March 1, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories


California water bills are starting to trickle out on Capitol Hill – With a Republican in the White House and the GOP controlling Congress, Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, said Tuesday that he is hoping to build on last year’s big and controversial California water bill that was loved by farmers and loathed by environmentalists. McClatchy Newspapers article


Dan Walters: Democrats cite state rights, but violate our civil rights — As they pursue their vision of California, however, the state’s dominant Democrats are strangely willing to ignore, bend or even violate the civil rights of Californians who don’t happen to agree with that vision. Walters column in Sacramento Bee


Valley politics


Rep. Jim Costa responds to Trump: ‘We cannot ignore .. policies that do not uphold American values’ – Central San Joaquin Valley Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, issued a statement following President Donald Trump’s speech to Congress on Tuesday night. Fresno Bee article


Nance accuses Freeman of carpet-bagging in Bakersfield Ward 5 race — The filing deadline for the Ward 5 seat on the Bakersfield City Council is 10 days away but potential candidates are already sharpening their knives. Ryan Nance, who came in third in November’s general election for the seat, is questioning prospective candidate Bruce Freeman’s residency in Ward 5.” Bakersfield Californian article


After eight-year gap, Clovis voters to cast a ballot for City Council — Something is about to happen in Clovis that hasn’t happened in nearly a decade. A small army of county employees will descend next Tuesday to administer the first city council election there since 2009. While some say it’s a sign that things in the city have been running well, others say the odd election format discourages the participation of both candidates and voters. Valley Public Radio report


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures


Joel Fox: Five initiative ballot plan is a failed strategy, I should know — Representative Devin Nunes told the California Republican Party convention over the weekend that the party should seek relevance by sponsoring five ballot measures laying out the party’s priorities—and if the measures fail keep trying every election. Speaking from experience, sponsoring multiple ballot measures is not a wise strategy. Fox in Fox & Hounds


His family history is out, and now Kevin de Leon has joined a new caucus — California Senate President Kevin de León is officially embracing a side of his ancestry he rarely talks about. A week after The Sacramento Bee published a story about de León’s Asian heritage, he accepted an invitation Tuesday to formally join the California Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. The group, originally sanctioned in 2001, advocates for the interests of the state’s growing API community. Sacramento Bee article




Marcos Breton: He’s an undocumented immigrant who became a college graduate and pro soccer player.  But will he be deported anyway? — Of the 800,000 or so undocumented immigrants receiving federal protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, only one of them is known to be a professional athlete and he happens to be from Sacramento. Sacramento Bee article


Trump may weigh in on H-1B visas, but major reforms depend on Congress — President Trump has pushed aggressively against illegal immigration, while his specific plans for legal immigration — including the popular but troubled H-1B work visa — remain unclear. He has said he wants to crack down on abuses and protect American workers, but it’s Congress that holds the power to fundamentally reform the program. KQED report


Trump’s speech fails to sway immigration advocates in LA —  At an intimate viewing party at the UCLA Labor Center, close to a dozen people sat on folding chairs Tuesday evening to watch NBC News’ live feed of President Trump’s first speech to Congress. LA Times article


LA-area Jewish leaders for coalition in response to Trump’s executive actions on immigration and refugees —  Los Angeles-area Jewish leaders have started a coalition in response to President Trump‘s executive actions on immigration and refugees. LA Times article


Other areas


Sessions says marijuana should not be sold ‘at every corner grocery store’ – 
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that he is “dubious about marijuana,” hinting that the Trump administration could be ready to block states from selling it for recreational use. McClatchy Newspapers article


Republicans near make-or-break moment on Obamacare repeal – As Mitch McConnell calls a special all-members meeting, GOP leaders are under mounting pressure with no room for error. Politico article


Republicans, Democrats can share same stage – Livermore town hall shows how — Niceties have gone the way of the White House bowling alley. Civility has been termed out. It’s gotten so bad that people on the street have started emulating the toxic enmity of our elected officials. Town hall rage is all the rage. Lawmakers at the national and state levels are returning to their districts for a little rest, recreation — and a double earful of their constituents’ discontent. Which is why the scene in Livermore on Wednesday night was so remarkable. A state senator, Democrat Steve Glazer, and a state assemblywoman, Republican Catharine Baker, both of whom claim the East Bay as part of their districts, shared a stage during a town hall at East Livermore Middle School. And they seemed to enjoy it. San Jose Mercury News article


Marylee Shrider: Pro-choice is to be pro-abortion, Mr. Morrison – The executive director of Right to Life of Kern County writes, “It’s hard to know where to begin with Danny Morrison’s recent column ‘You can be pro-life and pro-choice at the same time,’ (Feb. 21) a piece whose all-over-the-map conclusions may cover his hinder with the pro-choice crowd, but can only be arrived at by denying the humanity of the unborn. Sorry, Mr. Morrison, you can’t have it both ways.” Shrider op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


Presidential Politics


Trump heralds ‘American greatness’ in speech to Congress – President Donald Trump delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, laying out the agenda for his presidency and, in broad terms, his vision for the country. Washington Post articleMcClatchy Newspapers articleAP articleSacramento Bee editorialSan Francisco Chronicle articleNew York Times article


Cathleen Decker:  President Trump’s speech to Congress: A big shift in tone, but tough choices left to Congress – President Trump’s well-delivered speech to Congress on Tuesday night answered one major question — whether he could offer the country a less divisive tone — but provided almost no clarity about how he hopes to fulfill the promises that he made in his campaign. Decker in LA Times


Republicans praise the tone of Trump’s speech, but it may not move the ball – President Donald Trump gave Republican lawmakers what they’d been hoping for Tuesday night: A positive, upbeat speech that moved on from the rancor of the campaign and the dark tone of his inaugural speech in January. But he delivered nothing new. When Congress goes back to work Wednesday, it faces the same divisions, the same uncertainty and the same gargantuan challenges that have been vexing lawmakers for weeks. McClatchy Newspapers article


California’s statewide politicians pan Trump’s speech in real time, but Gov. Jerry Brown stays silent – Top Democratic officeholders in California gave unsurprisingly negative reviews of President Trump’s first speech to Congress. LA Times article


Ever a showman: Trump keeps Washington guessing – The speech was written, the rollout strategy was set. And then President Trump began talking and the plan went out the window. Unless that was the plan all along. New York Times article


Californians’ anti-Trump backlash: ‘I never wanted to fight more’ – The Sunday after America elected Donald Trump, Placerville resident and small-business owner Sean Frame decided to do something about the anxiety he was feeling. Though he’s on a local school board, he never really considered himself a politically active person. Trump’s victory changed things.  Sacramento Bee article


Why military leaders say Trump’s planned budget cuts are a national security risk – President Donald Trump’s plan to cut foreign aid as part of a proposal to boost defense spending by $54 billion is receiving serious blowback from a somewhat surprising group: former military leaders, who say major reductions to the State Department, especially development aid, would pose a serious risk to national security. McClatchy Newspapers article


Pot sales pay for schools and road repairs, but Trump might take that away — President Donald Trump’s plan to crack down on recreational marijuana could blow a hole in the budgets of states that have come to rely on new tax revenue from pot sales to pay for everything from road repairs to schools. McClatchy Newspapers article


California Attorney General Xavier Becerra missed photo op with President Trump – After weeks of criticizing President Trump over his travel ban, California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra was noticeably absent Tuesday when two dozen state attorneys general posed for a photo with Trump at the White House. LA Times article


Erik Hansen: Trump should stop Reclamation from stealing farmers’ water – The fifth generation San Joaquin Valley farmer and executive board member of the California Water Alliance writes, “We know he’s pretty busy at the moment, but perhaps the new president will take a minute and send word to his cabinet secretary at the Department of the Interior – Reclamation’s boss – that farmers like Del Bosque deserve a fair shake rather than a swift kick. Oh, wait, what Secretary of Interior? He hasn’t been confirmed yet.” Hansen op-ed in Fresno Bee


Robin Abcarian: Appalled press secretaries from both parties try to explain Sean Spicer — Monday, I took myself to the state capital, where five former press secretaries who served Republican Govs. Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Democrats Gray Davis and Jerry Brown headlined a Sacramento Press Club lunch. All of them have long political resumes, and most now own political PR firms. Perhaps they would be able to explain Spicer, whose bizarre White House briefing room debut was built around President Trump’s claims that his inauguration crowds were historically large. Abcarian column in LA Times


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories


Federal water allocation offers good news for some Valley growers, bad news for others — Central San Joaquin Valley farmers got a dose of good and bad news Tuesday as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a full supply of water for east-side farmers in the Friant Division, while telling west-side farmers they must wait a few more weeks to learn what they will get from the Central Valley Project. Fresno Bee articleSacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article


California snowpack could bring 5-year drought to its knees — The massive snowdrifts in the Sierra Nevada could finally bring the California drought to its knees and keep skiers on the slopes long enough to celebrate the Fourth of July. The California Department of Water Resources will once again manually measure the snowpack on Wednesday, saying the state is on track for one of the wettest winters on record after five years of drought. AP article


Jobs and the Economy


One year in, Fresno’s Fulton Street project nearing completion – A year ago this Friday, Fresno leaders picked up fifteen golden sledgehammers and kicked off the project to rip out the 53 year-old Fulton Mall and replace it with a redesigned Fulton Street. It’s an ambitious project that officials hope will help jumpstart business investment on what was once Fresno’s main street, but for decades has been a struggling six-block pedestrian mall. So a year later what’s happened, both on the mall and off? Valley Public Radio report


Fresno-area office building sales and leasing hit highest volume in a decade – Optimism and demand, from tenants and buyers, helped fuel the Fresno and Clovis office market last year boosting sales and leasing volume to its highest level in a decade, according to a Colliers International report.  Fresno Bee article


Steve Brandau: ‘Business-strangling’ culture in Fresno is costly. What will City Hall do about it? – The Fresno City Council member writes, “The cultural crisis in the Planning Department puts all growth in the city in jeopardy. Fresno families will have fewer jobs and less wealth, and our community will suffer with fewer cops, parks and amenities. Entrepreneurs and middle-class families will look elsewhere. Blight will continue to consume our neighborhoods. It’s already happening. Planning has had its Pete Dern moment. What will Mayor Lee Brand and city leadership do about it?” Brandau op-ed in Fresno Bee


Fresno Bee: Madera County has the same number of firefighters today it had in the 1920s. Vote ‘Yes’ on Measure L — Measure L is a much-needed investment in the safety of residents and Madera County’s future prosperity. It deserves a “yes” vote by the 35,000 registered voters in the county’s unincorporated areas. Fresno Bee editorial


Stockton moves forward on medical cannabis policies – The city’s medical cannabis policies inched slowly forward Tuesday, with little changing upon the completion of a special council meeting that lasted more than 2½ hours. The council approved doubling the sales-tax rate that dispensary operators pay to the city to $50 for every $1,000 in sales. The increase, at the top end of a range of potential rate hikes approved last year by voters, is effective immediately. Stockton Record article


San Joaquin County supervisors urged to create homeless czar – San Joaquin County could create a new position in a year that would oversee and manage the efforts undertaken to reduce homelessness. A handful of homeless advocates expressed the need for the position Tuesday during the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors’ discussion of strategic priorities on homeless. Stockton Record article


Plan to keep Raiders in Oakland goes to NFL for review – The NFL is reviewing a formal plan detailing how a new stadium in Oakland would be financed and developed in an effort to keep the Raiders from moving to Las Vegas. San Francisco Chronicle article


Hanford J.C. Penney alive and kicking — When the news broke Friday that J.C. Penney will close 130-140 locations over the next several months, speculation began to swirl around Kings County: Will Hanford’s J.C. Penney, one of three remaining anchor tenants at the Hanford Mall, be on the chopping block when the company publishes the closure list in March? No, according to Hanford J.C. Penney Manager Tim Lyon. Hanford Sentinel article


HOPE suspends operations after fire guts nonprofit’s headquarters – Glenn Jose spent most of Monday crying and wondering what is next for H.O.P.E., a nonprofit organization he helped create. A fire ripped through the organization’s headquarters just after midnight on Monday. Stockton Record article


Study: California toughest U.S. market for first-time homebuyers – California presents the biggest challenge for first-time homebuyers, according to a new study by The study evaluated data from all 50 states, weighing factors that included home affordability relative to median income, and home ownership percentage among households of residents ages 35 and under. Sacramento Bee article


San Francisco home prices see big drop in January – The median price paid for new and existing Bay Area homes and condos that sold in January was $630,000, down 5.3 percent from December and up 1.6 percent from January of last year, according to CoreLogic data released Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article


Sacramento home sales see seasonal dip, but solid year-over-year gains — An expected seasonal drop-off in regional home sales was evident in January, but Sacramento County’s housing market saw double-digit year-over-year growth, according to Tuesday’s report by Irvine-based real estate market tracker CoreLogic.  Sacramento Bee article




So much for drought: Turlock Irrigation District plans generous water deliveries – Faced with a brimming reservoir, the Turlock Irrigation District urged its farmers Tuesday to use as much water as they can this year. The district expects to provide normal deliveries for the first time since 2011 — and even an extra amount to help recharge groundwater stressed by the five-year drought. Modesto Bee article


Flooding threat: Too much water filling a space with too little capacity – The Kings River’s overflow system in western Fresno County cannot carry as much floodwater as it once did, so there is greater risk of flooding in this wet year, Fresno County supervisors were told on Tuesday. Fresno Bee article


UC Merced expert: Time to update the way we manage reservoirs – Some experts like Roger Bales, an engineering professor and director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at the University of California, Merced say it’s time to change the way we manage the state’s reservoirs. He joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the state of our dams, and how they not only need better maintenance, but also updated operational guidelines that take into account changes in technology and in climate. Valley Public Radio report


In California, a move to ease the pressures on aging dams — The flooding at McCormack-Williamson was unintentional, but scientists and environmental groups say deliberately creating similar areas — floodplains to allow the state’s rivers to overflow more naturally and benignly — is a way to help ease the strain on this water infrastructure, especially as climate change poses new challenges.  New York Times article


Raising prices falling, orange crops up — Valley raisin growers and packers agreed on a price for the 2016 crop in recent days at $1,100 a ton – a drop of 31 percent compared to 2015. Declining consumption and increased foreign competition continues to hurt California farmers whose labor costs and regulatory burden is climbing. Visalia Times-Delta article


Mike Wade: How does California move forward after historic storm season? – The executive director of the California Farm Water Association writes, “Moving past this remarkable storm season and bringing the state out of its current state of emergency will take leadership, hard work, calm collaboration and everyone bringing their best ideas to the table – not blame and finger-pointing.” Wade op-ed in Modesto Bee


Patrick Koepele: Better managed floods will help people, the river and wildlife – The executive director of the Tuolumne River Trust writes, “It’s time to bring our flood- and water-management system out of the 1970s and into the 21st century. We can no longer rely on the same approaches to meet today’s flood and water management needs.” Koepele op-ed in Modesto Bee


Oroville Dam’s power plant may be operational by Thursday – After flows down Oroville Dam’s fractured main spillway were dialed back to nothing Monday afternoon, heavy equipment operators worked through the night to clear the massive debris pile that has formed at the base of the damaged concrete structure. Sacramento Bee article


Get your pans: Oroville Dam erosion may yield a tiny gold rush – Your dream of becoming a part-time prospector might have gotten a boon thanks to recent storm erosion. San Francisco Chronicle article


Tiny worms tackle manure from dairy farm near Hilmar — Two years into an experiment in dairy manure handling, the worms are proving their worth. A $483,950 federal grant helped pay for a system where these creatures break down most of the nitrogen in water used to flush out dairy stalls. The partners aim to reduce the risk of water and air pollution. Modesto Bee article


Criminal Justice/Prisons


Suspect in Ripon officer-involved shooting shot at 4 times; crash into house came after — A chase that led to a fatal officer-involved shooting early Sunday in Ripon started with a 911 call of an assault on a security guard, authorities said Tuesday. Modesto Bee article‘Husband of woman fatally shot by sheriff’s deputy desperate for answers’ in Modesto BeeStockton Record article


Judge finds no one wants to rent to child molester Jeffrey Snyder — A Superior Court judge faced a grim reality Tuesday: no one in Fresno County wants to rent to convicted child molester Jeffrey Snyder. Judge Gary Hoff ruled nearly a year ago that the 61-year-old Snyder could be released from the Coalinga State Hospital to a home in Fresno County under strict conditions, such as 24-hour monitoring and drug testing. Fresno Bee article


Accounts of office manager, former board member searched in investigation of missing Lamont funds — The Kern County District Attorney’s office, which since May has been investigating the disappearance of $200,000 from the Lamont Public Utility District, is looking into the bank accounts of a former utility district board member and the district’s office manager, according to a newly filed search warrant. Bakersfield Californian article


Judge to decide restraining order to protect LA police commission president against Black Lives Matter protestor – A judge is expected to rule Wednesday on a request for a restraining order to protect Los Angeles Police Commission President Matt Johnson against a Black Lives Matter activist accused of threatening him and appearing at his home and law office. LA Times article




Deportation fears could be to blame for declining college applicants — Fresno Unified School District educators are continuing to face tough questions from undocumented students about their futures, but now fears of deportation could be leading to a decline in college applications. Applications in the district for the California Dream Act are down from 153 in 2016 to 115 this year. Statewide, applications for the program, which allows undocumented students to receive financial aid for college, are down by nearly 60 percent since last year. Fresno Bee article


Nan Austin: House vouchers bill would give students here no choices – In the incredibly complex world of federal education funding, a very simple idea is playing out in the House: Take all the federal funding that now goes to poor kids and English learners, and put it toward vouchers for everyone. Austin in Modesto Bee


New UC Davis chancellor earns $325,780 a year from outside board seats – Newly selected UC Davis Chancellor Gary May has received $325,780 a year sitting on outside boards, a form of compensation that prompted criticism last year for predecessor Linda P.B. Katehi. Sacramento Bee article


How does California rank in per-pupil spending? It depends –  As Californians struggle to determine what constitutes a sufficient level of education funding, one yardstick is what California spends compared with other states. So here’s a question: How does California rank in K-12 per-pupil spending nationally in the latest studies? a) 46th; b) 41st; c) 29th; d) 22nd.  The answer is all of them.  EdSource article


Jury to decide: Was Clovis school aide abusive toward special-needs fourth-grader? — A civil trial began this week to determine whether Clovis Unified School District should be liable in the alleged assault of a special-needs fourth-grader by an instructional aide while on a school bus in September 2013. Fresno Bee article


UC releases details on 113 employee sexual misconduct cases — The University of California says it investigated 113 cases of sexual misconduct at its 10 campuses over a three-year period prior to a series of scandals at UC Berkeley last year. AP articleEast Bay Times articleKQED report


Green Valley’s charter with Los Banos school district unclear as parents rally — Parents and and supporters of Green Valley Charter School are continuing their push to save the school after seeing the Los Banos Unified School District Board narrowly vote against extending its charter. Merced Sun-Star article


Local student in the business of giving back — While Kylie Valentino was lying in a Valley Children’s Hospital bed six years ago, partially paralyzed from the waist down by a spinal infection, she received a quilt made by volunteers. The quilt meant a lot to Valentino and she still has it to this day. That very quilt inspired Valentino to give back to other kids. Hanford Sentinel article




California weighs tougher emissions rules for gas-powered garden equipment — It sounds hard to believe: More pollution from leaf blowers than cars. But in California and across the country, regulations on car exhaust have gotten tighter and tighter over the years, substantially reducing their ozone-damaging emissions. Not so with small gas engines, Benjamin says. And with 16 million of them cranking up across California, all that pollution adds up. Capital Public Radio report


Health/Human Services 


Chokechai Rongkavilit: Understanding a silent epidemic in Central Valley – valley fever – The medical director of infectious diseases at Valley Children’s Healthcare writes, “Our region is a hotspot for an insidious fungus called coccidioides — cocci for short. This fungus lives in the soil and thrives in the Central Valley and the southwestern U.S. climate where the alternating drought and rain feed into it. Cocci produce spores that can become airborne. Anything that turns up the soil, including construction, ground digs, storms, an earthquake or agricultural activities create dust that could carry this invisible menace. As winds blow, breathing in just one microscopic spore can lead to a human infection called valley fever.” Rongkavilit op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


Colon and rectal cancers are rising in young people – Cancers of the colon and rectum have been declining in older adults in recent decades and have always been considered rare in young people. But scientists are reporting a sharp rise in colorectal cancers in adults as young as their 20s and 30s, an ominous trend. New York Times article


Study suggests Fresno summer camp promotes healthy lifestyles — According to the study, families who participated in the Healthy Lifestyle and Fitness Camp in Fresno consumed more fruits and vegetables at home, and their children measured steady weight loss. Valley Public Radio report


Land Use/Housing


Bredefeld proposes to ban recreational pot shops in Fresno – Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld says that recreational marijuana shops have no place in the city, even after California voters approved Proposition 64 last fall. That’s why Bredefeld will propose a ban on recreational pot businesses within the city limits, following in the footsteps of prohibitions by the city of Clovis and by Fresno CountyFresno Bee article


After years of delay, first home demolished in 24th Street project – It was once a home where families ate and slept, played and most likely prayed. By Tuesday afternoon, the house at 24th and Cedar streets in Bakersfield’s Westchester neighborhood was reduced to rubble, becoming the first of 20 homes in the path of the 24th Street widening project to be moved or demolished. Bakersfield Californian article


Stanislaus County leaders approve a MAC for Wood Colony – Wood Colony will have a municipal advisory council, giving the rural community west of Modesto a voice in land-use proposals and other matters. Modesto Bee article


Play ball! After years of neglect, Fresno’s revamped Granite Park ready for action — The softball fields at Fresno’s controversial Granite Park, now temporarily renamed the Cedar Sports Complex, are tidy, green and ready for action. On Saturday, the city and developers Terance Frazier and TJ Cox, who pitched a plan in 2015 to revive the 20-acre sports park in east-central Fresno, will hold a grand opening to celebrate the newly renovated fields – phase one of the park revitalization project. Fresno Bee article




Joe Mathews: Hey, Bay Area, it’s all aboard for Wasco — Dear Bay Area, Welcome to Wasco. You may never have heard of this city of 25,000 in the San Joaquin Valley. You probably can’t pronounce it (it’s WAW-skoh). But you and Wasco share a future. You could be connected – at least temporarily – by the most expensive infrastructure project in state history. Mathews in Fresno Bee


Other areas


County begins offering passport services again in Merced — Starting Wednesday, Merced residents seeking passports need go no further than the County Administration Building on M Street. Merced Sun-Star article


Valley Editorial Roundup


Bakersfield Californian 


Fresno Bee – Measure L is a much-needed investment in the safety of residents and Madera County’s future prosperity. It deserves a “yes” vote by the 35,000 registered voters in the county’s unincorporated areas.


Merced Sun-Star – Measure L is a much-needed investment in the safety of residents and Madera County’s future prosperity. It deserves a “yes” vote by the 35,000 registered voters in the county’s unincorporated areas.

Sacramento Bee – Donald Trump tries to reset his presidency with a dash of optimism; Perhaps it’s a sign of these nationalistic times that talk of sending people to the moon and deep space is once again in vogue.