March 8, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories


Californians could begin voting at age 17 under a new proposal in the Legislature – California would become the first state in the nation to fully allow 17-year-olds to vote in elections under a proposal introduced on Tuesday in the Legislature.  LA Times articleSan Jose Mercury News article


Nunes: Media take Trump’s tweets too literally — The top Republican on the House intelligence committee said he has not seen any evidence to back President Donald Trump’s claim that the Obama administration wiretapped him during the 2016 campaign and suggested the news media were taking the president’s weekend tweets too literally. AP article

Gov. Brown


Jerry Brown wants details about GOP health care plan: ‘This thing has been done in secret’ — Gov. Jerry Brown, his state facing the potential of a massive crater in the budget, said Tuesday it’s too soon to assess the implications of Republican legislation to replace the Obamacare law. Sacramento Bee article


Gov. Brown requests federal aid, declares emergency — Gov. Jerry Brown is asking for federal assistance with the infrastructure damage from late January storms that caused flooding, mudslides and power outages. AP article


Valley politics


Valadao avoids town-hall format – As he met with constituents Monday in Hanford to hear their concerns amid the current national political turmoil, Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, chose not to go the town-hall route. Hanford Sentinel article


Vong Mouanoutoua and Drew Bessinger win seats on Clovis City Council — For the first time in 16 years, the Clovis City Council has added two new members. It’s also the first time in 14 years that a new member has joined the council. Vong Mouanoutoua, a former planning commissioner who ran unopposed, and Drew Bessinger, a retired Clovis Police Captain, won seats Tuesday night. Bessinger defeated Paul Soares, a newcomer to Clovis city government who was well-funded. Fresno Bee article


Bakersfield Ward 5: Nance claims Freeman committed voter fraud — Ward 5 Bakersfield City Council candidate Ryan Nance plans to ask the District Attorney’s offices in Kern County and Orange County to investigate opponent Bruce Freeman for voter fraud. Bakersfield Californian article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures


Republican John Cox is running for governor: ‘There are two Californias’ – John Cox, a Republican businessman and investor from Rancho Santa Fe, formally announced his campaign for governor on Tuesday, promising to improve the state’s financial accountability and create a more welcoming climate for business. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article



To pay for the border wall, Trump might slash budgets for the Coast Guard and TSA – The Trump administration, searching for money to build the president’s planned multibillion-dollar border wall and crack down on illegal immigration, is weighing significant cuts to the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and other agencies focused on national security threats, according to a draft plan. Washington Post article


Trump wants to detain more immigrants.  He could – with California’s help – In order to deport people, the government typically must detain them first. But if the system is already at capacity, where will all these new detainees go? A KQED investigation found the government can likely ramp up detention capacity quickly — and California’s jails could play a key part. KQED report


Federal officials deny doctoring document central to case of ‘Dreamer’ facing deportation – Sounding a bit annoyed, U.S. immigration and Justice Department attorneys deny that federal officers erased or changed a statement written by a Seattle “Dreamer” who is fighting to avoid deportation. LA Times article


New travel ban. Same response from Silicon Valley – President Trump’s new travel ban was revised to pass legal muster, but the changes did nothing to win support in Silicon Valley, where signs of political activism remain on the rise. LA Times article


McClintock tells undocumented student best path to citizenship is to leave U.S. — Rep. Tom McClintock on Saturday reiterated a hardline immigration policy, telling a young immigrant in his conservative Northern California district that her best option for obtaining U.S. citizenship is to go back to her birth country. Sacramento Bee articleMarcos Breton column in Sacramento Bee


A rush for birth certificates, as immigrants try to hold families together – Undocumented parents want copies of records for their American-born children, fearing they may be separated by deportation. New York Times article


Faith in Fresno trains rapid-response team to defend undocumented facing deportation — Undocumented immigrants threatened by deportation have an ally in a team of Fresno clergy and community members now training themselves on how to best come to the immigrants’ defense. Fresno Bee article


Other areas


Millions of Californians likely would lose coverage under GOP Obamacare replacement, experts say — Millions of Californians would likely lose health coverage under the Obamacare replacement bill released by House Republicans this week, experts say. LA Times article‘Why some Republicans are rejecting the bill’ in New York Times;  AP article‘Who wins and loses under the GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill?’ in Politico


Sacramento Bee: Trumpcare: Euthanasia to cure a cold – Trumpcare would fleece middle-aged people, punish women, strand the poor and lavish tax cuts on the rich if passed in its current form. The plan to gut the requirement that individuals carry insurance will almost certainly cause the health insurance market to collapse. Sacramento Bee editorial


Lawmaker wants to limit Californians to buying no more than one gun a month – Alarmed by the amount of gun violence and the activity of straw firearms purchasers, one state lawmaker has revived a proposal to prohibit Californians from buying more than one gun a month. LA Times article


Garcetti wins reelection in a landslide as City Council incumbents prevail – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti won reelection Tuesday in what appeared to be one of the biggest landslides in the city’s history, crushing 10 little-known rivals and strengthening his standing for a potential run for higher office. LA Times article


Joel Fox: SCA 1: A warranty on government promises – California legislators can prove they believe their own promises if they pass Senate Constitutional Amendment 1 guaranteeing taxpayers would not be liable if the Secure Choice retirement plan for private workers has financial troubles. Fox in Fox & Hounds


Apple iPhone and Android phones hacked by CIA: WikiLeaks — Whether you have an iPhone or an Android phone, spooks from America’s spy agency can hack it, siphon off your conversations and messages, and secretly turn on your phone’s camera and microphone to spy on you. So says WikiLeaks after making public March 7 a purported trove of thousands of leaked documents from the U.S. spy agency. San Jose Mercury News article


Alleged CIA hacks rekindle security fears over Silicon Valley tech products – A new WikiLeaks dump of documents, allegedly revealing evidence of Central Intelligence Agency efforts to hack into consumer electronics made by Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies, is raising fresh concerns about the security of cellphones, computers and televisions connected to the internet. San Jose Mercury News article


California’s ‘NEPA-geddon’ could stop billions in roadwork — Billions of dollars in planned California road projects would be stalled unless lawmakers act on Assembly Bill 28, which would revive a state-federal agreement on environmental reviews. The agreement could have been renewed before its Dec. 31 expiration but lawmakers never acted. Sacramento Bee article


Presidential Politics


House intel committee will probe Trump’s wiretap accusation against Obama – The House intelligence committee will investigate President Donald Trump’s claim that Barack Obama ordered his phones tapped during the closing days of last year’s presidential election campaign, the committee’s chairman announced Tuesday. Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican, said the claim would be part of the committee’s first open hearing on Russian meddling in the U.S. election, which is now set for March 20. McClatchy Newspapers article


Trump aides address his wiretap claims: ‘That’s above my pay grade’ – President Trump has no regrets. His staff has no defense. After weeks of assailing reporters and critics in diligent defense of their boss, Mr. Trump’s team has been uncharacteristically muted this week when pressed about his explosive — and so far proof-free — Twitter posts on Saturday accusing President Barack Obama of tapping phones in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. New York Times article


Trump talks tough on Iran, but can he bring jailed Americans home? – U.S. and Iranian officials had been negotiating a possible release of American Iranian dual nationals imprisoned in Iran — including the Namazis — until talks broke down in the final days of the Obama administration, according to family lawyers. Now their hopes for freedom lie with President Trump, who prides himself on being a deal-maker but has rapidly escalated tensions with the Islamic Republic. LA Times article


Donald W. Blount: HUD with a THUD — Let’s see. When Ben Carson, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, referred to slaves as immigrants coming to “a land of dreams and opportunity,” I thought my head would explode. And then one word came to mind. Asinine.  Blount column in Stockton Record


Struggling San Bernardino wrote to Trump for help but ended up only raising local suspicions — The written request has been extremely controversial in this city, where only about a quarter of residents cast their ballots for Trump. The letter was not discussed publicly by the council before it was sent, and it focused heavily on requesting federal assistance with marijuana enforcement only a few months after voters overturned a citywide ban on pot businesses. LA Times article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories


Californians are using less water, but conservation falters in the Valley — Officials say Californians are using less water than they have in years, thanks partly to winter rains that are doing the lawn-watering for them. The Water Resources Control Board said Tuesday that the average Californian used just 58.1 gallons of water a day in January. That’s the lowest residential use since the state started tracking water use in summer 2014. Fresno Bee article

Madera County voters say no to public safety tax measure – Measure L, Madera County’s one-cent sales tax increase, failed with 56 percent voting against and 44 percent in favor. The results are unofficial since votes that came in over the last few days remain to be counted. Fresno Bee article


Treasurer: More than $19 million stolen from schools – A staggering $19 million was stolen from clearing accounts owned by the Kern Community College District and the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office, Kern County Treasurer-Tax Collector Jordan Kaufman announced Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy


Former Fresno mayor focused on philanthropy with new job – Former Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin surprised many political observers last year when she decided to forgo a run for California Governor and instead take a job as CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation. The non-profit manages over $50 million in assets for donors from across the region. So how does working in philanthropy differ from running the city’s business? And what changes can we expect at the foundation? Swearengin joined us to answer these and other questions on Valley Edition. Valley Public Radio report


Winn: Exciting time of progress and opportunity – San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors Chairman Chuck Winn on Tuesday said the present day was an exciting time of progress and opportunity for those who work and live in the region.  Stockton Record article


CalPERS set to slash pensions for nearly 200 workers – For the second time in four months, CalPERS is preparing to slash benefits for a group of retirees whose former employer stopped cutting checks to fund their pensions. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System could act next week to reduce pensions by as much 63 percent for 197 people who used to work for a defunct job-training program that was created by a group of local governments in Los Angeles County.  Sacramento Bee article


Fresno Grand Opera calls it quits as financial and legal pressures mount — Fresno Grand Opera canceled its remaining season Tuesday and announced it is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, capping a turbulent few weeks of cash-flow issues and the departure of key artistic personnel. Fresno Bee article‘Former Fresno Opera director sues company, successor for alleged defamation’ in Fresno Bee


Gas prices rising, and switch to costlier ‘summer blend’ still ahead – The average price of regular unleaded gasoline in California has hit $3 a gallon – really $2.999 if we’re splitting pennies – a price not seen since September 2015, GasBuddy reported Tuesday morning. Modesto Bee article


Fresno County will try – again – to sell old juvenile hall complex – Fresno County’s old juvenile hall complex in southeast Fresno is once again up for sale, after county supervisors voted Tuesday to declare the 12.6 acres as surplus and set a minimum price of $1.5 million for the property. Fresno Bee article


Homeless work program approved – In a move to help the homeless, Visalia City Council approved money to kick start a work program seeking to provide employment for those on the street. Visalia Times-Delta article


Contractor fairness policy fails, but Merced leaders plan a do-over — The Merced City Council on Monday shot down a fairness policy related to contractors that they called “confusing,” saying instead members will begin work to draft a better policy. Merced Sun-Star article


Uncertainties over Trump policies expected to slow California, Bay Area job growth – Job creation in California and the Bay Area is expected to weaken this year due to lingering uncertainties over President Donald Trump’s tax, immigration and health care policies. San Jose Mercury News article


Sacramento Bee: Why California cities and counties should act scared by pension payments – With all the unknowns – and the certainty of higher pension payments – being frugal is the only responsible course for Sacramento and cities and counties across California. Sacramento Bee editorial


Measure H rebounds from early deficit, reaches two-thirds majority – A quarter-cent sales tax increase in Los Angeles County to fund anti-homelessness measures appeared to earn the two-thirds majority needed for passage early Wednesday, with 100% of county precincts reporting. LA Times article


Pismo Beach Pier’s $8.7 million makeover to start next week – The Pismo Beach Pier is about to get an $8.7 million makeover. Construction on the pier officially starts next week, but the city’s public works department has already started preparing, city senior engineer Eric Eldridge said. On Monday, employees removed Sheldon’s Bait Shack and the information kiosk from the pier, placing them on the promenade near the entrance. The city will move the benches and picnic tables off the pier Tuesday, Eldridge said. San Luis Obispo Tribune article




NASA launches pilot project to measure snowpack from the sky — After five years of drought there’s so much snow in the Sierra Nevada that state water officials are preparing for a massive runoff year. But the traditional way of calculating the snowpack has a huge margin of error and as Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports a new way to measure it could greatly decrease that inconsistency. Valley Public Radio report


Plenty of Oakdale Irrigation District water for sale to neighbors, but board disputes pricing – The cost for selling irrigation water to those just outside the Oakdale Irrigation District was roundly debated at Tuesday’s board meeting and will resurface in a couple of weeks. Modesto Bee article


Angelo Papagni, one of the Valley’s pioneering wine grape growers, dies — Angelo Papagni, a pioneering wine grape grower in Madera, is among a handful of individuals credited with laying the groundwork for the central San Joaquin Valley’s burgeoning wine industry. Mr. Papagni died Feb. 27. He was 95. Fresno Bee article


When it rains, LA sends billions of gallons of ‘free liquid gold’ down the drain — As the Los Angeles region strives to cut its historic dependence on increasingly irregular imported water supplies, local officials have developed a new appreciation for stormwater. Instead of flushing it to the sea — as the L.A. Basin has done with studied efficiency ever since the catastrophic floods of the 1930s — cities are trying to figure out how to capture and use runoff to replenish local groundwater supplies. LA Times article


Criminal Justice/Prisons


Silva defense fighting on two fronts, accuses DA’s office of ‘poisoning the jury pool’ – Attorneys for Anthony Silva were busy on two fronts Tuesday as they started considering a strategy for responding to the jailed former mayor’s newest and most serious legal tribulations. Stockton Record article


Gov. Jerry Brown helps dedicate Stanislaus County jail expansion – Gov. Jerry Brown came to Stanislaus County on Tuesday to be where the action is in the current era of criminal justice reform in the Golden State. Local and state officials gathered at the Public Safety Center on Hackett Road in west Ceres where the county has been on a building craze, adding a probation center and several hundred jail beds within the past three years. Much of the funding has come from the state. Modesto Bee articleLA Times article


Protestors, police tangle downtown in latest clash – A brief and relatively calm City Council meeting disintegrated into a nearly two-hour faceoff between riot-helmeted police officers and about 30 protesters Tuesday night, at times forcing the closure of major downtown streets and the northbound entrance ramp to Interstate 5.  Stockton Record article


Is it time to scrap California’s cash-bail system? – California is in the middle of reversing decades of ‘tough on crime’ policies. Realignment and propositions 47 and 57 have been instituted to lighten the load in county jails and state prisons. Now lawmakers are examining a system that sometimes keeps people in jail before they have even been convicted. Criminal justice reformers say California’s use of cash bail has created an income-based justice system. Valley Public Radio report


Back-pay settlement approved for survivor of slain deputy sheriff – The widow of a deputy sheriff who was slain Nov. 13 will be paid $253,000 by Stanislaus County to settle his unrelated discrimination claim for back pay. Modesto Bee article


Police justified in fatal August shooting, prosecutors say — Five Bakersfield police officers acted in self-defense and the defense of others when they fatally shot a 37-year-old man who fired at them from close range during a chase, a Kern County District Attorney’s office release said Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian article


Psychiatric evaluation ordered for homeless man shot by officer — A homeless man who was shot by a Merced police officer and is charged with felony assault on an officer will undergo a psychiatric evaluation before the criminal case proceeds in Merced Superior Court. Merced Sun-Star article


Sacramento police will put body cameras on all patrol officers by September — A handful of Sacramento patrol officers will begin wearing body cameras this month and all should have them by September under a plan the City Council passed Tuesday night. Sacramento Bee article


Bail-bond companies allowed to defend law requiring bail — Bail-bond companies can intervene in a San Francisco case and defend the law requiring newly arrested defendants to post bail, a law that the city and state have refused to defend, a federal judge has ruled. San Francisco Chronicle article




Lodi Unified schools to become safe havens regardless of immigration status – One month to the day after Lodi Unified Trustee Bonnie Cassel first brought up the idea, the board voted to officially declare Lodi Unified a safe haven for its nearly 30,000 enrolled students.  Stockton Record article


Coalinga-Huron school district avoids layoffs — A special meeting scheduled for Tuesday at the Coalinga-Huron Unified School District to discuss potential layoffs has been canceled. The district website said: “At the direction of the board, the district staff has made efforts to arrive at creative solutions to the projected revenue shortfalls for 2017-18. We are pleased to announce that we were able to identify some creative solutions through the application of some one-time money and other cost-saving measures to eliminate the need for layoffs.”  Fresno Bee article


Turf battle developing over who can test California’s 11th-graders – California is quickly becoming a national battleground over the franchise for testing high school juniors. The College Board, producer of the SAT college admissions test, wants in, while state officials, defenders of the state’s current test provider, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, have a new strategy to keep the SAT and the ACT, the other main college admissions test, out. EdSource article


Trump frames ‘school choice’ agenda as civil rights initiative – Against the backdrop of a series of ongoing controversies and embarrassing missteps concerning civil rights and race, President Donald Trump, backed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, is framing his push for greater “school choice” as a civil rights initiative, intended to help the nation’s most disadvantaged children. EdSource article


Edible schoolyard program blooms in Kern County – There are a lot of efforts to bring health foods into school and the elementary school curriculum. One of the most interesting examples can be found in Bakersfield at Buena Vista Elementary School, home to something called an “edible schoolyard.” Valley Public Radio report


Pulitzer winner, HP diversity chief to speak at UC Merced graduation ceremonies – A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a high-ranking officer from a multinational computer company have been pegged to be speakers at UC Merced commencement ceremonies in May, the university announced Tuesday. Merced Sun-Star article


Dos Palos High School employee accused of assaulting students — A Dos Palos High School food service employee was put on administrative leave Monday morning after video footage surfaced that appeared to show the 32-year-old woman assaulting two students. Los Banos Enterprise article


Nan Austin: Fresh produce springs up in cafeterias, but will beige blobs be back? — At Central Valley High in Ceres, kids line up for salads, sectioned fruits, low-calorie meat pizzas and low-sodium nachos. Cafe-like offerings and lots of choices have raised cafeteria lunch appeal while a new wave of requirements challenged menu makers’ creativity, requirements now under fire as Republicans try to roll back regulations. Austin in Modesto Bee


Father-daughter school dances to give way to more inclusive ‘family dances’ — Father-daughter dances and mother-son hikes are about to become the latest social conventions to fall by the wayside in the Sacramento City Unified School District, where staff members and at least one elementary school are seeking ways to be more inclusive of nontraditional families. Sacramento Bee article



Study: California fault could cause magnitude-7.4 quake — An earthquake fault running from San Diego Bay to Los Angeles is capable of producing a magnitude-7.4 earthquake that could affect some of the region’s most densely populated areas, according to a study released Tuesday. AP article


Health/Human Services 


Born with five thumbs, Fresno infant among many to receive plastic surgery at Valley Children’s Hospital — Kyrie Carter’s father dreams of his “little man” dribbling a basketball effortlessly someday. “He’s going to play every sport!” Harold Carter proclaims with excitement of his young son’s future. At 16 months old, Kyrie already has a good handle of a basketball, his family says – despite being born with five thumbs. The extra thumbs haven’t been extra helpful, however, says Valley Children’s Hospital plastic surgeon Dr. Mimi Chao. Fresno Bee article

Researchers raise concerns over health risks of popular herbicide – It’s springtime in the valley, which, for many of us, means it’s time to clear the weeds out of our backyards. The same goes for growers, but the landscape of industrial weedkillers is changing. A California judge recently ruled that the main ingredient of the popular herbicide RoundUp must be labeled as a carcinogen. Now, another popular herbicide is facing some scrutiny over its health impacts as well. Valley Public Radio report


Study finds telehealth actually makes some health care more expensive — Because telehealth appointments are less expensive, they should theoretically save you—and by extension the entire health care ecosystem—some bucks. At least this is what telehealth companies claim. But now a new study from the RAND Corporation, published Monday in Health Affairs, says this isn’t the case. KQED report


Other areas


Merced’s finance director to resign at the end of the week — Merced has parted ways with its finance director, who has worked in the finance department for 32 years, according to city staffers. Director Brad Grant no longer is head of the finance department and submitted a letter of resignation, Mayor Mike Murphy said Tuesday after a special meeting of City Council. His last day is Sunday. Merced Sun-Star article