November 23, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

California special session to end without new transportation funding – California’s special legislative session on transportation funding will come to a close without a deal to finance billions of dollars in repairs to the state’s crumbling roads and highways.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Valley leaders join immigration-reform effort as way to grow economy — A group of elected officials and business representatives from the central San Joaquin Valley on Tuesday launched a new effort to achieve immigration reform that would allow undocumented people to become legal residents in the United States. Fresno Bee article

California’s troubled pollution credit program rebounds — California’s beleaguered program for limiting carbon emissions and battling climate change showed signs of life Tuesday. Industrial firms and other companies spent nearly $1 billion buying pollution credits in the state’s latest cap-and-trade carbon auction, the California Air Resources Board announced. About 88 percent of the credits were purchased during the electronic auction, which was held last week, the agency said. Sacramento Bee articleCapital Public Radio reportDan Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Outside money flows in Fresno mayor’s race: How much? And who benefitted? — The total looks to be around $150,000, based on reports filed with the Fresno City Clerk’s office. Lee Brand, an outgoing city councilman, was also the main beneficiary of outside money this year. Around 74 percent of the independent money went to Brand, with the remainder going to Henry R. Perea, an outgoing Fresno County supervisor and the father of Henry T. Perea. Fresno Bee article

As more Merced County ballots are counted, contenders claim stronger leads — The Merced County Elections Office tallied about 17,000 mail-in ballots Monday, and newly released results showed widening leads for many candidates in county races. Merced Sun-Star article

C.J. Jackson: Why is Jeff Denham interfering in a Santa Barbara dispute with casino tribe? – The spokesman for the Santa Ynez Valley Coalition writes, “As a Republican who supposedly favors small government and limited bureaucracy, it comes as a surprise that Rep. Jeff Denham has sponsored legislation to elevate a local issue all the way up at the federal level.” Jackson op-ed in Modesto Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Democrat Josh Newman takes the lead in drawn-out battle over state Senate seat and supermajority – Josh Newman has taken the lead in his tightly contested race for a Southern California state Senate seat that could hand a supermajority to Democrats in both houses of the Legislature. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Voters narrowly reject Prop 53 and future votes on big infrastructure projects – Proposition 53, an effort that sought to force statewide votes to fund a major water project and the future of high-speed rail, failed in a late count of ballots Tuesday.  LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

California voters approve an effort to speed up death penalty with Prop 66 – California voters have chosen to approve a ballot proposition that seeks to speed up the death penalty process, a late count of ballots has shown. LA Times articleAP article

Joel Fox: A business strategy for the governor’s race — Now that the 2018 race for governor of California is in full swing with the release of the first Field Poll on the contest, as the race shapes up business interests will consider how to position themselves in a multi-candidate field. Fox in Fox & Hounds


LA’s quiet archbishop has a message for immigrants and the nation – and prayers for president-elect Trump — For more than 10 years, Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez has argued that the U.S. immigration system is broken, and now overnight, the terms of the debate had shifted. The calls for a massive increase in deportations, the political rhetoric of the last year, threatened to become reality, and as he looked out upon the faces of the faithful, he could see their anxiety. LA Times article

Other areas

Joe Mathews: #Calexit is a bad idea that would destroy California – California may have the size and economy of a good-sized country. But California is not a nation. Which is why it would be self-destructive to seek to become one. Mathews in Fresno Bee

Revolt against Pelosi shows a Democratic Party searching for answers — With Democrats in Congress frustrated over four straight election disappointments, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio is furiously dialing his colleagues during their Thanksgiving break to win support for his attempt to end the long reign of California’s Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader of the House. While Ryan’s insurrection is a longshot, it’s laid bare dissatisfaction over an aging Democratic leadership and a party whose success is increasingly confined to the country’s coasts. McClatchy Newspapers article

Presidential Politics

Westlands now-ex-lobbyist has been, and maybe still is, part of Trump team – A Westlands Water District lobbyist who was leading the Trump transition team’s Interior Department planning has dropped Westlands as a client, though his transition responsibilities remain unclear. Meanwhile, a former staffer to onetime San Joaquin Valley Congressman Richard Pombo has taken charge of Trump’s Energy Department transition, giving it some Western swing. McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump shifts on at least 3 prominent issues: Climate, torture, and prosecution of Clinton – Donald Trump tweaked the script of his transition again Tuesday, appearing to shift his stance on at least three major issues in the course of an afternoon but defending his right to continue involvement in his worldwide businesses despite the potential for conflicts of interest. LA Times articleNew York Times articleFull transcript of Trump’s interview with New York Times

Michelle Rhee rejects Trump education secretary job – Squashing speculation that she could become America’s top schools official, Michelle Rhee said on Tuesday she has no interest in being President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of education. Sacramento Bee article

Cathleen Decker: Trump’s Twitterfests are meant to further the culture wars that helped him win the presidency – Donald Trump’s Twitter wars with media sites and cultural institutions have been panned by opponents as overreactions by a thin-skinned president-elect who prefers rhetorical skirmishing to soberly building his administration. But Trump is extending what helped him win the presidency — a battle against elites that secured the loyalty of voters outside the coastal metropolises, delivered directly to his supporters by bypassing the media he considers reflexively unfair. Decker in LA Times

Are Trump towers and hotels across globe now terror risks? – Donald Trump’s name has long been a marketing dream, splashed across skylines at home and abroad in letters sometimes larger than three grown men. Now it could become something else: a target. McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump’s charity admits to violating IRS self-dealing ban – President-elect Donald Trump’s charity has admitted that it violated IRS regulations barring it from using its money or assets to benefit Trump, his family, his companies or substantial contributors to the foundation.  AP article

Trump says gay marriage is settled law.  Opponents hope he’s wrong — Buoyed by Donald Trump’s election, opponents of gay marriage want the president-elect to help them overturn last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriages. Trump has sent mixed messages on the subject. McClatchy Newspapers article

How Trump could use the presidency to help his own business interests — Khan’s concern is but one of many examples of potential conflicts of interest that could arise for Trump the president vs. Trump the businessman. His vast holdings include hotels, office buildings and golf courses, and he has licensing deals across the globe. LA Times article

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will be Trump’s U.N. ambassador — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has been tapped to serve as Donald Trump’s U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The 44-year-old, who is in her second and final term, has accepted the position, according to a Trump transition official with knowledge of the situation but who requested anonymity to speak candidly. The appointment will be announced Wednesday. McClatchy Newspapers article

Gun owners ‘can breathe again’: Trump’s win emboldens advocates – Since the election of Donald J. Trump, gun advocates have been rejoicing, crowing about their political clout and plotting ways to eliminate many remaining curbs on gun ownership and use as they await one of the most vocal pro-gun presidential candidates ever to enter the White House. New York Times article

Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead is 1.7 million and growing.  Here’s why— Clinton’s margin will grow in the coming weeks — mostly because of California, where there are still more than 2 million unprocessed ballots. So why does it take California so long to count the votes? KQED report

Jack Ohman: Donald Trump’s ideal New York Times – The Sacramento Bee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist gives his take on Donald Trump’s ideal New York Times.  Ohman editorial cartoon in Sacramento Bee

News Stories- Top Stories

Wonderful Company recognized for Lost Hills development — A few years ago, agricultural behemoth The Wonderful Company was taking flak for the disparity between the lifestyles of its billionaire owners and the laborers who live in Lost Hills working their fields. But now, after years of investing millions of dollars into the rural farming town where at least 50 percent of homes house a Wonderful employee, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center is recognizing the company. It named The Wonderful Company winner of the 2016 Corporate Citizenship Award in the Best Community Improvement Program category late last week. Bakersfield Californian article

Final call for deputy who saw the best in young people – People flocked to downtown Modesto on Tuesday to say goodbye to Deputy Dennis Wallace, a popular officer with a soft spot in his heart for youths who was killed on duty nine days earlier. Officers in uniform came by the hundreds, if not thousands, from every corner of California and beyond – some wore New York Police Department badges. Judges, politicians and dignitaries of every stripe – even Gov. Jerry Brown – came to honor Wallace in a memorial service steeped in respect, with a healthy side of humor. Modesto Bee articleJeff Jardine column in Modesto Bee‘Residents of the town he loved showed up to honor Deputy Dennis Wallace’ in Modesto Bee

California’s top court will review major public pension ruling – The California Supreme Court decided Tuesday to review a ruling that would give state and local governments new authority to cut public employee pensions. LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

California’s largest public employee union announces Dec. 5 strike – California’s largest state-employee union announced Tuesday that it will go on strike Dec. 5 in response to what union leaders complain is “unlawful conduct and egregious unfair labor practices” during negotiations for a new contract. Sacramento Bee article

How pistachios and a prison are keeping a little California town afloat – It’s long been common practice in California-speak to identify every new big thing as the next Gold Rush. And this little town on the western flank of the San Joaquin Valley, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, has been at the center of several of the new golds. The black gold of oil cannonballed Avenal into existence in 1928, first as a tent city, then as a prosperous Standard Oil company town, after a wildcatter unearthed a gusher in the sere Kettleman Hills. LA Times article

SEIU workers approve San Joaquin County labor pact after long stalemate – Nearly 4,000 Service Employees International Union 1021 members voted to approve a new labor agreement with San Joaquin County on Tuesday night, effectively ending a nearly five-month breakdown in negotiations. Stockton Record article

Modesto council committee backs $5.9 million deal for fire engines, ladder trucks – A City Council committee has endorsed a Fire Department proposal for Modesto to spend $5.9 million over 10 years to lease five fire engines and two ladder trucks, which fire officials say will help the department upgrade its aging fleet. Modesto Bee article

Bethany Clough: Ready to shop? Here’s what to expect on Thanksgiving and beyond — Like it or not, the blitz of Black Friday holiday shopping is coming. An estimated 59 percent of Americans will hit the stores this week or weekend. They’ll have plenty of chances to score some deals. With Black Friday shopping stretching out like the waistband on our Thanksgiving Day pants, shoppers will start hitting stores on Thanksgiving afternoon and keep shopping through Small Business Saturday and into Sunday. Clough in Fresno Bee

Judge blocks Obama’s attempt to require overtime pay for millions of Americans – A Texas judge blocked President Obama’s bid to expand overtime pay protections to millions of Americans on Tuesday, thwarting a key presidential priority just days before it was to take effect. LA Times article

Oakland mayor announces ‘framework’ plan to keep Raiders  – The mayor of Oakland announced Tuesday she has the framework of an agreement to keep the Oakland Raiders in town despite talk by the club’s owner to move the team to Las Vegas. AP article

Tony Verruso: As weed becomes legal, Stanislaus County must lead – The founder of the Genezen Project writes, “Here in Stanislaus County we have an opportunity to create sensible local laws and regulations and contribute to the development of a community-oriented cannabis industry that respects our local traditions and provides much-needed revenue for our public service and safety needs.” Verruso op-ed in Modesto Bee

New North Fresno businesses plan December openings – North Fresno’s retail scene continues to boom with new business, as two shopping centers off of Highway 41 welcome restaurants, fitness centers and boutique stores next month. The Business Journal article

Richard Kemp III: Banking laws: Ongoing challenges in reforming marijuana laws – The masters program student in public policy and administration at CSU Bakersfield writes, “Reforming banking laws is essential for marijuana reform, as many marijuana businesses have had to operate entirely on cash. Operating on a cash-only basis imposes concerns: Not only could states lose out on revenue from the legal sale of marijuana, but marijuana businesses could also be covering for other illegal activity as well.” Kemp op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Wells Fargo scandal prompts LA to crack down on banks that do business with the city — When the city of Los Angeles shops around for a new bank next year, it will ask institutions to promise that they do not engage in sales practices that harm consumers, a move spurred by revelations of widespread sales abuses at Wells Fargo & Co. LA Times article


In a California Valley, healthy food everywhere but on the table – As Americans gather around Thanksgiving tables, chances are that the healthier parts of their menus — the tossed salads, broccoli casseroles or steaming bowls of roasted brussels sprouts — were grown here in the Salinas Valley. Yet one place the valley’s bounty of antioxidants does not often appear is on the tables of the migrant workers who harvest it. New York Times article

Court’s rejection of a lawsuit over pesticides in seed coatings is a setback to  beekeepers – A Federal court on Tuesday dealt a setback to efforts by beekeepers and consumer groups to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate insecticide coatings on crop seeds. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno settles police shooting lawsuit for $2.2 million – The city of Fresno has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a federal civil right lawsuit filed by the parents of a Fresno man who was fatally shot by police four years ago. Fresno Bee article

Fresno law enforcement: We’ll be looking for drivers who are drunk or high on weed – Fresno County law enforcement officials this week warned marijuana users as well as alcohol drinkers that police would be looking for them should they decide to get behind the wheel while impaired this holiday season. Fresno Bee article

Visalia Police Department kicks off ‘Operation Safe Holiday’ – With a shopping list and caffeine in hand, thousands will be visiting retailers up and down Mooney Boulevard throughout the coming weeks. As a result, Visalia Police Department created a community project aimed at reducing theft-related crimes, “Operation Safe Holiday.” Visalia Times-Delta article

Fritz Grupe and Bakul Patel: Stockton Police Department making progress on community policing –  Grupe, chairman of The Business Council, and Patel, president of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, write, “Amid the current turmoil surrounding police and community relations, both nationally and locally, it is important that the citizens of this community be aware of the efforts and successes that are occurring in this area with our Stockton Police Department.” Grupe/Patel op-ed in Stockton Record

Plans on new Merced police station moving forward – Using an “aggressive timeline that assumes no delays,” Merced city officials said they could acquire a new location for the next police station by mid-2017. Merced Sun-Star article

Ex-Sheriff Baca wants doctor who specializes in mental illness to testify in his corruption trial — With his criminal trial just weeks away, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is locked in a legal battle with prosecutors over whether a key witness can testify about his mental health. LA Times article


California vs. Trump: Angst in higher education – In an effort to reassure thousands of worried young people, leaders of California’s enormous system of public and private higher education are setting it on a potential collision course with the incoming Trump Administration. Capitol Weekly article

Bakersfield College president addresses student post-election worries – Addressing concerns raised by undocumented students following the presidential election, Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian said Monday that she and BC faculty support all students in their quest for higher learning.  Bakersfield Californian article

Interview: Kern High School District approves plan to allow teachers to carry guns on campus – Last week the Kern High School District Board voted to approve a plan to allow teachers with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns on campus. The move was controversial, both because of the topic, and also the last minute nature of the meeting and vote. Harold Pierce of the Bakersfield Californian Harold Pierce joined us to talk about this story and other news regarding the district. KVPR report

Interview: Fresno Bee’s Mackenzie Mays talks bilingual education, Michael Hanson – Earlier this month California voters approved a big change to education in the state when they passed Proposition 58. The initiative overturned prior voter-approved restrictions on bilingual education in the state. Now local districts are gearing up to implement the new law. Education reporter Mackenzie Mays of the Fresno Bee joined us on Valley Edition to talk about that story, and other news involving Fresno Unified schools.  KVPR report

Mentorship program aims to boost graduation rates and cut crime – A collaborative Merced County program is using mentoring in an effort to improve high school graduation rates and decrease crime. Through Project 10%, UC Merced students visit county middle school classrooms to motivate students to graduate from high school and pursue higher education. Merced Sun-Star article

UC Davis drops big plan for Sacramento with Katehi’s departure – The resignation of Linda Katehi as chancellor of UC Davis effectively ended efforts to make the university’s World Food Center the centerpiece of a third campus, possibly in Sacramento’s downtown railyard.  Sacramento Bee article

Bilingual education is making a comeback in California. But some educators say the fight is just beginning — Proposition 58 “makes nothing happen,” said Stanford Universityprofessor David Plank, executive director of Policy Analysis for California Education. “It expands the opportunities of districts and local educators to develop and implement programs they think will be good for their kids. But it leaves the decision about what those will look like to local actors.” LA Times article

Fresno State poetry graduate student killed in crash on Highway 99 — A Fresno State graduate student and teaching associate was identified Tuesday as the driver killed Sunday night in a two-car wreck on Highway 99 in downtown Fresno. Mireyda Barraza Martinez, 29, was enrolled in the master’s of fine arts creative writing program, according to the university. Fresno Bee article

Health/Human Services

My Valley, My Story: Valley fever after decades of dust – The fungal disease can afflict individuals of any age and ethnic group—even those who have lived and worked in the valley for decades. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, we travel to the annual Valley Fever Walk in Bakersfield, where a 54-year-old Kern County man shares his story of overcoming the disease. KVPR report

Assemi family pitches Clovis site for osteopathic medical school — The Assemi family, which opened a private pharmacy school in Clovis four years ago, on Tuesday announced plans for a college of osteopathic medicine that would open with a first class in fall 2019.  Fresno Bee article

 Sexually transmitted diseases on the rise in Bay Area, state — Sexually transmitted diseases — chlamydia, gonorrhea, and early (infectious) syphilis — have mostly been on the rise in the Bay Area over the past six years, according to state Department of Public Health statistics. One local health official said the trend reflects fewer people using condoms and increased reporting of the diseases by medical clinics. San Jose Mercury News article

Land Use/Housing

San Jose eases rules to build granny units to increase housing stock — The Bay Area’s largest city has taken steps to ease restrictions on building in-law units, a plan city leaders say will help deal with skyrocketing rents and homelessness in Silicon Valley. San Jose Mercury News article

Other areas

Interview: Masumoto books detail generational transition on the farm, Yosemite – David Mas Masumoto and Nikiko Masumoto have a new book about the generational transition now underway on their family farm titled “Changing Seasons, A Father, A Daughter, A Family Farm.” That’s in addition to another new book by Mas Masumoto, titled “A Sense of Yosemite” which is a collaboration with photographer Nancy Robbins. Both Mas and Nikiko joined us on Valley Edition to talk about their new books and the event on Thursday December 1. KVPR report

Lois Henry: If you like what you read, thank a subscriber.  Better yet, become one — If you didn’t know this already, dear readers (even dearer if you’re subscribers), we are in this together. Without you, The Bakersfield Californian wouldn’t exist. The blow to local reporting would be unimaginable. Which is why my column today is one of giving thanks for everyone in B-town and surrounding areas who subscribes to TBC, including paper and digital — or why not both? Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Atwater janitor extinguishes blaze at City Hall, chases down arson suspect — A seemingly unlikely hero emerged Tuesday morning in Atwater when he quickly extinguished a fire burning at City Hall, then chased the arson suspect for half a mile and detained him for police. Chris Carrera, 54, has been a part-time janitor for the city of Atwater for nine years, but Tuesday he also was a firefighter and police officer. Merced Sun-Star article

Bakersfield Symphony loses CEO mid-season — Bryan Burrow, who once joked that he knew far more about country music than classical, is leaving as chief executive of the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, ending a four-year tenure distinguished by an increase in attendance and revenue, a robust outreach to students and a highly publicized search for a new conductor that culminated in the hiring of the charismatic, popular young maestro who now wields the baton. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California’s lawmakers have shown themselves willing and able to pass all manner of bills, including banning plastic bags and establishing lofty goals to combat climate change. All that is important. But wouldn’t it be grand if Californians had roads that move goods and people from Point A to Point B in a timely manner and without rattling the fillings out of everyone’s teeth?

Sacramento Bee –- The spread of fake news through Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other social media networks is a bigger threat to democracy than many would like to admit. Mark Zuckerberg and others in Silicon Valley must continue to find ways to push back, if only for the sake of democracy; In praise of the humble Brussels sprout.