November 30, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Election day gave Democrats total dominance over California Legislature, but it’s unclear what they can do with it — History hasn’t been kind to dreams of unbridled political dominance under the state Capitol dome, the kind of power that Democrats now hold after winning a supermajority of seats in both houses of the California Legislature. Even a decisive trouncing of electoral rivals doesn’t change the fundamental truth that governing is almost always harder than campaigning. And Democrats, united in many issues but opposed on others, face daunting odds in turning the results of Nov. 8 into sweeping change. LA Times article

Dan Walters: ‘Mod Squad’ growth offsets Democratic supermajorities — The Assembly’s “mod squad,” as it’s been dubbed, was instrumental during the 2015-16 session in blocking key elements of Brown’s multi-point assault on climate change, which he describes as an “existential threat.” He couldn’t win approval of a tight “low-carbon fuel” mandate or reauthorization of the “cap-and-trade” program of emission allowances. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Supreme Court dispute over jailing immigrants takes on new import in Trump era – A Supreme Court dispute over the government’s power to indefinitely jail immigrants facing deportation has taken on added significance with the election of Donald Trump, who has vowed to remove millions of foreigners in the country illegally. LA Times article

Valley politics

Silva’s criminal case delayed; settlement declined – Anthony Silva “flatly rejected” a settlement offer more than a month ago that would have resolved the pending legal charges against him in Amador County, the attorney for Stockton’s outgoing mayor confirmed Tuesday. Stockton Record article

Turlock City Council race too close to call after latest update – In the too-close-call council race in Turlock, Councilman Steven Nascimento extended his lead to 16 votes as the election count was updated Tuesday evening.  Modesto Bee article 

Former Stockton council candidate Fant’s election fraud trial delayed again — Former City Council candidate Sam Fant’s trial on charges of felony election fraud and conspiracy has been delayed for a second time. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Supermajorities could spark conflict among Democrats – Now that voters have created Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the California Legislature, they should expect to see more conflict between liberals and moderates in the party and even tension with Gov. Jerry Brown, another Democrat. AP article

California Republicans allege the state’s online voter registration system isn’t secure – Leaders of the California Republican Party are alleging that the state’s online voter registration system is susceptible to voter fraud, and say they are considering possible legal action in the days or weeks to come. LA Times article

Joel Fox: Is CA better off under the top-two system? — For the business community, the top two primary has altered strategy as independent committees funded by business groups focus on helping to elect business friendly Democrats. Has the top two strategy affected the type of legislators elected to office? Marginally among the Democrats in the many legislative races, Eric McGhee of the Public Policy Institute told John Myers of the Los Angeles Times. Is marginally enough of a gain for the business community?  Fox in Fox & Hounds


Donald Trump wants to cut funding from sanctuary cities.  But can he? — Could a Trump administration and Republican Congress really withhold money from those cities or even entire states like California? The answer — from lawyers on both sides of the debate — is a lot more nuanced than Trump’s rhetoric lets on.  KQED report

Other areas

Nancy Pelosi becomes a symbol of Democrats’ losses – Ms. Pelosi, who is expected to be re-elected as House minority leader, has become a stand-in for complaints that Democrats have failed to court working-class voters. New York Times article

Michael Hiltzik: Should California secede? How the state is politically out-of-step with the rest of the country — Secession talk is more valuable as a pointer to all the ways that California and federal policies are likely to come into conflict during the next few years than as a formula for practical politics. Hiltzik column in LA Times

Michael Fitzgerald: An open letter to Muslims – So to the stupid hate letter received by the mosque, add this modest note of support. Don’t think ill of us because of some crank in Santa Clarita. Or the Crank-in-Chief. I’ll probably blow this, but mahall alttarhib, be welcome. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Battle brewing over audit of judicial watchdog agency —  The state’s judicial watchdog agency isn’t exempt from scrutiny over how it disciplines judges and handles complaints from citizens, lawyers for State Auditor Elaine Howle are arguing in an unusual lawsuit pitting two state agencies against each other. LA Times article

Obama signs McCarthy bill to protect space ports — President Barack Obama on Monday signed into law a bill sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, that gives the FAA the authority to consider impacts on space operations in any study intended to determine whether a proposed structure interferes with such operations. Bakersfield Californian article

Presidential Politics 

Kevin McCarthy isn’t on board with Trump’s call to punish flag burners — U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from Bakersfield, isn’t joining President-elect Donald Trump’s call to punish Americans for flag burning. McClatchy Newspapers articleLA Times article

Dump Obamacare, then figure out its replacement, top GOP leader says — First, get rid of Obamacare. Then work on a replacement during a transition period. That’s the plan House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., offered Tuesday as he discussed congressional strategy to repeal the Affordable Care Act. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Trump made promises to blue-collar voters. Democrats plan to make sure he follows through — The goal is to strategically engage with the White House on common objectives and at the same time try to drive a political wedge between Trump and those Republicans anxious about his costlier ideas, such as rebuilding infrastructure, aiding blue-collar workers and expanding paid family leave, a pet project of daughter Ivanka Trump. LA Times article

Trump choice for HHS secretary could repeal free birth control without act of Congress – Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services would be able to repeal one of President Barack Obama’s most controversial initiatives: free birth control for women under the Affordable Care Act. McClatchy Newspapers article 

If Trump tweets it, is it news? A quandary for the news media — As news organizations grapple with covering a commander in chief unlike any other, Mr. Trump’s Twitter account — a bully pulpit, propaganda weapon and attention magnet all rolled into one — has quickly emerged as a fresh journalistic challenge and a source of lively debate. New York Times article 

Trump says he will leave his business ‘in total’ for the presidency — President-elect Donald Trump said Wednesday morning that he plans to leave his business entirely in preparation for taking office, calling it “visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.” McClatchy Newspapers articleLA Times article

News Stories

Top Stories

Who likes state’s plan to keep more water for fish in California rivers? Practically nobody – California regulators say their sweeping proposal to devote more flows from the state’s major rivers to fish and wildlife is an attempt to balance competing interests for a scarce resource. So far, all they’ve done is get practically everyone mad at them. Sacramento Bee articleStockton Record articleModesto Bee articleCapital Public Radio report

California’s university leaders are urging Trump to embrace students who are in the U.S. illegally – Leaders of California’s three systems of public higher education sent a joint letter to President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday urging him to allow students who are in the country illegally to continue their educations without fear of deportation. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article 

Fresno Unified officials walked out of negotiations. Now, teachers union is considering strike – The Fresno Teachers Association is considering going on strike after failed attempts to make public the typically private bargaining negotiations with Fresno Unified officials. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Brown administration warns of discipline for employees who strike next week – California officials are pushing back on SEIU Local 1000’s plans for a one-day strike next week, warning employees that they could be subject to disciplinary action if they participate in what the state regards as an unlawful walkout. Sacramento Bee article

California new-cars sales stay on track to top 2 million in 2016 – California auto dealers are on track to post another solid year, with a projected 2.08 million new-car registrations coming close to the all-time record of 2.15 million set in 2005, according to the third-quarter 2016 report released by the Sacramento-based California New Car Dealers Association. Sacramento Bee article

California electric vehicle manufacturer chooses Arizona site for plant — A Menlo Park-based startup manufacturer of electric vehicles has chosen an Arizona site to build a $700 million plant expected to employ 2,000, beating out previously disclosed candidates that included Sacramento and Tracy. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Lawmakers reach a compromise to help California soldiers ordered to repay enlistment bonuses – House and Senate negotiators announced a compromise Tuesday that would permit the Pentagon to forgive debts owed by thousands of California National Guard soldiers who received improper bonuses during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. LA Times article

Rawhide, Visalia extend Recreation Park lease – City staff and Visalia Rawhide officials agreed to extend the lease agreement for Recreation Park. The one year extension gives both sides additional time to produce what the club’s General Manager Jennifer Pendergraft called, “the absolute best plan for the ballpark’s future.” Visalia Times-Delta article

Consumer group alleges that California refiners are manipulating gas prices – A consumer advocacy group contends that California refiners are holding down gasoline production to inflate prices at the pump. California gasoline prices remain at least 50 cents a gallon higher than in other areas of the country even though a major Southern California refinery that was mostly shutdown throughout 2015 is back in operation, said Jamie Court, executive director of Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog. LA Times article

Southern California home prices jump, U.S. values surpass bubble-era peak — Southern California home prices jumped last month, but sales flat-lined in a region where home ownership is increasingly out of reach for the middle class. LA Times article

Patty Guerra: ‘Chipotle of sushi’ coming to Modesto within a few weeks — Here’s a food trend that was new to me, but apparently a lot of people are enthusiastic about it: the poke bowl. It’s pronounced POK-eh, like in Pokémon. Basically, it’s a rice bowl topped with raw fish and various vegetables. And it’s a staple in Hawaii, my friends who frequent the islands tell me. Wilson Tsai, who owns the soon-to-open Poke Bowl on McHenry Avenue, said the concept has become ever more popular in the Bay Area, as well. Guerra in Modesto Bee

Cost of building Golden 1 Center just went up again – Nearly two months after it opened, Golden 1 Center’s construction cost has inched up again. The new Sacramento Kings arena now carries a price tag of $558.2 million, according to a consultant’s report released Tuesday. Sacramento Bee article 

More good news for Sacramento’s Siemans factory — Sacramento’s Siemens factory has won another mass-transit contract, this time a $40.4 million deal with the transit system in Charlotte, N.C. Siemens will build six S70 streetcars for the Charlotte Area Transit System under a deal announced late Monday. Sacramento Bee article

Downtown project would bring Oakland 4,600 jobs — Downtown Oakland would land 4,600 new jobs through a major new Uptown district project proposed by the developer who brought an Uber headquarters complex to the East Bay city, developers said Tuesday. East Bay Times article


Guillermo Ceja: Testing lacks on crops and oilfield wastewater – The community organizer for Kern Oil and Gas Clean Water Action writes, “The public’s health and the reputation of California’s amazing agricultural industry is more important than continuing this practice without conducting the necessary science to determine if and how it could be safe. Until it is determined that the public and the environment are not being harmed, the practice of irrigating crops with oilfield wastewater should be stopped.” Ceja op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

State mulls strict pesticide rules near schools – Proposed rules that would ban some pesticide applications within a quarter mile of schools from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays are drawing skepticism from local school officials and outright opposition from the Kings County Farm Bureau. Hanford Sentinel articleSacramento Bee article

Concerns over the ‘produce rule’ — Waiting times for answers from the Food and Drug Administration’s technical assistance clearinghouse about rules for handling produce under a 2011 federal food safety law can be long, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Monday. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Sheriff’s helicopter ran out of fuel before landing at Modesto Airport, report says – An investigation concluded that a Stanislaus County sheriff’s helicopter ran out of fuel before the pilot made a hard landing at Modesto Airport in July, causing substantial damage to a workhorse of the sheriff’s Air Support Unit. Modesto Bee article

Modesto police detective to take on California International Marathon in full duty gear – The Modesto Police detective who ran a half marathon in full duty gear to raise money for the families of fallen officers is now taking on a full marathon. Detective Sean Dodge will be running 26.2 miles along with Folsom police Sgt. Eric Baade, wearing about 22 pounds of gear, including boots, bulletproof vests, belts and duty weapons, in the California International Marathon on Sunday. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento City Council approves police reforms, but critics aren’t satisfied – Facing a chamber filled with vocal activists, the Sacramento City Council on Tuesday passed a package of police reforms that could increase access to videos of officer-involved shootings and revamp a civilian oversight commission criticized as ineffective. Sacramento Bee article

Police: Pit bull that attacked officer’s dog shot in southeast Fresno – A Fresno police officer was forced to shoot a pit bull that attacked his service dog during a search for a wanted parolee Tuesday afternoon in southeast Fresno, police reported. Fresno Bee article

Woman slings hot grease at officers, police dog in north Stockton — A woman threw hot grease on police officers and a police dog Monday night as one of the officers used a stun gun to control the woman before she could potentially set fire to a kitchen, authorities reported.  Stockton Record articleSacramento Bee article

Bakersfield police increasing pedestrian safety operations in December – Bakersfield police announced Tuesday they will increase pedestrian safety operations in December, focusing on trouble areas and cracking down on drivers and pedestrians who break traffic laws. Bakersfield Californian article


Kern Community College District pulls from within for chancellor position – Thomas Burke, who for 12 years has served as Kern Community College District’s chief financial officer, has been tapped to head the district when Chancellor Sandra Serrano retires in February, officials said Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian article 

CSUB hires foundation, university advancement leader – Victor Martin, Cal State Bakersfield’s interim vice president for university advancement and its foundation executive director, has been tapped to fill the role permanently, officials announced Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian article 

More law degrees for women, but fewer good jobs – Female law students tend to be clustered in lower-ranked law schools, a new study found, putting them at a disadvantage in landing top legal jobs. New York Times article 

Jefferson kids walk to ‘Australia’ 8 times for health initiative — Jefferson Elementary School kids walked 199,000 miles last year, harvested local vegetables from a garden they built and competed to whip up the best healthy meal — all part of a health initiative the school launched to combat childhood obesity. Bakersfield Californian article

UC Merced cross country head coach killed in motorcycle crash — The head coach for UC Merced’s men’s and women’s cross country teams was involved in afatal motorcycle crash on Monday afternoon in Merced. According to police officers, 27-year-old Ryan Nunez was headed west in the first block of East Bellevue Road when the motorcycle veered off the road near El Capitan High School and hit a tree. Merced Sun-Star article


Amy Horne and Jim Branham: Here’s a new, better way to deal with dead trees in Sierra – Horne, chairwoman of the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, and Branham, executive officer of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, write, “To reduce both wildfire risk and tree mortality, we should remove excess trees but do so in a particular way. Scientists have developed a promising strategy that focuses on the pattern of trees remaining after harvest. Big, old trees are untouched, and many small trees are removed. The result is a more variable forest with more open space.” Horne/Branham op-ed in Sacramento Bee

U.S. public lands open for oil development? — Scientists and conservationists are just beginning to grasp what may lay ahead for more than 600 million acres of national forests, monuments, parks, conservation areas and other federal public lands. But, they say Trump’s statements promoting fossil fuels development on public lands make it clear that the days of managing these lands with renewable energy, conservation and climate change in mind may soon be over. KQED report

Outdoorsy 3: Take Fido the next time you hit the trail — In our last episode we brought you to Mono Hot Springs in Sierra National Forest. This time, we discuss hiking with dogs and we explore a not-so-visited grove of giant sequoias. KVPR report

Health/Human Services 

A third of California is on Medi-Cal and some Republican counties have high rates – Today, with Republicans poised to take control of the White House and Congress and promising to repeal Obamacare, 13.5 million Californians have Medi-Cal coverage, a 71 percent expansion since 2014 and more than a third of the state’s population. It means that California has, by far, the greatest stakes in the forthcoming battle over whether Obamacare lives or dies. And if its fate is the latter, California would have to decide whether to kick millions off the Medi-Cal rolls or cover them with state tax money. Sacramento Bee article

State investigates San Joaquin County Children’s Services – The report of a near fatality involving a child prompted a state investigation of San Joaquin County Children’s Services this summer, and the agency has until Thursday to submit a corrective action plan regarding its intake and screening processes. Stockton Record article

Saint Agnes gives $2.1 million in charity care, most of money goes to Saint Agnes hospice — Saint Agnes Medical Center is paying $2.1 million to nonprofit organizations to comply with an order by the California attorney general that the hospital maintain its charity care to the community. Fresno Bee article 

Ailing PG&E workers can now skip the doctor’s office for the company kiosk instead — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. unveiled on Tuesday a telemedicine kiosk in its downtown Fresno office that will connect sick employees with a doctor in minutes to talk about their symptoms and get a diagnosis and treatment. The virtual kiosk, a desk with camera and video monitor in a small private room, even has biometric devices to take body temperature, blood pressure and zoom into skin rashes to help doctors determine what’s wrong.  Fresno Bee article

Dr. Roger Mortimer: Despite successes, challenges remain on AIDS front – The clinical professor at UCSF-Fresno writes, “There is no cure on the near horizon but when the day comes, we want as many people as possible alive to get it. Thursday is World AIDS Day. It is still very relevant today, but we can hope someday it will only be a reminder of past challenges.” Mortimer op-ed in Fresno Bee

FDA agrees to new trials for ecstasy as relief for PTSD patients — The Food and Drug Administration gave permission Tuesday for large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trials of the drug — a final step before the possible approval of Ecstasy as a prescription drug. If successful, the trials could turn an illicit street substance into a potent treatment for PTSD. New York Times article

The future of California’s seniors: More diverse, but more disabled too — The number of seniors in California is expected to more than double by 2060, from roughly 5 million to 12 million. A new report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office says this future senior population will be more racially diverse than seniors in the U.S. as a whole: the state’s elderly population is projected to become majority nonwhite as soon as 2030. The proportion of these future seniors who are disabled will also increase. KQED report

Land Use/Housing

After decades of complaints, one Fresno neighborhood might finally have their concerns addressed — After decades of complaints from residents, a vote this week by the Fresno City Council could signal what some think is a new direction for southwest Fresno. The city is considering a new specific plan that will guide the future of the 3,000 acre neighborhood west of Highway 99 and south of Highway 180. At its heart is a goal to remake the area, and reduce pollution by telling big industrial facilities to move elsewhere. KVPR report


Railroads struggling to meet federal safety deadlines triggered by deadly California crash – Union Pacific, the main freight rail carrier through Sacramento, is among several railroads nationally that appear to be lagging in implementing new computer safety systems designed to reduce train crashes, according to data published this week by the Federal Railroad Administration. Sacramento Bee article

Appeals court temporarily halts physical work on 24th Street — The state appeals court in Fresno has ordered a temporary stay on any work associated with the 24th Street widening project that would alter the “physical environment.” Bakersfield Californian article

Other areas

Modesto courthouse plans inch forward, but could face more roadblocks – In August, Stanislaus and 15 other counties were told they could complete whatever phase of their new courthouse plans they were in, then needed to stop. For Stanislaus County, that meant finishing the design phase of its projected $262 million downtown building. Modesto Bee article

Lois Henry: A donation to Critters is an investment in Kern’s animal welfare future – If you were out of town last week, you missed an important “good news” story about how we are seeing a significant and, more importantly, sustained drop in our animal shelter kill rates. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Kern County library director resigns – Kern County Library Director Nancy Kerr is leaving for a new job in Washington state. Kerr announced her resignation in a Saturday letter to the Kern County Board of Supervisors. She will leave around Christmas. Bakersfield Californian article 

$339,000 goes missing from cemetery coffers, so board fires manager and calls cops – The Visalia Cemetery District has fired its manager of 20 years after an audit revealed a cash shortfall of $339,000 in one year. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Armen Bacon colors ‘outside the lines’ with new collection of essays — Author Armen Bacon joins Valley Public Radio’s Joe Moore to talk about her new collection of essays, “My Name Is Armen Volume 2: Outside The Lines.” Published by Fresno State, the new book finds Bacon telling stories about her life and the people she has met in Central California. KVPR report

Valley Editorial Roundup 

Fresno Bee – Sooner rather than later, Donald Trump must decide whether he wants to be president or a business tycoon. He cannot be both

Merced Sun-Star – California is one of the few states where lawyers aren’t automatically disciplined for sleeping with clients. The State Bar is right to want that changed.

Modesto Bee – Shop Mod event in Modesto is far more indicative of Modesto than the 2-minute melee at Vintage Faire Mall.

Sacramento Bee –- Sooner rather than later, Donald Trump must decide whether he wants to be president or a business tycoon. He cannot be both; California is one of the few states where lawyers aren’t automatically disciplined for sleeping with clients. The State Bar is right to want that changed.

Stockton Record – Holiday time is Giving time.