May 8, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

CD 21 question: Who will take on Valadao? — Three men are running for the 21st Congressional District seat this year. But the real question for voters in June will be which Democrat to choose to challenge Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, the two-term conservative who has twice won the Democratic district easily. Emilio Huerta, a Bakersfield attorney and son of labor icon Dolores Huerta, will tangle with Fowler City Councilman Daniel Parra. Bakersfield Californian article

‘A way for me to come out of hiding’: Immigrants in the U.S. illegally are given a shot to return to their professions – In Mexico, Marco Nava was a trained cosmetologist working in a salon. He specialized in hair styling and coloring. But for eight of the nine years since he came to the United States illegally he toiled in the shadows, working as a field hand harvesting grapes near Porterville. These days, Nava is back in an air-conditioned barbershop doing what he loves thanks to a year-old California law that allows immigrants in the U.S. illegally to apply for state licenses as barbers, cosmetologists, auto mechanics, security guards and other professions. LA Times article

Valley politics 

AD 34: High schooler undaunted in race for state Assembly — Perrin Swanlund putters through a maze of apartment complexes across from West High School in his quest for votes. He looks a little unsure of where to go, what to do — which can happen when you have no campaign team, no volunteer aides, a shoestring budget. He’s sporting Vans tennis shoes, a plaid flannel and jeans, and his long, blonde hair is tied back in a ponytail. In other words, he conjures up images of Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Bakersfield Californian article

AD 34: Three Republicans also seeking Grove’s seat — Water and jobs are among the big issues for the three Republicans competing in next month’s 34th Assembly District primary to replace incumbent Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, who is termed out after serving three two-year stints. Bakersfield Californian article

Modesto Bee: Olsen, Chiesa don’t need your vote, but they deserve it — There’s a reason no one decided to run against Vito Chiesa or Kristin Olsen for seats on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors. It would be hard to find anyone better qualified. Modesto Bee editorial

Mike Klocke: The countdown: Primary battles provide intrigue – There are 30 days to go until the California Primary Election (June 7). Here are 10 thoughts to carry you through the waiting. Klocke column in Stockton Record

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Sacramento Bee: Harris, Sundheim are best choices for U.S. Senate —  We recommend two very different candidates in the June 7 primary: Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris, and Republican Duf Sundheim, an attorney from Palo Alto. Sacramento Bee editorial

Other areas

Supreme Court, wary of major new cases, to rule on cheerleaders’ outfits and adult diapers — The Supreme Court agreed this week to decide a patent dispute between two makers of adult diapers, not to resolve whether one company stole the design of another, but only whether the rival waited too long before suing. It was apparently just the kind of case that the ideologically divided eight-member high court is prepared to decide for the rest of this year. LA Times article

Donald Trump still faces pockets of resistance in California farming belt – With Trump ascendant, the question now in Tulare County and GOP strongholds throughout the country is: Will rank-and-file Republicans unite behind him? As much as Trump brags about his popularity with blue-collar Democrats and independents, he can still be undone by resistance inside his party — which didn’t go away with his primary challengers. San Jose Mercury News article

Bernie Sanders to speak at Weber Point – Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced on Saturday that he will hold a rally Tuesday morning at the Weber Point Events Center in downtown Stockton. Stockton Record article

Bernie Sanders to rally in Sacramento on Monday at Cal Expo’s Bonney Field — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will headline a rally at Sacramento’s Bonney Field late Monday afternoon, his campaign announced Saturday. Sacramento Bee article 

California nurses union is all in for Sanders.  But can it tilt the outcome on its home turf? – Even as Sanders’ ability to win the nomination has grown increasingly unlikely, he has pledged to continue his campaign through California and is expected in the state this week. The critical question is what kind of effect the nurses will have — and what tactics will they use — as they try to boost Sanders over Clinton on their home turf. LA Times article

Willie Brown: President Trump? It could happen — I’m probably the only Democrat who will say it publicly, but Donald Trump could wind up being elected president. It’s not that he’s the best person for the job, or that he has tapped into some vast pool of “voter anger.” The real key to Trump’s success is that he is just flat-out exciting, and these days, we as a nation are addicted to excitement. Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle article

Marcos Breton: A vote for Trump is a vote for intolerance – The photo that Donald Trump tweeted of himself eating a taco bowl for Cinco de Mayo while proclaiming “I love Hispanics!” had to be a joke. Or better yet, a bad dream, the kind where you shake your head and laugh nervously after waking. This couldn’t be the presumptive presidential nominee of one of America’s two major political parties. A man this ignorant, vulgar and uninformed couldn’t be a finalist for the Oval Office. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

California Republicans hope all politics is local — Republicans in the California Legislature are sizing up their own campaigns now that businessman Donald Trump will be their party’s presidential nominee. And they’re hoping the old adage holds true that “all politics is local.” Neither Senate Minority Leader Jean Fuller of Bakersfield nor Assembly Minority Leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley have endorsed Trump yet. KPCC report

Ashby fights from underdog spot in Sacramento mayor’s race – Angelique Ashby finds herself in a familiar position in the Sacramento mayor’s race. Facing an opponent who is better known and has much more money, she’s the clear underdog. But she’s not backing down. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento County supervisor’s ethics case remains unresolved 2 years later – The state’s political watchdog has yet to resolve a nearly 2-year-old investigation examining whether Sacramento County Supervisor Susan Peters violated ethics rules by voting on Mather projects near property she owns. Sacramento Bee article

Victor Davis Hanson: Protestors have jumped the shark – Instead of protesting those existential crises, students cry over Halloween costumes, deride free speech as hate speech, devour their own liberal administrators, and dismiss $100 million payoffs as too little. Protesters have finally hit rock bottom and jumped the shark. From now on, the same old screaming will be seen mostly as going through the tired motions in lieu of offering coherent ideas. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

Robert Morton: Want unqualified eye surgeons? SB 622 is for you – The board-certified ophthalmologist who practiced in Bakersfield for more than 30 years writes, “We rely on our eyes almost every moment of our waking hours. Unfortunately, a dangerous piece of legislation in Sacramento, Senate Bill 622, would allow optometrists across California to perform surgical procedures on the eye and surrounding tissues with a trivial amount of training and a handful of practice procedures — procedures that should be reserved for those with proper education and experience.” Morton op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

News Stories

Top Stories

Dan Walters: California’s highways leading nowhere — There also is some interest among San Joaquin Valley officials in rekindling the Highway 65 project to relieve pressure on Highway 99, although the source of potential construction money is, to say the least, problematic. However, Brown’s Department of Transportation has drafted a new state transportation plan that, in effect, says California should not add any more carrying capacity into its roadway system and emphasize mass transit instead. It’s a policy that would leave highway-dependent regions such as the east side of the Central Valley still hanging. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Living in Misery: Fresno tenants trapped in slum apartments as city fails to protect them — The conditions at Summerset spurred The Bee to focus on substandard housing in Fresno. A four-month investigation by The Bee found that making Fresno apartments livable and safe was a very low priority for landlords and government officials. Fresno Bee articleFresno Bee editorial: ‘Unsafe, unhealthy and long ignored in Fresno’

Jobs and the Economy

Stockton softens blow of rate hike – City officials said Friday they will slash a proposed water rate increase from 26 percent to 18 percent, after hearing “substantial” concerns from the public. Stockton Record article

Cleanup of northwest eyesore opens doors to development – A question just beginning to arise in northwest Bakersfield will eventually transform some of the area’s top real estate: What do you build on a centrally located former industrial site surrounded by homes, stores and oil activity? In the case of the former PG&E power plant undergoing soil cleanup along Coffee Road and Rosedale Highway, local government officials and people in the business say there are many answers. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno City Hall looks to cash in on digital billboards – Fresno leaders hope to put a few more dollars into the city treasury by leasing bits of parks and other city land to an outdoor advertising firm for a handful of digital billboards. There is a side benefit as well: Dozens of older billboards along city streets would come down. Fresno Bee article

 A tale of two farmers markets as rival events open in Turlock – Dueling farmers markets opened to an overcast sky and sunny shoppers Saturday morning. Modesto Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Injured volunteer gets the shaft thanks to ‘firefighter’s rule’ – The rule exists in some states, including California, but not others. It shields agencies and property owners from civil liability because firefighters know the job comes with inherent risks. They are aware of the dangers when they enter burning buildings or stand on rooftops to cut air holes. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Roy Alexander: Raising the minimum wage will squeeze nonprofit organizations – The CEO of the Sacramento Children’s Home writes, “Raising the minimum wage will help many families have an easier time paying their bills. But raising the minimum wage also has unintended consequences. The business community has its concerns, but the impact to nonprofits hasn’t been told.” Alexander op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento considers allow suds, wine aboard beer bikes – Sacramento is planning to put the beer on beer bikes. Following a new state law that now allows the practice, the city is crafting an ordinance that would permit riders on brew bikes to drink beer and wine on board. The law would only apply to four-wheel pedicabs, including Sacramento’s Off the Chain and Sac Brew Bike. Sacramento Bee article

Ellen Pao’s next act targets Silicon Valley’s diversity problem – Pao may no longer hold the same traditionally powerful roles she’s held in the past — either at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, where she lost her high-profile discrimination case against last year, or as interim chief executive of Reddit, where she resigned after widespread criticism. But she appears to be putting those experiences to work in her next act: a new effort, with seven other women in Silicon Valley, to help empower start-up leaders to improve diversity through sharing ideas and collecting data from tech companies. LA Times article

Dropbox cut a bunch of perks and told employees to save more as Silicon Valley startups brace for the cold – The change at Dropbox, last valued at $10 billion, shows even the most richly valued and highly funded startups are no longer immune to the changing tides of Silicon Valley. A weaker VC funding environment and freezing tech-IPO market have forced startups of all sizes to take cost-cutting measures and focus more on profits — signifying a shift in the free-spending, growth-at-all-cost culture that had seeped through Silicon Valley over the past few years. San Francisco Chronicle article

Erika D. Smith: Want a legal tent city for the homeless? Try religious freedom – When Merin declared last week that he plans to test the city’s anti-camping law by putting a tent city for the homeless on one of his vacant downtown lots, I wasn’t surprised. But I was perplexed about how he plans to accomplish it: a litigation strategy based on federal religious freedom laws. Smith column in Sacramento Bee

Tow companies take AAA to court over ‘threats’ — In the latest battle between Walnut Creek-based AAA and the independent towing companies that it partners with to provide emergency roadside assistance, a Superior Court judge said Friday that the company used coercive and misleading language in a settlement offer that many of its towing partners perceived as a threat. San Jose Mercury News article


Rainfall totals ‘hit and miss’ in Valley’s scattered storms — While Friday’s intense storm brought heavy rainfall to some areas across the San Joaquin Valley and flash flood warnings continued throughout Saturday, recording accurate rainfall totals at many locations was “hit or miss,” Dan Harty of the National Weather Service said Saturday.  Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Dan Morain: Death penalty’s futility reflected in cop killer’s death – The tattoo on Luis Rodriguez’s chest was said to look like a flower with petals, until you looked closer. It was, in reality, a revolver aimed straight at you. Rodriguez, the sociopathic killer, was one argument for the death penalty. His tortured case was an argument for why it must end. Morain in Sacramento Bee

San Diego district attorney reverses course and releases video of officer-involved shooting – District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has released video of three San Diego police officer-involved shootings, a reversal of her previous declarations that all such footage would be treated as evidence to be seen only in court. LA Times article

Frisco Five say hunger strike is over — A group of demonstrators known as the Frisco Five, who refused to eat until San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr steps down, announced Saturday night that they have ended their hunger strike. San Francisco Chronicle article


First generation to graduate: McNair’s Da Silva credits her mom’s sacrifice — Gabby Da Silva was working a normal shift at a clothing store one day when she received one of the biggest pieces of news of her life. While she was in the stockroom to find a pair of jeans requested by a customer, there was an email that contained whether she had been admitted to the University of California, Berkeley. Stockton Record article

Kathryn Lybarger: Union calls for reasonable reform at UC – The president of AFSCME Local 3299 writes, “The University of California plays a key role as a leading economic engine for our state with a vital public service mission rooted not in lining the pockets of UC executives or private contractors, but in helping working Californians access ladders to the middle class. We can recommit to these values by supporting fiscally responsible UC contracting reform like SB 959.” Lybarger op-ed in Sacramento Bee

UC Berkeley chancellor buying novelist Alice Walker’s home — Embattled UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and his wife have agreed to buy Alice Walker’s home in the Berkeley hills, which the Pulitzer Prize-winning author listed for $2.65 million. San Francisco Chronicle article


Lois Henry: The feds don’t like our air? Let them fix it, then — It only seems fair that if the federal government is going to set unreasonable air pollution standards it should shoulder some of the load for meeting those standards. Especially when you consider that 85 percent of pollutants in the valley come from tailpipe emissions, over which local air authorities have zero control. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Patricia Megason: Separate funding needed for fighting wildfires and managing forests – The executive vice president of the Rural County Representatives of California writes, “The correlation between climbing suppression costs, reduced fuel-reduction activities and mismanaged watersheds is quantifiable and real, and it is time for a heightened focus on the health of our forests and watersheds as a first step to helping reduce the severity of California’s wildfires.” Megason op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Steve Montgomery: Land grab? Only to those who are willfully blind — The Sierra Club Kern-Kaweah Chapter chairman writes, “On behalf of the local chapter of the Sierra Club, I must response to Will Coggin’s April 29 column in The Californian, “Obama’s federal land grab continues unabated,” which refers to the 1906 Antiquities Act as “obscure.” There’s nothing obscure about it. Montgomery op-ed in Bakersfield Californian
Health/Human Services 

When Covered California goes wrong, insureds get the runaround – When it comes to signing up customers, Covered California has been a success. But when it comes to serving customers, the independent public agency — now in its third year of helping individuals and small businesses get federally subsidized or free health insurance — still has growing pains. San Francisco Chronicle article

Four Central Valley health centers awarded nearly $4 million in funding – Four health centers across the San Joaquin Valley were awarded nearly $4 million in funding for facility renovation, expansion and construction by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Camarena Health of Madera received $940,714, Family Healthcare Network of Visalia, Valley Health Team, Inc. of San Joaquin and United Health Centers of the San Joaquin Valley in Parlier each received $1 million. Fresno Bee article

Mom’s career change comes straight from the heart after child’s illness — Becoming Taylor’s parents didn’t only change how the Eldridges looked at life, it changed how they lived it. Kevin, already an EMT, studied to become a paramedic. And Stephanie, who was in banking, took a dramatic turn to become a cardiac nurse. Modesto Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Living in Misery: Everyone in Fresno takes financial hit from run-down apartments – The cost of run-down apartment buildings in Fresno hits everybody’s wallets – even if you don’t live next to one. Substandard apartments drive away outside investment in the community, strain the city budget and reduce property values, say experts in housing, planning and development. Fresno Bee article

Living in Misery: Living with roaches and mold in run-down apartments risks illness, injury — Home is not a healthy place for thousands of low-income children and adults who live in substandard apartments in Fresno. Instead of being a sanctuary from day-to-day struggles, their apartments make their lives more stressful and toxic because they have to deal with cockroach and rodent infestations, mold, faulty electrical wiring and windows without screens. Fresno Bee articleVideo: ‘Apartment family lives with roaches, mice, mold and neglect.  Why will no one help?’ in Fresno Bee;  Video: ‘She watched her husband die in icy Fresno apartment’ in Fresno Bee

Living in Misery: Fresno’s substandard housing history: poverty, sprawl, racism, neglect – Fresno’s substandard housing crisis has been in the making since the city’s birth. It’s a story of poverty, racism, urban sprawl and neglect. Fresno Bee article

Living in Misery: Meet people who work to make neglected apartments safe and clean — Some owners and managers, including nonprofit developers, are stepping in to fix up, build and maintain quality apartments. Fresno Bee article


Adam Cohen: Say no to a rushed high-speed rail environmental process and demand accountability – The Bakersfield local and graduate of Stockdale High School writes, “As conservatives, we welcome transparency and accountability at all levels of government. We recognize that it is our duty to prevent runaway big government. There is one sign that the High-Speed Rail Authority can make that would be unmistakable in demonstrating transparency and accountability. Chairman Richard and Members of Board must reject Bakersfield’s proposal to select a preferred alternative before the public has had a chance to view and comment on a complete environmental report. Cohen op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Other areas

Ex-senior prosecutor airs Stanislaus County DA’s office dirty laundry – A prosecutor was promoted to chief deputy district attorney while still serving probation for drunken driving, according to a lawsuit brought by a former employee claiming that Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager played favorites within the office. Modesto Bee article

Christine Bedell: Quit complaining about jury duty — No system except maybe voting is more vital to a free, fair, functioning society than the jury system. Where people accused of a crime are judged by a group of peers thoroughly vetted for bias, competence and ulterior motives. People should embrace jury duty. They should celebrate it. They should be damn grateful it exists on the off chance they, too, wind up in the defendant’s chair. Bedell in Bakersfield Californian

Lewis Griswold: Whistleblower custodian in Porterville fears retaliation – A whistleblower custodian at Porterville Unified who reported the improper disposal of a cleaning chemical to authorities said he is being retaliated against by his employer. Paul Jaramillo, 66, a custodian for 10 years, said he received “an evaluation that was horrible, horrible” shortly after reporting the incident to Tulare County Environmental Health. Griswold in Fresno Bee

One ducky of a day – About 1,000 children and adults turned out for the third annual Public Safety Day and Ducky Derby on Saturday at the Weber Point Events Center in downtown Stockton. Stockton Record article

Fresno’s Garden of Innocence honors forgotten babies — More than 100 strangers gathered Saturday morning at Mountain View Cemetery to name and honor 15 Fresno County babies who also were strangers, abandoned by their families and unidentified. Fresno Bee article