March 4, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Fresno sheriff’s ICE partnership may give a glimpse of Trump-era deportations – The Fresno County Sheriff’s Department has a special partnership with ICE. Immigration agents have unfettered access to the jail’s database. So the info that Magallanes collected at booking? They can see that — plus any details about charges or criminal history in the database. Based on what agents find there, they decide who to question and who they’ll eventually put in deportation proceedings. KQED report

School ‘lunch shaming’ could end under new California bill – A California lawmaker wants to end “lunch shaming” at campuses across the state. Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Democrat from Los Angeles, is carrying a bill he says will put a stop to schools embarrassing children whose parents fall behind on their lunch payments. Hertzberg says the shaming takes multiple forms: Some students are altogether denied food while others are given paltry snacks. Sacramento Bee article

State budget

Joel Fox: Governor’s ‘nowhere money’ a violation of state spending limit, says LAO — The Legislative Analyst’s Office says the governor’s budget proposal attempts to dodge the state spending limit that was overwhelming passed by voters in a 1979 Special Election. In declaring that the governor’s budget does not count $22 billion dollars against any appropriation limit, the LAO report states clearly that the Governor’s proposal violates the spirit of the Gann Limit. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Gov. Brown 

‘There’s no substitute for experience,’ Gov. Brown tells Pepperdine law students — In a lighthearted speech at Pepperdine University’s annual law school dinner, Gov. Jerry Brown took a break politics and urged students not to lose sight of the universal truths of education and the law. LA Times article

Valley politics

Robert Price: McCarthy’s call on Sessions’ recusal was too sane to be true – Kevin McCarthy got this one right. For about an hour. The House majority leader appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday morning and told the panel of assembled pundits what everyone paying attention already knew: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, not even a month into the job, is now so thoroughly tainted over campaign-year contact with prominent Russians that, in McCarthy’s words, “it would be easier” for all concerned if he were to recuse himself from leading any federal investigation. Price column in Bakersfield Californian

Two candidacies officials for Bakersfield Ward 5; third well on the way — Two people are now certified candidates for the open Bakersfield City Council seat, and a third has turned in his nomination papers. As of Friday evening, Ryan Nance, who came in third in November’s general election for the post, and Noel Pineo, a stay-at-home-dad, had their paperwork certified for the Ward 5 special election, said Interim Bakersfield City Clerk Pam McCarthy. Businessman Bruce Freeman filed his nomination papers Friday but they hadn’t been certified yet; county elections officials were still verifying the signatures on them, McCarthy said. Bakersfield Californian article


Trump administration considering separating immigrant parents from children at border, reports say – In an attempt to deter parents thinking of illegally entering the U.S. with their children, the Department of Homeland Security is considering a proposal that would separate adults and children who cross the southern border together, according to multiple media reports. McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump’s fast-track deportations face legal hurdle: Do unauthorized immigrants have a right to a hearing before a judge? – The Trump administration’s plan for putting hundreds of thousands of recent migrants in the country illegally onto a fast track for deportation is likely to trigger the next major legal battle over immigration enforcement. LA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Immigrant arrested by ICE after dropping off daughter at school, sending shockwaves through neighborhood — Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez had just dropped off his 12-year-old daughter Tuesday morning at her Lincoln Heights school when two black, unmarked vehicles surrounded his car. LA Times article

U.S. suspends expedited processing for H-1B visas – The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said Friday that it will temporarily suspend expedited processing for all H-1B petitions starting April 3. H-1B visas allow highly skilled workers to spend three to six years at sponsoring companies in the U.S. They are particularly important to Bay Area technology firms, which use them to fill engineering positions. San Francisco Chronicle article

Mexico launches nationwide effort in U.S. to help migrants – Not only is the Mexican government not building a wall; it’s spending $50 million to beef up its legal aid to migrants who fear deportation, a response to President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration. AP article

An immigrant’s story: The Lemucchis of Bakersfield — Timothy Lemucchi set out to write a book about his family’s century-old east Bakersfield business, Luigi’s Restaurant and Delicatessen. But the local attorney ended up writing about much more. Bakersfield Californian article

Other areas

Dan Morain: A troubled man with a gun, and a gun-rights blogger’s tyranny – By now, two decades into the internet age, we understand that there is no privacy. Implications can range from trivial to mortifying and worse. For legislators who voted for gun-control legislation, threats that bounce across the internet turn scary. Any journalist with any level of skill can find the addresses of a public official. But unlike the anonymous blogger who sought to frighten legislators, no responsible journalist would publish those addresses without a compelling reason. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Schwarzenegger on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’: I quit — Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday that he’s through with “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” and he’s blaming President Donald Trump for the television reality show’s recent poor performance.  AP articlePolitico article

Arnold Schwarzenegger opens up about affair, Trump feud — Arnold Schwarzenegger says he doesn’t dwell on the affair that cost him his marriage to Maria Shriver and is focused on having a great relationship with his kids. AP article

Olivier OK with recreational pot: ‘Let the free market decide’ — “Some of you have marijuana in this room right now,” Fresno City Councilmember Clint Olivier stated to the gathering of business owners. New Councilmember Luis Chavez, sensing an opportunity, pointed at Olivier sitting onstage next to him, eliciting one of the morning’s biggest laughs. The Business Journal article

Presidential Politics

Trump claims Obama had his phones wiretapped; no proof cited – President Donald Trump on Saturday accused former President Barack Obama of having Trump Tower telephone lines “wire tapped” during last year’s election, but Trump didn’t offer any evidence or say what prompted the allegation. AP article; Washington Post article; LA Times articleNew York Times article

Andrew Fiala: The plutocrats are prospering, but what about the rest of us? – The professor of philosophy and director of The Ethics Center at Fresno State writes, “The portfolios of the powerful have swelled. The plutocrats are prospering. But the poor remain penniless. That certainly seems unethical – and undemocratic.” Fiala column in Fresno Bee

News Stories – Top Stories

California high-speed rail ready to lay some track – After years of prep work, Gov. Jerry Brown’s finance department decided Friday that California’s $64 billion high-speed rail project is ready to lay some track. The administration approved the rail authority’s request to spend $2.6 billion on work in the Central Valley. The decision lets the authority ask the state treasurer’s office to sell a portion of the nearly $10 billion in bonds voters approved in 2008 for a bullet train. AP article

High-speed rail builders want more money for Valley construction contracts — Two huge construction firms that are helping to build about 54 miles of bullet train structures in the central San Joaquin Valley are seeking an additional $300 million on their fixed-price contracts, the Los Angeles Times has learned. LA Times article

Hanford medical pot proposal goes up in smoke – A company proposing to open a large medical cannabis growing/processing business in Hanford is no longer interested. Hanford Sentinel article‘How much pot business should be in Hanford’ in Hanford Sentinel

Jobs and the Economy

Unemployment rates rise throughout Valley – Unemployment rates in the eight-county San Joaquin Valley rose in January but remained below January 2016 rates, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department.  Here are the January rates, followed in parentheses by the December 2016 and January 2016 rates:

  • Fresno – 10.6 percent (9.4, 10.7)
  • Kern – 11.1 percent (9.4, 10.8)
  • Kings – 11.7 percent (10.2, 11.3)
  • Madera – 10.0 percent (9.3, 10.2)
  • Merced – 12.6 percent (10.7, 12.7)
  • San Joaquin – 8.7 percent (7.8, 8.9)
  • Stanislaus – 8.9 percent (8.2, 9.6)
  • Tulare – 12.4 percent (11.4, 12.3)

California again outpaces U.S. in job growth as unemployment rate drops to 5.1 percent –  California economy started 2017 on a strong note, with employers adding a net 9,700 jobs in January and the unemployment rate dropping to 5.1%, according to data released by the Employment Development Department. LA Times article

5,000 jobs cut after holidays, but Fresno County employment trend remains strong – Employers in Fresno County sliced more than 5,000 jobs from their payrolls between December and January, driven largely by cuts in retail positions after the holiday shopping season. Collectively, the reductions sent the county’s unemployment rate above 10 percent for the first time in nine months. But the rate was below the unemployment mark in January 2016 and marked the best January in 10 years. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Merced County’s unemployment rate best it’s been since 2007 – Despite a seasonal rise in the unemployment numbers, Merced County’s 12.6 percent rate in January was four-tenths of a percent lower than a year ago, labor market analysts said Friday.  Merced Sun-Star article

Unemployment rate continues slow drop in Stanislaus County – Stanislaus County’s unemployment rate for January crept up from December’s rate, but was an improvement on the important year-before figure. January’s unemployment rate was 8.9 percent, compared with 8.2 percent in December and 9.6 percent in January 2016, figures released by the state Employment Development Department on Friday show. Modesto Bee article

Regulators reconsidering PG&E gas bill changes after rates outcry – After soaring monthly bills from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. this winter prompted a public outcry, California utility regulators said Thursday that they will consider tweaking natural gas rates to ease the pain. San Francisco Chronicle article

Central Valley building activity cools – The stock market and renewed business optimism may be signaling expected growth in the US economy but so far this new year – building activity in the Central Valley is in stark contrast – markedly slower than the same time in 2016.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Hanford council to consider fate of downtown buildings – Faced with rising maintenance costs and other issues at some city-owned downtown buildings, the Hanford City Council will discuss Tuesday whether to keep them or initiate the process to clear the way for their potential sale. Hanford Sentinel article

Foon Rhee: How California stacks up, Calexit or not – In a detailed comparison of states, California ranks No. 23 overall, and only No. 42 in equality and opportunity. That’s concerning, especially since the state ranks third in economic growth. Too many Californians are getting left behind and left out. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

Fig Garden mom-and-pop store alarmed about national chain — A small business in Fig Garden Village may soon close its doors in response to a recent announcement that a national chain selling similar items will be moving into the shopping center this year. The Business Journal article

Daniel Borenstein: Despite booming economy, Oakland’s finances deteriorate — Despite a strong economic recovery that has produced solid tax revenue increases, Oakland’s fiscal outlook continues to deteriorate. Borenstein in East Bay Times

Tech geek or not, women’s conference at downtown Fresno’s Bitwise open to all — A growing women’s technology conference will hold its fourth annual event Sunday, March 19, at Bitwise South Stadium in downtown Fresno. Fresno Bee article

How Uber deceives the authorities worldwide — Uber has for years engaged in a worldwide program to deceive the authorities in markets where its low-cost ride-hailing service was resisted by law enforcement or, in some instances, had been banned. New York Times article


Advocates say downstream flooding can be prevented by dam at Temperance Flat – Advocates for increased water storage and a new dam gathered at a swollen Lost Lake in Fresno County on Friday to remind the community about the increased potential of flooding because of major releases of water from Friant DamFresno Bee article

Oroville Dam update: Power plant back in operation, easing pressure on damaged spillway – Crews have restarted the critical hydroelectric plant at Oroville Dam, a move that could mean operators don’t have to activate the dam’s badly damaged main spillway even as a winter storm bears down this weekend. Sacramento Bee article

Oroville Dam faces another risk: Earthquakes from rapid rise in water levels — The crisis over the last few weeks at Oroville Dam was about how to handle large amounts of water flowing into the lake with both of the reservoir’s spillways damaged. LA Times article

Sinking ground near El Nido could impact flood fighting — Land in the El Nido area sank an additional 16 inches from spring 2015 to fall 2016, a report from NASA shows, and the subsidence may affect flood-control measures after the first wet year in five years. Merced Sun-Star article

San Jose flood: City knew about flood risks, discussed evacuations — New records and details emerged Friday about the disastrous Coyote Creek floods showing that San Jose officials were aware of the risks and prepared extensively for flooding, yet held off alerting residents as waters rose out of fear of unnecessarily alarming people.  San Jose Mercury News article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Ex-Stockton Mayor Silva sought on multiple charges, faces $1 million bail – Anthony Silva is wanted for arrest on an array of felony charges including embezzlement by a “public officer” and money laundering, and Stockton’s ex-mayor faces an “aggravated white collar crime enhancement” because the financial loss to his alleged and unnamed victims exceeds $100,000.  Stockton Record articleSacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Fresno police unleash gang crackdown after alarmingly violent start to 2017 — The Fresno Police Department has begun a crackdown on gang violence after an alarming trend of murders and shootings in Fresno since the beginning of the year. Fresno has seen 14 homicides since January, Chief Jerry Dyer said. Of those, 12 involved a gang member. Last week alone, there were 19 shootings – a number Dyer said is the highest he’s seen in his 15 and a half years as chief. Fresno Bee article

Law officer, suspect wounded in shootout near Tachi Palace — A law officer in Kings County was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with an armed man Friday on the Santa Rosa Rancheria near Tachi Palace hotel and casino. Fresno Bee article

Questions linger in Lemoore Police Department custody death – A Kings County native who died in Lemoore police custody two months ago had multiple encounters with police during the preceding 48 hours, according to new information obtained by The Sentinel. Hanford Sentinel article

Former vice principal’s lawsuit against Bakersfield Police Department ends before trial — A former Tevis Junior High School vice principal who sued the Bakersfield Police Department claiming he suffered injuries and damages from his arrest for carrying a concealed firearm on campus has lost his case before it could get to trial. Bakersfield Californian article

The tie that binds Turlock officer, Hughson family? A seat belt — Within five days of getting a seat belt citation, a young Hughson woman was in a vehicle crash she is certain would have killed her had she not been buckled up. In the four years since, around the anniversary of the collision, she and her family have offered their thanks to the Turlock cop who wrote the ticket. Modesto Bee article


In the end, immigration fears didn’t stop students from asking for California Dream Act aid – Stories about the application shortfall and officials’ assurances that student information would be kept safe helped turned the tide. So did the work of the school districts across the state that held financial aid workshops. LA Times article

Fresno State employee’s internet surfing may have cost taxpayers more than $20,000 — A Fresno State library employee spent so much time playing games and watching videos online while on the clock that it may have cost taxpayers more than $20,000, according to a state audit released Thursday. Fresno Bee article

UC Berkeley to restrict access to classroom lecture videos and podcasts – UC Berkeley will restrict public access to much of its online course content for a variety of practical reasons, Vice Chancellor Cathy Koshland announced this week. East Bay Times article

UC Merced: Despite abundant farms, some in Valley struggle to find fresh food – It might come as a surprise that, in a region where agriculture is so prevalent, many people in the San Joaquin Valley cannot afford fresh, quality produce or live too far from grocery stores, farmers markets and other sources. A recent study from UC Merced public health professor Susana Ramirez and sociology professor Zulema Valdez – published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease – focuses on these so-called “food deserts.” UC Merced article in Merced Sun-Star

Visalia, Tulare school districts emphasize early education – Both Visalia Unified School District and Tulare City School District offer families the option of introducing their children to the school system early with preschool and transitional kindergarten. Visalia Times-Delta article

Layoffs, budget cuts prompted UC Berkeley to pay out $306,000 for PR contract – Faced with a $150 million budget deficit at UC Berkeley, university administrators were grappling last year with how to break the news to faculty and the media about the need for major spending and staffing cuts. The solution? University officials bypassed Berkeley’s own communications staff and approved spending $419,400 to hire an outside public relations agency “to address media and stakeholder backlash,” newly released documents indicate. Sacramento Bee article

Kern High School District will debate recording, archiving footage of meetings – 

The Kern High School District will debate Monday whether to televise, record and archive footage of its board meetings, a topic that was squashed last year despite cries for more transparency from good government groups. Bakersfield Californian article

Sex harassment at UC: Janitors exposed, professors shielded — When UC campuses released the records of more than 100 sexual misconduct cases this week, they blacked out the names of more than half of the disciplined employees, along with large sections of the reports, declaring an employee’s right to privacy often outweighed the public’s right to know. But a haphazard practice of redacting information exposed the names of some low-profile workers while sometimes shielding executives and professors, who investigators found sexually harassed students or coworkers.  East Bay Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Snap’s home run in a grand slam for this Mountain View high school — The red-hot IPO debut of vanishing-photo superstar Snap this week not only placed the Southern California startup at a $35-billion value. It also made Mountain View’s Saint Francis high school $23 million richer. San Jose Mercury News article


EPA to reconsider vehicle fuel standards, may move against California targets — The Environmental Protection Agency plans to announce its intent to withdraw final determination on strict fuel-efficiency standards for future cars and light trucks, the latest signal by the Trump administration that it is charting a new course on climate change. LA Times articleNew York Times article

Southern California regulators approve smog plan with tougher refinery rules, voluntary measures for ports — Southern California air quality officials voted Friday to impose tougher rules on oil refineries but rejected a proposal to regulate pollution from ports and warehouses, which are responsible for much of the region’s harmful emissions. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Derek, David Carr show love, respect for hospital – David and Derek are a two-Carr barrage when it comes to supporting Valley Children’s Hospital. The brothers, both former Fresno State football quarterbacks who went on to play in the NFL, have felt a great love and respect for the hospital and its staff since Derek’s son was a patient there in 2013. Their support of the hospital has included appearing in television and radio commercials, visits with children and their families and a massive amount of signed NFL merchandise that gets distributed to patients. Fresno Bee article

Maternal fetal program Google computers trained to detect cancer — Google is using the power of computer-based reasoning to detect breast cancer, training the tool to look for cell patterns in slides of tissue, much the same way that the brain of a doctor might work. San Jose Mercury News article

Are your kids too clean? Microbiome research reveals dangers of killing germs — Scientists are only beginning to understand the millions of microbes that make up the human microbiome, said UC Davis microbiologist Jonathan Eisen, but researchers are finding that antibiotics, household disinfectants and other sanitizing products are also killing the “good bacteria” that help our bodies fend off disease. Many believe that the shortage of certain microbes explains recent spikes in childhood allergies and asthma. Sacramento Bee article


TSA finds a record number of firearms in one day – U.S. airports have been breaking records for total volume of passengers in the last few years. Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration has been breaking records for the volume of firearms that security officers find on passengers and in their carry-on luggage. LA Times article

Other areas

Clinton J. Olivier: When will Fresno City Hall do right by seniors? – The Fresno City Council member writes, “Tens of thousands of Fresno’s senior citizens are getting a raw deal. It’s nothing new, and they’re used to it. Old folks in the city represent a group that has never been given the attention they deserve, despite the tens of millions of tax dollars they paid into City Hall coffers over decades. The city has no senior center and offers only limited activities for old people. We face a crisis as a community: What is the city going to do about it? Olivier op-ed in Fresno Bee

Lemoore to discuss city manager — The Lemoore City Council is to evaluate the employment performance of Lemoore City Manager Andi Welsh during a closed session Tuesday. Welsh was placed on administrative leave in January. Hanford Sentinel article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star – Perhaps it’s a sign of these nationalistic times that talk of sending people to the moon and deep space is once again in vogue.

Modesto Bee – Perhaps it’s a sign of these nationalistic times that talk of sending people to the moon and deep space is once again in vogue.

Sacramento Bee – Epic dry spells punctuated with bigger storms is about to become California’s new normal. Thinking beyond dams might help us adapt on both fronts.