March 24, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Dan Walters: Legislators propose bonds, need skeptic Brown’s OK — Sponsors of water and housing bonds believe that shortages in both of those vital commodities provide political impetus for enactment, and were they to reach the ballot, they likely would pass. However, they have to get past Brown and his disinclination to put the state further into debt and therefore more pressure on a state budget that he hopes, with his fingers crossed, will still be in the black when he departs. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Fresno City Council yanks anti-sanctuary resolution from discussion — A proposed resolution for the city of Fresno to oppose “sanctuary state” legislation in Sacramento was yanked from consideration by the Fresno City Council almost before Thursday’s council meeting got underway. Fresno Bee article

White House, in gamble, demands make-or-break health vote – Abandoning negotiations, President Donald Trump demanded a make-or-break vote on health care legislation in the House, threatening to leave “Obamacare” in place and move on to other issues if Friday’s vote fails. AP articleNew York Times articleLA Times article

Gov. Brown 

Gov. Jerry Brown laments ‘poisoned’ nature of talks to avoid nuclear war — Gov. Jerry Brown said the politics over nuclear warfare have become “poisoned” as he searches for ways to take a larger role in the debate. Brown wrapped up his four-day visit to Washington, D.C., with a meeting of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit whose board of directors he joined this year. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Could Jerry Brown be the face of a new anti-nukes campaign? He’s thinking about it — What the governor took from his Washington visit was an appetite for action, perhaps even a rebirth of his former evangelical fervor for nuclear disarmament. LA Times article

Valley politics

Nunes trips on a high wire as chair of House intelligence panel, and Democrats pounce – California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes seemed to set his partisan gloves aside when he stepped into the national ring as the new chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2015. Now, upending the committee’s most politically sensitive investigation, the 43-year-old native of the rural San Joaquin Valley has antagonized the panel’s Democrats, who until now have worked closely alongside him. While Nunes offered his colleagues a muted private apology Thursday, lingering turmoil could ripple well beyond the damage to Nunes’s own reputation. McClatchy Newspapers article

Devin Nunes: Should he be replaced – or is he doing his job? – The national political spotlight has found Devin Nunes – and it doesn’t appear that focus is going away anytime soon. The Republican congressman from Tulare and chair of the House Committee on Intelligence is under scrutiny after disclosing information to President Donald Trump without first sharing it with his committee, including his Democratic counterpart on the committee, Adam Schiff. Fresno Bee article

Modesto Bee: Will Denham protect his voters or pals? — If he votes yes (on the American Health Care Act), Denham’s loyalty is misplaced. His loyalty should be to his constituents, not political pals. Modesto Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Candidates for California governor debate charter school movement – Charter school advocates on Thursday got a glimpse of where most of the announced candidates in the 2018 race to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown stand on privately-governed institutions that have grown across the state in recent years. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Former Gov. Pete Wilson looks back at Proposition 187 and says, heck yeah, he’d support it all over again — It is also true his tough stance against illegal immigration and, especially, support for Proposition 187 both antagonized and energized a burgeoning Latino population, in California and around the country, abetted by Democrats who knew an opportunity when they saw one. But Wilson will go to his grave steadfastly denying any racist or malign intent, saying his support for Proposition 187 — most of which was ultimately blocked in the courts — had nothing whatever to do with race or ethnicity. LA Times article


Sacramento joins federal lawsuit challenging Trump’s ‘sanctuary city’ threat — The city of Sacramento has joined a lawsuit seeking to block the Trump administration’s threat to cut federal funding to cities and counties that do not help authorities enforce immigration law. Sacramento Bee article

Cesar Chavez march to support Merced’s undocumented, organizer says — The annual Cesar Chavez march planned for this weekend in Merced takes on extra meaning under the Trump administration, the organizers said Thursday. This year’s march is themed “The Struggle is One,” according to Jesse Ornelas, an organizer and a member of the Brown Berets. The march has a focus on undocumented immigrants, mass deportations and police brutality, he said. Merced Sun-Star article

Companies wanting to build Trump’s border wall must first build fake ones in San Diego — Southern California is now ground zero for President Trump’s proposed border wall. Select companies from around the nation, and some international firms, bidding to build the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border will be required to construct prototypes in San Diego, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said. LA Times article

State Department orders tougher screening of visa applicants – The order, sent to all American embassies, would make it tougher for millions of visitors to enter the United States, marking the first sign of the president’s “extreme vetting.” New York Times article

Churches answer call to offer immigrants sanctuary in an uneasy mix of politics and compassion — Church sanctuary for those in the U.S. illegally began in the 1980s in response to the plight of Central Americans seeking political asylum, and has continued amid various immigration crackdowns. LA Times article

Norm Haughness: Practical considerations about deportation plans – The Tehachapi resident writes, “OK, it’s high time we begin discussing the implementation. President Trump has said it’s time to get those lawbreakers out — those Mexican-border-crossers who lack the proper papers. Doing the deportations, unlike simply promising them, raises a number of practical issues.” Haughness op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Other areas

Did Nunes’ disclosure of secret intelligence data violate law? – The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Thursday morning apologized for going public with information that a day earlier he’d described as coming from classified “intercepts.” But the apology only served to heighten the irony of the disclosure. Only three days earlier, the chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, had insisted that revealing such information from secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants was worthy of criminal charges under the Espionage Act. McClatchy Newspapers article

House Intelligence chair partially backs off claim about surveillance of Trump transition team –  The head of the House Intelligence Committee partially backed away from his dramatic claim that officials in President Trump’s transition team had been subjects of surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies, with an aide saying that Chairman Devin Nunes did not know “for sure.” LA Times article

Inadvertent surveillance of Trump transition team raises questions far-reaching questions – The disclosure by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, that communications by Trump transition members were inadvertently picked up by U.S. surveillance legally collecting foreign intelligence raises questions that are likely to consume Congress and the White House for months.  LA Times article

Nunes: ‘Duty and obligation’ to go to Trump with surveillance intel – House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said Thursday he “felt he had a duty and obligation” to inform President Donald Trump that transition officials on his team may have had communications intercepted inadvertently, a decision that has drawn the ire of congressional Democrats. Politico article

David Horsey: Most Republicans are in denial about the probe into Trump-Russia ties – On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, a Republican from the San Joaquin Valley, took a trip to the White House that made as big a splash as California’s recent torrential rains. Even though he is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee that is investigating links between Russia and members of President Trump’s campaign team, Nunes chose to share intelligence reports with the president before he shared them with members of his committee. Horsey in LA Times

Sacramento Bee: Schiff rises, Nunes falters in Russia investigation – As Americans take stock of the two California congressmen helping to lead the Russia investigation, the contrast could not be more clear. Sacramento Bee editorial

CBO says revised health care bill still leaves 24 million uninsured – In the second round of bad news for the revised GOP health care bill, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday that the faltering legislation would still leave 14 million people without health insurance next year and 24 million without coverage in 2026 – the same as the original bill. McClatchy Newspapers article

Clovis protestors want Devin Nunes to reject Affordable Care Act repeal – More than three dozen people gathered outside the office of Rep. Devin Nunes in Clovis on Thursday, urging him to reject legislation that would end the Affordable Care Act. Fresno Bee article

Locals rally against healthcare bill ahead of expected vote – On the eve of the House’s long-awaited, nail-biter vote to undo and replace Obamacare, 20 Kern County residents rallied in front of Congressman David Valadao’s Bakersfield office Thursday evening urging people to call on their representatives to vote against it. Bakersfield Californian article

GOP delays vote on Obamacare replacement bill; local impacts come into sharper focus – As the nation waited Thursday for a House of Representatives vote on health care legislation, Astrid Zuniga joined about 60 demonstrators outside Congressman Jeff Denham’s office in Modesto. Zuniga’s family could get hurt in a number of ways by the Republican health plan that would replace the Affordable Care Act, phase out a Medicaid expansion and cap federal funding to states for Medicaid services. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento Bee: House Republicans launch a petty attack on smart rail project – The idea behind all public works projects, Caltrain included, is that we collectively pitch in for work that benefits the larger public. So why are House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Devin Nunes undercutting one of the most important projects in Northern California? Sacramento Bee editorial

U.S., in reversal, issues permit for Keystone oil pipeline – The Trump administration announced Friday that it would issue a permit for construction of the Keystone oil pipeline, a long-disputed project that would link producers in Canada and North Dakota with refiners and export terminals on the Gulf Coast. New York Times article

Joel Fox: Jobs, regulations, taxes and trains – Many business people have raised concerns over excessive regulations hampering business growth and job creation. However, at first glance, it appears that California voters don’t make the connection between regulations and job creation in a new Public Policy Institute of California survey. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Senate votes to kill privacy rules meant to protect people’s sensitive data from their Internet providers — The Senate narrowly voted Thursday to overturn tough new privacy rules for Internet service providers, employing a rarely used procedure to invalidate restrictions that cable and wireless companies strongly opposed. LA Times article

Congress moves to strike Internet privacy rules from Obama era — Republican senators moved Thursday to dismantle landmark internet privacy protections for consumers in the first decisive strike against telecommunications and technology regulations created during the Obama administration, and a harbinger of further deregulation. New York Times article

Presidential Politics

This is California in the era of Trump — Californians wake up every day delighted to be in California, and then they remember that they are also in the United States. The bougainvillea catches the rising sun in San Clemente, the sapphire tide heaves into Big Sur — and three time zones to the East, President Trump has been up and tweeting for hours. Washington Post article

News Stories – Top Stories

Dorothy Leland and Adam Gray: Creativity, collaboration key to addressing medical education – UC Merced Chancellor Leland and state Assemblymember Gray (D-Merced) write, “As a community, we have demonstrated our unwavering commitment to the creation of the medical school at UC Merced. It will not be easy, but addressing the health care disparities in the San Joaquin Valley through the creation of a medical school and other programs such as public health is a moral imperative. Working collectively, we are up to the task.” Leland/Gray op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

California passes nation’s toughest methane emissions regulations – California air quality officials have approved what are widely considered to be the most rigorous and comprehensive regulations in the country for controlling methane emissions, a move that helps cement the state’s status as a standard-bearer for environmental protection. San Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno council delays vote on water fee that would add over $4,000 to cost of new home – A proposal to establish a new set of water fees that would impose a charge of $4,246 for every new home has been pushed off for two weeks by the Fresno City Council. Fresno Bee article

Hanford council rejects $1 million Bastille renovation – The Hanford City Council reversed course this week and rejected a $1 million renovation package for the Bastille. Hanford Sentinel article

Fresno City Council pulls plug on North Central fire agreement – The Fresno City Council voted Thursday to cancel a firefighting agreement between the city and the North Central Fire Protection District. The deal, which has been in effect since July 2007, was originally for a 30-year term. But the council voted 6-1, with Councilman Luis Chavez dissenting, to terminate the agreement because it is costing the city more to provide firefighting for a 250-square-mile area of rural Fresno County west of the city than the district is paying for the service. Fresno Bee article

If Raiders leave, could Oakland get another NFL team? — If Mark Davis gets his wish and the NFL allows him to move his Raiders to Las Vegas, will we ever see another team in Oakland? It wouldn’t be out of the question, said one NFL owner who requested anonymity. San Jose Mercury News article

The Downtown Club to be relisted at $1.1 million – The Downtown Club is slated for new life. Rob Boese of Boese Commercial, the listing agent for the property at 2120 Kern Street in Fresno, will be relisted for sale next week at a reduced price of $1.1 million—down from $1.25 million. The Business Journal article

Betty Yee and Joseph Sanberg: Kern residents failing to claim millions in tax credits – State Controller Yee and Sanberg chair of CalEITC4 Me, write, “In Kern County, according to the Kern County Report Card, 33 percent of all children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level. Awareness and claiming of the EITC is a critical tool in improving the day-to-day lives and futures of thousands of Californians.” Yee/Sanberg op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

City and Sacramento Kings reach deal to refinance 1997 loan – The city of Sacramento and Kings basketball team this week announced they have come to terms on a key unresolved element of the 2014 deal to build a new arena downtown – the refinancing of a $73 million city loan to the Kings in 1997. Sacramento Bee article

California Legislature urged to play oversight role on Olympics proposal to prevent cost overruns — Los Angeles’ bid to host the 2024 Olympics requires state agencies to begin planning for their significant role and for state officials to guard against changes that might put the venture at financial risk, the state Legislative Analyst’s Office warned Thursday. LA Times article

Where are those theaters and hotel around Golden 1 Center? Coming, Kings say – Though progress is slower than initially forecast, work on hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail, entertainment and restaurant space around the arena is advancing faster than a look around might suggest, they say, with a new round of openings likely later this year. Sacramento Bee article

Home prices continue to rise in Sacramento region — The price of homes in the Sacramento region continued to spike in February, according to Thursday’s report by Irvine-based real estate market tracker CoreLogic. In Sacramento County, the median price of a resale house was $310,500 in February, compared to $290,000 in January. When compared to February 2016, the figure represents a 10.9 percent increase, CoreLogic reported. Sacramento Bee article

Seller’s market: Bay Area home sales slip, but prices soar – Declining Bay Area home sales last month made it the most sluggish February in nine years, but prices jumped sharply as buyers bid on a shrinking supply of single-family homes. Prices soared 11.4 percent higher across the nine-county region compared with the same month of the prior year, reaching a median price of $675,000 — the largest such increase in more than a year. San Jose Mercury News article

Rio Bravo residents worried about country club closing — When you buy a house on a golf course, the value of your property increases in proportion to your views of long sloping fairways, picturesque water features and well-manicured greens. But what happens when the greens turn brown, the pond dries up and the fairways go to seed? That’s a question that is worrying hundreds of residents surrounding Rio Bravo Country Club and golf course, which homeowners say will be closing down — going out of business — just when summer is about to start. Bakersfield Californian article


Fresno Bee: Fresno County: Get the lead out — Frighteningly high levels of lead have been detected in the blood of downtown Fresno’s children. The city and the county, along with local nonprofits, must redouble efforts to rein in lead exposure and help protect families. Fresno Bee editorial

Waterwise: Water allotment falls short — A request from 11 local representatives for full water allotment to Central Valley Project contracts fell on deaf federal ears this week. Visalia Times-Delta article

Gallo buys famous vineyard in Napa Valley — E.&J. Gallo Winery announced Thursday that it is buying the Stagecoach Vineyard in the Napa Valley, one of the most noted in the region. The Modesto-based company already was among the 90-plus wineries that buy Stagecoach grapes, and it will honor the contracts of the others. Modesto Bee article

Damage, design flaws in Oroville Dam spillway point to lengthy repairs, consultants say — The main spillway at Oroville Dam is riddled with design flaws and so badly damaged that an independent panel of experts hired by the state has concluded it’s probably impossible to repair the structure completely before the next rainy season begins in November. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento’s rainfall year in top 10 when it comes to wettest ever — The 2016-17 rainfall season is the ninth wettest on record for Sacramento – and more precipitation is on the way Friday. Nearly 30 inches of rainfall has fallen in Sacramento, 29.93 inches to be exact. Northern California rainfall has swollen rivers, filled reservoirs and ended drought conditions. Sacramento Bee article

Another reservoir overflows as Northern California receives more rain — The milestones marking California’s wettest year in decades continued to pile up Thursday, as state water officials said a reservoir high up in the Sierra Nevada has exceeded capacity for the first time in 21 years. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

1st sex reassignment inmate says women’s prison is ‘torture’ – The first U.S. inmate to have taxpayer-funded sex reassignment surgery says she’s been mistreated since being transferred to a California women’s prison, where she now has a beard and mustache because officials have denied her a razor. AP article

Hazel first woman supervising investigator in Merced district attorney’s office — For the first time, the supervising investigator in the Merced County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations is a woman. Anna Hazel, who has worked for the district attorney’s office since 2003, recently was promoted to the position. Merced Sun-Star article

As need skyrockets, Sacramento jail to expand aid to mentally ill — As the Sacramento County Main Jail handles more inmates with psychiatric problems, the Sheriff’s Department is developing a new section staffed by UC Davis medical professionals, social workers and deputies that can provide intensive mental services without 24-hour care. Sacramento Bee article

Should video from LAPD body cameras be released after a police shooting? If so, when? Police Commission wants to know — The Los Angeles Police Commission on Thursday launched its latest effort to answer one of the biggest questions facing law enforcement today, one that has increasingly tested the LAPD and other agencies as video consistently inspires fresh scrutiny of policing: When should footage from police body cameras be released? LA Times article

List of problem LA deputies should be sent to prosecutors, civilian panel says – A Los Angeles County sheriff’s civilian oversight commission on Thursday backed Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s attempt to send prosecutors the names of deputies found to have committed serious misconduct on the job. LA Times article


College is the goal. The problem? Getting there. – For young people with college-educated parents, the path to higher education may be stressful, but there is a road map. If their standardized test scores are too low, they can pay for a prep course; if their essay is lackluster, they can hire a writing coach. No one will be the wiser. If they can’t decide which college is the “best fit,” they can visit. When they are tempted to give up, their parents will push them on. But for many working-class students, there is no money for test prep or essay help. The alternatives to higher education — joining the military, working for $13 an hour at the local factory or getting a cheaper, faster trade-school certificate — are alluring. The cost of college may seem formidable. New York Times article

Hanford West cancels Every 15 Minutes program — Emotions are raw this week as the Hanford West High School community deals with the death of an alumnus in a car accident Sunday. The accident has affected the school’s decision to go forward with a program directed to showcase the consequences of drinking and driving. Although alcohol or drugs are not believed to be factors in the crash of 20-year-old Hanford resident Alexei Scissons, some say it is not the appropriate time to conduct what is known as the California Highway Patrol’s Every 15 Minutes program. Hanford Sentinel article

Parents strongly object to report calling for local funding of special education — State Board of Education President Michael Kirst called a report urging California officials to dismantle the current special education funding system “provocative and bold.” After listening to two hours of the public’s reactions at a hearing in Redwood City last week, Kirst could add the phrase “and feared.” EdSource article


What Californians believe about climate change – Californians are more likely to believe that global warming is happening than residents of nearly every other state – but that doesn’t mean all Californians agree about it. Bakersfield Californian article

Climate change forum to be held at CSUB — Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, will co-host with the Climate Change Policy Coalition an “Economic & Environmental Community Forum” Friday to discuss current and pending climate change policies that may affect the 32nd Assembly District and California generally. Bakersfield Californian article

Health/Human Services 

Among white Americans, people without college degrees are driving an increase in death rates –  In 2015, a pair of economists received widespread attention for their study showing that since the late 1990s the death rate has been rising for middle-aged white Americans. Now a new analysis by the same Princeton University team has identified which part of that population was driving that trend: People without college degrees. LA Times article

Health clinic coming to Delhi in hopes of improving health access and care – Livingston Community Health is expanding its health services to Delhi in an effort to add care options with greater convenience. Starting in April, Delhi residents will be able to stay close to home while visiting a Livingston Community Health clinic, said Allison Jeffery, Livingston Community Health’s director of administrative services. Merced Sun-Star article

Group considers re-establishing Boys and Girls Club branch – Mayor Michael Tubbs and City Councilman Jesús Andrade participated in a City Hall meeting this week with undisclosed local individuals interested in re-establishing a Boys & Girls Club branch in south Stockton. Stockton Record article

Fresno mom who beat cancer while pregnant dies day after twins’ birth — A Fresno mom who beat cancer during her pregnancy gave birth to twins on March 16 and died of heart failure just a day later. Jamie Snider, 30, had been battling an aggressive form of cervical cancer during her pregnancy, even undergoing chemotherapy at Stanford University. Fresno Bee article

Land Use/Housing

San Joaquin County supervisors may consider affordability an impediment — The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors said a recent analysis of impediments to fair housing choice doesn’t properly address affordability. Stockton Record article

Other areas

Merced County supervisors take first look at cannabis policy options – The Merced County Board of Supervisors began discussion Tuesday that may lead to policy decisions on recreational and medicinal marijuana following the passage of Prop 64. Merced Sun-Star article

Dick Johnson announced resignation from Tulare BPU — Dick Johnson has resigned from the Tulare Board of Public Utilities, making him the fifth and final member to leave the advisory group this week. Visalia Times-Delta article

Lemoore City Council resolves city logo issue — The Lemoore City Council finally laid to rest at its regular meeting Tuesday the issue pertaining to the proprietary right and use of the official city seal and other insignia. Hanford Sentinel article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Frighteningly high levels of lead have been detected in the blood of downtown Fresno’s children. The city and the county, along with local nonprofits, must redouble efforts to rein in lead exposure and help protect families.

Merced Sun-Star – As Americans take stock of the two California congressmen helping to lead the Russia investigation, the contrast could not be more clear.

Modesto Bee – As Americans take stock of the two California congressmen helping to lead the Russia investigation, the contrast could not be more clear; If he votes yes (on the American Health Care Act), Denham’s loyalty is misplaced. His loyalty should be to his constituents, not political pals.

Sacramento Bee – As Americans take stock of the two California congressmen helping to lead the Russia investigation, the contrast could not be more clear; The idea behind all public works projects, Caltrain included, is that we collectively pitch in for work that benefits the larger public. So why are House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Devin Nunes undercutting one of the most important projects in Northern California?