May 25, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories


Lawmakers may wait on Gov. Brown’s ambitious pension plan – one he wants now — As Sacramento kicks off its yearly scramble to pass a state budget, lawmakers have yet to agree whether one controversial provision will make the cut: an untested $6 billion scheme that the governor says could save the state billions more but that some analysts warn has received too little scrutiny. CALmatters article


What Trump food stamp cuts mean for California — The 40-year-old is among the 4.4 million Californians who rely on CalFresh, the state’s version of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to purchase food and beverages. Those families are now bracing for deep cuts to the decades-old federal program, popularly known as “food stamps,” as it faces a $193 billion – or 25 percent – chop over 10 years under President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budgetSacramento Bee article


State budget


Joel Fox: End run around spending limit likely headed for the courts – The state’s nearly 40-year-old spending limit law is on the fast track to a date in court. While the state senate budget committee yesterday agreed  with the governor’s framework for the budget, which excludes $22 billion from the spending limit, a number of lawyers have concerns or outright disagree. Fox in Fox & Hounds


Gov. Brown


Jerry Brown on Trump and the Pope: ‘Don’t underestimate the power of the Holy Father’ – On Wednesday, after Trump met with Francis at the Vatican and Brown prepared to retake the world stage on climate with a trip to China, the Democratic governor expressed faith in the Bishop of Rome’s ability to convert the wealthy former developer of Manhattan skyscrapers. Sacramento Bee article; KQED report


Valley politics


The Russian investigation thrust Devin Nunes into the spotlight.  Now that he’s the one under scrutiny, what has he been up to? — Not so long ago Nunes was tailed by packs of information-hungry reporters, but since he was forced to hand over the investigation, the Washington political world has moved on. The bigger question is what will happen with the probe into whether he leaked classified information to defend President Trump. LA Times article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures


Xavier Becerra: Golden State Warrior? — State Attorney General Xavier Becerra is leading California’s increasingly tense challenge to the policies of Donald Trump’s administration. It’s a role that gives him high visibility — and headaches. Capitol Weekly article


Other areas


George Skelton: Single-payer healthcare in California? Time to take a cold shower and return to the real world – A state-run universal healthcare system? California only? It’s fantasy. Current legislation in Sacramento is fatally flawed and foolhardy. Why? It would be astronomically expensive, politically impossible and beyond state government’s competence. Skelton column in LA Times


CBO: New Republican health bill would leave 23 million more uninsured by 2026 – The revised House Republican bill to replace Obamacare would leave 23 million people without health insurance by 2026 and 14 million uninsured in its first year, according to a new analysis released Wednesday by the Congressional Budget Office. McClatchy Newspapers article; Sacramento Bee editorial; AP article; New York Times article; LA Times article


What’s your California lawmaker say on CBO score on GOP health bill? – After the Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday released its long-awaited score on the Republican health care plan that passed the House of Representatives on May 4, KQED gathered reaction from California’s congressional caucus on the analysis. KQED report


What health insurance does your California representative have? — As Congress continues to battle over the future of health care in America and, by extension, the fate of millions of Californians who currently receive coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we found ourselves asking a simple question: Where do California’s lawmakers get their health insurance? KQED report


New health plan threatens access for thousands in San Joaquin County —  Should the American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month become law as it now stands, tens of thousands of residents of San Joaquin County could lose their health care coverage. Stockton Record article


State Sen. Tom Berryhill: New gas tax leaves affordable California in the rear-view – The Valley Republican writes, “As so many of us embark on our Memorial Day plans, we should remember that next year’s travel will be much more expensive.” Berryhill op-ed in Merced Sun-Star


Trump lawyers ask Supreme Court to reject 2nd Amendment claim by men who lost their guns over nonviolent crimes — Trump administration lawyers are urging the Supreme Court to reject a 2nd Amendment claim that would restore the right to own a gun for two Pennsylvania men who were convicted more than 20 years ago of nonviolent crimes. LA Times article


State Democrats have new leverage in effort to curb greenhouse gases — When Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown launched California toward a new goal of reducing greenhouse gases last year, they did so without addressing one of the state’s key mechanisms for reaching the goal: the cap-and-trade program. KQED report


Presidential Politics


Top Russian officials discussed how to influence Trump aides last summer — American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers, according to three current and former American officials familiar with the intelligence. New York Times article


Trump official in charge of food stamps departs from Trump’s plan to gut the program – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is departing from the president’s plan to overhaul U.S. food aid, reaffirming on Wednesday that he still does not believe the food stamp system is “broken” or requires fundamental change. Washington Post article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories


Grimmway Farms to lay off 384 employees — A little more than 380 Grimmway Farms employees will be laid off on July 28, the largest grower and shipper of carrots in the world announced Tuesday. Grimmway Farms said in several letters to the Kern County Board of Supervisors that it plans to close the facility along Edison Highway and lay off 331 employees at the facilities at Arvin and Bakersfield, along Mountain View Road. Bakersfield Californian article


Feds tour Stockton to help spur economic growth – Representatives from several federal agencies toured south Stockton and downtown Wednesday with Mayor Michael Tubbs and local activists in an effort to show progress, and further need, in areas long beset by violent crime, drug use, blight, poverty, unemployment, poor nutrition and low educational attainment. Stockton Record article


Jobs and the Economy


California’s climate program has struggled.  Why the billion-dollar rebound? — California’s market-based program for fighting climate change had struggled badly over the past year. On Wednesday, it bounced back sharply. Industrial companies spent more than $1 billion in the latest state-run auction of carbon-pollution credits, state officials announced Wednesday. More than 90 percent of the available credits sold out, according to data released by the California Air Resources Board. Sacramento Bee article


Cannabis facility seeks Hanford home – To see the potential future of Hanford’s struggling industrial business park, you need to travel a couple hundred miles north to a big industrial building in a tough-looking part of San Jose. The sign says “Caliva.” There’s a big green cross on it. Hanford Sentinel article


OPEC, fighting market forces, extends production cuts — Although the production cuts had bolstered prices, major industry trends already underway could mute their impact. New York Times article


Boom time again for U.S. oil industry, thanks to OPEC –Oil producers across the country are watching to see what OPEC does at its meeting in Vienna this week, since the cartel of oil-exporting countries has recently played a big role in turning around a two-year U.S. slump. NPR report


Freeway ramp closures will hit Atwater business revenue, city sales tax – At least four businesses remained closed Wednesday on Bell Lane in Atwater after a gas tanker overturned and burst into flames Tuesday, killing the driver and scorching nearby businesses. Merced Sun-Star article


Hungry? UberEATS to deliver food from more than 80 restaurants in the Fresno areaUberEATS has officially launched in the Fresno area with more than 80 participating restaurants. What’s that mean for you? It means you can sit on your couch or in your office and use an app to order some of your favorite dishes from double pepperoni pizza to kamikaze fries. And all of it delivered straight to your door anytime: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even late-night. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article


Thirsty? Local movie theaters will sell booze in time for summer blockbusters — Those looking for a little liquid courage during a first date or a frosty adult beverage to beat the heat will soon be in luck, as several Fresno-area movie theaters are close to finalizing their plans to sell beer and wineFresno Bee article


Homeless ‘war zone’: Oakland officials under fire to solve crisis – As the camps have increased, so have tensions with nearby neighbors who have been bombarding Oakland and county officials with complaints about garbage, sewage, violence, aggressive panhandling and other concerns. East Bay Times article


San Francisco mayor ups money for homeless ass new Navigation Center opens – A long-anticipated Navigation Center opens Wednesday in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, one in a string of projects that Mayor Ed Lee is rolling out as he pushes for big investments to solve the homeless crisis. The mayor’s 2017-18 budget raises funding for the city’s shelters from $25.9 million to $37.2 million — a 44 percent increase if the Board of Supervisors approves it this summer. San Francisco Chronicle article


Sukhi Sandhu: Banks want higher swipe fees; it will cost you, me more – The owner and operator of six 7-Eleven stores and several other convenience and liquor stores in Modesto, Manteca and Stockton writes, “Debit card swipe-fee reform puts real savings back in the hands of retailers and consumers. We must protect it.” Sandhu op-ed in Modesto Bee


New Salvation Army program gives former homeless, addicts a chance to get a job – Formerly homeless people will graduate Thursday in Sacramento from The Salvation Army Del Oro divison’s first culinary class. The program teaches food fundamentals, cooking, presentation and kitchen management.  Sacramento Bee article


Some ‘likely being priced out’ of tight housing market in Sacramento County – Low inventory and relatively strong buyer demand for those homes that are available pushed Sacramento County home prices higher in April. Wednesday’s report by Irvine-based real estate market tracker CoreLogic said the median sales price among countywide sales of all dwellings –including new and resale houses and condominiums – in April was $317,000, up from $311,000 in March and a 7.5 increase from $295,000 in April 2016. Sacramento Bee article


Nearly 1 in 4 San Franciscans struggle with hunger – According to the SF-Marin Food Bank, 23 percent of San Francisco residents struggle with hunger. The number is a striking amount, and much higher than the city’s homeless population, which the city said was 6,886 in 2015 (though others estimate it to be much higher), making it less than 1 percent of the population. San Francisco Chronicle article


Bay Area home pries reach record highs, but sales tumble – Bay Area home prices jumped to record highs in April, but sales plunged compared to the same month a year ago, according to a report Wednesday on the region’s housing market. For the first time ever, median prices for a previously owned single-family home in the Bay Area climbed to $800,000 — an all-time high — and eclipsed the prior record of $752,000 set in June 2016, the CoreLogic real estate information service stated in the report. San Jose Mercury News article




U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Water-extraction project would be destructive to California’s Mojave Desert – The California Democrat writes, “Cadiz is the biggest threat facing our magnificent desert. We cannot let this company use the Trump administration and powerful Washington insiders to rob us of our public lands. I will keep fighting because I’m determined to protect this unique place. I ask anyone outraged by this Republican overreach to join the fight.” Feinstein op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Oroville Dam update: Reconstruction begins. Will it be different this time? — The reconstruction of Oroville Dam’s flood-control spillways is under way, and California officials vow the structures will become stronger and safer than ever. Sacramento Bee article


In strawberry lawsuit, jury sides with UC Davis over former professor –Jurors have sided with a California research university in its dispute with a renowned plant scientist credited with developing tasty strawberries as a professor there. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article


Lemon lawsuit headed by California farmers – The California lemon industry is not happy with the new Argentine lemon rule and is taking action in a lawsuit against the USDA. The lawsuit, filed by U.S. Citrus Science Council in the Federal District Court in Fresno, comes a month after President Donald Trump’s Executive Order — Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America. Visalia Times-Delta article


Jeff Jardine: Duarte hopes Trump’s order with ease harrowing experience against feds in court — When President Trump signed an executive order in February to review President Obama’s “Waters of the United States” rule, Hughson farmer John Duarte finally felt like the government’s case against him could be, well, plowed under. Jardine column in Modesto Bee


Criminal Justice/Prisons


Bill McEwen: Foster keeps his $93,000 annual police pension despite his drug-dealing conviction — It’s bad enough that Keith Foster shamed his badge and reneged on his sworn promise to uphold the law by dealing heroin and marijuana while receiving nearly $15,000 a month from taxpayers to be Fresno’s deputy police chief. Even worse, Foster will keep the $93,000-plus annual pension he started drawing after his March 26, 2015, arrest by federal agents and subsequent resignation from the Fresno Police Department. McEwen in Fresno Bee


Laughter, tears and a lot of Atlanta Falcons red as community service officer laid to rest — Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Lt. Tori Hughes ended her eulogy for Community Service Officer Raschel Johnson by asking for a favor from the hundreds in attendance: Take out your cell phone, take a selfie and post it on social media. Modesto Bee article


8 California guards, 7 inmates sent to hospital after attack –Officials say eight California prison guards and seven inmates were taken to hospitals after a fight between two inmates quickly raged out of control. Correctional officers fired 19 bullets from semi-automatic rifles and three hard foam rounds to break up Wednesday’s melee at Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border. AP article




See which college degrees lead to well-paying jobs – Hundreds of thousands of California college students will graduate this month, many hoping their degree translates into a well-paying job. They have reason to be optimistic: Earnings for college graduates age 35 and younger in any discipline tend to be much higher than earnings for those in the same age group without a college degree. Sacramento Bee article


Public Policy Institute of California: Educational progress stalls in California –s California’s younger generation keeping up with other countries? Unfortunately, generational progress in college completion has nearly stalled in California. Although more California high schoolers are completing their diploma today than 30 years ago, the share that subsequently earns a bachelor’s degree has not changed much: 33% of those age 25–34 in California today have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 31% of those age 55–64. Other countries have made much stronger progress. Public Policy Institute of California report


Breitbart, but no Huffington Post? Fresno students want more access to news –Edison High School students Richard McCoy and Duncan Wanless were doing research for a school project on campus when they realized the Huffington Post was blocked. So they started testing out access to other online news sites to see what the Fresno Unified school district’s internet bans from students. They discovered that other left-leaning sites like Jezebel and Daily Kos were also blocked, but that politically conservative websites like BreitbartDrudge Report and Infowars were allowed. Fresno Bee article


Bakersfield City School District Trustee Raymond Gonzales resigns, citing health issues — Bakersfield City School District Trustee Raymond Gonzales, an educator who has devoted his life to public service, announced his resignation from the board Tuesday over health issues. Gonzales, 78, who ran unchallenged in November, has been battling kidney failure since January and has missed three board meetings in four months. Bakersfield Californian article


Local NAACP alleges Emerson Middle School Principal Kempton Coman was unfairly demoted, but provides little proof — After working for 13 years as the principal of Emerson Middle School, Kempton Coman was demoted to a classroom teacher last month – a move that has drawn ire from some, and the attention of the local NAACP, which alleges the veteran administrator was unfairly targeted by his bosses. Bakersfield Californian article


California’s next election will be tug-of-war on education – The future of public education in California has become a tug-of-war between different camps within the Democratic Party. Democrats aligned with organized labor – who dominated local and legislative races for many years – are now facing formidable challenges from Democrats who see overhauling some union rules as a key to improving education. CALmatters article


When colleges dangle money to lure students who ignored them — In the minds of parents and teenagers going through the college application process, May 1 is a magic date. At that point, you’ve sent in a deposit, bought a sticker for your car window and posted your choice on social media. This year, however, scores of teenagers had something unexpected happen next: During the first week in May, they received text messages or emails from schools that had accepted them but had not heard back. The messages all hinted at a particular question: Might a larger discount prompt you to come here after all? New York Times article


Search begins for new San Diego State president as trustees announce salary for interim leader –California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White has appointed Sally Roush the new interim president of San Diego State, marking the first time that women outnumber men as campus presidents in the nation’s largest public university system. LA Times article


Election aftermath: Don’t expect to see big increases in LA charter schools — Despite a successful push by charter school advocates to win a majority of seats on the Los Angeles Unified school board, it’s is unlikely that there will be a major expansion of charter schools in the state’s largest school district within the foreseeable future. EdSource article


Stanford MBA students learn of inequality in Stockton – Dozens of Stanford University MBA students spent Wednesday meeting with several San Joaquin County organizations to discuss issues and opportunities that face Stockton from health to education. Stockton Record article




Hoping to climb Yosemite’s Half Dome? You’ll have to wait until June, thanks to lingering snow — Hikers hoping to scale Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome will have to wait until June instead of summiting over Memorial Day weekend. Park officials have delayed installing the Half Dome cables until at least June 2 because of the heavy snowpack and other hazardous conditions on the trail. The cables were originally slated for installment Friday. LA Times article


Electric cars aren’t just a big-city thing.  That’s what put a charge into this rural project – Thirteen free-to-use charging stations for electric vehicles have opened in Fresno County’s rural cities. Every incorporated city in the county now has a place to charge a car. The latest launch didn’t happen in Fresno or Clovis, both of which already have charging sites. Fresno Bee article


You won’t be able to cool off this spring in the Kings River – Sheriff Margaret Mims Wednesday ordered the Fresno County portion of the Kings River closed for the Memorial Day weekend and indefinitely after that because of surging, ice cold water roaring out of Pine Flat Dam at the rate of 449 gallons per minute. Fresno Bee article


The Big One is going to happen, no matter how much you want to deny it, California scientists say — Denial may getting a bit harder these days. Over the last several years, a few California cities have taken dramatic steps to require retrofits of thousands of vulnerable buildings. And next year, scientists and the U.S. Geological Survey are expected to unveil the first limited public phase of an earthquake early-warning system that would eventually offer seconds and perhaps more than a minute of warning through smartphones and computers. LA Times article


Health/Human Services


Carmen George: How do they help sick babies get well? With lots and lots of cuddling – Kerry Abbott kisses the top of baby Grant Early’s head and then freezes, apologetic. Her job is just to hold babies at Valley Children’s Hospital, but Grant’s adorableness is pushing her nurturing instinct into overdrive. George in Fresno Bee


One Fresno hospital rates worse than average for heart bypass surgery deaths – Community Regional Medical Center was one of two hospitals in California with a death rate from heart bypass surgery that was worse than average, according to a state report released this week. Fresno Bee article


Land Use/Housing


Bakersfield City Council denies permit for rooming house as residents shed tears – The Bakersfield City Council — following a rare tie-breaking vote from Mayor Karen Goh — voted Wednesday night to deny a permit for a six-person rooming house for people with mental health issues. Bakersfield Californian article


Former Assemblyman Bill Berryhill chosen for LAFCO seat – Stanislaus LAFCO members resolved a political conflict between city and county interests by appointing former state Assemblyman Bill Berryhill to represent the public on their panel.  Modesto Bee article


Fresno has improved its parks services. But is it good enough? — Fresno might be far from having one of the best park systems in the country. But it no longer has the worst. The city is improving on its park services, according to The Trust for Public Land’s 6th annual ParkScore@ index, which was released Tuesday by the nonprofit organization. Fresno Bee article


City of Trees falls out of top 20 in U.S. park rankings –The City of Trees just took a (slight) pruning. Sacramento slips four spots in the Trust for Public Land’s 2017 rankings of park systems in the nation’s top 100 cities. The city now ranks 21st, tied with Milwaukee and Omaha. Sacramento Bee article




What does Trump’s budget mean for Sacramento’s planned streetcar line — Sacramento and a handful of cities across the country want federal funding to help build streetcar lines. President Trump is not on board. In his budget proposal this week, the president said he wants to eliminate federal matching funds for any streetcar project that does not have a signed agreement with the Federal Transit Administration. Sacramento Bee article


TSA is taking a closer look at LAX passengers’ electronic devices –The Transportation Security Administration has been quietly testing a new screening procedure that more closely examines electronic devices in carry-on bags at LAX and nine other airports. LA Times article


Sequoia Shuttle kicks off 2017 season – The Sequoia Shuttle kicks off its 2017 season seeking to match or exceed ridership gains posted over the last few years. In 2016, the shuttle, which provides service from the Visalia, Exeter, Lemon Cove and Three Rivers to Sequoia National Park, had the highest daily average in its 10 years of service. Visalia Times-Delta article


‘It’s been chaos’: Sacramento airport network outage resolved after frustrating morning — A widespread network outage at Sacramento International Airport delayed more than a dozen flights Wednesday morning. Computer problems persisted through most of the morning at Terminal A, but at 10:15 a.m. airport officials said that network issues were resolved. Still, passengers were advised that some flights might be delayed up to 30 minutes until early afternoon. Sacramento Bee article


Other areas


Univision founder and Fresno native Jerry Perenchio loses battle with cancer — Jerrold “Jerry” Perenchio, billionaire, founder of Univision and Fresno native, has died. Mr. Perenchio died at his home on Tuesday after a battle with cancer. He was 86. Fresno Bee article; LA Times article


Gustine police chief named city manager – The police chief of the Gustine Police Department was appointed as the city manager of Gustine in an unanimous vote by council members on Wednesday night. Chief Doug Dunford will hold both positions “for a period of time,” according to Melanie Correa, deputy clerk for the city of Gustine. Merced Sun-Star article


He knows his news – Gabriel Porras is 15 years old. He is a freshman at Lincoln High School. And he is a working journalist. Porras has started an online news service, which he calls SCW News (Stockton Community Web News). No, he doesn’t merely repackage what everyone else is saying on social media. Porras actually seeks out and gathers news. Stockton Record article


Need a drinking straw? In Davis, you may soon have to ask for one — Davis diners may soon find they’ll have to request a plastic straw to come with their drink. A proposed ordinance would require that servers at dine-in restaurants ask customers if they want a straw for their drink, rather than automatically offering one. Sacramento Bee article


Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – President Trump’s proposed budget punishes the poor, and it includes a $2 trillion accounting error. Voters should let Congress know they won’t stand for it.


Sacramento Bee –- Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s suggestions for the city’s $20 million budget surplus strike a reasonable balance between meeting pent-up needs while saving toward long-term costs; Republicans’ American Health Care Act would strip 23 million Americans of health insurance, raise premiums for sick people, and cut taxes for the rich.