July 17, 2017





Escaping the ‘distractions’ in Atwater, administrator is given Merced job

Merced Sun Star

An Atwater administrator caught up in controversy during the city’s last several months of a city manager search has been hired in Merced, leaders announced last week.




Exploitation or opportunity? California’s Capitol employs army of unpaid interns

Sacramento Bee

It’s summer in Sacramento, and an army of interns is answering phones, writing news releases and performing other tasks in the state Capitol. They’re also working at various nonprofits and for-profit firms around town.  (Note:  Our intern program was noted as one of the exceptions to the rule.)


Republicans introduce climate spending measure

Sacramento Bee

Republicans proposed a constitutional amendment Friday that could help win their support for legislation to extend the state’s climate-fighting cap-and-trade program.  The new measure, written by Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes, would give the minority party more say over how the program’s revenues are spent.


Keep an eye on these bills in the California Legislature

San Francisco Chronicle

With the summer recess rapidly approaching, the California Legislature is knuckling down to make decisions on many important bills. While it won’t take final votes until the fall, many bills need to get out of committee this month.


Google San Jose: Can the search giant prevent traffic, housing woes?

San Jose Mercury News

Google will be traveling a razor’s edge of love and hate all the way to its planned new 20,000-worker San Jose campus as it brings jobs and star power to a city that needs both while delivering extra helpings of the ills that have sparked public ire against Silicon Valley’s big technology companies.


PolitiFact California’s Top 10 fact checks (so far) in 2017

PolitiFact California
Top Ten fact checks of 2017 (so far) range from a TRUE claim on CA poverty to a Travis Allen.




Caitlyn Jenner considering a bid for U.S. Senate in California

Los Angeles Times

Caitlyn Jenner, the Olympic gold medalist, reality show star and transgender activist, is weighing a run for the U.S. Senate representing California.




Why government is the problem

Hoover Institution

Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman’s essay “Why Government is the Problem”



With the best of intentions, a California rule leads to dropouts and splits families

Fresno Bee

No doubt with good and sincere intentions, California under Gov. Pat Brown in the 1960s built housing for migrant farmworkers, who too often would have no place to sleep after toiling in the fields.


A cap and trade deal worth supporting

Merced Sun Star

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 will be tough. Gov. Jerry Brown, legislators and others who fashioned the extension of cap and trade sought to limit economic disruption.


Jerry Brown wheels and makes deals, as the cap-and-trade vote goes down to the wire

Sacramento Bee

Call it what it is: Sausage making, horse-trading, brinkmanship or just plain legislating. Gov. Jerry Brown is laying his prestige and power on the line to wrest a two-thirds vote out of the Legislature to extend California’s cap-and-trade program.


Legislature must focus on the big picture for climate change.

San Francisco Chronicle

There are few challenges more crucial to Gov. Jerry Brown’s last term in the governor’s office than extending California’s cap-and-trade program.





Obscure regulation breaks up migrant farmworker families

Sacramento Bee

California’s Office of Migrant Services has something called the 50-mile regulation.The policy – which defines migrant workers differently than any other state or federal agency – requires that those who live in any one of California’s 24 migrant housing centers move every six months, at least 50 miles away.


Are we doing enough to protect farmworkers?
Drowning and other manure accidents killed farmworkers in at least five states during the past three years. That’s just a fraction of the deaths in agriculture, one of the most dangerous industries in the U.S. More than 5,000 agricultural workers in the U.S. died on the job between 2003 and 2011, a death rate seven times higher than average


A first at the California State Fair, an exhibit on farmworkers

Fresno Bee

The California State Fair has long recognized the state as an agricultural powerhouse. Now, for the first time in its 164-year history, it is devoting an exhibit to the people who keep it running: farmworkers.

See also:

·       State Fair exhibit honors California’s farmworker movement  Sacramento Bee





California corrections officials want to know what you think about the state’s new parole guidelines

Los Angeles Times

California corrections officials on Friday began accepting public comments on the new set of regulations that have overhauled the state parole system, allowing thousands more inmates to be considered for early release.


Fitzgerald: Stanford and Stockton go ballistic

Stockton Record

Stockton police have a firearms unit. Technicians there and a Stanford University professor recently found a way to improve the ballistics process and solve more crimes.


On gun violence research, California again fills a void left by the federal government

Los Angeles Times

“There’s been so little research done,” Garen J. Wintemute told me, “it’s hard to put anything at the top of the list.” The subject was gun violence, and Wintemute’s role as head of the newest research institute of the University of California. It’s the Firearm Violence Research Center, launched in the first week of July at UC Davis, where Wintemute, 65, is a professor of emergency medicine and a nationally recognized expert in gun violence.


‘That’s not the guy’: Teen says Bakersfield police beat her after mistaking her for male suspect

Los Angeles Times
The Bakersfield Police Department has launched an internal investigation after a teenage girl claims she was beaten by officers and attacked by a police dog in June after they mistook her for a male suspect.


Court limits criminal defendants’ access to police records

San Francisco Chronicle

For more than 40 years, criminal defendants in California have had a right to find out if police testifying against them have a record of lying, excessive force or any other misdeeds that cast doubt on their credibility. But a new state appeals court ruling could remove a bridge to that information in a number of counties, including San Francisco, Alameda and Santa Clara.


Population in local immigration jails swells, more judges assigned to handle cases 

San Diego Union Tribune

Almost six months into the Trump administration’s stepped-up enforcement against illegal immigration, the two local immigration jails are holding more people in detention and the number of judges assigned to hear their cases has more than doubled.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s claim that ‘criminals take notice’ of cities with sanctuary policies

The Washington Post

“When cities like Philadelphia, Boston, or San Francisco advertise that they have these policies, the criminals take notice. According to a recent study from the University of California Riverside, cities with these policies have more violent crime on average than those that don’t.”— Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speech on sanctuary cities in Las Vegas, July 12, 2017 



Fast-moving Detwiler fire surges to 7,100 acres in Mariposa County

Fresno Bee

The Detwiler fire in Mariposa surged from 2,500 to 7,100 acres overnight, the Mariposa County Fire Department reported.

Central California wildfire grows as hot, dry conditions persist 


A damaging wildfire burning on California’s scenic central coast was expected to expand on Sunday afternoon, with higher temperatures, lower humidity and high winds working against efforts to contain it, officials said.





VIDEO: California schools group wraps up successful collaboration to improve LCFF plans


VIDEO:  These CA districts came together at just the right time to improve their LCFF plans


Sacramento district can’t find enough teachers, so it turns to Philippines for help

Sacramento Bee

Officials at the Sacramento City Unified School District took an international field trip to the Philippines this year – to hire teachers.


Higher Ed:


California’s community colleges’ new push to improve graduation and transfer rates


The California Community Colleges must do a much better job preparing Californians for the state’s future workforce, Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said in advance of an important vote to approve ambitious new goals for the 114-college system.


Higher Education: Republicans, Democrats Disagree on Its Value

National Review

Americans’ opinions about the current state of higher education, according to a new Pew poll released earlier this week, reveal a stark partisan divide over whether our nation’s colleges perform a positive societal function. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now believe America’s institutions of higher learning “have a negative effect on the country,” whereas 72 percent of Democrats say the effect is positive.




Here’s what to watch for in the vote to extend California’s cap-and-trade program

Los Angeles Times

The legislation to extend the life of California’s signature tool against climate change — under which companies must buy permits to emit greenhouse gases — is hurtling toward a vote Monday.

See also

·       California lawmakers to decide fate of landmark climate law AP

In California’s climate negotiations, Assembly GOP seeks check on cap-and-trade spending

Los Angeles Times

A proposal introduced Friday evening by Assembly GOP Leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) could give the minority party more say in spending money generated by the state’s signature climate policy, cap and trade.


Will cap and trade survive Capitol politics?

Sacramento Bee

After months of speculation, and weeks of intense negotiations to secure a compromise package, lawmakers are scheduled to take up an extension of the state’s signature climate change program today. The complex system, know as cap and trade, is a market-based approach that began as a Republican idea.

Skelton: As cap-and-trade evangelist, Gov. Brown shows he’s the most effective politician Sacramento has seen in a long time 

Los Angeles Times

He’s single-minded like a bull,” said a close friend of Gov. Jerry Brown. That was more than 42 years ago. Another Times reporter and I had tracked down friends and relatives of Brown, looking for some insight into the young man about to be inaugurated California governor for the first time.


Jerry Brown implores lawmakers to take ‘most important vote of your life’

San Jose Mercury News

Amid furious negotiations over a bill to extend California’s cap-and-trade program through 2030, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday made a rare appearance before a Senate committee, imploring the legislators to approve the proposal.


Dean Florez: Take the Legislative Win, Push for Aggressive Adminstrative Implementation

ARB’s (fmr State Sen. Maj. Leader) Dean Florez to lawmakers considering their cap-and-trade vote: “Take the win.”

California lawmakers are nearing a high-stakes decision that will decide the fate of a climate initiative that Gov. Jerry Brown holds up as a model to be replicated around the world to confront rising global temperatures.


California’s Cap-and-Trade Problem

Wall Street Journal
California Governor Jerry Brown plans to host a global climate summit next year, and there’s no better exhibit of the tension between the left’s environmental and social justice goals. Witness the Democratic rupture over reauthorizing cap and trade.


It’s not the heat, it’s the longevity

Stockton Record
Less than halfway through the hottest months of May through September, Stockton has already seen 16 days at 100 degrees or more, and is likely to suffer through days 17 and 18 this weekend.


How Giant Batteries Can Help Reduce Emissions

Pew Charitable Trusts | Stateline

In Southern California, where an extreme energy shortage has threatened for months to shut off power for millions of homeowners, an unconventional source of electricity is helping to keep the lights on: giant batteries.




Protesters confront Valadao on federal health care changes

Fresno Bee
Congressman David Valadao came to Sanger on Saturday to give a speech about small business issues at a public forum. A handful of protesters, however, had other ideas.


How Republicans can save their health care legacy

The Brookings Institution

Why Republicans may want to think twice about pushing through an unpopular health care bill.


How the BCRA would impact enrollee costs, according to your age

Brookings Institution

Much attention has focused on how the recently introduced Senate Republican health care bill – the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA) – would impact health insurance premiums, both before and after accounting for lower subsidies, and patient cost-sharing in the individual market. In this analysis, we examine how the law would change people’s total spending on covered health care services, to provide a full picture of health care costs for the average consumer under the BCRA as opposed to current law.


New Senate health care bill could still hurt the sick and the poor


These skimpier plans would likely have lower premiums and would attract healthy folks who don’t need — or want to pay for — comprehensive Obamacare coverage. However, that would leave all the sick people in the Obamacare plans, likely causing their premiums to skyrocket.


Obamacare repeal bills could put coverage out of reach for millions of sick Americans

Los Angeles Times

Both the House GOP bill that passed in May and the revised Senate GOP bill unveiled last week effectively eliminate the coverage guarantee by allowing health insurers to once again sell skimpier plans and charge more to people with preexisting health conditions who need more-comprehensive coverage.


LOIS HENRY: Glut of patients in ERs causing trickle-down problems that could delay ambulance responses


Why did it take Hall Ambulance more than 20 minutes to arrive at the scene of a terrible motorcycle accident in metro Bakersfield?


Your credit score soon will get a buffer from medical-debt wrecks

San Jose Mercury News

For many consumers, an unexpected healthcare calamity can quickly burgeon into a financial calamity. Just over half of all the debt that appears on credit reports is related to medical expenses, and consumers may find that their credit score gets as banged up as their body.


One child, a $21-million medical bill: How a tiny number of patients poses a huge challenge for Medi-Cal

Los Angeles Times

Somewhere in California, one child’s medical expenses in 2014 totaled $21 million — a bill covered entirely by Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid.


Parents who lost son in dentist’s chair struggle to toughen rules

San Francisco Chronicle

It has become a familiar routine for the Sears family: Gather the medical experts, trek to Sacramento, and tell another panel of lawmakers how their 6-year-old son died from the anesthesia a dentist in Albany gave him to pull a tooth. Then watch as legislators water down the solution that many pediatricians say would prevent other California children from dying the same way.


Why are California women giving birth at record-low rates?

Orange County Register

The pace of motherhood in California is slowing and its members are aging, a shift demographers expect to continue and contribute to far-reaching and uncertain changes in the decades to come.


Social Security trust fund will be depleted in 17 years, according to trustees report

PBS NewsHour

This is unchanged from last year. The other big fund is Medicare’s hospital trust fund. Last year, it was projected to run out of funds in 2028, or 12 years. That date was rolled forward a year — to 2029 — in this year’s report.


With Cancer Screening, Better Safe Than Sorry?

New York Times

Doctors and medical organizations often advise that past a certain age, older adults can forgo various screening tests for cancer. But many patients, no matter how old or sick they may be, are reluctant to abandon tests they’ve long been told can be lifesaving.


Bay Area doctors learn to navigate California’s right-to-die law

San Jose Mercury News

Dr. Kathryn Shade supports California’s right-to-die law and has helped a dozen Bay Area residents with terminal illnesses end their lives by taking a lethal dose of drugs.

20 Million Mosquitoes to Hit Fresno; That’s a Good Thing, Really


The bug campaign, which started Friday, is part of a plan by Alphabet Inc.’s Verily Life Sciences unit. Reared by machines, the male mosquitoes are infected with a bacteria that, while harmless to humans, creates nonhatching dead eggs when they mate with wild females — hopefully cutting the mosquito population and the transmission of the diseases they carry.




Immigration Fraud Bill Moving Through CA Senate


A bill aimed at cracking down on immigration fraud is making its way through the California legislature.  The bill would effectively eliminate immigration consultants. Only lawyers or people who are approved by the federal government would be able to help with filling out immigration forms.  


Huerta: California sanctuary state would trump Texas anti-immigrant law

Sacramento Bee
In the seven decades I’ve been fighting for social justice and human rights, I’ve never seen a year as scary as 2017.


Her work is back-breaking. A rule that splits her from her kids is heartbreaking.

Sacramento Bee

California’s Office of Migrant Services has something called the 50-mile regulation. The policy – which defines migrant workers differently than any other state or federal agency – requires that those who live in any one of California’s 24 migrant housing centers move every six months, at least 50 miles away.


Immigrants are 42 percent of California’s STEM workforce

San Jose Mercury News

Forty-two percent of California’s workers in science, technology, engineering and math occupations were born in a foreign nation, according a recent analysis.


California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra goes to court to defend state program helping unaccompanied minor immigrants

Los Angeles Times

State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of an unaccompanied minor immigrant who is fighting deportation.


Mixed message from Trump on DACA sparks frustration from Dreamers as well as critics of illegal immigration

Los Angeles Times

Ever since Donald Trump was elected, Melody Klingenfuss has known her time in the United States could be limited.


​​​​Trump’s Immigration Plans Aren’t Bad, but They Are Unlikely

National Review

Pres. Trump’s leaked policies would be an improvement, but he’s burning political capital every day.


A Defender of the Constitution, With No Legal Right to Live Here

New York Times

She spends her days preparing legal strategies to help undocumented immigrants stay in the country. But at any moment, Lizbeth Mateo could be picked up for deportation herself. She is an immigration lawyer with her own immigration lawyer.



California economy set to become world’s fifth largest

Sacramento Bee

California’s economy ranked sixth in the world in 2016, according to rankings released by Palo Alto economist Stephen Levy on Friday. That’s the same as the year before, when California overtook France and Brazil. But the state’s economy isn’t stagnating; California’s economy is growing so quickly that Levy thinks the state will overtake the United Kingdom


In Many States, a Long-Awaited Raise for Low-Paid Workers

Pew Charitable Trusts | Stateline

In 44 states, jobs paying roughly $30,000 were among those that got the largest salary bumps since 2010 — evidence that the steady but modest economic growth of the past half-decade may be reaching people at the bottom of the income ladder.



Young Mayor Aims to Reinvent Central California City Facing Large Opportunity Gap  Stockton Record
Michael Tubbs is the first African-American mayor of Stockton, California, and the youngest mayor in American history of a city of more than 100,000 people. Tubbs is active on social media with his favorite hashtag: #reinventStockton. He spoke with Victor Abalos recently, sharing his concerns about the inability for too many Californians to work themselves into the middle class.


Loft-style living finds a home in downtown Kingsburg

The Business Journal
Loft-style living finds a home in downtown Kingsburg.


Renovation of East Hills Mall hits a CEQA slowdown


The new owners of East Hills Mall were nearing the final regulatory step in their quest to renovate the property when late last month they hit a bump: An appeal filed by an advocacy group that supports adherence to the California Environmental Quality Act.

California housing crisis spurring lawmakers into action

San Francisco Chronicle

Five years after California ended a program that helped pay for affordable housing, lawmakers are eager to create a new permanent stream of public funding to spur development amid what they say is the state’s worst housing crisis.


The Cost of a Hot Economy in California: A Severe Housing Crisis

New York Times

A full-fledged housing crisis has gripped California, where the lack of affordable homes and apartments for middle-class families is severe. The median cost of a home here is now a staggering $500,000, twice the national cost. Homelessness is surging across the state.


Will Sacramento avoid another housing boom and bust?

Sacramento Bee

Housing booms and busts tend to arrive like summer and winter in Sacramento. The 1970s, ’80s, ’90s and 2000s each saw predictable up-and-down cycles in home construction. The 2010s may be different. Nearly 10 years after the massive collapse of the housing market, a surge in homebuilding has yet to materialize, and experts aren’t sure it will.


‘Yes in my backyard.’ Silicon Valley money fuels fight against state’s housing crisis

Sacramento Bee

Brian Hanlon is a Bay Area guy who made his name “suing the suburbs.” Too many cities and counties, he says, aren’t complying with state housing law that says it’s illegal to deny or scale back affordable housing projects that meet local zoning designations and other land-use rules.

See also:

·       California Today: A Spreading ‘Yimby’ Movement New York Times

Flood insurance rates could rise for hundreds of thousands of homeowners under proposal

Sacramento Bee

The proposal, part of a flood-insurance package with a Sept. 30 deadline, could prove costly to homeowners in flood-prone regions ranging from Florida to Texas to California’s Central Valley. It would primarily affect homeowners with low “grandfathered” rates based on flood maps that have changed since they purchased their homes.




Walters: Despite Proposition 13, California property tax revenue has soared 


Much has been said and written – mostly negatively – about the effects of Proposition 13, California’s iconic law limiting property taxes. Its critics say that Proposition 13, which restricts taxes to 1 percent of property values and caps increases in those values at 2 percent a year, has starved schools and local governments of vital revenue.


Walters: of Equalization isn’t California’s only governmental problem child 


To put it mildly, the elected members of the state Board of Equalization are unhappy that the huge tax collection agency is being dismantled.


Lawsuit alleges state is trying to sabotage initiative to repeal gas tax increase in California

Los Angeles Times

The state attorney general allegedly drafted a misleading title and summary for an initiative that would repeal increases to California’s gas tax, and the wording should be changed, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by supporters of the proposed ballot measure.

See also:

·       California lawmaker sues AG over description of his gas-tax ballot measure San Jose Mercury News

One reason your electric bill is high: bountiful pay for MID workers

Modesto Bee

The Modesto Irrigation District – accused in a lawsuit of overcharging electricity customers – pays its workers more on average than all cities and counties and most other water agencies in the region.


Cigarette theft ring hits several Walgreens as new California tax raises prices 

Los Angeles Times

A group of men are suspected of stealing large quantities of cigarettes from Walgreens locations across the eastern San Fernando Valley, including in Burbank, according t o authorities.


California’s sky-high cigarette tax may already be reducing smoking

San Francisco Chronicle

California voters approved Proposition 56, a whopping $2-a-pack tax hike on cigarettes, in November 2016. An early analysis from the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst’s Office shows that the tax increase may be dramatically reducing cigarette smoking in the state.

Social Security, a pension booster, faces shortfall 


Social Security trustees project a 2.2 percent increase for recipients next year after little or no increase the last two years. And the Social Security trust funds are projected to run out of money by 2034, triggering a 23 percent cut unless Congress takes corrective action.




What would get you to buy an electric car? California is working on it

Sacramento Bee

Five years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown committed California to putting 1.5 million “zero-emission vehicles” on the road by 2025 – an ambitious goal that regulators reaffirmed in March during a review of clean car standards. The state has made modest progress: While ahead of early benchmarks, only about 300,000 have been sold so far.


Is L.A.’s ‘Brain Train’ smarter than Caltrain? Discuss.

Sacramento Bee
I ride “The Brain Train,” officially the L.A. Metro system’s Gold Line, running from the San Gabriel Valley into downtown L.A. and back out again to East L.A. Along the way, it connects enough smart institutions to explode stereotypes about public transportation and Southern California itself.




More evidence of lavish Modesto Irrigation District compensation

Modesto Bee

Here’s another way to look at how much Modesto Irrigation District workers are costing people in this area, compared to other employers across the United States, both public and private.


Kern County supervisors talk charging for river rescues


The spike in drownings and rescues has Kern County Supervisors exploring new ways to keep people out of the water.


2018 State Water Bond?


Fmr state water official Gerald Meral files $8.365b 2018 water bond. Includes $200m for Oroville spillway repairs.




We need to start embracing one another and encouraging others to be more civil

Sierra Star
Peter Cavanaugh, and I were writing opinion pieces for the Sierra Star, we would gather on a few occasions to share a meal and conversation. A number of folks would take our photo as the four of us sat talking, laughing, and discussing why each thought the way he thought.


Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning

Bakersfield College

The course descriptions, class schedules and enrollment information are on this website, as well as in our schedule published in The Bakersfield Californian. You may enroll online, by mail or, if you wish, in person at Bakersfield College.


Nearly two-thirds of Americans couldn’t pass a basic financial literacy test

All told, a new study, which was released today, estimated that nearly two-thirds of Americans couldn’t pass a basic financial literacy test, meaning they got fewer than four answers correct on a five-question quiz. Worse, the percentage of those who can pass the test has fallen consistently since the financial crisis to 37% last year, from 42% in 2009.