TOP POLITICAL STORIES
The Modesto Bee
Modesto voters in November will decide whether to impose a tax of as much as 10 percent on marijuana businesses, whose proceeds the city says would be used for any government purpose, including parks and recreation, neighborhood safety and creating jobs.
24/7 Wall St.
Low-income families tend to live in communities with less stable housing, worse health systems, greater exposure to stressors such as violent crime, less secure employment, and higher exposure to poor air quality and environmental toxins. Struggling with many such factors, residents often find it hard to escape the cycle of poverty. Two Valley cities were on the list: Merced ranked 9th and Stockton ranked 13th.
Is single-payer bill dead? Can backers identify funding source?
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Friday he will serve the remainder of his term, dashing the hopes of many Republicans who viewed him as their strongest contender in next year’s governor’s race.
The Bakersfield Californian
John Chiang, the California state treasurer, stopped by Bakersfield Sunday morning as part of his four-day campaign road trip through the Central Valley to talk to the community about his future plans if elected governor in November 2018.
CALmatters – Walters
Politicians want concrete reminders of what they wrought while in office. For Brown, that means two massive public works projects – twin tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to carry Sacramento River water southward, and a north-south bullet train.
Los Angeles Times
Democrats in the California Legislature never shy away from hyping their state budgets as both responsible and visionary. But the rhetoric surrounding this year’s proposal, signed into law on Tuesday, has sounded more like a call to arms.
New York Times
The deer heads mounted on the walls of Eric Johnson’s church office are testament to his passion for hunting, a lifestyle enjoyed by many in the northernmost reaches of California but one that Mr. Johnson says surprises people he meets on his travels around America and abroad.
Los Angeles Times
As we celebrate America’s 241st birthday, it’s sad that increasing numbers of us aren’t bothering to vote. Especially in California.
The Mercury News
The history of African American people in America is a story of both struggle and determination. Sadly, during this time of political transition, there are new stories arising about incidences of hate, racism and bigotry every day. Local news has brought light to the vile behavior of a group of students at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino that targeted Black students, and another incident at Los Gatos High School that crudely mocked Black people using racist prom invitations.
Los Angeles Times
California feeds the world with its bounty, fuels the economy with its innovation, fires the imagination with its creativity. There is one export, though, that is far less celebrated: the unceasing torrent of outbound campaign cash.
Fox & Hounds
Dear America, I suppose I should wish you happy birthday. But I’m just not feeling it. You and I, the United States and California, used to be pretty darn close—“indivisible” was your word and “inseparable” was mine. Sure, we had our differences—I’ve always been a little out there—but
Americans broadly believe their country’s political tone has become less civil since Donald Trump was elected president and that fundamental rights are weakening, according to a new PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll.
Fox & Hounds
One cannot write about the July 4th holiday in 2017 without acknowledging a country divided. The rhetoric is more than heated; it is boiling. Policy debates melt down into accusations of the most dire circumstances imaginable. The fear quotient is hyped up on all sides; death threats and acts of violence are offered readily, in some cases amongst members of the same political party. A calmer period seems far off, yet confrontational political differences are not new in this country.
Some people are saying the flooding that forced the evacuation of residents and damaged homes and farmland along the lower reaches of the Kings River during our recent heat wave could have been avoided.
Los Angeles Times
California can continue its world leadership on climate change, but state leaders can’t leave suffering communities behind.
Reports of worker shortages and millions of dollars in crop losses are getting lots of attention these days. One case that has raised some concern comes from a grower-shipper association in Santa Barbara County that estimates at least $13 million in strawberries, broccoli, leafy greens and other produce was left in the field to rot last year because there weren’t enough workers to harvest them, according to the Santa Barbara Independent.
A severe labor shortage in the agriculture industry is driving much of the discussion at the 2017 Forbes AgTech Summit that was held in downtown Salinas this past week. The Summit, now in its third year, is an annual event that brings together business leaders and entrepreneurs in agriculture and technology.
Farmers in Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties are disposing of hundreds of cows that died in the June heat wave, overwhelming the region’s largest rendering plant.
That water flooded parts of the orchard – unearthing trees, displacing irrigation hoses, exposing river rock, and lifting asphalt on property roads.
For the first time in years, baskets filled with zucchini, cucumbers, green beans, onions and tomatoes stood by the cashier at El Porvenir convenience store on 13th and P streets in South Merced.
California citrus growers will soon get help from the State to stop a devastating plant disease threatening residential and commercial citrus trees. Governor Brown signed the 2017 Budget Act this week and authorized $10 million in general funding to prevent the spread of the invasive insect Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and the deadly and incurable plant disease it can carry, Huanglongbing (HLB).
Food cleanliness is also the purview of the Federal Food and Drug Administration(FDA). That agency has inspected food producers since its inception. Now with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011, the FDA has started to inspect wineries.
Sin City is getting ready to launch its latest legal vice. Marijuana facilities are ramping up their work for expected lines starting early Saturday in Las Vegas and other Nevada cities that will begin selling pot for recreational use after voters approved it in November.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE/PUBLIC SAFETY
If the Fresno Police Department hopes to swell its ranks to the seven-year high outlined in Mayor Lee Brand’s new budget, the city may want to find a way to pay its new officers more. The Fresno County grand jury delivered a glowing report last week on the department’s training programs and use-of-force practices. But there was one exception: Staffing issues are hindering officers who want to get a little extra practice at things like de-escalation, which became a major focus after the 2016 shooting of Dylan Noble. The report takes it one step further by saying that Fresno’s starting salary for officers has not kept pace with its neighbors, noting that Fresno starts at $55,858 – more than $13,000 less than Clovis and $15,000 less than Dinuba.
Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers recently struck a deal on a plan to blend Proposition 64 and medical marijuana laws previously approved by the Legislature. The goal of the more than 100-page piece of legislation is to help create a singular regulatory system governing pot in California.
Kevin Pastorino II was a blond, 8-year-old boy. He liked dump trucks, “Dukes of Hazzard,” his blue BMX bike. He played T-ball on a team called the Phillies.
On July 3, 1985, about 7:15 a.m., as Kevin crossed the intersection of Pallisades and Knickerbocker in north Stockton to the bus stop, heading for summer school, a car struck him.
A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on Thursday that blocks California from enforcing their gun magazine confiscation law.
While the National Rifle Association (NRA) has long insisted that allowing Americans to carry guns make communities safer, an analysis of nearly 40 years’ worth of data has found that is not necessarily true.
In a 66-page order, Judge Roger Benitez temporarily blocked a new California law that required citizens to surrender possession of any gun magazine capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition.
California’s new system for funding public education has pumped tens of billions of extra dollars into struggling schools, but there’s little evidence yet that the investment is helping the most disadvantaged students.
California education officials are sounding the alarm over Congressional Republicans’ proposed health care overhaul bills, saying changes to Medicaid could leave the state or school districts scrambling to pay for critical special education services they don’t have the option of cutting.
Faced with significant salary hikes and ballooning health benefit and pensions, school districts across the state scrambled to balance their budgets at the end of the fiscal year.
California Community Colleges have undergone significant changes in the last few years as a response to the looming skills and job gap. Although many Californians may be unaware of just how much transformation has occurred – Canada isn’t and wants to know more!
San Francisco Chronicle
At the University of California, investigations of sexual harassment claims against employees often take more than a year and cause extended periods of stress for the accuser and the accused.
Between now and July 21, when they take a month off, state legislators will have to decide the fate of bills that passed one chamber of the Legislature and await action in the other. Among those are key education bills that would lengthen teacher probation periods, require more accounting for spending under the Local Control Funding Formula, mandate a later start time for middle and high schools and further restrict student suspensions. What follows is a summary of more than a dozen bills EdSource is following.
To the mountain of research on one of the most effective interventions that prepares children to succeed in school, we can now add one more: new findings that transitional kindergarten gives English learners a substantial boost in the year before kindergarten.
Out of sight, out of mind. That pretty much sums Fresno’s association with the San Joaquin River.
Did it seem hotter than usual in June? You bet it was, says the National Weather Service.
Noxious fumes smelling of rotten eggs filled the air surrounding Coachella Valley on a hot day last month, triggering a warning alert from Southern California air quality regulators.
The culprit: the evaporating Salton Sea.
The Mercury News
Breaching humpbacks, perky kingfishers, iridescent dolphinfish and perpetually cute sea otters are just a few of the 34 species of marine mammals, 180 types of birds and over 500 fish species that call the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary home.
For Will Travis, it began 12 years ago, with an eye-opening article in the New Yorker magazine about rising seas and the widespread flooding and dislocation that would bring. As the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the region’s coastal management agency, he needed to know more.
Los Angeles Times
The massive, 150-ton turbines have stopped spinning. The mile-long cooling pipes that extend into the Pacific will likely become undersea relics. High voltage that once energized the homes of more than a million Californians is down to zero.
Sierra Sun Times
Assembly Bill 524, authored by Assembly Member Frank Bigelow (R-Madera), is headed to the Assembly Floor for consideration after passing out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. The measure, which is an urgency bill requiring 2/3 approval to take effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature, redirects approximately $8 million in funds collected from citations against utility companies found negligent in the 2015 Butte Fire to CAL FIRE’s State Responsibility Area Fund and Tree Mortality Grant Program.
Justin Bond walked into the Our Heroes’ Dreams office Friday morning at the Hanford Train Station with bloodshot eyes; he had just spent the entire night talking to a veteran who was having thoughts of committing suicide.
AB 74 from San Francisco Assemblyman David Chiu would fund rental assistance through the Whole Person Care pilot.
San Francisco Chronicle
There is no higher calling for government than protecting abused and neglected kids. Counselors on the front lines in San Joaquin County’s shelter for foster children are committed to providing a safe refuge for traumatized youth.
In April, Casey was admitted to Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, and now he is slowly recovering at home on a 6-month course of antifungal medications. He isn’t allowed to participate in sports for six months.
A $400 billion proposal to create a universal healthcare plan for all Californians is pitting state Democratic leaders against each other in an acrimonious fight that has even spurred death threats.
San Francisco Chronicle
Democrats have not had a voice in crafting the Senate bill, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell drafted in secrecy. But given a chance, they would probably address some of the problems even they see with the Affordable Care Act. Chief among them are the high premiums middle-class workers face when trying to buy insurance on the individual market.
California officials, intimately familiar with seismic activity, are forecasting a “Big One” coming to the Golden State — in the form of the Republican Congress’s health-care legislation.
Medicare and Medicaid together account for about $1 trillion in federal spending annually, and estimates suggest that $1 out of ever $10 of that spending is fraud. Some estimates go much higher.
The single most essential reform – reducing the cost of health care itself – is typically underemphasized or even entirely absent from the discussion. Yet that is the fundamental avenue to broader access to care, lower insurance premiums, and ultimately better health.
Two bills are moving forward after the House passed legislation targeting funding for sanctuary cities, and strengthening immigration enforcement.
Jorge Ramirez, an Oceanside, Calif., minister and immigrant who is in the country illegally, didn’t think he would end up in line for deportation when he encouraged his U.S. citizen daughter to vote for now-President Trump.
Los Angeles Times
Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones asked President Trump’s immigration chief for help fighting California’s so-called “sanctuary state” bill weeks before the two hosted a town hall meeting in March on immigration enforcement that drew hundreds of people and erupted in protests.
Los Angeles Daily News
As debate in the nation’s capital has focused on health care, Russia and secret tapes, President Donald Trump’s signature proposal — building a “big, beautiful wall” on America’s southern border — has faded from the spotlight.
Last Wednesday, at an Iowa rally, President Trump floated more anti-immigrant restrictions before the crowd. “Those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years.” Trump dutifully read this supposed potential policy off a teleprompter until he got to his whopping finish, which was cut off by roaring applause from the crowd. The problem is–that is already the law.
JOBS AND THE ECONOMY
With a unanimous vote, the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors gave final approval on the Tenaya Cabins Project EIR last week. With that approval, Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp is closer to beginning a proposed project that will add cabins on about 27 acres of private land adjacent to Highway 41 near the resort.
In California, travel/tourism employs a diverse workforce and contributes meaningfully to the state’s economy. This report evaluates the role of travel/tourism on the state’s economy. It uses data on the state’s tourism and labor force to provide insight about tourism workers in California and how their careers evolve and should be of interest to policymakers and researchers interested in economic development issues and career pathways. Using a conservative conception of the industry, data suggest that roughly 800,000 workers were employed annually in the industry in the state in 2009–2013.
Fresno Bee (blog) / CALmatters
California’s Capitol is under perpetual siege by lobbyists for hundreds of specific interest groups, each with an agenda of bills it wants enacted or killed.
After each legislative session, many of those groups produce scorecards for their members, not only reporting how well their agendas fared, but how the 120 legislators voted on those agendas.
The Business Journal
Big surprise here — the state Assembly is considering a so-called “job killer” bill that would make it even easier for people to sue and receive damages from business owners. AB 1576 would amend the Gender Tax Repeal Act of 1998, making it easier for consumers to sue a business if they believe there is a price difference for substantially similar goods due to the gender of the intended user.
San Francisco Chronicle
Transgender and gender-nonconforming employees will receive greater and more explicit protections this week as new California employment regulations take effect Saturday.
If you don’t like an unflattering study from a team of researchers from the local university that accurately exposes some of the negative employment effects of the city of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage, you shop around – out of state in this case — for a more favorable study of that questionable and risky public policy experiment.
24/7 Wall Street
24/7 Wall St. reviewed economic growth, poverty, unemployment, job growth, and college attainment rates nationwide to compare and rank each state’s economy. As a result, the best ranked states tend to have fast-growing economies, low poverty and unemployment, high job growth, and a relatively well-educated workforce, while the opposite is generally the case among states with the worst ranked economies. California was ranked 9th best.
Standing in his new apartment, on the top of a two-level building in Oakland, Daniel Yapo admits his journey from homelessness to housing took a lot of help.
Treasurer-Tax Collector Gordon Ford is retiring Aug. 1, more than a year before his term expires because he believes the Stanislaus County Employees’ Retirement Association is taking on too many risky investments.
California Budget & Policy Center
On June 27, Governor Brown signed the 2017-18 state budget bill. This year’s budget agreement includes a number of improvements over earlier proposals, though the overall scope of state investments remains constrained by uncertainty about potential federal policy changes
Los Angeles Times
“This is not the time to delay or evade,” Brown said during a Sacramento news conference in May 2011. “This is the time to put our finances in order.” Six years later, the state is no longer projecting massive deficits and the governor’s metaphorical wall is now more like a short fence. Tax increases approved by voters in 2012 and in 2016 have played a major role in making that happen.
Society of Actuaries
Even though total contributions increased 59% from 2006 to 2014, unfunded liabilities grew 150% as noted in the Funded Status section on page 2.
Off and on for nearly a century, California lawmakers pondered breaking up an obscure elected board that now collects a third of the state’s revenue — more than $60 billion a year in sales, alcohol, tobacco and other taxes.
A tax research group says Summer gas prices are at their lowest level in twelve years. That same group says seven states will ask drivers to pay a little more toward improving the transportation infrastructure they use every day.
San Francisco Chronicle
Federal wildlife officials gave the first approval last week to Gov. Jerry Brown’s decade-old plan to re-engineer California’s water system by building twin tunnels to ship water around the delta to cities and farms.
A toxic algal bloom at a Central California lake has reached danger status with state officials. The Department of Water Resources said areas around San Luis Reservoir are not safe for human or pet contact.
When it comes to California and climate change, the predictions are staggering: coastal airports besieged by floodwaters, entire beaches disappearing as sea levels rise. Another disturbing scenario is brewing inland, in the sleepy backwaters of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. It’s a threat to the Delta’s ecosystem that could swallow up a significant portion of California’s water supply.
Wildlife suffered higher than normal losses this winter in severe weather across the western United States. The death toll includes dozens of endangered bighorn sheep in California.
PublicCEO & PPIC
California’s water managers face many challenges—from a changing climate to a growing population. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) spoke with Celeste Cantú, chair of the PPIC Water Policy Advisory Council. Cantú served for more than a decade as general manager of the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority and is stepping down this month. She talked about how the profession must change to better address these issues.
While he does farm thousands of acres of pistachios, almonds and grapes, many believe the only harvest Vidovich is truly interested in is water.
Visalia Times Delta
Tulare County Supervisors approved sending a letter to the Federal government supporting the reduction of the Giant Sequoia National Monument, despite public opposition.
Russian meddling in the 2016 election is big news. But Washington has no monopoly on Russian espionage. Believe it or not, there was a case of Russian spying in Stockton.
And it’s a whopper: the Walker Spy Ring, one of America’s biggest spy disasters. Historians researching Port of Stockton unearthed this amazing information.
An emotional ceremony had ended moments earlier and Tino Adame remained resolved as ever that the day’s true message not be forgotten.