July 17, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Dan Walters: Is rape a violent crime? AG Kamala Harris offers two definitions — Attorney General Kamala Harris recently released her annual report on crime, revealing that in 2015, violent crimes jumped 10 percent from the previous year. Digging into the voluminous report’s appendix reveals the dozens of specific assaults in the Penal Code it deems to be rape and therefore violent crimes. However, another Harris document – her official summary of Gov. Jerry Brown’s criminal sentencing measure on the November ballot – has a much different take. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Bound or unbound, Trump delegates from Valley as loyal as ever — Delegates from California have started to arrive in Cleveland in preparation for the four-day Republican National Convention that will take place Sunday through Thursday. And despite a push last week by some moderate Republicans to “Dump Trump,” the delegates from the Fresno area say they are committed to the presumptive nominee. Fresno Bee article

Valley politics

‘Off the Press’ to debut next week on Bakersfield.com — TBC Media will take this year’s crop of political candidates “Off the Press” next week when it launches a new online political talk show on bakersfield.com. “Off the Press” is an hour-long talk show hosted by Bakersfield Californian government and political reporters and political veterans Nicole Parra and Russell Johnson. It aims to give voters a more personal look into the lives of the people running for office in Kern County this year. Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Leader of effort to overturn gun laws is enlisting firearms shops for help – A San Diego-area businessman who filed papers seeking referenda to overturn six gun control laws said Saturday that he is part of a group of up to 100 activists who feel the measures were rushed through without considering public opinion. LA Times article 

Keepers of the bud split on California marijuana legalization – A potent tension is disturbing the aromatic green fields and verdant centers of marijuana commerce in California as pot farmers and weed merchants brood over a future that is even more uncertain as the corporate world cozies up to the smokable herb. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Darry Sragow and Rob Pyers: Let’s check prevailing political wisdom with California primary facts – Sragow, longtime Democratic strategist and publisher of The California Target Book, and Pyers, research director of the California Target Book, write, “If the 2016 race has taught us anything, it is that anyone can be a pundit and insiders will be prone to ascribe meaning and discern trends where often none exists. But the reality remains: California is a unique place politically. Were the heavily Democratic primary results an anomaly of the Clinton-Sanders faceoff, or do they portend a Democratic landslide in the fall? That will be determined by what the voters do, not what the political elites expect them to do.” Sragow/Pyers op-ed in Sacramento Bee


For regular crossers of the U.S.-Mexico border, waiting is part of the routine — Lines of red taillights greet Jerry Jackson each morning as he launches his commute to downtown San Diego. For the 34-year-old Tijuana resident, getting to work means crossing an international border, and that often entails a two-hour wait. LA Times article

Other areas 

New activists create challenges – and opportunity – for Black Lives Matter — Brianna Cormier, a recent graduate of Valley High School, couldn’t stop watching the viral video showing what happened after a police officer shot an African American man during a traffic stop in Minnesota more than a week ago. Like many Americans – 5.7 million have viewed the video so far – she was transfixed by cellphone footage taken in the car by his girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, and posted on Facebook. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Dan Morain: Ghost of Prop 187 rises as Donald Trump ascends – Sooner or later, what happens in California politics spreads east, something Republicans massing in Cleveland seem to be ignoring at their peril. Morain in Sacramento Bee 

Cathleen Decker: In times of tumult, Trump and Clinton compete to be seen as the better leader – Two successive weeks of political conventions meant to frame the November choice for president kick off this week nearly obscured by violence and terror here and abroad. Decker in LA Times 

Rachel Casey, hit by eggs, toasts with California Republicans — While California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte challenged “all comers” to a cannonball contest at a waterpark far away from the national convention in Cleveland on Saturday, delegates gathered at the bar to take selfies with a woman whose grimace went viral after demonstrators pelted her with eggs outside a Donald Trump rally last month in San Jose. Sacramento Bee article 

Willie Brown: Trump’s VP pick frees him from having to pander to the right – Donald Trump was looking for more than just a running mate when he selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential candidate. He was looking for an apologist. In terms of straight politics, Trump did exactly what he needed to do by picking Pence. He covered his back. Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

 What Donald Trump must do before the end of the GOP convention — As its master of ceremonies, presumptive GOP nominee Trump has promised to make the four-day convention entertaining and, like he describes his foreign policy, “unpredictable.” But beyond fronting a compelling show, Trump needs to accomplish five political goals by the time the balloons tumble from the rafters of Quicken Loans Arena Thursday night after he delivers his acceptance speech. San Francisco Chronicle article

News Stories

Top Stories

Swearengin pleads for communication, healing in wake of recent crises — Mayor Ashley Swearengin and a coalition of community leaders came together on Saturday to begin a dialogue toward healing and progress, just a week after a protest against police brutality erupted on the streets of north Fresno. Fresno Bee article 

In search for truth, policies govern use, access of Fresno police body camera videos — Graphic videos from body cameras worn by two Fresno police officers who shot and killed an unarmed 19-year-old last month are focusing attention on the cameras as an investigative tool and on policies governing their use and access to the videos. Fresno Bee article 

Fingers pointing over courthouse construction crisis – News that money might run short for building new courthouses in Modesto, Sonora and 21 other cities has launched a high-level blame game. Five area legislators from both major parties fired off a scathing letter Friday to the California Judicial Council, railing on “a lack of organization and leadership” and accusing the agency of ignoring a gaping funding sinkhole. Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy 

Mick Gleason: Kern County government’s daunting budget challenge – The chair of the Kern County Board of Supervisors writes, “To say that Kern County faces a challenging budget is a gross understatement. The $81 million loss of oil and gas property tax revenue over the past two years has been staggering, by far the largest decline in Kern County history. These revenue losses are here to stay and may never be fully restored.” Gleason op-ed in Bakersfield Californian 

Key player in Modesto’s SCAP fiasco is manager of Merced food bank — He was Joe Gibbs to colleagues and people who followed the turmoil five years ago with the Stanislaus Community Assistance Project in Modesto, a government-funded nonprofit housing agency commonly known as SCAP. Today, he goes by Bill Gibbs as executive director of the Merced County Food Bank. Modesto Bee article 

After 25 years of taxation, California newspapers on verge of tax break – As the state slid into recession in the early 1990s, California lawmakers voted to extend the sales tax to cover newspapers and other goods, brushing aside industry complaints that the proposal was unfair and infringed upon free speech rights. Multiple bills to repeal the tax failed. But now, a quarter-century later, the state is poised to more than halve the sales tax hit on newspapers, in belated recognition of massive shifts in the industry’s business model. Sacramento Bee article 

Reed Fujii: What goes around, comes around, but it’s never the same — The regional economy is shaking off the last of a decade-long hangover and again is on the upswing. But this time the growth in business activity and employment seems real, underpinned by the county’s strong highway, rail and maritime transportation network. As I close out my career with The Record, here are some observations from 16 years of covering local business and the economy, in no particular order. Fujii in Stockton Record


Lois Henry: The groundwater games continue – Don’t expect the same level of drama at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting over groundwater. This will be a pale version of last month’s torrid groundwater meeting.  But that doesn’t mean bad feelings aren’t festering. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Lewis Griswold: Less water in Sierra rivers is ‘new normal’ — John Austin of Three Rivers visited the Tulare County Water Commission last week to relay his new presentation about droughts and water availability in California. The latest research shows less water in Sierra rivers than previous dry and wet years and higher average temperatures, he said. Griswold in Fresno Bee 

David Gutierrez: Study revealing California’s ‘water windfall’ overhyped – The executive program manager for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Program at the California Department of Water Resources writes, “We’re still in drought, our water needs are many, and no miracle supply discovery has saved us. We are already on the best path forward: Communities are working together to create groundwater sustainability agencies and plans to bring California’s reasonably accessible groundwater basins into balance, providing a future supply of high-quality water for many generations to come.” Gutierrez op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

In south Bakersfield, seconds of shooting, then chaos — It was just before 1 a.m. Saturday when Walter Vides got back to his south Bakersfield home from a late shift at work. Across the street, his neighbor’s daughter was throwing a house party with more than 100 people in the front and back yards. Minutes later, he heard a barrage of gunfire, then chaos. Kids as young as 13 were riddled with bullets, running to escape the two gun-wielding teenagers and a third who police suspect were tossed from the house party and came back for revenge. They injured 14 people, firing off more than 30 rounds into the night. They are still on the loose. Bakersfield Californian article 

How transparent with the LAPD be on releasing videos of police shootings, other controversial encounters? — This week, amid heightened scrutiny over police shootings across the country, the issue took on new life when the president of the L.A. Police Commission said it was time to reconsider the LAPD’s stance. In addition, Beck said he would be open to releasing certain footage “at the proper time in the proper framework” and that LAPD officials have been closely monitoring a new approach taken by San Diego authorities. LA Times article


UC regents consider tougher rules on outside pay for top administrators – University of California regents this week will consider new restrictions on when top administrators can accept outside work after months of controversy about lucrative board positions UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi had with a textbook publisher and for-profit university. Sacramento Bee article 

Feeding children when school is out — Sara Garcia and her 8-year-old son, Xavier Tafoya, were playing Pokemon Go on Thursday morning when they came across a group serving lunch at Libby Lane Park in Lathrop. The event had been organized by the Manteca Unified School District as part of Seamless Summer Option, a federal program that helps provide free meals to children 2 to 18 years of age, and it was one of the dozens of sites throughout the county that day. Stockton Record article 

Charter school and union unite on wanting LA Unified to pay retiree benefits for charter teachers — The local teachers union has made rare common cause with a charter school: They are pressing to have the Los Angeles school district — not the charter — pay for costly retiree benefits that are due to teachers who worked at the charter. LA Times article


Erskine Fire’s pain could extend well into the future — Erskine Fire victims could get more help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency now Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom has asked President Barack Obama for a federal disaster declaration because of the 18-day blaze that burned 75 square miles in eastern Kern. Bakersfield Californian article 

Energy guzzlers no more: Data centers finally using less electricity, new study finds — A decade ago, they were widely feared as the source of a huge new environmental problem. America’s data centers, the vast storehouses of computers that hold everything from Facebook pages to Netflix movies to billions of emails, were guzzling electricity at a ferocious rate, increasing air pollution and greenhouse gases as internet use grew by leaps and bounds. But a new study shows that data centers, also commonly known as “server farms,” have slimmed down dramatically. San Jose Mercury News article 

Health/Human Services 

Fresno County uniting to make black babies’ lives matter — Obstacles to a healthy pregnancy remain for black women in Fresno County, but in the past year the community has united to reduce the infant mortality. Funding has increased for a longtime Black Infant Health program while new programs are taking shape. And for the first time, black women and men are being asked to help guide the effort. Fresno Bee articleFresno Bee editorial

A life newly balanced: Perez’s premature baby restores purpose — Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez was buzzed into the neonatal intensive care unit at Kern Medical Center Friday afternoon and walked through the room to a clear plastic incubator with a little person inside, snug in a nest of blanket bolsters. “Noah” read the name tag on the machine. A nurse came over and Perez chatted with her for a moment. The supervisor asked where Noah’s thick nose tube was. Bakersfield Californian article 

Mike Klocke: Don’t allow more delays for local VA clinic — For the better part of a decade, there have been promises — some kept, many broken — from the federal government about a new veterans clinic in French Camp. There have been fits and starts. Mostly fits. Klocke in Stockton Record 

Fighting poor nutrition among California seniors – with a food truck — Many older Californians simply don’t have enough to eat. California is a leading state in which seniors have become among “the hidden poor,” according to a 2015 study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Nearly 1 in 5, or about 772,000, of California’s adults older than 65 cannot afford basic needs such as food, housing, transportation and health care, but often do not qualify for public assistance, the study found. Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Modesto soccer league nearing its goal — A youth soccer league that serves hundreds of children in west and south Modesto soon could have a home of its own, a 14-acre soccer complex that will be built through community donations, the volunteer labor of parents, and a little help from local government. Modesto Bee article


Should rule-breaking cyclists be sent to bike traffic school? – Bicyclists ticketed for unsafe riding should be allowed to attend bike traffic school instead of being hit with a big fine, a Sacramento city councilman says. Steve Hansen said he plans to propose the idea in two weeks when the council takes up a controversial ordinance about sidewalk bicycling. Sacramento Bee article

Donald W. Blount: Share the road — I rode my motorcycle into work Tuesday, the day after a 35-year-old Stockton man was killed when his motorcycle collided with a car on southbound Quail Lakes Drive. These types of accidents always made me shudder, even before I began motorcycling in September. Blount column in Stockton Record 

Other areas 

Illegal fireworks ‘totally out of hand’: San Joaquin County communities search for solutions – Some residents argue that even safe and sane fireworks, legalized by cities to raise money for nonprofit groups, should be outlawed. This, they say, would make enforcement easier by eliminating any possible confusion. Others say illegal fireworks coming from out of state are a problem everywhere, even where there is a complete prohibition on fireworks. A Stockton city spokeswoman said it’s too soon to tell what recommendations or suggestions city staff might have in response to Holman’s request. Stockton Record article 

Kings cities at odds with cat population — Hanford and Lemoore are both considering policies to address the growing population of stray and feral cats, but some people don’t agree with their methods. Hanford Sentinel article 

Foon Rhee: A mixed verdict on jury duty – California isn’t considering any jury improvements. That’s too bad, especially since difficulty finding jurors comes up as a reason to change how trials are conducted. Rhee in Sacramento Bee 

Stella Beratlis is Modesto’s 7th poet laureate — Stella Beratlis is Modesto’s poet laureate for 2016-18, the city of Modesto announced. Beratlis has been a Modesto resident since 1979 and is manager of the Tracy library. Modesto Bee article 

Michael Fitzgerald: A new club for serious writers — If, as a writer, you can’t find good material in Stockton, you should leave the trade. So I’m surprised there aren’t more published writers around these parts. Perhaps if you’re not prodigiously gifted, able to birth a great novel by yourself like, say, Maxine Hong Kingston somehow did, few locals can help and midwife. That may be changing. Local writers are forming a branch of the California Writer’s Club. The Club traces its roots to 1909, Jack London, and other scribes of that era. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The message from protesters marching on Fresno’s streets this month has been that Black Lives Matter. We’d like to add this to the discussion: Black Babies’ Lives Matter, Too!

Sacramento Bee – In this chaotic landscape, Donald Trump and Mike Pence represent two of many motley factions. And unless the Republicans can find some common cause – and a way to communicate with one voice – there’s not much between them to make America great; Vacation is good for you.