May 5, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories 

Valley Republicans praised, scored over vote to repeal Obamacare — Supporters of Obamacare in the central San Joaquin Valley quickly denounced Thursday’s vote by Republican representatives for the American Health Care Act, a measure to repeal and replace the existing health care law, and said voters will remember. But Valley critics of Obamacare applauded their congressmen for voting to scrap what they said is a disastrous health care law. Fresno Bee article; Fresno Bee editorial; Bakersfield Californian article; Modesto Bee article;Modesto Bee editorial; McClatchy Newspapers article; Valley Public Radio report 

Dan Walters: Costly corporate tax breaks mostly avoid state scrutiny — California gives corporations billions of dollars in special tax breaks each year on the assumption that they will generate more job-creating investment. However, state officials only occasionally check on whether these loopholes actually do what they are supposed to do, or just fatten corporate treasuries. In fact, a new nationwide study of how states manage their “incentives” says that California’s oversight is one of the weakest. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

State budget

He wants more public money to fight Trump for California — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra had a message for the state Senate’s budget writers Thursday: Carrying on the state’s legal fight against President Donald Trump doesn’t come cheap. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Stockton council race to feature familiar faces — Former Councilwoman Dyane Medina announced Thursday she will run next year for the District 5 seat currently held by Christina Fugazi, who plans to seek re-election. Stockton Record article

Clerk-recorder copy fees to increase despite challengers’ legal victory — Stanislaus County has fought a legal battle over the clerk-recorder’s charges for furnishing copies of official records to the public. Modesto Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Initiative filed to repeal California gas tax increase  — California’s new gas tax hike to pay for road improvements pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown and Democrats could go before voters for repeal. Sacramento Bee article

What Democrat would be crazy enough to challenge Nancy Pelosi on her home turf? Meet Stephen Jaffe — Stephen Jaffe entered the cafe with a small grin, a riotous print shirt and the blithe confidence of someone who doesn’t much care if people think he’s crazy. The 71-year-old employment attorney, a political novice, was one of many Democrats swept up in the fist-shaking presidential crusade of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Thus inspired, he’s now fixed his sights on winning a seat in Congress. LA Times article


Sacramento will provide up to $300,000 to aid undocumented immigrants — Undocumented immigrants in Sacramento will have city-funded legal services as soon as next month to fight deportation and “prepare for the worst,” as fears continue to grow about federal immigration plans. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Who would lose health insurance in California under GOP Obamacare repeal? — Many of the 5 million Californians who receive health coverage through the Affordable Care Act risk losing insurance under GOP legislation passed Thursday by the House of Representatives. State and health industry officials said they hoped the U.S. Senate would block the bill or revise it to better protect low-income communities and people with pre-existing conditions. Sacramento Bee article

Health advocates predict repeal-and-replace bill will have dire consequences in Valley– The new repeal-and-replace legislation passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday is not much different than the bill that was dropped in March. Health advocates renewed their dire predictions for low-income residents and people who struggle to buy coverage in Stanislaus, Merced and other counties in the Central Valley. Modesto Bee/Merced Sun-Star article

California Republicans all voted yes on the healthcare bill. Now Democrats have a campaign issue – All 14 Republicans in California’s congressional delegation voted Thursday to dismantle Obamacare, a move that could have ripple effects for the midterm elections 18 months from now as Democrats sense an opportunity to win back House control. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

GOP cheers a big victory. But has it stirred a ‘hornet’s nest’? –  As they hooted derisively at their Republican colleagues on Thursday after a narrow, party-line approval of legislation to roll back the Obama-era health care law, Democrats glimpsed the mirror image of their own politically disastrous health care experience. They also saw a prime opportunity to avenge their ugly 2010 loss and possibly recapture the House majority. New York Times article

Three Pinocchios: Kevin McCarthy’s claim that ‘nobody on Medicaid is going to be taken away’ — Given the magnitude of the funding reductions for Medicaid contemplated by the AHCA, potentially forcing difficult decisions on the states, McCarthy shouldn’t try to hide behind such technical, misleading language. Washington Post article

Joe Mathews: California’s ‘Bleak House’ courts stall justice — Dig deep enough into California’s biggest problems, and you’ll hit upon a common villain: our court system. Mathews in Bakersfield Californian

Pot brownies could lose some punch under proposed California rules — Under proposed guidelines, released last week, state officials recommended a limit of 100 milligrams per marijuana edible or package, with marked pieces – or doses – of 10 milligrams or less. While Korova could be the most notable company affected, the rules could force scores of cannabis manufacturers to change product lines and remove high-octane marijuana foods from the legal sales market for consumers. Sacramento Bee article; KQED report

Bill that would allow cities to mandate more low-income rental housing clears Assembly — A measure that would allow local governments to force developers to include more low-income housing within their projects passed the Assembly Thursday. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Trump and Democrats get ready for war over wall, defense and other budget plans — Now comes the real, bruising put-on-your-hard-hats budget fight. Congress and President Donald Trump now have until Sept. 30 to figure out how to fund the federal government for the fiscal year that begins the next day. It’s going to get ugly. McClatchy Newspapers article

California Senate approves earlier presidential primary — California is one step closer to having the third presidential primary in the nation, after the state Senate Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill to schedule future primary votes in March. KQED report

News Stories

Top Stories

Can San Joaquin Valley plow forward despite national headwinds? – Rising interest rates will cool home sales and cut into retail profits and business expansion over the next few years, taking a toll on the San Joaquin Valley’s nascent economic boom, predicts a new report out of California State University, Stanislaus. Modesto Bee article

Travel, tourism injected a record $126 billion into state’s economy — Traveler spending injected a record $126 billion into California’s economy in 2016, Visit California said Thursday. In its annual economic impact report, the nonprofit group said travel and tourism generated $10.3 billion in tax revenue and supported 1.1 million jobs last year. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; San Jose Mercury News article

Jobs and the Economy

Valley economic index points to expansionary economy – The San Joaquin Valley Business Conditions Index declined slightly in April to 60.2 from March’s record high 61.2, but remains in a range that indicates an expansionary economy over the course of the next three to six months.  Hanford Sentinel article

Kern County nears impasse with law enforcement unions – Kern County supervisors are scheduled to declare impasse in contract negotiations with the unions that represent Kern County Sheriff’s Office street deputies and detentions deputies. Bakersfield Californian article

State Farm to ‘exit’ Bakersfield facility by 2021 – Insurance company State Farm has announced that it plans to close eleven facilities nationwide over the next four years, including one in Bakersfield that employs about 740 people. Valley Public Radio report

Venture capital firm invests big in Wawona Packing – A New York venture capital firm has made an equity investment in Wawona Packing Co., providing an influx of cash to be used for future expansion plans. Bob Smittcamp, whose father Earl founded the peach farming and packing operation in 1948, confirmed that Paine Schwartz Partners has been brought in as an equity partner. The Business Journal article

Small business: Heartbeat of Visalia, Tulare – The Visalia Chamber has nearly 700 members from zero employee micro businesses to large local and multi-international corporations and consider every business a unique asset to the town. “Small business are the heartbeat of our community,” said Gail Zurek, Visalia Chamber of Commerce CEO. “They are the folks that are employing our neighbors.” Visalia Times-Delta article

Fresno will have pro soccer team in 2018 — Pro soccer is coming to Fresno. The United Soccer League confirmed that it has approved an expansion franchise to begin play in 2018, bringing pro soccer to central California in what also is a World Cup year. Fresno Bee article

Bay Area’s housing recovery isn’t as universal as you think — With double-digit price appreciation returning to some Bay Area markets, we’re used to hearing that the region’s homeowners are a lucky bunch, richer by the minute. It’s often true, but not always. East Bay Times article

Justice Department opens criminal probe into Uber — The Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into Uber’s use of a secret software that was used to evade authorities in places where its ride-hailing service was banned or restricted, according to a person familiar with the government’s probe. Washington Post article


Snow melt puts Merced River above flood stage in Yosemite National Park — High temperatures put the Merced River in Yosemite National Park over flood stage on Thursday as snow from higher elevations melted and flowed into the river’s basin.  Fresno Bee article

Oroville Dam: The latest on spillway repairs – and what state won’t tell us – Outside consultants agree with the state’s plan to spend the next two summers replacing sections of Oroville Dam’s still largely intact upper spillway rather than trying to tear it all out in one season. But the public can’t see the recommendations the independent board of consultants gave the Department of Water Resources to ensure the work is safe and sound.  Sacramento Bee article 

It’s final: Santos beats Oakdale Irrigation District recall — Final results Wednesday confirmed that Linda Santos defeated an attempted recall from the Oakdale Irrigation District board. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Armed parolee shot by Fresno County deputy west of Minkler – A Fresno County sheriff’s deputy shot and critically wounded an armed parolee west of Minkler on Thursday morning. Fresno Bee article

911 tapes released in two high-profile shootings – Bakersfield police released two 911 tapes in two high-profile shooting cases Thursday, including one that left a 3-year-old girl injured. Bakersfield Californian article

A solemn ceremony remembers Sgt. Lucas and others who died in the line of duty — To the strains of mournful bagpipe music and under a helicopter flyover, Fresno County Sheriff’s Sgt. Rod Lucas was remembered Thursday at the annual Fresno County Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony. Fresno Bee article


CSUB graduating class surprised by sudden ticket announcement — Cal State Bakersfield graduating seniors were taken aback when some — but apparently not all of them — received an email Wednesday from President Horace Mitchell’s office telling them they were allowed only five tickets apiece for family members for their May 19 graduation ceremony. The students had previously been told to place an RSVP for the number of guests they would bring — and there was no cap. Bakersfield Californian article

State board inscribes ‘California Way’ on state plan for new federal law — California education officials have taken advantage of a more hands-off approach to education by Congress and the Trump administration. They are proposing to transfer their distinct vision for school improvement, which they call “the California Way,” to the state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act, the 2015 federal law that governs how the state will spend a projected $2.6 billion in federal education funding. EdSource article

Students sue over suspensions for ‘liking’ racist posts —  Four California high school students sued a school district after they were suspended over their responses to Instagram posts that included a black student and coach with nooses around their necks. AP article


Bay Area air hits healthy milestone thanks to tough wood-burning rules — The Bay Area has cleaned up its air enough to meet the federal health standard for soot and fine pollution particles after a long and controversial campaign to reduce wood burning. San Jose Mercury News article

Insects and disease are ravaging the Southland’s urban trees. Who’s going to stop them? — Insects and disease are quickly killing an unprecedented number of Southern California’s urban trees, but each day on his way to work, Los Angeles County plant pathologist Jerrold Turney sees opportunity amid the biological nightmare. LA Times article

Health/Human Services  

You can’t smoke at Fresno State or Save Mart Center this fall — Fresno State students returning to the campus this fall won’t be able to smoke (or vape) between classes. All California State University campuses will become smoke-free and tobacco-free starting Sept. 1 to comply with a tobacco ban issued by Chancellor Timothy P. White. Fresno Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Hate your neighbor’s tall weeds? Merced is taking action.  You can too — Ever since John Solga and his wife moved into their East South Bear Creek Drive home eight years ago, the lot next door has been empty – except for the tall weeds that grow there. Merced Sun-Star article

Other areas

 Tulare County gives veterans a clean start – Daniel Unger was 16 years old when he watched the World Trade Towers crumble. Two years later, he joined the military. On Thursday, his father and keynote speaker, Marc Unger, shared his son’s story during the 2017 Veterans Court Graduation ceremony. Visalia Times-Delta article

 Larry Gamble: He didn’t even know his name.  But homeless veteran deserved a proper funeral – The founding member and former president and board member of the Business Organization of Old Town Clovis writes, “Charles, it was an honor for me to recognize your service to our country, the community, and to know you helped so many people. Now I can say – I know you, Charles Newton Gower. Thank you for leaving everyone with a precious reminder: a legacy of goodness.” Gamble op-ed in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian Hits and misses: Progress on Kern High School District truancy problem, dirty cops in Kern County, and other issues.

Fresno Bee – If there was any doubt, it evaporated Thursday: President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in the House of Representatives want to make America sick again.

Merced Sun-Star – Every Republican in California’s congressional delegation voted aye on the awful GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act. In 2018, voters should tell them where to go.

Modesto Bee – Jeff Denham’s fig leaf can’t cover up harm he’s done by voting to repeal ACA.

Sacramento Bee –- Every Republican in California’s congressional delegation voted aye on the awful GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act. In 2018, voters should tell them where to go; Why does Sheriff’s Department always need a bailout from Sacramento taxpayers?