May 30, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories


State lawmakers consider Brown’s gamble on pension money — As California lawmakers kick off their yearly scramble to pass a state budget, they have yet to agree on whether one controversial provision will make the cut: an untested $6 billion scheme that the governor says could save the state billions but that some analysts warn has received too little scrutiny. San Francisco Chronicle article


Rep. Devin Nunes says Democrats are using Russia investigation to justify Clinton’s loss — Embattled House Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told hundreds of local Republicans at a recent private dinner fundraiser that congressional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election are about Democrats trying to justify Hillary Clinton’s loss. LA Times article


Dan Walters: California’s top-two primary will give 2018 also-rans another shot — A multicandidate Senate race would be a serious test of the top-two system, with perhaps 20 percent of the primary vote enough to win a place on the November ballot. Walters column in Sacramento Bee


State budget


California’s $900 million budget program faces a new delay – The biggest technology project in California state government will miss a key deadline in July, postponing the full implementation of a $900 million statewide budget program that has been in development since 2005. Sacramento Bee article



Demand for immigration lawyers surges in Central Valley — Immigration lawyers across California have been scrambling to meet rising demand, as people worried by President Trump’s tough talk on immigration are rushing to solidify their legal status — or defend against deportation. Perhaps nowhere is the crunch so tight as in the Central Valley, where a huge immigrant population is vying for a tiny number of immigration attorneys. KQED report


Presidential Politics


Foon Rhee: President Donald Trump, the ugly American abroad — Trump called his trip a “home run,” but I don’t think he gained very much wisdom, and definitely not humility. He could have saved us a bunch of money by just staying home. Rhee column in Sacramento Bee


How President Trump consumes – or does not consume – top-secret intelligence — President Trump consumes classified intelligence like he does most everything else in life: ravenously and impatiently, eager to ingest glinting nuggets but often indifferent to subtleties. Washington Post article


Investigation turns to Kushner’s motives in meeting with Putin ally — Federal and congressional investigators are now examining what exactly Mr. Kushner and the Russian banker, Sergey N. Gorkov, wanted from each other. The banker is a close associate of Mr. Putin, but he has not been known to play a diplomatic role for the Russian leader. That has raised questions about why he was meeting with Mr. Kushner at a crucial moment in the presidential transition, according to current and former officials familiar with the investigations. New York Times article


Snubs and slights are part of the job in Trump’s White House — In Trump’s White House, aides serve a president who demands absolute loyalty — but who doesn’t always offer it in return. Trump prefers a management style in which even compliments can come laced with a bite, and where enduring snubs and belittling jokes, even in public, is part of the job. Washington Post article


White House acts to roll back birth-control mandate for religious employers — Federal officials, following through on a pledge by President Trump, have drafted a rule to roll back a federal requirement that many religious employers provide birth control coverage in health insurance plans. New York Times article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories


Businesses in Atwater take a hit after tanker truck explosion — Some businesses in Atwater are seeing a decline in sales since a tanker-truck explosion occurred last week in the area of Applegate Road and Highway 99. The popular exit off of Highway 99 remains closed. Merced Sun-Star article


Modesto may charge customers who pay use debit, credit cards to pay city bills – Modesto is considering charging customers who use credit and debit cards the fee it is charged by the company that processes those payments for the city. City officials say Modesto will recoup its costs and not make money on the transactions. Modesto Bee article


Jobs and the Economy


White pitches plan to use horse shelters for homeless housing — Former City Councilman Ralph Lee White invited a reporter to his south-side compound two weeks ago. When his guest arrived, White greeted him warmly with a smile and a handshake. Stockton Record article


Forget ping pong and free beer: The latest perk for tech workers is doing good — In the cutthroat technology industry where companies go to great lengths to attract and retain talent, employers have offered workers high salaries, company stock and unlimited vacation time. They’ve done free breakfasts, free lunches, free dinners and free booze. There’s kombucha on tap, ping pong and pool, nap rooms, yoga rooms and on-site gyms. Once considered lavish perks, they have now become the norm. Which is why tech firms eager to keep their employees engaged are turning to Loqules (pronounced “locals”), a Playa Vista startup with $200,000 in angel funding, to offer what a growing number of young employees crave: ways to have fun and do good. LA Times article


Are bike lanes bad for business? — To bike lane or not to bike lane? In the San Diego region, residents and small-business owners pile into public meetings whenever government officials propose striping their streets with bike lanes and — most controversial of all — removing parking spots to do so. San Diego Union-Tribune article


Sacramento Bee: Here’s why slimmed-down Sacramento Convention Center expansion is smarter — If you could expand the Sacramento Convention Center and still have some money left over for other tourist destinations, why wouldn’t you? The City Council should give the go-ahead Tuesday for the smarter, slimmed-down plan. Sacramento Bee editorial


Criminal Justice/Prisons


Fresno’s latest homicide victim is niece of former Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster — The 18-year-old niece of former deputy Fresno Police Chief Keith Foster became the city’s latest homicide victim Monday after an early-morning shooting in southwest Fresno. Fresno Bee article




UC reverses policy, won’t pick up tab for regents’ parties — The University of California will no longer pay for its governing board members to throw themselves dinners and parties after a Chronicle report showed that the regents regularly billed the university for their festivities. San Francisco Chronicle article


California students go on-line in record numbers to take Common Core-aligned tests, with few glitches – Over the past several weeks, California students in record numbers have been taking once controversial standardized tests aligned with the Common Core. For the most part, the administration of the tests has gone smoothly, although some districts have experienced glitches as student test-takers pushed the state’s online system to the limit. EdSource article


English learner students who attend transitional kindergarten start off ahead — California kids whose primary language is not English do better in kindergarten if they attend transitional kindergarten programs when they’re four. KPCC report


‘I won’t give up’: First-generation students on college – Five students, the first in their families to go to college, interview other first-generation students about the college experience. New York Times article


Why female engineering students benefit from women mentors – In a year-long study—one of the strongest yet to look at the value of mentorship—Dasgupta showed that female engineering undergraduates who are paired with a female mentor felt more motivated, more self-assured, and less anxious than those who had either no mentor or a male one. They were less likely to drop out of their courses, and keener to look for engineering jobs after they graduated. The Atlantic article


Jeff Jardine: Modesto Junior College veterans support ousted certification specialist in letters, calls — There often seems to be a disconnect between the government bureaucrats who administer services and the people who use or rely on them. An example is the ongoing problem involving Modesto Junior College’s Veterans Service Office, which I wrote about on May 14. The office’s certification specialist, 27-year-old Alberto Aranda, was fired just six months into his job. He was one of four people who work in the office, and as the certification specialist was responsible for making sure the veterans qualify for the services and receive them in a timely manner. Jardine column in Modesto Bee


Turlock High kids cheer life-changing teacher to $20,000 award – She is one of those teachers students remember, keep in touch with, and stand ready to pay it forward whenever they get the call. It was their own work that earned the applause. It was their own determination that changed their stars. But it was “Mrs. V” who believed they could. Modesto Bee article




Some Sierra residents wanted the tree cutting to stop. One community didn’t — Money wasn’t running out in Oakhurst, but patience is a different story. Commuters and business owners from Madera County’s foothills were getting anxious about a Caltrans tree-cutting project that was causing delays along highways 41 and 49. It concluded Thursday and residents and business owners in the Oakhurst area were relieved. But it meant about $2 million for tree cutting might not get used. Fresno Bee article


Kern River kills three over Memorial Day weekend as at least a dozen others are rescued from rough currents — “Killer Kern” earned its name this weekend. The Kern River claimed three lives and nearly killed at least a dozen others who were rescued this Memorial Day weekend by Kern and Tulare county emergency responders. Bakersfield Californian article; Visalia Times-Delta article; LA Times article


Elder abuse on the rise in Tulare County — Last year in Tulare County, there were more than 2,700 reports of elder abuse — an increase of 12 percent from 2015. Visalia Times-Delta article


Health/Human Services


Sandra Larson: Even Central Coast residents need to be wary of valley fever – The volunteer with the Valley Fever Americas Foundation writes, “San Luis Obispo County just reported another death caused by valley fever. That makes five since the start of the year, with 48 confirmed cases reported during the same time frame. For the year 2016, Kern County reported 1,905 confirmed cases and six deaths. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see the huge difference in death rate. Any number of deaths is too many, and 1,905 cases reported in one year represent a shocking number of people suffering in our community, but I believe we can give credit to our local physicians and the level of awareness in our community for the difference.” Larson op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


Other areas


Home again: They survived the Erskine Fire and now, with Kern County’s help, they have new beginnings – Betty Britt returned home Wednesday for the first time in nearly a year to a house she’d never seen before. Last year, the Erskine Fire ripped through her South Lake neighborhood in a merciless roar, robbing her of her house, her car and a lifetime of belongings. Bakersfield Californian article


WWII and Korean War veteran Bob Otto has played Taps ‘5,000 times,’ then hung up his bugle — Bob Otto has a special connection to “Taps.” The 95-year old veteran of World War II and the Korean War is a bugler who has played the solemn anthem more times than he can remember. “I’ve done over 5,000 funeral services,” Otto said. Bakersfield Californian article


Intimate Memorial Day ceremony remembers veterans ‘who had to prove they were Americans’ — An intimate crowd gathered at the Nisei War Memorial in Roeding Park on Monday, honoring the 29 names inscribed on the wall who fell in combat, and remembering the difficulties Japanese-Americans faced during World War II when their loyalties to the U.S. were questioned. Fresno Bee article


Veterans, community remember fallen — Jerry Manuel Guevara would jokingly call Johnny Byrum his “dad”. Byrum would tell others he wasn’t Guevara’s father but his probation officer. The two went everywhere together, helping their fellow brothers and sisters in arms. Visalia Times-Delta article


Modesto ceremony honors those who gave their lives — More than 100 people gathered Monday at Acacia Memorial Park in Modesto to honor the men and women who gave their lives defending this country while serving in the military. Modesto Bee article


Honoring those who gave their all — Richard Pittman always emphasized to his children that “freedom is not free.” It came from the sacrifices made by thousands of men and women in the military. So it was especially significant to his daughter, Tina Pittman-Carr, that her father was honored on Memorial Day, a day to recognize the people who died while serving in the armed forces. Stockton Record article


Valley Editorial Roundup


Sacramento Bee –- If you could expand the Sacramento Convention Center and still have some money left over for other tourist destinations, why wouldn’t you? The City Council should give the go-ahead Tuesday for the smarter, slimmed-down plan.