May 24, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories


California takes many hits, big and small, in Trump’s 2018 budget proposal – California loses big time in President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget, made public to scathing political reviews Tuesday. Some Central Valley farm spending would fall. Nutrition programs would shrink. Certain school grants would be handcuffed, University of California research would be curtailed and reimbursements ended for the state’s incarceration of law-breaking unauthorized immigrants. McClatchy Newspapers article; Sacramento Bee editorial; LA Times article


Legislative lawyers suggest Gov. Jerry Brown’s interpretation of a long-standing state spending limit is wrong — Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle raised concerns Tuesday that Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget plan relies on a faulty calculation of a spending limit imposed by voters in 1979. LA Times article


Dan Walters: Will Legislature raise taxes $200 billion for universal health care? — There’s no way Democratic legislative leaders could persuade virtually all of their members to vote for $200 billion in taxes, especially those in swing districts and especially since Gov. Jerry Brown is leery. However, those leaders still must contend with the left-wing activists and threats by their leaders, especially the California Nurses Association, to take out Democrats who refuse to cooperate. Walters column in Sacramento Bee


State budget


Joe Mathews: California’s twisted budget theology – We have reached the high holy days of California’s budget season, as our governor and legislative leaders decide which programs will gain new life, and which will be sacrificed. And so our state government’s ministers have begun their ritual sermons on the dangers of overspending. They are preaching nonsense. California’s real problem is underspending. Mathews in Fox & Hounds


Valley politics


Interview: How did Kevin McCarthy become Trump’s ‘man in Congress’? – It’s hard to imagine two Republican leaders with more dramatically different political styles than Bakersfield’s Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump. While McCarthy rose to his position as House Majority Leader thanks to a warm and affable public personality, Trump’s style has been anything but. Yet the two have a remarkably close working relationship. In a new piece for the online publication CAL Matters, reporter Laurel Rosenhall takes a deep dive into their political alliance, explores why McCarthy is “Trump’s Man In Congress,” and what it means for California.  Valley Public Radio report


Nunes on target, remains unfazed  – While local left-leaning groups have targeted Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), urging him to hold a town hall meeting, a bigger organization has set their eyes on unseating the District 22 representative.  It doesn’t scare him one bit.  Visalia Times-Delta article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures


Dems mum on whether Feinstein should run for re-election – There are two questions that California Democrats whisper incessantly, yet no one can answer definitively. The first: Is Sen. Dianne Feinstein running for re-election next year? And only the bravest officeholders and party operatives dare to tackle — publicly, at least — the thornier question that’s rife with ageist implications and the potential for disrespecting a longtime senator: Should Feinstein, who turns 84 next month and was first elected in 1992, run? San Francisco Chronicle article


Examination of ballots cast in race for California Democratic Party leader begins in Sacramento – Supporters of Kimberly Ellis, who lost her bid to lead the California Democratic Party by a razor-thin margin last weekend, started sifting through boxes of ballots at the state party headquarters in Sacramento on Tuesday to see if there were any voting irregularities. LA Times article


Joel Fox: Dems aplenty running for gov. What about the Reps? – So many Democrats running for governor, you’ll soon near a scorecard to keep them straight. Is there room for a Republican in the governor’s race in Deep Blue California? Fox in Fox & Hounds



Tucked in Trump budget plan, a new push to punish sanctuary cities — President Trump proposed a dramatic expansion of the law at the center of the administration’s fight against sanctuary cities — changes that could enable the federal government to punish cities like San Francisco for shielding immigrants. San Francisco Chronicle article


Other areas


Burned by winter heating bills? California Senate proposal offers relief – A proposal to buffer Californians from unpredictable and sky-high energy costs to heat their homes in the winter is cruising through the state Legislature with bipartisan support, unanimously passing the state Senate this week. San Jose Mercury News article


Not so high anxiety: States move fast to protect pot industry – After an initial period of post-election anxiety, pot businesses are increasingly confident that states where they are setting up shop have their backs, despite Justice Department warnings meant to rattle marijuana enthusiasts. State leaders are proving themselves nimble at responding to the threat, moving to inoculate local marijuana industries that are fast becoming too important to state economies to leave vulnerable to the whims of Washington. LA Times article


Sacramento Bee: Here’s a better way to vote — Sacramento County supervisors should approve a new system that relies on voting by mail and at regional polling places. Sacramento Bee editorial


Punjabi Californians say voting materials needed in their own language — Understanding the information on a voting ballot can be tough even for English speakers. For many second language learners the voting process can be so intimidating that they don’t vote, in part because of the lack of materials in their own language. Now a group of Punjabi people in Fresno want to change that experience. Valley Public Radio report


Al Sharpton pushes state lawmakers to renew focus on police reforms – Rev. Al Sharpton met with California lawmakers on Tuesday and urged legislators to pick up their effort on police reforms, which civil rights leaders say have slipped this session. KQED report


Tempers flare as troubled California tax board weighs audit reforms – Tempers flared at a testy Tuesday meeting where elected members of a troubled state tax board began restricting their own powers while they braced for changes that may be forced on them by the governor and Legislature. Sacramento Bee article


Presidential Politics


What Californians are saying about Trump’s budget plan — Here are some responses to President Donald J. Trump’s proposed budget. Sacramento Bee article


Sessions’ first proposed budget: A crackdown on immigration and violent crime – In the first budget proposal under President Trump and Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department is seeking hundreds of millions in new funding to pay for an immigration crackdown on the border and a surge in resources to fight violent crime. LA Times article


Here’s why U.S. intel agencies homed in on the Trump campaign over its Russia ties — There was enough intelligence tying members of President Donald Trump’s election campaign to Russian intelligence officers to worry former CIA Director John Brennan before he left office in January, Brennan told Congress on Tuesday. McClatchy Newspapers article; New York Times article; Washington Post article; LA Times article


Senate Republicans face mounting pressure as blame for healthcare turmoil shifts to Trump – Senate Republicans face increasing pressure to rescue health insurance markets and protect coverage for millions of Americans amid growing fears the Trump administration is going let the markets collapse. LA Times article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories


California to pay about $1.3 billion for Medicaid expansion in first year of state contributions – California will contribute about $1.3 billion to its Medi-Cal expansion this year, a new expenditure that will further strain an already burdened health care budget. This year marks the first time states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act will have to pitch in to help fund their expansion of the program. Sacramento Bee article


More cops will be hired in Fresno if mayor gets his way – Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said 21 additional police officers will be hired under his first proposed city budget, restoring cop slots lost in the recession. Brand also wants the city to expand its ShotSpotter system from six square miles to nine. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article


Jobs and the Economy


Olsen withholds support for access center for homeless in downtown Modesto — Stanislaus County Supervisor Kristin Olsen did not support an initial access center for the homeless in downtown Modesto. She expressed concerns it could create a hangout rather than getting people off the streets. Olsen said Tuesday morning she would not support the center, at 825 12th Street, unless it was tabled for a week for more consideration. Modesto Bee article


Fresno County sends back millions in unspent funds intended for child care – Finding enough money to pay for child care is a struggle for many Central Valley families. But last year despite the region’s high poverty rate, Fresno County returned $10 million in unspent money to the state that was earmarked for child care for low-income families. Valley Public Radio report


Divided board hires new criminal law firm. How will it affect cases in Merced? – A divided Merced County Board of Supervisors awarded a $9.4 million legal services contract to a Madera law firm on Tuesday, over the protests of numerous Merced-area attorneys who warned that changing defense firms could throw dozens of cases into limbo. Merced Sun-Star article


Michael Fitzgerald: Tubbs eyes ‘panhandler van’ – Mayor Michael Tubbs recently broached the idea of a city “panhandler van” which offers panhandlers work. An idea Tubbs said was pioneered in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A driver offers panhandlers a job cleaning the city. When takers fill the van, a nonprofit quickly fills out insurance and other forms. Then, off to the jobsite for a paid day’s work. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record


Audit: Kern County Fire Department to be investigated over union objection — Kern County supervisors launched an operational investigation into the structure and funding of the Kern County Fire Department Tuesday. And the leaders of the Kern County Firefighters union weren’t happy. They said the fire union is being singled out. Bakersfield Californian article


Caltrans introduces program for jobless veterans in Kern County — Caltrans is offering jobless Kern County veterans a new opportunity for employment. And although the California Department of Transportation program is all about road cleanup, the potential for advancement is real. Bakersfield Californian article


Downtown Stockton farmers market closes – The Friday farmers market has been a staple in downtown for almost two decades, but dwindling sales of seasonal fruits and vegetables have prompted the organizer to nix the event this year. This is the first season since the Friday market started in 1990 that it has been canceled, said Carlos Dutra of the San Joaquin Certified Farmers’ Market. Stockton Record article


Mexican restaurant in Tower has closed.  Here’s why – Castillo’s Mexican Food in the Tower District has closed, a sign with a hand-drawn broken heart posted in its window thanking customers for their patronage. One of the owners blames a drop in business on crime, saying many of their customers from northwest Fresno said they were afraid to come to the area. Fresno Bee article


Uber will reimburse drivers, but it may not be enough – The ride-hailing company acknowledged taking tens of millions in excess commissions. A lawsuit alleges it took improper tax deductions that are costing drivers even more. New York Times article


LA County median home price ties record high as housing market sizzles — The median home price in Los Angeles County rose nearly 6% in April from a year earlier, hitting $550,000 and tying a record reached in summer 2007. LA Times article




To relax demand on groundwater, Modesto Irrigation District sells river water to neighbors – Selling Tuolumne River water to growers just outside borders of the Modesto Irrigation District for $60 an acre-foot should cover the district’s costs while remaining low enough to attract buyers, the MID board agreed Tuesday. Modesto Bee article


Modesto approves outdoor watering three times a week – Modesto residents will be able to water their lawns three times a week for the first time in two years. The City Council on Tuesday night approved increasing outdoor watering from two days to three days a week from June through October. Modesto has limited outdoor watering to once or twice a week depending on the time of year since May 2015. Modesto Bee article


How do Lodi wines stack up against the best in the world? – For wine grape diversity and winemaking talent, Lodi is pretty hard to beat. Thanks to growers and winemakers embracing all that this region has to offer, Lodi is the most diverse wine growing region in the state. Though Zinfandel still is king, some 100 other wine grape varieties are planted on a total of more than 100,000 acres in the Lodi American Viticultural Area, with its Mediterranean climate and sandy loam soils. But how do Lodi’s wines stack up against the best wines in the world? The answer is: quite favorably. Stockton Record article


Criminal Justice/Prisons


Keith Foster found guilty of conspiracy to distribute heroin, marijuana – Keith Foster, who swore to uphold the law as a deputy chief of the Fresno Police Department but ended up tarnishing his badge to commit crimes, was found guilty Tuesday of federal drug-trafficking charges. Foster, 53, kept his lips shut tight while looking despondently at his supporters when the verdict was announced in U.S. District Court in Fresno. Family members openly cried in the court. Fresno Bee article


What you should know about Sacramento police body cameras – The Sacramento Police Department has been rolling out body cameras for police officers over the past few months, and it expects to place them on all patrol officers by this fall. Right now, you can find the square-box cameras on officers who don’t have access to in-car cameras, including bike patrols, horse-mounted officers and motorcycle cops. But as the cameras become more common, police want the public to know they’re being filmed, and what exactly those cameras are catching. Here are three facts to know. Sacramento Bee article


Merced County native, ex-Marine joins the District Attorney’s Office – A 29-year-old Los Banos native and for United States Marine has joined the Merced County District Attorney’s Office. Jeremy Toscano, who graduated in 2005 from Los Banos High School, was sworn in last week as the newest prosecutor to join the team led by District Attorney Larry Morse II. Merced Sun-Star article


‘Heaven … needed a hero,’ sheriff says at funeral for deputy killed in crash – Loved ones, local law enforcement colleagues and public-safety brothers and sisters from agencies near and far gathered to honor and lay to rest a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department deputy killed earlier this month. Modesto Bee article; Stockton Record article


Motion calls San Joaquin County DA’s office biased – A motion was filed today in San Joaquin County Superior Court seeking to remove the District Attorney’s Office from prosecuting six defendants charged in connection with protest demonstrations following the March 7 Stockton City Council meeting. Stockton Record article


Pam Singh selected as Kern County Public Defender – The Board of Supervisors announced Tuesday it has appointed Pam Singh as the county’s next public defender.  Singh replaces Konrad Moore, who is retiring after 17 years of service and who has served as public defender since 2013. She takes office June 5. Bakersfield Californian article


LA Police Commission discusses guidelines for SWAT officers firing from helicopters before meeting ends in rancor – Weeks after Los Angeles police opened fire from a helicopter to end a five-hour standoff with an armed suspect in Sunland, police leaders discussed the guidelines for using such force during a contentious meeting of the city’s Police Commission on Tuesday. LA Times article




After raising tuition, Cal State trustees grapple with smaller budget increase in governor’s latest proposal — California State University’s Board of Trustees, which recently approved a controversial tuition hike, grappled Tuesday with Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal, which takes away some additional funding on the grounds that the rise in tuition will cost the state more in aid to low-income students. LA Times article


State senator to introduce constitutional amendment to limit UC’s 138-year-old autonomy — The University of California, under fire for controversial budget practices, would lose the autonomy it has enjoyed for 138 years under a state constitutional amendment proposed Tuesday. The amendment suggested by state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) would give the Legislature the power to directly fund the UC Office of the President, which is currently supported by campus fees. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article


7 things you need to know about how Trump’s budget would affect schools in California and nationwide – Here’s what you need to know about how the proposal would affect schools and students in California and nationwide. LA Times article


Public Policy Institute of California: The growth of Cal Grants — The Cal Grant program is the primary program for providing tuition assistance and financial aid to California’s college students. It has allowed California to maintain access to college for low-income students during a time of rapid tuition increases. The program has grown significantly since its inception in 1955 and now serves more than 300,000 students at an annual cost of around $2 billion. PPIC report


California would lose $400 million in federal K-12 education funding under Trump budget — Programs run by the U.S. Department of Education, which distributes funding for numerous programs to all states, would be cut by $9 billion under the Trump administration’s proposed federal budget for the fiscal year beginning in October. EdSource article


Frustrated with campus discourse limits, California Republicans take on ‘free speech zones’ – The growing number of lawsuits aimed at knocking down speech limits on campus — along with recent high-profile cancellations of controversial speakers such as Ann Coulter at UC Berkeley because of safety concerns — has sparked a raucous public debate over how the 1st Amendment is practiced at colleges and universities. And California legislators, particularly Republicans, have responded with proposals to hem in the ability of schools to regulate where and how students share their views. LA Times article


Nan Austin: Teachers want raises, but Trump cuts and little new money are coming – It’s a bad time for teachers counting on a raise. Modesto City Schools and the Modesto Teachers Association reached a stalemate on salary negotiations for 2016-17, making it likely teachers will be waving goodbye to their classes without a contract. Their 2015-16 contract, signed in February 2016, included a 6 percent phased-in raise. Austin in Modesto Bee


Los Banos school board split over charter school amid possible legal fight — Green Valley Charter School’s fight for survival has spilled over to the Los Banos Unified School District Board, which is split over whether the school should get a second hearing on its charter renewal. Los Banos Enterprise article


Cal Poly braces for protest as College Republicans plan to host ‘rape culture’ denier – A month after Cal Poly hosted a series of events as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Cal Poly College Republicans plan to host a speaker who once said, “There is no rape culture in the West.” San Luis Obispo Tribune article


Health/Human Services


Modern medicine saved these kids’ lives – now it’s failing them as adults – Becoming an adult is a challenging transition for anyone—but it can be especially hard for those with sever chronic diseases that, until recently, had been fatal. This is the story of one young adult undergoing some major life changes, and the doctors trying to pave a smoother path for people like her. Valley Public Radio report


Golden Valley post-graduate program brings more physicians to Merced — This week three family nurse practitioners started their full-time nursing positions at Golden Valley Health Centers, just days after they were the first group to graduate from the health center’s post-graduate program. Merced Sun-Star article


California’s stem cell agency confronts uncertain future – The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as the agency is formally known, expects to run out of cash for new awards in just three years, which is a blink of an eye in biotech research. Since the agency’s inception, it has spent money at the rate of $22,000 an hour. But it has yet to finance a stem cell therapy that is available to the general public. Nonetheless, there is talk of a new, $5 billion stem cell bond measure on the November 2018 ballot. Capitol Weekly article


Diane Carbray: This Boys & Girls Club started with a sketch on a napkin – The president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Fresno County writes, “Sometimes a dream begins with a sketch doodled on a napkin. Someone motivates and inspires you to do something that is larger than your reference box of familiarity. That is what happened in Huron. A group of west side producers and farmers – complete with their army of suppliers, vendors, and packing houses – have kept the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County rural club sites in Huron and Firebaugh in successful operation for the past six years.” Carbray op-ed in Fresno Bee


Land Use/Housing


Stanislaus County leaders approve Fruit Yard concert venue; neighbors claim loopholes exploited — Stanislaus County supervisors approved a much-disputed land use permit for a 3,500-person amphitheater at The Fruit Yard east of Modesto, despite claims the business has exploited loopholes in county law. Modesto Bee article


More warehouse space for Bronco Wine near Ceres? County board is cool with that — Bronco Wine Co. won approval Tuesday to expand warehouse and office space at its headquarters south of Ceres. The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 for a rezoning that will ease the way for improvements at the Keyes Road site. Modesto Bee article


Can Sacramento city and county do a better job with affordable housing? — As homelessness and rents are on the rise, the local agency that builds and maintains low-income housing is facing questions about its existence. Sacramento Bee article




Visalia beats Trump’s proposed airport cuts – A new presidential budget proposal may mean the end of federal funding for small, rural airports. For some cities, it may force them to abandon their terminals, runways and hangars. Visalia, though, is ahead of the game. While Visalia was among just four airports in the state to receive federal money through the Essential Air Services program, they opted out last year and took a $3.7 million payout, which was awarded this year. Visalia Times-Delta article


Landslide on California highway part of $1 billion in damage – A massive landslide that went into the Pacific Ocean is the latest natural disaster to hit a California community that relies heavily on an iconic coastal highway and tourism to survive, and it adds to a record $1 billion in highway damage from one of the state’s wettest winters in decades. AP article


Other areas


Lois Henry: Bakersfield Fire Department to use aerial drones in fight against illegal fireworks this July 4th – Fair warning to all of you planning to shoot off illegal fireworks this 4th of July: L.O.I.S. will be watching. Not just one L.O.I.S., but two (L.O.I.S.i?) The Bakersfield City Fire Department, clever folks that they are, nicknamed two drones “Low Orbiting Incident Satellites,” or L.O.I.S. for short, as a nod to the work I have done to bring awareness to the massive fireworks problem we have in this city and county. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian


Heading to Modesto’s Tenth Street Place? New security measures await residents – It could take members of the public a little longer to enter Tenth Street Place — the city-county administration center in downtown Modesto — to pay a utility or tax bill, attend a City Council or Board of Supervisors meeting, or conduct other business. Modesto Bee article


Tanker-truck driver killed in Atwater crash that sprayed out ‘an ocean of fire’ — A tanker truck loaded with thousands of gallons of fuel raced off Highway 99 in Atwater on Tuesday morning, overturned and burst into flames, spraying waves of fire at least 25 feet wide. The driver of the 2008 Peterbilt truck never made out. His body was found inside the burned out truck cab. His name was not released Tuesday. Merced Sun-Star article


Modesto Councilman Ridenour recovering after heart surgery – Modesto Councilman Doug Ridenour has undergone surgery to repair a heart valve, is recuperating at home, and is expected to make a complete recovery, according to Councilman Mani Grewal. Modesto Bee article


Jeff Jardine: Cold, wet realities of floating on overflowing, brushy Stanislaus River – Each of the past several years, Paul Adams and his friends got together twice – on the first and last weekends of summer – for a relaxing party disguised as a float trip down the Stanislaus River through Riverbank. It became popular enough to draw about 100 people. For the five years of the drought, water levels were low in the Stanislaus and the water was warmer as a result. No problems. But Adams and friend Walter Woodland got a big shock when they assembled their Facebook page for this year’s trips. It suddenly went viral: 2,200 indicating they will attend and 15,000 who say they are interested. Jardine column in Modesto Bee


On second try, new group gets go-ahead to host Hmong New Year – A new group will be taking over the Hmong New Year Celebration after all. The Big Fresno Fair board of directors has selected Hmong Cultural New Year Celebration, Inc. to organize this year’s Hmong New Year Festival at the fairgrounds in December. Fresno Bee article


Lemoore looking to start Bigs in Blue program — Last week at the Lemoore City Council meeting, the council approved a financial contribution to support the Big Brothers Big Sister’s Bigs in Blue program. Central Valley Executive Director Diane Phakonekham said the Bigs in Blue program started in the Valley about three years ago in Madera where there was a problem with kids getting into trouble and the schools and Madera Probation Department realized they needed to do something. Hanford Sentinel article


Drinks at the pet spa? Sacramento doggy day care applies for alcohol license – Maybe training Rover to fetch a beer didn’t work out – but soon you might be able to fetch one yourself while your dog enjoys a swim at a pet resort in Sacramento. Sacramento Bee article


Valley Editorial Roundup


Modesto Bee – It’s graduation season; and this year more California State University students are beginning and finishing their degrees more quickly.


Sacramento Bee –- Sacramento County supervisors should approve a new system that relies on voting by mail and at regional polling places; President Trump meets Pope Francis while Trump’s proposed budget punishes the poor, particularly in California. Voters should let Congress know they won’t stand for it.