May 28, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories


John Myers: Trump’s budget presents new challenge to California’s long-suffering unemployment fund — After years of the state being deep in debt to the federal government for a loan covering the unemployment benefits of millions of Californians, state government officials have been promising the system was well on its way to stability. And then came President Trump’s federal budget plan, with new rules and penalties for states whose jobless benefits outpace available dollars. Myers in LA Times


Dan Walters: Growing retirement costs are hitting new state budge hard — California’s rapidly growing public employee retirement costs weigh heavily on the 2017-18 state budget now being fashioned, but their impact is only partially revealed in budget documents. Walters column in Sacramento Bee



U.S. to increase number of refugees allowed in, reversing a sharp decline under Trump — The State Department announced that it will lift its restriction on the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States, after a steep decrease in arrivals in recent months amid President Trump’s efforts to limit entry. LA Times article


California bills target private business to help immigrants — California Democrats are expanding their efforts to resist President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants in the country illegally with bills aimed at limiting how much private businesses can cooperate with federal immigration authorities. AP article


Other areas


New advertising campaign targets lawmakers over votes for climate change policies — A coalition of California businesses launched a new advertising campaign on Saturday to pressure lawmakers against enacting tighter policies on climate change and air pollution. LA Times article


California Democrats wrestle with proposal to replace private health insurance with ‘single-payer’ system — A sweeping proposal to replace private medical insurance in California with a single, government-run health care system has suddenly taken on sharp political edges for Democrats, threatening party unity even as it promises to mobilize voters on the left. San Jose Mercury News article


Dan Morain: He’s a danger to the gun industry. Here’s why — For the gun industry, Dr. Garen Wintemute may be the most dangerous scientist in America, more so starting on July 1. Morain column in Sacramento Bee


They dismissed her as a lightweight. But California’s top judge has found her voice – and uses it to call out Trump policies — Settled in as California’s top judge, she is speaking her mind, calling on the Trump administration to keep its immigration agents away from state courthouses and giving a highly publicized address that reflected California’s jitters about the new president. LA Times article


Presidential Politics


Trump considers major changes amid escalating Russia crisis – President Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a “war room” within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies. Washington Post article


Willie Brown: Trump shoves his way across the world stage — President Trump’s seven days in May will go down as one of the worst-ever trips abroad ever undertaken by a purported leader of the free world.  Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle


News Stories

Top Stories


Who did Kern High School District run through sensitive database? Administrator applying for promotions, DUI teacher, student who files lawsuit, source says — They include a woman who got into an altercation with a district employee during her drive to work one day. A Mira Monte High School administrator who was applying for a promotion. And a Bakersfield High School student who got tased by a district police officer when he was tardy to class, then filed a lawsuit. Those are examples of the people who were run through the Kern High School District’s subscription to the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System — a sensitive police information database — which came into question last year when its police chief reported rampant misuse to law enforcement. Bakersfield Californian article; Bakersfield Californian editorial


Stanislaus County’s annual employee pension cost to exceed $75 million — Stanislaus County’s employee retirement costs will climb to $75.6 million in the next budget year, a $9.4 million increase in what the county pays annually to fund retirement benefits. Modesto Bee article


Jobs and the Economy


Can I get fired for using legal recreational marijuana? An FAQ for California workers — Can you gather with employee pals for a Friday night toke – instead of the regular beers – and not worry about any consequences on Monday morning? Can you spark up a joint or savor a vape pen on your lunch hour? What about drug testing? The simple answer: It all depends on where you work. Sacramento Bee article


Lois Henry: California City has high hopes for marijuana industry – and it’s tax money – The level of interest has been so high (no giggling, please), the city is in the process of opening applications for more than 200 additional permits. City Manager Tom Weil is probably the last person who thought this is where Cal City would be when he was approached last February by a doctors’ group interested in marijuana cultivation in the quiet bedroom community. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian


Who wants to be in the cannabis business in Oakdale? City exploring applications – The city of Oakdale is accepting applications for a Cannabis Pilot Program to review what type of marijuana businesses – from dispensaries to testing facilities – are interested in operating in the city. Proposals must be submitted with a $5,000, non-refundable, application fee and there is no guarantee the City Council will approve any of the applications. Modesto Bee article


Modesto pension costs expected to skyrocket – City officials received a sobering assessment last week about Modesto’s pension costs, which are projected to nearly double in eight years. Acting City Manager Joe Lopez delivered the appraisal Monday during a hearing for the city’s proposed $373 million operating budget for its 2017-18 budget year, which starts July 1. And he told officials that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System is not sustainable in its current form. Modesto Bee article


Bakersfield committee expecting spirited debate over PACE program at ‘packed’ meeting Tuesday — Committee meetings connected to the business of the Bakersfield City Council typically are pretty quiet affairs — if not downright boring. But a special City Budget and Finance Committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning should be anything but sleepy. On the contrary, city officials are expecting some fireworks when the committee meets at 10:30 a.m. in Council chambers to explore issues surrounding PACE, or Property Assessed Clean Energy financing. Bakersfield Californian article


It takes two hours each morning to clean up after homeless campers at this courthouse — It’s just past sunrise and the men and women have begun to break camp on the plaza outside the Sacramento County Courthouse. They know before long Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies will tell them to pack up their tents and bedrolls, gather their belongings and move on. Sacramento Bee article


Why are so many women dropping out of the workforce? – For half a century after World War II, women barreled into the job market in numbers that surged higher every year. They drove most of the rise in real household income for decades and boosted the economy’s total output at a time when men were dropping out of the job market. Then, all of a sudden, they stopped. Since 2000, the share of women working in their prime earning years has declined. LA Times article


Is ‘gas mileage be damned’ the mantra fueling new car sales? — Auto dealers will have a busy Memorial Day weekend, as drivers in the Golden State continue to pick up new cars and trucks at a feverish pace. Sales during the long holiday weekend – a favorite time to shop – should remain fairly strong, according to Santa Monica-based car buying website Low interest rates, deep discounting by manufacturers and new technology in vehicles are some of the factors driving the prolonged boom in sales. Sacramento Bee article




Farm finds room for at-risk youth — At Davidian Farms, there’s always room for family. So this summer, the 26-acre plum ranch in Cutler will be the new home of Mending Fences and Changing Minds, a program bringing together a group of at-risk youth from Tulare County to do things like paint fences, mow lawns and feed horses. Visalia Times-Delta article


Criminal Justice/Prisons


San Francisco police too quick to go for their guns, critics say — San Francisco police officers, who were required in the aftermath of a disputed shooting in the Bayview neighborhood to document every time they point their guns, reported doing so 3,130 times in the first 15 months, or about seven times a day, records show. San Francisco Chronicle article


San Francisco courts test new approach to homeless crimes — Legal observers say no court appears to have made as dramatic an attempt at reform as San Francisco, where judges no longer issue warrants to arrest people who fail to show up in court or pay tickets for infractions such as urinating in public, loitering or sleeping in a park — so-called quality-of-life crimes that advocates say target homeless people. The new policy also applies to traffic violations. AP article




Kern High School District launched nine internal investigations into CLETS misuse last year with Department of Justice and found it did nothing wrong in most — Some individuals may have been inappropriately run through a sensitive police information database, the Kern High School District acknowledged in a statement to The Californian this month. The statement is the district’s first acknowledgement that there could have been wrongdoing in the ongoing scandal involving potential misuse of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. Bakersfield Californian article


Regents throw parties at UC’s expense – The night before the University of California Board of Regents voted to raise student tuition to help cash-strapped campuses, they threw themselves a party at the luxury Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco and billed the university. The tab for the Jan. 25 banquet: $17,600 for 65 people, or $270 a head. It wasn’t the only pricey dinner UC’s volunteer governing board put on for themselves at the university’s expense. San Francisco Chronicle article


UC Davis stokes American Dream more than most colleges, study says. Can it sustain? — UC Davis ranks No. 3, and the University of California system comprises the top five, in the New York Times’ third College Access Index that measures their commitment to economic diversity. Sacramento Bee article


A Sacramento State chemical spill has lab techs questioning their workplace safety — A chemical spill at Sacramento State last year has led to questions about whether the university is putting its lab workers at risk from exposure to hazardous substances. Sacramento Bee article


Prescott Junior High PE program stars in documentary — North Modesto tweens get an old-style boot camp, complete with annual mud run, promoted by the late President John F. Kennedy. In a documentary coming out in August, filmmaker Doug Orchard puts forward a case that mental acuity and physical fitness go hand in hand, and Prescott is the only school in the nation that still gets that. Modesto Bee article




Farewell to the pines — People came here for the forest, to live among 200-foot-tall pine trees that shaded their mountain cabins and scented the air. But in the span of two short years, tens of thousands of those trees are gone, ravaged by bark beetles until their green needles turned orange. The trunks, long since toppled, are left on the ground in every which direction, like a game of colossal pick-up sticks. Stockton Record article


Other areas


Michael Fitzgerald: New courthouse guilty of cost overruns – The clever politician Willie Brown said the stated price of a major public works project is just a down payment to get the public on board. The true price is in the cost overruns. Willie would nod at the new San Joaquin County courthouse. It suffered a possible $35.5 million cost overrun. And a frustrating delay in completion. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record


Bakersfield National Cemetery: A ‘crown jewel’ in our backyard that honors those who served in the nation’s armed forces — The story of the Bakersfield National Cemetery, an officially designated national Shrine, is one of pride and patriotism.  It’s also a story of numbers.  Bakersfield Californian article


Veterans Appreciation Day event a real ‘thanks’ for serving — As May is National Military Appreciation Month, the Stockton Auto Mall hosted its second annual Veterans Appreciation Day as a way to say thanks to local veterans. Stockton Record article


Uber co-founder’s mother is killed, father injured in boating accident — The mother of Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick died Friday in a boating accident in Fresno County, while his injured father remains hospitalized. LA Times article; Fresno Bee article


At age 3, he couldn’t walk. Now he’s 8, he’s scored his first touchdown — When Dylan Palacios was 3 years old, he could walk only by using a walker. On Saturday, the 8-year-old scored his very first touchdown – with a little help from his friends. Fresno Bee article


City managed called developer ‘mentally ill’ before council rejected his gas station — Weeks before the city denied developer Paul Petrovich’s gas station proposal in late 2015, then-Sacramento City Manager John Shirey sent a blunt text message to City Councilman Jay Schenirer: “I have read all of Paul’s blasts to us today. I have concluded he is mentally ill and is in serious need of psychiatric treatment,” Shirey wrote. Sacramento Bee article


Donald W. Blount: Community visibility an important part of job — Sometimes, face time has it’s place. And so my listening tour has begun. As I settle into my new job as editor of The Record, I am continuing the practice of my predecessor, Mike Klocke, of attending community events. Blount column in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup


Bakersfield Californian The Kern High School District deserves harsh criticism for its apparent misuse of the highly restricted police information database known as the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System.


Modesto Bee – Finding a beautiful life, education in Modesto.