty with the CHP column in Fresno Bee


New bill for safe drinking water in rural schools — Assemblyman Devon Mathis introduced a new bill primarily for the children and staff of new schools built in rural areas. The bill, AB68, guarantees schools have a safe and reliable supply of drinking water. Visalia Times-Delta article

Merced County’s first mock trial will be held in historic courthouse — Merced County students will compete in the region’s first mock trial event this week in a historical place where judgments were passed down. The District Attorney’s Office and Merced County Office of Education are partnering to host the first competition on Wednesday at the Merced County Courthouse Museum. Merced Sun-Star article

U.S. to make final decision on California science testing waiver ‘very shortly’ —  In a final administrative appeal, California education officials Friday again made their case before the U.S. Department of Education to begin administering online tests this spring based on new science standards, in lieu of a test based on standards established in 1998. EdSource article

USC taps diversity expert to run new research center on race and equity – USC has hired a leading expert on campus diversity and racial equity to launch a new research center on campus. Shaun R. Harper will join the USC Rossier School of Education in July as a professor and founder of the USC Race and Equity Center, the university announced Monday. LA Times article

Oakland teens to get a global perspective as they study abroad through pilot program — More than a dozen high school juniors in Oakland Unified are part of a new pilot program to allow low-income teens to study abroad. This month, they will travel to Thailand, where they will spend 11 weeks learning about the culture from host families, calling on a Buddhist monk and visiting a national elephant park. EdSource article


Bass Lake discharges may require evacuations, sheriff says — The Madera County Sheriff’s Office told North Fork-area residents Sunday night to be ready to evacuate amid an increase in water levels at Bass Lake.  Fresno Bee article

Storm causes few problems – While rainfall totaled more than an inch on Sunday throughout most of San Joaquin County, no major problems were reported as of early evening despite dire warnings of the incoming storm system. Stockton Record article

Modesto area avoids major storm problems — The Modesto area got through the heaviest rainfall without too many problems Sunday as a series of winter storms continue to pound the Northern San Joaquin Valley. But there’s still concern about flooding as rain is expected to continue to fall into Tuesday night. Modesto Bee article

Winter storm in Northern California becomes a ‘serious situation’ as widespread flooding, evacuations occur — The most powerful in a series of winter storms lashed Northern California and Nevada on Sunday with heavy rains and strong winds, causing widespread flooding, downing trees and unleashing mudslides. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

‘All they got was a slap on the hand.’ Is California low-balling penalties in nursing home death investigations? – Controversy over how the state penalizes facilities over suspicious patient deaths has been simmering for years, with elder-care advocates pushing for tougher oversight and harsher fines. The nursing home industry, meanwhile, has maintained that inspectors for the Department of Public Health have been uneven in their approaches, depending on which district office is in charge of an investigation.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley Crisis Center sheds light on human trafficking cases in Merced — For the first time in Merced, the Valley Crisis Center has an awareness presentation about human trafficking and what the community can do to spread the word. Merced Sun-Star article


Google’s self-driving minivan will start test drives this month in California and Arizona — Waymo, Google’s self-driving car division, will start testing its new fleet of minivans on public roads in California and Arizona this month. LA Times article

Uber to help cities get a better grasp on traffic patterns — Uber is offering a helping hand to some of the same city leaders it sometimes antagonizes with the aggressive way it runs its popular ride-hailing service. AP article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Who pays for the war on Planned Parenthood?

Sacramento Bee –- Sacramento County supervisors welcome a new member, could face tough year.