March 2, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Dan Walters: California’s cap and trade auction another washout — February’s quarterly auction of carbon dioxide emission allowances under California’s cap and trade program was another financial washout for the state. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

State Senate Republicans begin discussing transition of leadership, but some are reluctant to take on the job – Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller of Bakersfield has begun talking to colleagues about eventually stepping down and passing the torch to another member given that she is termed out of office next year, but so far nobody has publicly agreed to take over the job, officials say. LA Times article

Fresno judge says gun groups can put state lawmakers’ home addresses on the internet — Attorneys for the California Legislature are weighing whether to appeal a federal court ruling that could allow gun rights advocates to publish the personal information of individual lawmakers. Sacramento Bee article

State budget

Advocates push state to restore funding for California’s disabled — Wilma Brown is one of 1.3 million Californians trying to make ends meet on just $895 a month. The 61-year-old became homeless seven years ago, when she finally summoned the courage to leave an abusive relationship. KQED report

Gov. Brown 

Gov. Brown asks Trump to reverse course and let California have rail funds – Gov. Jerry Brown has asked the Trump administration to reverse itself on a key decision to withhold a $647-million grant for a state passenger rail project, a request that comes two weeks after other California Democrats waded into the fray. LA Times article

Jerry Brown got wine and a Kings ticket as part of his gift haul — Gov. Jerry Brown’s gift haul for the last year includes nearly $1,900 in travel-related expenses to Yale University, where the 1964 law school graduate took a long-weekend respite from the fall campaign to receive the prestigious Award of MeritSacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Valley politics

Fresno County Supervisor Magsig holds fundraiser two months into first term — Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig said his fundraiser this week was an opportunity to raise money for his next campaign, but also to help local nonprofit agencies and sponsor events that he supports. Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

SuperPAC aims to raise at least $10 million for Democrat Newsom’s gubernatorial bid – High profile backers of California Democratic Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom have filed papers to form a SuperPAC aimed at boosting his 2018 gubernatorial bid — a drive aimed aimed at raising at least $10 million, POLITICO has learned. Politico article

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to set up a Washington office as he prepares to fight Trump administration — California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said Wednesday that he is setting up an office in Washington, an unusual move for a state attorney general. Opening the new office is reflective of the fact that much of his attention will be devoted to Trump administration actions that might conflict with California policies, Becerra said. LA Times article

Democrat Ed Hernandez lays off Trump in ‘lite gov’ campaign — California Democrat Ed Hernandez, of Azusa, is trying to clear the field in the 2018 lieutenant governor’s race. But he isn’t using Donald Trump for help. At least not yet. Sacramento Bee article

California legislative leaders deluged with gifts, including foreign trips, sports tickets and liquor — The California Legislature’s four top leaders accepted $60,000 in gifts last year, including sports tickets, expensive meals, golf games and travel to foreign countries, according the annual reports they were required to file Wednesday. LA Times article 

George Skelton: California’s Senate Democrats created a new star when they booted Janet Nguyen — State Senate leader Kevin de León did a very smart thing. He owned up to one of the dumbest things ever perpetrated by a California legislative leader. The foolish, embarrassing deed the Los Angeles Democrat owned up to showed us again that neither major political party is endowed with a monopoly on wisdom, justice and the American way. Skelton column in LA Times


State lawmakers aim to provide attorneys to immigrants facing deportation.  But who gets the help? – Amid a tense political battle over the nation’s borders and who should be expelled from the country, California lawmakers this legislative session are on an emergency track to develop what is likely to be the largest legal defense program in the U.S. for immigrants swept into the federal removal process. LA Times article

How ‘merit-based’ rules could reshape immigration policy – In a speech to Congress, the president called for “switching away” from lower-skilled immigration, an idea that could reshape immigration but that has detractors. New York Times article

‘Merit-based’ immigration could help tech firms but hurt families – President Trump’s call for a more merit-based immigration system could lead to a greater focus on bringing in skilled workers and entrepreneurs who help Silicon Valley thrive — at the expense of uniting the families of immigrants. San Francisco Chronicle article

Why Trump’s victims’ rights plan drew boos during Tuesday night’s speech — President Donald Trump’s proposal to establish an office for immigrant crime may be among the most controversial of his controversy-ridden treatment of immigration. Despite evidence that says otherwise, the threat posed by those living in the country illegally has been a central theme for Trump since he started campaigning. McClatchy Newspapers article

Churches could offer sanctuaries from mass deportations, Sacramento bishop says — If the Trump administration orders mass deportations, undocumented immigrants could take refuge in Catholic churches with the support of local parishioners, said Sacramento’s Roman Catholic Bishop Jaime Soto on Ash Wednesday. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Lawmakers say painkillers should cost more to pay for treatment of drug addicts – A surge of opioid and heroin overdoses in communities across the country, including Sacramento, has prompted one California lawmaker to suggest a fee on prescription painkillers to fund treatment services. Sacramento Bee articleAP article

Sacramento Bee: Don’t panic over those side jobs for Steinberg and UC Davis’ May — The side gigs for Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and incoming UC Davis Chancellor Gary May bear watching closely, but they aren’t reason for undue alarm. Sacramento Bee editorial

Sessions spoke twice with Russian envoy despite denying any contact during hearings – Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Donald Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general. Washington Post articleNew York Times article

GOP’s Obamacare replacement plans would provide less financial help, analyses shows – As congressional Republicans move to solidify their Obamacare repeal-and-replace legislation, concern is mounting that their strategies will leave millions of Americans with less financial assistance and more expensive coverage. McClatchy Newspapers article

Inga Barks: Reform healthcare, even if government jobs are lost — I invite all government employees who were hired under the Affordable Care Act to come join us in the profit-making world. The taxpaying world. The hard but rewarding world. In other words, the real world. Barks column in Bakersfield Californian

Citing public safety, states seek tougher laws on protesting — Republican legislators in at least 16 states have filed bills to make protests more orderly or to toughen penalties. Free-speech advocates say they will have a chilling effect. New York Times article

Presidential Politics

Republicans still waiting for Trump to take charge on Obamacare and taxes –  By now, Republicans in Congress thought they would be working closely with the White House on signature items of the GOP agenda — repealing and replacing Obamacare, overhauling the tax code. LA Times article

What does it say that Tuesday night’s big surprise was Trump sounding presidential? – He didn’t attack the fake news. He didn’t brag about his overwhelming Electoral College win. He didn’t even mock the poor television ratings of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Instead, President Donald Trump delivered a speech to Congress that was chock full of policy priorities as he outlined a vision for the country for the next four years. McClatchy Newspapers article

Victor Davis Hanson: Trump satisfies populist anger at no-nothing elites – What got the brash Trump elected was a similar popular outrage that the self-described best and brightest of our time are has-beens, having enjoyed influence without real merit or visible achievement. If Donald Trump did not exist, something like him would have had to be invented. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

Red America and blue American saw two very different Trump speeches – Trump spoke to the country for 60 minutes Tuesday night, delivering roughly 5,000 words and offering a vision that seemed starkly different — inspiring to some, frightful to others — depending on what they heard. LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: California is right not to let Trump wreck the environment – Disappointingly, President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans seem bent on dismantling environmental protections, using jobs as a pretext. It’s a deeply misguided ideological stance with real public health implications. Californians can, and should, push back. Sacramento Bee editorial

Trump supporters plan to take to the streets of Berkeley — A march supporting President Trump is expected to take place in Berkeley on Saturday, and while city officials said there’s little credible evidence of a major event materializing, they are worried about what will happen if counterprotesters show up. San Francisco Chronicle article

Water rule rollback gives growers what they wanted from Trump — To hear John Duarte tell it, farmers knew the cavalry was coming to their rescue on election night. It’s one reason agricultural areas voted heavily for Donald Trump. On Tuesday, Trump ordered his new head of the Environmental Protection AgencyScott Pruitt, to scale back the agency’s interpretation of the Clean Water Act. LA Times article

Federal workers grow increasingly nervous about Trump’s proposed budget cuts – Federal workers are growing increasingly anxious at the prospect of massive budget cuts President Trump proposed this week that would pave the way for increased military spending. Washington Post article

Trump’s golf courses would benefit from water-rule rollback — President Trump’s order Tuesday to rescind and rewrite federal water regulations not only coincides with his conservative agenda but also could cut his costs as an owner of a dozen U.S. golf courses, again raising concerns about conflicts of interest in the White House. San Francisco Chronicle article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories – Top Stories

Winter season ends with improved air quality, fewer violations — The Valley’s residential wood-burning program ended its 14th winter with record improvement in air quality and fewer violations for breaking burn bans thanks to cleaner devices. Fresno Bee articleBakersfield Californian article

Sierra snowpack ‘pretty phenomenal’ but is it record breaking? — There’s “a pretty phenomenal snowpack” in the Sierra Nevada, but not enough to break the record for the same date set in the winter of 1969. The state’s March 1 “snow-water content” survey at Phillips Station off Highway 50 measured snow packed 113 inches deep. Melted down, that would be the equivalent of 43 inches of water. The readings represent 179 percent of the long-term average, said Frank Gehrke, the veteran Department of Water Resources official who runs the snow survey. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

California pot growers now qualify for discounted PG&E rates — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced Wednesday that it will extend its discounted agricultural rate to marijuana growers in California. The rate is immediately available to those growing medical marijuana in accordance with local and state laws, and it will extend to recreational cannabis farms once that becomes legal on Jan. 1 2018.  Fresno Bee articleValley Public Radio report

Jobs and the Economy

Hanford bed tax proposal draws criticism — You probably haven’t devoted much thought to Hanford’s hotel tax, but it’s suddenly being thrust into the limelight. Hanford city leaders are proposing to increase the tax, which is paid by people staying at local motels and hotels, from 8 to 12 percent and devote the extra 4 percent to downtown revitalization programs. Hanford Sentinel article

Tour gives glimpse of job-training center planned for Modesto Bee building — Cutting-edge plans will breathe new life into the cavernous facility that once printed 95,000 Modesto Bee newspapers a day. But the goal of helping develop the region through information and education continues. Modesto Bee article

Veteran hockey executive named CEO of Stockton Heat — Veteran hockey executive Brian Petrovek has been named chief executive officer of the Stockton Heat. The Heat’s AHL parent franchise, the Calgary Flames, announced the appointment of the Heat’s first CEO on Wednesday afternoon. Dave Piecuch will continue as team president. Stockton Record article

At $17 a share, LA company behind Snapchat is worth nearly $24 billion – The Los Angeles company known for its Snapchat messaging app generated the largest initial public offering in Southern California history on Wednesday, raising at least $3.4 billion while valuing the firm at $23.8 billion. LA Times article

San Francisco sues Hertz, says it’s ‘gouging’ car renters for bridge tolls — For many visitors to San Francisco, a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge is a must. But if they’re driving a Hertz rental car, they’re being ripped off, the city attorney’s office says. San Francisco Chronicle article

FCC halts Internet privacy rule that imposes data security requirements on broadband providers – The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday voted to halt an Internet privacy rule that would have imposed data security requirements on broadband providers. LA Times article

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer stripped of bonus after probe reveals high-level knowledge of huge hack — In a stinging rebuke, Yahoo slashed more than $12 million from CEO Marissa Mayer’s compensation package as it took the first steps Wednesday to assign responsibility for the company’s failures surrounding two record-setting hacks of customer data. San Jose Mercury News article


San Joaquin River falls, but flood fight drags on – The San Joaquin River inched below “danger” stage about 1 p.m. Wednesday, but with towering snow drifts waiting to melt in the high country, this may be only a temporary reprieve. Stockton Record article

California flood control called a life and death crisis, but federal funding is uncertain — Experts say California’s Oroville dam crisis demonstrates the life-and-death urgency of federal spending to upgrade aging dams. But there are doubts about whether President Donald Trump will agree. McClatchy Newspapers article

Ellen Hanak and Sarge Green: New levels of cooperation needed to address San Joaquin Valley water issues – Hanak, director of the PPIC Water Policy Center, and Green, a water management specialist with the California Water Institute at Fresno State, write, “It’s impractical to address these problems farm by farm. An “all hands on deck” approach and new levels of cooperation and coordination are needed. Here are some examples of promising approaches.” Hanak/Green op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Friant officials prepare for what could be a record amount of snowmelt — The Sierra Nevada snowpack is so big this year that water managers are worried that one warm storm or a couple warm days could inundate reservoirs in the region. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports from Friant Dam. Valley Public Radio report

Isadore Hall one step closer to confirmation to ag labor board amid farmer opposition– Despite opposition from farmers, the Senate Rules Committee approved the appointment of former state Sen. Isadore Hall to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board Wednesday with a 3-0 vote. Sacramento Bee article

From the air: Images show ruined Oroville Dam spillway, hard-hit Feather River – Aerial photographs taken by The Sacramento Bee’s Randy Pench from a helicopter flying over Lake Oroville, Oroville Dam and its wrecked spillway and the clogged Feather River below the dam show the damage caused by record flows released from the lake as the region was hammered by relentless February storms. Sacramento Bee article

Northeast Fresno water plant reopens after fall/winter shutdown — A water treatment plant that’s been shut down since September resumed operations Wednesday to provide drinking water to thousands of homes and businesses in northeast Fresno.  Fresno Bee article

Santa Rosa records 52 inches of rain in one year, most in history — For the 12 months ending at the end of February, 52.07 inches of rain fell in Santa Rosa, the most since records were first kept in 1902, a meteorologist said. San Francisco Chronicle article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Federal appeals ruling in 2009 Fresno police shooting could cost city even more money — A federal appellate court on Wednesday rejected the city of Fresno’s contention that the 2009 police shooting death of 23-year-old Stephen Willis was justified. Fresno Bee article

Deputies’ use of force justified in Rosamond shooting, prosecutors say — The use of force by two deputies against a man who opened fire at them as they tried to serve a search warrant at his Rosamond trailer was justified, a Kern County District Attorney’s office release said Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article


Fresno Unified proposes to protect undocumented students ‘to the fullest extent allowed by law’ — A resolution proposed by Fresno Unified on Wednesday vows to protect undocumented students “to the fullest extent allowed by law.” The “safe place” resolution says the district will not participate in any immigration enforcement activities, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will not be allowed to enter schools without complying with legal requirements. Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield City School District could declare itself a ‘safe haven’ for undocumented — Bakersfield City School District trustees could join others around the state Thursday by declaring it a “safe haven” for undocumented students, a move that immigration experts say is mostly “political posturing,” but critically important in quelling fears among vulnerable communities in uncertain times. Bakersfield Californian article

To attract teachers, pricey school districts are becoming their landlords – As school districts in the state’s pricey coastal enclaves struggle to attract and keep qualified teachers, many are considering Santa Clara’s “if you build it, they will come” model to teacher retainment. And now they have the support of Sacramento. CALmatters article

UC employee misconduct cases include seven from UC Merced – The University of California said this week it investigated 113 cases of sexual misconduct involving staff and faculty members at its 10 campuses – including seven reports from UC Merced – over a recent three-year period, according to hundreds of pages of internal documents released Tuesday. Merced Sun-Star article

Mother of teen who died by suicide files lawsuit against Modesto City Schools – The mother of a Beyer High teen who took her own life in 2015 has filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court against Modesto City Schools, demanding they change disciplinary practices that disproportionally affect black students. Modesto Bee article

Local colleges step up to meet growing demand in health care – Demand for greater health care services nationwide is expanding as the population ages and more people gain access to insurance. Locally, a need for more health care professionals, especially primary care physicians, is even more apparent. The Business Journal article

Amid budget concerns, teacher layoffs could be coming at Coalinga-Huron Unified – Teachers could be laid off in the Coalinga-Huron Unified School District to remedy an unexpected budget deficit that may total up to $3 million. Superintendent Helen Foster said Wednesday that the southern Fresno County district, which enrolls about 4,500 students, is considering an undetermined number of layoffs in response to the unexpected shortfall, but hopes that doesn’t have to happen. Fresno Bee article

Jeremy Bagott: Don’t blame donors to UC endowment if they’re unhappy – The former journalist writes, “UC donors haven’t yet shown signs of colic in their gaze, but given the new and uncharted risks asset managers have been taking since the end of the Great Recession, it would be understandable if donors were in need of a bottle – though one filled with something stronger than formula.” Bagott op-ed in Merced Sun-Star article


Rains ease the drought – and boost California’s power supply, too – Even as dam spillways are put to the test and parts of Northern California flood, there’s a silver lining to all the rain, beyond ending the drought. It gives California more hydroelectric power. KQED report

People cause more fires in the Sierra Nevada than lightning, study shows – A new study about how wildfires are started in the US found that people are responsible for more fires than lightning. Valley Public Radio report

Timely start to hyacinth fight in Delta — For the first time in years — maybe the first time ever — state officials on Wednesday launched their annual battle against Delta weeds on the very first date allowed under their permits. Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services 

Modesto bans smoking in its 75 parks — The public soon will not be able to light up in the city’s 75 parks and along its trails – including the Virginia Corridor – and within 100 feet of the entrance and exit of a hospital. The City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to approve the smoking ban, which applies to cigarettes, marijuana and vaping. The ban will come back to the council at its next meeting for final approval and take effect 30 days after that. Modesto Bee article

State fires contractor after problems put HIV patients at risk — California’s public health department Wednesday fired the contractor responsible for enrolling patients in a state-run AIDS program, saying its poor performance threatened enrollees’ access to life-saving medications. Sacramento Bee article

State to step up inspections at hospitals with high infection rates — After complaints that the state is doing little to stop deadly hospital outbreaks, the California Department of Public Health said this week that it would prioritize inspections at those facilities with high rates of patient infections. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Fresno City Council postpones vote on housing amendment – The Fresno City Council has postponed a vote on legislation that would undo a key component of the city’s newly adopted general plan.  Valley Public Radio report

Tulare homeless shelter gets approval — Amanda Manlove says she likes the project that calls for bringing a two-story, 7,535 square-foot homeless shelter to her west Tulare neighborhood. Visalia Times-Delta article

Other areas

Pioneer Village loses CEO after 8 months — Zoot Velasco, CEO of Kern Pioneer Village for just eight months, is leaving the county-owned museum. Velasco confirmed the news Wednesday afternoon in a brief phone conversation, cut short because weekly programming he recently instituted at the museum was about to begin. Bakersfield Californian article

 Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Trump tries to pivot his presidency with a dash of optimism.

Merced Sun-Star – Trump is presidential in his latest speech.

Modesto Bee – President Trump’s speech laid out a vision of growth for the nation, though he still appealed to fear and prejudice.

Sacramento Bee – The side gigs for Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and incoming UC Davis Chancellor Gary May bear watching closely, but they aren’t reason for undue alarm; Disappointingly, President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans seem bent on dismantling environmental protections, using jobs as a pretext. It’s a deeply misguided ideological stance with real public health implications. Californians can, and should, push back.