March 23, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

California voters continue to shun political identification — California had more than 19.43 million registered voters as of early last month, with voters shunning party affiliation at a growing rate, according to new state registration numbersSacramento Bee article

Jerry Brown sounds skeptical note on single-payer health care for California – Gov. Jerry Brown, in Washington warning about the billions his state could lose on the eve of a Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, strained Wednesday to understand the logic behind pushing another system like single-payer. Sacramento Bee article

House probe in chaos over Nunes remarks that Trump found in foreign surveillance reports – Rep. Devin Nunes on Wednesday thrust himself into the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s unproven claims that he was wiretapped by his predecessor, telling the White House and reporters that communications of Trump transition officials – possibly including the president – may have been “monitored” after the election as part of an “incidental collection.” McClatchy Newspapers articleNew York Times article

Gov. Brown

Ridiculing Trump, Brown says state would take a hit under GOP health plan  —  Gov. Jerry Brown stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday and railed against the Republican plan to replace Obamacare, just moments after his administration issued an analysis that found billions of dollars in increased state costs.  Sacramento Bee article

When it comes to roads and dams, Jerry Brown isn’t always a Trump resister — Brown identified infrastructure as an area where “we can all work together” in his State of the State address in January, in which he also pledged to protect the state’s interests on immigration, health care and climate change. Last month, his administration submitted an initial list of infrastructure projects for Trump’s consideration representing more than $100 billion in spending.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Kerry Jackson: Devin Nunes has 5 big ideas to fix California – The fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute writes, “Rep. Devin Nunes, who represents California’s 22nd District in Congress, encouraged Republicans at the party’s state convention to pursue five ideas for revitalizing California: kill the state income tax, move bonds for the chimerical high-speed rail system to water storage, increase offshore drilling, change the way public employee union dues are collected, and convert the Legislature into a single chamber or a part-time governing body.” Jackson op-ed in Fresno Bee

Oakdale Irrigation District recall election may be in limbo — Water leaders are looking deeper into whether signature gatherers committed fraud to prompt a recall of Oakdale Irrigation District board member Linda Santos, throwing into question the status of the April 25 ballot. Modesto Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Many Californians unsure of Kamala Harris, poll says — California Sen. Kamala Harris remains unknown to many residents of her own state despite maintaining a high profile in Washington, while California’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, has seen her job approval rating tick down, according to a new poll.  Politico article

George Skelton: Providing free college tuition in California is a good idea – but taxing millionaires to do it is a bad one — Haven’t we in California been hitting these rich people enough? They’re everyone’s pigeons. When do they just bolt the state and leave a big hole in the Sacramento treasury? Skelton column in LA Times


ACLU alleges U.S. border officer sexually assaulted teen sisters trying to enter America — After more than a decade away from their mother, two teenage sisters fled their violent surroundings in Guatemala in hopes of reuniting with her in Fresno. They traveled more than 1,500 miles by bus before crossing on foot into the Texas desert, where they became lost. They flagged down a passing U.S. Customs and Border Protection truck for help. After the sisters were dropped off at an intake office in Presidio, Texas, a Customs and Border Protection officer took their backpacks – containing the only things they brought with them – and, allegedly, far more. Fresno Bee article

Fresno City Councilman Steve Brandau takes aim at ‘sanctuary state’ legislation — Fresno City Councilman Steve Brandau is asking his colleagues Thursday to approve a resolution opposing Senate Bill 54, the “California Values Act,” which would bar local law enforcement from detaining or arresting people for immigration violations. Fresno Bee article

LA County sheriff expresses sympathy for immigrants, but sanctuary bill could hurt them — McDonnell now finds himself walking a political tightrope, breaking ranks with many other Los Angeles politicians by opposing a “sanctuary state” bill that aims to prevent federal immigration agents from taking custody of people being released from California jails. LA Times article

California files brief supporting challenge to Trump’s threat against ‘sanctuary’ cities and counties — State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Wednesday filed a brief in support of a Santa Clara County lawsuit challenging President Trump’s executive order targeting “sanctuary” cities that refuse to help federal authorities enforce immigration laws. LA Times article

Immigrant advocates spread the word: Be prepared, be self-reliance, know your rights — Some groups, such as the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, or CHIRLA, are urging people to make appointments for legal consultations now. That way, if they are detained, they’ll already have attorneys familiar with their cases — and know whether they’ll stand a chance in court. LA Times article

Other areas

Trump and Ryan don’t yet have the votes to pass health bill today – On the day that House Speaker Paul Ryan had hoped to deliver a triumphant upheaval of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, he doesn’t yet have the votes. McClatchy Newspapers articleSacramento Bee editorialNew York Times article

GOP health care bill would send California’s costs skyrocketing — The Republican-backed bill that would overhaul the Affordable Care Act would shift billions of dollars in health care costs from the federal government to states, with California on the hook for $6 billion in 2020 and growing to $24.3 billion by 2027, according to an analysis released Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration. San Francisco Chronicle articleKQED report

Low-income Californians will be hit hard by proposed American Health Care Act changes – The proposed American Health Care Act will “pull the rug out from under” millions of low-income Californians, the chairman of the state Assembly Health Committee told a full city council chamber at a hearing in Fresno on Wednesday. Fresno Bee article

Alison Buist: Ryan’s health care act would put 59,000 Merced kids at risk –The National Child Health Director for Children’s Defense Fund –California writes, “The AHCA would shift $370 billion in federal Medicaid costs to states over the first 10 years alone, putting coverage at risk for nearly 37 million children in America – including over 5 million children in California and 59,804 in Merced County. Because almost half of all Medicaid recipients are children, any changes to Medicaid have a disproportionate impact on them.” Buist op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Don’t rush a new federal health law, Fresno doctors say – Last week, four Fresno doctors talked with The Bee about the Affordable Care Act – and what they say has worked and what has failed. They also voiced concern that Congress will rush the American Health Care Act into law, as they said happened to the Affordable Care Act, to less-than-perfect result. Fresno Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Meals on Wheels gets major mileage out of minimal funding – Meals on Wheels drivers deliver 2,250 meals a week in Stanislaus County, said Dennis Pinaire, the agency’s support services manager. The congregate site program at the 13 sites daily bring the total to over 20,000 meals a month. So when the Trump administration last week announced plans to slash social services funding to hundreds of domestic programs, it felt like a punch in the gut to those who work with those in need, said Carla Strong, the Howard Training Center’s executive director. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

California lawmakers want to block police from helping federal drug agents take action against marijuana license holders – With federal authorities hinting at a possible crackdown on state-licensed marijuana dealers, a group of California lawmakers wants to block local police and sheriff’s departments from assisting such investigations and arrests unless compelled by a court order. LA Times article

Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch says defending waterboarding was just part of his job as a lawyer – Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday returned to aggressively questioning Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch about his apparent defense of waterboarding and other such interrogation tactics while he was working in the administration of George W. Bush.  LA Times article

Supreme Court decision strengthens rights for schoolchildren with disabilities, rejecting a lower standard set by Gorsuch – A unanimous Supreme Court strengthened the rights of nearly 7 million schoolchildren with disabilities Wednesday, and did so by rejecting a lower standard set by Judge Neil Gorsuch. LA Times article

Are your household items spying on you? One California lawmaker has an answer — Newly amended California legislation would require manufacturers to better secure products sold in the state, as well as require buyers’ consent before collecting any personal information. Senate Bill 327 also would require manufacturers to notify customers about security patches and other updates. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Deep-blue California says Trump not trustworthy, not going a good job – Things aren’t looking up for Donald Trump in California. Majorities of likely voters in the heavily Democratic state say the president cannot be trusted and disapprove of his job performance, border wall and revised travel ban, according to a new statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California. Sacramento Bee articleKQED report

Trump feels ‘somewhat’ vindicated by Devin Nunes saying transition team possibly ‘monitored’ – Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House intelligence committee, said Wednesday the communications of Trump transition officials – possibly including President Donald Trump himself – may have been “monitored” after the election as part of an “incidental collection.” AP article

Schiff says Nunes can’t lead Russia inquiry and be a Trump surrogate — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) has risked undermining the credibility of the panel’s investigation of Russian interference of the 2016 election by sharing new information with the White House, his Democratic counterpart said Wednesday.  LA Times article

Black political leaders warn that under Trump, ‘We’re losing on every ground,’ — Black lawmakers and political leaders in California warned Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget cuts threaten to upend decades of progress in the African-American community on issues ranging from voting rights to education.  Sacramento Bee article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories – Top Stories

Jude allows California high-speed rail funding to continue – A judge rejected opponents’ latest attempt to stall California’s $64 billion high-speed rail project Wednesday, but will consider their arguments before the state issues voter-approved bonds next month. AP article

West side farmers to get a 65 percent water allocation from Central Valley Project — With ample rainfall and an above-average snowpack, west side San Joaquin Valley growers were hoping the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation would give them a 100 percent allocation of water this year from the Central Valley Project. They were wrong. Bureau of Reclamation officials announced Wednesday that farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta would received 65 percent from the federal water project. Fresno Bee articleSacramento Bee article;  Hanford Sentinel articleStockton Record article

CSU approves student fee hike, but puts pressure on governor for more funding — Despite pleas from student advocates, California State University trustees voted 11-8 Wednesday to increase tuition by 5 percent this fall, but not without putting pressure on Gov. Jerry Brown and the state legislature to increase funding for the nation’s largest public university system. Bakersfield Californian articleAP articleEdSource article

Flood control trumps tunnels — Californians are more likely to favor beefing up the state’s flood control infrastructure than building Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels, according to the latest poll from the Public Policy Institute of California.  Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Turlock mayor sees better days, smoother roads, lots of flags ahead — In his State of the City address, Turlock’s mayor took a victory lap for the heavy lifts of his first two years, laying out goals for 2017 to continue the work and new initiatives around building community. Modesto Bee article

Kmart, Sears and Payless face rocky future — Valley Kmart and Sears shoppers are having to travel farther to get a hand on bargains. Only a few select cities have stores still open. Visalia Times-Delta article

Sacramento council gives cautious approval for homeless tent camp in north city — Councilman Allen Warren won lukewarm approval to establish a homeless tent camp in his North Sacramento district after months of resistance from his fellow Sacramento City Council members. Sacramento Bee article

Homeowners raise a stink over Ceres sewer charges — Several homeowners in a neighborhood sandwiched between Modesto and Ceres say they were shocked to receive notices this month from Ceres, saying they owe about $1,850 because the city had underbilled them for sewer services. And they have until April 1 to pay up.  Modesto Bee article

Sacramento County reeling from jury’s $107 million verdict against it in mining case — With Sacramento County reeling from a federal court jury’s landmark $107 million judgment against it, plaintiffs’ lawyers said Wednesday the “undue influence” case should serve as a warning shot for any governmental entity that plays political favorites. Sacramento Bee article

Robin Abcarian: California cannabis companies are hiring.  Interest is high at this job fair – Over the weekend, in a bare-walled art gallery on Highland Avenue, well-scrubbed job seekers came, resumes in hand, to connect with prospective employers. But this was a job fair with a twist: All the employers are in the cannabis business. And almost without exception, their companies are growing explosively. Abcarian in LA Times

Southern California aerospace and defense contractors expecting boost from Trump budget — Southern California’s defense industry, long the epicenter for high-flying aerospace technology and advanced weapons for the military, could get a major windfall under President Trump’s proposed new budget. LA Times article

Bay Area population growth slows, some counties losing people — The Bay Area may be losing a bit of its luster. After years of being overrun by new residents drawn by a red-hot economy, the number of people moving out has begun to catch up with the number moving in, new census data show. San Francisco Chronicle article


Report: Some Fresno children have lead levels nearly 3 times higher than kids in Flint, Michigan — Many children in California, including those living in nine ZIP codes in Fresno County, tested higher in 2012 for lead exposure than children in Flint, Michigan, Reuters is reporting. Fresno Bee article

From the California sky, measuring all that snow – Knowing with precision how much snow has accumulated is crucial for farmers and water managers. That’s where a mapping project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory known as the Airborne Snow Observatory comes in. Using measurements gathered by specialized instruments on a plane, scientists have been able to gain an unprecedented understanding of the amount of water present in the Sierra’s snow. New York Times article

Lois Henry: Some updates on my river column — A couple of corrections and updates are needed for my Wednesday column on where Kern River water is going this year. While Bakersfield was selling water for $5 an acre foot early on as the river ramped up, it was only a small bit of water and for a short time. Bakersfield Californian article

Oroville Dam operators send more water down wrecked spillway — Water began gushing down the mangled spillway at Oroville Dam on Friday in what state officials said was the start of a weeklong test to see if the sheared-off chute and the carved-out hillside around it could sustain even more pummeling as flows into Lake Oroville increase during the spring snowmelt. San Francisco Chronicle article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Sex trafficker sentenced to 40 years in Operation Baby Face — The leader of a sex trafficking ring in Tulare County was sentenced to 40 years in state prison Wednesday, making him the first person sentenced in Operation Baby Face. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Why a suspect in murder of pregnant Fresno woman can’t stay off Facebook — Fresno police say a suspect wanted in the murder of his pregnant girlfriend continues to post comments and pictures on his Facebook account. Fresno Bee article

Sacramento City Council orders police to release video from North Sacramento shooting – The Sacramento City Council late Tuesday ordered police to release video from a February shooting between officers and a parolee in North Sacramento as quickly as possible, despite an argument from the department that it needed more time to review the footage. Sacramento Bee articleSacramento Bee editorial

Scott Jones: Sacramento City Council decisions creating chaos in Police Department – The Sacramento County sheriff writes, “The Sacramento City Council once again demonstrated it is blissfully unaware that it is causing a crisis in the Sacramento Police Department, one that will take years to undo.” Jones op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Supreme Court wrestles with California police shooting case – The Supreme Court on Wednesday stepped in to the national conversation on police practices, wrestling with a California police shooting case where sheriff’s deputies shot an innocent couple during their search for a wanted man. AP article

Intergenerational abuse all too common in child exploitation — Child sexual exploitation and trafficking is a vigorous enterprise, despite many earnest efforts to curb it. It happens in Stockton. It happens throughout San Joaquin County.  Stockton Record article


Schools: Treasurer and auditor responsible for $19 million fraud — The claws are coming out. This week, Kern County Superintendent of Schools Mary Barlow and Kern Community College District Chancellor Tom Burke widely distributed a “Dear community partner” letter and fact sheet that seemed to push all blame for the loss of $19 million in taxpayer funds on the Kern County Treasurer and Kern County Auditor-Controller’s offices. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno Unified board approves firm to search for next superintendent — The Fresno Unified board of trustees on Wednesday night unanimously voted to hire Leadership Associates as the firm that will spearhead the national search for a new district superintendent. Fresno Bee article

Nan Austin: Trump presidency teeming with teachable moments — Never have civics lessons been more relevant and real time. How do we get a federal budget? Who in the government decides if a government official committed a crime? What are the hurdles that bill I love/hate has to pass to become law? Austin in Modesto Bee

Health/Human Services

Kaweah Delta ER to undergo expansion — Kaweah Delta’s Emergency Department sees upward of 93,000 patients each year. That’s roughly 254 patients each day, or 10 patients every hour. With only 33 beds, the department has struggled to keep up with the daily number of incoming patients, said Dr. Jerry Jacobson, emergency department medical director. Visalia Times-Delta article

Olympus’ redesigned scope linked to infection outbreak — Doctors have tied a superbug outbreak at a foreign health facility to a medical scope that Olympus modified last year in an attempt to reduce its risk of spreading bacteria between patients. LA Times article

Other areas

Joe Mathews: It sounds like heresy for a journalist to say this, but California’s Brown Act silences we, the people — California’s Ralph M. Brown Act, approved in 1953, has become a civic Frankenstein, a gag rule that threatens the very public participation it was supposed to protect. Mathews in Fresno Bee

Tulare council, BPU battle leads to resignations – Tulare council removed two Board of Public Utilities members and the commission’s chairman resigned in protest at Tuesday’s meeting. Hours later, a fourth member resigned, leaving the BPU with only one member and without a quorum to hold meetings. Already, the commission’s April 6 scheduled meeting has been canceled. Visalia Times-Delta article

Want an invitation to Haggard’s house? Here it is — They’ll have to hustle to make it, but brothers Noel and Ben Haggard are hot-footing it from a concert in Oklahoma City on April 8 to Bakersfield the next day for a reason that’s pretty hard to argue with: Their dad. After years of planning, fundraising, moving and restoring, Merle Haggard’s boyhood home will be ready for its first public tours that day, and Kern Pioneer Village — where the converted boxcar is located — is planning a daylong celebration to honor the Haggard family. Bakersfield Californian article

Stanislaus Consolidated chief resigns after eight months on the job — After just eight months on the job, Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District Chief Matt Daly cited family reasons in resigning from the post effective April 21. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Republicans want your boss to know your DNA; Gov. Brown is wise to seek common ground with Trump.

Sacramento Bee – He appears headed toward confirmation to the Supreme Court. Senate Democrats may not like his judicial philosophy and may be suspicious of how he might rule on big issues, but they have to ask themselves: If they filibuster and somehow manage to block Neil Gorsuch, would the next nominee sent up by President Donald Trump be any better?; Sacramento’s mayor and City Council made the logical decision to force police to release videos from the shooting of Armani Sicilian Lee in Del Paso Heights; Trump’s approval rating is in the tank and Americans are not clamoring for worse health care. What’s the rush?

Stockton Record – Sweet hoops: NCAA regional a highlight for Stockton.