March, 14 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

24 million would lose health coverage under GOP repeal bill in first decade, CBO says — An estimated 14 million people would lose health insurance in the first year of the Republican proposal to overturn Obamacare, according to a new estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The number would rise over time and by 2026, 24 million will have lost health coverage if the bill becomes law, the office estimates. McClatchy Newspapers articleSacramento Bee editorialLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleNew York Times article

Dan Walters: Are Californians willing to pay Scandinavian taxes for Scandinavian services? — California voters have repeatedly shown that they are willing to tax others – such as the rich or smokers – but very reluctant to tax themselves. However, we shouldn’t pretend that providing them with a new smorgasbord of governmental benefits won’t cost them – a lot. If we want to emulate Scandinavian benefits, we will have to also adopt Scandinavia’s heavy approach to taxation. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown

As Justice Kathryn Werdegar prepares to retire, Brown will soon have a Democratic majority on state’s top court — The senior justice announced Wednesday she would step down on Aug. 31, giving Gov. Jerry Brown an opportunity to appoint a fourth justice on the seven-member court. LA Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Newsom to pitch universal health care as California governor’s race grows crowded — Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is drafting a health care plan for California that he plans to unveil as a core component of his gubernatorial run, based in part on the universal health care program he signed into law when he was mayor of San Francisco. Sacramento Bee article

SuperPAC didn’t derail Trump, but it did boost Villaraigosa’s governor bid — Last spring, as he laid the groundwork for his gubernatorial run, Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa announced the formation of a super PAC he said would “harness the compassion and power” of Californians to fight back against anti-immigrant policies and then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Sacramento Bee article

California Democratic, Republican voter registrations decline sharply post-election – Californians who have registered to vote since the November election are increasingly turning away from both the Democratic and Republican parties. There’s been “a 10-point drop for both Democratic and Republican registrations,” says Paul Mitchell, who tracks voter activity for consulting firm Political Data, Inc. Capital Public Radio report

Marshall Tuck again running for California schools chief: ‘We’ve settled for mediocrity’ – Marshall Tuck, who unsuccessfully challenged incumbent schools chief Tom Torlakson in a contentious 2014 race that became a proxy fight over a lawsuit on teacher job protections, will run again for state superintendent of public instruction. Sacramento Bee article


California joins other states challenging President Trump’s travel ban – Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Monday that California is joining several other states in a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban. Sacramento Bee articleKQED report

Statewide ‘sanctuary’ bill tweaked but still faces pushback – California Democrats are making a measure that prevents law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials less severe in an effort to make it more acceptable to police agencies. AP article

Trump’s plan to rapidly expand Border Patrol comes with big risks – President Trump’s promise to crack down on illegal immigration includes not only a wall but more people behind the wall — an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 10,000 immigration officers. Those lofty goals come with a set of unknowns — such as how soon, where the money would come from — and a recent history that provides some cautionary tales. LA Times article

Jeff Jardine: From ISIS’ gunpoint to safety in Modesto, and yet a bittersweet feeling for Assyrian immigrant — Imagine being forced to your knees, with a gun at your head or a knife at your throat, and being told by some really angry Islamic State insurgents to renounce Christianity and convert to Islam or be killed. Imagine experiencing this virtually every day for six months, and finally telling your tormentors at one point, “Then just do it! Kill me and get it over with!” Hanna Amo doesn’t need to imagine any of that. He did it, and lived to tell about it. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Other areas

Debt-free college? Assembly Democrats want to make it possible for California students – With books, student fees, housing and transportation, the cost of a college education runs many times higher than tuition prices that have come to dominate discussions on affordability. A new budget plan from Assembly Democrats would expand the scope of financial aid, providing scholarships to low- and middle-income Californians for living expenses to help them graduate free of debt. Sacramento Bee articleKQED reportEdSource article

The Obamacare replacement bill could die on Thursday — The much-maligned Obamacare replacement bill will face its biggest test so far on Thursday, as a House of Representatives committee filled with conservatives could derail the legislation backed by Speaker Paul Ryan before it gets to the House floor. McClatchy Newspapers article

 California Senate Democrats rip the Obamacare replacement plan, while GOP lawmakers say quit whining – It has become almost a reflex in the California Legislature: When Republicans in Washington act, Democrats in Sacramento make some show of opposition. On Monday, it was about healthcare, with Senate Democrats taking up a speedily crafted, non-binding resolution assailing the House GOP’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. LA Times article

GOP health proposal would upend consumers’ cost calculations in California — For better or worse, Californians who aren’t insured through their employers could see major changes in their health insurance costs under a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

White House analysis of Obamacare repeal sees even deeper insurance losses t than CBO – A White House analysis of the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare shows even steeper coverage losses than the projections by the Congressional Budget Office, according to a document viewed by Politico on Monday. Politico article

Should California teachers have to pay state income tax? — A California Senate bill proposes a new way to solve the teacher shortage: Let them keep their state income tax. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

California tax-free tampons bill tied up over whether cities should be included – The campaign for tax-free tampons in California has hit its first roadblock of the new year. Assembly Bill 9, which would exempt menstrual products from state and local sales taxes, was abruptly pulled from the agenda before its first hearing on Monday after the author refused to take an amendment from the committee chair that would exclude local sales taxes from the proposal. Sacramento Bee article

Loos who’s hinting at a government shutdown now — Prominent Democrats, many of whom said a Republican-led shutdown was irresponsible, are warning of budget battles over a Mexican wall, Planned Parenthood and an increase in immigration officers. New York Times article

Presidential Politics

House committee gives Trump more time to produce Obama wiretap evidence — The Trump administration asked Monday for more time to submit evidence to the House Intelligence Committee to back up President Donald Trump’s claim that President Barack Obama had wiretapped him in the waning days of last year’s presidential campaign.  McClatchy Newspapers article

House investigators on a Trump-Russia ‘collision course’ – Adam Schiff says Russia’s effort to sway the election for President Donald Trump is one of the most serious issues of our time. Devin Nunes isn’t even convinced Russia tried to help Trump. Politico article

Former President Barack Obama holds meetings in San Jose — Barack Obama became a Silicon Valley favorite in 2008. Not much has changed. The former president and his motorcade were greeted by cheers, waves and some wistfulness Monday as he emerged from a meeting at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose. San Jose Mercury News article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories – Top Stories

Fresno County refinanced pension bonds to cut payments.  It could cost them dearly — Fifteen years ago, Fresno County supervisors refinanced a pension bond to snag a lower interest rate and cut its short-term payments, even though the deal extended the county’s obligation another 10 years and added to its ultimate cost. What the county didn’t anticipate at the time was that the state and federal governments, which were also on the hook for the bill, might someday balk at the added costs. Now they want their money back – and the bill could approach $38 million.  Fresno Bee article

Children living in Central Valley more likely to experience stress — Children in Merced County and the rest of the San Joaquin Valley are more likely to grow up in stressful environments compared to other areas in the state, according to a study by the UC Davis Center for Regional Change. More often than not, children living in the Valley lack access to fresh and healthy food, safe drinking water and are exposed to violence and harmful levels of air pollution. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy

Sushi restaurant greets customers with security after backlash to Facebook post — A new security guard stood outside a sushi restaurant in northeast Fresno on Monday after it was peppered with numerous threats due to a controversial Facebook post by the owner.  Fresno Bee article

$1.4 million from Credit Bureau Fund committed to Focus on Prevention in Stanislaus County — Local business leaders have made a $1.4 million charitable investment in the Focus on Prevention initiative to support efforts to reduce homelessness in Stanislaus County. Modesto Bee article

Where poverty, promise intersect: San Francisco’s Tenderloin reinvents itself — Ask someone who hasn’t been to the Tenderloin lately to meet you there, and they’re apt to have one of two reactions — excitement or the side-eye. Why? The long-sketchy neighborhood is the city’s newest hot spot. San Francisco Chronicle article

State spares no expense to nail Caltrans worker for long breaks — Over the years, the California state auditor has conducted hundreds of investigations of state employees who weren’t playing by the rules — but a new report on a Caltrans analyst who took too long on her smoking breaks is one for the books. San Francisco Chronicle article


Merced County almond farmers face uncertain season with wet weather, unlimited surface water – Between the weather and the prospect of having unlimited irrigation water, Merced County farmers and agriculture experts aren’t sure what to expect from this year’s almond crop. Merced Sun-Star article

Farmers in conservation mode despite wet winter – With most of California out of exceptional or extreme drought status, you might expect farmers who had been desperate to find ways to save water slacking off on those efforts. But you’d be wrong. The Business Journal article

Monsanto loses in Fresno County judge’s final ruling on ‘Roundup’ chemical — A Fresno County Superior Court judge issued her final ruling Friday in the failed attempt by chemical giant Monsanto to stop California from listing a key ingredient in its popular herbicide, Roundup, as a carcinogen. Fresno Bee article

Is there too much water behind Oroville Dam? Critics say Army Corps standards unsafe — Long before a fractured spillway plunged Oroville Dam into the gravest crisis in its 48-year history, officials at a handful of downstream government agencies devised a plan they believed would make the dam safer: Store less water there. Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Silva’s bail reduced to $350,000; must wear monitor, avoid Kids Club – A judge has slashed Anthony Silva’s million-dollar bail by nearly two-thirds, and the former Stockton mayor may be released from the County Jail as soon as Tuesday on the condition he wear a GPS monitor to address prosecution concerns that he is a flight risk.  Stockton Record articleSacramento Bee article

Charging decision expected Tuesday for Turlock man arrested in officers-involved shooting in Merced County — Prosecutors expect to decide Tuesday morning whether there is enough evidence to charge the 40-year-old son of a Stanislaus County Superior Court civil judge with attempted murder in connection with a police chase last week that ended in a hail of gunfire. Merced Sun-Star article

Two students arrested on suspicion of detonating illegal fireworks at high school – – Two students have been arrested on suspicion of detonating illegal fireworks at Ridgeview High School on Friday. They were arrested on charges of conspiracy, illegal discharge of fireworks and disrupting a campus, according to a Kern High School District news release. Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton police credited with saving man’s life — Officers with the Police Department’s Community Response Team are credited with saving a man’s life Saturday evening in central Stockton. Stockton Record article

LA sheriff is spending $300,000 to change the color of deputies’ belt buckles, other items.  Some call it a misuse of money — The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is getting down to brass tactics. Sheriff’s officials are spending $300,000 on items they say would make deputies look more professional in their jobs and could help make them safer. LA Times article


Fresno State President Joseph Castro honored by Armenian groups – Joseph Castro, president of Fresno State, has been named man of the year by the Knights and Daughters of Vartan for his support of the Armenian community. Fresno Bee article

Napolitano picks first women to serve as UC Berkeley chancellor – University of California President Janet Napolitano has selected Carol T. Christ to become the next chancellor of UC Berkeley and the first woman to serve in that position. AP articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

California bar exam’s passing score should be lowered, critics say – The State Bar of California has agreed to launch a comprehensive assessment of whether the minimum score needed to pass its bar examination should be lowered to allow more prospective attorneys to pass. San Francisco Chronicle article

St. Helen’s Catholic school to close due to financial problems — St. Helen’s School in southeast Fresno will close its doors at the end of the school year after 60 years of teaching children in the community. Fresno Bee article

Visalia Unified announces new principal lineup — Just like a teacher, principals play a big role in the type of education a student will receive. And, just like a teacher, finding the right principal for the right campus is not something school districts take lightly. With the 2017-18 school year fast approaching, Visalia Unified School District is finalizing the list of principals for each of it’s campuses. Visalia Times-Delta article

LA group renews debate over single ranking on school report cards — When report cards for every district and school in the state go online Wednesday morning, there will start to be an answer to a question that has prompted great speculation: Will parents find the California School Dashboard, as the new system of color-coded metrics on performance is called, to be clear and useful? EdSource article


Going up to get green: High-voltage towers to be repainted with non-lead paint — Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is embarking on a project to repaint more than 200 of its large electric transmission towers in Fresno County starting in April – the first step in the utility’s effort to recoat towers throughout northern and central California with paint that does not have toxic lead in it. Fresno Bee article

Another Yolo Bypass fish rescue underway.  Will it be the last? — On Monday, net-wielding biologists began this springtime ritual anew. But the hope is it may be one of the last times. Construction is slated to begin this summer on a $4.5 million project aimed at improving the weir’s only fish passageway, a narrow box-like structure that few fish actually use to get back to the river. The weir’s fish ladder was built in the 1960s. Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services 

 Dying patients want easier access to experimental medicine.  Here’s why experts say that’s bad medicine – To get his hands on GDC-0134, as the compound is known, DeBartoli doesn’t want the help of the Food and Drug Administration. And under California’s new “Right to Try” law, he no longer needs it. The law, which took effect Jan. 1, allows patients to use medications while they are still being tested. With the backing of two physicians, a patient thought to have less than a year to live can appeal directly to a pharmaceutical company to gain access to its drug. LA Times article

They fought for the U.S. in Laos. Now many older Hmong fight depression — Dia Yang is a cultural broker at the Fresno Center for New Americans. She helps Southeast Asian refugees acclimate to the United States. On this rainy day, she’s working with a dozen older Hmong men and women who find life in America really hard. KQED report

Land Use/Housing

Sacramento families waiting for affordable housing may lose access under federal cut — Faced with a significant federal budget cut, Sacramento’s affordable housing agency could be forced to shut off access to low-income residents waiting for rent vouchers as early as this summer. Sacramento Bee article


Sacramento RT partnership with advertising firm makes rolling billboards of area’s light-rail cars — Have you noticed those sizable, colorful advertisements on the sides of light-rail cars rolling in and around Sacramento? The hard-to-miss, eye-catching displays are the result of a recently formed partnership between the Sacramento Regional Transit District and Lamar Advertising Co., a national advertising firm based in Baton Rouge, La. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Thousands greet public-safety workers at Unity Matters event in Modesto — Nearly 2,000 people said thanks to first-responders, and prayers for their safety, at a Modesto church Monday night. The second annual Unity Matters event at The House Modesto Church honored law-enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulance crews and the employees who support them. Modesto Bee article

Veteran newsman Lawitz named vice president, executive editor of The Bakersfield Californian — Veteran news executive Jim Lawitz has been named vice president and executive editor of The Bakersfield Californian, effective immediately. The appointment was announced Monday by company CEO and President Michelle Chantry. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Convinced that people protesting President Trump are paid professionals, Republican lawmakers throughout the land are writing laws that would discourage and even criminalize public dissent.

Sacramento Bee – The Congressional Budget Office has weighed in on the GOP answer to the Affordable Care Act. The prognosis? As dire as everyone said; The Big Dance is back in Sacramento.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers: St. Joseph’s expanding emergency room, a tardy emergency declaration and other issues.