March 12, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Dan Walters: Brown’s school finance overhaul could be a cruel joke on poor kids — What’s happened – or, more accurately, not happened – in Los Angeles Unified is a sharp warning that left to their own devices, and under terrific pressure from unions and other groups for pieces of the extra funds, local school officials are unlikely to make the LCFF theory a reality. The only antidote would be tighter state standards and accountability, and without it, Brown’s education legacy could be a cruel joke. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

John Myers: California’s electoral future is rooted in old-fashioned absentee ballot — For all of the intriguing ideas about improving California elections, there was one undeniable truth at a gathering last week of county officials and activists: The state’s 21st century voting will lean heavily on its greatest electoral innovation of 1864. That would be the absentee ballot. Myers in LA Times

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Dan Schnur: Don’t just lower state’s voting age; educate young voters — The provisional driver’s license has achieved its intended goal: a decline in teen auto crash injuries. Perhaps we should consider that if such a careful learning process can measurably improve a young person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle, then we should use the same approach before we turn over the keys to our democracy. Schnur column in San Francisco Chronicle

California Politics Podcast: Healthcare hits home — This week: The California impact from congressional action to replace Obamacare. Plus, we look at Gov. Jerry Brown’s new chance to shape the state’s highest court. And more buzz over who might — or should — run for statewide office in 2018. With John Myers and Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times and Marisa Lagos of KQED News.  California Politics Podcast


Here’s why law enforcement groups are divided on legislation to turn California into a ‘sanctuary state’– The proposal, introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies, including school police and security, from using resources to investigate, detain, report or arrest people for immigration enforcement. Within three months of its enactment, the state Department of Justice would publish policies on the limits in assistance to federal officials. LA Times article

Grandmother deported to Mexico had criminal history, no right to see judge, authorities say — When the grandmother of a Mira Mesa military veteran’s family was sent back to Mexico last week, her devastated relatives focused on the central role she played in the family, helping raise her two small grandchildren whose father is serving as a contractor in Afghanistan. LA Times article

Livingston’s Sikhs reach out to their neighbors with food and smiles — Education is perhaps the best weapon against hate, but pizza probably doesn’t hurt. A few dozen students gathered at the Sikh Temple Livingston on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to thank the temple’s neighbors with pizza and other food, and to try to educate people on the Sikh religion. Merced Sun-Star article

Other areas

Trump voters would be among the biggest losers in Republicans’ Obamacare replacement plan – Americans who swept President Trump to victory — lower-income, older voters in conservative, rural parts of the country — stand to lose the most in federal healthcare aid under a Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, according to a Times analysis of county voting and tax credit data. LA Times articleNew York Times article

Sacramento Bee: GOP ‘health bill aims cruelly at mentally ill – Congressional Republicans ought to listen to their governors. Understanding that we are judged by how we treat the least among us, many red state governors accepted billions collectively from the Obama administration and were able to help people living on the fringes. Sacramento Bee editorial

A cosmic birthing’: Stein addresses Greens, Kern faithful – There were greens and aquas everywhere — on tablecloths, signs, T-shirts, a few heads of hair — but no shades of gray at the Green Party state convention in Bakersfield on Saturday.  This was a fiery call to action, from none other than Jill Stein, the party’s recent presidential candidate, to about 100 revved-up members gathered at the Central Labor Council in northeast Bakersfield. Most traveled to the city from Green Party strongholds throughout California to bolster the Kern County chapter, one of the newest in the state. Bakersfield Californian article

Sacramento Bee: Republicans can’t handle truth about liberal protestors – Convinced that “paid, professional” protesters are behind demonstrations against President Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers in several states are pushing bills that chip away at the First Amendment. Protesters would be subject to additional crimes for blocking highways and heckling elected officials. Sacramento Bee editorial

Ami Bera’s call to reach across aisle gets cold response at Sacramento town hall — It’s not just California’s Republican congressmen who are facing a push from liberal constituents fired up over the Trump administration. An estimated 350 people showed up for a meeting Saturday at Unity of Sacramento church with Rep. Ami Bera, an Elk Grove Democrat, many from the local chapters of organizing groups like Indivisible and Moms on the Left who wanted Bera to take a more decisive stand against the policies of President Donald Trump and the national Republican Party. Sacramento Bee article

Can Indivisible do for the progressives what Tea Party did for GOP? – What started out as some congressional staffers sharing organizing tips has mushroomed into an organization that has inspired small, autonomous groups across the nation. Not surprisingly, many of the 5,802 “Indivisible”-inspired groups have emerged in the predominantly liberal Bay Area — 200 across six congressional districts. And if the guide and the groups manage to keep progressives plugged into politics between presidential campaigns, Democrats could perform better in the 2018 midterm elections, contests where that party typically underperforms. San Francisco Chronicle article

Should HIV-positive people still face felonies for not telling partners? — Rogel said California laws targeted at HIV-positive people contribute to continued misinformation and stigma around the disease. That’s one reason a San Francisco lawmaker is is trying to overturn laws that punish people who don’t divulge their HIV- or AIDS-positive status. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

House committee wants evidence for Trump’s wiretap claim – The House intelligence committee is asking the Trump administration for evidence that the phones at Trump Tower were tapped during the campaign as its namesake has charged. AP article

In a fact-challenged era, will public access to federal data be the next casualty? – 

Since taking office, the Trump administration has made a series of moves that have alarmed groups with a stake in public access to information: historians, librarians, journalists, climate scientists, internet activists, to name a few. Some are so concerned they have thrown themselves into “data rescue” sessions nationwide, where they spend their weekends downloading and archiving federal databases they fear could soon be taken down or obscured. McClatchy Newspapers article

If Russia inquiry is not ‘legitimate,’ Democrats may abandon it – They agreed just a week ago to the terms of a House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. But now some of the panel’s Democrats are warning that they may pull their support for the inquiry if it becomes mired in party-line politics.  New York Times article

Willie Brown: First step for Trump: Admit you’re powerless over Twitter – Is there a 12-step program for Twitter addiction? I don’t know of one, but there’s treatment for practically every type of addiction these days — so there must be some way to persuade President Trump to stay away from his phone or laptop or whatever device he’s using to whip up his tweet storms. Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

Donald W. Blount: Donald Trump’s continuing battle with his words — I ask again, are they really that stupid? Do they think we are really that stupid? Or are they just trying to create chaos to distract from what they really have going on? Our only hope is that someone stands up and calls Trump and his staff on their stuff. Lies are lies, chaos is chaos, and nothing good can come out of them separately or mixed together. Blount column in Stockton Record

During his political rise, Stephen K. Bannon was a man with no fixed address — In the three years before he became Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon lived as a virtual nomad in a quest to build a populist political insurgency. No presidential adviser in recent memory has followed such a mysterious, peripatetic path to the White House. It was as though he was a man with no fixed address. Washington Post article

Milpitas man arrested in White House security breach — President Trump praised the U.S. Secret Service on Saturday for doing a “fantastic job” apprehending a “troubled person” who climbed a fence and was approaching a south entrance to the White House while Trump was inside the executive mansion. San Francisco Chronicle article

News Stories – Top Stories

Stunning turnaround: San Luis Reservoir, nearly empty in August, full for first time in six years — Last summer it was a jarring symbol of California’s historic five-year drought. San Luis Reservoir — the vast lake along Highway 152 between Gilroy and Los Banos, the state’s fifth-largest reservoir and a key link in the water supply for millions of people and thousands of acres of Central Valley farmland — was just 10 percent full. But in a stunning turnaround that highlights the state’s recovery from the drought, the reservoir christened by John F. Kennedy in 1962 is now completely full for the first time in six years. Its water level has risen 192 feet — nearly twice the height of Oakland’s Oracle Arena — in seven months. San Jose Mercury News article

Behind the quiet state-by-state fight over electric vehicles – Today, the economic incentives that have helped electric vehicles gain a toehold in America are under attack, state by state. In some states, there is a move to repeal tax credits for battery-powered vehicles or to let them expire. And in at least nine states, including liberal-leaning ones like Illinois and conservative-leaning ones like Indiana, lawmakers have introduced bills that would levy new fees on those who own electric cars. New York Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Travel industry worries about second Trump travel ban — The second travel ban proposed by the Trump administration, redesigned to better withstand legal challenges, is just as likely as the previous ban to reduce travel to the U.S., industry representatives say. LA Times article

Sacramento city suite at Golden 1 Center: Benefit or boondoggle? — Since the arena opened with two shows by McCartney, most of the people getting tickets have been affiliated with community groups, which supporters say was a primary goal of having a private box in Golden 1 Center. Critics, including two City Council members, remain unconvinced. They note that community groups aren’t the only ones who have benefited; hundreds of tickets have been given to city officials and their friends. Sacramento Bee article

New program aims to help businesses grow – The Greater Stockton Area Chamber of Commerce is hoping a new program aimed at assisting local businesses to grow like ragweed will boost the economy. The chamber has become the first organization in California to participate in the “Economic Gardening” program, which will help five existing Stockton businesses expand and increase business and revenue. Stockton Record article

Mayor says Old Sacramento needs more splash.  Is it time for a new name, too? — Old Sacramento is the capital city’s birthplace, the launch point for the Gold Rush, and mile zero for the transcontinental railroad. Tourists have flocked there for decades. Sacramento and Northern California residents haven’t. Old town business leaders are making a new push to turn the area into a bigger draw year-round, the kind of place locals will frequent even when the in-laws aren’t in town. And they’ve picked up an energetic new friend down the block at City Hall. Sacramento Bee article

Marcos Breton: Hey Forktown, what’s for dinner, a mystery meal of Sacramento identity? — Sacramento struggles with its identity because it has had so many and now, with the Interstate 5 “Welcome to Sacramento” water tower rebranded with “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital,” the debate begins anew. Who are we? The “City of Trees,” the “Farm-to-Fork Capital,” the most diverse city in the U.S., or the home of the Kings and Piglet? Breton column in Sacramento Bee


River flow debate has turned on how to best help fish – Thousands of salmon have begun their lives not in sparkling mountain streams but in plastic trays stacked 16 high in a building. The Merced River Hatchery, near Snelling, has assisted Mother Nature since 1970. It removes eggs from adults that have returned after a few years in the Pacific Ocean, then rears the young until they are ready for their own journey to the sea. Modesto Bee article

Color me dry: Drought maps blend art and science – but no politics – The maps have vividly portrayed the dry times according to how parts of the state were classified; blood-red for “exceptional drought,” bright crimson for “extreme drought.” Recently and rapidly, the weekly maps have retreated to less alarming tones of beige and yellow, for “moderate drought,” or just “abnormally dry.” But who are the artists behind this parched palette — and what are they basing it on? KQED report

Wary Tranquillity residents watch weakened levees as flood threat recedes – for now — For weeks, the slough and irrigation canals have been gorged with water. About four weeks ago, the levee developed a weak spot. An excavator the size of a combat tank got stuck in the muck trying to patch it. Fresno County sheriff’s deputies left notices on the doors of 80 homes located south of West Jefferson Avenue, preparing the residents for a possible levee break that could send thigh-high water into their homes. Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Use of high-tech tool to locate shooters may greatly expand in California under proposed bill – One state lawmaker is looking to expand the use of the technology to communities throughout the state, including small, cash-strapped cities that might not be able to afford an adequate police force or the shot detection system. Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and Oakland are among 11 California cities that currently use the system, called ShotSpotter.  LA Times article

Citrus Heights police: Too quick to shoot? — Police officers in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights fatally shoot people at a higher rate than any force in California, a Bee investigation has found. Sacramento Bee article

Ventura County tries an alternative to juvenile hall — When 14-year-old Jaime of Oxnard heard he’d have to spend 20 afternoons at a Boys & Girls Club as part of his probation requirements, he wasn’t thrilled. The teenager was on probation for a robbery and assault committed in 2015, he said. He’d already spent a week at Ventura County’s juvenile hall. As an alternative to more time in detention, he was ordered to attend a club for teenagers in Oxnard run by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme. California Health Report article


UC Berkeley ponders People’s Park for housing in controversial move — People’s Park near UC Berkeley, where questions over its fate have inspired student protests for decades and led deputies to kill a man and blind another on infamous “Bloody Thursday” in 1969, is again being considered for development. San Francisco Chronicle article

‘Judged by their personalities, not by their skin color’: Kids rally for equity — With music, cheers and speeches, kids from across the Central Valley showed their support for equality at a rally in front of Fresno City Hall on Saturday. About 100 people attended the Kids Rally for Equality. The event, which started at 11 a.m., allowed kids to share their opinions about equality by presenting speeches and poetry, and performing music. Fresno Bee article

Health/Human Services

Jeff Jardine: Laura’s Law proponents in Stanislaus County look to once-starving sign man downtown and wonder, ‘What if?’ — Pretty much anyone frequenting downtown Modesto over the past decade probably remembers Ramon Alvarez. Maybe they didn’t know him by name, but his dark-green minivan cluttered with undecipherable, handmade signs certainly drew its share of double takes. He began parking the van in front of the Stanislaus County Courthouse in 2006, his wordage claiming an unnamed judge had raped his daughter and that a detective gave his son drugs – neither of which, a family member told me, ever happened. They could do nothing to help him and for many years were estranged. Jardine in Modesto Bee

Land Use/Housing

Freeway work bringing turmoil and change to Westpark — The swath of tidy destruction cuts through Westpark in a sweep of empty brown lots — the path of a freeway carved out of the neighborhood by heavy demolition equipment. Here and there a solitary home — boarded up and lonely — sits waiting amid the open space for its turn before the wrecking ball. Bakersfield Californian article


Lawmakers and passenger advocates push to keep airline seats from shrinking — After years of watching airlines pack more passengers per plane, lawmakers and passenger rights advocates are moving on separate tracks to keep airline seats and passenger legroom from shrinking further. LA Times article

Other areas

Mike Klocke: Council mayhem, jury pools, save havens — A dozen of doughnuts to dip into your Sunday coffee. Klocke column in Stockton Record

Lewis Griswold: No fireworks, no fun: Visalia seeks to revive Fourth of July tradition — Visalia is very close to getting back its Fourth of July fireworks show, last held in 2014. “A Visalia fireworks show is as all-American as motherhood and apple pie,” said Mayor Warren Gubler. The city is offering a carrot: $20,000 toward expenses if a group will take on the show this year and hopefully keep it going from year to year. Griswold in Fresno Bee

Volunteers help clean up downtown, build a home – Allen Sims arrived at Stockton Ballpark early Saturday morning because he wanted information about being a walk-on for the Ports baseball club. Instead, the 31-year-old Stockton native saw dozens of people hauling trash bags, picking up litter and beautifying that stretch of the city, so he grabbed a wheelbarrow and got to work. Stockton Record article

Public input sought on next chapter of Stanislaus library in Turlock — In the second year of an effort to greatly expand the Stanislaus County Library branch here, planners are at the point where they’re seeking input on what the public wants. Modesto Bee article

Michael Fitzgerald: An artwork that ‘gets’ Stockton — Stockton’s newest public artwork is coming from a Denver artist who says he’s amazed that ships from the Pacific Ocean reach a city so far inland. Mike Clapper is creating “Transcending Vessels,” a large-scale “artistic gateway” to ornament the city’s Thornton Road widening project. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Our reporters serve you by letting the sun shine on your government.

Sacramento Bee – Congressional Republicans ought to listen to their governors. Understanding that we are judged by how we treat the least among us, many red state governors accepted billions collectively from the Obama administration and were able to help people living on the fringes; Convinced that “paid, professional” protesters are behind demonstrations against President Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers in several states are pushing bills that chip away at the First Amendment. Protesters would be subject to additional crimes for blocking highways and heckling elected officials.