July 20, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Kevin McCarthy heavy on House GOP agenda, lighter on Trump — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy used a Tuesday night speech at the Republican National Convention to condemn government bailouts and handouts and reminisce about Ronald Reagan’s shining city upon the hill. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article 

Proposition 53: A battle over debt — He started out with $3,000 and a VW bug. Now, he’s a multimillionaire bankrolling a November ballot initiative to dramatically change the way California borrows money for public works. Dean “Dino” Cortopassi, 77, is a Stockton landowner, farmer and businessman who has waged a crusade against pervasive government debt and, he says, the dubious accounting tricks that allow it to flourish. Capitol Weekly article

Gov. Brown 

Jerry Brown rips Fannie and Freddie for ‘silly’ resistance to loan program — Gov. Jerry Brown, joining Obama administration officials on Tuesday to promote a federal loan program for home energy improvements, lit into mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for what he called their “silly” reservations about the program.  Sacramento Bee article 

Valley politics

Diverse crowd steps into Merced elections — The filing period for Merced County’s local elections opened Monday, and five people in Merced already have notified the state they intend to run for a council seat in the city’s first election with defined districts. Merced Sun-Star article 

Hanford council candidates pull papers — Several challengers are lining up to run for Hanford City Council on Nov. 8. Hanford Sentinel article 

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Obama, Biden endorse Kamala Harris’ U.S. Senate bid – President Barack Obama endorsed Democrat Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, calling her a fearless fighter for the people of California, and dealing another blow to the campaign of rival Loretta Sanchez. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleAP article 

Loretta Sanchez rips President Obama for endorsing Kamala Harris – Loretta Sanchez, a candidate for U.S. Senate in California, unleashed a sharp critique of President Barack Obama on Tuesday for endorsing her Democratic rival, Kamala Harris, suggesting he should instead focus on helping beat Republican Donald Trump in the presidential race. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article 

Three’s company in fall finale for California Assembly seat — Call it the top-two-tie scenario: a provision in California election law allows for more than two candidates to advance to the general election if there’s a tie. And finally, after some 500 elections under top-two rules, a fall contest will include three contenders. Write-in candidates Baron Bruno, a Libertarian from Marina del Rey, and Republican Marco Antonio “Tony” Leal, a Republican from Los Angeles, each received exactly 64 votes in last month’s primary election in the 62nd Assembly District, final results show. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas 

PolitiFact CA: It’s no Whopper: Licensed gun dealers outnumber McDonald’s about 2-to-1 in California — This month’s tally shows 2,315 dealers and pawnbrokers licensed to sell guns in California. That’s a shade less, 15 in fact, than twice as many McDonald’s. PolitiFact CA article

Presidential Politics

California Republicans showcase diversity in Cleveland, or not — When California Republicans formally proclaimed their support for Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, the state party turned to Shirley Husar, who is black, to make the announcement. Minutes earlier, Harmeet Dhillon, the state party’s vice chair, delivered a Sikh prayer on the national stage. The presentations stood out at a convention that, now entering its second day, mostly features speakers who are white. Sacramento Bee article 

CHP sends an army of officers to help protect GOP convention – The biggest California contingent in Cleveland this week isn’t the state’s 172 delegates to the Republican National Convention — it’s the 300 California Highway Patrol officers who were sent to Ohio to help provide security at the four-day Trump-fest. San Francisco Chronicle article

Norovirus strikes California Republicans at national convention — A dozen California Republican staff members and volunteers staying at the delegation’s hotel an hour outside Cleveland for the national convention have come down with norovirus, the highly contagious bug that inflames the stomach and intestines and causes diarrhea and vomiting. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleAP article

Trump promised ‘amazing’ convention; well, it’s certainly different – When California cast its votes to nominate Donald Trump on Tuesday, California’s elder Republican statesman, Pete Wilson, was nowhere to be seen. Instead, businesswoman Shirley Husar, an entrepreneur and blogger from Pasadena attending her second convention, energetically took on the speaking role typically reserved for California elected leaders or state party officials. Sacramento Bee article

Cathleen Decker: Anger and optimism vie for dominance in Republican Party – Donald Trump won the Republican nomination by harnessing the dour mood of GOP voters put off by the nation’s political class. Now, as he turns to the general election, he faces the challenge of incorporating something he has mostly omitted to this point — an overarching, positive vision for the nation. Decker in LA Times 

Melania Trump’s speech: California delegates react to plagiarism accusation — When Melania Trump took the stage Monday as a character witness for her husband, California delegates at the Republican National Convention hung on every word and clapped as she told them about the values her parents had instilled in her. Back at their hotel a couple of hours later, however, the delegates found themselves having to defend the woman they hope is the next first lady from accusations that her speech plagiarized key phrases from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech. San Jose Mercury News article

A laid-off TV reporter in a Culver City Starbucks first uncovered borrowed passages in Melania Trump’s speech – Since he lost his TV reporting job last year, Jarrett Hill has been looking for his next opportunity. It presented itself in an unexpected way.  Hill was sitting at a corner table Monday night in a Culver City Starbucks, drinking a venti iced coffee and watching the Republican National Convention on an MSNBC live stream. As Melania Trump spoke, she uttered a phrase that the 31-year-old California native had heard once before — from First Lady Michelle Obama. LA Times article 

Locals attend Republican National Convention – Two local residents are representing Kings County at the Republican National Convention. Vernon Costa and Aubrey Bettencourt are in the thick of things on floor at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Hanford Sentinel article 

Trump loss would fuel push for immigration reform, advocates hope — Those championing immigration reform have already begun to lay the groundwork for a new push in Congress, predicting the Hispanic vote could have a game-changing impact on this year’s presidential election. If Hispanic voters turn out en masse to oppose Republican Donald Trump and his stand on immigration, the November outcome could look a lot like 2012, but on steroids, some predict. McClatchy Newspapers article

News Stories

Top Stories

State funding cuts during the recession still shortchanging Cal State students, officials say — State budget cuts have left California State University with about 19% less in funding to spend per student compared with pre-recession years — compromising efforts to fully address student needs, university officials said. LA Times article 

Covered California projects 13.2 percent average hike in 2017 health premiums — Covered California announced projected average rate increases of 13.2 percent for health insurance bought next year through the state-run system, as consumers were urged to “shop around” to avoid large premium hikes. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleKQED report

Jobs and the Economy 

Jerry Brown, unions remain embroiled in negotiations – Between June 1 and July 2, 15 state employee bargaining units’ contracts expired. So far, only one of them has come to an agreement with the governor. This round of negotiations is particularly sticky because California Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to chip away at nearly $72 billion in retiree health benefit obligations over the next 30 years by getting state employees to contribute from their paychecks. With certain units, that strategy hasn’t gone over smoothly. Sacramento Bee article 

San Joaquin County workers on the job – for now – After calling an emergency meeting to discuss next steps in ongoing negotiations with San Joaquin County, members of the Service Employees International Union 1021 were still on the job as of Tuesday morning. Stockton Record article 

Dan Walters: California’s unemployment insurance system stuck in a deep hole – Although unemployment now is just half of what it was during the depths of the recession, the state is still paying out about $5.5 billion a year in jobless benefits, covered by $5.8 billion in employer taxes, which doesn’t leave enough margin to build a much-needed reserve. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

10 new Valley-made foods you have to try – Want an inside scoop on the yummy new foods being made in the Valley? We’ve got it for you. From locally made dark chocolate with coffee in it to clementine olive oil, 33 new products made their debut last week at a preview event for the Fresno Food ExpoFresno Bee article

Federal help for Erskine Fire victims could take a while – Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall said on Tuesday that victims of the June 23 Erskine Fire, which killed two residents, injured three first responders and burned 75 square miles in the east, might have to wait a while for federal assistance. Bakersfield Californian article 

CalSTRS reports 1.4 percent investment returns – CalSTRS reported a 1.4 percent investment return for the latest fiscal year Tuesday, far below its official target. Sacramento Bee article 

Hyperloop One wants $250 million from ‘Gang of Four’ that sued the start-up – Hyperloop Technologies Inc. is seeking at least $250 million in damages from four former high-ranking employees who the company says tried to incite rebellion within the Los Angeles start-up. LA Times article 

In Westlake, homeless people take cues from immigrant street vendors — Payne is part of a group of transient and homeless people — mostly white or black — who have taken a page from Mexican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan and other Latin American vendors in Westlake, one of the most densely crowded neighborhoods in L.A. At times the immigrant vendors buy things from the homeless ones — either out of pity or because they can sell them for slightly more. LA Times article 

Court commissioner calls Venice boardwalk cleanups ‘troubling,’ refuses to punish homeless advocate — Calling Venice homeless cleanups “troubling,” a Los Angeles court commissioner has turned down the city attorney’s request to punish a homeless man for protesting by lying in the path of a sanitation truck. LA Times article 

LA housing measure has an unexpected foe: Tenant advocates — When labor unions and community groups teamed up to back a November affordable housing ballot measure, their plans drew a predictable set of opponents. Now the Build Better L.A. initiative has a new and unexpected foe: tenant activists. LA Times article 

Oakland council poised to OK measures to limit rate hikes — Struggling to curb displacement in an East Bay city that is now the fourth most expensive rental market in the nation, the Oakland City Council was poised to approve two proposals Tuesday night that would sharply limit property owners’ ability to raise rents. San Francisco Chronicle article 


Interview: 5 things NPR’s Dan Charles learned from reporting on farmworkers – Dan Charles reports on agriculture for NPR. Over the past year he reported a series on farmworkers across the country. Recently he wrote a post on NPR’s food blog The Salt titled “Inside The Lives Of Farmworkers: Top 5 Lessons I Learned On The Ground.” In this interview Valley Edition Host Joe Moore interviews Charles about this list and his reporting. KVPR report 

Kern County supervisors vote to form groundwater agency – The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to form two agencies that could regulate areas of groundwater in unincorporated areas in coming years, as members tried to strike a conciliatory tone with overlapping interests. Bakersfield Californian article

Lois Henry: The wacky world of water — You’ve got to be kidding. That was my reaction to a couple of recent stories that touched on water. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

California to set legal limit on probable carcinogen in water – The California State Water Resources Control Board will soon set a maximum contaminant level for 1,2,3 Trichloropropane, or 1,2,3 TCP. It’s found in industrial solvents and cleaning agents, but it was once found in two popular soil fumigants made by Dow Chemical and Shell Oil Company. Capital Public Radio report

Thomas Elias: Bullet train will make ‘brownest cut’ bite harder – Back in 2007, when then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger desperately cast about for ways to cut the deficit-ridden state budget, he suddenly slashed $27.8 million from a program that preserved agricultural lands, leaving a mere token $1,000 for it in a $90 billion general fund spending plan. Now that cut in so-called Williamson Act contracts, dubbed the “brownest cut of all” at the time since it came from a governor with very green pretensions, seems about to do more environmental damage than ever, in large part because of a new business plan adopted by the state High Speed Rail Authority. Elias in Visalia Times-Delta 

Learn more about pesticide byproduct found in Valley drinking water — As California regulators plan to set a legal limit on a cancer-causing chemical found in Valley water systems, clean water advocates are urging residents to attend coming public workshops on the issue. Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Is coverage of the Dylan Noble shooting driven by his race? – Race, police involved shootings, and the Black Lives Matter movement have captivated the Valley’s media attention over recent weeks. The case of the fatal police shooting of 19-year-old Dylan Noble, an unarmed man from Clovis, rocketed back into the news last week with the release of police body camera footage of the shooting. The video was released, in part, due to public pressure to see the informative but graphic scene. But some are questioning the motives for the intense media scrutiny. KVPR report 

‘Sometimes people forget that we’re human’: Film offers raw, real look behind badges of four Stockton officers – Dozens converged on the Bob Hope Theatre on Tuesday evening to see a film that begins with an aerial view of Stockton and quickly moves inside the hearts and minds of four police officers who candidly discuss their lives in law enforcement. Stockton Record article 

Oliver Baines: ‘I had a lot of fear growing up in LA of police’ – Oliver Baines has a unique perspective on the issue of Black Lives Matter and law enforcement. Currently the only African-American on the Fresno City Council, Baines also served around 12 years as an officer with the Fresno Police Department.  Speaking on Valley Public Radio’s Valley Edition Tuesday, Baines recalled his own experiences with racially biased policing, while pleading for calm and understanding in the wake of recent shootings and protests.  Baines said the often heated rhetoric from people on both sides of the issue serves to distract from the goal of racial reconciliation. KVPR report 

Santa Nella family files wrong death claim vs. Merced Sheriff’s Office – Family members of a woman who was shot and killed last year by a Merced County Sheriff’s deputy claim the shooting was “excessive” and they are seeking thousands in damages from Merced County. Merced Sun-Star article 

Kern DA clears detective in Amtrak station shooting – The Kern County District Attorney’s office has cleared a Bakersfield Police Department detective in the February shooting of man threatening passersby with a knife at an Amtrak station, officials announced Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian article 

Citizens show support for local officers — Citizens are showing their support for local police in the aftermath of attacks on officers in Dallas earlier this month and now in Baton Rouge. Lemoore police Chief Darrell Smith said citizens began bringing gifts and showing their support the day after the July 7 shooting at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas that left five officers dead and nine wounded. Hanford Sentinel article

Protestors urge police reforms at Sacramento City Council meeting – Black community leaders, supported by the mayor and two City Council members, spoke out at Tuesday night’s Sacramento City Council meeting and called for greater police accountability. Sacramento Bee article 

Family of teen fatally shot by undercover CHP officers files legal claim, saying he was unarmed — The family of a 19-year-old man fatally shot by two undercover California Highway Patrol officers this month in Fullerton has filed a legal claim against the agency and the state, saying the teen posed no immediate threat to the officers and was unarmed. LA Times article 

LA County to pay $10 million to man whose murder conviction was overturned — Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to pay $10.1 million to a man who spent 20 years behind bars before having his murder conviction overturned in 2011. LA Times article


Bakersfield College’s $503 million bond proposal meets opposition — Less than a week after the Kern Community College District voted to place a $502.8 million bond measure on the November ballot, a group of residents is forming a group opposing the tax increase. Joseph Doty, a contractor and homeowner who is spearheading the “No on KCCD Tax” group, called the measure “ambush politics.” Bakersfield Californian article

UC Merced grant expands research for undergrads – Several dozen students at UC Merced will have the opportunity to perform undergraduate research during the next three years thanks to a half-million dollar grant, officials announced Tuesday. Merced Sun-Star article 

Nan Austin: Reframing history: Lessons dig deeper into the well – California has officially made history, releasing an updated social science framework for students in kindergarten through high school that includes the contributions of gays, folks with disabilities and at least a nod to the controversies of an imperfect past. Austin in Modesto Bee 

Sacramento Bee: Some things a UC rule change can’t fix – Rules aside, Linda P.B. Katehi’s trouble with optics is a big part of the pickle her career is now in. Sacramento Bee editorial 

COS Hanford to build new facilities – The College of the Sequoias Hanford Center will see some big things this coming school year. The campus is set to construct a new education building that offers more classroom space and a student pavilion that will serve as a hang-out spot for students and the community. Hanford Sentinel article 

Sac State University Union to get $53 million renovation and expansion – Sacramento State will spend $53 million to renovate and expand its University Union, university officials announced Tuesday. Construction on the project, which will add 42,000 square feet to the 183,000 square-foot building, will mean more conference rooms, retail, a Starbucks, study lounges and additional indoor and outdoor seating. Sacramento Bee article 

Los Banos school board member fights against recall — A former firefighter likely will take John Mueller’s place on the Los Banos Unified School District Board if residents of his district vote to recall Mueller on Aug. 23. That former firefighter is Los Banos resident Ray Martinez, who has previously run for the Los Banos City Council. Martinez previously has confirmed his intention to seek election to the board. Los Banos Enterprise article 

Cal State LA’s new downtown campus joins trend aimed at working adults — Carlos Moreno was among the first to show up for a recruitment and orientation session recently at Cal State Los Angeles’ new satellite campus in a downtown L.A. high-rise. As it turns out, he was exactly the type of person the new facility hopes to attract. EdSource article


First half of 2016 blows away temp records — The first half of 2016 has blown away temperature records, capped off by a record hot June, once again bumping up the odds that 2016 will be the hottest year on record globally, according to data released Tuesday. KQED reportNew York Times article 

Ex-PG&E VP says he didn’t understand much of letter sent to feds – A former Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executive testified Tuesday in the company’s trial on pipeline safety that he had signed a letter that was instrumental in PG&E being charged with obstructing a federal investigation by trying to conceal an allegedly illegal policy of testing older lines for welding problems. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Over a fifth of state’s recycling centers close amid plummeting prices — More than a fifth of California’s recycling redemption centers have closed in the last year, stripping consumers of easy access to recycling and limiting their ability to collect the deposits they made when purchasing bottles and cans. AP article 

Shining a light for others: ‘Zero net energy’ homes may be example for state – If the next new home you buy in California creates as much energy as it consumes, you might be able to trace that success all the way back to quiet little Glenhaven Lane on Stockton’s southeast side. Stockton Record article 

Parallel lawsuits against Modesto Irrigation District seek to combine — Two class-action lawsuits against the Modesto Irrigation District should join forces in a united effort, both suing parties agree in a request to the judge overseeing both cases. Both ask that MID stop illegally inflating power bills to subsidize farm water prices, and both seek unspecified refunds for tens of thousands of electricity customers. Modesto Bee article

Health/Human Services 

Health insurance through Covered California to cost Valley residents more next year — Health insurance rates through the Covered California insurance exchange will be rising between 8.4 percent and 10.8 percent on average next year in the central San Joaquin Valley, the exchange announced Tuesday. Fresno Bee article 

Political battles in the past, Fresno needle exchange program improves lives – The last time we reported about the Fresno Needle Exchange, it was an illegal program, operating without support from policymakers and under threat of police intervention. It became legal in 2012 under a state law. Now, the program is more popular than ever, and it new research suggests it’s making the community safer. KVPR report 

Kaiser Permanent nurses protesting staffing levels – Nurses at Kaiser Permanente will stage pickets at seven regional hospitals Wednesday to draw attention to staffing levels they say are affecting the quality of care and putting patients at risk. East Bay Times article 

New clinic slated for downtown Hanford — Family HealthCare Network has ambitious plans to build a new health center in downtown Hanford, according to officials. The Visalia-based nonprofit medical services provider is planning to build the new clinic on a two-acre vacant lot behind the Comfort Inn. Hanford Sentinel article 

Land Use/Housing 

Cedar Heights affordable apartments open in southeast Fresno — Tucked in a southeast Fresno neighborhood dotted with old apartment complexes is a new, modern 14-unit affordable multifamily community from the Fresno Housing Authority and development partner Terance Frazier. Fresno Bee article 

Michael Fitzgerald: The council votes Jerry a home – The Stockton City Council has voted to repair the home of Jerry Ruff, the frail 71-year-old man who lived in his car for more than a year after city code enforcers boarded up his home. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Other areas 

Turn on the grow light:  Merced sets allowances for medical cannabis – A split Merced City Council has given the green light to limited medical marijuana operations in the city, allowing for four dispensaries and indoor cultivation, a move that won praise from cannabis advocates. Merced Sun-Star article 

Kern County pays $1 million to settle sexual assault case – The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Tuesday during its afternoon closed-session meeting to pay $1 million to settle a sexual assault case brought against the county and two sheriff’s deputies by a Tehachapi woman. Bakersfield Californian article 

Who runs Sacramento? Mostly white men, audit says – Over the past 15 years, as California’s population grew increasingly diverse, Sacramento’s city workforce remained mostly white, a new city audit has found. Sacramento Bee article 

Kings County Library, staff ensure patron safety — Under the leadership of library director Natalie Rencher, county library facilities have been revamped over the past three years, and staff have received extensive training on how to make the library a safer, more inviting environment for patrons. Hanford Sentinel article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Six reasons millennials must vote in November.

Merced Sun-Star – Deep into the national convention, what have Americans learned about Donald Trump’s Republican Party? Little we didn’t already suspect.

Modesto Bee – Deep into the national convention, what have Americans learned about Donald Trump’s Republican Party? Little we didn’t already suspect.

Sacramento Bee – Deep into the national convention, what have Americans learned about Donald Trump’s Republican Party? Little we didn’t already suspect; Rules aside, Linda P.B. Katehi’s trouble with optics is a big part of the pickle her career is now in.