March 27, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

George Skelton: Reps. Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff couldn’t be less alike – just like the two Californias they come from — Two congressmen from the state President Trump seems to despise most are leading an investigation into whether his campaign team conspired with the Russians. And the two lawmakers couldn’t be more different. They symbolize, in many ways, the diversity of California and are a microcosm of the sprawling state. Skelton column in LA Times

Dan Walters: California Democrats seek congressional gains, but turnout a key — Paul Mitchell, the state’s top voter data guru, calculates that with lower turnout next year, “Several contests that looked extremely competitive in the 2016 primary and general would be less so in projected likely voter universes for the coming cycle.” On average, he says, in the potentially vulnerable GOP districts, the incumbents can expect nine percentage points higher Republican voting in the primary and three points in the general election. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown says California won’t ‘be running to the courthouse every day’ to fight Trump — With many of his fellow Democrats demanding multiple challenges to President Trump’s proposals, Gov. Jerry Brown said this week he will continue to support a more measured approach. “We’re going to fight very hard. But we’re not going to bring stupid lawsuits or be running to the courthouse every day,” Brown said during an appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” LA Times article

Valley politics

Voter registration up, party preference down — Nearly three-quarters of eligible residents in San Joaquin County are registered to vote, slightly more than the statewide average, according to data released by the California Secretary of State’s Office last week. Stockton Record article

Tulare County to appoint new registrar of voters — Tulare County Board of Supervisors will likely appoint Michelle Baldwin as the registrar of voters at Tuesday’s board meeting. The appointment comes as a response to issues experienced during the last election season in which the county’s elections office was criticized for delays in reporting results and barring the media from the elections office. Visalia Times-Delta article

Other areas

Chairman and partisan: The dual roles of Devin Nunes raise questions about House investigation – Nunes, 43, has said he is committed to leading an impartial inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election, and search for any evidence of coordination with Trump or his associates. But Nunes, who served as an adviser on Trump’s transition team, has also at times used his position as chair of the intelligence committee in ways that seem aligned with the interests of the White House. Washington Post article

Democrats, buoyed by GOP health defeat, see no need to offer hand – Invigorated by the Republican dysfunction that led to a stunningly swift collapse of the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and relieved that President Barack Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment remains intact, Democrats are in their best position since their embarrassing loss in the November election. New York Times article

Oops … PAC runs TV ads thanking some Republicans for repealing Obamacare – Some basketball viewers on Friday night were subjected to television commercials that were guilty of peddling some alternative facts. That’s because in some markets with conservative-leaning districts, commercials aired praising some Republican House members for their efforts in repealing the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. KQED report

Serving alcohol until 4 a.m. could be an answer for safer nightlife — Some California lawmakers are making a public safety argument for allowing later alcohol sales. After December’s deadly Oakland warehouse fire, they want to help discourage unpermitted and unsafe nightlife spots. LA Times article

Berkeley killing renews debate over gender pronouns — Pablo Gomez Jr. was a University of California, Berkeley, senior majoring in Latino studies and a prominent campus activist when authorities say he stabbed to death a popular elementary-school teacher. Soon, the crime that police described as “very brutal and unusual” in a city that reported just two homicides last year was sucked up into the debate over gender identity when it was reported that Gomez preferred to be called “they” rather than “he.” AP article

As Congress pulls back privacy laws, states push forward — Some state legislatures may prove to be a counterweight to a federal rollback of Obama-era laws that increased online consumer privacy rights. New York Times article

Presidential Politics

Trump delivers surprise to California – Despite the bad blood between the president and the nation’s most populous state, Trump has come through on three big asks so far. Politico article

In need of a win, Trump and GOP pivot to tax reform – Picking themselves up after the bruising collapse of their health care plan, President Trump and Republicans in Congress will start this week on a legislative obstacle course that will be even more arduous: the first overhaul of the tax code in three decades. New York Times article

Blaming conservatives, Trump signals new openness to Dems — President Donald Trump on Sunday attacked conservative lawmakers for the failure of the Republican bill to replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law, as aides signaled a greater willingness to work with moderate Democrats on upcoming legislative battles from the budget and tax cuts to health care. AP article

Trump taps Kushner to lead a SWAT team to fix government with business ideas – President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises — such as reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction — by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions. Washington Post article

Reporter and photographers say they were assaulted by Trump supporters at Huntingdon Beach rally — An OC Weekly reporter and two photographers said Sunday that they were physically assaulted by pro-Trump demonstrators at a Make America Great Again rally in Huntington Beach and are seeking the public’s help in identifying at least one of the people responsible. LA Times article

For roughly a third of his presidency, Trump has been visiting his own properties — For the eighth weekend in a row, President Donald Trump has visited a property that bears his name. He has done so on 21 of the 66 days he has been in office, meaning that for the equivalent of three full weeks of his just-over-nine weeks as commander in chief, he has spent all or part of a day at a Trump property – earning that property mentions in the media and the ability to tell potential clients that they might be able to interact with the president. Washington Post article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories – Top Stories

California school districts increased spending on administration pay faster than teacher pay — As funding grew following years of budget cuts, California school districts increased spending for administrator pay faster than they raised spending for teacher pay, a Bee review of state financial data found. General fund spending by school districts on teacher salaries rose by 15 percent, or $3 billion, from the 2010-11 school year to 2015-16. During the same period, administrator pay grew by 27 percent, or $700 million. Sacramento Bee article

Come see the latest plan for redeveloping downtown Bakersfield – What do you want downtown to look like in coming years? This Thursday at the Fox Theater, you can see and discuss a plan to redevelop the area. Making Downtown Bakersfield, a collaboration between the city and the California High-Speed Rail Authority, will present the latest versions of a vision to develop downtown in anticipation of high-speed rail’s eventual arrival. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Fitz’s Stockton: The Blackwater returns, tastier — The Blackwater Café, Stockton’s reincarnating hipster hangout, has reopened as the Blackwater Deli, a clean, well-lighted place for a Guatemalan coffee, curvalinear conversation and the Johnny Cash channel on Spotify. Fitz’s Stockton in Stockton Record

The Vegas Raiders gamble: Why Sin City is betting big-time on pro sports — With the advent of legalized gambling in much of the country, professional sports leagues no longer consider Las Vegas taboo due to game-fixing concerns. It has led civic leaders to aggressively lobby for sports franchises with the belief that they will unify a transient populous whose common thread is eking out a living in a watering hole on the Old Spanish Trail that got its name — “the Meadows” — because of greenbelts that dot the desert valley floor. San Jose Mercury News article; LA Times article

Why California stinks for first-tome homebuyers – If you’re a millennial living in California, buying your first home doesn’t come any harder. California ranked as the toughest state in the nation for first-time home buyers, who typically would be in the millennial age bracket of 18 to 34, according to a recent report by Claes Bell, an analyst with LA Times article

National Guard whistleblower says he was forced to retire for exposing misconduct — Maj. Joseph Lovelace believes he was punished by the California National Guard for talking to The Sacramento Bee for stories published in 2011. The reports detailed wasteful spending, illegal retention bonuses and deteriorated conditions at Camp Roberts, an Army post near Paso Robles. Sacramento Bee article

Pomona leaders wrestle with a homelessness dilemma: Enforce or assist? — Officials agreed after months of soul-searching on a comprehensive strategy that gives as much weight to enforcement as assistance. And the city is moving swiftly to remove an obstacle to that enforcement — its failure to offer people living on its streets a place to sleep or store their belongings. LA Times article


Nearly 40 percent of America colleges say fewer international students are applying — While the cost of higher education has risen dramatically in recent years, many are blaming the decline in foreign applications instead on the current rhetoric in the U.S. surrounding immigrants, especially given comments made by President Donald Trump. McClatchy Newspapers article

Café 1600 gives some students second chances, others fresh starts — Cafe 1600, which launched in August and enrolled 14 students this semester, could serve as a model for how the Kern High School District will design a similar culinary arts program for high school students. Such a program is part of a robust set of class offerings the district plans to incorporate into a new Career Technical Education facility to be constructed in two years. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno State mock trial team advancing to national championships — Fresno State, along with five other California colleges, advanced to compete in the national championships after winning the mock trial Sunday night. Fresno Bee article

Some schools trading the blacktop for greentop as an innovative way to teach science — To supplement their science and environmental curricula, hundreds of schools across the state have busted up their asphalt play yards and replaced them with wood chips, trees, flowers, shrubs and vegetables. The new gardens don’t just add greenery to the schoolyard; they help teachers implement California’s new science standards, which emphasize hands-on learning, and crossover between scientific disciplines. EdSource article


Jeremy Bagott: A Dumpster dive into state’s dodgy CRT recycling fee – The former journalist writes, “Virtually no recycling of the lead-laced glass has occurred recently because there’s too much glass chasing too few buyers of the recycled material. Yet the state still collects the now misleading “recycling fees” from consumers when they purchase new electronics and continues to fund the now-nonsensical program. This year, consumers will hand the state a projected $59 million in these fees. Bagott op-ed in Modesto Bee

Health/Human Services

Scientists change spinach leaves from heart-healthy to actual human heart tissue — Someone tell Popeye: Spinach isn’t just good for your muscles. It can actually become muscles. Well, sort of. Researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Arkansas State University-Jonesboro were able to transform ordinary spinach leaves into bits of human heart tissue, according to a paper published WednesdayMcClatchy Newspapers article


RTD might partner with Uber, Lyft — San Joaquin Regional transit District passengers who live in rural areas of the county the agency does not serve soon may be offered another mode of transport. Donna DeMartino, RTD’s chief executive officer, revealed to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors last week that the agency is in discussions with online rideshare companies Uber and Lyft to enter into a partnership that would provide more transportation options to residents. Stockton Record article

New Sacramento regional government chief talks Trump, transit — James Corless has spent the last few years in an L Street office blocks from the White House, pushing nationally for transportation funding as head of Transportation For America. Next week, he takes another L Street office, this one in Sacramento a few blocks from the state Capitol, as new transportation planning point person for the Sacramento region. Sacramento Bee article

LA County will consider tighter rules for carpool and toll lanes — In an effort to improve sluggish speeds on the region’s freeways, Los Angeles County transportation officials have agreed to examine whether to impose tolls on more carpool lanes and a higher passenger requirement for such lanes. LA Times article

Other areas

Film recalls Turlock drive to build Donnelly Park play place — For all the kids who have hung, slid, climbed or swung in the Donnelly Park play park, for all the grown-ups who built it, and all whose ideas shaped it, Brian Zarka has a film for you. The story of the community effort and imagination behind the woodsy, whimsical structure inspired Zarka to create a documentary, “The Builds: Discovering We Can.” The roughly 20-minute film premieres April 6 at the Carnegie Arts Center. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Senate Democrats may not like Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy and may be suspicious of how he might rule on big issues. But, by any measure, he’s qualified to be a Supreme Court justice. It’s past time for Republicans and Democrats alike to stop playing political games with Supreme Court nominations.