November 24, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

George Skelton: Post-election, California Democrats still dominate and GOP has nowhere to go but up —  The California Democratic and Republican parties both can be thankful this holiday. Democrats rule the roost in Sacramento. And Republicans can’t fall much lower. Democrats are in a prime position to soon start slipping off their perch. And the state GOP, with some uncommonly astute moves, could begin inching back up the ladder to relevancy. Skelton column in LA Times

Fresno mayor’s race keeps tightening, but Brand’s lead over Perea is now insurmountable – Henry R. Perea is going to lose the Fresno mayor’s race to Lee Brand. Even a savvy political veteran like Perea knew that when he found himself down more than 7 percentage points on the day after Election Day. He conceded to Brand not long after the sun rose. But the end result will end up being close. Fresno Bee article

Valley politics

After a little more than a year in Kingsburg, Arambula is on the move again — More than a year and a half ago, Joaquin Arambula moved from Clovis to Kingsburg and then made a successful state Assembly run. The move would have happened whether or not he ran for political office, Arambula said at the time, but it helped that Kingsburg was in the 31st Assembly District. Earlier this year, however, Arambula’s daughter didn’t get into Clay Elementary School for kindergarten, and rather than opt for the alternative — enrolling in a charter school district — the Arambulas decided to pull up stakes and move again. Fresno Bee article

Measure Y still passing; Strickland maintains lead – With the latest vote count released Wednesday afternoon, Measure Y continued to surpass the 55 percent approval rate it needs to go into effect. The measure, which would raise money for facility upgrades in Pioneer Union Elementary School District, is receiving 56.2 percent of the vote. Hanford Sentinel article

A look back: The fashion of Mayor Harvey Hall — The end Bakersfield’s mayoral race brings a close to an era for one of Bakersfield’s most memorable mayors.  But it also brings something else – the end to one of Bakersfield’s greatest fashion regimes. Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California still has just under 1.5 million ballots to count – More than two weeks after election day, county officials across California have nearly 1.5 million ballots that have yet to be checked or counted. LA Times article

Joel Fox: California’s initiative process serves as check on legislative power — The reason the initiative process remains so popular with voters is because it serves as the ultimate safety valve for voters against government missteps. To quote Jefferson, “The good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves.” Fox in Fox & Hounds


Trump doesn’t need a deportation machine. Obama has already built it – For much of the country, the prevailing myth is that Obama is the president who dismantled immigration enforcement. But to Martínez and others, he is the “deporter in chief,” who separated thousands of families, held children in jail-like family detention centers and deported more immigrants than any other president before him. He also fine-tuned and expanded a “deportation machine” that experts say Trump could tweak just a little bit and kick off a new flood of deportations. McClatchy Newspapers article

In a Trump presidency, uncertainty reigns over California immigrant health care — President-elect Donald Trump’s promises to crack down on unauthorized immigration and rewrite the health care system have hung a cloud of uncertainty over the heads of many immigrants. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

District had no love for Trump, yet Republican assemblywoman prevailed — The San Francisco East Bay’s 16th Assembly District could be Exhibit A for a seminar called “The Top of the Ticket Doesn’t Matter.” Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Betty DeVos, Trump’s education pick, has steered money from public schools – It is hard to find anyone more passionate about the idea of steering public dollars away from traditional public schools than Betsy DeVos, Donald J. Trump’s pick as the cabinet secretary overseeing the nation’s education system.  New York Times articleWashington Post article

Trump diversifies cabinet; picks Nikki Haley and Betty DeVos – President-elect Donald J. Trump moved swiftly on Wednesday to diversify his cabinet and try to heal lingering rifts in the Republican Party, reaching out to Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina and Betsy DeVos, a prominent Republican fund-raiser, both of whom opposed him during the campaign, as well as Ben Carson, who challenged Mr. Trump for the Republican nomination. New York Times article

Trump expected to tap billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary – Wilbur Ross, the billionaire investor considered the “king of bankruptcy” for buying beaten-down companies with the potential to deliver profits, is expected to be President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for commerce secretary, two officials with knowledge of the decision said. Washington Post article

What’s ahead for West’s liberal courts, once Trump takes over? – A Western appellate court that awaits reshaping by President-elect Donald Trump will soon consider conflicts that include: A challenge from water districts in California’s San Joaquin Valley to a restoration plan for the Klamath River. A Freedom of Information Act request requesting details of the federal government’s location-tracking technology. Complaints against police officers in Fresno, California, and King County, Washington. Myriad bids by immigrants to avoid deportation to Mexico. McClatchy Newspapers article

Donald Trump tweets not helpful, says Dianne Feinstein – Tear down these tweets, Mr. President-elect. That was California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s message for President-elect Donald Trump, a social media-savvy public figure whose election win does not seem to have blunted his love for the medium. Sacramento Bee article

Donald Trump’s early backers in state governments may see rewards – In every race for the White House, there are early and fierce endorsers of the winning candidate who are then viewed, postelection, as having greater influence. Some are courted for cabinet spots, but more seek the president’s ear on state policies, federal funds and infrastructure projects. Rarely, though, are the lines as stark as in this election, largely because some Republican leaders took the unusual step of not endorsing Mr. Trump — early or ever. And what this means now for the ones who did is far from clear. New York Times article

Trump tells Mayor Garcetti he support LA Olympics bid — President-elect Donald Trump expressed his support for Los Angeles’ 2024 Olympic bid during a phone call with Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday, Garcetti’s office said in a statement. LA Times article

Vanessa Varin: Talk of registering Muslims stirs echoes of an awful past – The Turlock native writes, “Remember, we imprisoned Japanese Americans because they happened to look like the people responsible for Pearl Harbor. Trump’s Muslim surveillance program, which he has touted throughout the campaign as a ‘precaution,’ would subject millions of innocent, law-abiding Muslims to warrantless abuse because they look like the people responsible for 9/11. Donald Trump could learn from communities like ours, but we have to train his eye to see us.” Varin op-ed in Modesto Bee

Jack Ohman: Donald Trump’s voter … — The Sacramento Bee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist takes a look at the Donald Trump voter.  Ohman editorial cartoon in Sacramento Bee

News Stories – Top Stories

Fresno law firm scores big verdict for truckers against Walmart – A Fresno law firm scored a major win Wednesday against Wal-Mart with a multimillion-dollar verdict against the retail giant in a federal class-action lawsuit that affects hundreds of truckers in California. A jury ruled in U.S. District Court in San Francisco that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. violated California’s minimum wage law when it failed to pay its drivers for all the tasks they do. Right before noon, the jury awarded the drivers $54 million in damages. Fresno Bee article

Merced mayor calls for change in plan for HSR stop location — In what he called his “parting words” as the city’s top official, Mayor Stan Thurston urged future leaders to rethink plans for the positioning of the state high-speed rail stop. The City Council should move the stop planned along 16th Street near downtown to south of the Merced Cemetery, where there is more open space and less of an ill effect on Main Street, Thurston said. Supporters of the train have said putting the stop in the heart of downtown has the potential of breathing new life into the business sector there. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno County economic forecast: Big fish, organic growth — Fresno continues to push for economic magic bullets, while at the same time enjoying organic growth from area businesses. The latest big fish on the hook is Illinois-based Ulta Cosmetics, which has tapped Fresno as one of three cities where it plans to build a $110 million fulfillment center. The Fresno City Council last week approved an incentive package that would top out at $18 million over a 30-year term. The Business Journal article

Kings County economic forecast: All sectors set for takeoff — If 2016 is any indication, 2017 should be a happening year for economic development in Kings County. “There is going to be some real growth,” said Jay Salyer, economic development manager for the Kings County Economic Development Corp. The Business Journal article

Madera County economic forecast: An eastside growth spurt — Explosive growth is projected for Madera County over the long-term, with major developments on the region’s east side expected to form a new city in 15 to 20 years. In 2017, the county is expected to make significant gains toward this overarching goal, as the Riverstone development moves forward and ground breaks on homes in McCaffrey’s new development, Tesoro Viejo. The Business Journal article

Tulare County economic forecast: Construction, manufacturing in full swing — Anticipation is high in Tulare County after a year of steady growth in the economy. Perhaps the most telling indicator lies in the housing market. By September, home sales were up 8.5 percent in Tulare County compared to the year before, according to the California Association of Realtors, while home prices jumped nearly 11 percent. The organization also forecasts existing home sales to increase 2.2 percent throughout the Central Valley next year. The Business Journal article

Producer of Halos, pistachios wins corporate award for Lost Hills work – The Wonderful Company, the privately held farming giant that produces Halos mandarins, Pom Wonderful pomegranate beverages and Wonderful-brand almonds and pistachios, has won the 2016 Corporate Citizenship Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Corporate Citizenship Center. Fresno Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Did you thank a veteran? These vets are returning the favor to poor, homeless – Late Wednesday afternoon, two groups created and led by veterans and sharing a common goal – to serve the community and the disenfranchised – pooled their resources to feed the homeless at Graceada Park. They also distributed coats and blankets and other clothing items to help those without shelter to endure the colder weather as winter approaches. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Local non-profit coffee house helps homeless and drug addicts stay off the streets — Can coffee and muffins help Sacramento’s homeless drug addicts get off the streets and stay clean and sober? A local non-profit says yes.  Hundreds of people drive by the TurnAround Coffee House on 7th Street every day. Many have no idea it’s even there. Even fewer people know why it’s there. Capital Public Radio report

There are 63,000 homeless children in LA County. These are the children of Skid Row – These are the children of skid row — black, white, Latino. They have pink and red Adidas sneakers or thumbs in their mouths or studs that glint like diamonds in their ears or the first hint of hair above their lips. They’re sisters and friends who profess their love for each other, who like listening to music when they study, who talk in class without raising their hands. They could be any kids. LA Times article

What’s next for San Francisco taxi industry — The blows keep coming for San Francisco’s struggling taxi industry. The city’s largest taxi company, the bankrupt Yellow Cab Cooperative, is up for sale. A series of large personal injury lawsuits against the company combined with the growing popularity of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft pushed Yellow Cab into financial insolvency. KQED report

Shop locally on Small Business Saturday – You know the Black Friday drill: Fend off the early morning crowds and grab a ridiculously low-priced electronic device at a store before somebody gets there first. Downtown Hanford’s small business owners are hoping you come out the day after, Small Business Saturday, for an experience that’s consciously designed to be different. Hanford Sentinel article

Merger among homegrown banks complete – Farmers & Merchants Bancorp’s acquisition of the much smaller Delta National Bancorp became official Nov. 18. Stockton Record article

Mortgage rates keep rising after Trump’s election win — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates continued to surge this week in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election win. AP article

Bay Area tech-talent firms could see savings after ad company bans hard-right Breitbart News — Good news for Bay Area tech-talent firm Toptal, the National Rifle Association and other outfits that advertise on controversial news site Breitbart: ad prices could be coming down. That’s because a major digital advertising services firm, AppNexus, has blocked Breitbart from using its ad-serving tools, according to a new report. San Jose Mercury News article

Pop-up shops were once a sign of desperation. Now they’re part of business plan — Pop-up stores — once seen as only a step up from a vacant storefront — have become a key strategy for some malls. LA Times article


Bob Gilbert of Oakdale – feed company owner and agriculture advocate – dies at 93 — Bob Gilbert, who led the Oakdale feed company founded by his father in 1892, and was a leading advocate for California farmers, died Sunday at 93.  Modesto Bee article

In the Klamath River basin, water rights are personal — Water rights along the Klamath River have always been a matter of survival, and birds aren’t the only ones competing for water — they’re just the last in line. The federal government manages a complex hierarchy of rights along the river, claimed by irrigators, tribes and fish in the two states it runs through: California and Oregon. KQED report

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Potentially hundreds could seek to have pot convictions reduced to misdemeanors – Thanks to voters, Raudel Rivera is hoping to be out of jail in time to celebrate Christmas at home. Convicted of felony possession of marijuana for sales, Rivera qualifies to have his conviction reduced to a misdemeanor under California’s newly passed Proposition 64. And potentially hundreds of others convicted of felony pot possession could petition the court to retroactively reduce their charges, prosecutors said. Bakersfield Californian article

With hate crimes rising, LA law enforcement vows to crack down – As hate crimes surge in California and across the country, Los Angeles law enforcement leaders came together Wednesday to promise they will not let the city fall victim to fear. LA Times article

Patt Morrison asks: Law expert Hadan Aviram on how California’s promises to speed up death penalty are impossible — Hadar Aviram is a law professor at UC Hastings. She volunteered for the Proposition 62 campaign to end the death penalty altogether in favor of life in prison without parole. That lost to Proposition 66, which pledges to speed up the death penalty in California, which hasn’t executed anyone in 10 years. The ACLU has already challenged 66 in court. Aviram is following her book “Cheap on Crime” with another on the Manson family’s parole hearings, and she thinks the promises of Proposition 66 are impossible to meet. Morrison in LA Times

There’s a new watcher overhead: Sheriff’s office flies drone with video camera — The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office has purchased a drone equipped with an eye-in-the-sky camera for overhead surveillance of crime scenes. Officials said they believe the department is the first law enforcement agency in the Valley to have one of the devices, also called an unmanned aerial vehicle. Fresno Bee article

Police are looking for suspect linked to four sexual assaults near Fresno State — Fresno police are searching for a man they believe is connected to at least four sexual assaults near Fresno State dating back to June. Fresno Bee article

Indianapolis Colts long snapper to honor Deputy Wallace at Thanksgiving game – If you watch football on Thanksgiving day, you will likely see another tribute to slain Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace. Indianapolis Colts long snapper Matt Overton is planning on wearing special shoes in honor of Wallace. Overton is a Tracy High graduate who played college football at Western Washington. Modesto Bee article

Union-backed changes to LAPD disciplinary system could go to voters – Los Angeles city leaders took the first step Wednesday toward a major overhaul of the Police Department’s disciplinary process — a move long sought by the union that represents rank-and-file officers. LA Times article

Children who witnessed Fresno County Jail shooting treated to toy-shopping spree –– Five children who witnessed a violent jailhouse shooting in September were treated Wednesday to a shopping spree at a Clovis toy store. Fresno Bee article

Metro Fire examines whether employee said illegal immigrants good for target practice — The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District is investigating claims that an employee allegedly published offensive posts on his personal Facebook account. Sacramento Bee article

Transgender cop’s uniform keeps her out of event she organized — The city’s first transgender police officer was kept out of an event at the San Diego LGBT Community Center because she was wearing her uniform. LA Times article


School building bonanza – but new dollars might not reach poor districts – nstead of prioritizing projects for needy communities, the state will dole out these bond proceeds the way it always has: on a first-come, first-served basis. Scores of well-off districts are already in line, and small, impoverished ones have no one in their corner helping them navigate the complicated application process. That means some worthy repair projects may never see a dime. CALmatters article

Edmiston charged with illegal eavesdropping while acting Kern High School District chief – A former acting chief of the Kern High School District Police Department has been charged with illegally eavesdropping on his subordinate officers, the Kern County District Attorney’s office announced Wednesday. It’s alleged that David Edmiston recorded confidential communications without the consent of the people involved in the conversations on four separate occasions, the D.A.’s office said in a news release. Bakersfield Californian article

University officials: Undocumented students studying abroad should return home — College administrators nationwide are urging undocumented immigrant students studying abroad to come home before President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January. San Jose Mercury News article

Turlock Together brings out generosity in young teens – The spirit of the season is getting a major boost from the spirit of competition at Turlock Junior High School, where students vying for a good laugh and a little less running have gathered thousands of cans for the needy. Modesto Bee article

New medical school to be constructed in Clovis — California Health Sciences University, a private university in Clovis, will open a new medical school — the first of its kind in the San Joaquin Valley — as soon as fall 2019. CHSU plans to offer a College of Osteopathic Medicine, in addition to the university’s existing College of Pharmacy. Visalia Times-Delta article

Website aims to track college professors who ‘advance leftist propaganda’ — Do you have a college professor who is advancing a radical, leftist agenda? A new website wants to know about them, but social media users have already flooded the site with fictional profs who fit the bill. McClatchy Newspapers article

Special-needs students adore their ‘goofball’ teacher — As the familiar melody of “The Chicken Dance” begins to fill Stuart “Stu” Burnett’s classroom, he has the sudden urge to rummage through his desk to find his famous blond mullet wig to wear.  Stockton Record article


A mega-quake stretching from LA to San Francisco would devastate California, with $289 billion in losses, study finds – A sobering new report on California’s seismic vulnerabilities said that up to 3.5 million homes could be damaged if an 8.0 earthquake ruptured on the San Andreas fault. LA Times article

Modesto, Turlock take another step in wastewater project — Modesto and Turlock have taken another step forward in sending highly treated wastewater to Del Puerto Water District farmers. The cities have approved an agreement that lets Turlock send its wastewater through a Modesto pipeline. Turlock’s City Council approved the agreement in August. Modesto’s council approved it Tuesday.  Modesto Bee article

Health/Human Services 

Drug costs skyrocket for many older Americans, despite Medicare coverage — When Congress added a prescription drug benefit to Medicare in 2003, the pharmaceutical industry did not just get millions of new customers. But Congress also placed language in the law explicitly banning Medicare from using its power to negotiate lower drug prices. LA Times article

Baby born under extremely rare circumstances, Merced doctor says — A Merced mother and her newborn baby girl are celebrating Thanksgiving at home this year, grateful to be around friends and family after narrowly surviving a rare condition during childbirth that nearly turned tragic. Merced Sun-Star article

Other areas

Sacramento City Council approves hotly debated marijuana cultivation ordinance — Sacramento is closer to becoming a regional hub for commercial marijuana production, but significant hurdles remain before the city flowers with industrial pot gardens. City Council members voted 5-3 Tuesday to allow licensed cultivation within city limits. But it will be months before permits are issued and the city still must establish fees for grower licenses. Sacramento Bee article

Round of a-paws: Shelter intake, euthanasia way down – Kern County and Bakersfield are finally on the road to a more humane future for unwanted pets. It has taken decades of soul searching, debate, conflict and pressure from animal advocacy groups to trigger change. But the Kern County Animal Services shelter and the City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center have made amazing progress on the one measure that matters most: They’re killing fewer animals. Bakersfield Californian article

Carmen George: He made the most famous rock climb in history. Six decades later, I joined him on the edge — On the edge of a cliff across from the world’s largest chunk of granite, a crowd gathers around 85-year-old George Whitmore. Word has spread among tourists at Yosemite National Park that this slender, bearded man in the wide-brimmed straw hat was part of the most famous rock climb in history: the first ascent of El Capitan, rising more than 3,000 majestic feet above Yosemite Valley. George in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – A day to give thanks, and seek unity.

Sacramento Bee –- A day to give thanks, and seek unity; What’s next for Sacramento roads and transit after Measure B defeat?; UC Davis World Food Center still deserves a place in SacramentoStep outside, look up and breathe.