May 7, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories

California politicians stole their money. Will that make them care about democracy? — The scandal that shook the city of Bell seven years ago casts a long shadow. Eye-popping inflated public salaries. Personal loans to employees from the city budget. Illegal tax increases. Shakedowns of local businesses. A car-towing scheme to generate revenue. Seven politicians and city administrators convicted. Sacramento Bee article

John Myers: Schools are trying to regain control over the size of their savings — It’s been almost three years since Gov. Jerry Brown pushed a controversial plan through the Legislature that, under the right conditions, would force some school districts to spend when they would rather save — and district leaders across California howled in protest. They hope this is the summer when they finally get back some of that control. Myers in LA Times 

Dan Walters: Consumers will pay for California’s new carbon scheme – no matter how it’s written — California’s top politicians are trying to fashion a new assault on greenhouse gas emissions, and what they decide, perhaps within a few weeks, will have immense effects on what consumers spend for gasoline and myriad other products and services. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown

Fresno Bee: One visit to Firebaugh.  That’s all we ask, Gov. Brown — Community college students in Firebaugh, California, learn in a former bowling alley, now outgrown. The state should fund a long-planned new facility. Fresno Bee editorial

Valley politics

Conway to run for state Senate — Connie Conway has made it official: she will seek a seat on the California Senate. Last week, Conway, a former Tulare County supervisor and California State Assembly member, announced she will vie for the District 16 seat in 2018. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Will California’s surge of liberal activism pull legislators to the left? – With bills still in early stages in the Capitol — and elections 18 months away — it remains to be seen if this liberal clamor can affect policy outcomes or unseat incumbent legislators. But politicians acknowledge the phenomenon is bound to have an impact. LA Times article

California Politics Podcast: Napolitano under fire — This week: UC President Janet Napolitano defends her office’s budget practices during a tense legislative hearing. We also discuss President Trump’s actions on offshore oil, and the big political battle brewing over single-payer healthcare in Sacramento. With John Myers and Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times and Marisa Lagos of KQED News. California Politics Podcast


Stories of family separation and hard work fuel Immigrants March Modesto — With signs that read “No human is illegal” and “Jesus was a refugee,” some 200 people took to the streets for the Immigrants March Modesto on Saturday afternoon. Modesto Bee article 

Mexican government spends $250,000 in Sacramento to defend immigrants living there — The Mexican consulate in Sacramento will spend about a quarter-million dollars to help its nationals in the area fight deportations, part of a $50 million effort across the United States by the Mexican government as fears of immigration crackdowns grow. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

GOP plan to ax state-tax deduction would hit California hardest — Republican plans to eliminate the state and local tax deduction as part of federal tax reform has put California’s GOP legislators in a tight spot. This deduction disproportionately helps high-tax states, especially California, which has the nation’s highest maximum state income tax rate of 13.3 percent. Republicans who toe the party line risk alienating constituents. San Francisco Chronicle article

Willie Brown: Why Republicans may not pay a price for repeal-and-replace — Oh, the Republicans will catch grief in their districts over the next few days while the House is in recess, from constituents worried about losing their health insurance under the GOP bill that passed Thursday. But there’s a good chance that the worst parts of the House bill — and boy, is there a lot to choose from — won’t ever make their way to the White House for President Trump’s signature, because they won’t get through the Senate. Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle 

Health care repeal could threaten U.S. jobs engine – The outsize economic role of the American health care industry heightens the risks posed by the Republicans’ effort in Washington to repeal the Affordable Care Act, enacted in 2010 under President Barack Obama, and it comes at a delicate moment for the broader economy. New York Times article

Donald Blount: Health care should not be a privilege — Imagine those that do not have health insurance. Or those who cold lose theirs. Sadly, this will happen to an estimated 24 million people under the legislation that passed through the House. Shame on them for playing politics with people’s lives. Shame on them for thinking that basic health care is a privilege. And shame on us all for not understanding that we have an obligation to help those who cannot help themselves. It should be our privilege to fulfill that responsibility. Blount column in Stockton Record

Accused of mismanagement, California’s tax collection agency ‘is in complete disarray,’ officials say — Reeling from allegations of financial blunders, nepotism and improper use of civil servants for political benefit, California’s tax collection board agency finds itself temporarily stripped of its power as it awaits the possibility of the biggest overhaul in its 138-year history. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Trump can’t stop protests at his rallies, experts say – In the midst of a protest-laden tour through California in June, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump took to Twitter to suggest that his fans were ready to do battle with raucous hecklers if necessary. San Francisco Chronicle article

Bernie Sanders wants California to lead on health care — Sen. Bernie Sanders, assailing Republicans in Washington for their health care bill, delivered a message Saturday to the Democratic-controlled California Legislature: “Please lead the country and pass the single-payer bill.” Sacramento Bee article

News Stories

Top Stories

Emails reveal disagreement, insensitivity over tasing Bakersfield High School student — When 17-year-old Bakersfield High School student Tyson Reed was taken to the ground by a Kern High School District police officer and tased twice in 2015 after being tardy to class, the district was resolute in defending itself. But internal communications among administrators after the incident reveal disagreement about how the situation was handled, including whether the force was excessive, according to dozens of emails The Californian obtained through a California Public Records Act filing. It took the district six months to fulfill the request. Bakersfield Californian article

Stanislaus County and its cities grapple with legalized marijuana — Some cities in Stanislaus County are wary of legalized marijuana and are laying down rules for residents who want to grow it. Some cities that need the money see dollar signs in legalized pot, while county officials worry about impacts on services such as public safety, environmental resources, code enforcement and the district attorney’s office. Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Are beach vacations for middle-class Californians getting impossible to afford? — As the weather warms up, families across California are planning summertime visits to the beach. But overnight trips to the state’s famous coastline are becoming increasingly difficult for middle-class residents to enjoy because the price of admission is soaring. Thousands of old, relatively low-cost motel rooms along the coast have been closed in recent years, replaced with luxury hotels that are out of reach for many. San Jose Mercury News article

Modesto Bee: Help wanted: Questions for choosing region’s new leaders – Stanislaus has four hugely important jobs to fill with more waiting in the wings; here are questions we think prospective leaders should be asked. Modesto Bee editorial

Sacramento’s growing faster than it has in recent years, but not too fast, economist says – Don’t call it a boom. The Sacramento region added more people in 2016 than during any other year since the housing market infamously overheated and collapsed a decade ago, according to estimates from the California Department of Finance. But growth rates remain far below levels seen during the housing boom. Sacramento Bee article

Modesto increases salary for acting city manager – The City Council has approved raising the pay for Deputy City Manager Joe Lopez as he serves as acting city manager, from $175,946 to $198,000 per year. Modesto Bee article

Mall and downtown developments: New places to eat, learn, get dressed in Modesto — When you think of online learning, you immediately think of a shopping mall, right? Yeah, not so much. But for the folks at ABC Mouse, malls are a great place to reach people. They recently opened a kiosk at Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto. It’s one of two new shops to open recently. Modesto Bee article

Cracker Barrel coming to Fresno, new report says, but no official word yet — A new report Saturday indicated that a Cracker Barrel restaurant will open in Fresno, which would be the chain’s first eatery in California. Fresno Bee article 

Nonprofit pledges $100 million to aid San Francisco’s chronically homeless – In the biggest donation of its kind ever made to San Francisco, the Tipping Point Community charitable organization is pledging $100 million to try to cut the chronically homeless population in half over five years — an ambitious goal for a city that has long wrestled with a street population teeming with people with seemingly intractable problems. San Francisco Chronicle article

Women in Amgen compete as hard as male cyclists. So why do make less money? — Women are paid less, get far less media attention, and, when invited to participate in high-profile events like the Tour of California, often don’t get to race on the same challenging routes as the men. Sacramento Bee article

Bay Area demonstrators may be paid to protest, by employers — It’s a common accusation lobbed at liberal protesters gathered at town hall meetings, statehouses and in the streets: They’re being paid to protest. Thanks to a rising trend among tech companies and some Bay Area firms, some, in fact, may be. San Francisco Chronicle article


The state of our dams — From their homes, San Joaquin County residents cannot see the dozen-plus large dams that stand between them and a mammoth melting snowpack. But every day that the lowlands stay dry is a reminder that those dams exist and are doing their job, protecting hundreds of thousands of people and billions of dollars worth of crops and property. Stockton Record article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Lois Henry: How many more ‘bad apples’ are going to roll out of this barrel? — It’s hard to know what’s more disheartening: That two more local law enforcement officers abused the trust of this community to commit crimes and enrich themselves; or the downright obsequious manner in which the “authorities” have dealt with all these dirty cops. They are dirty cops. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Jeff Jardine: Black leader frustrated by treatment from Modesto security guard, calls it profiling — Darius Crosby certainly doesn’t look like a homeless guy. He doesn’t walk Modesto’s streets carrying a backpack or pushing a “borrowed” grocery cart. He’s clean, well-dressed and sometimes wears a necktie. That stated, the reason the 57-year-old African-American doesn’t look like a homeless guy is because, well, he’s not. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Erika D. Smith: Racial profiling is real, and this is the only way to stop it — Sacramento police stop black pedestrians and drivers at a disproportionate rate. The department says there’s no racial profiling going on. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is putting the finishing touches on regulations that would require cops to collect more information about the people they stop, potentially ferreting out the truth once and for all. Smith column in Sacramento Bee


U.S. Senate chaplain tells Fresno Pacific graduates to ‘refuse failure’ — More than 470 graduates walked across the stage at the Selland Arena on Saturday during Fresno Pacific University’s commencement. About 200 students were from the undergraduate program, 130 from the bachelor’s degree completion program, 127 from the graduate program and 18 from the Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black, who gave the commencement speech, urged graduates not to give up easily on anything in life. Fresno Bee article

Stockton seniors celebrated at a different kind of signing day — A couple years ago, the staff and administration at Langston Hughes Academy began recognizing the achievements of graduating seniors with an annual senior signing day. Stockton Record article


Merced River to start receding in Yosemite, but some flooding still possible – Minor flooding continued in Yosemite National Park Saturday as the Merced River rose above flood stage in one stretch, the result of melting snow in the Sierra. Fresno Bee article

Health/Human Services

Merced baby born 13 pounds is ‘heavier than a set of twins’ — Three of Jenna Reyes’ four older children were large babies at birth, ranging from nine to 11 pounds. So when she was told on April 22 that her fifth child was expected to be around 10 pounds, it wasn’t too surprising. That changed in the delivery room. Raymond Jay Reyes was born at 5:11 p.m. April 30 at 13 pounds, five ounces and 22.5 inches at Mercy Medical Center in Merced. Merced Sun-Star article


Matthew Machado: Congress, don’t send those huge trucks onto our local roads, bridges – The Stanislaus County director of public works writes, “Members of California’s congressional delegation should reject any efforts to allow heavier or longer trucks on local roads. The consequences of any increases to allow bigger trucks will be very costly to California taxpayers. Just as importantly, it will endanger local motorists.” Machado op-ed in Modesto Bee

Other areas

From bucket brigades to high-tech engines, Fresno’s firefighters span 140 years — Fire protection is something that most Fresno residents take for granted. Dial up 911, and within minutes you’ve got a fully stocked fire engine and a highly trained crew of firefighters working to snuff out the flames. But in Fresno’s infancy in the 1870s, the lack of any coordinated firefighting effort meant that any sizable blaze had the potential to be a major disaster for the fledgling community. Fresno Bee article

San Joaquin County supervisors expected to approve new registrar of voters — A new San Joaquin County registrar of voters could be named this week. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to approve on its consent calendar the appointment of Melinda Dubroff as the new registrar of voters at its Tuesday meeting. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup 

Fresno Bee – Community college students in Firebaugh, California, learn in a former bowling alley, now outgrown. The state should fund a long-planned new facility.

Modesto Bee – Stanislaus has four hugely important jobs to fill with more waiting in the wings; here are questions we think prospective leaders should be asked.