July 21, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Valadao addresses concerns about Trump, absence from GOP convention — Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader from Bakersfield, took a turn at the podium Tuesday in Cleveland, addressing the Republican National Convention as an unabashed supporter of the newly minted nominee, Donald J. Trump. David Valadao, McCarthy’s congressional neighbor to the immediate north, did not.In fact, Valadao, R-Hanford, wasn’t even in Cleveland, despite the fact that, as a congressman, he probably could have scored a pretty good seat. So, where was the Kings County farmer? Busy. Elsewhere. Bakersfield Californian article

Ballot of the Bulge: Why a new law isn’t shrinking the ballot much – yet – After polls confirmed that California voters were frustrated by ballot overload, lawmakers two years ago made changes aimed at pre-empting at least some initiatives from landing on the ballot, and improving those that do. One change gave the Legislature extra time to hold hearings and try to compromise with interest groups pitching complex issues. Yet just two years later, Californians face a messy ballot that is likely to inspire the same frustrations the changes were meant to resolve. CALmatters article

Gov. Brown 

Why construction unions are fighting Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan for more housing – A fight over construction worker pay has left Gov. Jerry Brown and a powerful labor group at a stalemate over the governor’s plan to speed up housing development for low-income Californians, leaving uncertainty over whether a final deal can be reached before the end of the legislative session in August. LA Times article 


Federal immigration court backlog top 500,000 pending cases – The backlog in the federal immigration court system has eclipsed half a million pending cases, The Associated Press has learned. The Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review said Wednesday there are now 500,051 pending immigration cases in the agency’s courts. AP article

Other areas

Joe Mathews: What’s state of California? Depends whom you listen to — How’s California doing? Well, do you believe Gov. Jerry Brown, or Blink-182? This summer has exposed a divide in perceptions of California between the political triumphalism of our elected leaders and the more anxious state of affairs depicted in our culture. Mathews in Sacramento Bee 

New bill aims to increase the Delta’s salmon population, decrease bass – The effort to preserve a healthy population of salmon in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a huge challenge. Those little salmon have a lot of factors working against them. Now a bill in the House of Representatives is trying to take on one of them, the striped bass. KVPR report

California wants people to prove they are not lobbyists – California’s top political watchdog is championing a bid to crack down on lobbyists who fail to disclose efforts to influence government officials. AP article 

Betty L. Kouklis: Why is it so hard to get legislators to address AB 1513? – The retired Delano area resident writes, “Do legislators personally read every correspondence that comes to their office, or does someone there decide whether it is worth their attention? In March I wrote to several Assembly and Senate members regarding an issue, AB 1513, that concerns every employer in the state who has paid piece work wages. Not one response did I get.” Kouklis op-ed in Bakersfield Californian 

Kevin de Leon’s daughter joins firm that builds his political image – Shallman Communications is keeping it in the family. The Southern California-based political consulting and advertising agency announced a series of hires on Wednesday, including Lluvia de Milagros Carrasco, daughter of state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who has been a client of the firm for a decade. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article 

Federal court rules Texas’ ID law violates Voting Rights Act — A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that Texas’ voter identification law, one of the strictest in the country, violated theVoting Rights Act and that the state must find ways to accommodate voters who face hardships in obtaining the necessary documents. New York Times article

Presidential Politics

GOP convention dissolves into boos as Ted Cruz withholds endorsement of bitter rival Donald Trump – The Republican convention dissolved into boos and open conflict in prime-time view when Donald Trump’s fiercest primary rival took the stage Wednesday night and refused to endorse him as the GOP nominee, overshadowing the national introduction of vice presidential hopeful Mike Pence. LA Times articleNew York Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article 

California delegates tear into Ted Cruz at Republican convention – Boos rained down on Cruz from California delegates in the front of the convention floor to guests filling up the nose bleed seats. East Bay Times article 

Cathleen Decker: Day 3 of Republican convention sparks a renewed war over conservatism — With his refusal to endorse Donald Trump at Trump’s own Republican convention, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Wednesday fired the freshest shots yet in a war to define the party. It is one that will persist through November and beyond, regardless of whether Trump wins the White House. Decker in LA Times 

George Skelton: When it comes to his own speech, Donald Trump should take a page from his wife’s book and lift from the past – I have some pro bono advice for Donald Trump about what he should say in the most important speech of his life. To borrow an old idiom: In for a penny, in for a pound. As he accepts the Republican presidential nomination and is watched by tens of millions on TV, Trump should open with this: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror…” Skelton column in LA Times 

Ann Coulter warns California Republicans the nation could turn into California — Conservative author and TV personality Ann Coulter warned California Republicans on Wednesday that the nation could become like California if Donald Trump is not elected president in the fall. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article 

California delegates get rowdy at Republican convention – The California delegation may have been the rowdiest of all the states here Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention, regularly erupting in cheers from their seats in the front rows of Quicken Loans Arena. Fresno Bee article 

Can you pray the gay away? GOP platform revs up a hot debate – While gay conversion therapy for minors has been banned in five states and in Washington, D.C., backing for the practice is alive and well, with gay-rights advocates accusing Republicans of endorsing the idea at their party’s national convention in Cleveland. McClatchy Newspapers article

Gavin Newsom is having a great Republican National Convention – One Democrat having a good Republican National Convention: Gavin Newsom. California’s lieutenant governor has long been relatively effective at picking fights outside the state to rally supporters back home. For his political purposes, Cleveland could hardly make it any easier. Sacramento Bee article 

Local delegates see unity at GOP convention — Local attendees saw unity emerging at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night. Kings County residents Vernon Costa and Aubrey Bettencourt were part of a unanimous group of California delegates that cast 172 votes for Trump, who has long been the party’s presumptive nominee after dominating the popular vote in the primaries. Hanford Sentinel article 

Trump campaign pays Costa Mesa over $15,000 for costs of policing rally – Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has cut a check to Costa Mesa for more than $15,000 to cover some of the costs the city racked up for policing an April 28 rally that sparked a massive protest. LA Times article

Erika D. Smith: Reality of race is lost on tone-deaf GOP convention — Powerful white men and women insisting to a room of mostly white men and women that America is fair and equal doesn’t mean a whole lot. Instead, it comes across as a stubborn, condescending self-interested refusal to acknowledge the reality that so many Americans live every day. Smith column in Sacramento Bee 

Omarosa says Trump will compete for black vote — Omarosa Manigault, director of African American outreach for Donald Trump, criticized the media Wednesday for portraying the Republican presidential candidate as not inclusive. “It’s just not true,” Manigault told California Republicans here for the national convention. “So a lot of what you and I need to do is education. Sacramento Bee article 

In-house speechwriter takes blame for Melania Trump’s plagiarism — The in-house staff writer did it. After more than two days of evasion, denials and contradictory explanations, the Trump campaign released a statement Wednesday – “to whom it may concern” – ascribing the plagiarized passages in Melanie Trump’s convention speech to a scribe working for Donald Trump’s corporate operation. LA Times articleNew York Times article 

Dan Morain: In Trump’s America, a fully loaded AR-15 is your right – Donald Trump provided a prime-time speaking slot at the Republican National Convention to a National Rifle Association executive, who proceeded to warn that Hillary Clinton would take away guns from Americans like Micah Naziri and James Campbell. Morain in Sacramento Bee 

PolitiFact: Congressman repeats mostly true claim: Donald Trump ‘rooted for the housing crisis’ — Rep. Scott Peters, D-CA, said Donald Trump “rooted for the housing crisis, because he knew he could make money off of it.” Trump said on more than one occasion that he welcomed a downturn in the real estate market because it would give him a chance to buy properties at a bargain and sell them at a higher price later. What’s far less clear is whether Trump was rooting for something on the scale of the Great Recession, a suggestion made in the Clinton ad, or a “housing crisis,” as suggested by Peters. PolitiFact report

News Stories

Top Stories

Court ruling could boost cost of California water project – The California Supreme Court is set to issue a ruling Thursday that could add millions of dollars to the cost of the governor’s $15.7 billion plan to build two giant water tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. AP article 

Buying directly from a farmer has an outsized impact on the local economy, UC Davis study finds — As a past board member at the Davis farmers market, Shermain Hardesty knows that people who buy fruits and vegetables directly from producers show up week after week and voice support for local businesses. Now, the UC Davis agricultural economics professor can tell those customers exactly how much farther their money goes in their community when they buy directly from a farmer. Sacramento Bee article 

UC Merced and city look toward to growth in people, not cars — A proposal to build a mixed retail-housing project in downtown Merced stands to give the city something that is hard to find – a place for people to live that is within walking distance of jobs, shopping and entertainment. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy

Save Mart, JD Heiskell on Forbes list of largest U.S. companies – Save Mart and JD Heiskell & Co. claimed spots on Forbes magazine’s annual list of the largest privately owned U.S. companies. Save Mart, based in Modesto, is ranked 91st with $4.5 billion in annual revenue. Its list of nearly 250 locations stretches as far south as Porterville. Tulare-based JD Heiskell is ranked 128th with $3.3 billion in annual revenue. Fresno Bee article 

Business owners envision a more welcoming J Street in Modesto – Most of the J Street business and property owners at a meeting this week indicated they want to see its eight blocks between Ninth and 17th streets be a destination for people who want to shop, dine or be entertained. Modesto Bee article 

Oakland council Oks measures to limit rent hikes — Struggling to curb displacement in a city that is now the fourth most expensive rental market in the nation, the Oakland City Council approved two proposals early Wednesday that would sharply limit property owners’ ability to raise rents. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Sacramento housing prices highest in nine years – Home prices in Sacramento County rose to their highest level in nearly nine years last month as the region’s real estate market continued its steady recovery from the recession. Median resale prices for single-family homes hit $310,000 in Sacramento County in June, market researcher CoreLogic reported Wednesday. Sacramento Bee article 

Renovation work begins on Proctor’s building on Fulton Mall – A smoke-scarred structure on the Fulton Mall is getting a major makeover. Contractors have started work on the Procter’s Jewelers building, located on the corner of Fulton and Fresno streets. When renovation is completed in early 2017, the building’s owner promises to polish one of Downtown’s most prominent corners back into a shiny jewel. The Business Journal article 

Bay Area restaurants’ racial pay gap is largest in U.S., study finds – Despite the Bay Area’s progressive laws on working conditions and pay, the largest racial pay gap among restaurant workers in the nation exists in this region, according to a recent study. Restaurant workers of color are paid $6.12 less than white workers among fine dining restaurants, indicating that workers of color may be underrepresented in the highest-paying restaurant positions, according to a study from nonprofit organization Restaurant Opportunities Center United. San Jose Mercury News article 

The loneliness of being black in San Francisco – As the tech industry thrives, San Francisco’s African-American population is dwindling and its black middle class has all but disappeared. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Elon Musk reveals Tesla’s ‘master plan’: It includes trucks, buses and ride sharing – After more than a week of Twitter teasing about its existence, Elon Musk revealed Part 2 of his “master product plan” for Tesla on Wednesday evening. In a blog post published on the automaker’s website, Musk introduced a multiyear, four-pronged strategy that includes new kinds of Tesla vehicles, expanded solar initiatives, updates on Tesla’s “autopilot” technology and a ride-sharing program. LA Times articleSan Jose Mercury News article 

San Diego asks Supreme Court to review stadium measure – San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith sent a letter Wednesday to the California Supreme Court seeking its help in settling the question of whether a two-thirds majority is needed to pass two November ballot initiatives related to a Chargers stadium and downtown convention center annex. San Diego Union-Tribune article 

Yahoo’s brand not likely to command premium in potential sale – Normally, any company on the selling block would factor brand value in negotiating a sale price. But in Yahoo’s case, the real value of the business is its still sizable audience and advertising reach. Given Yahoo’s struggle for relevance, I suspect that the eventual buyer might even retire the name all together. San Francisco Chronicle article

Joel Fox: As I wrote in 1991 – don’t tax newspapers — Newspapers, particularly editorials, were hard on the tax revolt. Editorial pages frequently campaigned for new taxes. The temptation to support the tax would allow me to point to a tax we supported. But I came out against the tax on newspapers arguing that newspapers were invaluable resources and suggesting, like other businesses, they should not be taxed during a recession. Fox in Fox & Hounds 


Alvar Escriva-Bou, Ellen Hanak, and Jay Lund: California needs better account of groundwater – Escriva-Bou, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center; Hanak, the center’s director; and Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, write, “Across California, local water managers and users are beginning the hard work of bringing their groundwater budgets into balance. The administration and Legislature should bolster this process by establishing accounting standards and supporting their adoption at the local level.” Escriva-Bou/Hanak/Lund op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Almond growers could have a record year — Despite California’s ongoing drought, almond production in the state this year is expected to exceed 2 billion pounds for the first time since 2013, and could be a record crop. Visalia Times-Delta article

Waterwise: ‘Worst’ drought condition on Tule Reservation — Drought conditions on the Tule River Reservation are the worst Neil Peyron has seen in his 44 years. The 350 homes on the reservation ran out of potable water last month, Peyron said. Technicians were called in to help and bottled water had to be bought. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Dylan Noble’s death has Fresno pondering police shootings and Black Lives Matter –  The diverse young crowd filled the pews at a Fresno church late last week to consider what Black Lives Matter might mean in their city. Like protesters around the nation, they were angered at the police-shooting deaths of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana. But it was outrage over the June fatal shooting of Dylan Noble — a white teenager whose supporters at a vigil brandished Confederate flags and shouted “white lives matter” — that pushed many of them out to the streets this month. Fresno Bee article

200 protest police brutality in downtown Fresno demonstration – About 200 community members gathered Wednesday evening in downtown Fresno to protest police brutality and urge city leaders to seek solutions to racial divisions. The demonstrators gathered in front of the Fresno County Jail, where speakers urged the public to remember those who have died at the hands of law enforcement officials. Fresno Bee article 

Public Policy Institute of California: California’s arrest rate reaches a 50-year low — California’s total arrest rate—which has been declining over the past two decades—is now at a historic low of 2,944 per 100,000 residents; this is less than half the peak rate of 6,765 reached in 1989. What is arguably more noteworthy is the even greater drop in the felony arrest rate, which, at 806 per 100,000 residents, is about a third of the 1989 peak rate of 2,052. PPIC report

Slain man’s family files civil rights lawsuit against Fresno police – The family of a Fresno man who was shot and killed by police in September after he ran from a traffic stop has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Fresno and its police department. Fresno Bee article 

Coffee with a Cop draws large crowd in Visalia – With temperatures in the triple digits, Visalia Police Department thought root beer floats would be a welcomed treat to escape the heat. The department held its summer installment of Coffee with a Cop Wednesday at the West Riggin Avenue A&W Restaurant. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Faith-based groups gather for prayer for law enforcement – As shock and concern grow over recent fatal shootings of police officers throughout the country, members of local faith-based groups gathered at Modesto police headquarters Wednesday to pray for the safety of law enforcement officials on duty. Modesto Bee article 

Marcos Breton: The high cost of cleaning the Sheriff’s Department’s dirty laundry – Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones has been angry at a host of people since his department lost a workplace retaliation lawsuit in May – one that could cost Sacramento taxpayers $3.57 million or more. Breton column in Sacramento Bee 

Protestors lock themselves to Oakland police union doors – Six Black Lives Matter protesters locked themselves to the front door of the Oakland police union building on Wednesday afternoon, demanding the recall of Mayor Libby Schaaf and more money for housing and community centers. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Oakland police commission proposal gathers momentum — Public safety advocates, labor leaders and police watchdog activists are all pushing for an independent police commission in Oakland, calling it the best answer to a recent string of disciplinary cases that have beset the department. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Sacramento’s deadly fentanyl cases yield first known arrest — This week’s arrest of a 50-year-old Sacramento woman for alleged distribution of hydrocodone and fentanyl could be just the beginning. Sacramento Bee article


What makes a good Merced College president? – After a couple of meetings that drew no area residents, the forums used to gather public input on the next Merced College president have begun to draw opinions. Meetings this week, like the one Tuesday in Atwater, drew comments on the next president’s skill set, experience and areas of focus. Merced Sun-Star article 

UC Regents take steps to streamline board operations, dig more deeply into crucial issues — University of California regents Wednesday approved a sweeping overhaul of board operations, the first in nearly five decades, saying it would free up more time for deeper discussions of crucial issues. LA Times article 

More needs to be done to make schools safe, state superintendent says – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson told a group of school safety experts in Garden Grove that more needs to be done to keep violence from reaching school campuses in California. EdSource article 

Letter details opposition to federal proposal defining student success on tests – A University of Southern California professor has collected dozens of academicians’ signatures on a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education John Kingcriticizing how the federal government proposes to measure student scores on standardized tests. California’s top state education officials agree with him and may express the same point of view in a letter they’re drafting. LA Times article 

Nick Strobel: A road for community college students: Bakersfield College’s GPS – The veteran faculty member at Bakersfield College writes, “As our students work their way to their degree or certificate, ‘life happens.’ A change in their job schedule, family member’s health, living situation, or other life event might knock them off the college path, and most of our college students don’t have a college GPS to get them back on track. The college GPS BC is developing will guide our students more effectively than we’ve done in the past.” Strobel op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Lemoore Adult School reopens — Adults who were unable to finish their high school diploma now have another opportunity to do so. The Lemoore Union High School District will reopen its adult school Aug. 15 after closing in 2010. Hanford Sentinel article 

Merlo graduate wins national app contest — App developers might want to look to Merlo High graduate Luis Torres to help develop their next product. Torres found out Wednesday that he won a nationwide contest for high school app developers for his mobile translation app. Stockton Record article


National parks make a push to un-pave paradise – The giant sequoia grove at Yosemite is a microcosm of the attitude shift happening in national parks across the country. After decades of human dominion, the National Park Service has shifted to a more enlightened approach when it comes to stewarding nature. That means the roads that take visitors within inches of natural wonders — along with their gift shops, parking lots and vending machines — must go. While there’s no formal program across the NPS for such projects, there is a new emphasis on increased awareness of impacts on the environment. San Francisco Chronicle article

Cloning California’s giant trees to combat climate change — At the foot of a giant sequoia in California’s Sierra Nevada, two arborists stepped into harnesses then inched up ropes more than 20 stories into the dizzying canopy of a tree that survived thousands of years, enduring drought, wildfire and disease. There, the arborists clipped off tips of young branches to be hand-delivered across the country, cloned in a lab and eventually planted in a forest in some other part of the world. AP article 

Witness: PG&E misled investigators after San Bruno blast – Pacific Gas and Electric Co. deliberately misled investigators following the September 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno, the lead investigator told a federal court jury in San Francisco on Wednesday. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Prosecutors close to wrapping up case against PG&E — Federal prosecutors plan to wind up their pipeline-safety case against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. next week without testimony from some high-ranking PG&E personnel who had previously been listed as witnesses. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Alameda County becomes first in Bay Area to ban fracking – Alameda County is now the first Bay Area county to ban fracking, and supporters say it could have a domino effect across the region and the state. County supervisors unanimously approved the ban at their Tuesday meeting. KQED report 

San Onofre reactor leaked radiation after being misused, report says — Owners of the failed San Onofre nuclear power plant operated the reactor outside the allowable limits for pressure and temperature, causing the radiation leak that shut down the facility for good, a new report has found. LA Times article 

San Diego moves to ban single-use plastic bags — The San Diego City Council on Tuesday voted to ban single-use plastic bags at large grocery stores, pharmacies and corner markets — becoming one of the last major cities in California to limit the disposable products. LA Times article 

Refinery pollution limits debated; vote delayed — A crowd of oil refinery representatives, neighbors and environmentalists clashed Wednesday over a proposal to cap greenhouse gases and other pollution from the Bay Area’s five oil refineries. East Bay Times article 

Health/Human Services 

About 10 percent of California teens have used e-cigarettes, study finds – About 10 percent of California teenagers have used electronic cigarettes, a rate that is higher than national estimates, according to a new study. California Health Report article 

West Nile virus prompts Valley warnings – Vector control officials are reminding the public to take precautions against mosquito bites after a recent upswing in the number of mosquito samples testing positive for West Nile virus locally and statewide. Modesto Bee articleStockton Record article 

Kings County: Adventist Health to close Wound Healing Center — Adventist Heath will close their Wound Healing Center July 29, says spokesperson Amanda Jaurigui. The center that opened in 2011 is located at 125 Mall Dr. on the third floor of the Hanford Medical Pavilion, Suite 313, next to Adventist Medical Center. Hanford Sentinel article 

Women’s Center director taking new post — Joelle Gomez, the executive director and face of the Women’s Center-Youth and Family Services, is leaving the agency she has led since 1997. Gomez, 48, was named Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Home of Stockton on Wednesday. She begins Oct. 3, replacing Phil Kolodziej, who retired after leading the Children’s Home for 4-plus years. Stockton Record article 

Land Use/Housing 

Austin Quarry approved in 3-2 vote – In a meeting that stretched past midnight, the controversial Austin Quarry at Highways 41 and 145 was approved by the Madera County Planning Commission in a 3-2 vote Wednesday, following hours of public comment marked by both the praise of supporters and pleas of opponents for additional time to review its environmental impact reports. Fresno Bee article


Drivers can charge electric cars during pickups at Sacramento airport — A new electric vehicle charging station will let drivers juice up their cars while they wait for friends to land at Sacramento International Airport. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District officially opened the charging station on Wednesday in the airport’s waiting area. The airport also has charging stations in its garage and daily parking lotSacramento Bee article 

Other areas 

Big crowd expected at courthouse construction meeting – A key meeting that could answer whether new courthouses will be built in Modesto and Sonora has been postponed a week, from Aug. 4 to Aug. 11, although information about public access remains murky. Modesto Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Stanislaus County courthouse funding misery has company well north – Which would you consider worse? Buying up all of the property on a city block downtown, selling it to the state for a new courthouse, evicting the tenants, and boarding up or fencing in the vacant buildings until they are demolished, only to find out that there might be no money for new construction or even to raze the existing blight? Or having the funding vanish for your already-approved, already-designed, five-room courthouse, with removal of existing buildings expected to begin next month? Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Bakersfield council appoints youth commission members, rejects bids – City government, which became slightly more youthful in 2013 with the election of Councilman Willie Rivera, now 25, grew younger still Wednesday night when the Bakersfield City Council appointed members to a new youth commission. Bakersfield Californian article 

Apartment blazes stretch Fresno firefighting resources — A pair of central Fresno apartment blazes, including a three-alarm fire, taxed firefighter resources across the city Tuesday night, fire officials said. Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Merced Sun-Star – Is conservative kingmaker Roger Ailes headed for exit?

Modesto Bee – Is conservative kingmaker Roger Ailes headed for exit?

Sacramento Bee – Is conservative kingmaker Roger Ailes headed for exit?