March 18, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Trump’s proposed budget cuts would hit Valley hard in housing, health, broadcasting areas — President Donald Trump’s federal budget proposes big funding cuts that Valley officials say could have devastating effects on federally funded services at the local level, including public housing, health and broadcasting systems. But local officials say the president’s proposal is just the first step in what is likely to be a long, drawn-out process to shape and finalize the nation’s spending plan, and most are adopting a wait-and-see approach. Fresno Bee article

5 impacts: We break down what Trump’s proposed budget could mean for Kern — The Trump Administration unveiled a budget proposal Wednesday that includes boosts in some areas, and significant cuts in others. We take a look at what it could mean for Kern County in an informational graphic presentation. Bakersfield Californian article

Gov. Brown

Brown administration presses lawmakers to support road-repair funding plan as support lags for tax hike bill — With a road-repair funding plan lagging in support among Democratic lawmakers, the Brown administration is stepping up pressure on them to reach a deal before the Legislature goes on spring break April 6. LA Times article

Valley politics

Clovis elects first Hmong city council member — A Clovis resident since 1996, Vong Mounanoutoua was born in Laos before immigrating to the United States with his family in 1976, at age five. Although he is the first Hmong-American to sit on the Clovis City Council, he said, public service is considered an integral part of the Hmong culture. Clovis Independent article

Former Clovis Police captain wins City Council seat — Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Al Gore and Queen Elizabeth II all have something in common. In addition to being internationally recognized world leaders, they were all protected, at one point in time, by former Clovis police Capt. Drew Bessinger. Clovis Independent article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Sen. Dianne Feinstein holds impromptu Q&A with activists gathered to protest outside her LA fundraiser — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) held an impromptu question and answer session Friday with a couple of dozen liberal activists outside a Hancock Park home where she was raising money for her 2018 reelection campaign. LA Times article


Trump administration appeals halt of travel ban – The Trump administration filed a notice in a Maryland federal district court on Friday that it would appeal the court’s decision halting the president’s revised travel ban. LA Times article

House Democrats frustrated after meeting with Homeland Security head – Frustrated House Democrats say they got few specifics from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly when they questioned him Friday in a closed-door meeting about his agency’s efforts to comply with President Trump’s immigration orders. LA Times article

Courts will likely scrutinize motive behind Trump travel ban – With President Trump’s revised travel ban once again on judicial hold, its fate in higher courts — including the Supreme Court — most likely turns on one question: Must judges accept the president’s word that his motive was to protect the nation from terrorism and not to exclude Muslims? San Francisco Chronicle article

San Francisco leaders want no federal immigration arrests at city courts – San Francisco’s top legal officials joined the chief justice of the California Supreme Court in calling for federal immigration agents to refrain from “stalking” courthouses and arresting people who are in the country illegally. San Francisco Chronicle article

Immigration judges to be sent to border detention centers — The Justice Department said Friday that it will temporarily transfer immigration judges to six detention centers mostly near the border with Mexico in an effort to put President Donald Trump’s immigration directives into effect. AP article

San Diego police won’t act as immigration officers, mayor says – San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer says that San Diego will not participate in a federal program where local police perform the duties of immigration officers. LA Times article

Syrian refugee community growing, and so is support from Fresno’s faithful — A group of Syrian refugees and Christian churchgoers in Fresno met last year with a simple greeting: “Peace be upon you.” Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Stephen W. Schilling: Repealing ACA is the real job killer – The CEO of Bakersfield-based Clinica Sierra Vista writes, “In response to Inga Barks’ March 2 column, ‘Reform healthcare, even if government jobs are lost,’ the claim that the Affordable Care Act is a job-killer and only created more government-funded jobs is not based in fact or reality. There is also no evidence that millions of full-time employees became part-time employees or that large numbers of employers kept their workforce to less than 50 employees just to avoid the employer-mandate.” Schilling op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Obamacare repeal could hurt Tulare County – According to a Bay Area research institute, the GOP reform bill would take away coverage for 52,000 county residents and likely eliminate as many as 3,000 jobs in Tulare County alone. “It will detrimentally affect Tulare County,” said Graciela Soto Perez, Altura Centers for Health CEO. Visalia Times-Delta article

Sacramento Bee: Don’t drag California back to the old days – President Donald Trump’s support of rolling back federal emissions standards is short-sighted. It will only create more pollution, worsen climate change and invite a legal battle with California that could last years. Sacramento Bee editorial

Lawmakers warn that Trump budget cuts will deepen California affordable housing crisis — The average rent in California is now more than double the national average – and as high as $4,500 per month in San Francisco. But a solution for this crisis continues to elude Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature, with negotiations last year falling apart over proposed rules to speed up the land-use approval process for new construction. Sacramento Bee article

With housing costs skyrocketing, rent control is on the docket again in Sacramento – Amid California’s housing crisis, several state lawmakers want to give cities the ability to dramatically expand rent control, including imposing the kind of strict limits that once existed in Santa Monica and West Hollywood but have been barred since the 1990s. LA Times article

Senate bill requires publicly funded colleges to provide abortion pills to students — As Republicans in Congress move to defund Planned Parenthood, a California state senator is pushing a bill to require student health centers on public university and community college campuses to provide non-surgical abortion services.  Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

GOP health plan could hurt Kern – The GOP plan introduced this month to replace the Affordable Care Act could have some damaging effects on Kings County, according to Keith Winkler, director of the Kings County Department of Public Health. Hanford Sentinel article

PolitiFact CA: Nothing inflated n Arnold Schwarzenegger’s claim on gerrymandering — Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently claimed the  “average margin of victory in the House of Representatives was 37%” among Republicans and Democrats during last year’s election. That claim is supported by the 37.1 percent margin calculated by independent election tracker and longtime politics professor Jack Pitney of Claremont McKenna College, who put the margin slightly higher at 39 percent. PolitiFact CA article

Gale Kaufman recognized as ‘trailblazer’ on tough political battles in California — Gale Kaufman has been inducted into the American Association of Political Consultants’ hall of fame, one of three women to have ever been recognized by the national organization, which called the California-based politico “a true trailblazer” who has gained “notoriety for her decisive victories on prominent statewide ballot initiative campaigns.” Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Trump offers no apology for claim on British spying – President Trump provoked a rare public dispute with America’s closest ally on Friday after his White House aired an explosive and unsubstantiated claim that Britain’s spy agency had secretly eavesdropped on him at the behest of President Barack Obama during last year’s campaign. New York Times article

These ranchers welcome Trump’s policies.  Here’s why – This week marks the halfway point of President Trump’s first 100 days in office. During that time, he’s taken aim at environmental policies on air pollution, water pollution and climate change, inspiring many Californians to protest. On the other hand, some Trump supporters in rural parts of the state are cheering even louder now than they were during the election. KQED report

Foon Rhee: Which will be the bigger Trump scandal: Russia or conflicts? – I find it really difficult to fathom that Trump and his family could get away with using the White House to enrich themselves. That’s why I pay as much attention to these financial dealings as the growing evidence on Russia. It’s not out of the question that Trump has business conflicts in Russia, which Bookbinder says would be “particularly potent.” Just maybe, it’s when the two potential scandals combine into one unstoppable flow that the dam finally breaks. And if that happens, it could wash away Trump’s presidency. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

California Politics Podcast: Will D.C. deliver hits to California? – This week, we discuss big proposals from President Trump — environmental protection and budget cuts — that will impact California. We also take a look at a sweeping higher education plan from Democrats in Sacramento. And the end of an era in Los Angeles politics. With John Myers and Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times, Marisa Lagos of KQED News and Anthony York of the Grizzly Bear Project.  California Politics Podcast

The cost can be debated, but Meals on Wheels gets results – Meals on Wheels has been delivering food to older people in the United States since the 1950s. Last year it served 2.4 million people. This week, after President Trump released his budget proposal, a furor erupted over the program’s future and effectiveness. Let’s look at the evidence. New York Times article

Justice Department tells court that Trump should be able to fire consumer watchdog – The Justice Department told a federal court on Friday that President Trump should be able to fire the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, arguing the structure of the controversial independent watchdog is unconstitutional. LA Times article

In California, the ‘beginning of the battle’ to save arts funding — With the official release of President Trump’s proposed budget on Thursday, arts leaders in California weren’t surprised to see the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) among the cuts. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worried about the survival of dozens of arts programs across the state, many of them serving immigrant and poor communities. KQED report

California Women’s Caucus sends ‘advice letter’ to Trump’s Supreme Court nominee — The women helping to lead the world’s sixth-largest economy sent a letter of advice this month to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Sacramento Bee article

News Stories – Top Stories

Dan Walters: California’s new school ratings: Are they better or just confusing? — The dashboard is also the latest flashpoint in a long-running conflict between education equity groups and the education establishment over accountability – and particularly over how Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula is being implemented. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

After years of drought in the Central Valley, residents of Hanford finally singing in the rain — The grass in the town square was green again, and “Singing in the Rain” was playing at the restored Art Deco theater downtown. It was maybe a bit warmer than it should have been for March. There were storms expected soon that could bring flooding. And the great California drought might — or might not — really be over. But there seemed to be a guarded sense of optimism in this Central Valley farm community. LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Valley JC Penney stores escape the ax – J.C. Penney Co. has released the list of stores it plans to close and no central San Joaquin Valley stores are on the list. Just four stores in California will close: Lodi, Bishop, Orange and Richmond. Fresno Bee articleStockton Record articleSacramento Bee article

Fresno County paid off 52 families in Public Administrator thefts case – Fresno County spent $156,000 to pay off estates of dead people and their relatives whose possessions may have been stolen by Fresno County Public Administrator employees and their friends. Fresno Bee article

Ulta Beauty coming to Fashion Fair, more changes on the way – Ulta Beauty plans to open a store at Fashion Fair mall in Fresno. The cosmetics, fragrance and skincare giant is taking over the former Urban Outfitters space in the outdoor portion of the mall. More big changes are on the way at Fashion Fair, too, as Anthropologie prepares to move to Fig Garden Village. Fashion Fair senior marketing manager Brian Malony declined to give specifics about plans for that space. Fresno Bee article

CalPERS hires attorney from pension lawsuit that strikes fear in state workers – Ashley Dunning brought some baggage to a job interview Wednesday at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. She was one of two finalists for an assignment as a special counsel to the CalPERS Board of Administration, where she’d advise board members on conflicts of interest and their fiduciary responsibilities. She’s the board’s acting fiduciary counsel, and she delivered a top-notch presentation that had board members ready to offer the job on a longer contract. The hang-up for some board members, however, is that she’s the attorney representing Marin County in a lawsuit striking fear in public employees around the state.  Sacramento Bee article

Foon Rhee: We need to spread the wealth – While the economy is growing, most of the biggest metro areas aren’t improving in including more people in prosperity. The Sacramento area doesn’t come out looking good in the study, an illustration of the challenge facing economic development officials. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

Hire a social media coordinator for a wedding? Yep, just call HashtagiDo – Social media is such a big part of weddings nowadays that one local woman has started a company handling all a couple’s social media duties on the big day. Christine Brown founded HashtagiDo, a service that includes livestreaming the ceremony for people who can’t make it to the wedding and other social media-related tasks. Fresno Bee articleHanford Sentinel article

How food delivery apps have changed the game for restaurants — For many Los Angeles restaurants, app-enabled food delivery services have gone from being an afterthought to a core part of their business, with restaurateurs realizing that smartphone apps don’t cause a drop-off in dine-in customers, but instead help grow a new customer base. LA Times article

LA budget report warns of $224-million deficit next year — Los Angeles is facing a $224-million budget deficit heading into next fiscal year, a sign of the mounting financial issues facing City Hall leaders. LA Times article


Wages rise on California farms.  Americans still don’t want the jobs — The flow of labor began drying up when President Obama tightened the border. Now President Trump is promising to deport more people, raid more companies and build a wall on the southern border. That has made California farms a proving ground for the Trump team’s theory that by cutting off the flow of immigrants they will free up more jobs for American-born workers and push up their wages. So far, the results aren’t encouraging for farmers or domestic workers. LA Times article

San Francisco pitches plan for future of California rivers — For decades, San Francisco has been blissfully removed from California’s water wars. The city’s pristine reservoirs in and around Yosemite National Park have been not only plentiful but also largely outside the reach of regulators. But plans by the state to mandate an increase in the amount of water flowing down rivers between the Sierra and San Francisco Bay — a bid to prevent the collapse of some of California’s most precious wetlands — has drawn the city into the fray. San Francisco Chronicle article

Chuck Winn and Katherine Miller: State’s current plan for river flow spells disaster for our region –The San Joaquin County supervisor write, “The mission of the State Water Resources Control Board is to balance water allocation and water quality protection for California. With its latest flows proposal for the San Joaquin River tributaries, the SWRCB does neither and is clearly promoting the governor’s Twin Tunnels project.” Winn/Miller op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Bee deaths soar in this year’s pollination season, but why is proving to be a whodunit – As a beekeeper, Rafael Reynaga is used to losing a few bees during almond pollination. But he was unprepared for the death of tens of thousands of his bees in what Fresno County agriculture officials are calling a perfect storm of events. Fresno Bee article

Repair costs for troubled Oroville Dam will run ‘much higher’ than $200 million, official says — Costs for repairs at the troubled Oroville Dam will be “much higher” than an initial estimate of $100 million to $200 million, a state water official said Friday. LA Times article

Oroville Dam’s cracked spillway reopens as state works to lower reservoir levels – In a fresh test of Oroville Dam’s battered infrastructure, water was released from the fractured main spillway Friday for the first time in nearly three weeks in a renewed effort to lower water levels at the troubled reservoir.  Sacramento Bee article

Lake Tahoe expected to fill up with largest physical rise in recorded history — The depressing scene of boat docks sitting high and dry on wide beaches around Lake Tahoe will likely be a fleeting memory this summer. Winter’s unrelenting storms built up a substantial Sierra snowpack and are expected to fill the lake for the first time in 11 years. San Francisco Chronicle article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Police are using new mouth-swab test to nab drivers under the influence of marijuana and other drugs – San Diego have a new way to confirm the presence of marijuana and other drugs in impaired drivers — a mouth-swab device that is already being used by police departments in more than a dozen states and is expected to become more popular with the legalization of marijuana. LA Times article

Cops bust massage parlor in building owned by Modesto councilman — Modesto police arrested two people in a prostitution sting Thursday at a massage parlor operating in a building owned by City Councilman Mani Grewal.  Modesto Bee article


Merced College’s president discusses his priorities at reception – Maintaining an accreditation footing and educating the county’s workforce rank high on the list of priorities of Merced College, the new president said this week at a reception held in his honor. Merced Sun-Star article

Mary Barlow: Education has a new tool for transparency – The Kern County Superintendent of Schools writes, “California’s future success depends on preparing every student at every school to meet the challenges of tomorrow. I strongly believe that we are on the right trajectory and that the changes we have seen in recent years are moving schools toward ensuring that every student at every school graduates prepared for college, career and life. The addition of the California School Dashboard will be another boon for transparency and continuous improvement for our public schools.” Barlow op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Want foster students to succeed in college? Bills make financial aid easier to get — State lawmakers are considering legislation to help foster youths navigate the college application process. Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, introduced Senate Bill 12 to require social workers to set up an application help network for foster youths interested in college. It also would coordinate systems to automatically verify applicants’ foster youth status when applying for federal Pell Grants. Sacramento Bee article

Journalism Day draws hundreds of students to Fresno City – More than 200 high school students from around the central San Joaquin Valley took part in Fresno City College’s inaugural Journalism Day conference Friday. The conference featured workshops on topics such as news writing, broadcasting, photography, social media, what is fake news, ethics, radio and sports reporting. Fresno Bee article

Sara Sandrik: Helping Merced students to dream, achieve and succeed – The public information officer for the Merced City School District writes, “Preparing students to be college and career ready takes a multifaceted approach with support in a number of areas. In fact, our Merced City School District Superintendent and Associate Superintendent of Educational Services recently took part in a roundtable discussion about those efforts with leaders from other local educational agencies, as well as the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium, the Governor’s Office, and the California Department of Finance.” Sandrik op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Mendota’s teen volunteers help desperate children ‘two feet’ at a time — 
It was billed as a Shoe Cutting Party, but Jessica Dominguez, 19, of Mendota High School stood silently as she watched little children crying. Adults were digging with safety pins into the little ones’ tiny, wounded feet and washing them with antiseptic. What kind of party is that? The best kind.  Fresno Bee article

City steps in to cut cost of Sacramento State graduation at Golden 1 Center — The city of Sacramento has lowered Sacramento State’s spring graduation bill by $50,000 by donating three of the days allotted to it this year to hold civic events at Golden 1 Center. Sacramento Bee article

HCA students inspired by Omalu’s story — For the entire month of March, students at Health Careers Academy have engrossed themselves into learning about the brain, as March is “Brain Awareness Month.”Classes in sports medicine to bio-medical innovation have devoted time to projects centered around topics like the development of the teenage brain. On Friday night, on the eve of spring break, 150 students and their parents welcomed and listened from a keynote address from Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Lodi resident and chief medical examiner for San Joaquin County. Stockton Record article

Bakersfield College ‘Hackathon’ brings health advocates together — Bakersfield College kicks off a new event to address health problems in the San Joaquin Valley–its first-ever public health “hackathon.” Valley Public Radio report

What is San Diego State looking for in a new president? — If there is any one apparent trend in the hiring, it might be diversity, especially in gender. Of the 19 hires, 10 were women, including all five presidents hired last year. Counting CSU San Marcos President Karen Haynes, who was hired in 2004, there are 11 female presidents in the system.  San Diego Union-Tribune article


Insecticide and bird deaths coincidental, Modesto and county officials believe – Residents on and near the 200 block of Elmwood Avenue found notices from the city of Modesto’s Forestry Division on Thursday that the insecticide Malice had been applied around the bases of certain trees there. By various neighbors’ counts, they also found between 15 and 20-plus finches lying dead in lawns and in the street. The city, county and state are investigating, but the initial belief is that there’s an absence of Malice in the bird deaths. Modesto Bee article

State unveils a 10-year plan to restore habitat and control toxic dust storms along the Salton Sea’s receding shoreline — Salton Sea advocates on Thursday cautiously celebrated the announcement of a 10-year state plan to complete projects designed to restore areas where migrating birds once proliferated and control toxic dust storms rising off expanses of smelly playa surrounding the shrinking salty lake. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Valley Children’s Hospital welcomes its first residency class — Valley Children’s Hospital announced its first class of pediatric residents on Friday. The 13 medical students will arrive at the hospital in June to begin their three-year pediatric residency program. Fresno Bee article

State report rips Tulare Regional Medical Center – The board of the Tulare Regional Medical Center failed repeatedly to take steps to resolve long-standing disputes with the hospital’s medical staff, an investigation by the California Department of Public Health concludes. Visalia Times-Delta article

Visalia doctor takes to Facebook for patient ‘chats’ — Visalia plastic surgeon Alex Lechtman will be taking calls Tuesday evening – on Facebook. Lechtman will host a two-hour live video session on the social media platform to answer questions about everything from lip enhancement to tummy tucks and breast reconstruction. Fresno Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Trump budget’s curbs on rent subsidies could hamper LA’s homeless housing effort, officials say – President Trump’s budget would upend Los Angeles’ attempt to solve its homelessness crisis, cutting into federal rent subsidies that had been expected to cover operating costs for thousands of new housing units, officials said Friday.  LA Times article


Bridges of San Joaquin County: Old, obsolete, in need of repair – but safe — Joint replacements, deck repairs and complete structural replacements are some of the improvements slated for a handful of bridges around San Joaquin County, officials said this week. While these improvements may sound like huge and immediate undertakings, a recent national survey said that overall the county’s bridges are in better shape than most counties around the country. Stockton Record article

Other areas

Scan activated: Kern County to lock down offices in one week — Just over a week from now the act of petitioning your government for redress of grievances — or just paying your tax bill — will take more of your time. A new security checkpoint goes live at the Kern County Administrative Center on March 27. Bakersfield Californian article

What’s happening to stray animals after closing of Merced SPCA? – After the closing last month of the Merced Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals the fate of many stray and abandoned animals in Merced County is in the hands of a county shelter and a nonprofit animal transportation organization. Merced Sun-Star article

Sorensen likely violated Brown Act — City Councilwoman and Vice-Mayor Sue Sorensen likely violated a state law called the Brown Act that requires council business to be discussed in open public meetings. In private conversations, Sorensen discussed with Councilman Martin Devine and Councilman Justin Mendes the application of former Hanford Mayor Dan Chin to serve on the Hanford Planning Commission, according to both Devine and Mendes. Hanford Sentinel article

Grand jury blasts Oakdale Irrigation District for defying law on balanced voting districts — The Oakdale Irrigation District for many years has violated state and federal law by failing to balance its voting districts, the Stanislaus County civil grand jury says in a report seeking immediate action. Modesto Bee article

Swastika near temple gathers concern in Stockton — As bomb threats, vandalism and physical attacks against the Jewish and Muslim communities continue to be reported across the nation, smaller, yet similar instances have begun to emerge in Stockton. A large swastika painted on a traffic signal pole at Claremont Avenue and March Lane was reported Friday. Stockton Record article

Oakland denies prosecutors access to Ghost Ship fire report — In an escalating legal feud over the investigation into the Ghost Ship tragedy, Alameda County prosecutors have tried without success in recent weeks to pry the completed draft report of the deadly fire from the city’s hands. San Jose Mercury News article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down; The budget that President Donald Trump unveiled Thursday would rob from the poor, the pollution-wracked and the peaceful to boost military spending. Also gone would be critical support for affordable housing, public transportation and job training.

Sacramento Bee – President Donald Trump’s support of rolling back federal emissions standards is short-sighted. It will only create more pollution, worsen climate change and invite a legal battle with California that could last years; Forget silly slogans.  Get to know the real Sacramento.