March 15, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Fuller steps down as state Senate Republican leader — State Republican legislators finally found someone to take Jean Fuller’s job. Following a two-month search for a state senator willing to lead the Republican caucus of a legislative body dominated by Democrats, Fuller’s colleagues elected Patricia “Pat” Bates of Laguna Niguel on Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian articleSacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: How much money will the state have to spend? Lawmakers and Gov. Brown disagree — The size of the pie is one issue. The ever-cautious Brown, concerned – or perhaps paranoid – about leaving the budget in the black when he departs two years hence, takes a glass-half-empty view, citing slowing revenue growth. However, the Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, believes there will be several billion more dollars. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

State budget

Salas calls for valley fever funding in state budget — Assemblymember Rudy Salas says California needs to do more to track valley fever cases, and fund research into the disease. Last month he introduced legislation that in Sacramento that would provide $2 million in funding for the disease, which is especially prevalent in the San Joaquin Valley. Valley Public Radio report

Valley politics

Speakers tell conservative Stanislaus County supervisors that Ann Coulter is a shameful choice — Numerous speakers at the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday protested the selection of conservative columnist and author Ann Coulter to speak at the Republican Central Committee Lincoln Day Dinner in April. Modesto Bee article


ICE agents make arrests at courthouses, sparking backlash from prosecutors and attorneys – In the past few weeks, attorneys and prosecutors in California, Arizona, Texas and Colorado have all reported teams of ICE agents — some in uniform, some not — sweeping into courtrooms or lurking outside court complexes, waiting to arrest immigrants who are in the country illegally. LA Times article

Marcos Breton: Kevin de Leon fights Trump – and misconceptions – about immigration in California — De León has faced opposition before for his leadership on gun-control issues and immigration-related bills, such as when California decided to allow undocumented immigrants to possess drivers licenses. But now the Senate president pro tem is entering a new dimension of partisan warfare and he knows it. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Sacramento Bee: Assembly Democrats over-promise free college – If legislators want to help college students, they could ease laws that slow construction of low-cost housing in college towns such as Davis, Santa Cruz or Santa Barbara, or perhaps use California’s financial clout to lower student loan interest rates. Sacramento Bee editorial

Many in California health exchange would struggle under GOP plan, data show – The Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would dramatically reduce tax credits for many Californians purchasing health insurance through public exchanges and make coverage unaffordable for hundreds of thousands of people, according to data released Tuesday by the state’s health exchange program, Covered California. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleValley Public Radio report: ‘Analysis: What would the GOP health care bill mean for the Valley?’

Trumpcare could price thousands in San Joaquin County out of health coverage – A large number of the 27,848 San Joaquin County residents who are enrolled in Covered California could find that their current health insurance policy will be unaffordable in just a few years should Congress enact the American Health Care Act as proposed. Stockton Record article

GOP’s stumbles over healthcare underscore the party’s competing goals for healthcare reform — The House GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare appeared in deep trouble Tuesday, underscoring the limits of a party that has traditionally put a priority on cutting taxes and government spending over digging into the details of safeguarding Americans’ healthcare. LA Times article

Trump administration shifts away from ‘insurance for everybody’ – The White House shifted away from President Trump’s stated goal of providing “insurance for everybody” on Tuesday, instead promising that the House GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare offers “more people the option to get healthcare.” LA Times article

New health care bill: Midterm flak may hit Republicans – Republicans don’t just have a policy problem with their proposed health care plan; they’ve got a political problem: It hurts some of the older and low-income voters who helped put Donald Trump in the White House, and helps younger voters who wanted little to do with him. San Francisco Chronicle article

State Senate panel throws support behind ballot measure to safeguard transportation funds — A state Senate panel on Tuesday supported a ballot measure that would prohibit the state from borrowing money from vehicle fees and gas taxes for use by non-transportation programs. LA Times article

Green projects face scrutiny as California lawmakers debate cap and trade — Since Gov. Jerry Brown asked lawmakers to extend California’s cap-and-trade program, a broad cross-section of state policies on climate change are coming under the microscope. LA Times article

Joel Fox: Haven’t we learned yet? More legislation adds to housing costs — Housing costs too much in California. But, while legislators wring their hands over the housing crisis they often pass laws that boost the cost of housing. The latest proposal that would increase housing costs is AB 199 by Assemblyman Kansen Chu. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Presidential Politics

Here’s the surprise in Trump’s 2005 tax return – he paid $38 million in federal taxes — President Donald Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes in 2005 on an income of $150 million, according to a partial tax return released Tuesday by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and confirmed by the White House. McClatchy Newspapers articleLA Times articleNew York Times article

Republicans are threatening to expose Trump as emperor with no clothes — It’s almost as though Republicans are tired of having President Trump’s evidence-free allegations laid at their feet. Almost. Late Monday, a spokesman for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) threatened to subpoena the Trump administration to produce evidence of Trump’s claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign. The White House has declined to produce this evidence publicly, offering various excuses, including the Constitution’s separation of powers and — most recently on Monday — arguing that Trump wasn’t speaking literally when he made the claim. Washington Post article

Trump to shelve fuel mileage rules, inviting a fight with California – President Trump will direct the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday to shelve aggressive vehicle fuel economy targets that are a pillar of climate action and anti-pollution efforts in California and nationwide, according to a senior administration official. LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories – Top Stories

Will Kern County knock Fresno out of California’s 10 most populous counties? — Fresno County, the 10th most populous county in California, could get knocked out of the Top 10 by Kern County in just a few decades, according to the latest growth projections from the state Department of Finance. Fresno Bee article

Ulta Beauty warehouse could be a sign of the Valley becoming the West Coast’s distribution ‘hub’ – Ulta Beauty may be the biggest beauty product supplier in the country, but the announcement the company will build a distribution and fulfillment center in Fresno could be about much more than eyeliner and lipstick. Some experts think the Central Valley could develop into the hub that supplies on demand products for the entire west coast. But why is the area so enticing for internet retailers, and do these centers provide good jobs? Valley Public Radio report

Jobs and the Economy

Why CalPERS is pouring millions into a Southern California water deal – On the edge of the Mojave Desert, beneath 1,800 acres of scrubland and tumbleweeds, California’s giant public pension fund is trying to make a killing in the water business. CalPERS is the primary owner of the Willow Springs Water Bank, an underground reservoir that could hold as much water as Folsom Lake when fully developed. Its customers, mainly a collection of Los Angeles-area water agencies, pay fees to store water beneath the Kern County soil to bolster their supplies during dry periods. Sacramento Bee article

Charred remains of Asian market on Merced’s Main Street nearly three months old — Nearly three months after a fire destroyed an Asian market on Main Street, the charred pile of rubble remains on view and it’s unclear when it will be removed. Merced Sun-Star article

Atwater to get an update on Ferrari Ranch project, which would provide jobs and tax revenue — Atwater plans a workshop Wednesday to provide an update on the Ferrari Ranch project, a planned 3 million square-foot development that supporters say would bring much needed revenue, services and businesses to the area. Merced Sun-Star article

With snow melting, California gold prospectors hope to strike it rich – All of the recent rain and snow in California is good news for farms and cities. The runoff flowing from the Sierra Nevada is so strong this year that’s it’s moving huge boulders and tons of earth down rivers. That means gold is on the move as well and as Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports that has gold prospectors on alert. Valley Public Radio report

Zapien named CEO of Community Foundation — For San Joaquin County Supervisor Moses Zapien has been named chief executive officer and president of the Community Foundation of San Joaquin, to replace the retiring Linda Philipp. His first official day is scheduled to be Thursday. Stockton Record article

Stockton Record: Mayoral salary debate: Commission had to keep pay rate as it stands — The issue of what to pay the mayor of Stockton has, in some ways, become a no-win situation. And because of that, the City Council’s Salary Setting Commission was both right and wrong in its 3-2 decision to keep the salary at $72,384. Stockton Record editorial

When the Fed raises rates, credit card holders feel it first — Get ready to pay more to borrow. When it comes to economics, certainty is usually elusive, but in the case of the expected decision by the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates by a quarter-point on Wednesday, the impact on consumers is clear. New York Times article

SpaceX wins $96.5 million contract to launch Air Force satellite — SpaceX has won a $96.5 million contract to launch a GPS satellite for the U.S. Air Force. The Hawthorne space company is scheduled to launch the GPS III satellite in February 2019 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.  LA Times article

With some Chinook in trouble, California faces a ‘pathetic scrap’ of salmon season — California’s chinook salmon — or some of them — are in trouble again. And under a set of proposed rules approved Monday, that’s likely to mean a very restricted salmon season for both commercial fishers and recreational anglers alike. KQED report

Poverello House breaks ground on new warehouse — The Poverello House broke ground Tuesday morning on its new food storage warehouse, operations center and community housing improvement project. This first phase of much-needed updates to the facility are part of the nonprofit’s $2.5 million Raise the Roof campaign, for which $1.7 million has already been donated. The Business Journal article


These before and after images show storms’ impact on Valley reservoirs — For a while, it seemed as though California’s five-year drought would never lift. But thanks to the winter’s deluge of rain and a record-setting snowpack, the San Joaquin Valley’s reservoirs and lakes are brimming with water. Fresno Bee article

South San Joaquin Irrigation District Oks bountiful water for farmers – To the surprise of no one, the South San Joaquin Irrigation District approved a full water allotment Tuesday. Its board voted unanimously to have no cap thanks to abundant rain and snow in the Stanislaus River watershed for the farmers around Ripon, Manteca and Escalon. The drought in 2015 forced the first-ever limit in SSJID’s century-plus history. Modesto Bee article

Robert Pyke: Delta plan aims to store more water in Valley aquifers – The Walnut Creek consultant writes, “Twin tunnels from the north Delta to the existing pumps in the south Delta do not solve this problem. Those tunnels only provide better water quality for exporters at the expense of water quality in the western Delta. It is time for a real solution to the real problem rather than politics as usual.” Pyke op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Just weeks after Oroville Dam crisis, damage found in another key California reservoir – California water officials, still struggling with fixes at Oroville Dam, will have to temporarily shut down the pumping station that delivers water to much of Southern California and Silicon Valley after discovering damage at another key state reservoir. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Modesto Irrigation District board debates farm water subsidy while class-action lawsuit looms — An office staff decision not to raise water prices this year led to a lively debate Tuesday among Modesto Irrigation District leaders over whether electricity customers truly subsidize farmers’ water. The dispute ought to be settled in court and not the boardroom, said some leaders of MID, which faces an important legal battle over the issue. Modesto Bee article

Sierra Nevada: New aerial snow survey detects snow depths of 75 feet — A new way to measure the snowpack from the sky is getting some positive results. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports officials hope new technology can reduce the risk of downstream flooding. Valley Public Radio report

Vacaville sued over ‘Erin Brockovich’ contaminant in water supply — The city of Vacaville is facing pressure to clean up its water supplies after an environmental group sued this week over the amount of chromium-6 in groundwater. San Francisco Chronicle article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Turlock man, son of judge, charged with attempted murder of Merced sheriff’s deputies – Merced County prosecutors on Tuesday charged the 40-year-old son of a Stanislaus County Superior Court civil judge with two counts of attempted murder of peace officers in connection with a gun battle last week on the outskirts of Snelling. Merced Sun-Star article

Lawyers: Silva could be released Wednesday – Though a judge slashed Anthony Silva’s bail by nearly two-thirds this week, the former mayor still is in the county jail but could be out as soon as Wednesday, his lawyers said. Stockton Record article

Did a Fresno County sheriff’s SWAT team destroy a couple’s home? — A family is suing Fresno County, the Sheriff’s Office and Clovis Police Department for destroying their home by “military-like force” in a SWAT call to remove a man who holed himself up in their residence. Fresno Bee article

Kern supervisors at impasse with detention deputies — The Kern County Board of Supervisors declared impasse with the Kern County Detention Officers Association Tuesday afternoon. The union supported the move to impasse and will enter mediation with the county. Bakersfield Californian article

Police commissioners concerned by ‘significant increase’ in shootings by LAPD officers – Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday that his department has seen a “significant increase” in the number of shootings by officers so far this year, drawing concern from his civilian bosses. LA Times article

Tulare County supervisors approve contract for sheriff’s evidence building — County supervisors approved a contract for the renovation of a building and construction of a storage facility for the sheriff’s department evidence management system. Visalia Times-Delta article


Ralliers urge Stockton Unified to stand by pro-LGBT policies – San Joaquin Pride Center Executive Director Nicholas Hatten walked among friends draped in rainbow flags on North Madison Street, showing their support for the Stockton Unified School District’s commitment to pro-LGBT policies. Stockton Record article

UC regents to discuss limiting nonresident enrollment, housing squeeze, rising costs – University of California regents will tackle a host of hot-button issues at their two-day meeting in San Francisco beginning Wednesday, including proposed enrollment limits on students from other states and countries, the rising cost of attendance and the campus housing squeeze. LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: UC out-of-staters are last year’s fight – California lawmakers should accept the UC regents’ plan to cap nonresident enrollment. This is not the time or place for this state’s institutions to keep outsiders at bay. Sacramento Bee editorial

Eric Christen: Community college trustees must reject ‘divisive’ project-labor agreements – The executive director of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction writes, “On Friday, the State Center Community College District will hold a study session on project labor agreements. The district’s board of trustees is being pressured by big labor special interests to sign a PLA on construction work set to take place under the district’s Measure C, a $485 million construction bond approved by voters last June. In doing so, the trustees are inviting into the district the most controversial and divisive issue facing the construction industry today.” Christen op-ed in Fresno Bee

Students ‘investigating the world’ around them at annual science fair — Caiden Klassen knows prosthetic arms aren’t cheap. A friend of his got one a few years ago, and although he had insurance that covered most of the cost, some models are priced between $10,000 and $100,000. So what happens for those who don’t have insurance and can’t afford a prosthetic? If Klassen has it his way, many won’t have to worry about that. Bakersfield Californian article

Sacramento State graduation costs soar at new Kings arena — The Sacramento Kings more than tripled the amount they will charge Sacramento State for commencement at the new Golden 1 Center compared to their old home, according to a document obtained by The Sacramento Bee. Last spring, the university paid $59,842 to hold seven spring graduation ceremonies at Sleep Train Arena. Sacramento Bee article

 Health/Human Services

Kids Day donations break through goal with record tally — The final tally is in – and Kids Day 2017 raised a record $628,611 in donations for Valley Children’s Hospital. With the help of thousands of volunteers, the 30th annual fundraiser on March 7 beat the former high set last year of $600,000. Fresno Bee article

Breast cancer screenings, education coming to Merced County — A merger of two regional Susan G. Komen affiliates will allow Merced County to begin benefiting from the programs and services provided by the nonprofit breast cancer organization, the group said. Merced Sun-Star article

After own recovery, Tracy veteran launches Fix’d to help others cope — Jaime Medina is a powerful force. The rapid-fire talker moves with a sense of urgency and purpose; as if he still lives in the days when he was deployed in the Middle East. It’s an intensity that fueled his alcohol binges years back and now powers his advocacy and outreach efforts. Stockton Record article

Other areas

Audit slams California agencies for lax social service background checks – California is failing in its effort to screen potential social service workers for criminal convictions and could be putting children, adults and elderly clients at risk, according to a state audit released Tuesday. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Clint Olivier: Fresno needs to do more for seniors – Fresno is one of the largest communities in the San Joaquin Valley that doesn’t have a dedicated senior center. That’s something that current city councilmember and state assembly candidate Clint Olivier wants to change. Valley Public Radio report

Sorensen recusing herself on downtown votes — Since she took office in December, Hanford City Councilwoman Sue Sorensen has recused herself repeatedly, stepping out of the room during votes and discussions involving downtown. Hanford Sentinel article

Michael Fitzgerald: ‘Roadshow’ regular appraises Stockton — A frequent guest on “Antiques Roadshow” is in Stockton through Thursday, seeking objects of value to sell through Witherell’s antique auction house of Sacramento. And, Brian Witherell freely admits, questing for that one object that has eluded him his entire career: something so golden its sale price brings more than $100,000. Stockton Record article

Embattled Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed to retire — Oakland’s embattled fire chief will retire May 5, five months after the deadly Ghost Ship warehouse inferno raised questions about management and inspection procedures in the Fire Department, city leaders said Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – About 14 million people will lose health coverage by 2018 if the House Republican leadership’s plan is enacted, the CBO estimated. By 2020, that number would rise to 21 million. What has been presented falls well short of the “thing of beauty” promised by President Trump. In fact, it’s a prescription for health-care disaster.

Sacramento Bee – If legislators want to help college students, they could ease laws that slow construction of low-cost housing in college towns such as Davis, Santa Cruz or Santa Barbara, or perhaps use California’s financial clout to lower student loan interest rates; California lawmakers should accept the UC regents’ plan to cap nonresident enrollment. This is not the time or place for this state’s institutions to keep outsiders at bay.

Stockton Record – The issue of what to pay the mayor of Stockton has, in some ways, become a no-win situation. And because of that, the City Council’s Salary Setting Commission was both right and wrong in its 3-2 decision to keep the salary at $72,384.