May 26, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories


Dan Walters: Brown right, anti-tax motorists are freeloaders — Roadways should be maintained with taxes and fees on those who use them. The user-pays principle is long established and fair, and deviating from it, as we have done by floating bond issues repaid from general revenues, is bad public policy. Anyone who drives this Memorial Day weekend and doesn’t want to pay to maintain roads is, as Brown says, a freeloader. Walters column in Sacramento Bee


Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget team drops its hotly debated plans to redefine the state’s spending limit — With questions mounting about the legal justification for omitting some $22 billion in expenses from California’s long-standing spending cap, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration dropped the plan Thursday while promising to work on the issue again later this year. LA Times article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures


Senate President Kevin de Leon is busy raising campaign funds – but for what office? — California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Léon (D-Los Angeles) stirred up speculation about a possible run for governor or U.S. Senate when he released a slickly produced video just before the California Democratic Party’s convention last weekend, but he has remained coy about his future political plans. LA Times article



Federal appeals court upholds block of Trump travel ban – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Thursday upheld a nationwide preliminary injunction on President Donald Trump’s travel ban, continuing to block it from taking effectMcClatchy Newspapers article; New York Times article; LA Times article; ‘Read the 4th Circuit’s decision to uphold the block on Trump’s travel ban’ in LA Times


Trump promised a ‘big beautiful door’ in his border wall. California farmers are ready and waiting — More than 11,000 foreign guest workers like Betancourt were approved last year to harvest the lettuce, fruit and vegetables for California’s $47-billion agricultural industry — a fivefold increase from 2011, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of U.S. Labor Department data. If this year’s hiring pace holds, that number will soar even higher. LA Times article


Sacramento Bee: This latest dust-up is why California can’t trust Trump on immigration – California isn’t a sanctuary state yet. But the Trump administration is giving the Legislature every reason to take that last step. Sacramento Bee editorial


California chief justice says she stands by her decision to speak out against Trump’s immigration actions — California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye on Thursday said she stands by her position that courthouses should be areas where immigration arrests should not occur. LA Times article


Federal agents nab nearly 200 people in LA-area immigration raids targeting criminals — Federal immigration agents arrested nearly 200 people in the Los Angeles area during a five-day dragnet targeting criminal offenders living in the country illegally, U.S. officials said Thursday. LA Times article


Refugee arrivals to Bay Area, U.S. are plunging under Trump — Refugee arrivals to the Bay Area and communities across the nation are plunging under the Trump administration, even as courts block the president’s effort to halt refugee resettlement, researchers said Thursday. San Francisco Chronicle article


Other areas


Where bills go to die: Lawmakers begin clearing the ‘suspense file’ with hundreds of measure in limbo — From a sales tax exemption on tampons to healthcare rules and marijuana regulation, a massive stack of proposed laws faces a major deadline Friday morning at the state Capitol. To survive, they must clear what’s known as the “suspense file” — the place where bills that would cost taxpayers money are held in legislative limbo. LA Times article


‘Suspense’ is over as powerful Senate panel decides fate of spending bills — The opaque biannual process ended with the death of proposals that would have given teachers tax breaks, renovated buildings at the University of California and Cal State and made it easier to pass local taxes to fund transportation. KQED report


No funding plan doesn’t stop lawmakers from moving health care bill along — A California Senate committee tasked with reviewing bills that spend state money passed a $400 billion universal health care proposal Thursday with no funding plan. Sacramento Bee article


California Senate, Assembly advance their own plans on how to spend tobacco tax revenue — Perhaps the biggest budget skirmish that remains unsolved this year is how California should spend revenue from the tobacco tax voters approved last fall. LA Times article


No one knows how many untested rape kits there are in California.  This bill aims to fix that – A bill by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) would help determine how many of those unanalyzed exam kits exist in California, part of a national backlog that federal officials have grappled with for nearly two decades. LA Times article


Lawmakers scrap effort to make it easier to pass local transportation taxes — An effort to boost the chances of local ballot measures raising taxes for transportation needs was quietly killed Thursday in the state Capitol. LA Times article


Sex offenders will not be banned without exception from school grounds after state bill is shelved — The state Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday shelved a bill that would have banned all registered sex offenders from school campuses without exception. LA Times article


Jenny McClellan: Congress: Please save ACA for James’ sake – The former Fresno police officer and mother of a disabled child writes, “I’m a parent of a disabled child, and I’m afraid for his future if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. Our son is a medical miracle, and there is no other time or place in history where a child with such serious physical disabilities could survive.” McClellan op-ed in Fresno Bee


Sacramento Bee: Adults have let these kids down. Now adults in the Legislature need to step up — Too often, legislators ignore foster kids. But abuses at Mary Graham Children’s Shelter near Stockton underscore their need for legal advocacy. Sacramento Bee editorial


Bill Whalen: California voters have specific ideas on where to spend gas tax money — A Hoover Institution Golden State Poll asked voters how they’d like to see their tax dollars paired with infrastructure repairs. Here are the winners. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee


Presidential Politics


Trump condemns ‘alleged leaks,’ after complaints from Britain — President Trump condemned “leaks of sensitive information,” responding on Thursday to a complaint by Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, over disclosures of details from the investigation into Britain’s deadliest terrorist attack since 2005New York Times article


Jared Kushner is now a key focus on Russia investigation – Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation. Washington Post article


Trump wants to drop funding for earthquake warning system, which probably would kill project – President Trump’s budget would eliminate federal funding for an earthquake early warning system being developed for California and the rest of the West Coast which, if enacted, probably would kill the long-planned effort. LA Times article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories


Grimmway expects minimal actual layoffs from reorganization — There will be layoffs from Grimmway Farms in late July, Joel Sherman, the carrot mega-grower’s director of safety, said Thursday. But only people who don’t accept transfers or shift changes will be pushed out of work as the company reorganizes itself to maintain its competitive edge, he said. Bakersfield Californian article


Convicted former cop keeps hefty pension, and council members say that’s not right — In the wake of the revelation that former Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster will keep his $93,000 annual pension despite being a convicted felon, a Fresno City Councilman Thursday said he wants to change pension rules for employees found guilty of crimes. Fresno Bee article


Jobs and the Economy


Count turns up 1,661 homeless in Stanislaus County, including 243 children — This year’s count of the homeless in Stanislaus County tallied 1,661 people, including 243 children. Volunteers conducted the count over two days in late January on behalf of the Stanislaus Housing & Support Services Collaborative, which consists of local governments, nonprofits and others that help the homeless.  The results were released last week. Nearly three-quarters — or 1,221 people — of the homeless were in Modesto. Modesto Bee article


Daniel Borenstein: Should felons keep public pensions? The California courts will decide — Cases involving two California fire captains who committed felonies provide first legal tests of controversial provision in Gov. Jerry Brown’s pension changes. Borenstein in East Bay Times


Derek Robinson: Supervisors shouldn’t just pick on county fire department – The president of Kern County Firefighters Local 1301 writes, “The residents of Kern County support the nearly 500 firefighters who serve local communities because of our commitment to put our lives on the line to save them. We only ask that our politicians start prioritizing public safety and give our firefighters the resources we need to get the job done.” Robinson op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


What’s going on at Fig Garden? Two more local stores leaving and they’re not happy — Two more locally owned stores are leaving Fig Garden Village, the latest of several recent changes at the shopping center. Moving out of the center at the end of the month are fashion jewelry store Viva La Vault and Top Drawer, which sells Vera Bradley handbags and stationery. Fresno Bee article


Homeless say San Jose dumps possessions; city calls it trash — The city says it’s still following standards set up five years ago, when officials — after being warned they risked legal challenges that could cost millions of dollars — agreed to hold on to the possessions of homeless people displaced during encampment sweeps for 90 days. Under those standards, property to be stored includes necessities such as tents, pots and pans, stoves, backpacks, books, photo albums and documents. The problem is there’s a caveat: any item that is “dirty or soiled,” “contaminated,” “hazardous,” “broken or disassembled” is immediately discarded. San Jose Mercury News article


Survey finds surge in homelessness in Oakland, Alameda County – A census of people living on the street confirms what people in Oakland see every day: The homeless crisis there has gotten worse. The biennial count of homelessness, released Thursday, turned up 25 percent more people without long-term shelter in Oakland than there were two years ago. San Francisco Chronicle article


Amazon tries something new – brick-and-mortar stores it helped put out of business — Retail spending in brick-and-mortar stores across the U.S. has seen a steady decline as more and more Americans order basic necessities like clothing, toiletries and groceries online. Online shopping behemoth Amazon has taken over much of this market share, successfully casting itself as the one-stop-online shop for nearly everything. But now Amazon is seemingly turning back the clock by opening its own physical stores.  McClatchy Newspapers article


Facebook’s latest ambition: becoming a hub for TV-style content — Now, Facebook is making its latest play for the lucrative business by teaming up with online news outlets such as BuzzFeed and Vox to deliver videos that will contain commercial breaks. LA Times article


See which Californians get the most out of mortgage interest tax break – The share of the mortgage interest deduction for wealthier taxpayers – those with state adjusted gross income of $200,000 to $500,000 – increased from less than 7 percent of the total claimed in 1995 to almost 20 percent in 2014. Sacramento Bee article


Judge’s widow to receive settlement from unemployment board in wrongful death lawsuit — The widow of a 74-year-old California unemployment judge who died of a heart attack after his supervisors changed his job description will receive a $10,000 settlement from a lawsuit she filed alleging workplace stress contributed to his deathSacramento Bee article




Sacramento Bee: California needs to stop letting farm-water suppliers ignore the law — Most of the water used by people goes to agriculture in California. Irrigation districts don’t obey laws requiring them to track it. That’s unacceptable. Sacramento Bee editorial


Westside San Franciscans are none too happy about new water mix — San Franciscans take pride in drinking pristine water from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which they treasure as among the purest in the nation. So a recent move by the Public Utilities Commission to introduce ground water gradually into the city’s drinking supply prompted anxiety and suspicion. San Francisco Chronicle article


Buckman-Mitchell tops in ag insurance, according to trade mag — Visalia-based Buckman-Mitchell Insurance has been named by “Insurance Business America” magazine as one of the nation’s top specialty brokers of 2017. Specifically, the company was recognized as the best in the agribusiness category for its work selling agricultural insurance, noting that Buckman-Mitchell “found a competitive edge in today’s rapidly changing marketplace,” according to a press release from the business. The Business Journal article


Criminal Justice/Prisons


No one will give this sexual predator a home. One option offers a fresh set of problems — A Superior Court judge learned Thursday that no one has come forward to rent a home to Fresno sexual violent predator Jeffrey Snyder ever since his last potential residence was destroyed by fire five months ago in Squaw Valley. Because it’s been difficult to find Snyder a home, defense lawyer Curtis Sok suggested for the first time in Fresno County Superior Court that Snyder could be housed temporarily in a motel until a permanent residence can be found for him. Fresno Bee article


Killings leave Lemoore on edge — Three stabbing incidents. Two people killed, one of them a 16-year-old. All in a two-week span. People who’ve spent their whole life in Lemoore say they can’t remember anything like this. Hanford Sentinel article


Jury awards $130,000 to inmate who alleged officers at Kern Valley State Prison had him beaten — A federal jury found in favor of a Kern Valley State Prison inmate who alleged correctional officers arranged for other inmates to assault him. The jury awarded Kevin D. Bryant a total of $130,000, including $15,000 each against the two officers he said set up the beating, court records show. Bakersfield Californian article


Tehachapi police shoot man during chase — Tehachapi police shot a man during a chase Wednesday evening. The man was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he is being treated for two gunshot wounds, police said. Bakersfield Californian article


Folsom’s female prisoners make state history with Shakespeare performance — Men, women and children lined up outside the Folsom Women’s Facility on Sunday afternoon during visiting hours, but not to sit across from their loved ones inside. Instead, they gathered to see them make prison program history as the first female inmates in California to perform a Shakespearean play in prison. Sacramento Bee article


Man pointed wallet at deputies before he was shot, Sacramento DA — Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies were justified in shooting a man who sent officers on a predawn manhunt through a Fair Oaks neighborhood following two calls of a home burglary last year, a Sacramento County District Attorney review of the shooting said. Sacramento Bee article


Oakland proposes $1 million for teen in police sex scandal — The city of Oakland, California, is proposing to pay nearly $1 million to the teen daughter of a police dispatcher who says she was sexually abused by officers. AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Pacific athletes turn cops for a day — Seven members of the University of the Pacific baseball team experienced situations police officers go through Thursday, thanks to new technology at Stockton Police Department. The student athletes took turns going through training exercises on the department’s force simulator, which has more than 800 situations officers potentially face daily. Stockton Record article


After criticism, civilian oversight panel calls for improved transparency by LA County sheriff — Renewing a call for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to be more open about use of force, deputy discipline, complaints and other information, the agency’s civilian oversight commission adopted a formal resolution Thursday to push the department to post the data — which could include video of incidents — on the department’s website and report on its progress in 60 days. LA Times article




Measure to help California students refinance private loans is shelved — A measure to help Californians saddled with student debt refinance their student loans was shelved in a key fiscal committee on Thursday. The measure by state Sen. Benjamin Allen (D-Santa Monica) was touted as a way for the state to coax private lenders to offer more favorable interest. The proposal would have carried a $25-million price tag. LA Times article


Standing up to cyber bullies – In a school cafeteria among hundreds of her peers, Mahila Hu raised her hand when the room was asked if anyone had been bullied online. Instead of shying away into the crowd, the Christa McAuliffe Middle School seventh-grader proudly stood up, delivering a quick but strong statement that online bullying won’t ever tear her down. Stockton Record article


Michael Hiltzik: The University of California wins a jury verdict in strawberry case, then gets blasted by the judge — Although he accepted the jury’s verdict against the professors, he said the trial had come about “almost as much because of the university’s bad conduct as the defendants’ bad conduct.” Hiltzik column in LA Times


New superintendent named in Tulare — Tulare Joint Union High School District has a new superintendent. Tony Rodriguez will step in as the new superintendent beginning July 1, according to the district. Visalia Times-Delta article


State board rethinking how to measure performance of alternative schools — State law recognizes that schools primarily serving expelled students, dropouts and students who had trouble coping in traditional schools should be held accountable for academic performance – but by different measurements. EdSource article


Last day of school interrupted at Modesto’s Wilson Elementary for two-hour standoff — On their last day of school Thursday, Wilson Elementary School students spent much of the morning on lockdown after reports that a man who lives across the street shot out the window of a car parked in his driveway. Modesto Bee article




Modesto Bee: Going into our valley’s rivers is now suicidal; they should be off limits — There have already been drownings on many of California’s snow-swollen rivers this year; tubes and flimsy float toys won’t save you. Modesto Bee editorial


A devastating cycle of fire, record rain and huge landslides batters California’s Central Coast — It has been a painful 10 months for California’s Central Coast. It started with a scorching summer that dried out hillsides and invited a devastating wildfire. That was followed by a deadly winter rains that knocked out critical roads and bridges and then worsened this weekend when a massive landslide collapsed the side of a mountain on top of Highway 1, burying it for months. LA Times article


Massive Mud Creek Slide on Highway 1 must be seen, felt and heard to be believed — Engineers don’t know how they’re going to restore a nearly half-mile segment of Highway 1 that’s been swallowed up by a falling mountain, but they do know one thing: It won’t happen soon. San Luis Obispo Tribune article; San Francisco Chronicle article


Geologists, engineers puzzle over how to remove more than one million tons of rock and dirt from Highway 1 — Geologists and engineers crowded a conference room in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday to address the latest assault upon California’s most revered roadway. Yet another stretch of Highway 1, that improbable serpentine hemming the continent’s western edge, had abruptly disappeared. LA Times article


Volkswagen’s clean car plan falls short in low-income neighborhoods, California regulators say — State regulators have asked Volkswagen to revise its plan to invest in zero emission technology in California, a victory for critics who said the automaker wasn’t doing enough in disadvantaged communities. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article


Volkswagen emissions fraud sleuth chosen to head Sacramento air agency — Alberto Ayala, a state air pollution executive who helped uncover Volkswagen’s massive diesel cheating scandal, has been named head of the Sacramento region’s air quality efforts.  Sacramento Bee article


Health/Human Services


Valley Children’s soars above and beyond — Valley Children’s Hospital recognizes those fighting to keep children across the Central Valley healthy as well as fighting to keep the country safe. On Thursday, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, ESGR, presented the Above and Beyond award to the hospital. The award recognizes the facility for demonstrating support of their Guard and Reserve employees that do more than what’s required of them. Visalia Times-Delta article


Summer lunch program helps feed hungry children in Merced County – Just because the end of the school year is approaching doesn’t mean that’s the end of breakfast and lunch meals that students and their families Various students depend on the meals they receive at school to fill their bellies and to keep that consistency school districts in Merced County participate in Summer Feeding Programs, that provides children ages 18 and younger with free breakfast and lunch meals at various sites Monday through Friday. Merced Sun-Star article


Services at Tulare Regional Medical Center’s cath lab may increase — The Tulare Regional Medical Center’s Catheterization Laboratory may soon expand its capabilities. Dr. Ron Ostrom, the hospital’s chief of staff, said the lab may go from a diagnostic one to an intervention lab, a move that would increase patient services. Visalia Times-Delta article


Her yellow skin wasn’t jaundice. How young doctors learned from it — The doctors-in-training at family practice residency programs in the San Joaquin Valley showed their scholarly prowess at a forum held last week at the Sutter education center in McHenry Village in Modesto. Modesto Bee article


Land Use/Housing


Merced and Stanislaus counties lack affordable housing, advocates say – A bill that would end a tax subsidy for vacation homes and use the new funding to pay for affordable housing could have implications on pending projects in Merced and Stanislaus counties, advocates said on Thursday. Merced Sun-Star article


Home Garden Park finally set to open — After years of setbacks and delays, Home Garden will finally have a park of its own. The unincorporated area of Kings County just south of the Kings Fairgrounds will have an opening ceremony for the area’s only community park on Saturday. Hanford Sentinel article




Two fiery crashes this week on Highway 99 add to road’s deadly history in Valley – Two explosive fires erupted this week after big rigs overturned on Highway 99, a stretch of road in the San Joaquin Valley that in a report last year was named the deadliest highway in the nation. Merced Sun-Star article


Foon Rhee: Is Sacramento finally becoming more bike-friendly? — The city is making progress and spending more money on bicycle projects, including the long-awaited trail along the Sacramento River Parkway in the Pocket. But there’s a long way to go to reach goals set by advocates. Rhee in Sacramento Bee


Other areas


Unmanned parachute test proves not every technology at Edwards Air Force Base in eastern Kings County is a billion-dollar weapons system — Edwards Air Force Base has tested billions of dollars in defense-related technology over the course of its history, from the sound barrier-busting Bell X-1 to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. But this week, researchers at the base in eastern Kern County tested an innovative use of already existing technology — cobbled together for a whopping 1,600 bucks. Bakersfield Californian article


Michael Fitzgerald: More unknowns in the drop zone — Yet another skydiver plummeted to his death at Lodi Parachute Center on Wednesday. Matthew Ciancio, 42, of June Lake came down in a nearby vineyard. By some accounts that makes at least 18 deaths at Lodi Parachute Center. Strangely, no agency keeps count.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record


Just like new: Bakersfield Fire Department Station 8 shows off its facelift — After two years and about $2 million, Bakersfield Fire Station No. 8 is remodeled and back in service. The station, near Bakersfield College, was built in 1956, and it showed. Before the city began renovation work, the station had roof leaks and electrical problems that caused fires in the walls. Bakersfield Californian article


Valley Editorial Roundup


Bakersfield Californian Hits and misses.


Fresno BeeCollege graduates, on average, earn 56 percent more than high school grads. Fortunately for California’s young adults, the state is heavily invested in their futures.


Modesto Bee – Going into our valley’s rivers is now suicidal; they should be off limits.


Sacramento Bee –- Most of the water used by people goes to agriculture in California. Irrigation districts don’t obey laws requiring them to track it. That’s unacceptable; Too often, legislators ignore foster kids. But abuses at Mary Graham Children’s Shelter near Stockton underscore their need for legal advocacy; California isn’t a sanctuary state yet. But the Trump administration is giving the Legislature every reason to take that last step.