May 31, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories


A political battle over California’s bullet train has ended with the release of money – The state finance department has cleared the way for a $713-million state grant to electrify a commuter rail system in the Bay Area, ending a political battle started earlier this year by California Republicans in the U.S. House. LA Times article


CD 21: New opponent for Valadao’s congressional seat is familiar face — The first opponent for Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, will be a familiar face: Bakersfield attorney Emilio Huerta, who the incumbent handily defeated last year. Still, Huerta believes the time might be right to try again. In a press release, Huerta cited Valadao’s recent vote on health care as a reason he should be replaced. Fresno Bee article; Bakersfield Californian article


Dan Walters: Unions put major muscle behind their Capitol agenda in California — At last count, 16.9 million Californians were wage and salary workers, and, according to the federal government, just 15.9 percent of them – about one in six – were members of labor unions. However, their unions wield huge, disproportionate influence in the building, thanks to their intimate relationship, both financial and ideological, with its dominant Democrats. Walters column in Sacramento Bee


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures


Rural Californians fear concerns unheard by big-city politicians – California’s long-struggling rural communities are looking for less talk and more action from a state Legislature dominated by big-city Democrats with few connections to the very different problems of those living outside the state’s coastal megalopolises. San Francisco Chronicle article


Kimberly Ellis files formal challenge over result of Democratic Party chairperson election — The candidate who narrowly lost the race to be the next leader of the California Democratic Party on Tuesday filed a formal challenge of the election result. LA Times article


Republicans’ gay rights tweet upsets California Family Council — A tweet posted earlier this month by the California Assembly Republican Caucus for Harvey Milk Day has upset some social conservatives that see the message as a betrayal of the state party and their place within it. Sacramento Bee article


Joel Fox: Prop 54 supporters prepared to defend 72-hour rule in court –The key provision of Proposition 54, a constitutional amendment voters passed by a two-to-one margin last November, is about to be tested in the legislature with ramifications that may present a roadblock for the state’s budget. Proposition 54 was designed to bring transparency to state lawmaking. The first item identified by the Attorney General’s Title and Summary of the initiative measure was that the legislature was prohibited from passing any bill unless it has been in print and published on the Internet for at least 72 hours before the vote. Fox in Fox & Hounds




One man was arrested 19 times; others once. All of them face deportation in Trump’s America – The broad spectrum of criminal backgrounds of the inmate population is evidence of the widening definition of whom the federal government considers for deportation under President Donald Trump. While federal authorities were under orders in the past to focus on serious criminals for deportation, ICE is operating under a new set of guidelines that permits agents to apprehend anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. The new guidelines also state that those merely suspected of a crime – but not convicted – are targets for deportation. Sacramento Bee article

Judge: Trump’s deportation order for man in Hawaii ‘inhumane’ – A Trump administration order to deport a man who entered the country illegally nearly three decades ago and became a respected businessman in Hawaii was “inhumane” and “contrary to the values of the country and its legal system,” a federal judge wrote Tuesday in an unusually impassioned opinion. AP article; LA Times article


Other areas


Decision Week: California lawmakers to vote on hundreds of bills as Friday deadline looms – Hundreds of proposals on everything from bail reform to allowing people to check boxes other than male or female on state forms will likely be called up for a vote this week in the California Assembly and Senate — as lawmakers scramble to meet a Friday deadline to pass each bill out of its house of origin. San Jose Mercury News article


California lawmakers want to give parents at smaller companies 12 weeks of protected family leave – California lawmakers are once again seeking to expand the state’s paid family leave program to smaller businesses after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar measure last year. SB 63, authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), on Tuesday moved out of the state Senate with a 25-13 vote. It now heads to the Assembly for consideration. LA Times article


California state Senate advances bill to ban smoking and use of e-cigarettes in public housing – Californians would no longer be able to use tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, in public housing and within 25 of those buildings under a measure approved Tuesday by the state Assembly. LA Times article


U.S. Supreme Court makes it harder to sue police for barging into homes — The Supreme Court made it harder to sue police for barging into a home and provoking a shooting, setting aside a $4-million verdict against two Los Angeles County deputies on Tuesday. LA Times article


Supreme Court roundup: Justices rule on excessive force and in immigration case — The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of police officers who had been sued for using excessive force and an immigrant who had faced deportation for statutory rape. The justices also agreed to decide whether Ohio had been too aggressive in purging its voter rolls. New York Times article


Planned Parenthood closes three clinics in Northern California – Planned Parenthood will close three clinics in Northern California at the end of June to consolidate dwindling financial resources, the organization confirmed Tuesday. Sacramento Bee article


More transparency proposed for prescription drug price increases under bill passed by California Senate — Alarmed by skyrocketing prices for some prescription drugs, the California Senate on Tuesday approved a measure aimed at increasing pressure to hold down costs to consumers by requiring more public reporting of price hikes. LA Times article


California Senate advances bill to make pot use in cars and infraction – Just months after state voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana, the state Senate on Tuesday voted to prohibit its use in automobiles because of concerns over drugged driving. LA Times article


California state senators want to stop the public from smoking at California beaches and parks — Californians would be barred from smoking or using electronic cigarettes in state parks and at beaches under a bill approved Tuesday by the state Senate. LA Times article


California may require pet shops sell only rescue dogs, cats – California may ban pet stores from selling dogs, cats and rabbits unless they are rescue animals under a bill passed by the state Assembly. Lawmakers voted 44-6 to send the measure to the state Senate on Tuesday. The bill by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell aims to prevent California pet stores from selling animals bred in puppy mills and other mass-breeding operations. AP article


Poll: Most Americans want Senate to change or ditch House health-care bill – Most Americans hold an unfavorable view of the House-passed health-care bill and want the Senate to change it substantially or block it entirely, according to the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. Washington Post article


How Congress dismantled federal Internet privacy rules – Congressional Republicans knew their plan was potentially explosive. They wanted to kill landmark privacy regulations that would soon ban Internet providers, such as Comcast and AT&T, from storing and selling customers’ browsing histories without their express consent. Washington Post article


California’s ‘toilet lawyer’ has spent decades fighting for gay rights and against his critics — The victory was the first in a career that would see Nickerson become a legal champion for LGBTQ rights as the go-to criminal defense attorney for gay and bisexual men accused of lewd conduct and indecent exposure in California. In the last few decades, he has waged legal war on undercover stings, an age-old police tactic that activists condemn as a form of entrapment that unfairly singles out gay men. LA Times article


Presidential Politics


Cathleen Decker: In President Trump’s wake, divisions mark both Democratic and Republican parties – Six months after President Trump breached long-standing political boundaries to win the White House, the nation’s major political parties still muddle in his wake. Decker in LA Times


Trump advisors wage tug of war before decision on climate deal — A divided White House staff, anxious corporate executives, lawmakers and foreign leaders are fiercely competing for President Trump’s ear this week as he nears a decision on whether to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, the landmark agreement that commits nearly every country to combat global warmingNew York Times article


Pelosi on saying ‘President Trump’: ‘It’s hard’ — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that an independent commission still needs to probe Russia’s interference in last year’s presidential election. She also said the difference between Trump and past Republican leaders is the president’s lack of respect for facts, and acknowledged “it’s hard” to say “President Trump.” KQED report; San Francisco Chronicle article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories


Forecast: Fresno to add jobs, wages, people – Fresno employment, wages, housing starts and population are all expected to rise through 2020, according to the latest California & Metro Forecast created by the Center for Business and Policy Research at the University of the Pacific Eberhart School of Business in Stockton. The Business Journal article


California economy expected to grow more slowly – A new economic forecast from the Center for Business and Policy Research at the University of the Pacific shows the economy continues to grow despite an uncertain policy environment. But California should expect slower growth compared to recent years. Non-farm payroll jobs are expected to increase 1.5 percent over the next year, half the pace of the previous four years. Capitol Public Radio report


Lois Henry: Local air pollution control chief Seyed Sadredin vilified through Valley has most strict air pollution rules in nation — In reality, what Sadredin has done over his career is implement the most stringent anti-pollution rules in the nation and oversee a massive reduction in air pollution from the 1980s to now even as the valley’s population has increased. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian


Jobs and the Economy


Forest Service women: We faced assault, mistreatment, retaliation if we complained — Female Forest Service workers in California reported enduring sexual misconduct, harassment and a fear of retaliation if they complained, according to a previously unreleased study obtained by McClatchy under the Freedom of Information Act. While many Forest Service employees voiced general satisfaction with their workplaces, women were much more likely than men to identify serious problems in the 2015 survey. McClatchy Newspapers article


Want a say in how Merced County supervisors spend taxpayer money? Here’s your chance – Two freshman Merced County supervisors are experimenting with a new way to dole out the hotly-contested discretionary funds that each board member receives each fiscal year. Supervisors Rodrigo Espinoza and Supervisor Lee Lor will host a study session Wednesday to introduce “participatory budgeting,” a process crafted to allow residents to directly vote on how to allocate discretionary funds. Merced Sun-Star article


Consumers spend at fastest pace in four months in a sign of spring economic rebound – Americans ratcheted up their spending in April at the fastest pace in four months in a sign the economy has rebounded this spring after a lackluster winter. LA Times article


Woodlake considers pot businesses – The City of Woodlake is huddling with several commercial cannabis growing companies who may be interested in relocating operations to this Tulare County foothill community. Visalia Times-Delta article


Growing pot industry offers breaks to entice minorities — Now Oakland and other cities and states with legal pot are trying to make up for the toll marijuana enforcement took on minorities by giving them a better shot at joining the growing marijuana industry. African-Americans made up 83 percent of cannabis arrests in Oakland in the year Shavers was arrested. AP article


Bakersfield city committee punts on what to do with controversial PACE program – The question before the Bakersfield City Council’s Budget & Finance Committee on Tuesday was deceptively simple. Provide a thumbs-up or thumbs-down recommendation to the full council on whether the city should continue to be involved with PACE, or Property Assessed Clean Energy financing. Instead the three-member panel called something of a rain delay, sending the issue back to the full council, but without a recommendation. Bakersfield Californian article


East Hills Mall owners, city to decide level of public input into redevelopment plans – A request by the owners of East Hills Mall to limit public input into their redevelopment plans in an effort to speed up the process will be decided at Bakersfield’s Planning Commission meeting Thursday. Bakersfield Californian article


Family Dollar close to acquiring former New Grand Save property — The court-appointed receiver in control of south Stockton’s former New Grand Save Market said Tuesday a sale of the property to a chain-store developer is in escrow and could close “at any time.” Stockton Record article


Despite low inflation, Fed is likely to raise interest rates in June – A speech by a Federal Reserve governor Tuesday underscored a basic shift in Fed policy: The central bank now needs to be convinced that quarterly rate increases are a bad idea. New York Times article


More Valley Payless shoe stores on the chopping block –Bankrupt Payless ShoeSource is already closing four stores in Fresno and Merced and more in Fresno, Visalia and Clovis may be closing. Fresno Bee article; Merced Sun-Star article; Modesto Bee article


Sacramento leaders OK convention center rehab – and want another tourist destination – The Sacramento City Council on Tuesday approved a scaled-back renovation of the convention center, choosing to save money for a second, undetermined project intended to draw tourists and conventioneers to the city. Sacramento Bee article


Hotels off to a hot start in 2017 in Sacramento area –Sacramento-area motel and hotel operators, who have been seeing strong demand for rooms over the past couple of years, have started 2017 on a similarly robust note, according to the latest report from CBRE Hotels in San Francisco. Sacramento Bee article


Uber fires engineer at center of Waymo trade-secret lawsuit – Uber has fired Anthony Levandowski, the star engineer at the center of its bitter legal battle with Waymo over his alleged theft of robot-car trade secrets. San Francisco Chronicle article




Want to keep your lawn green this summer? Fresno will allow more watering days — Fresno residents will be able to water their lawns and landscaping three days a week during the summer starting on Thursday, thanks to a wet winter and an easing of water conservation measures. Fresno Bee article

Nope, the wet winter didn’t wash away the state law on sustainable groundwater use – Groundwater users in cities and on farms can learn Wednesday about the state law mandating sustainable use. A pair of identical workshops in Denair will deal with early steps for groundwater planning in a zone from south Modesto to north Merced County. It is one of many areas around the state that have about a quarter-century to assure that the water pumped out does not exceed recharge of the aquifers. Modesto Bee article


Criminal Justice/Prisons


Fresno police gearing up against gang retaliation for deadly shootings – After three shooting deaths over the Memorial Day holiday that appear gang-related, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer ordered the entire department – including auto theft, traffic and narcotics officers – to go after gang members roving the city looking to gun down rivals and settle scores. Often, as in the bloody weekend violence, their bullets are finding innocent bystanders, the chief said. Fresno Bee article


Bill McEwen: Code of silence help protect Fresno gang members – This knot of gangs and violence is not easily undone. All of Fresno’s mayors going back to Jim Patterson in the 1990s have tried mightily to protect innocent citizens, young and old, from the bullets of gang activity. Thus far, there’s been little headway in breaking the cycle of multigenerational gang membership. The reality is that there are parts of Fresno where gangs rule by intimidation. Some kids are born into gang families and raised to become criminals. Others are recruited with a promise that they will be protected from rival gangs or they’ll make easy money. McEwen column in Fresno Bee


Kayla Foster became a victim of the very violence she was trying to end – When Kayla Foster was killed on Monday, she became the victim of the very crime she had been helping fight against since she was 10, said her grandmother Cheryl Sumler. Described as having an infectious smile and always willing to help anyone in need, the 18-year-old was set to graduate from Central High School in two weeks, and had plans to enroll in the nursing program at Fresno City College. Fresno Bee article


It costs Modesto nearly $1 million after officers enter home without warrant – It cost Modesto nearly $1 million to resolve a lawsuit that claims its officers entered an elderly woman’s home without permission or a warrant. Modesto Bee article


California lawmakers OK bill prompted by slaying of officer — The California Assembly has passed a bill tightening parole policies after a gang member with repeated probation violations was accused of killing a police officer near Los Angeles. The Assembly voted unanimously Tuesday to send the measure to the state Senate. AP article


Fresno County deputies rescued after fall into Kings River – Five Fresno County sheriff’s deputies were rescued Tuesday after falling into the Kings River during a swift-water training exercise. A lieutenant, two sergeants and two deputies went into the water after a raft flipped about 12:30 p.m. near Kirch Flat on the Upper Kings River. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article


Hero deputy to receive award for saving man’s life – A Modesto couple is calling a San Joaquin County sheriff’s deputy their angel after he raced to the man’s side and saved him during a heart attack earlier this month. And Deputy Dave Konecny will be honored later this week for his heroics. Stockton Record article




School day wouldn’t begin before 8:30 a.m. in California under bill that clears state Senate – California teenagers wouldn’t be required to start their school day before 8:30 am under a bill approved Tuesday by the state Senate. LA Times article


Clovis Unified board names former Clovis West superintendent as new superintendent – After less than two months of deliberation, the Clovis Unified school board voted on Tuesday to hire district staffer Eimear O’Farrell as the next superintendent. O’Farrell, 53, assistant superintendent for the Clovis West High School region, will replace Janet Young as district superintendent, who announced her plans to retire last month. Fresno Bee article


A vision and a legacy for college district – In 1994, Dr. Frank Gornick walked into the interview for the position of president of West Hills Community College with a vision, 23 years later he is set to retire as chancellor of the district with the knowledge that his vision has been completed. Hanford Sentinel article


Interview: Harold Pierce on misuse of CLETS in Kern High School District – The Kern High School District launched nine internal investigations in 2016 for inappropriate use of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. Bakersfield Californian Reporter Harold Pierce’s lays out the issue in a recent article. Valley Public Radio report


Free play or flashcards? New study nods to more rigorous preschools –new national study suggests that preschools that do not mix enough fiber into their curriculum may be doing their young charges a disservice. The study found that by the end of kindergarten, children who had attended one year of “academic-oriented preschool” outperformed peers who had attended less academic-focused preschools by, on average, the equivalent of two and a half months of learning in literacy and math. New York Times article


Outsourced UCSF workers sue state Regents – A group of former UC San Francisco information technology workers on Tuesday sued the state, claiming discrimination and harassment when they were forced to train lower-cost foreign workers to replace them. San Jose Mercury News article


Addington region’s administrator of the year – Tom Addington, the Superintendent of the Central Union School District, has been selected as the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region XI Administrator of the Year. Hanford Sentinel article


Sara Sandrik: Merced schools celebrate the past year while looking to the future – The public information officer for the Merced City School District writes, “It’s hard to believe we’re less than a week away from the last day of school, but the rising temperatures (and the Merced City School District calendar) make it very clear that summer is almost here! May has been an especially busy month with state testing on top of the regular classroom curriculum, but it has also been a time to celebrate the hard work and achievements of our students and staff.” Sandrik op-ed in Merced Sun-Star




Memorial Day weekend on the Kern River is one of deadliest in 24 years — Only two weekends in the past 24 years have been deadlier on the Kern River than this Memorial Day weekend. Three people — all from Southern California — died on the river. Bakersfield Californian article


Michael Fitzgerald: Downtown – just add water – Once no dam restrained the Calaveras River. So when it rained monsoons, floodwaters barreled down a branch of the river that skirts downtown Stockton. Mormon Slough caused major floods. Waterlogged Stocktonians, fed up, scooped the Diverting Canal east of town in 1910. The canal deflects Mormon Slough water back to the Calaveras River. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record


Berkeley to ponder ordinance banning plastic straws — The next plastic piece of convenience on the chopping block are drinking straws, as the city of Berkeley decides whether to create an ordinance banning the environmentally unfriendly item on Tuesday. Drawn up by three City Council members, the city would seek to ban plastic drinking straws from its restaurants and coffee shops. San Francisco Chronicle article


Health/Human Services


Be Public Live Preview: What’s behind the Valley’s doctor shortage? — We all know the valley doesn’t have enough doctors. But why? Is the high percentage of Medi-Cal patients in the valley, and low reimbursement rates for physicians who accept them? Is it the lack of a stand-alone medical school, or not enough medical residency programs? Or is it quality of life issues like air quality and access to big city amenities keeping physicians away from communities in need? Those are just some of the questions we’ll be asking Thursday night in an event at the station in our new series of community forums called “Be Public Live.” Valley Public Radio report




RTD changing how fines are paid, adding appeals process — The San Joaquin Regional Transit District is going to change how fines will be paid, and it could lead to lower fines for those who receive tickets for nine prohibited behaviors on RTD buses. The changes take effect Thursday. Stockton Record article


Southwest is experimenting with two exit doors for passengers arriving in Sacramento — Passengers flying Southwest Airlines into Sacramento won’t have an easier time getting away, but they will have an easier time getting off the plane thanks to a new experiment in dual-door deplaning. Sacramento Bee article


Other areas


Bob Smith: What is was. What it is. What it will be – The vice mayor of Bakersfield

and founder of Bike Bakersfield writes, “We all have a part in creating the Bakersfield of the future. We have made a great city let us work together to make it the best that it can be. Let us all invest our time and energy in making the vision of the Best Bakersfield become our future together.” Smith op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


Danny Morrison: A mini-message to the millennials — Millennials (defined as those born between 1982 and 2004) are starting to become more prevalent in the workforce. And not everyone is excited about it. Some believe that millennials are our worst “Generation M.” They believe that America can’t withstand a full complement of young people with an entitlement complex. I disagree with that assessment. I believe that millennials have a chance to be our most socially conscious and innovative generation ever. Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian


Valley Editorial Roundup


Modesto Bee – There’s no good explanation if Jared Kushner did ask Russia’s ambassador to set up a secret way to communicate with the Kremlin, away from the watchful eyes of U.S. intelligence.


Sacramento Bee –- Jared Kushner has some explaining to do on Russia, if he can.
Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: Right place, right time for water rescue; community shows hope during dire circumstances; and other issues.