November 17, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

California analyst projects $2.8 billion budget surplus — California’s nonpartisan legislative analyst said Wednesday he’s forecasting a $2.8 billion budget surplus next year and says California should be able to weather a mild recession without major budget cuts or tax increases over the next four years. AP articleSacramento Bee article

Cal State will not help deport undocumented students under Trump, chancellor says –  In the face of Donald Trump’s pledge to start large-scale deportations, California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White reaffirmed on Wednesday the university’s commitment to fostering a learning community that is “safe and welcoming” for its thousands of students who came to the U.S. illegally. LA Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Prop 64 already affecting marijuana court cases in Merced County – A number of cases in Merced Superior Court must be reviewed after California voters last week passed Proposition 64, allowing recreational use of marijuana, authorities said Wednesday. Merced Sun-Star article

New ammo rules get thumbs-down locally — Standing in line this week to buy a firearm at Kings Gun Center, Andrew Dawson wasn’t a happy camper. A few days earlier, a total stranger had walked into Dawson’s Hanford home unauthorized. Dawson wasn’t there. His wife and child were. Nothing bad happened, but the incident motivated Dawson to get a gun for personal protection. Hanford Sentinel article

New marijuana rules offer few benefits — California voters legalized recreational marijuana for adults last week, but local law enforcement says there is still a long list of crimes related to the drug. Hanford Sentinel article


Families with undocumented members anxious about Trump presidency – It’s a school night and inside Maria Vargas’ Fresno home — she asked us not to use her real name — the sounds of four lively kids fill the kitchen and dining area.  But when the topic turns to the recent election, all the kids — except for the littlest one — start talking about one person: Donald Trump. KQED report

Fresno leaders to immigrants: ‘We are standing with you’ — At a news conference Wednesday morning, Fresno City Councilman Oliver Baines spoke directly to immigrant residents in light of the presidential election: “We are standing with you.” Fresno Bee article 

Sacramento Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg vows to fight Trump on immigration — Sacramento Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg is vowing to fight federal attempts to deport undocumented immigrants under incoming president Donald Trump, who promised during his campaign to stop cities from shielding people from immigration enforcement. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

With bans of alt-right users, Twitter tests the limits of free speech – Long criticized for allowing bullies, terrorists and bigots to run rampant to the detriment of its own bottom line, Twitter made a surprising move Tuesday by banning a slew of accounts belonging to white nationalists and leaders of the alt-right movement — which holds that traditional conservatives don’t sufficiently protect the interests of white people. LA Times article

Ami Bera doubles lead over Scott Jones — Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, looking to hold his suburban Sacramento seat, nearly doubled his lead over Republican Scott Jones on Wednesday.  Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Feinstein takes center stage in Supreme Court fight as top Democrat on judiciary committee — Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California will become the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee when the new Congress convenes, putting her at the center of the upcoming fight over confirming President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Why California went its own liberal way in the election – As Hillary Clinton’s national popular vote margin over President-elect Donald Trump grows — swelled in large part by California’s prolonged ballot count — a new poll details how much more liberal the state has become compared with the rest of the country and why it was so much more receptive to the Democrat. LA Times article

Pollsters: Election results show California unlike rest of America — It’s often said that “as California goes, so goes the nation.” But that’s rarely been less true than in last week’s election. Two of California’s most highly respected pollsters say the results underscore just how different the Golden State is. Capital Public Radio report 

Clinton may have won California, but Trump carried its white rural north — Trump beat Clinton in 26 California counties, mostly in the Central Valley and the mountains of Northern California, places that long have been bastions of conservatism. But in 15 California counties, Trump won really big – beating Clinton by at least 10 percentage points and earning a higher share of votes than Mitt Romney did in 2012. Sacramento Bee article

In Trump they trust: These are the Californians who voted red –  On a cattle ranch three bridges past a giant lone poplar tree on this isolated northeastern edge of California, Jeffrey Hemphill for once feels part of something larger. He and his Lassen County neighbors cast 73% of their ballots, the strongest vote in the state, to elect Donald Trump for president. LA Times article 

George Skelton: Donald Trump was right.  The election was rigged. Now it’s time to get rid of the electoral college – Donald Trump had it pegged. The election was rigged. Hillary Clinton won the most votes. But Trump won the presidency. It was rigged 229 years ago by the Founding Fathers. They created a convoluted, undemocratic presidential election system that became known as the electoral college. Skelton column in LA Times

California senators implore Obama to make sure Trump doesn’t drill Pacific Ocean — California’s U.S. senators are urging President Obama to permanently make West Coast waters off limits to oil drilling before Donald Trump takes office. McClatchy Newspapers article

News Stories

Top Storie

UC Merced and other universities way first tuition hike in six years — Faced with record enrollment and the need to hire faculty, university authorities are considering raising tuition at UC Merced and other state schools for the first time in six years. The proposed annual hikes – $270 at the 23 California State University schools and $280 at the University of California’s nine undergraduate campuses – are being discussed this week by the governing boards of both systems at separate meetings on budget plans. Merced Sun-Star article

For California smokers, a pack in 2017 could cost as much as a fast-food combo – Fresno County adults like to smoke, but a new cigarette tax that will take effect next year could make lighting up less attractive to some. More than 22 percent of county residents smoke compared to 12 percent statewide, according to 2014 statistics, the latest available. Fresno Bee article

Report: Modesto among cities that make homelessness a crime – Modesto is listed among the dozens of U.S. cities in a new report about how cities make it a crime to be homeless through ordinances that ban camping in parks, sitting or sleeping in public and other conduct. Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Collaboration key to tackling homelessness, task force tells San Joaquin County supervisors – The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors will consider a number of policy recommendations early next year aimed at addressing the region’s homelessness issue. Stockton Record article 

LA tops the nation in chronically homeless people, federal report finds – For the second year in a row, Los Angeles reported the largest number of chronically homeless people in the nation — nearly 13,000 — and 95% of them live outdoors, in cars, tents and encampments, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s report to Congress released Wednesday. LA Times article 

Sold- or not? City  may step in to buy auctioned downtown parking lot — Fresno developer Terance Frazier scored a win Wednesday in an auction to purchase a piece of land across the street from the city’s future high-speed rail station. But that $2.4 million win could be short-lived if the California High-Speed Rail Authority gets its way. Fresno Bee article 

CalPERS says town defaulted on pension debt. What’s next for tiny Loyalton? – CalPERS on Wednesday declared that the Sierra County town of Loyalton has defaulted on its debt to the giant pension fund, a move that means the state is poised to scale back retirees’ pension benefits. Sacramento Bee articleCalpensions article 

Latino union members protest affordable housing as an Airbnb conference starts – Airbnb, the hugely popular home-renting platform, is bringing 7,500 of its hosts and others to Los Angeles for a conference, but labor union members and affordable housing advocates aren’t putting out the welcome mat. LA Times article


State’s river flow proposal will get closer look at Modesto meeting – Friday will provide a chance to wade into the details of the state’s proposal to increase flows on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. The meeting in Modesto will involve staff members with Stanislaus County government and the State Water Resources Control Board, which announced the controversial plan in September. Modesto Bee article 

Fresno Bee: Valley water challenges are in GOP’s hands now – Providing more water for farmers is a totally Republican challenge now. Failure to deliver no longer can be blamed on the closest Democrat: President Barack Obama, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi or Costa. Fresno Bee editorial

Matt Leu: Foreign trade critical to Valley’s ag wealth – The general manager at Cargill Beef in Fresno writes, “In a nutshell: The TPP will create more opportunities for California agricultural producers, and businesses of all sizes across all industries, to sell more goods and services to consumers in TPP countries. In fact, the American Farm Bureau has estimated that the TPP will generate an additional $4.4 billion in net farm income.” Leu op-ed in Fresno Bee

Drought on Colorado River sparks revolutionary idea: Sharing water – With an official water shortage imminent, Arizona, Nevada and California are taking matters into their own hands. The states are hammering out a voluntary agreement to cut their water use — an approach some consider revolutionary after so many decades of fighting and lawsuits. KQED report

Jesse Rojas: Will other crops go the way of ‘Rose Capital’? – The farmworker rights activist and spokesman for writes, “Our local leaders need to stand up for Kern County agriculture, before the rose industry disappears completely and other local commodities follow suit.” Rojas op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Is a rural home 36 miles outside the city a suitable place for a child molester? — Child molester Jeffrey Snyder won’t be living in Fresno. Instead, authorities have found him home in a rural area 36 miles east of Fresno. But it’s still unclear when Snyder, who is locked up in Coalinga State Hospital, will move into his new digs. Fresno Bee article

Public Viewing scheduled for fallen deputy Dennis Wallace — A public viewing will be held for Deputy Dennis Wallace on Monday at Salas Brothers Funeral Chapel. Modesto Bee article

State courts Stockton’s success — Elam last had a drink the day of his last DUI. He credits his sobriety to the DUI Court program Vlavianos has presided over for eight years. Now, officials announced at a Wednesday news conference, the state wants to study the Stockton-based program, possibly to replicate it elsewhere in California. Stockton Record article

Sacramento Bee: How Nevada voters made Californians safer – To understand the significance of Nevada’s Measure 1, check out the federal indictment unveiled in Fresno and aimed at the Strother Boys street gang earlier this month. Sacramento Bee editorial

What police can learn about you from the skin chemicals on your cell phone — Police might one day be able to size up the habits and lifestyles of crime victims and suspects by analyzing the skin chemicals they leave behind when they touch their cellphones. LA Times article


CSU looks to increase access through improved graduation rates and more state funds – California State University trustees on Wednesday approved a budget proposal to fund a modest enrollment increase and an ambitious initiative to improve graduation rates, which would clear a path for the system’s 23 campuses to admit more students. EdSource article

Fresno Unified’s Hanson gets positive evaluation, but how much longer will that last? – A divided school board voted 4-2 on Wednesday to extend Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson’s contract and give him a positive evaluation, but outgoing School Board President Luis Chavez says that margin would’ve been narrower had he been there for the vote. Fresno Bee article

State Fair Political Practices Commission investigating Fresno Unified’s Ashjian — The California Fair Political Practices Commission has opened an investigation into allegations that Fresno Unified Trustee Brooke Ashjian broke conflict-of-interest laws and failed to report numerous sources of income. Fresno Bee article 

District attorney says Los Banos school trustee is lying to the public — The Merced County district attorney says Los Banos school board trustee Marlene Smith has “lied” to the public repeatedly and “stonewalled” a public corruption probe. Merced Sun-Star article

Kern High School District to force CCW vote in unusual special session — In an unusual move, Kern High School District officials are preparing to force a vote over whether to allow teachers to arm themselves, calling a special session Thursday, prior to the departure of trustee Chad Vegas, a strong proponent of the policy, who leaves office next month. Bakersfield Californian article 

Budget analyst forecasts good year for California schools, but uncertain beyond that – With no signs of a recession on the immediate horizon, the Legislative Analyst’s Office is projecting a comfortable increase of $2.6 billion for K-12 schools and community colleges for fiscal 2017-18, starting next July. The additional 3.6 percent would provide an average of about $420 more for each of the state’s 6.2 million K-12 public school students. EdSource article 

At UC regents meeting, unease and uncertainty over Trump presidency – Members of the University of California community expressed unease and concern Wednesday about Donald Trump’s presidency and its potential effects on Muslims, people who are in the country without legal permission and other vulnerable campus groups. LA Times article

Jeff Jardine: Stan State students pass their first Introduction to Protest quiz with relative ease – They held an anti-Trump rally at California State University, Stanislaus, on Wednesday. Or maybe it was an Introduction to Protest class. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Education leaders contemplate what Trump presidency means for California education – EdSource asked 16 leaders in their respective fields or organizations in California to anticipate possible change in education during the Donald Trump presidency. EdSource article

No toking on campus, Stanford says – Adults can now legally smoke and grow marijuana for recreational use in California, but Stanford University students won’t be allowed to light up on campus. San Jose Mercury News article

Teachers union frets about the rise of education change advocates: ‘It will have an impact’ – The Torlakson name has been a near-constant on the ballots of voters in the San Francisco East Bay, where state schools chief Tom Torlakson got his political start more than three decades ago. Last week, though, the remarkable string of Torlakson victories ended resoundingly. Sacramento Bee article 

District that kicked out black student for wearing African cloth eases grads dress code — Elk Grove school trustees have relaxed rules on graduation wear after a Cosumnes Oaks High School student was escorted out of his ceremony by sheriff’s deputies in May after he refused to remove an African cloth. Sacramento Bee article


Field Poll: Californians still love their coast, but barriers to access persist – At a time of deep political division, there’s one thing most Californians still have in common: They love their majestic coastline and sandy beaches. San Jose Mercury News article

Valley air district receives funding for 15 electric buses — The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has awarded the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) funding for 15 electric Proterra Catalyst buses, 11 Proterra depot-charges and four Proterra fast-chargers in order to improve local air quality and public health in disadvantaged communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley.  The Business Journal article

Health/Human Services 

Qualify for the state health exchange? It’s time to enroll – If you do or can get your health insurance through Covered California — and about 19,000 of you in Kern County currently do — don’t worry about last week’s election. Just enroll. Bakersfield Californian article

Covered California tour – With the election a thing of the past, one hot topic remains ––what’s happening with ObamaCare and affordable health coverage. Covered California Executive Director, Peter V. Lee, made a stop in Visalia at Family HeathCare Network as part of his Covered California Tour to talk about these issues. Visalia Times-Delta article

To help patients stay on top of their medications, Kaweah Delta Medical Center opens a retail pharmacy – Kaweah Delta Medical Center has opened a retail pharmacy at its downtown campus to give patients the option of getting their medications handed to them on their way out the door. Fresno Bee article 

Fresno County groups commit to reducing premature births – Health organizations in Fresno County Wednesday announced a new initiative to reduce premature births. KVPR report

Sandra Flores: Fresno County epidemic: Why are our babies dying? – The program director for the Fresno County Preterm Birth Collective Impact Initiative writes, “As the leading cause of infant mortality and morbidity, babies born too soon are often faced with disabilities and serious health complications that last their lifetimes. The question many are now asking is: Why is there a preterm birth crisis in Fresno County?” Flores op-ed in Fresno Bee

Land Use/Housing

Bakersfield council advances ‘lifestyle center’ project — A “lifestyle center” in northwest Bakersfield is closer to being developed after the City Council voted to approve land-use and environmental report changes necessitated by a revamping of the project. Bakersfield Californian article


Sacramento transit agency has second thoughts about advertising alcohol on buses, trains – Sacramento Regional Transit officials have backed off a plan to allow alcohol advertising on the sides of buses and light-rail trains, at least momentarily. Sacramento Bee article
Tulare council split on Paige project — The project to bring a new interchange to south Tulare stalled Tuesday night, failing to get enough support from a majority of council members. The city council split two-two, Mayor David Macedo abstained. The project planned an interchange at either Commercial or Industrial avenues, moving away from the Paige Avenue overpass. Visalia Times-Delta article

Other areas

Fair official fudged auction doc: ‘I thought I was helping’ — The head of the livestock office at the Kern County Fair confirmed Wednesday she authorized her staff to alter the weight of a pig on an official document, in defiance of the fair’s own rules, to allow a young exhibitor to sell the animal at the 2016 junior livestock auction. Bakersfield Californian article

Riverbank hires away Gustine’s city manager — Sean Scully reportedly is preparing to leave his job as Gustine city manager to take the same position in Riverbank, a larger city in a neighboring county. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Providing more water for farmers is a totally Republican challenge now. Failure to deliver no longer can be blamed on the closest Democrat: President Barack Obama, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi or Costa.

Sacramento Bee –- Will the White House be an outpost of Trump Inc.?; To understand the significance of Nevada’s Measure 1, check out the federal indictment unveiled in Fresno and aimed at the Strother Boys street gang earlier this month.