June 28, 2017



Connie Conway drops out of 16th Senate race, takes on Board of Equalization run

Bakersfield Californian

Connie Conway of Visalia is changing political course. She said Tuesday morning that she is dropping out of the race for California’s 16th Senate District seat and making a run for the California Board of Equalization.

Trump, politics, violence: Blame media for divide?

The Fresno Bee

A CBS News Poll the other day revealed that a whopping three out of four Americans believe the current tone and lack of civility in U.S. politics and public discussions actually encourages violence among some people.  Sixty-eight percent in that poll also said the tone and civility of American politics have deteriorated in recent years, an opinion that conservatives, liberals and independents were united in holding.

Senate Health Bill

Congressional Budget Office

The Congressional Budget Office and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed an estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, a Senate amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 1628. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting this legislation would reduce the cumulative federal deficit over the 2017-2026 period by $321 billion. That amount is $202 billion more than the estimated net savings for the version of H.R. 1628 that was passed by the House of Representatives.


Sen. Kamala Harris makes her pick in California’s lieutenant governor’s race

Los Angeles Times

Sen. Kamala Harris endorses Eleni Kounalakis for CA Lt. Gov, a competitive race.


Campaign to recall freshman state senator submits more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot

Los Angeles Times

The campaign against state Sen. Josh Newman has turned in more than enough signatures to force the freshman Democrat from Fullerton into a recall election.


Recall efforts stymied by Sacramento

Sierra Star
Members of the California Legislature apparently believe they have the power to change outcomes they don’t like.


L.A.’s newest congressman still hasn’t taken his oath. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy wants to know why

Los Angeles Times

Gomez, a current Democratic state assemblyman, told The Times after the election he would try to delay his Assembly resignation to vote on extending the state’s cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas.


After a career in the majority, Jimmy Gomez prepares for life in the minority in Washington

Los Angeles Times

Congressman-elect Jimmy Gomez has spent his entire political career as a member of the majority party. When he’s sworn in as central and northeast Los Angeles’ newest member ofCongress in the coming weeks, he’ll be the most junior Democrat — 194th out of 194 — in Congress.


Essential Politics: Healthcare stumbles, California’s budget is law …

Los Angeles Times

Set aside all of the rhetoric for a moment about what did, or didn’t, happen on Capitol Hill in the last 24 hours, and there’s one unmistakable truth: Republican efforts to scrap the Affordable Care Act aren’t popular enough right now to pass.


Nunes gets it wrong; Trump hasn’t signed ‘more bills’ than any president at this point

PolitiFact California

Pres. Donald Trump is quick to list his accomplishments.  On June 23, 2017, he tweeted “I’ve helped pass and signed 38 Legislative Bills, mostly with no Democratic support, and gotten rid of massive amounts of regulations. Nice!”


Evacuations possible due to wildfire near Central Camp in Bass Lake

Sierra Star

A fire sparked on Central Camp Road near Bass Lake Tuesday afternoon may result in mandatory evacuations, authorities reported.  The blaze, named the Camp Incident, was reportedly sparked from an ATV crash about 5 miles up Central Camp Road from its intersection with Road 274 near the lake.


Making U.S. Elections More Secure Wouldn’t Cost Much But No One Wants To Pay


What would it cost to protect the nation’s voting systems from attack? About $400 million would go a long way, say cybersecurity experts. It’s not a lot of money when it comes to national defense — the Pentagon spent more than that last year on military bands alone — but getting funds for election systems is always a struggle.


California: Where Separatism Finds a Home

National Review

Americans aren’t just divided on politics. There are deep cultural differences that are driving us apart, running from our church-attendance habits, to the neighborhoods we move to, and even to the shows we watch on television. Separate cultures live increasingly separate lives, and they view their ideological and cultural opposites with increasing animosity.


Midterm Election Voter Turnout Will Influence Type of Initiatives on Ballot

Fox and Hounds Daily

A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California describes “missing voters” both in comparing California voter registration to other states and voter turnout problems in midterm elections. Awareness of voter drop off in midterm elections will affect what kinds of initiatives are likely to appear on the 2018 ballot.





We need you to hang in there, Justice Kennedy

Fresno Bee

Justice Anthony Kennedy cast votes that show why he needs to hang on. Neil M. Gorsuch’s votes illustrate how far to the right a Trump court would veer.


Universal health care bill was half-baked, and Trumpcare is a disaster. Why the rush?

Sacramento Bee

Health care should not be trifled with. Whatever the solution, whether in Washington or Sacramento, legislation should not be done in a rush.





How Trump’s EPA chief got caught up in farm fight in Sacramento

Sacramento Bee

California farmer John Duarte, facing a hefty fine over water-law violations for plowing a field, wants to call in a big gun in his high-profile court case in Sacramento: Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


California pear crop forecast up 27 percent

Capital Press

California pear harvest starts the first week of July and the industry forecast is up for the first time in several years.

On June 22, the California Pear Advisory Board, in Sacramento, estimated the crop at 3.27 million 36-pound boxes up 27 percent from the 2016 final of 2.4 million.


EPA chief met with Dow Chemical CEO before deciding not to ban toxic pesticide

Los Angeles Times

The Trump administration’s top environmental official met privately with the chief executive of Dow Chemical shortly before reversing his agency’s push to ban a widely used pesticide that health studies showed can harm children’s brains, newly released records reveal.


California lists Roundup ingredient as a chemical linked to cancer; Monsanto vows to fight

LA Times

The main ingredient of the pesticide Roundup will be added to a list of chemicals that California believes are linked to cancer, and products that contain the compound will have to carry a warning label


Beekeepers Feel The Sting Of California’s Great Hive Heist


Seventy-one million. That’s the number of bees Max Nikolaychuk tends in the rolling hills east of Fresno, Calif. Each is worth a fraction of a cent, but together, they make up a large part of his livelihood.


California’s triple-digit heat slows milk production, threatens crops and livestock


A stifling June heatwave with triple-digit temperatures hit agriculture producers in California, lowering dairy cow milk production and wreaking havoc on crops like citrus and nuts.


The 25 Most Innovative Ag-Tech Startups


When our nation was founded 241 years ago, farming was the economy’s primary driver. By 1870, nearly half of the employed population held jobs in agriculture. Today, it’s a $3 trillion industry – but only 2% of Americans hold a farm-oriented job.  This is, in many ways, thanks to technology.




Would banning most civilian firearms make campuses safer?

Sacramento Bee

With the national debate about guns on school campuses intensifying, California this year could strengthen its already tough gun control laws under a proposed bill that would ban most civilians from possessing firearms in school zones.


ACLU says Orange County jails are ‘inhumane;’ seeks citizen oversight


Excessive violence, harsh treatment of mentally ill prisoners and unhealthy living conditions are so widespread in Orange County jails that they violate constitutional norms, according to a report issued Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.




FUSD construction costs rise after conflict of interest concerns

The Fresno Bee

Fresno Unified has abruptly canceled a $9 million contract to renovate Figarden Elementary School after construction has already started, citing concerns about school board president Brooke Ashjian’s conflicts of interest with local contractors.  But Ashjian is pointing the finger back at the district, saying an expected increase in the project’s cost – including an additional $800,000 that’s already been incurred – is due to district leaders’ own ineptitude.


Fresno State’s president inspires Central Valley youth

Porterville Recorder

Fresno State’s President Joseph I. Castro returned to the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project on Friday to deliver a keynote speech after he attended 34 summers ago.

At the age of 17, the summer before he was to be a senior, Castro attended a week-long residency program designed to inspire Latino youth to become future leaders of the Valley and their communities.


California is Still Golden for College Graduates

Public Policy Institute of California Blog

California ranks second among all states in net gains of college graduates from other states, even as it ranks first in net losses of less educated adults.


California State Senators Tom Berryhill and Anthony Cannella Send a Letter to Governor Brown Concerning No San Joaquin Valley Representation on UC Board of Regents

Sierra Sun Times

Senators Cannella and Berryhill have sent a letter to Governor Brown expressing their disappointment that the UC Board of Regents does not include a representative from the San Joaquin Valley


Asian parents demand race categories be removed from school registration forms, say it’s unfair

East Bay Times

Lucy Ye said she was puzzled when she registered her kindergarten-aged son for school and learned that she had to indicate what ethnicity of Asian descent he is.

A choice of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Samoan and nine more options appear on California school district registration forms, with no option to opt-out or choose a general “Asian” selection.


Could We Get an Effective Single Payer System for Education First?

Fox and Hounds Daily

A suggestion for my friends on the left: before you install a single-payer health care system for California, have you considered enacting an effective single-payer system for education first?


How half of California’s future workforce can earn college degrees at higher rates


Though often outshone by their coastal neighbors, California’s central and eastern regions are home to millions of potential college students who could make the difference between the state boasting a thriving economy — or not.


Problems with charter schools that you won’t hear Betsy DeVos talk about

Washington Post

President Trump has proposed spending hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal funding to expand charter schools, and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has made clear that her major priority is expanding school choice, including charters. But one thing missing from their agenda is anything that seeks to hold charter schools and for-profit charter operators accountable for how they spend money and educate children and their level of transparency to the public.




Sen. Feinstein Sends Rallying Cry For Marine Sanctuaries

NBC Bay Area

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is urging Californians to be heard when it comes to preserving the state’s marine sanctuaries.


On Capitol Hill, EPA chief gets an earful about Trump’s ‘downright offensive’ budget plan

Washington Post

Another trip to Capitol Hill for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, another reminder that lawmakers from both parties have no intention of approving the deep cuts President Trump is seeking at the agency.




Valley Children’s makes national top 50 rankings in 3 specialties

The Fresno Bee

Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera County has made it into the top 50 list of children’s hospitals in the nation, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. The hospital made the rankings in three pediatric specialities in the 11th annual Best Children’s Hospitals report: No. 36 in pediatric orthopedics, No. 46 in pediatric diabetes and endocrinology and No. 50 in pediatric gastroenterology and GI surgery.


Walters: As California Legislature divides on universal health care, Rendon does the right thing 


Except for one year, two-plus decades ago, Democrats have controlled both houses of the California Legislature for nearly a half-century.


Will Anthony Rendon pay a price for blocking universal health care bill in California?

Sacramento Bee

It was the Capitol’s $400 billion question: Would the Assembly try to pass Senate Bill 562, potentially forcing a veto from Gov. Jerry Brown, or find somewhere to park the universal health care measure while supporters came up with a way to pay for the system in California?


Gov. Jerry Brown says GOP healthcare bill cuts ‘right into the heart of what is already a divided nation’

LA Times

One in three California residents are covered by Medicaid, and California is thought to have the most to lose if Republicans gather enough votes to roll back major aspects of the Affordable Care Act.


Trump Supports A GOP Bill To Cap Medical Malpractice Awards

NPR Health News

Patient advocates say proposed legislation would be unfair to people seriously injured by medical negligence


GOP health bill would cut majority of Planned Parenthood budget in California


Planned Parenthood of California, which operates more of the organization’s health centers than any other state in the nation, would lose 73 percent of its operating budget under the health care bills that Republicans are pushing to replace the Affordable Care Act, its leaders said Tuesday.


Feinstein: Health Care Bill Would Cut Coverage for 4 Million Californians


Up to 4 million people in California would lose health coverage over the next decade under the Republican health care bill being proposed in the Senate, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Tuesday.  (See also:  ‘It is doable to kill it,’ Dianne Feinstein says of GOP health bill

Sacramento Bee)

The Republican health plan is horrific for California. Call your representative

Sacramento Bee

I’ve got a slogan for the Republican health plan: “Make America Sick Again.”  Put that on your baseball caps, you 14 California Congressional representatives – Calvert, Cook, Denham, Hunter, Issa, Knight, LaMalfa, McCarthy, McClintock, Nunes, Rohrabacher, Royce, Valadao, and Walters – who voted for the House plan.  Now it’s up to the Senate, who look to be making it even worse. Over the last few, chilling days, the disastrous national implications of the Senate’s plan to drastically cut coverage for millions in order to shower billions in tax cuts on America’s richest, have finally come to light.


Cal State Fullerton expert: As the pendulum swings — America’s history of health insurance expansions


Here’s a question keeping many people in our country up at night these days: Just why is our health insurance system so hard to fix? To answer, we have look back at the 20th century. Our system is complicated because, as a nation, we have a very hard time agreeing on the final goal of the system itself.


Why Do Valley Hospital Earthquake Bonds Keep Failing With Voters?

Valley Public Radio

That earthquake spurred the legislature to act and require every acute care hospital, regardless of their seismic risk, to be able to withstand a major earthquake. The deadline to meet the state law is 2030, which is not that far away when construction can take years. Now more than two decades after the passage of the law, many hospitals in Central California are still struggling to raise the money necessary to do expensive expansions or retrofits.


California to list herbicide as cancer-causing; Monsanto vows fight


Glyphosate, an herbicide and the active ingredient in Monsanto Co’s popular Roundup weed killer, will be added to California’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer effective July 7, the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) said on Monday.


111 terminally ill end lives under new California law

Merced Sun-Star

California health officials reported Tuesday that 111 terminally ill people took drugs to end their lives in the first six months after a 2016 law made the option legal in the nation’s most populous state.



​​​​Risco Lozada, 1936-2017: Professor, health leader, pastor, activist

Fresno Bee

Eliezer Joaquin Risco Lozada, known by many as “Risco,” improved health care, working conditions and education for migrants throughout the central San Joaquin Valley and California.


Border wall prototypes could start going up in San Diego this summer, U.S. official says 

Los Angeles Times

The Trump administration is at least two months away from starting construction of prototypes for a wall along the Southwest border, underscoring the difficulties the White House faces making good on one of the president’s key campaign promises.


Why Are Some Immigrant Groups More Successful than Others?

NBER Working Paper

Success, measured by earnings or education, of immigrants in the US varies dramatically by country of origin. The main implications are that average immigrant attainment is inversely related to the number admitted from a source country and positively related to the population of that source country.



IMF cuts U.S. growth outlook, cites uncertainty around Trump policies

CNN Money

President Trump’s economic agenda got a thumbs down from the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday.


More Americans Spending All of Their Income on Living Expenses


Nearly half of Americans are spending virtually all of their income on living expenses.  According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, the figure is even higher, at 54 percent, among those between the ages of 18 and 25.


How California’s minimum wage compares to the rest of the U.S. …

Sacramento Bee

On July 1, the minimum wage will increase in Oregon, Maryland and Washington, D.C. – but California will still have fourth-highest minimum wage in the country.

The District of Columbia pays minimum wage workers the most – $12.50 per hour, as of July 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


Are California employers ready for new criminal record hiring rules?

San Francisco Business Times

New rules from the the California Fair Employment and Housing Council going into effect next month significantly limit the ability for the state’s employers to consider criminal history when making employment decisions.



California bill would speed up housing construction, retain local control

San Francisco Chronicle

The Bay Area is the epicenter of California’s housing crisis. Too many of our friends, family and workers simply cannot afford a place to rent or own. And while there are many causes of high housing costs, most agree that we need to do more to kick-start construction of homes and apartments — particularly those close to job centers and transit.




CalPERS suit over market crash dismissed by Supreme Court

Sacramento Bee
CalPERS lost a big case at the U.S. Supreme Court this week. The decision will cost California government retirees around $300 million.

Supervisors approve budget over District Attorney Lisa Green’s objections


The Board of Supervisors approved a preliminary budget for the next fiscal year Tuesday, but not without a long back-and-forth with Kern County’s top prosecutor over the size of her staff.


Madera County Supervisors approve $294 million budget in five hours

Sierra Star

The Madera County Board of Supervisors approved a $294.6 million 2017-18 budget Tuesday in recording breaking time – five hours – and without a single change to the proposed budget that was released June 13.


Emadco reviews plans, decides to decrease residential service rates

Sierra Star

After announcing this month that its residential service rates would increase around 7% on July 1, Emadco Disposal Services, Inc. worked diligently to review those plans and, on Tuesday, a company official instead announced Emadco will decrease those rates by 2.25%

California government will spend more than ever before under the new budget

Los Angeles Time

Gov. Jerry Brown placed his signature Tuesday on a $183.2-billion state budget, a spending plan that boosts public schools and programs aimed at California’s less fortunate while stashing away an additional $1.8 billion in the state’s long-term cash reserves.


Gov. Jerry Brown signs $125 billion state budget without a veto

San Francisco Chronicle

Brown signed the budget without a news conference or a single line-item veto. This was the second consecutive year that Brown did not use his authority to change the budget passed by the Legislature. Prior to that, the last time a governor did not veto a single item in the state budget was the 1982-83 budget, when Brown was governor as well.


Gov. Jerry Brown breaks up California’s embattled tax collection agency

Los Angeles Times

In a move that triggers the most dramatic shake-up of the California Board of Equalization in its 138-year history, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday that strips the embattled state tax collection agency of most of its powers and duties as officials scramble to create an entirely new department by July 1.




California commute times rank among worst in US

Sacramento Bee

Californians have good reason to complain about their commutes – they’re among the longest in the nation, according to a new report.  Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Overflow Data estimates that Californians spend an average of 28.9 minutes commuting to work each day. That gives the Golden State the fifth-worst commute times in the nation.  According to the report, the longest commutes are in New York, with an average of 33.1 minutes. The fastest are in North Dakota, with an average of 16.6 minutes. Along with New York, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., all top California for bad commutes.


Legislature ignores Caltrans boondoggles as taxpayers suffer

Sacramento Bee

The California Legislature is obsessing over relatively minor problems with the state Board of Equalization while ignoring Caltrans boondoggles costing taxpayers billions of dollars. At the same time, in November drivers will be run over by a $5.2 billion a year tax increase.




Lies, damned lies & the Twin Tunnels

Manteca Bulletin

In the Ohlone Wilderness south of Pleasanton is a 220-foot tall reminder that the past may catch up with California.
Calaveras Dam — built by the City of San Francisco 92 years ago — sits next to an active earthquake fault. Downstream are Fremont and other communities along Alameda Creek where 300,000 people live that are considered at risk in a major quake.


California’s giant water tunnels win first crucial approval


U.S. wildlife officials gave crucial first approval to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s decades-old ambitions to build two massive tunnels that would re-engineer California’s water system. The federal agencies said the $16 billion project likely will not endanger more than a dozen federally protected species in the largest fresh-water estuary on the West Coast.


Were concerns about California’s drought overblown?

Los Angeles Times – Video

California is vulnerable but even in a bad drought the state doesn’t run out of water.


Can we go back to watering our driveways now?’ and other lessons to consider before California’s next drought hits

Los Angeles Times

The last drought’s behind us, which means the next one’s on the way.

With summer here to remind Californians what it’s like to be hot and thirsty we fired three big questions at Bettina Boxall, the Los Angeles Times’ most experienced water reporter.

California Today: Surf, Sun and Bacteria

New York Times

Some of California’s most celebrated beaches are also the most likely to make you sick.  Heal the Bay, an environmental nonprofit, recently issued its annual report card for bacterial pollution at more than 400 beaches along the Pacific Coast.




Why wireless industry bill is a triple rip-off for Californians

Fresno Bee

Imagine if a private company decided to place a bunch of equipment on your house and offered you pennies on the dollar to “rent” your roof space. Now imagine that you didn’t have the right to say “no.” This is what the wireless industry is proposing for local governments in California with Senate Bill 649. The only difference is that this equipment will be attached to the streetlight in front of your home or business.

Proposed state law would shrink control cities have over cell tower installations 

San Diego Tribune

Cities and counties across California are lobbying against a proposed state law that would accelerate approval of cell phone antennas by largely stripping local governments of their power to regulate installation of them.


Fishing still relies on rules of respect, decency we’ve forgotten in our everyday lives

The Fresno Bee

Guiding anglers from all walks of life and ages has been a wonderful experience, but has piqued that deeper part of me that asks why things (and people) are as crazy as they are today? What common issues are driving the “madness,” and why do I feel that fishing is still one of the best refuges? I’m not a psychologist, but when I compare how a fishing life has impacted me, I think I can see why it evolved this way.

Fresno’s proposed aquarium one step closer to happening

ABC 30

Tuesday crews made progress on the Fresno Aquarium by installing a 35,000-gallon fire protection water tank on the concrete slab poured earlier this spring.


Twisted saga of failed McAllister Ranch development takes another turn


The saga of a local icon of the 2007 real estate crash continues with yet another twist.  McAllister Ranch, once touted to become a 6,000-home, elite Bakersfield suburb with its own Greg Norman-designed golf course, has a new owner.


Supes may back away from action to support reduction of Sequoia National Monument


Two fundamental visions for how to manage forests — specifically the Giant Sequoia National Monument — clashed around the Kern County Board of Supervisors over the past five days. On Tuesday, supervisors said it wasn’t their place to act on the question of whether the monument should be left alone or shrunk, a possibility being considered by the U.S. Department of the Interior.


Hanford native aims to inspire

Hanford Sentinel

Hanford native Aaron Brieno read a 2014 Sentinel article titled “County makes least-educated cities report,” and was shocked to read that the Hanford-Corcoran area was ranked fifth in a list of the top 10 least educated cities in America, according to Delaware-based financial news company 24/7 Wall St.


Fitzgerald: Out of the box at the Henery

Stockton Record

One of the oddest twists in Stockton in 2016 was the city’s sale of the historic Henery Hotel to Alex Thompson, a young loner and occasionally employed contractor.


California Attorney General’s Office Faces Scrutiny Over San Onofre Inquiry 


Questions are again being raised about the California Attorney General’s investigation of how consumers were left with a $3.3 billion bill for the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station.


California travel ban won’t stop Alabama Crimson Tide from hosting Fresno State Bulldogs


Fresno State’s football game at the University of Alabama this fall is expected to go on as scheduled, despite California’s decision to ban travel to Alabama by its state employees.