May 3, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories

Rural mayors are learning some political lessons at the U.S. Capitol — Huron Mayor Rey Leon is enrolled in Lobbying 101 this week, as the political newcomer joins other Fresno County elected officials in an annual trip to pitch Congress and the White House on local projects. It’s the sort of effort that goes on all over the Capitol these days, the armies who march through the halls, largely unnoticed by the media, looking for money and policies that mean so much back home. McClatchy Newspapers article

Dan Walters: Politicians fiddle as state’s housing crisis gets worse — Capitol politicians – most of them, anyway – are celebrating a multibillion-dollar package of new taxes and fees to shore up the state’s dilapidated transportation network. Meanwhile, however, they take a lackadaisical attitude on a crisis that’s infinitely more serious than rough roads and congestion – an ever-worsening shortage of housing. And some “solutions” would make it even more intractable. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Kern supervisors reject ‘non-sanctuary’ proposal following passionate debate – Kern County supervisors refused Tuesday to support Sheriff Donny Youngblood’s proposal to declare Kern a non-sanctuary county. They said it was unnecessary and divisive. But they will vote next week on a resolution to oppose California Senate Bill 54, the proposed state “sanctuary” law that prompted Youngblood to make the proposal. Bakersfield Californian article; Valley Public Radio report

Gov. Brown

‘Life and death becomes a pillar for us to wake up,’ Jerry Brown says at CHP memorial — Officer Nathan Taylor, who died serving his state, and his California Highway Patrol, has been held up as a model for what the law enforcement agency endeavors to beSacramento Bee article

Valley politics

New poll examines Valley views on water, immigration, health care – There’s a new set of public opinion polls out on the views of San Joaquin Valley residents on a variety of issues, from the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act to water and immigration. They’re the work of the Institute for Leadership and Public Policy at Fresno State. Thought to be the first public opinion poll of its kind dedicated to the eight-county region, the surveys found the following.  Valley Public Radio report

California congressman gets mixed message on health care law — Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham’s constituents have strong opinions about the future of “Obamacare.” But they show little enthusiasm for the compromises in the latest GOP attempt to repeal former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Moderate Republicans like Denham hold the key to passing or blocking the GOP’s American Health Care Act. AP article

Janice Keating: Modesto shows larger, progressive cities how to have a civil discourse – The executive director of the Republican Party of Stanislaus County writes, “Ann Coulter began her visit to Modesto on Friday afternoon by stopping at a local Starbucks on her way to speak at our Republican Party’s Annual Lincoln Day Dinner. She surprised some fans there who were thrilled to meet her and, given the venue, undoubtedly some folks who weren’t. Her coffee shop stop was pleasant and uneventful; she got her latte, a few fans got autographs while others sat and quietly carried on. It set the tone for the rest of her time in our city as Modesto went on to prove to the country that we are the grown-ups in the room when it comes to civil discourse.” Keating op-ed in Modesto Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

When California legislative candidates run, could they run from far away? — What if you lived in Redding and your state lawmaker lived hundreds of miles away in sunny San Diego? That would be possible under the latest version of a Southern California lawmaker’s bill that would loosen existing residency requirements for legislative candidates. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Unprecedented highway money okayed – now what? – A California transportation plan of historic proportions has been approved – but what happens next? First, is the 12-cent increase in the fuel tax, starting in November. Then, other taxes and fees will kick in to help finance the $52 billion package in Senate Bill 1, which includes $34 billion over the next 10 years for repair and maintenance of roads, highways, bridges and culverts. Capitol Weekly article

Assemblymember Jim Cooper and state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani: Legislative to make California more attractive to businesses –Cooper (D-Elk Grove) and Galgiani (D-Stockton) write, “AB 600 and SB 600 would improve an existing partial sales tax exemption created by the Legislature and the governor four years ago for manufacturing and research and development companies.” Cooper/Galgiani op-ed in Sacramento Bee

California Senate leader unveils new proposal to phase out use of fossil fuels to generate electricity – California would completely phase out the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity under a new proposal detailed by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) on Tuesday. LA Times article

Peter Weber: Climate change and our inner elephant (part 2): Measuring success for the climate and the economy – The retired business executive and co-chair of California Forward writes, “What we need is a global triple-bottom-line transition plan from dependence on fossil fuels. We need to develop rigorous analytics that measure the triple-bottom-line impact of climate change policies; analytics that can be applied to California, but that other states and nations will want to follow because they can see the beneficial triple-bottom-line impacts.” Weber column in Fox & Hounds

Green California may become even greener – Kevin de León wants to make environmentally friendly California even greener. A day after unveiling a plan to upend California’s cap-and-trade program, Democrats in the Senate are introducing a proposal Tuesday that calls for 100 percent of the retail electricity sold in the state to come from renewable energy sources by the end of 2045. Sacramento Bee article

State agencies cannot fly the Confederate flag – but Californians can – The California Attorney General has ruled that a painting was wrongly banned at The Big Fresno Fair in 2016 for displaying the Confederate flag. While a state law passed in 2014 prohibits state agencies from displaying or selling the flag, a new settlement reached this week “makes it clear that the law does not apply to the speech or the acts of private citizens,” according to the Center for Individual Rights. Fresno Bee article; AP article

Sacramento Bee: Here’s who will suffer the most if California doesn’t end housing crisis — The California Legislature must get going on a viable way to provide more affordable housing. Otherwise, home ownership will continue to be elusive for millions of working-class and even middle-class people – especially for African Americans in Sacramento County. Sacramento Bee editorial

As latest Obamacare repeal effort fades, Republicans wonder what happened — The latest version of the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act teetered on the verge of failure Tuesday as the conversation among Republicans on Capitol Hill shifted to soul-searching and recriminations over what went wrong in their long campaign to end Obamacare.  Though House leaders say they have not given up on the effort, no vote is planned and some senior GOP lawmakers signaled their dissent. LA Times article

California’s House Republicans are crucial to this week’s healthcare push.  Here’s where they stand — When we checked in last week, more than two-thirds of the 14 California members hadn’t decided how to vote on the bill. Here is where the Republican members stand now. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Why a Congress that’s protesting wasteful spending wants $77 million more for itself – President Donald Trump and congressional leaders have consistently spoken against wasteful spending in Washington, but a budget bill put forth Monday slated a $77 million increase for the legislative branch’s $4.4 billion budget. McClatchy Newspapers article

State ban on conversion therapy upheld after Supreme Court passes – California’s ban on “conversion therapy,” which seeks to turn gay youths straight, survived a U.S. Supreme Court challenge Monday when the justices rejected an appeal by religious conservatives who argued that the law interfered with their right to provide spiritual counseling to minors. San Francisco Chronicle article

Presidential Politics

In Trump White House, the momentum has turned against the Paris climate agreement — Foes of the Paris climate agreement have gained the upper hand in the ongoing White House debate over whether the U.S. should pull out of the historic pact, according to participants in the discussions and those briefed on the deliberations, although President Trump has yet to make a final decision. Washington Post article

With Civil War remark, a president who doesn’t go by the (history) book – If nothing else, President Trump has already secured a place in history. It is his grasp of history that seems less secure. New York Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Dan Walters: California pension shortfall one of nation’s largest — Throughout California, local government and school district officials are writing new budgets and confronting rapidly rising costs of pensions.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

 ‘I’m sorry that we did it this way,’ UC’s Napolitano tells lawmakers after audit – University of California President Janet Napolitano apologized Tuesday for creating the “wrong impression” that she had improperly interfered in a critical state audit of her office released last week. At a legislative hearing to review the audit findings, Napolitano acknowledged that she and her staff communicated with campus leaders about a survey meant to independently assess the value of her office’s operations. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno Bee announces newsroom changes – The Fresno Bee is eliminating eight full-time positions in its newsroom, and two editors are being transferred to the McClatchy regional news desk. Publisher Tom Cullinan said the newspaper business model has changed, with fewer people reading print and more consuming their news online. Fresno Bee article

X-Fest takes a break with hopes of returning to downtown Modesto streets in 2018– X-Fest is taking the year off with hopes of returning to its Modesto roots in 2018. Event promoter Chris Ricci said the annual outdoor music festival featuring more than 20 stages and 100 bands will not be held this summer. But next year he plans to bring the event back to downtown Modesto, after moving it to the San Joaquin Fairgounds in Stockton last summer after a prolonged battle with Modesto officials. Modesto Bee article

LA hits a milestone: 4 million people and counting — Los Angeles gained 42,470 people between 2016 and 2017. That might not seem like a lot, but it was enough to push the city’s population over the 4-million mark — to 4,041,707, according to a new state report. LA Times article

These local governments decide it makes sense to play ball with Airbnb — Nevada County this week became the latest municipality – and the first in the Sacramento region – to reach an agreement allowing the fast-growing vacation housing website Airbnb to collect and pay transient occupancy taxes on behalf of its hosts.  Sacramento Bee article

U.S. auto boom seems to be history, just as Trump counted on jobs — For seven years, the steadily expanding auto industry has helped drive the American economy forward, racking up billions in profit and paying workers hefty bonuses, all while consumers flocked to dealerships and drove sales to record heights. It is a boom that President Trump has been counting on to add more jobs. But the industry’s ability to do so is now in question. New York Times article

What’s up with La Boulangerie in Fig Garden Village? We’ve got answers – You took our Uncle Harry’s, but you’d better not touch our beloved La Boulangerie. That was the sentiment on the lips of Fig Garden Village shoppers last week when Uncle Harry’s abruptly closed, saying the center’s New York owners were not interested in renewing its lease. With so many changes at the center since a New York firm bought it a few years ago, Fresnans are anxious about what will happen next. Fresno Bee article


Drinking water is a human right, but these Valley residents don’t have it – In 2012, California made history when it became the first U.S. state to declare that clean drinking water is a human right. But five years later, nearly 300 communities still can’t drink their water, according to new state data—many of which are in the San Joaquin Valley. Valley Public Radio report

Citrus leaders blindsided over Trump’s play on Argentine lemons – Leaders in California’s citrus industry believe the Trump administration is using them as bargaining chips to try to close a long-standing political and economic rift with Argentina. The Business Journal article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

23 arrested in San Joaquin County over several days on charges of human-trafficking – The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office and the Stockton Police Department arrested 23 men and women in a span of two days in a human trafficking and prostitution sting. A three-month investigation of the website led the Stockton Police Department to eight young girls involved in prostitution. The girls ranged in age from 14 to 17. Sacramento Bee article; Stockton Record article

Silva’s legal proceedings inch along – Anthony Silva’s next court appearance in his Amador County legal case will be Aug. 7, one year and three days after Stockton’s former mayor was arrested at the Silver Lake camp he was running for disadvantaged youth. Stockton Record article

BBC crew went searching for convicted child molester.  They found him in Modesto – A BBC reporter and cameraman followed a convicted sexual abuser of children from Scotland to Modesto, where they recently confronted him outside a business in the McHenry Village shopping center. Modesto Bee article

Students hear stories of ‘ultimate sacrifice’ – When Savannah Valenzuela graduates, she wants to become a police officer. While she is only a freshman in high school, she is already on the path to achieving her goals. Visalia Times-Delta article

Police panel calls for more LAPD reforms to address racial bias, discipline and community policing – Los Angeles police commissioners approved a wide-ranging set of recommendations on Tuesday that called on the LAPD to improve how it guards against possible racial bias by officers, strengthen community policing and evaluate the department’s discipline system. LA Times article


GOP lawmakers call for subpoenas to be issued after audit finds mishandling of money by UC — Alarmed by an audit critical of the University of California, a half-dozen Republican Assembly members called Tuesday for the Legislature to issue subpoenas for records as part of an independent forensic audit to determine whether the mishandling of UC resources broke any laws.  LA Times article

‘Time to rein them in’: Amendment would limit UC salaries, tuition hikes – An effort to change the state Constitution that would tie University of California tuition increases and low-level employee wages to the number of UC administrators paid more than the governor has been launched by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton. Stockton Record article

The Obama administration would not let California drop its old science tests. Will Trump? — State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson asked the Obama administration to let California out of this double-testing requirement, arguing that it wastes students’ time and the state’s money. The administration said no, more than once. That’s because the new test’s scores won’t be counted at first and the federal government wouldn’t accept years without valid science test scores. Now the state is making the request again, to the new administration. LA Times article

Coulter clash at UC Berkeley costly for university – The cost to keep the peace following conservative pundit Ann Coulter’s canceled trip to UC Berkeley last week was not cheap, officials said Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Modesto City Schools keeps integrated math in close vote – The Modesto City Schools Board came within one vote of moving to scrap its Common Core integrated math program three years after a quick flip to full implementation. Modesto Bee article

Modesto Bee: School board: Don’t slip into this loophole — We would prefer to see more people voting no matter when elections are conducted. Since that’s not happening, it makes sense to conduct elections when people want to vote. And that’s every two years, not every few months. Modesto Bee editorial 

Fresno City College prepares for major building project – Over the next decade the Fresno City College campus could undergo a big change, thanks to a major construction project. Around half of the $485 bond known as Measure C is dedicated for the campus. Voters approved the funding last year which will provide a new home for the school’s math and science programs as well as badly needed parking space.  Valley Public Radio report

Goodbye trees, hello solar canopies: Project will change look of college parking lots — State Center Community College District is getting ready to install solar panels that will double as covered parking on five campuses this summer. The installation could save about $18 million in energy costs districtwide over the next 20 years. But it also means death to a bunch of trees – at least 88 alone in the Fresno City College parking lots along McKinley Avenue. Fresno Bee article

Health clinic opens for Visalia Unified employees – When a person gets sick, they typically must try to squeeze in a doctor’s appointment or spend hours at a walk-in clinic to receive medical attention. For Visalia Unified School District employees, those days are a thing of the past. Visalia Times-Delta article

California’s subsidized after-school programs struggling to survive – Stagnant state funding, rising costs and possible cutbacks in federal support are threatening the viability of California’s subsidized after-school programs, which serve 859,000 low-income students in 4,500 schools across the state. EdSource article

Teachers union opens a front on former Sacramento mayor’s charter schools – Teachers at a network of Sacramento charter schools founded by former Mayor Kevin Johnson are trying to unionize, citing growing discontent over the schools’ management and high staff turnover. LA Times article

Bear Creek Class of 2027: Second-graders get an early peek at AVID — Before they could learn about how a good education can get them ahead in life, second-graders from Julia Morgan Elementary School were excited to see what high school life is like on a field trip to nearby Bear Creek High School. And they also needed to get answers to some of life’s bigger questions.  Stockton Record article


Effort to ban plastic water bottles in national parks would end under budget deal – America’s national parks have long influenced consumer habits with their decisions on what products to sell – or not sell – on park property. To help the bottled-water industry, Congress wants to nip that influence in the bud. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Earthquake early warning system nets $10.2 million in Congress’ budget deal — The budget deal reached in Congress this week penciled in $10.2 million for an earthquake early warning system for California and the rest of the West Coast for the budget year that ends in September.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services  

Slow going on hospital tower construction project – Tulare Regional Medical Center’s expansion tower is now enclosed and the roof is sealed, letting state officials declare Phase 1 complete. Visalia Times-Delta article 

California stem cell agency president steps down as worries mount about its future — California’s $3 billion stem cell agency, which is nearing the end of its financial life, announced Tuesday it is losing its president as the agency enters what some describe as the “last stage” of its 12-year operation. Sacramento Bee article

Bakersfield Fire Department starts Narcan program — The Bakersfield Fire Department, like other local public safety agencies, has started its own Narcan program to help address opioid overdoses, officials said Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Land Use/Housing

Medical marijuana facility considered in Ceres after a limited change in attitude – After banning marijuana outlets for years, Ceres is considering an agreement for a medical marijuana facility that would produce alternative medicine for children with seizure disorders. Modesto Bee article


Uber reveals why it shut down ride-sharing at Fresno’s airport.  It’s about money – Uber says it is shutting down its popular ride-sharing service to Fresno Yosemite International because of the possibility of new fees for pickups and dropoffs at the airport, as well as new trip-tracking requirements. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

House spending bill contains $100 million for key Caltrain project — A House appropriations bill proposed this week as part of a package to fund federal government operations through the end of September contains what could be a welcome surprise for Caltrain. KQED report

Los Banos highway’s ‘innovative’ pedestrian signal poised to benefit safety, traffic – A crossing point on a busy road near Los Banos High School is the first intersection in Merced County to be installed with an innovative traffic signal that can be activated by pedestrians, officials said. Los Banos Enterprise article

Other areas

Lois Henry: Another paw in the right direction for reducing unwanted animals – City cats may not rejoice but residents tired of swarms of strays in their neighborhoods likely will. The Bakersfield Animal Care Center launched its first ever trap-neuter-release (TNR) program last month — for free to city residents. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Carmen George: Some kids never had a birthday cake. These volunteer bakers are changing that — Carla Morales-Mendoza is all smiles and giggles as a lavishly and lovingly decorated cake is placed on a table in front of her as friends, family members and social workers sing “Happy Birthday” and cut her a slice of the pink and white dessert prepared for her sixth birthday. As she bites through handmade frosting and fluffy white cake, adults ask her how it tastes. “Yummmmm!” is the sweet and simple reply. George in Fresno Bee

Should ‘In God We Trust” be displayed at Fresno City Hall? Fresno councilman says yes – Councilman Garry Bredefeld wants God to have a prominent place in the Fresno City Council chambers. The councilman for northeast Fresno is leading a push to have the national motto, “In God We Trust,” emblazoned prominently on the wall at the front of the chamber. If Bredefeld’s resolution is approved on May 11, Fresno will become the latest – and largest – California city to vote to install the phrase in a council or board chamber. Mayor Lee Brand said he will sign the resolution if it passes the council. Fresno Bee article; Valley Public Radio report

Do you have good ideas for new welcome signs? Merced wants to see them – Merced will ask for artists’ drawings in the coming six months for new welcome signs at entry points around town. The City Council voted 6-0 on Monday to hold a contest for renderings from anyone who wants to give it a shot, noting the city is not required to use any of the submissions. Merced Sun-Star article

Stockton a finalist for All-America City – The city has been named one of 27 finalists for 2017 All-America City status by the National Civic League, which will announce winners at a conference in Denver in mid-June. Stockton Record article

Pace Press puts spotlight on Valley authors — Fresno’s Linden Publishing has been around for decades, producing books in the non-fiction world under the Quill Driver Books label. Now the company is making a big splash with two new novels by local authors on a new imprint dedicated to fiction works. Valley Public Radio report

Valley Editorial Roundup

Modesto Bee – We would prefer to see more people voting no matter when elections are conducted. Since that’s not happening, it makes sense to conduct elections when people want to vote. And that’s every two years, not every few months.

Sacramento Bee –- Former first lady Michelle Obama pushed for standards requiring schools to serve more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains and limited salty, sugary and fatty foods. Trump’s new Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Monday he will partly roll back those rules. But when we have a crisis of diabetes and childhood obesity, why backslide on junk food?; The California Legislature must get going on a viable way to provide more affordable housing. Otherwise, home ownership will continue to be elusive for millions of working-class and even middle-class people – especially for African Americans in Sacramento County.