July 21, 2017






Cal Fire Report on Ditwiler Fire


Detwiler Fire Incident Information


Detwiler Fire slows its rage, but destroys more than 50 homes near Mariposa and Yosemite

Fresno Bee

It was a day of mixed emotions as firefighters battled the Detwiler Fire near Mariposa and Yosemite National Park on Thursday. While the blaze showed very minor growth in acreage, and officials have spoken positively about gaining a hold on the inferno, Cal Fire confirmed the flames have turned more than 100 buildings to ash, at least 50 of them once occupied by families.

See also:

·       Detwiler Fire destroys 58 homes, now 15 percent contained  ABC30

·       Detwiler Fire grows to more than 74,000 acres, 58 homes destroyed Sierra Star

·       ‘Currently no plans’ to evacuate Mariposa County jail as Detwiler Fire spreads  Sierra Star

·       Firefighters ‘turning the corner’ on Mariposa’s devastating wild fire  Modesto Bee

·       Progress On Detwiler Fire As Residents, Yosemite Tourists Deal With Smoke  NPR | VPR

·       Where’s that smoke coming from? Fires create haze over Northern California tourist destinations  Sacramento Bee

·       The fight to save the gold-mining town of Mariposa from a monster fire Los Angeles Times


Mathews: California: Denying the future – or creating it?

Sacramento Bee
California, are you an incubator for great ideas – or a bubble that shuts them out?


Assembly GOP leader Chad Mayes survives challenge over cap-and-trade vote, but party activists will push for his removal

Los Angeles Times

Under pressure from some party activists to step down, Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley met with his caucus for more than an hour Thursday and emerged saying he remains its leader.

See also:

·       Assemblywoman blasts GOP leader for cap-and-trade vote  San Jose Mercury News

·       A top Assembly Republican quits her leadership role to protest climate vote –  Los Angeles Times

·       Cap-And-Trade Deal Exemplifies Chad Mayes’s Governing Philosophy, Could Cost Him His Job  capradio.org

A new suit says lawmakers broke the law when they changed California’s recall election rules

Los Angeles Times

Republican activists and an anti-tax organization filed a lawsuit Thursday to scrap a new law that revised the rules for California’s recall elections, accusing Democrats of a blatant attempt to help an embattled state senator keep his job.




How Russia hacked American faith in the democratic process

PBS NewsHour
American voting process and confidence in its efforts to meddle with the 2016 election? A new cover story for TIME magazine takes a deep dive into the lengths at which the Obama administration and cybersecurity officials tried to protect the U.S. election system. Judy Woodruff takes a closer look with its author, Massimo Calabresi of TIME.




Sen. Kamala Harris touts first big bill as Dems ponder 2020

Sacramento Bee

Sen. Kamala Harris demonstrated her loyalty Thursday to key national Democratic constituencies she would need if she seeks the White House – African-American and Hispanic voters – as she unveiled her first major bipartisan bill, a bid to revamp the bail bond system.

See also:

·       Kamala Harris, Rand Paul introduce bail reform bill  San Jose Mercury News

·       Kamala Harris and Rand Paul Introduce National Bail Reform Bill KQED

Tom Steyer rebrands his political group for anti-Trump mission

Los Angeles Times

Tom Steyer, a major donor to Democratic causes and a potential candidate for California governor, has long signaled his political ambitions stretched far beyond climate change, his signature issue.



Now that cap and trade is approved, here’s what Jerry Brown and legislators must do

Fresno Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown could rightly take a bow. Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León ought to pat themselves on the back and give high-fives to Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes.


Our View / Hits & Misses: Fox Foundation needs to stop the buck

The Bakersfield Californian

A Bakersfield-based entertainment company says it’s out to the tune of $154,000 in ticket sales revenue following recent events at the beloved Fox Theater. Icon Entertainment promoter Doug Castro says revenue from sold-out shows featuring comedian Jeff Dunham on May 11 and 12 is missing — and so is the Fox’s former agent, Bob Bender, who had a contract to handle entertainment and events at the theater from January 2016 until early this year, when he separated from the Fox prematurely. The Bakersfield Police Department is investigating and local criminal defense attorney Kyle Humphrey says Bender has retained his services.


California lawmakers headed home without addressing housing

San Francisco Chronicle

Carbon consumed all the oxygen in Sacramento last week as the governor and lawmakers focused on fighting global warming, leaving efforts to address the state’s housing crisis up in the air. Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers insisted, however, that trying to solve the world’s problems won’t keep them from facing California’s, promising to take up housing as soon as the Legislature returns from its summer recess in a month. With the state’s vast shortage of homes inflating prices and rents, overwhelming highways and transit, and populating tent and RV camps throughout the Bay Area and beyond, much depends on their ability to do so.


It’s Still O.J.’s. America. Nothing has changed.

The Sacramento Bee

For nearly a quarter-century, O.J. Simpson has served as a referendum on some American flashpoint: race, class, domestic violence, justice, California, celebrity. On Thursday, as a Nevada parole board granted him an October release after nine years in prison for a 2008 robbery and kidnapping conviction, it was striking how many of those issues still divide us. And how little Simpson – and we – have changed.




California farm region plagued by dirty air looks to Trump

Sacramento Bee / AP

California’s vast San Joaquin Valley, the country’s most productive farming region, is engulfed by some of the nation’s dirtiest skies, forcing the state’s largest air district to spend more than $40 billion in the past quarter-century to enforce hundreds of stringent pollution rules..


Follow science, not fear, on pesticides

Sacramento Bee

A recent Viewpoints article is an example of how agriculture and the complexity of science are often misrepresented (“State must step up on pesticides,” July 13). The claims about the presence of chlorpyrifos in umbilical cord blood and residues above a level of concern are based on old data, not contemporary studies that take into account today’s stringent regulations. Current data show that there is no causal link between chlorpyrifos use and health problems, as confirmed by the EPA in its revised 2014 risk assessment.


Robotics taking over as California growers run out of farm workers

Los Angeles Times

A tractor pulls the “See and Spray” lettuce thinner (once called the LettuceBot) across a field near Gilroy, Calif. The computer-controlled machine blasts microjets of water and fertilizer to kill seedlings and leave space for the remaining heads to mature. It can match the day’s work of 20 farm laborers by noon, according to its developer, Blue River Technology, based in Sunnyvale.


Study: Marijuana Dispensaries Make Neighborhoods Safer

CBS Sacramento

Cannabis may be California’s largest cash crop, but dispensaries who sell the profitable plants haven’t always reaped their rewards.






Fresno City Council kills pot ban after 3-3 vote

Fresno Bee

Fresno City Council President Clint Olivier cleared up confusion Thursday after he tweeted earlier in the morning: “Fresno city council kills marijuana ban. Dies on 3-3 vote.”  COlivier failed to specify in his tweet that the only marijuana-related vote on Thursday was on whether or not to place restrictions on the number of marijuana plants that residents are legally allowed to grow at home.

Should California drop criminal penalties for drug possession?

San Francisco Chronicle

For better or worse, California likes to decide drug policy at the ballot box. Voters have already approved marijuana legalization, but criminal sanctions against users of heroin, cocaine and other drugs are very much intact, though they’ve been moving in a more lenient direction. It would not be surprising to see a proposition entirely eliminating criminal penalties for drug possession in the near future.




Salida fire board backs station makeover. Residents want more firefighters.

Modesto Bee

Residents have challenged the Salida fire district board for spending more than $260,000 on fire station renovations, almost all for the main station on Salida Boulevard.


100 new wildfires in California in four days, and more are surely on the way

Sacramento Bee

Firefighters and determined residents of Mariposa County continued their battle against the massive Detwiler Fire on Thursday as wildland blazes continued to burn around the state, generating smoke for hundreds of miles.


Was pot to blame in Auburn-area fire that threatened homes?

Sacramento Bee

A juvenile has been arrested in connection with the fire that threatened homes and prompted evacuations in the the Auburn area Thursday afternoon.




‘Ineffective’: The quandary of quantifying a teacher’s performance

89.3 KPCC

In an attempt to remedy the gap for disadvantaged students under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, each state is required to report whether disadvantaged students have less qualified teachers.




California proposes minimal sanctions for low participation in state tests


In passing a new school accountability law — the Every Student Succeeds Act — Congress gave states more latitude to decide how to use federal education funding, particularly in improving schools serving low-income students and English learners. What hasn’t changed is the requirement for nearly all students to take annual standardized tests — and for states to see that schools and districts comply.


Understanding California charter schools: a quick guide


Charter schools are frequently in the news, but it’s not always clear how they compare to traditional public schools. EdSource has compiled the following FAQ to give readers a quick and clear primer on these public schools that are often the subject of heated political debates. Find out how many charters are in California and in the U.S., what the major fault lines are between charter schools and their opponents, and what some of the functions of charters are that make them distinct from traditional public schools.


Search How Your High School Ranks On California AP Tests


The state Department of Education updated Advanced Placement test data for schools across the state last month — five weeks after acknowledging it had posted incorrect scores for the 2015-16 school year.


Better Together: California Teachers Summit

89.3 KPCC

Cal State Fullerton is a host site for the third annual Better Together: California Teachers Summit, Friday, July 28, featuring local teachers who will deliver TED-style EdTalks.


Higher Ed:


UC’s Experiment in Measuring Costs

Public Policy Institute of California

When it comes to government budgets, the focus is usually on who gets how much. But that’s only part of the story of the California state budget, which usually includes a host of provisions that specify how the money is to be used. This year’s budget is no exception—and one relatively obscure provision could help University of California (UC) campuses optimize their budgetary decision-making.


Berkeley offers to waive venue fee for speaker

Washington Post

The Latest on efforts by UC Berkeley college Republicans to bring conservative Ben Shapiro to campus






Central Valley, plagued by dirty air, looks to Trump

The Business Journal

In California, where Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is an outspoken leader in the global fight against climate change, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District now is waging a very public campaign against enforcement of the landmark U.S. Clean Air Act that includes ever-tightening air quality standards the district says it cannot meet.


Climate Change Will Hurt Economy In Central Valley Worse Than In Coastal California, Study Says

Sacramento Bee

Fresno County, which is included as the hot inland regions that will take a beating according to groundbreaking climate change study published in the journal Science. Global warming will punish some areas of the country more severely than others. The same factors will play out in California. Coastal regions, where much of California’s wealth is concentrated, will be somewhat buffered because of the breezy ocean climate.


Calif. Gets More Money in VW Diesel Scandal


The Golden State is on track to receive an additional sum of nearly $154 million from the Volkswagen Group of America.




Bakersfield votes to end controversial program that funds home solar panels 

Los Angeles Times

As home improvement projects to increase energy efficiency have exploded in California, so has the controversy over a property tax-based financing program that’s helped spur the growth.


California Attorney General Sues to Stop Sale of Martinez Oil Terminal 


California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Thursday he will file another motion in an antitrust lawsuit to stop Valero Energy Corp. from purchasing a Martinez oil terminal, which he says could raise gas prices.


Hydro, wind and solar make inroads in California’s electric grid

Los Angeles Times

Wetter weather and continued growth in renewable energy sources resulted in some big changes in electricity generation in California in 2016, according to numbers recently released by the California Energy Commission.




Which Congressional Districts Face the Largest Medi-Cal Coverage Losses under the Senate Bill? ?

UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education

View interactive map by congressional district to see how many individuals would be projected to lose Medi-Cal under one BCRA scenario. 


Cost of repeal, but not replace


The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its calculation of the costs and benefits if Congress repeals the federal health care law, but doesn’t replace it. About 32 million people would be uninsured by 2026 and premiums would double. On the other hand, the federal deficit would drop by $473 billion


Sighs of Relief From Health Safety-Net Providers in California After Senate Bill Collapses


Health care workers at California hospitals and clinics that serve low-income patients are relieved but still wary after the collapse of the Senate Republican health care bill earlier this week.


Valley fever cases spike statewide, making 2016 the worst year for the fungal disease in decades


Valley fever infected 5,372 people last year in California, the most in a single year since cases were made reportable in 1995, California Department of Public Health officials announced Thursday. It’s an increase of more than 2,300 cases – a 57 percent spike over 2015. It’s unclear how many died of valley fever because the CDPH doesn’t maintain those records. 

See also:

·       Valley Fever cases increase in California  San Jose Mercury News

‘Urgent…alarming’ – but rehab investigator won’t be in thick of SoCal action any time soon

Orange County Register

A young woman, a recovering alcoholic, urged state senators last week to support a simple idea that seemed eminently logical. But in Sacramento there may be no such thing as a simple idea, including Assembly Bill 572, which would move one of the handful of state-paid inspectors of drug rehab centers from their current office in Sacramento to the the epicenter of the rehab industry, Southern California.

California parents trying to control kids can lose custody 


The state can take wayward children away from their parents even when they are doing their best to control their kids and the kids aren’t delinquents, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday.




When Syria Came to Fresno: Refugees Test Limits of Outstretched Hand

New York Times

The police responded to a call about a loud party on East San Ramon Avenue, but it wasn’t just any party: A sheep was reportedly being slaughtered in a backyard.   “Muslim refugees were unaware that slaughtering sheep is not allowed in the city,” the police wrote afterward in their report, which also stated that those involved “were advised to clean up the blood and mess” and warned that in the future “they could be cited.”


California judge refuses to bring back Trump’s sanctuary cities ban

Fox News

The bold move to not reinstate President Donald Trump’s executive order — which sought to slash funding to cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities — comes amid a battle between the State Department and local governments across the country over the edict from Washington.





Here’s why you can expect a higher minimum wage in January

Fresno Bee

Barring a surprise sag in the state’s employment picture, California’s hourly minimum wage will increase as scheduled on Jan. 1. The hourly wage is scheduled to go from $10.50 to $11 at workplaces with 26 or more employees and from $10 to $10.50 at smaller workplaces


Bill would ban employers from asking salary history

Fresno Business Journal

AB 168, would open employers up to lawsuits for inquiring into a job applicant’s prior salary — it also penalizes employers for failing to provide a pay scale upon demand even if the applicant suffers a wage loss — recently passed its second committee in the state Senate.


Four jobs in ten will soon go to robots. Will we get ready, or hide?

Sacramento Bee

During the Great Recession, the United States lost about 8.8 million jobs. This represented 5 percent of all jobs in America – and it was devastating for families and entire communities.  Now imagine that we lose seven times more jobs. Imagine 38 percent of all jobs in America are suddenly obsolete and 57 million Americans are facing unemployment. These are rates of unemployment and disruption that will far exceed the job losses during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when one in five Americans was unemployed.


As California’s labor shortage grows, farmers race to replace workers with robots

Los Angeles Times

Driscoll’s is so secretive about its robotic strawberry picker it won’t let photographers within telephoto range of it.

But if you do get a peek, you won’t see anything humanoid or space-aged. AgroBot is still more John Deere than C-3PO — a boxy contraption moving in fits and starts, with its computer-driven sensors, graspers and cutters missing 1 in 3 berries.




Valley Economic Index expands for June, inflation gauge ticks up

Fresno State News

The San Joaquin Valley Business Conditions Index climbed to a solid 58.7 from 58.1 in May, moving into a range that points to strong growth in the next three to six months.


Local chambers of commerce can help smooth path for a more prosperous, diverse America

California Economic Summit

For many, this insecurity is intensified by the demographic changes that will make the U.S. ‘majority minority’ sometime after 2040.  While the increasing diversity is welcomed by many, others are frightened by a sense of cultural loss.




Land Use:


Splash pad designated a public cooling area

Porterville Recorder

The Porterville City Council approved Tuesday the use of the splash pad at Fallen Heroes Park as a designated public cooling area for public health and safety purposes.


Cities, counties oppose telecom bill

Record Bee

First District Humboldt County Supervisor Rex Bohn was in Sacramento last week fighting SB 649, a bill he says could have detrimental effects if it becomes law.

The fight is over granting access to telecom companies to use public property for “small cell” wireless antennas in virtually any neighborhood. The bill would prohibit cities and counties from any discretionary review or public say on those plans. And the bill would give the telecom companies a big break on the fees paid to the cities and counties.




Will the Governor’s New Housing “Package” End CA’s Housing Crisis? Let’s Rank the Ideas and Find Out. / Public CEO

Cal Economic Summit

Even before the governor pledged this week to take action (finally) on housing after the summer recess, legislative leaders were already speaking proudly about the ideas being discussed in the Capitol, with the Assembly Speaker saying in April that his members were “working on numerous fronts” to support Californians suffering from rising housing costs, while the Senate President pro Tem claimed in June that his house had already “passed a package of consequential legislation aimed at alleviating the state’s growing housing crisis.”


For young California homeowners, a proposed 2018 initiative could make buying a new house a lot less expensive

Los Angeles Times

Under a ballot measure filed Thursday, California’s landmark Proposition 13 property tax breaks would be extended to young homeowners who sell their residence and buy a new one.


Why Shipping Containers Are Cool, But Not Affordable Housing


Detroit has long been known for turning raw metal into useful even beautiful objects; most often they came with wheels. Now, as the battered and bankrupt city undergoes a development renaissance, housing developers are doing it again, transforming boxy steel shipping containers into sleek new homes.




California’s State Budget: The Enacted 2017–18 Budget

Public Policy Institute California

The spending plan reflects modest economic growth. On June 27, 2017, Governor Brown signed the 2017–18 Budget Act, which includes $183.3 billion in spending. General Fund appropriations total $125.1 billion, a $3.7 billion (or 3%) increase over the revised 2016–17 budget. General Fund revenues are estimated at $127.7 billion for 2017–18, which is $6.1 billion (5%) more than the revised 2016–17 revenues but $1 billion less than projected when the 2016 Budget Act was adopted.


Ruling Leaves Local Public Agencies Open to Legal Actions Asserting Wasteful Government Spending by Non Property Owners / Public CEO


Section 526a allows a taxpayer to bring a lawsuit to stop governmental entities from the illegal or wasteful expenditure of public funds, even if the taxpayer does not have a direct or substantial interest in the outcome. In order to have standing to bring a section 526a suit against the government, the suit must be maintained by “a citizen resident therein, or by a corporation, who is assessed for and is liable to pay… or has paid, a tax therein.”


CalSTRS teacher pension fund posts 13.4 percent return

Sacramento Bee

California’s second-largest public pension fund rode a booming stock market to post its best year of investment returns since 2014.  The California State Teachers’ Retirement System gained an investment return of 13.4 percent for the budget year that ended June 30.

See also:

·       CalSTRS sees annual returns jump to 13.4 percent from 1.4 percent  Reuters

Fox: How About Naming Rights For the State Capitol Building?

Fox and Hounds Daily

For $12 million a year, the Los Angeles Dodgers are willing to offer naming rights to the field within Dodger Stadium on which the ball club plays. If that helps the Dodgers meet its budget obligations, perhaps the state should adopt a similar plan. Wonder how much the state could get for naming rights for parks, harbors, or buildings?


Going it alone on major earthquake warnings

Hanford Sentinel

Donald Trump’s company owns a golf club and other properties in California, but a look at his proposed budget for the fiscal year ending in September 2018 indicates the President may never have experienced one of this state’s frequent earthquakes.




Brown’s cap-and-trade deal could eventually kill high-speed rail

San Francisco Chronicle

A last-minute deal that Gov. Jerry Brown made with Republican lawmakers to win support for a 10-year extension of his signature climate program could cost the governor another top priority: high-speed rail.


Volkswagen to pay millions more in California for diesel scandal

Sacramento Bee

Volkswagen agreed Thursday to pay California an additional $153.8 million in the carmaker’s diesel air-pollution scandal.


California truckers would get fewer breaks under new law

San Jose Mercury News

Truckers rolling down California’s highways are entitled to take more breaks than drivers in most of America. But that would change if a congressional attempt to override the state’s work rules succeeds — which union officials and truck drivers say would make the state’s highways more dangerous.


California bill would boost electric car rebates by $3 billion, but where will the money come from?

Los Angeles Times

Over seven years, California has spent $430 million on low-emission vehicle subsidies to help lower the cost for car buyers. Now the state Legislature is looking to extend that by another seven years, but with a price tag of $3 billion.


One of the biggest transportation changes is bicycle adoption

Business Insider

By far the biggest transportation change I’ve seen is the explosion in bicycle riding. 


How Much Can Cities Do About Walkability?

Among the many pieces of wisdom in Jane Jacobs’ 1961 masterpiece, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, one stands out a half-century later as a near-universal urban planning truth. It’s the idea that healthy communities are built on the face-to-face contact of their residents. Routine daily meetings of neighbors on the sidewalk foster public safety and social cohesion. “Lowly, unpurposeful and random as they may appear,” Jacobs wrote, “sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow.”




California’s Water: Storing Water

Public Policy Institute of California

California has built water storage on a small but significant scale and increased groundwater storage. Learn more….


California water wars rage on as farmers seek more water that now goes to fish

Fresno Bee

The drought may be over and Central Valley farmers are getting more water than they have in years, but that hasn’t stopped congressional Republicans from resurrecting a bill that would strip environmental protections for fish so more water can be funneled to agriculture.  The bill is likely to meet the same fate as others before it, despite farmers having a new ally in the White House and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress.

See also:

·       The drought is over. Why are Republicans in Congress fighting for more water for farmers?  Sacramento Bee

Fitzgerald: A bold water grab remarkable in its selfishness

Stockton Recordnet.com

Nothing is more tangible proof of government’s disregard for Stockton than the dirty, half-dead San Joaquin River. Still, it’s better than what Republicans have in mind. House Republicans sent HR23 to the Senate last week. The bill, a bold water grab, is remarkable for how selfish, backward and destructive it is.


Water board sets standard on suspected contaminant

Porterville Recorder

The State Water Resources Control Board voted Tuesday to create a new legal limit, or maximum contaminant level (MCL), on 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP), a man-made, drinking water contaminant found across the state.

Catastrophic engineering expert asks: Is Oroville Dam leaking? 

Sacramento Bee

One of the country’s foremost experts on catastrophic engineering failures released a new report Thursday on the troubled Oroville Dam that asks a disturbing question: Is the country’s tallest dam leaking?

See also: 

·       Engineering expert blasts management failures at Oroville Dam  San Francisco Chronicle




Summer Arts culminates in Student Showcases –

Fresno State News
Summer Arts is sparking a fire at Fresno State. The month-long festival is transforming more than 400 students from Fresno and beyond.


The Downtown Booster Squad Celebrates Five Years of DTA

downtown fresno blog

For the inaugural Downtown Booster Squad event, we celebrated five classes of Downtown Academy. What’s Downtown Academy you might ask?

An inside look at the making of Peterson TV series airing in August

Modesto Bee

When pregnant Laci Peterson of Modesto vanished on Christmas Eve 2002, few could have predicted that her husband’s double-murder trial would captivate people around the world, driving headlines and cable talk shows and prompting some two dozen books. Several TV shows and movies followed, including at least four specials this year alone.


Great things are happening in the Valley. Here’s a list of VCC member offerings to keep you busy and entertained!

Valley Cultural Coalition

The Valley Cultural Coalition’s mission is to ensure the health of the arts and the cultural communities in the Central Valley.


CVCF grantee Central Sierra Historical Society has launched their “Sounds of the Central Sierra” app you can download


The vast and diverse Sierra Nevada Mountains are rich in culture, history, and natural beauty. But how can visitors make the most of their time enjoying the area and exploring its hidden stories?


Trump FCC deregulation threatens local broadcasting

Brookings Institution
Local broadcasting’s “overarching focus” on “serving the public good” is being stealthily watered down, with the industry’s support, by the Trump Federal Communications Commission. In little-noticed decisions, the agency has been removing regulatory requirements to protect broadcast localism, shield a diversity of local voices, and avoid the establishment of a dominant national broadcaster.