June 19, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Obama gets personal in Yosemite in speech, long hike — President Barack Obama mixed business with pleasure here Saturday, touting the importance of national parks and then seeing one up close for himself as he took in the sights at what is arguably the crown jewel of the national park system. Fresno Bee article;Visalia Times-Delta article; San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; San Jose Mercury News article 

Dan Walters: California’s top 2016 race will be Democratic duel for U.S. Senate — Democrats can also assume that the U.S. Senate seat that Barbara Boxer has occupied for the last 24 years will remain in the party’s hands. However, there is some doubt about which Democrat, making the contest between Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez the year’s premier duel whose outcome will have ancillary effects. It is, first of all, the first statewide test of California’s top-two primary system. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics 

Patti moves into second in San Joaquin County supervisor race – With more votes still to be counted, businessman Tom Patti has overtaken City Councilman Elbert Holman for second place in the San Joaquin County District 3 supervisor race. Stockton Record article 

Mark Salvaggio: Intrigue lurks on the fringes of Bakersfield’s mayoral runoff – The former Bakersfield City Council member writes, “Kyle Carter, a Kern Community College District trustee and former home builder, will face off against Karen Goh, the Garden Pathways CEO and former Kern County Supervisor, for mayor of Bakersfield.” Salvaggio op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

State Assemblymember Jim Cooper: Voters deliver a markedly moderate message – The Elk Grove Democrat writes, “From the top of the ballot to the bottom, and across the state, California voters have spoken and their message is clear: They solidly support moderate Democrats and a pragmatically progressive agenda for the state.” Cooper op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Other areas 

Presidential visit puts new spin on Saturday in Yosemite — The visiting President Barack Obama and first family had a big impact Saturday on thousands of Yosemite visitors, some who had invitations to hear him speak, others hoping just to catch a glimpse of him. Fresno Bee article; ‘Obama promotes ‘Every Kid in a Park’ at Yosemite with free passes’ in Fresno Bee 

Dick Hagerty: If only president had seen Yosemite as we do — President Barack Obama has now seen the best the West has to offer – our crown jewel, Yosemite National Park. While we who love the park can rejoice in knowing our president has seen the very best of the best, we can’t help but recognize that he certainly didn’t see Yosemite in the same way many of us regular visitors see it. Hagerty column in Modesto Bee 

Michael Fitzgerald: Setting a course on a sea of guns — I’ve made clear my sympathy for gun owners. So don’t have a cow, gun guys. I’m good with guns — well, not assault rifles — but not with gun policy, or the lack of one. So the next time pious politicians respond to a mass shooting by tweeting their prayers for the families, tell them Jesus isn’t going to solve this one. Tell them to grow a spine. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record 

Dalai Lama will address joint session of California Legislature — In his first visit to Sacramento, the Dalai Lama will address a joint session of the California Legislature on Monday afternoon. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, on a public tour of the United States this month, is expected to discuss “compassion, the environment, and ethical leadership” before members of the state Senate and Assembly. Sacramento Bee article

Charter school group spent nearly $500,000 on county education board races – Charter school advocates poured $483,000 into Sacramento County Office of Education board races, helping to elect two on its slate of three candidates two weeks ago. Sacramento Bee article

Erika D. Smith: Orlando massacre took more than lives, it took innocence – I’m not sure what the future holds, but l know that being a minority in this country has never been easy or safe. My eyes are open. Smith column in Sacramento Bee 

Second protest set to decry Sacramento pastor’s praise of Orlando massacre — For the second time this week, protesters will gather outside of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento to condemn Pastor Roger Jimenez for a sermon he gave praising the June 11 massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

Germany becomes a battleground in Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide — Most historians outside Turkey describe a state-organized campaign of ethnic cleansing that unambiguously meets the definition of genocide. In recognizing it as such, Germany was joining more than 20 other countries that have already done so. While California — with a large Armenian population in the Los Angeles area — and some other U.S. states recognize the genocide, the federal government has not because it does not want to alienate Turkey, an important ally in the Middle East. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Willie Brown: The amazing shrinking Donald Trump – Donald Trump suddenly seems strangely irrelevant. Funny how when the stage gets big — when he isn’t one of 15 Republicans fighting for attention, but one of the last two people with a realistic shot of being elected president — Trump looks very small. Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

Victor Davis Hanson: Politics, not personalities, will likely determine presidential election — We have become exhausted by the flurry of daily political news – Trump’s latest outrages, the fallout from Clinton’s email scandal, and the unhappiness of both Sanders supporters and members of the Republican establishment with the nominees. But in the end, as with most elections, the 2016 election will still offer a stark political choice between two diverse messages – however suspect and unpopular the respective messengers. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

News Stories

Top Stories 

Supporters optimistic pot initiative will qualify — Nearly three years after a referendum on Bakersfield’s pot shop prohibition went, well, up in smoke, supporters of an initiative to replace the ban with state regulations are confident their measure will make the November ballot. Bakersfield Californian article

Mentally ill inmates are swamping the state’s prisons and jails.  Here’s one man’s story – Even as officials have announced plans to address the issue, the number of mentally ill inmates has grown in both county jails and state prisons, although overall inmate populations have shrunk. In L.A. County jails, the average population of mentally ill inmates in 2013 was 3,081. As of mid-May it was 4,139, a 34% increase. In the state prison system, the mentally ill inmate population was 32,525 in April 2013, making up 24.5% of the overall population. LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy 

Buchanan Crossroads development adds retail to Clovis intersection – Come November, an empty lot in Clovis will become the third phase of the Buchanan Crossroads development at Herndon and Fowler avenues. Chipotle, Five Guys, Blaze Pizza, Sport Clips, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Aqua Nails and Spa, and The Phoenician, a Mediterranean-style restaurant, already have signed leases to take spots in the development planned for the southeast corner. Fresno Bee article 

Court appointee sifts through Bakersfield Investment Club’s wreckage – What a mess the Bakersfield Investment Club left behind. After the club’s assets were frozen in March amid a federal lawsuit accusing its leader of fraud, the man appointed to unravel the BIC’s finances has reported widespread problems with the way the organization’s assets were managed. Bakersfield Californian article 

Lemoore confronts Measure K aftermath – The Lemoore City Council is planning to discuss Tuesday what its public safety funding options are in the wake of Measure K’s failure. Hanford Sentinel article 

San Jose: Could ‘tiny homes’ solve the homeless problems? — With the homeless crisis reaching alarming new heights, city leaders are hoping San Jose can become the first in California to use “tiny homes” to shelter the homeless, an idea that’s been successful in Portland but hit a wall of regulatory barriers here. East Bay Times article 

Start-ups selling new blood tests directly to consumers raise safety and accuracy concerns — Silicon Valley technologists face steep hurdles in their efforts to revolutionize the medical system the way they have communications or shopping. And because of the hype surrounding the blood tests — many of which are not backed by reliable scientific studies — patients may be at risk of being misled or even harmed. LA Times article 

Jay Schenirer/Rick Jennings/Eric Guerra: A proposal to fund youth programs in Sacramento – The members of Sacramento City Council write, “On July 19, we will be bringing a proposal to the Budget and Audit Committee to do what 65 percent of the voters asked: use revenue from the taxation of cultivation and manufacturing of marijuana to significantly enhance programs and services for youth.” Schenirer/Jennings/Guerra op-ed in Sacramento Bee


David Strecker: Tunnel vision a mirage to water woes – The second vice president of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation writes, “As a Delta farmer managing my family’s farming operation so it can be here for the next generation I am infuriated by what I see about the Delta water issues.” Strecker column in Stockton Record

Would you drink treated wastewater? California to develop new regs by year’s end — The State Water Resources Control Board on June 7 adopted new rules for nonpotable water recycling projects. Called a “general order,” the goal of the new rule package is streamlined permitting for water agencies that want to pursue such projects, so they can get water flowing faster and cheaper. The next step for the state board is to develop regulations for recycling projects that deliver potable water. This is expected by the end of 2016. KQED report

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Corrupt former Bakersfield Police Department detectives will likely receive pensions – and more – Diaz and Mara could indeed take a partial hit to their retirement plan. But law enforcement officers who violate the public’s trust and commit major felonies as cops do not forfeit the entirety of their retirement benefits, said Rosanna Westmoreland, a spokeswoman for CalPERS. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno court seeks to rehabilitate, not incarcerate, veterans – Fresno County joins 25 California counties, including Tulare and Madera, with such treatment courts, where veterans are examined by judges who are familiar with post-traumatic-stress disorder, substance abuse and the treatment services available. Fresno Bee article

Pilot program stops drunken drivers in Tulare County, could go statewide — The state Senate last month unanimously approved a bill requiring all convicted drunken drivers to put an ignition interlock device in their vehicles, something that drunken drivers in Tulare County already are familiar with. They have been the guinea pigs in a four-county test that appears to be saving lives and reducing drunken driving arrests. Defense attorneys, however, say they would like to see more statistics on the topic. Fresno Bee article 

Sacramento police building ‘real time crime center’ to monitor footage across city — By the time more than 15,500 ticket holders stream downtown to watch Paul McCartney at the new Golden 1 Center in October, Sacramento police plan to electronically eyeball the crowd from a new “real time crime center.”Sacramento Bee article 

Oakland Police Department’s rapid fall after progress — The unraveling of the Oakland Police Department was sudden and swift, and came on the heels of what should have been a shining moment in the agency’s history. Less than a year ago, the police force was boosting its ranks, embracing new technology and getting accolades from a White House expert on policing. But now, it has all but fallen apart, roiled by scandals involving a teen sex-trafficking victim and racist texts, and the abrupt departure of three bosses in one week. San Francisco Chronicle article; New York Times article; LA Times article


November election will change the makeup of Fresno Unified school board – Terms are expiring for three of the seven trustees on the Fresno Unified School Board, meaning big change could come in November during a controversial time for the district. Fresno Unified trustees Carol Mills, Janet Ryan and board president Luis Chavez’s terms are up this year. Mills is running for re-election; Ryan is leaving the board after serving for 12 years, and Chavez has his eyes set on a spot on the Fresno City Council. Fresno Bee article

Tommy Russell: Teachers with guns? What could possibly go wrong? – The Bakersfield resident and retired police officer and retired teacher writes, “The Kern High School District Board of Education’s upcoming decision to allow staff members with CCW permits to bring guns onto campus is extremely alarming. At the very senior age of 68, having been a police officer [retired] and a teacher [retired], I thought I had heard, seen, an experienced every conceivable form of stupidity possible from this community. As usual when I am absolutely convinced I am right, I am wrong — again.” Russell op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Summer programs teach teens about leadership – Local teens are experiencing what it is like to be an adult and take on responsibility by mentoring younger children within the community. Hanford Sentinel article 

LA education foundation became a lucrative source of income for USC’s Pat Haden and his relatives – Seventeen years ago, former USC and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Pat Haden joined the board of an old, little-known charitable foundation that helps needy young people get an education. Under Haden’s leadership as board chairman, however, the $25-million foundation became a lucrative source of income for him and two of his family members — even as its scholarship spending plunged to a three-decade low and the size of its endowment stagnated, a Times investigation has found. LA Times article


Fire torched up last year, and the blazes keep coming – Summer starts Monday, and the state faces another fire season. Many worry it could be a repeat of last year, when massive wildfires tore through populated areas and ravaged landscapes parched by years of drought. Sacramento Bee article 

Deader than ever: California forests head into fire season — This summer the forests are at risk of burning again. Coigny looks up from his burger and fries inside the Pinehurst Lodge and Restaurant and points out the window to a nearby mountain. He sees mostly dead Ponderosa pines in the distance, heavy with brown needles. KQED report

Fresno County’s park trees are in trouble, will need replacement — Tree mortality isn’t only a Sierra problem. Fresno County’s parks are losing trees from disease and old age at a recently unprecedented rate. In Fresno County’s parks, 1,369 trees are dead or dying. The problem is countywide, stretching from Kearney Park to Avocado Lake, Lost Lake Park to downtown Fresno’s Courthouse Park. Fresno Bee article

Blackbird’s future uncertain in Kings County — For the second year in a row, an increasingly rare bird avoided Kings County during its nesting season. The tricolored blackbird, which historically nests March through May in the Central Valley, decided to nest in Kern, Tulare and Merced counties instead of Kings County this year. The nearest nestlings were just over the Kings-Tulare border in Tulare County. Hanford Sentinel article

Land Use/Housing

Red-hot Bay Area housing puts big chill on Section 8 — Peruse the housing rental listings on Craigslist and you’ll find ads that say, “No Section 8.” There are landlords who accept cats and dogs–with some breed restrictions. But increasingly, they want no part of humans on Section 8, the federal housing subsidy program for disabled, elderly and poor people. East Bay Times article

Other areas

Black Independence Day: Education, employment, empowerment – Juneteenth gatherings are annual commemorations of the emancipation of the slaves, but the struggle continues more than 150 years later, Alicia Perry said during a Black Independence Day celebration Saturday afternoon in south Stockton. Stockton Record article 

Flooded health services center in Modesto could be closed for weeks – It could take four weeks for abatement and cleanup of a Stanislaus County Health Services Agency building that was flooded last weekend, a county official said. Modesto Bee article

Lois Henry: Former Charger star moves off vacant lot, for now — He’s off the dirt. I was getting to the point I didn’t think it would happen. But the combined efforts of a lot of good folks helped get former pro football player Kenny Graham off the vacant lot where he’s been living the last three years and into a long-term hotel. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian 

219 become new citizens in Fresno naturalization ceremony — After beginning her application four years ago for naturalization, on Saturday Ramos joined alongside 218 others at the Satellite Student Union at Fresno State to receive her U.S. citizenship at a special ceremony in honor of World Refugee Day. Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Feel good about our place in the global economy. But until the Golden State improves our other rankings, it’s not quite time to really celebrate.

Sacramento Bee – We welcome but don’t cheer End of Life Option Act.