May 27, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories


Cost of keeping peace at Ann Coulter’s Modesto speech? Enough to support a family — The city released the records on policing the protest Thursday afternoon. They show the Modesto Police Department spent $48,273 in compensation for officers and other employees and the Stockton Police Department — which provided riot police — sent Modesto a bill for $16,678, bringing the total to $64,951. In Stanislaus County, the average household income is $65,947, according to the United States Census. Modesto Bee article


California lawmakers quietly refuse to stop unlimited cash flowing from political parties into their campaigns — An ambitious effort to close a widely used loophole that allows large donations from political parties to be funneled into California races was rejected on Friday. LA Times article


State budget

PolitiFact CA: Lawmaker misleads with claim Jerry Brow has axed funds for dying trees — Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno recently claimed Gov. Jerry Brown has slashed nearly all the money in the state’s budget to help local governments remove dead and dying trees in California’s forests. PolitiFact CA article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures


Dan Schnur: Democratic factions sit and wait for Feinstein to decide –  There are deep disagreements among California Democrats on whether it’s time for her to move aside to make room for the next generation of leaders, or if her party and her country now need her more than ever. These differences of opinion, though, have less to do with concerns about her age and health and much more to do with varying brands of political philosophy and ideology.  Schnur column in San Francisco Chronicle


California Politics Podcast: The progressive line in the sand – This week: The big battle that’s front and center for the base of the California Democratic Party, all on display at last weekend’s state convention. Plus, we drill down into the new fiscal analysis of the closely watched proposal for single-payer healthcare. With John Myers and Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times. California Politics Podcast


We may never know who cut off Rep. Maxine Waters’ microphone. Here’s what we do know — Rep. Maxine Waters, a Los Angeles Democrat, has garnered icon-level status and attracted young followers who think of her as “Auntie Maxine” for her acerbic comments about President Trump. She stayed true to form last weekend at the California Democratic Party convention, finishing out her rousing anti-Trump speech from the floor even after the sound to her microphone was cut off. There has been a lot of attention paid to what happened and who is responsible. Here is what we know. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article



After decades in U.S., feds order Catholic minister to buy one-way ticket to Mexico – Maria Barrera sat at her attorney’s office in Clovis with fear in her eyes, poring over a one-way plane ticket to Mexico that she did not want to purchase. “I don’t have anybody there,” she said in Spanish, sitting close to her husband, Carlos Barrera. “I would be completely alone.” Fresno Bee article


A U.S. citizen says her rights were violated after she was detained by immigration authorities in San Bernardino — Guadalupe Plascencia said she was alarmed when a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy asked her to sign papers related to her immigration status. LA Times article


Other areas


California lawmakers shelve bills that would have broadened the state’s legal definition of ‘violent crime’ — California won’t be expanding its legal definition of a violent crime soon. The Assembly Appropriations Committee on Friday shelved the last of several bills that sought to broaden the number of violent-felony offenses under the California penal code. The legislation would have added to the list additional forms of rape, sodomy and human trafficking. It carried a heavy price tag. LA Times article


The effort to make tampons tax free in California has been delayed until 2018 — Legislation to eliminate California sales taxes on the purchase of tampons was delayed Friday by the Assembly’s fiscal committee until 2018, a blow to advocates who say the tax is an unfair burden on low-income women and families. LA Times article


No holiday for voting in California – and five more bills killed in Legislature – There will be no state holiday for public employees to vote or tax credit for veterinary expenses. Dozens of legislative proposals were killed Friday in the semiannual culling of bills with high price tags, known as the “suspense file.” The Assembly Appropriations Committee weighed the fates of 531 measures with a combined fiscal impact estimated at $25.1 billion, ultimately sending 351 to the Assembly floor for a vote next week. Sacramento Bee article


California lawmakers block proposals meant to make it easier to track and report hate crimes — California lawmakers Friday stalled measures meant to help report and track hate crimes across the state, proposals filed amid a wave of incidents reported after the 2016 presidential election. LA Times article


Overhaul urged for California court fines — California’s courts impose hundreds of millions of dollars of “excessive and disproportionate” fines each year for common infractions, then use much of the money to support their own operations. A blue-ribbon panel examining the system said the fines should be collected by the executive branch — not the courts themselves — to avoid conflicts. Capitol Weekly article


Billboards call for California to resist, but who is behind them? – A new slate of billboards and other outdoor advertising aims to reinforce activists’ stance on the President Trump agenda: resist. Sacramento Bee article


Joel Fox: Prop 13: Headline grabber does not reflect reality — “Voters May Reconsider Prop 13,” reads part of the headline on the press release about the new Hoover Institution Golden State Poll. However, read the poll and you’ll see we are nowhere near a Proposition 13 revolution. Fox in Fox & Hounds


Presidential Politics


At Wellesley, Hillary Clinton criticizes Trump and invokes Nixon resignation — Hillary Clinton never named him, but she excoriated him. Speaking at the Wellesley College commencement on Friday, she alluded to Donald J. Trump, the man who defeated her for president, again and again. Mrs. Clinton referred to an “assault on truth and reason,” lambasted Mr. Trump’s proposed budget, and drew parallels to Richard Nixon and his ultimate fate, resignation from office under a threat of impeachment. New York Times article; Washington Post article; AP article


World leaders press skeptical Trump to stay in climate pact — Negotiators for America’s partners in the Group of 7 intensified pressure on the United States not to pull out of the 2015 climate agreement. New York Times article


Massive cuts to Violence Against Women programs just ‘technical,’ White House says — A chart buried on page 245 of President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget analysis looks alarming: It shows a massive decrease in funding over 10 years for federal programs that aid survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. McClatchy Newspapers article


Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin — Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports. Washington Post article


Senate Intelligence Committee requests Trump campaign documents — The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race, has asked President Trump’s political organization to gather and produce all Russia-related documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign’s launch in June 2015, according to two people briefed on the request. Washington Post article

News Stories

Top Stories


A million Latino kids are eligible for subsidized childcare in California – 11 percent are enrolled – A relatively small number of the California children eligible for subsidized childcare are enrolling – but among Latino and Asian families, the share of eligible kids receiving childcare is even tinier.  More than a million Latino children in California are eligible for subsidized childcare, but according to new research from the California Budget and Policy Center, only 11 percent are enrolled. More than 100,ooo Asian children are eligible. Only about eight percent are enrolled. KPCC report


City memo: Trump budget cuts will cost Bakersfield $4.3 million annually; 180 trees to be planted in local parks — President Donald Trump’s second budget proposal, as expected, would eliminate two Housing and Urban Development programs the city uses for low- and moderate-income city residents. The city typically uses one of the programs, the Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, for curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements. For its proposed fiscal year 2017-18 budget, the city plans to use CDBG funds to hire three more police officers. Bakersfield Californian article


Jobs and the Economy


For local governments, cashing in on cannabis won’t be easy – Monterey County is among the many California cities and counties discovering a hard truth as they angle for a cut of the state’s newly legalized marijuana proceeds: Tax collecting in cannabis country comes with its share of obstacles. And there’s no “how to” guide. CALmatters article


Norman Lambert: Allow local government to profit from recreational marijuana – The Fresno resident writes, “I suggest that we get over our pomposity and set up laws to regulate the sale of recreational marijuana. Do it the same way we did after the repeal of prohibition. Naturally we will impose a high “sin” tax that will bring money into our local government’s coffers. So we will end up profiting from marijuana just as we do from alcohol and cigarettes.” Lambert op-ed in Fresno Bee


Feds tour south Stockton with area groups making a difference — The field trip arrived late Wednesday morning at Casa de Esperanza, dropped at the door by a diesel/electric hybrid bus donated for the day by the San Joaquin Regional Transit District. Among those pouring out of the vehicle were officials from multiple federal agencies, local elected leaders, representatives from several nonprofits and the CEO of the developer that built Casa de Esperanza, which translates to “House of Hope.” Stockton Record article


Kern County leaders learning Lean Six Sigma, hoping for improvement – Top managers using miniature wooden catapults to fling ping pong balls at a six-by-twelve inch rectangle taped off on tables might, at first glance, raise some questions about the waste of taxpayer dollars. But the County of Kern is betting that adopting Lean Six Sigma, a popular business-improvement system designed to identify waste, eliminate it and deliver better service for less money, will pay the investment back in spades. Bakersfield Californian article


Erna’s Elderberry House, a top Valley restaurant, offers new casual dining options — The award-winning Erna’s Elderberry House in Oakhurst is now open for the spring/summer season, complete with a new bartender and bar menu. The restaurant has long been a destination for San Joaquin Valley residents wanting to experience fine dining. But if you aren’t ready to drop $100 for dinner and you’re leaning more towards a casual atmosphere with pub-style bar bites, then you may want to try the Cellar Bar. Fresno Bee article


Logistical center groundbreaking expected soon – More than 300 acres of industrial land in east Stockton has been purchased to be the future site of high-clearance distribution, logistics and advanced manufacturing buildings. CT Realty announced in a news release this week it had bought the land valued at $135 million to develop the project, which is expected to break ground later this month. Stockton Record article


Dedication to ending homelessness recognized — The Kings/Tulare Homeless Alliance held the 2017 Housing Heroes recognition luncheon Thursday to honor the dedication of people who have made a significant contributions toward ending homelessness in Kings and Tulare Counties. Hanford Sentinel article


Sacramento’s hot real estate market gains attention — Sacramento is California’s new real-estate hot spot, according to a news report Friday. The Wall Street Journal cited several examples of the city’s boom, including urban-renewal projects in “a once-sleepy downtown”; the opening of Golden 1 Center; a luxury condo tower under construction called the Sawyer with penthouses priced over $4 million; and homebuyers getting into bidding wars. Sacramento Bee article


Sacramento lands on list of worst cities for starting a career – With May coming to an end, millions have either already graduated from college or will soon do so, hoping their degree gives way to a successful career. Well, according to one recent survey, Sacramento may not be the best place for that. A report released Thursday ranked Sacramento at No. 3 on its list of the “Worst Cities to Start a Career,” just ahead of Miami. Sacramento Bee article


Pressure mounts for VW to invest in low-income communities – The California Air Resources Board has asked Volkswagen to do a better job of explaining how the automaker’s plan to spend $200 million to boost the adoption of zero-emission vehicles will benefit lower-income communities. San Francisco Chronicle article


Batteries could be latest technology to get California boost – Ten years ago, California started giving homeowners and businesses rebates to go solar, hoping to kick-start an industry. It worked. Now, some state officials want to do the same thing with batteries. San Francisco Chronicle article


California to share in $33 million Johnson & Johnson settlement — California is expected to receive the largest chunk of a $33 million settlement against Johnson & Johnson after a lawsuit filed by 43 states alleged the company endangered consumers by flouting quality control standards for popular over-the-counter medicines, including Tylenol and St. Joseph Aspirin. San Francisco Chronicle article




California citrus growers ‘shocked and blindsided’ by arrival of lemons from Argentina – Argentine lemons are on their way and California farmers are angry. Friday was the first day that South American lemons were allowed into the U.S. market after a 16-year absence. Fresno Bee article


A gift for the true do-in-yourselfer: Pick your own fruit at Modesto-area farms — Gayle Ivy has a blueberry bowl at her Modesto home that needs frequent refilling. That explains why she was harvesting the fruit at Ott Farms on Thursday morning. This place just off Paradise Road is part of the pick-your-own niche in agriculture. Visitors pay for the privilege of doing a little farm labor and take home some of the freshest produce possible. Modesto Bee article


It may be the oldest orange grove in the San Joaquin Valley – and the fruit tastes good — The Wright Brothers had yet to fly their first airplane, the population of Fresno barely topped 10,000 and President William McKinley occupied the White House when an unknown farmer planted an orange grove west of Lindsay. The year was 1898, and citrus farming in the San Joaquin Valley was just getting started. Remarkably, the old orchard still stands. Fresno Bee article


Your coffee is from where? California? — There is a new crop growing in Southern California’s famous avocado groves — coffee. About two dozen farms between San Diego and here, just outside Santa Barbara, are nurturing coffee bushes under the canopies of old avocado trees, in what may be the first serious effort in the United States to commercialize coffee grown outside Hawaii, home of Kona coffees. New York Times article


Criminal Justice/Prisons


After Foster conviction, Fresno police chief asks public to keep faith in his officers — In his first detailed response to Foster’s conviction on Tuesday, May 23, Dyer asked the public not to lose faith in his department. He also said the public’s perception of the department is so important to him that he wants his officers to be held “to the highest standard” in order “to gain and maintain the trust of our citizens.” Fresno Bee article


Thief who stole assistant sheriff’s guns was promised no prison sentence. Judge sends him there anyways — In a plea agreement, a Clovis man was told that he would not go to prison for stealing guns, ammunition and a bullet-proof vest from Fresno County Assistant Sheriff Tom Gattie’s car in December. On Friday, Judge Dennis Peterson sent Tyler Adam Johnson to Wasco State Prison anyway – for a 90-day examination to determine whether he is a candidate for probation. Fresno Bee article


14 indictments handed down in large Merced County gang investigation — Fourteen defendants were indicted on Thursday by a federal grand jury for drug trafficking and gun offenses as a result of Operation Scrapbook, a multi-agency gang investigation in Merced County earlier this month that resulted in more than 50 arrests, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. Merced Sun-Star article




State testing reveals half don’t understand – Local schools are wrapping up another year in the books, and that means the end of another state testing season. For teachers, it’s a sigh of relief. For students, they’ll eagerly wait for their results. Visalia Times-Delta article


Job opportunity: Kern High School District seeking six-figure administrator to oversee communications department — Remember last year when Kern High School District wanted to spend almost $400,000 on a public relations contract to help improve its image? Well, the district isn’t spending quite that much, but it is seeking to hire another person for its existing communications department who would earn about $120,000 annually.  Bakersfield Californian article


North Bakersfield High School students brought Nazi flag to campus in protest of gay pride symbols — A group of North Bakersfield High School students brought a Nazi flag to campus and flew it around the quad Thursday, apparently as a protest against a school policy that allows display of the gay-pride “rainbow” flag, according to multiple sources. Bakersfield Californian article


Anxiety and depression shouldn’t stop you from graduating, Merced College grad says — A Merced College graduate said she nearly quit school many times because she faced anxiety and depression, but she figured out the best way to beat it was to talk about it. Suleima Delacruz is set to walk the commencement stage at Merced College, with three two-year degrees, during the school’s 54th annual ceremony on Friday. Merced Sun-Star article


Pregnant? You might be paid for 6 weeks if you work at a school — California public school employees would be fully paid for at least six weeks during their maternity leave under a bill moving through the California Legislature. Sacramento Bee article


Students become CEOs –  “Start as a student, finish as a CEO” is the quote the students from the Lemoore Young Entrepreneurs Academy had on the back of their shirts Thursday as they graduated from the program. Hanford Sentinel article


Fake news curriculum bill dies in California Legislature — California lawmakers have killed a bill that aimed to teach high school students to spot fake news. The bill died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee without discussion Friday. It would have commissioned new curriculum standards that included strategies for identifying false stories. AP article


When I was in high school: The good, the bad, the painful, the memorable — It’s the time of year when thousands of newly minted high school graduates look ahead and see nothing but open road, dreams to chase and endless possibilities. But for the rest of us, it’s a time to look back (and for the most senior of us to look back, back, back). Californian staffers sat down to write about our own memories of high school and then decided to let our readers in on the nostalgia. Bakersfield Californian article


Van Horne family own ‘stock in the rock’ at Bakersfield High School — There’s school pride and there’s family pride. But when the two combine, you have the makings of a Driller dynasty at the city’s oldest high school. Meet the Van Hornes, four generations of alumni who have brought glory to Bakersfield High School in their exploits on the field and in their continued devotion to the downtown campus. Bakersfield Californian article




Why the solar eclipse could strain California’s electricity supply — Solar panels have become a prominent feature of California’s landscape, sprouting from rooftops, parking lots and farm fields as badges of the state’s commitment to renewable energy. But what happens when the sun goes dark on a hot summer day? Californians could find out in August.  Sacramento Bee article


Stockton inches closer to levee funding – The federal government may be inching closer to approving a $1 billion plan to better protect Stockton from future floods. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently allocated about $200,000 to finally finishing the planning process, which began in 2009 but has been on hold for lack of funding. Stockton Record article


Big Bear Lake plans to grow its own rainbow trout in a new $3.5-million hatchery — Now, with trout offered by state hatcheries getting fewer in number and smaller in size, the Big Bear Municipal Water District said Friday it plans to build a $3.5-million hatchery that will produce 150,000 pounds of rainbow trout each year and feature education programs, tours and projects devoted to rearing rare and endangered fish. LA Times article


Health/Human Services


From joy to concern to terror: Bakersfield couple take emotional roller-coaster ride when their newborn is born with heart defect – Every parent can imagine it; most would rather not. The exhausting ecstasy of childbirth. The profound joy of seeing your new baby for the first time. The anticipation of taking him into your loving home. Then: Crisis. Crash carts. A swirl of activity. Orders barked. Actions taken. Bakersfield Californian article


Mental health services for military veterans in Kern County spotlighted, discussed at Bakersfield meeting — The shooting death last month of Marine Corps combat veteran David Cole Lang has weighed heavily on local veterans, including members of the Kern County Veterans Collaborative. At a meeting of the Collaborative held Thursday at the National Guard Armory in southeast Bakersfield, guest speakers and many in the audience talked about the wide range of veteran services available in Kern County — and lamented the fact that too many vets go years without seeking services or are simply not aware of the variety offered locally and elsewhere. Bakersfield Californian article


Immunotherapy drug opens a new era of precision medicine for cancer – With little fanfare, the Food and Drug Administration did something this week that it’s never done before: The agency approved a single prescription drug, pembrolizumab (marketed by Merck as Keytruda) for treatment of solid tumors in any organ so long as the malignancy bears a specific genetic signature. LA Times article


Sacramento Bee: Why not find out if pot can help veterans with PTSD? — The American Legion joins the call to allow federal research into marijuana. Under current rules, VA doctors can’t even talk with their patients about pot, even though it might help those struggling with post-traumatic stress. Sacramento Bee editorial




Fiery and fatal week renews concerns about Highway 99 corridor’s safety – Madera County Supervisor David Rogers speaks with firsthand knowledge about the dangers of Highway 99, a highway that gained notoriety last year as the most dangerous in the United States. Over the past four days, Highway 99, its offramps and interchanges have been closed for prolonged periods, a sobering reminder of the highway’s dangers just before one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. Fresno Bee article


Ahron Hakimi: In order to maintain roads, we have three options – The executive director of Kern Council of Governments writes, “Nobody likes new taxes, and the potential for cost-saving measures like renegotiating prevailing wage agreements that drive up new infrastructure costs remains to be seen. Regardless, the one certainty is that Kern will need to find a way to take care of its own growth moving forward.” Hakimi op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


Other areas


Valley communities rise up to salute those who’ve served our country and fallen — Communities throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley will observe Memorial Day this weekend with music, color guards, the laying of wreaths and more. Veterans are sought to ride in a tractor parade, and a fun run/walk will benefit a local veterans group. Modesto Bee article


An Army leader who told her women didn’t belong in combat units. That only made her try harder — When an inmate riot erupted at a military prison camp outside Kabul, Staff Sgt. Cyndi Baltezore noticed that detainees hurled blows on male and female soldiers with equal ferocity. She also saw that it took troops of both genders rushing toward danger to quell the revolt. Sacramento Bee article


Ditch that knife before heading to Tenth Street Place – New security measures were installed Friday at Tenth Street Place, which houses city of Modesto and Stanislaus County offices. Security guards began using wands to screen people as they entered the building. Modesto Bee article


Old courthouse closes July 28; new facility opens July 31 – A date has been set for both the Superior Court and Family Law Court facilities in Stockton to move into their new digs downtown. With finishing touches just days away on the 13-story, $308.4 million San Joaquin County Superior Court building at 180 E. Weber Ave., the court issued a public notice Thursday stating the existing Stockton Courthouse at 222 E. Weber and the Family Law Courthouse at 540 E. Main St. will both permanently close at noon July 28. Both will relocate to the new Courthouse with public services resuming at 1 p.m. July 31. Stockton Record article


Mozier to serve as Fresno’s assistant city manager – Scott Mozier has been tapped as the City of Fresno’s new assistant city manager, to serve under incoming City Manager Wilma Quan-Schecter effective July 10. The Business Journal article


Families fear what’s next after devastating blaze — The fire is out but the pain remains — the pain of losing their homes, a business, several pets. But what never can be replaced is the strong sense of community the neighbors on East Weber Avenue had created over the past year. Stockton Record article


Kern County Fire Engineer Brian D. Massey laid to rest – Kern County Fire Engineer Brian D. Massey was a gifted athlete, dedicated public servant and all-round handyman whose skills in patching up whatever needed fixing were valuable around the fire station. Bakersfield Californian article


Life after controversy: Atwater flight school rebuilding after ex-owner’s conviction – Leaders with the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics in Atwater are taking steps to leave financial troubles and legal battles behind and move toward a brighter future by improving education offered at the flight school and bringing in new investors. Merced Sun-Star article


David “Mas” Masumoto: ‘I discovered that listening is love’ – the priceless art of storytelling – Stories can transform us. We have the opportunity to revisit the past through personal memories. That’s why we must ask and listen, collect and preserve. For ourselves, for our families and perhaps for a community and nation. Masumoto column in Fresno Bee


Andrew Fiala: Americans see nation’s morality as worst, but history shows otherwise – The professor of philosophy and director of The Ethics Center at Fresno State writes that polls show Americans think nation’s morality is sinking, but consider conditions during the Civil War, when Americans fought each other. Fiala column in Fresno Bee


Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.


Sacramento Bee –- The American Legion joins the call to allow federal research into marijuana. Under current rules, VA doctors can’t even talk with their patients about pot, even though it might help those struggling with post-traumatic stress.