November 19, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

Trump promised California farmers more water. Can he deliver? — Battles over California’s water supply have been waged for decades. Legal experts say Trump’s vow to redraw the state’s water map won’t be fulfilled quickly or easily, even with Republicans controlling both the White House and Congress. Any efforts to direct more water to San Joaquin Valley agriculture would run up against a wall of California laws and regulations aimed at protecting water rights, the environment and endangered fish species.  McClatchy Newspapers articleKQED report

Supermajority hanging in the balance, state Senate race margin narrows to just 187 votes – The Senate race between Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) and Democrat Josh Newman has narrowed significantly, making the Democrats’ chances of securing a supermajority in both houses of the Legislature suddenly much more likely. LA Times article

Gov. Brown

Governor, chief justice talk about importance of jury trials — What topic would have drawn California’s governor and chief justice to a lecture hall in Sacramento’s Oak Park on a Friday afternoon? The “crisis facing our jury system,” of course. Gov. Jerry Brown and Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye spoke at a town hall focused on the importance and decline of civil jury trials at the McGeorge School of Law. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Several Kings races/contests remain close — With 1,906 provisional ballots remaining to be evaluated as of Thursday morning, a number of close races and contests remain from the Nov. 8 election. Hanford Sentinel article

First district elections raise expectations in south Merced, advocates say – Hopes are running high in south Merced now that the city has completed its first election using districts, adding south side representation to the board. Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California Politics Podcast: Election recap hits the road — This week, we take the podcast on the road. This is a recording of an in-person conversation in San Francisco, an election analysis at an event sponsored by the Bay Area Council. With John Myers of the Los Angeles Times and Marisa Lagos of KQED News.  California Politics Podcast

California’s new gold rush — Marijuana enthusiasts lit-up after the passing of Proposition 64, but many in Tulare County remain in a daze about the new law. Visalia Times-Delta article

A deep dive into Proposition 54 — By approving Proposition 54, California voters decided to shine a spotlight on the Legislature’s internal proceedings. Capitol Weekly article


Sacramento Bee: On immigration, Trump offers fear itself — If Trump were as smart as his partisans say, he’d tell self-proclaimed “advisers” like Kobach to stuff it and use his negotiating skill for something useful. He would be hailed as a genius if he could negotiate real, bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform. Sacramento Bee editorial

 Other areas

Ami Bera beats Scott Jones for third term in Sacramento-area House seat – Democrat Rep. Ami Bera clinched a third term Friday after surviving a bruising challenge from Republican Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones. Sacramento Bee article

Merced Muslims optimistic despite reports of increased hate crimes – National figures show an increase in the number of hate crimes reported against Muslims, but Islamic faithful in Merced trust that the American justice system will protect them.  Merced Sun-Star article

Transgender people who lost their lives to hate crimes honored by LGBT community – Cries for equality echoed through Tower District as the Fresno LGBT community marched Friday night in honor of Transgender Awareness Week.  Fresno Bee article

California Supreme Court gives State Bar dues revenue, but less than it wanted — Reacting to a legislative stalemate over the State Bar’s future, the California Supreme Court late Thursday authorized the legal profession’s regulatory agency to collect $297 in dues from each state-licensed attorney next year – enough to cover its basic functions but less than it wanted.  Sacramento Bee article

Detria Thompson: Why Colin Kaepernick is right not to vote – The freelance writer in Sacramento writes, “Colin Kaepernick doesn’t need to justify being politically minded and active, but not voting (“Sorry, Kaepernick – if you don’t vote, your protest loses credibility,” Marcos Breton, Nov. 16). Voting in America isn’t compulsory. It’s a right that can be exercised, or not. It’s an important way to advocate for political and social change, but not the only way.” Thompson op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman: Even before Thanksgiving, Christmas begins — Now that the Republicans have trumped everything and the War on Christmas is permanently over, will it ever be too soon for the holidays?  Ohman column in Sacramento Bee

Presidential Politics

Donald Trump’s first picks for top jobs show how he plans to govern from the hard right – President-elect Donald Trump began filling his Cabinet on Friday with stalwarts of the hard right, signaling with a trio of top national security and law enforcement selections that he will aggressively pursue promises he made during the campaign that have caused deep anxiety among immigrant and Muslim communities. LA Times articleSacramento Bee editorialNew York Times article


Kamala Harris zings Trump’s attorney general pick: ‘Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’ is ‘troubling’ – California’s newly elected U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris on Friday criticized President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general,saying he holds views that are “incompatible with constitutional guarantees.” She pointedly referred to GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama by his given name: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.  LA Times article

Trump agrees to settle Trump University lawsuits for $25 million – President-elect Donald Trump has agreed to a $25 million settlement to resolve three lawsuits over Trump University, his former school for real estate investors. The deal announced Friday by New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would settle a lawsuit he filed three years ago, plus two class-action lawsuits in California filed on behalf of former Trump University students. AP articleLA Times articleNew York Times article

Bakers of legal pot horrified by Trump’s selection of Sessions – After winning big at the polls only 10 days ago, backers of marijuana legalization fear their movement took a major hit Friday when President-elect Donald Trump chose Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, a staunch legalization opponent, as his attorney general. At a Senate hearing in April, Sessions called marijuana “dangerous” and said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump to meet Saturday with Sacramento first lady Michelle Rhee –Donald Trump will meet on Saturday with Sacramento first lady Michelle Rhee, considered to be in the running for secretary of education. Sacramento Bee article

Feinstein: Pompeo ‘absolutely wrong’ about her report on CIA interrogation program – Rep. Mike Pompeo, the nominee to be the next U.S. spy chief, was “absolutely wrong” when he said CIA interrogation techniques were within the law, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said on Friday. The California Democrat, as chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, authored a 2014 report, known by many as the “CIA torture report,” that concluded that the practices, which included waterboarding, were outside constitutional boundaries. McClatchy Newspapers article

Mark T. Harris: It’s time we ‘inspect what we expect’ in a president – The Merced resident and former deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Commerce Department under President Clinton writes, “Where does America go from here? I suggest that each of us, regardless of whom we favored in the 2016 election, follow the advice of a dear friend of mine calling for us to “inspect what we expect.” I suggest we lift our gaze to a place of highest expectations from the place of low expectations among those currently demonstrating against the Trump victory.”  Harris op-ed in Fresno Bee

Watchdog agency appeals ruling that would allow Trump to fire director – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Friday appealed a recent court ruling that could allow President-elect Donald Trump, once he takes office in January, to replace the watchdog agency’s embattled director. LA Times article

Trump’s victory sparks unprecedented downloads of encrypted chat app Signal — Fearful of private communications being used against them, millions of people are trying out once-obscure apps and services that promise stronger security than their more popular rivals. LA Times article

Droves of locals backed write-in president – Hundreds of Kings County voters snubbed the mainstream presidential candidates this year, instead casting their ballots for candidates ranging from Bernie Sanders to Mickey Mouse. Hanford Sentinel article

Larry Adams: ‘My kid can beat up your elitism’ a sad message – The retired Bakersfield High School teacher writes, “The pundits say Trump’s anti-establishment, anti-Washington message was the determining factor in his election. I disagree. The so-called ‘uneducated white vote’ remains still an anti-intellectual one: ‘My kid can beat up …’ This point-of-view in no way should suggest that all Trump’s supporters are anti-anything (well, maybe anti-Secretary Clinton), but it is these antis who got him elected.” Adams op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Jack Ohman: Donald Trump’s transition org chart – The Sacramento Bee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist takes a look at the Trump transition org chart.  Ohman editorial cartoon in Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman: Leaked tweets reveal transition twitterings — Now that the Tweeter-in-Chief has been elected, they gave him his Android back. President-elect Donald Trump hasn’t tweeted much. Sometimes it seems like Kellyanne Conway wrestles it away and then he seizes it again, as if to say “Stop me before I use 140 characters again.” Sad!  Ohman column in Sacramento Bee

News Stories- Top Stories

California’s bullet train authority decides to buy American after all — The California High Speed Rail Authority has reversed its plans to buy foreign parts for its trains, saying in a letter to federal regulators that it was withdrawing a request for a waiver from the Buy American Act. LA Times article

Tulare prosecutors decline to charge Kern High School District police chief – The Tulare County District Attorney’s office will not file charges against Kern High School District Police Chief Joseph Lopeteguy in connection with allegations he misused a sensitive police database, a prosecutor said Friday. Bakersfield Californian article

Official: Drought kills 102 million trees in California – The California drought has killed more than 102 million trees in a die-off of forests that increases the risk of catastrophic wildfires and other threats to humans, officials said Friday. The latest aerial survey by the U.S. Forest Service shows there are 36 million more dead trees since May in the state and there has been a 100 percent increase since 2015. AP articleMcClatchy Newspapers articleLA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Valley unemployment rates climb throughout Valley– Unemployment rates rose throughout the eight-county San Joaquin Valley region in October, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department. Here are the October unemployment numbers, followed in parentheses by the September 2016 and October 2015 numbers:

  • Fresno– 9.2 percent (8.2, 9.3)
  • Kern– 9.1 percent (9.1, 9.0)
  • Kings– 9 percent (8.3, 9.6)
  • Madera– 8.4 percent (7.6, 9.3)
  • Merced– 8.6 percent (8.2, 9.2)
  • San Joaquin– 7.6 percent (7.5, 8.1)
  • Stanislaus– 7.9 percent (7.5, 8.6)
  • Tulare– 10.8 percent (10.2, 10.8)

When farm jobs fall, the unemployment rate rises, but overall trend still strong – Fresno County’s unemployment rate in October continued its long improvement trend in year-over-year performance. But the 9.2 percent jobless rate last month was up a full percentage point from September’s 8.2 percent as agriculture reduced its seasonal workforce by about 10,000 jobs. Fresno Bee article

Unemployment up slightly in Valley for October with end of agricultural season – EDD labor market consultant Nati Martinez said typically the Valley’s unemployment rate rises from September to October as agriculture-dependent jobs wind down with the end of the season. Modesto Bee article

Kings October jobless rate was 9 percent – Kings County’s jobless rate hit 9 percent in October, up from 8.3 percent in September but down from 9.6 percent a year ago in October 2015, according to numbers released Friday by the state Employment Development Department. Hanford Sentinel article

California heaps on 31,200 jobs in October, but unemployment rate doesn’t budge – The world’s sixth largest economy showed no signs of fatigue in October, as employers added 31,200 jobs over the month, according to data released by the state on Friday. California’s unemployment rate was 5.5% in October, holding steady for the fourth month in a row. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

John Lindt: Hanford Oks weed – After hearing from two Hanford officials who visited similar facilities in San Jose and in Canada, the city council gave a tentative green light to plans to locate a huge indoor pot growing facility in the Hanford Industrial Park. Lindt in Visalia Times-Delta

Bay Area job market rebounds from earlier ‘false scares’ – Easing concerns about a possible slowdown, the Bay Area gained more than 13,000 jobs in October, indicating the region’s economic boom appears back on track. San Jose Mercury News article

Of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday – Well, here we go. Thursday is Thanksgiving, when we celebrate all that we have, followed by Black Friday, the traditional kickoff to the Christmas season when retailers try to convince us we need so much more. That, in turn, is followed by Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Modesto Bee article

Mapping Bay Area’s resegregation: What you see may surprise you – As Bay Area cities scramble to find housing solutions to prevent displacement, a new report warns that the region is resegregating by race and class. KQED report

Paying for public retirees has never cost LA more. And that’s after pension reform — Los Angeles officials often boast about how they stemmed the rising cost of employee pensions, an expense that has hobbled cash-strapped cities throughout California. Yet the numbers tell a story jarringly at odds with the political rhetoric, a Times analysis found. LA Times article

Taxes get higher on newly legalized pot as California cities and counties move to take their own cut –  As the marijuana industry celebrates the passage of an initiative legalizing recreational marijuana in California, more sobering news came from local elections, where voters in 37 counties and cities — including Long Beach, San Diego and San Bernardino — approved ballot measures imposing separate local taxes or fees on pot. LA Times article

Bethany Clough: Fresno couple has faith in Fresno, expands popular novelty store Root — Root, a downtown general store that was in one of Fresno’s tiniest storefronts, has moved to a new, bigger location. The move coincided with the store’s one-year anniversary as a downtown Fresno business. Fresno Bee article

More layoffs at Hewlett Packard in Roseville — Hewlett Packard Enterprise has laid off 115 workers in Roseville, the latest in a long line of cutbacks at the technology company. HPE disclosed the layoffs earlier this month in notices to the state Employment Development Department. Sacramento Bee article


Report: Agricultural land values cool off – A recent Rabobank report shows sharp declines in nut prices are causing a subsequent reduction in agricultural land values across the state. The Business Journal article

Oakdale Irrigation District accused of ignoring judge’ order in fallowing lawsuit – A judge wants to know more before deciding whether to hold the Oakdale Irrigation District in contempt of court over fallout from its stalled fallowing program. Modesto Bee article

Foster Farms carves a niche with organic turkeys — Organic-food fans can give thanks for a second straight year over turkeys from Foster Farms. The company last year launched an organic line that includes whole and ground turkey, along with several chicken items. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Trial set for alleged cop killer Bracamontes, who says case is taking ‘too long’ — Trial for Luis Enriquez Monroy Bracamontes was set Friday for next October, but only after the suspect in the slaying of two Sacramento-area deputies briefly objected, telling a judge he preferred an earlier date. “So for me, it will be better in March,” Bracamontes told Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White, adding that waiting for October 2017 – three years after he allegedly gunned down Sacramento sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver and Placer sheriff’s Deputy Michael Davis Jr. – is “too long.” Sacramento Bee article

Atwater names new police chief – A veteran officer and commander with nearly two decades of law enforcement experience has been named chief of the Atwater Police Department. Samuel Joseph, 47, was sworn in as Atwater police chief Thursday at Atwater City Hall. Merced Sun-Star article

Alameda County public defender: Court’s new e-filing system causing false arrests, extending custody — Alameda County’s public defender is moving to force the jurisdiction’s courts to abandon their new electronic filing system, calling the Odyssey web portal a “disaster” that “continues to systematically deprive our clients of their constitutional rights.” KQED report


Homemakers, doctors and churchgoers: Who’s carrying at Kern High School District – So far 13 people have signed up and been approved to carry concealed weapons on Kern High School District campuses under a policy trustees adopted in June, according to applications reviewed by The Californian. They include a stay-at-home mom, a dispatcher for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, a doctor, an analyst for an oil company, an insurance agent and five people who attend church services at KHSD campuses on the weekends. Bakersfield Californian article

Restorative Justice: Buzz word or future of school discipline? – Discipline That Restores, the model implemented by the school three years ago, uses practices like peer mediation and respect agreements – contracts explaining what’s expected of students – to address behavioral issues. Visalia Times-Delta article

David Lollar: Kern High School District vote creates campus dystopia – The high school English teacher and chair of his school’s English Department writes, “In your world view, is a school covered with surveillance cameras like prison? Loaded weapons on teachers? Parents coming in armed, as well, to argue about why their student is failing? Students sitting in fear or dread, hiding a hostile anxiety and wondering about teacher’s mental health? Wondering where the loaded weapon is (inside their shirt?) as teacher slowly paces the cramped space between the rows, worried about why teacher looks tired and distracted. Sounds dark. Sounds dystopian. Sounds exactly like what Kern High School District trustee Chad Vegas is leaving behind, with his forced-vote, 3-2 victory that allows CCW permit holders to bring guns onto high school campuses. And he’s happy about this dark dystopia he has delivered.” Lollar op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

New law school to open in Bakersfield – A new law school for students who may not be able to move away to get their education and who it’s hoped will stay in town after graduation is set to open in Bakersfield next summer but has already begun taking applications. The nonprofit Kern County College of Law will be an accredited branch of the Monterey College of Law. Bakersfield Californian article

With Trump, investors see profit again in for-profit colleges – Why are investors bullish on for-profits under Mr. Trump? Profits could be coming back. The industry has faced high-profile federal and state investigations for their recruitment and student financial aid practices. Investors may expect that Mr. Trump will end the restrictions that slowed enrollments and checked the most lucrative practices. New York Times article

Teachers told their students everything would be OK after the election. Now, they’re not so sure — For students and teachers in the nation’s second-largest school system, the repercussions of America’s choice for president are likely to be both profound and lasting. In L.A. Unified, 74% of the roughly 600,000 students are Latino, and many have relatives and acquaintances who are living in the U.S. without legal permission. Children are coming to school shrouded in anxiety, asking teachers to interpret the day’s headlines for them, examining each bit of news for its potential threat. LA Times article

Valeria Ruelas and George Manalo-LeClair: 3 actions that can assure kids are nourished and ready for school – Ruelas, director of the Community Diabetes Initiatives at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and Manalo-LeClair, executive director of the California Food Policy Advocates, write, “According to the national nonprofit Share our Strength, 62 percent of America’s teachers regularly see kids who come to school hungry because they aren’t getting enough to eat at home. There are three high-impact actions we can take right now to ensure kids are nourished and ready to learn.” Ruelas/Manalo-LeClair op-ed in Sacramento Bee

‘We all take a responsibility’ — Some parents have relied too much on schools to take the lead role when it comes to discipline. Schools are a place to learn, mature and explore educational opportunities. But, some parents treat them as a daycare. Visalia Times-Delta article

Stanislaus County education office seeks to buy Modesto Bee building — A proposal to buy the Modesto Bee building in downtown Modesto will be considered by the Stanislaus County Board of Education on Monday. The Bee leases space in the building, which The McClatchy Co. sold in 2011. Modesto Bee article


Obama blocks new oil drilling off California, West Coast through 2022 — Working to lock in environmental protections as the clock runs out on his presidency, President Barack Obama on Friday released a plan for offshore oil drilling in federal waters from 2017 to 2022 that does not include any new drilling off the coasts of California, Oregon or Washington. San Jose Mercury News article

State Sen. Lois Wolk: California agencies must shift flood management approach to work with nature – The Davis Democrat writes, “An overhaul in how California prepares for and manages floods is long overdue. Our current flood control system was designed and built long before we understood the consequences of disconnecting our rivers from their natural floodplains. New science and the growing threat of climate change indicate we need a new approach.” Wolk op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Health/Human Services 

Will legal marijuana lead to more people smoking tobacco? – The new law, approved by voters on Nov. 8, also could be a boon to the tobacco industry at a time when cigarette smoking is down and cigarette companies are looking for ways to expand their market, according to researchers in Los Angeles County and around the state. KQED report

St. Joseph’s shows off new hybrid suite — Turns out Murillo — who used to work for a railroad and as a teacher’s aide — was one of the first candidates deemed eligible for a new minimally invasive procedure now available at Stockton’s St. Joseph’s Medical Center. Stockton Record article


MCAG settles lawsuit to update transportation plan, Sierra Club says — The Merced County Association of Governments has reached a settlement with the Sierra Club in a lawsuit challenging its 2014 Regional Transportation Plan.  The lawsuit argued that the transportation plan did not meet air quality requirements to reduce greenhouse gases and instead prioritized highway investments. In the settlement, MCAG agreed to amend the plan so it increases investments in public transportation and protects agricultural land. Merced Sun-Star article

Grant to fund RTD zero-emission buses — In an effort to improve air quality in the Central Valley, the San Joaquin Regional Transit District will be welcoming new zero-emission buses into its fleet next year. Stockton Record article

Other areas

Lemoore approves changes to Walsh’s contract — The Lemoore City Council agreed to make changes to Lemoore City Manager Andi Welsh’s contract this week including paying 100 percent of her medical premiums and being entitled to 12 months of severance pay. Hanford Sentinel article

Gold Star family of slain Stockton soldier booed on flight – The father of a soldier who was killed last weekend in Afghanistan was disappointed and hurt after airline passengers booed him and his family as they flew to meet his son’s remains. Stockton Record article

He started 14 years ago as Sacramento’s parking chief – now he’s the city manager – Assistant city manager Howard Chan officially takes over Saturday as interim city manager of Sacramento, replacing John Shirey.  Sacramento Bee article

Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist shares his dry wit in Fresno State appearance — Editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman shared some of the dry wit that helps infuse his Pulitzer Prize-winning work during a talk and demonstration Friday night at Fresno State.  Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee –- Donald Trump still has important cabinet posts to fill, and we want to give him the benefit of the doubt. But if he stays on this track, it will soon become very clear how dangerously extreme his administration could be; If Trump were as smart as his partisans say, he’d tell self-proclaimed “advisers” like Kobach to stuff it and use his negotiating skill for something useful. He would be hailed as a genius if he could negotiate real, bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform.