May 13, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories


Whatever happened to Devin Nunes, who once led House Russia probe? — After President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, Rep. Devin Nunes was the only one of the top four members of a congressional intelligence committee not to issue a statement. The California Republican’s last Twitter comment on any topic was posted in mid-March. He’s been absent from national TV. Once the public face of intelligence policy in the House of Representatives, Nunes has seemingly all but disappeared on the hottest topic of the day. McClatchy Newspapers article


Gov. Brown asks President Trump for help with California’s bullet train — Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday appealed to President Trump for help on the California bullet train, which would connect Los Angeles and San Francisco. Brown’s letter asks the president to transfer federal oversight of environmental reviews on the $64-billion project to the state rail authority. LA Times article


Governor Brown

Jerry Brown heading to China to talk climate change — Gov. Jerry Brown is getting ready to go back to China four years after his last trip across the Pacific Ocean.  The first week of June, the governor plans to attend an international summit on clean energy and meet with other members of a coalition dedicated to fighting climate change. LA Times article


Valley politics


Three challengers targeting Kevin McCarthy in 2018 – Three people — two Democrats and a Republican who was a Democrat until Friday — think House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s stance on health care and his loyalty to President Donald Trump have made him vulnerable. They think they can unseat him. Bakersfield Californian article


PolitiFact CA: Did Congressman Jeff Denham really call the GOP health bill ‘bipartisan’? — The congressman’s use of the word bipartisan appears correct in only the most limited sense. It was a poor choice of words given how little cooperation there was over the healthcare bill. Both sides in this story are playing fast and loose with the truth. PolitiFact CA article


Interview: Valadao reflects on South Korea trip, tensions with North Korea — Tensions between the United States and North Korea have heightened in recent weeks. Hanford Republican Congressman David Valadao recently returned from a trip to South Korea and Japan. He spoke with Valley Public Radio about his trip and what he learned. Valley Public Radio report




Border agency says it has picked finalists to design wall — The federal government said Friday that it has settled on finalists to design President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico, but it won’t identify them. AP article


Your neighborhood cop may be allowed to arrest undocumented immigrants — At least six law enforcement agencies in the Sacramento area operate under written policies allowing their officers to detain people suspected of entering the United States illegally, according to policy manuals obtained by The Bee. Sacramento Bee article


California military base construction workers detained by ICE — ICE officials have placed both men in expedited deportation proceedings without a court hearing — known formally as “reinstatement” — because they each have old removal orders issued more than a decade ago after border agents caught them attempting to illegally cross the border. Neither of them has criminal records, according to their attorney. San Jose Mercury News article


Other areas


Here’s how construction worker pay is dominating California’s housing debate — The union representing construction workers, State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, also known as the Building Trades, is the most powerful group influencing the Legislature’s response to the housing crisis. It has worked to make sure union-level pay, known as “prevailing wage,” is a consideration in any major housing bills. Here’s how prevailing wage works, how labor’s been so influential and why prevailing wage is so important in the housing debate. LA Times article


More gas tax fallout: East Bay lawmaker loses key committee post — Sen. Steven Glazer, the only Democrat in the Senate to vote against a gasoline tax increase last month, announced Friday that he is resigning his post as chair of a key committee at the request of President Pro Tem Kevin de León. The move likely is punishment for Glazer’s failure to join other Senate Democrats in the vote, which angered his colleagues. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article


California races to issue driver’s licenses that will work at airport security — Facing the prospect of millions of Californians turned away at airport security checkpoints, the Brown administration is racing to bring the state’s driver’s licenses up to federal standards. Sacramento Bee article


Bill would expand property tax portability for older CA homeowners — Chris and Carol Leister are selling their home of 33 years in Castro Valley and moving to a new 55-plus community in El Dorado Hills to be closer to their children and grandchildren in Sacramento. The Leisters are taking advantage of a state law that gives homeowners who are least 55 a once-in-a-lifetime chance to transfer the property tax base from their primary residence to one of equal or lesser value. San Francisco Chronicle article


Presidential Politics


Trump’s statements linking Russia investigation to Comey could lead to legal problems – A growing number of legal experts say President Trump has opened himself up to a charge of obstruction of justice this week when he said “this Russia thing with Trump” was on his mind when he fired FBI Director James B. Comey. LA Times article


Trump says he may choose a new FBI director by Friday — President Trump said he could make a “fast decision” on selecting a new FBI director, perhaps naming the replacement for James Comey before he leaves for his first foreign trip on Friday. LA Times article


News Stories

Top Stories


With higher revenues, Brow to provide $2.8 million more next year for K-12 schools — Readjustments in the formula that sets education funding will provide $2.8 billion more in 2017-18 for K-12 schools than they are receiving this year, an increase of 5.4 percent. That’s also about $1.1 billion more than Brown had forecast in January. More revenue also will enable Brown to fulfill the commitment he made last year to add 3,000 state preschool openings and to increase reimbursement rates for preschool providers by 6 percent starting July 1. EdSource article


Modesto banned smoking in parks a month ago, but has enforcement caught fire? – It’s been a little more than a month since Modesto banned smoking in its 75 parks, but officers have issued no citations and the city has not yet put up the “no smoking” signs. But officers could not have issued citations. The Police Department did not update what is called its records management system to reflect the smoking ban. Police Chief Galen Carroll said that was an oversight that will be fixed. Modesto Bee article


Jobs and the Economy


Tubbs plans free post-State of the City address for public — The 26-year-old Tubbs said more details about his evening event will be released in the coming days. He did say he will deliver a speech to the audience at Pacific and also moderate a panel discussion that will include several yet-to-be disclosed leaders from the community. Stockton Record article


Fulton storefront renovation program in full swing — Hoping to once again make the Fulton District a core destination of the city, the Downtown Fresno Partnership has launched multiple new and promising projects to revitalize the area. Its newest venture: The Fulton Storefront Renovation Program. The Business Journal article


LA is all in for 2024 Olympics — There was the private under-the-stars dinner on the grounds of a Beverly Hills mansion, a game at Dodger Stadium and a tour of this region’s extensive network of stadiums, arenas, parks and playing fields. The object of all this attention was the International Olympic Committee, which sent a delegation here this past week for one last look before deciding where to hold the 2024 Summer Games. New York Times article


Criminal Justice/Prisons


Psychologist needs more time to evaluate Fresno shooting suspect’s mental state, judge says – The mental health assessment of Fresno shooting rampage suspect Kori Ali Muhammad will take more time to complete, a judge was told in a brief court hearing Friday. A new court-appointed lawyer for Muhammad, Richard Beshwate, told Judge Brian Alvarez that the psychologist evaluating his client needs another two weeks to prepare a report. A hearing in Fresno County Superior Court was set for June 1. Fresno Bee article


Two jail officers nearly died in a shootout. Now the sheriff’s wants more of them to carry guns — When a gunman opened fire in Fresno County Jail’s lobby eight months ago, the perils of unarmed corrections officers became all too real for Sheriff Margaret Mims. Within days, she was pushing a plan to more quickly arm lobby officers, but that plan has stalled. Mims also wants “peace officer” status for corrections officers through a state legislative process. Fresno Bee article


$9,000 in cash, as well as guns and needles, found in home of former Fresno deputy police chief – Jurors in Keith Foster’s federal drug-trafficking trial learned Friday that after the former deputy police chief was arrested in March 2015, his first request was to speak to Police Chief Jerry Dyer. They also learned that federal agents found $9,000 in cash in Foster’s home, as wells as 10 guns, unlabeled pill bottles, and a prescription for testosterone and hypodermic needles. Fresno Bee article


Records show new details in this week’s massive gang raid in Merced County — Nearly half of those arrested in gang raids earlier this week in Merced County have been charged of crimes in local or federal court, records show. Merced Sun-Star article


California shifts from scanners to dogs to catch smugglers – California is turning from mechanical scanners to canine sniffers in its latest intensive attempt to catch smugglers who import drugs into state prisons. Gov. Jerry Brown is dumping a three-year, $15.3 million program intended to thwart prison smuggling. That effort tested the extensive use of airport-style scanners, metal detectors, surveillance cameras, urine tests and drug-sniffing dogs at 11 of California’s 35 prisons. AP article


Ex-LA County Sheriff Lee Baca sentenced to three years in prison in jail corruption scandal — Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has been sentenced to three years in prison, marking an end to a corruption scandal that has roiled the Sheriff’s Department for several years. LA Times article




Are our schools too easy on unruly kids in the classroom? – Visalia Unified is the latest central San Joaquin Valley district to face criticism for what teachers say are lax discipline policies that lead to disruptive – and sometimes violent – classrooms. Fresno Bee article


$350 hotel nights, limo rides in Europe: UC audit finds more questionable travel expenses — State auditors on Friday provided new details of questionable travel and entertainment expenses approved by the University of California system. The amounts are small compared to the main finding of the April 25 audit that UC’s Office of the President failed to disclose tens of millions of dollars in reserve funds, but the audit said the questioned expenses represent issues that should be addressed. LA Times article


Merced launched her into tech industry. Now she’s returning home with a message for graduates — Lesley Slaton Brown has worked in the tech industry for 20 years, working all around the world and earning a top leadership role at HP, Inc. This weekend, she’s returning to her hometown to speak at the graduation ceremony of the youngest University of California campus. Merced Sun-Star article


South Modesto gets school board seat this November — The heavily Latino area of south Modesto will get a school board representative in November after all. On Thursday, the Modesto City Schools board unanimously reversed its decision on election timing for newly created trustee areas after community groups protested and a longtime trustee accused the board of implicit bias. Modesto Bee article


How Google took over the classroom – The tech giant is transforming public education with low-cost laptops and free apps. But schools may be giving Google more than they are getting. New York Times article


From dropout to driving force: Law students learn from professor’s past – Cindy Ostberg is a scholar of law. She knows more than you do about the U.S. Supreme Court (probably) and the Supreme Court of Canada (definitely). She runs a program to assist aspiring law students. And last week the San Joaquin County Bar Association honored Ostberg for her “commitment to the legal profession and the community.” Stockton Record article


Retiring advocate leaves legacy of caring — On the second floor of Dee Alimbini’s office on East Channel Street, boxes are being packed and thick binders of paperwork are being compiled for her staff. Alimbini, who has served as the Child Welfare and Attendance administrator for Stockton Unified for 12 years, has mixed feelings about retirement. Stockton Record article




Water flows again, but it’s dangerous – While the snow and rain storms that lifted large swaths of California out of drought have brought celebration, they’ve also brought new danger – and already claimed lives. From Redding to Bakersfield at least 14 people have died this year — six in Tulare County alone — in rivers and rain-swollen creeks. Each of Tulare County’s victims were under 23. Visalia Times-Delta article


State lowers fish-kill estimates from Oroville hatchery — State officials substantially overestimated the numbers of fish that were killed Wednesday at a temporary fish hatchery used since the Oroville Dam crisis in February. Revised estimates now show that 72,000 fall-run Chinook died Wednesday when a faulty wire shut off a pump at a holding pond, said Harry Morse, a spokesman for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Sacramento Bee article


Are floating solar panels energy’s new frontier? — California is leading the nation in setting up floating solar. In Sonoma County, solar panels are about to go online at a wastewater treatment facility. In San Diego County, a project is underway to set up solar panels on a portion of the 200-acre Olivenhain Reservoir. KQED report


Health/Human Services


Hanford Fire Department to save lives with Vial of Life — With Vial of Life, members of the community can pick up a free kit that’s in a small plastic bag from various fire stations. The kit includes a personal worksheet for people to fill out with information on their medical history, medications taken and allergies. Another sheet also gives instructions and other information that can be included, such as a recent picture, copies of EKGs, living wills and do-not-resuscitate orders. Hanford Sentinel article


Land Use/Housing


Drs. Marcia Sablan and Oscar Sablan: Park expansion can save Fresno County lives – The Sablans, who practiced family medicine in Firebaugh, write, “The state Legislature is considering placing one or more bonds on the ballot that would support both expanded parks and increased spending on flood-related infrastructure. By advancing opportunities like the Mendota-Firebaugh Parkway, Fresno County has the chance to cost-effectively address its pressing need for investment in parks while also improving public safety.” Sablans op-ed in Fresno Bee


Other areas


Mother of slain combat veteran taking on mission of her own — A young combat veteran was laid to rest before his time Friday. But his mother swears her son’s life did not end in vain. And a powerful local congressman has promised to help. David Cole Lang, 33, a 2002 graduate of Highland High School and a former lance corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, survived two combat tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, including two roadside bomb explosions. Bakersfield Californian article


Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – The American Health Care Act is one of the most anti-woman legislation to come out of Congress in a long time. The solution? More moms in elective office; Thumbs up, thumbs down.