June 15, 2017




After 9,000 columns, he’s still watching California – now from a new perch

Fresno Bee / CALmatters

Dan Walters is back!  So here I am again, beginning the third incarnation of my running commentary on all things California, but particularly its politics.  Having written more than 9,000 California-centric columns over the last 36-plus years, first for the late Sacramento Union and then for 33 years for The Sacramento Bee, I and the column have moved to CALmatters.


5 California Things to Know for Today

The Bakersfield Californian

Legislature agrees to withhold $50 million from UC system until it implements reforms after critical report from state auditor. 2. MARIJUANA. Lawmakers squeeze new regulations on California’s newly legal marijuana industry into state budget. 3. UBER.

California lawmakers to vote on $125 billion budget 


California lawmakers are scheduled to vote Thursday on a budget that increases spending on education and social services while imposing new financial restrictions on the University of California following a scathing audit. The $125 million general fund spending plan, which was negotiated by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders, is expected to easily clear the Democratically controlled Legislature.


Californians still kept in dark by Assembly. It’s time to fix that.

Sacramento Bee

For years, important legislation has emerged from the Capitol through an unseemly legislative practice known as “gut and amend.” Foreign to civics books, this procedure allows the majority party to rewrite an existing bill and quickly ram it through the Legislature without a chance for public scrutiny.   Last November, 8.6 million California voters took to the ballot box and put an end to the practice – or so we thought.


California Today: Division Among Democrats – The New York Times

New York Times

The California Democratic Party narrowly elected Eric Bauman as its new chairman, setting up a leadership dispute.


Governor Brown’s Thoughts On Berniecrats And Their Effect On California Politics

Capital Public Radio News

A populist wave inspired by former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is pushing the California Democratic Party leftward.


Newman calls for probe into California recall campaign

The Sacramento Bee
Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, is asking state officials to investigate his allegations that the GOP groups leading an effort to recall him are misleading Southern California voters into signing petitions to oust him from office.


A state senator targeted for removal from office says his opponents are misleading voters

Los Angeles Times

Attorneys for a Democratic state senator targeted for possible removal from office accused the lawmaker’s political opponents on Wednesday of “knowingly and willfully misleading voters” in their effort to force a special election.


Big stakes, little focus. So who’s running for California governor …

Los Angeles Times

California’s 2018 gubernatorial race is shaping up as the most competitive in decades. Still, few know who’s running.


Shocking shooting of colleague allows House to focus on what unites them

Fresno Bee

Jim Costa, D-Fresno, echoed the sentiment in his statement: “Regardless of our differences and disagreements, we are one House.”


Local congressional leaders react after shooting at congressional baseball game practice in Virginia


As difficult as it is to fathom someone opening fire during a Congressional baseball practice, the incident was quite the wakeup call for all elected officials.  California House Representative and Hanford native David Valadao had previously been part of the same GOP team that was attacked Wednesday morning.


Nancy Pelosi: ‘On days like today, there are no Democrats or Republicans, only Americans’

Los Angeles Times

The California Democrats in the House who did not sign onto the lawsuit are Ami Bera of Elk Grove, Jim Costa of Fresno, Raul Ruiz of Palm Desert and Lou Correa of Santa Ana.


House Democrat From California Seeks Support to Impeach Trump

New York Times

WASHINGTON – Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, circulated a proposed article of impeachment on Monday, the first step in a long-shot attempt to oust President Trump.


California’s newest rep. promises ‘hard stance’ against Trump agenda

The Hill

The House of Representative’s newest member, Rep.-elect Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), promised to take a hard line against President Trump’s agenda once he takes office.

Gomez, the California assemblyman elected to replace Democrat Xavier Becerra, will be sworn-in in the next few weeks and will soon become the 31st member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC).

Dianne Feinstein among handful of California Democrats who didn’t sign on to suit over Trump’s foreign earnings 

Los Angeles Times

Close to 200 Democrats in Congress filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday alleging President Trump has illegally profited from foreign payments to his worldwide business interests. But the list of plaintiffs was missing a few notable names. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and four other Democrats in California’s congressional delegation, including Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and some representatives of districts with a strong Republican or evenly divided electorate, did not sign onto the lawsuit.


California Considers Moving Up Presidential Primary To March …

CBS Sacramento

Democrats moving the state’s presidential primaries up three months will make the state as influential as Iowa and New Hampshire when it comes to picking our next President.


Feinstein defends blue-slip tactic to block judges

Politico (blog)

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee is warning Republicans against cutting back on the rights of home-state senators to block judicial nominees through a process known as the blue slip.

At a confirmation hearing Wednesday on three of President Donald Trump’s judicial picks, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said she wanted to counter Republicans’ claims that the blue-slip procedure has not been religiously applied to nominations for circuit court seats.




Will shooting of a congressman be a turning point for unity?

The Fresno Bee/ Sacramento Bee

Bipartisan unity made a rare appearance in our nation’s capital Wednesday.


Tax board desperately needs a reboot

The Modesto Bee

Does anyone know what California’s Board of Equalization actually does? Most don’t. Those who do generally are also aware of the misdeeds of some of its members and the redundancy of its mission. It’s well past time for the BOE to be either reformed or abandoned.


California budget disappoints — again


We’ve learned not to get our hopes too high for the unveiling of California’s state budget — and this year’s attempt provides yet another illustration why.





Food and Farm News—California cherry farmers expect “the best crop in recent years”

California Farm Bureau Assn.

Volumes of California-grown cherries on the market have shown a sharp increase this year, according to a government estimate.


The surprising number of American adults who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows

Washington Post

When one team of researchers interviewed fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders at an urban California high school, they found that more than half of them didn’t know pickles were cucumbers, or that onions and lettuce were plants.


When can you drive with weed in your car? A consumer guide to California marijuana laws

Sacramento Bee

After California’s passage of the Proposition 64 recreational marijuana initiative, authorities are on guard for impaired drivers for alcohol, pot, prescription drugs or all of the above


California firms up marijuana rules, will allow deliveries

Modesto Bee

California would set standards for organic marijuana, allow pot samples at county fairs and permit home deliveries under legislation set to be considered by lawmakers Thursday as the state prepares for next year’s start of legal marijuana sales …


To Protect Fruit Crops, Scientists Are Putting Them Into A Deep Freeze


“With an increasing number of infected trees being identified and psyllid populations increasing in southern California, the [USDA citrus collections] have become dangerously threatened. We called it an ‘all hands on deck’ situation”


Kern County UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops advisor Joe Nunez retires

Central Valley Business Times




Fresno Police Chief says rape, assault, robbery, and car thefts all down, but murder rate up


While Fresno Police have made big progress in slowing most crime categories, overall crime is down 10-percent, but murder remains a problem


Are Americans 25x more likely to be shot & killed than others in developed countries?


We contacted the co-authors of this study. Both described Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s claim as “accurate.”


California needs federal help to restrict use of guns, advocate says

San Francisco Chronicle

Jerry Brown signed six stringent gun-control measures Friday, July 1, 2016, that will require people to turn in high-capacity magazines and require background checks for ammunition sales, as California Democrats seek to strengthen gun laws.


UPS shooting: Previous Bay Area mass shootings

The Mercury News

A list of previous mass shootings.




California budget addresses taxes, education, health care

Fresno Bee

California’s budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 touches on people’s lives in everything from education and taxes to how much their medical providers get paid. Here are some of the key areas in the $125 billion general fund spending plan


$1 billion in one-time funding for education is great but districts need more


The final vote on the budget is expected Thursday. It would set more money aside for the rainy day fund, expanding a tax credit, and investing more money in education which includes low income students and teacher shortages as well as social services.


State budget puts new limits on University of California

The Bakersfield Californian

(AP) – The University of California system will face new financial restrictions and enrollment targets under the proposed state budget after an audit found administrators hid tens of millions of dollars from the public.


Fight over fairness of school board elections veers away from city

Modesto Bee

Advocates for Justice – a Modesto group that mentors black and at-risk youth – and several other community activists say the map the school board approved in April favors sitting trustees and does not do enough to elect representatives from other areas.


California State Schools Chief Unveils Updated Recommended Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve Literature List

Sierra Sun Times

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is coordinated by the California Department of Education (CDE) and developed with the assistance of teachers, library consultants from school and public libraries


Report: What US state is the best for children to grow up in?

East Bay Times

California ranks 9th in the nation for children’s health, mainly because only 3% of children do not have health insurance compared with 5% nationwide, but in economic well-being, the state ranked 46th.


Benefits of learning in two languages increasingly clear


When it comes to education policies impacting children in immigrant families – and any family where a language other than English is spoken at home – the California Legislature and voters have opted for science over fear.


Gov. Brown, Democrats to require school districts to give greater access to unions


Jerry Brown. The governor and Democratic leaders in the Legislature agreed to include language in the 2017-18 state budget that will require school districts, cities and other government agencies to give their employee unions regular opportunities to meet and sign up new members.




Here’s the latest report card on California’s battle against climate change 

Los Angeles Times

New data released by state regulators provide a detailed snapshot of California’s battle against global warming. We’ve crunched the numbers on specific sources of pollution, including planes, cars and trucks, and how the state’s pollution compares to the size of its economy.


If You Think Fighting Climate Change Will Be Expensive, Calculate the Cost of Letting It Happen

Harvard Business Review

The White House’s argument for leaving the treaty is based on economic nationalism: President Trump, in his speech announcing the decision, cited primarily the “lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production” that he thought meeting the agreement’s voluntary targets would cause.  This echoes a common political talking point: that fighting climate change is bad for the economy.  I’d like to point out the flip side: that climate change itself is bad for the economy and investing in climate resilience is not only a national security priority, but an enormous economic opportunity.


Is California’s Cap and Trade Program in Trouble?

L.A. Weekly

Tonight the California legislature caved in to big oil and refused to extend its trailblazing cap & trade program. We needed 41 votes and fell three short. Incredibly ironic timing considering today’s announcement about the Paris Accord. Rhetoric means ..

Here’s why California scientists want neighborhood-by-neighborhood smog data 

Los Angeles Times

Southern California has long been the smog capital of the nation. Most days from May through September, we endure unhealthful levels of ozone, a lung-searing gas that forms when emissions from vehicles, factories and other sources percolate in the sun-baked atmosphere.


California and New York just sued to protect Obama’s final energy rules

Washington Post

Eleven states, led by California and New York, have sued the Trump administration for failing to finalize energy-efficiency regulations for portable air conditioners, walk-in coolers and other products.

California story: Tracking down VW fraud 

Capitol Weekly

The California Air Resources Board’s aggressive questioning of Volkswagen about emission test results led to the company admitting in 2015 that it used a “defeat device” designed to cover up diesel missions that greatly exceeded legal limits.


Foam Fight: As California balks at state ban, activists target local level 


Foam burger boxes and ice cream cups could eventually go the way of the flimsy plastic shopping bag—banned throughout California. It’s not likely to happen this year




On the Budget

Fox and Hounds Daily

Medi-Cal providers justly get a pay boost (for now), Earned Income Tax Credit expansion hopefully will incentivize work, but taxpayer protections at the Board of Equalization and electoral fairness take a hit under the budget proposal the legislature …


CA unions win seat at employee orientations

The Sacramento Bee

New California government workers will hear from union representatives almost as soon as they start their jobs under a state budget provision bolstering labor groups as they prepare for court decisions that may cut into their membership and revenue.


Is rigged research widening the state’s gender pay gap?

Sacramento Bee

Several public safety unions – representing state firefighters, California Highway Patrol officers and dispatchers, and state peace officers – have secured laws that create special rules for how salary surveys are conducted for their members.


County releases $294 million budget

Sierra Star

The Madera County 2017-18 proposed $294.6 million budget will fund several sheriff positions that were previously unfunded, replace some county fire department equipment, and provide IT upgrades to comply with federal and state information security requirements.


More shakeups at the California Board of Equalization

San Francisco Chronicle

There’s no question that California’s Board of Equalization has to change. After a brutal March audit found that the … The five-member board, which employs nearly 5,000 workers, sets tax rates and collects about $60 billion in taxes every year, is …



California Doctors Feeling Sick About New State Budget 


When the California Medical Association lent its support to Prop. 56 last year, they expected to get something in return if it passed: a Medi-Cal pay raise. Things have not turned out as the CMA expected.


California nixes full Medicaid benefits to undocumented young adults

LA Daily News

As they scrambled to finalize next year’s state budget, California lawmakers this week abruptly dropped a plan to offer full Medicaid benefits to young adults living in the country illegally.


SNAP Provides Needed Food Assistance to Millions of People with Disabilities

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Our examination of the intersection of SNAP and disability in the United States showed several things.




Will Fresno City Council heed pleas to help undocumented?

Fresno Bee

If the council approves the measure – something that is far from certain – it could still be subject to a veto by Mayor Lee Brand, who is not a supporter. “I do not believe it is prudent to use our precious taxpayer resources on these issues…”


California Defies Federal Mandate to Expand Immigration Detention Centers

L.A. Weekly

“Placing limitations on ICE’s detention options here in California won’t prevent the agency from detaining immigration violators,” Kice said. “It will simply mean ICE will have to transfer individuals encountered in California to detention facilities …”


California aims to quash immigration detention growth

Washington Post

SANTA ANA, Calif. – California is aiming to quash the growth of immigration detention in the state under a proposed budget measure to push back against the Trump administration’s plans to boost deportations.




What is $15 minimum wage doing to Bay Area restaurants?

The Fresno Bee

In a pair of affluent coastal California counties, the canary in the mineshaft has gotten splayed, spatch cocked and plated over a bed of unintended consequences, garnished with sprigs of locally sourced economic distortion and non-GMO, “What the heck were they thinking?”  The result of one early experiment in a citywide $15 minimum wage is an ominous sign for the state’s poorer inland counties as the statewide wage floor creeps toward the mark.




California Today: The Housing Crisis Hits Berkeley

New York Times

We are in a statewide housing crisis and the State Legislature is just as concerned as the city of Berkeley.



The Valley has cheaper gas than the coast, right? Not so fast 

Fresno Bee

If you think Fresno’s gas prices are substantially cheaper than San Francisco or Monterey, think again.  A recent survey by AAA Northern California found Fresno’s average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline was $3.09, the same as in Monterey and only slightly lower than the $3.25 in San Francisco. Other cities with gas prices in our range include Oakland and San Jose at $3.12 and Sacramento at $3.  The bottom line is that California, overall, has among the highest gasoline prices in the nation, as usual. On Monday, the state even surpassed Hawaii with the highest gas prices in the U.S. at $3.05. But by Tuesday, Hawaii regained the top spot with gas at $3.06 a gallon. As of Wednesday, the statewide average stood at $2.97.


US regulators still reviewing Fiat Chrysler diesel vehicle fix: lawyer


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board accused Fiat Chrysler in January of using undisclosed software to allow excess diesel emissions in 104,000 U.S. 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks …


This is what happens when a ‘great guy’ goes into politics

Sacramento Bee (blog)

In April, Newman faced the question: Should he vote to raise gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees by $5.2 billion a year to pay for road repairs?




A plan to build huge water tunnels gets September deadline

89.3 KPCC

Officials have announced that it will make a decision on that plan by September.


Reports: Local water meets two standards

Visalia Times-Delta

“We have a rigorous testing program that ensures we meet federal and state standards,” said Yvonne Kingman, spokeswoman for California Water Service.


Bakersfield water board recommends repealing three-day watering restriction | News


Bakersfield’s water board voted Wednesday to recommend repealing the three-day-a-week outside watering rule for the entire City Council’s consideration.


Why Drought Makes Water Rates Rise


For those in the business of selling water, drought often brings financial strains. New research by the PPIC Water Policy Center found that more than 70% of California’s urban water suppliers experienced reduced revenues during the latest drought. We talked to David Mitchell—an economist specializing in water and a co-author of a new PPIC report on urban drought resilience—about the cost of water and drought.


Why go for desal when California has cheaper options?

Sacramento Bee  ‎

While winter rains have refilled California reservoirs and dumped near-record snow on the mountains, communities across the state are wisely seeking ways reduce their vulnerability to future droughts.




Should Congress Make It Legal To Mountain Bike In Wilderness Areas?

Valley Public Radio

Wilderness areas are known for isolated beauty and the feeling of peace experienced there. There are no cars, few roads and only horseman, horses and hikers can enter them. But that could soon change if a bill that’s now in congress becomes law.


Clovis residents petition for potential dog park

Your Central Valley

Some residents in Clovis are asking for something that Fresno and other cities have but they do not. They’re asking for a dog park and now a petition drive is on the move. Supporters want to show city officials how much the community wants a park of their own.


Round Up

Hanford Sentinel

Blood drive: The Kingsburg Center is sponsoring a blood drive in conjunction with the Central California Blood Center. The drive is from 1-4 p.m.


Animal-rights group allegedly ‘stole’ pigs from island sanctuary off California

Fox News

This Tuesday, June 13, 2017, photo provided by the Farm Sanctuary shows several pigs that were left four years ago on a small island within the California Delta that have become the center of residents’ debate after an animal-rights group took them off …


Could you soon get a joint with your County Fair corn dog?

Sacramento Bee

It’s budget day, in which lawmakers in both houses of the state Legislature will vote on a sweeping $183 billion spending plan to keep California running for another year. A series of bills come along with the budget that spell out potential new laws …