March 21, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Tax rebates for Californians? It’s a distant possibility amid budget dispute — California taxpayers could be in line for their first budget rebate checks in three decades under a vestige of the state’s nationally watched “taxpayer revolt” in the late 1970s. But a lot stands in the way of that happening – notably Gov. Jerry Brown and his administration’s reading of the so-called Gann Limit, named after tax watchdog Paul Gann, the late sponsor of the 1979 ballot measure meant to restrict government spending. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: California politicians rap Trump as they seek money – As they denounce Trumpism and declare California’s steadfast intention to go its own way, protecting its supposed “values” from a Republican-controlled federal government, the state’s politicians also are pleading with Trump for various kinds of financial aid. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown 

In Trump’s Washington, Jerry Brown urges cooperation: ‘We are not going our totally separate way’ – While the Democratic governor’s visit comes amid pitched partisan battles on Capitol Hill, the FEMA meeting – and Brown’s later remarks to reporters – suggest he will use his first trip since Trump was sworn in as president to seek out areas where federal officials and the nation’s largest state could prioritize collaboration over combat. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Valley politics

Jeff Jardine: Good show, old chap: BBC crew comes to Modesto to investigate political climate change — You know it promises to be an interesting work week when it begins with British TV folks visiting members of a Latino organization across the street from the office. Yes, the British Broadcasting Corp. sent a crew to downtown Modesto on Monday to interview staff at El Concilio about the political climate in the United States as the Trump administration closes in on its first 100 days. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Politics mars resizing of voting districts, Oakdale Irrigation District minority says — One of two options for new voting boundaries in the Oakdale Irrigation District appears calculated to preserve the current power structure by ensuring that a board member keeps his seat after moving to a new home, the board minority says. Both options will be presented publicly at a meeting Tuesday evening. Modesto Bee article

Another delay in election fraud trial — Former Manteca Unified board member and Stockton City Council candidate Sam Fant’s trial on felony election fraud and conspiracy charges remained at a standstill Monday morning, just as it has for months. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Assembly Democrats aim to put $3-billion bond for parks on 2018 ballot — California voters could decide in 2018 whether to approve a $3-billion bond to finance a boost to parks and open space across the state. LA Times article


U.S.-Mexico border wall fight: California considers divesting from companies involved in the project — Three California Democrats have a warning for contractors who sign up for President Donald Trump’s border-wall construction project between the U.S. and Mexico: Build it, and we will divest from your company. San Jose Mercury News articleLA Times articleSacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

LA police, county sheriff’s department on first-ever list of agencies not honoring ICE detainees — The Department of Homeland Security on Monday released the first ever report on law enforcement agencies that are potentially “endangering Americans” by failing to cooperate with ICE detainers and named multiple jurisdictions in California. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Worried about Trump, BART rethinks ‘sanctuary’ label — BART directors have tapped the brakes on a call to declare the popular commuter line a “sanctuary” system after being warned that the word might be seen as provocative by the Trump administration, possibly putting millions of dollars of federal funding in peril.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Deportation threats worry farmworkers – and farm owners — ‘There’s no way that we can take care of and pick our crops without immigrant labor,’ says one Ventura County farm owner. KQED report

Waiter’s alleged comments to Latino patrons touches a nerve for people of color – An incident at a Huntington Beach restaurant in which a waiter allegedly asked Latino patrons, “Can I see your proof of residency?” has touched a nerve. For Latinos and other minorities, the exchanges feel familiar, a part of life for someone of color. LA Times article

Other areas

Lawmaker wants tuition-free college in California by taxing millionaires – Assemblywoman Susan Talamentes Eggman, D-Stockton, said California has lost the goal of affordable education set forth in its Master Plan for Higher Education. Assembly Bill 1356 would place a 1 percent tax on millionaires to pay for tuition and fees at the University of California, California State University and California community colleges. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleStockton Record article

California business groups take on Teamsters in pot battle in Capitol – Some of the state’s leading business associations are taking sides against the powerful Teamsters union in a fight going down in the California Legislature over pot distribution.  Sacramento Bee article

In a bid to get votes, House Republicans prepare changes to their bill rolling back Obamacare — Scrambling to round up votes to roll back the Affordable Care Act, House Republican leaders were making a series of last-minute changes late Monday to their Obamacare repeal bill ahead of this week’s vote. LA Times article

What travel ban? UCLA headed to Memphis for Sweet 16, despite ‘religious freedom’ law – UCLA’s trip to the NCAA tournament in Memphis closely follows the California Legislature’s ban on public-funded travel to Tennessee over its “religious freedom” law. Assemblyman Evan Low sponsored the law to protect state workers from “bigotry and hatred.” Sacramento Bee article

Lawmakers seek changes to California juvenile justice system — California should start treating juvenile offenders more like children, state lawmakers said Monday as they promoted bills that they said reflect research showing that children’s brains are different from adults.  AP article

Gov. Brown, oil industry share interest in cap-and-trade extension – Gov. Jerry Brown and the oil industry are both pushing to preserve California’s struggling cap-and-trade program. But that will require support from Democratic lawmakers who have doubts about the program.  Capital Public Radio report

Joe Altschule: Dear GOP: Health insurance is a right — First, let’s junk all the current noise about healthcare plans and concentrate on the real issue dominating health insurance. The important policy question that all Americans should concentrate on is how should we define health care. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

Tom Fife: Ryan bill up for vote on 7th anniversary of Obamacare — Thursday marks the seventh anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aka, Obamacare. On that date in 2010, then President Barack Obama signed the bill into law and Obamacare and Democrats have been failing ever since. Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta

A 20 percent turnout in LA’s mayoral election wasn’t a record after all, final results show — Voter turnout in the March 7 mayoral election in Los Angeles was 20%, just above the record low, final results show. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

FBI is investigating Trump’s Russia ties, Comey confirms — The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, took the extraordinary step on Monday of announcing that the agency is investigating whether members of President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. New York Times articleAP articleMcClatchy Newspapers articleSacramento Bee editorialPolitico article

FBI chief debunks Trump’s wiretap claim and probes possible campaign links to Russia –  In a double-barreled assault on the White HouseFBI Director James B. Comey on Monday knocked back President Trump‘s claim of wiretapping by the Obama administration and disclosed that the FBI is investigating possible “coordination” between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian authorities. LA Times article

Area leaders fear Trump budget’s ‘multiplying effect’ on critical services – Kay Ruhstaller says one of her prime concerns when she ponders the potential harm to Stockton and San Joaquin County if proposed federal budget cuts take effect is the “multiplying effect” on those most badly in need of services from the government. Stockton Record article

U.S. limits devices on foreign airlines from 8 countries – Passengers on foreign airlines headed to the United States from 10 airports in eight majority-Muslim countries have been barred from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone under a new flight restriction enacted on Tuesday by the Trump administration.  New York Times articleLA Times article

Trump says Kaepernick lacks NFL deal because owners ‘don’t want to get an angry tweet’ from him — During a rally in Louisville, Kentucky, President Donald Trump took time to bash NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, claiming credit for Kaepernick’s extended time on the free agent market by quoting an article that said owners were afraid they would get “an angry tweet” if they signed him. McClatchy Newspapers article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories – Top Stories

Credit upgrade may save Fresno millions in long-term interest, beef up services — Fiscal restraint at Fresno City Hall is being hailed by Mayor Lee Brand and City Manager Bruce Rudd for increases in the city’s credit ratings from two major rating firms – changes that are expected to save taxpayers more then $35 million in interest over the next 22 years. Some of those savings, Brand said, could go toward more police, firefighters, parks and other city services. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal articleValley Public Radio report

Fresno Unified will pay for concerns over board president’s financial conflicts of interest – Fresno Unified will pay an extra $160,000 for renovations to Fresno High School due to concerns about school board president Brooke Ashjian’s conflict of interest with a local construction firm. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

San Joaquin County supervisors to discuss grants of $1.3 million — The San Joaquin County Neighborhood Preservation Division could receive more than $700,000 in funding today for its housing program and administrative costs.  Stockton Record article


Rain on its way, killing concerns about a dry March – As of Monday, Bakersfield had charted 7.29 inches of rain since the season began Oct. 1, more than two inches above the normal for that date, which is 5.17 inches. Seasonal normal for Bakersfield is about 6 ½ inches. Last year, 7.13 inches of rain fell on the city, but in the three previous years, Bakersfield saw 4 inches or less. Bakersfield Californian article

Judge stops arbitrary state action against oilfield injection wells — Oil producers who had been facing fines of $25,000 per day if they didn’t shut down injection well operations by Feb. 15 got a reprieve Monday when a Kern County judge issued a preliminary injunction barring the state from carrying out those enforcement actions. Bakersfield Californian article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Judge orders mental evaluation for Turlock man who shot at law enforcement – A judge on Monday ordered Kevin Mayhew, who is charged with attempted murder against law enforcement officers, to be evaluated for mental competency before he can enter a plea in Merced County Superior Court. Merced Sun-Star article

Three promoted to top Stockton police posts — Three veteran officers were promoted to the upper ranks of the Stockton Police Department in a public ceremony Monday attended by the officers’ families, friends and a large group of fellow officers. Presiding over the event, Chief Eric Jones said: “We could not be in better hands with their promotions today. … These are the right folks in the right positions.” Stockton Record article

Sacramento considers bonuses for police employees to discourage them from leaving — The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday will consider authorizing more than $1.37 million in one-time, lump-sum payments to Sacramento police officers, sergeants and dispatchers in a step toward stanching the loss of personnel to other agencies. Sacramento Bee article

Erika D. Smith: Blue lives do matter, but not this way — California is one of several states to consider so-called Blue Lives Matter bills, which would make people who attack police officers subject to hate crime charges. But someone’s profession is not the same as someone’s identity. Smith column in Sacramento Bee


Kern High School District attorney: Ethical code bars district from commenting on Lopeteguy case — A Kern High School District attorney on Monday criticized lawyers who announced that whistle-blowing Police Chief Joseph Lopeteguy filed a civil suit alleging the district retaliated against him after uncovering his bosses were misusing a sensitive police information database. The district’s defense attorney, Arnold Anchordoquy, wouldn’t comment on the suit, which was filed Friday afternoon, citing ethical constraints placed on him by the California Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct. Bakersfield Californian article

Jury absolves Clovis Unified, teacher’s aide in alleged assault of special-ed student – A jury on Monday absolved Clovis Unified School District and a former teacher’s aide of liability in the alleged assault of a special-needs fourth-grader on a school bus in September 2013. Fresno Bee article

Advocates say LA Unified shortchanges its neediest students — No one questions that students at La Salle Avenue Elementary, with their low academic achievement, could use a hand up. A civic coalition spearheaded by United Way of Greater Los Angeles puts the South L.A. campus at the very top of schools needing more services and attention; the L.A. Unified School District, however, puts the school at 293rd on its need index out of some 1,000 campuses, according to advocates. LA Times article


A discussion of cap and trade in California — Cap and trade is either a sensible effort to reduce pollution in California without undue damage to the state’s economy, or it is a circumvention of the drastic action that is really needed to safeguard the environment. That chasm, separating environmentalists from much of California’s business community, was on full display at Capitol Weekly’s recent “Carbon Free California” conference in downtown Sacramento. Capitol Weekly article

Measures save young salmon after failure of Oroville Dam spillway – A million fingerling salmon, rescued from almost certain death after the Oroville Dam spillway fell apart last month, began their remarkable journey to the ocean Monday by being launched unceremoniously out of tanker trucks into the Feather River. San Francisco Chronicle article

El Nino is still bringing strange wildlife to Northern California’s shores – The next time you’re at the beach, look down. You may see something quite unusual. Members of the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory recently observed 19 pelagic red crabs in Bodega Bay — they’ve seen dead ones on occasion, but this was the first time they’ve ever seen them alive.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Galaxy going green in Tulare — St. Patrick’s Day is over, but that’s not stopping Galaxy Theatres in Tulare from going green. There’s no doubt California leads the way in solar energy. Solar farms are expanding across the Valley. Schools are using solar panels as shade, driving their annual energy bills down. Naval Air Station Lemoore boasts a massive solar farm, bringing in annual revenue. Residents are putting solar up, watching electricity bills drop. Visalia Times-Delta article

Health/Human Services 

Another Seth Ireland case? Madera County investigating its own after child’s death — Madera County is investigating whether Department of Social Services workers were criminally culpable for failing to recognize warning signs in a recent torture and child abuse death case. Fresno Bee article

4 LA County social workers to face trial in horrific death of 8-year-old boy – A Los Angeles County judge ruled Monday that four social workers should stand trial on child abuse and other charges in the death of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy they were assigned to protect, allowing prosecutors to push ahead with a case that has sent a chill through the ranks of child protection workers nationwide. LA Times article

Kern County praises McFarland as community role model — Health officials and advocates gathered in Bakersfield today for a summit on public health in Kern County, where one specific community was touted as a public health role model. Valley Public Radio report

Why global warming could lead to a rise of 100,000 diabetes cases a year in U.S. —If the average temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius, sea levels will rise, crop yields will fall and vulnerable species will see their habitat shrink or disappear.

And, a new study suggests, the number of American adults suffering from diabetes would rise by more than 100,000 a year. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Clovis selects architect for downtown senior center and transit hub — Clovis is taking the next step toward building a city senior center and transit hub. The City Council on Monday night hired Paul Halajian Architects of Clovis to design the 5.7-acre Landmark Commons. The contract with Halajian is for $575,600. Halajian has designed churches in Clovis and Fresno, as well as libraries in Tulare, Fresno, Orange Cove, Mendota and Fowler. Fresno Bee article


High-speed rail will offer construction update in Fresno — Planners and contractors for the California High-Speed Rail Authority will answer questions about the ongoing high-speed rail construction taking place in Madera and Fresno counties at an April 5 open house in Fresno. Fresno Bee article

Merced supportive of railroad quiet zones, depending on cost — Merced City Council took early steps on Monday to adding quiet zones to the city’s northernmost railroad, an improvement to the “quality of life” of those that live near the tracks, according to the council. Merced Sun-Star article

Other areas

Oakland turns over draft Ghost Ship investigation report to DA after weeks of delays — After weeks of failing to provide Alameda County prosecutors access to a draft investigative report on the deadly Ghost Ship fire, city officials delivered a final version of the report to the criminal investigation team Saturday, hours after this news organization reported on the delays. East Bay Times article

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento City Council poised to take a big step on ethics and transparency — The Sacramento City Council should approve a stronger ethics code and “sunshine” ordinance that have been more than two years in the making. Sacramento Bee editorial

 Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Free-market health care? GOP plan doesn’t deliver it.

Sacramento Bee – The Sacramento City Council should approve a stronger ethics code and “sunshine” ordinance that have been more than two years in the making; House Republicans may be doing their best, but questioning of intelligence officials shows they’re less interested in the truth about Trump and Russian meddling in the election than in tracking down leaks and shooting the messenger.