October 20, 2017




Local/Regional Politics:


Downtown Fresno Property Owners Await Fulton Street Reopening

Valley Public Radio

For 53 years downtown Fresno’s main street was a car-free zone. But after a year and a half of construction, the six-block long Fulton Mall has been removed, and replaced by Fulton Street. Backers hope the project will kick off a wave of investment and revitalization in the area. But critics abound, with some saying it won’t work, and others saying it will displace existing businesses and residents, and will set off a wave of gentrification. Others still say despite the new streetscape, nothing really will change. To learn more about the re-opening festivities taking place Saturday October 21st, we spoke with Craig Scharton, CEO of the Downtown Fresno Partnership.

See also:


Fresno, Bakersfield Place Bids For Amazon HQ2

Valley Public Radio

Cities across the country are vying for the chance to be the site of Amazon’s second headquarters. Fresno officials sent in their pitchtoday. Most cities flirting with Amazon are highlighting tax incentives and existing amenities like international airports. But mayor Lee Brand says Fresno’s offer may seem counterintuitive.

See also:


Is Chevron’s job-cutting ‘transformation’ evidence of an industry death spiral in California? Not necessarily

Bakersfield Californian

Despite Chevron’s announcement this week that it would reassign or lay off roughly 300 employees in the coming months, energy insiders say they do not expect, even amid waning petroleum prices, further cuts in the Kern County oil patch.


Check Before You Burn season, just days away

Valley Air News

The residential wood burning season runs from November 1 through the end of February each year. During that time, the Valley Air District issues a daily wood burning declaration for each of the Valley’s eight counties.


State Politics:


Campaign grows against sexual harassment at California Capitol

Sacramento Bee

Adama Iwu wrapped up a conversation with a group of men at a work event outside the Capitol last week about how they can serve as allies to women and stop sexual harassment when a drunken male approached her. Iwu, the head of Visa’s western U.S. government relations program, said he touched her inappropriately. The men did nothing.

See also:


Half-dozen women allege sexual harassment at union, Orange County Democratic Party headquarters

Orange County Register

A half-dozen women said on social media that they were victims of sexual abuse and harassment while working as interns or employees of the Democratic Party of Orange County and the Orange County Labor Federation.


California lawmaker wants to ban secret settlements in sexual harassment cases after Weinstein scandal Los Angeles Times

A California state senator says she intends to introduce a bill next year to ban confidentiality provisions in monetary settlements stemming from sexual harassment, assault and discrimination cases.


Graphic allegations about California legislator show there are few protections for female lobbyists in the Capitol

Los Angeles Times

As a blunt manifesto painting the state Capitol as rife with sexual harassment and misconduct ricocheted through Sacramento this week, state leaders have begun looking into an explosive allegation of a forced sexual encounter and grappling with legislative solutions to the apparently ubiquitous culture of abuse in California politics.


Steve Bannon to address California Republican Party

Sacramento Bee

Steve Bannon, head of the conservative website Breitbart News and President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, will deliver the headline address tonight at the California Republican Party’s fall convention in Anaheim.

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Ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio blasts Waters, California, predicts an upset

Orange County Register

Joe Arpaio, the avowed “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” inserted his barbed rhetoric into a Los Angeles-area congressional race Thursday night, predicting an upset victory for Republican Omar Navarro while blasting Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters and other California politicians.


Senate race: De León in steep uphill fight

Capitol Weekly

In October of 2015, Bernie Sanders famously said he was “sick and tired of hearing about (Hillary Clinton’s) damn emails.”  In October of 2017, the Democratic political world is already sick and tired of re-litigating the 2016 Democratic presidential primary

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Single Payer


Votes, Money, Politicians and Influence


How often does your legislator vote with powerful interest groups in Sacramento? With the help of our partners at Digital Democracy, we’ve created a unique dataset to help illustrate how the policymaking process works, looking at the relationships between legislators, lobbying groups, money and votes. We call it the “Alignment Score.”


Sustaining our progress

California Forward

Through the dark clouds of national turmoil, it’s increasingly clear that Californians must step up to provide leadership. Many of our biggest challenges – especially the issues of income inequality, economic stability and upward mobility – are up to us to solve.


Californians Will Soon Have Nonbinary as a Gender Option on Birth Certificates


Californians who don’t identify themselves as male or female will soon be able to get a gender-neutral birth certificate. Until now, people who wanted to obtain a nonbinary gender designation had to get a physician’s affidavit stating that they had undergone treatment for the purpose of gender transition.


Adios, California

The American Spectator

A fifth-generation Californian laments his state’s ongoing economic collapse.


Federal Politics:


Trump pledges biggest tax cuts ever as Senate paves way

PBS NewsHour

President Donald Trump promised tax cuts Friday “which will be the biggest in the history of our country!” following Senate passage of a $4 trillion budget that lays the groundwork for Republicans’ promised tax legislation.

See also:

·       Chart: Tax revenue, Total, % of GDP, 2015  OECD


Senators push forward with bipartisan Obamacare fix — and Trump’s encouragement

Los Angeles Times

Despite President Trump’s mixed messages, key senators unveiled their bipartisan plan Thursday to stabilize health insurance markets, drawing widespread support.

See also:


California, the sanctuary state, will reap the whirlwind


Earlier this month, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 54, a historic state law that thumbs his state’s nose at federal authority. Beginning in January, the law states, California officially becomes a so-called sanctuary state.


Tracking deregulation in the Trump era

Brookings Institution

The Trump administration has major deregulatory ambitions. But how much deregulation is actually happening? This tracker helps you monitor a selection of delayed, repealed, and new rules, notable guidance and policy revocations, and important court battles across nine major categories, including energy, health, labor, and more. The tracker will be continually updated to reflect new deregulatory activity.


Impeach Trump campaign gets multimillion-dollar boost

Sacramento Bee

Tom Steyer, the liberal billionaire activist considering a run for U.S. Senate in California, is spending at least $10 million on national TV ads demanding that Congress take a stand on impeaching President Donald Trump.




How does Visalia treat LGBT+ residents?

Visalia Times-Delta

While California is leading the way in its acceptance of LGBTQ+ residents, Visalia is trailing behind the state trend.


Fitzgerald: Giving the poor money — what an outrage!

Stockton Record


Despite backlash over political ads, Facebook’s role in elections will only grow

Los Angeles Times

Negative headlines. Congressional inquiries. Corporate apologies. The heightening scrutiny surrounding Facebook after it allowed Russian trolls and inflammatory political ads to spread on its network is the kind of thing companies would do anything to avoid.


Across Valley, Concerns Arise Over Government Transparency

Valley Public Radio

Earlier this year, we reported on a new immigration policy in Madera County: Whenever the county jail was releasing a foreign-born felon back into the community, it would coordinate that release with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, which could potentially detain or deport that felon. But when a civil rights group looked into the policy, it uncovered a problem—one that could amount to a violation of an open meeting law. It’s something the city of Bakersfield may be facing as well—the latest in a series of open government concerns in the Valley.


The media’s definition of fake news vs. Donald Trump’s


When PolitiFact fact-checks fake news, we are calling out fabricated content that intentionally masquerades as news coverage of actual events. When President Donald Trump talks about fake news, he means something else entirely. Instead of fabricated content, Trump uses the term to describe news coverage that is unsympathetic to his administration and his performance, even when the news reports are accurate.


25 of the Happiest Cities in the United States 2017


National Geographic Explorer and best-selling author Dan Buettner searched for the happiest Americans. Where he found them will surprise you. San Luis Obispo and Salinas on the list…




In California’s Capitol, 147 women’s #MeToo statement must not be shrugged off

Fresno Bee

Every once in a while, the sordid details spill into the public, as they did Wednesday when the Assembly disclosed that a former Democratic legislator’s disgusting behavior cost taxpayers $100,000.


What’s the appropriate time to release police body camera videos? Right now

Los Angeles Times

Like audio recordings of 911 emergency calls, video recordings from police body cameras are public records that can and should be disclosed to the public. That’s the easy part. It gets complicated because in mandating disclosure, California law also allows footage to be edited and release to be…


The latest warnings on legal pot in California: indoor grows and taxes

Sacramento Bee

Chinese citizens are being arrested in illegal grow houses. Cops say that illicit growers and smugglers target California because they believe they can hide in the shadows of legal operations.


Jerry Brown stops invasion of the cell phone antennas and other bad legislation

San Jose Mercury News

Sometimes good government is less about making good things happen than stopping bad things from happening. In that spirit — thank you, Gov. Jerry Brown. With a scrawl of his veto pen, Brown stopped multibillion dollar telecom companies from getting carte blanche to put cell phone antennas anywhere they want on taxpayer-owned public property and pay next to nothing for the privilege.





COMMUNITY VOICES: How the city council’s decision on cannabis differs from the county’s option

Bakersfield Californian

The Bakersfield City Council recently voted to ban recreational cannabis within the city’s boundaries. The Council’s position has been consistent over time on both medical and recreational cannabis. The Kern County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to act on this same issue in the near future, and the options presented to the Board take quite a different path.






Tulare County creates high risk team to prevent deadly domestic violence incidents


The numbers don’t lie–domestic violence cases are on the rise in Tulare County, and the truth is that domestic violence can become deadly.


Body Cam Study Shows No Effect On Police Use Of Force Or Citizen Complaints


Having police officers wear little cameras seems to have no discernible impact on citizen complaints or officers’ use of force, at least in the nation’s capital.


Public Safety:


Walters: Just a few new gun laws this year, but one’s a puzzler


Last year, California’s Legislature and voters enacted a veritable blizzard of legislation making private gun ownership more difficult and expensive, including new restrictions on magazine capacity and ammunition sales.


BU Study: States With Tighter Laws On Concealed Carry Have Lower Rates Of Handgun Homicides


States like Massachusetts, which have some of the tightest laws regulating who can carry a concealed handgun, have significantly lower rates of handgun homicides than states with more lax handgun permitting laws.


When a big earthquake hits, your first instinct can mean life or death

Los Angeles Times

Californians born in this state might instinctively drop under a table, cover their head and hold tight. Out-of-staters might feel an urge to flee out the door.




California wildfires destroy nearly 7,000 buildings

CBS News

Officials have raised the number of homes and other buildings destroyed in this month’s California wildfires to nearly 7,000 and said Thursday that the number will likely climb as crews continue assessing areas scorched by the blazes that killed at least 42 people.

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Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad Bounces Back After Railroad Fire

Valley Public Radio

The fires burning in Northern California have now grown to over 200,000 acres and have killed more than 40 people. Closer to home the area off Highway 41 near Yosemite is recovering from the Railroad Fire that threatened communities, resorts and even a large grove of giant sequoias.






Amazon HQ2 | Fresno makes offer for its world headquarters

Fresno Bee

Fresno is throwing the economic equivalent of a Hail Mary football pass as it makes a pitch to retail online giant Amazon to build a second world headquarters in the community..


Fox: Chatter at the Chamber: Political Insights at CalChamber’s Public Affairs Conference

Fox & Hounds

Do Republicans have a chance in California? Seems a pointless question given California’s dramatic political turn to those left, all constitutional offices in the hands of the Democrats and a two-thirds supermajority of Democratic legislators.




Sept employment statistics


California payroll jobs 52,200 in month of Sept. (Jobs 280,300 over last year.) Jobless rate steady in Sept. at 5.1%. Labor force


Is Chevron’s job-cutting ‘transformation’ evidence of an industry death spiral in California? Not necessarily

Bakersfield Californian

Despite Chevron’s announcement this week that it would reassign or lay off roughly 300 employees in the coming months, energy insiders say they do not expect, even amid waning petroleum prices, further cuts in the Kern County oil patch.


Survey: Almost half of tech workers worry about losing their jobs because of ageism

San Jose Mercury

More than 40 percent of tech workers worry about losing their jobs because of age, a new survey shows. Jobs site Indeed also found that 18 percent of those who work in the tech industry worry “all the time” about losing their jobs because of ageism. The release of the survey Thursday comes amid other news about diversity — or lack thereof — in tech workplaces.







‘Genuinely perplexed’ parent worries about ‘probable’ Fresno teachers’ strike

Fresno Bee

I’m a parent concerned about the probable teacher’s strike in Fresno. I heard the district is willing to pay $500 a day for a substitute who’s underqualified and unprepared to cover for those who are qualified and prepared.


Children in Hanford have a new interactive place to learn


Stories and learning come to life at the Children’s Storybook Garden and Museum. “We can bring them right over to the garden read that book about the three little pigs and then we can do a little engineering and design,” said Meaghan Hahn. Hahn is one of the teachers at the garden in Hanford. It features 14 different areas showcasing stories like Charlotte’s Web and Dinosaurs.


Edison High teacher named a California Teacher of the Year uses a ‘hands-on, minds-on’ approach

Los Angeles Times

A teacher at Edison High School in Huntington Beach is one of five educators selected as 2018 California Teachers of the Year.


In aftermath of fires, schools brace for newly homeless students


Debra Sanders has spent the past five years providing guidance and comfort to Sonoma County’s homeless students, helping them navigate the school system and claim their rights to an education. Then, last week, she became homeless herself.


Higher Ed:


College and University Presidents Urge Congress to Pass Legislation Protecting Dreamers


Nearly 800 college and university presidents have signed their institutions on to a letter​ sent today urging Congress to pass legislation as soon as possible to permanently protect Dreamers, the group of outstanding young people brought to the United States as children.


Embezzlement suspect involved in internal California College Republicans fight

Bakersfield Californian

The former Cal State Bakersfield College Republican leader arrested Monday for embezzling a reported $60,000 from Lengthwise Brewing in Bakersfield was involved in an internal battle between California College Republican factions this year.


In California, a battle brews over the ‘future and soul’ of college Republicans

Los Angeles Times

UC Irvine senior Ariana Rowlands is buddies with Milo Yiannopoulos, the right-wing provocateur who has sparked campus uproars over free speech. She writes for Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News. And she is unapologetically combative in campus culture wars.







Check Before You Burn season, just days away

Valley Air News

The residential wood burning season runs from November 1 through the end of February each year. During that time, the Valley Air District issues a daily wood burning declaration for each of the Valley’s eight counties.


New federal forecast: What the coming La Niña means for California rains

San Jose Mercury News

After enduring the driest stretch of years in our history, and then logging the wettest spell on record this past winter, befuddled Californians have one question on their minds these days:


Forecasters Predict Warmer-Than-Average Winter In Majority Of U.S.


This winter is going to be a warm one for the majority of the United States, according to forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. They say that the La Niña weather pattern is likely to develop. That means “greater-than-average snowfall around the Great Lakes and in the northern Rockies, with less-than-average snowfall throughout the Mid-Atlantic region,” Mike Halpert of the Climate Prediction Center said in a forecast Thursday.


California Today: The Push to Reclaim Starry Skies

New York Times

Astronomers have preached the virtues of dark skies for years. Modern cities, they say, use way more artificial light in the evenings than necessary, much of it emanating into the sky where it does no good.


California prepares for the ‘big one’ with earthquake drill


Millions of Californians were due on Thursday to simultaneously drop to the floor, clamber under tables and cover their heads for a minute or two of imagined seismic turmoil during the latest annual “Great ShakeOut” earthquake drill.




The new energy abundance—what happens when energy prices are lower for longer?

Brookings Institution

In nearly every part of the energy world today, one sees abundance. New technologies and business practices are unlocking all kinds of energy resources and empowering consumers to make choices about what they want to buy.


There’s a Dangerous Bubble in the Fossil-Fuel Economy, and the Trump Administration Is Making It Worse

The New Yorker

By prolonging the inevitable death of the coal industry, federal officials are inviting not only environmental but also financial disaster.




For stories on “repealing and replacing” Obamacare/ACA, See, “Top: Federal Politics”


TRMC looks to Fresno’s Community Regional Medical

Visalia Times-Delta

Tulare Regional Medical Center is on the brink of closure and they’re looking to a major Central Valley medical player to keep them alive.


Time Running Out For Children’s Health Insurance Program


The September 30th deadline to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program has come and gone. And there is still no deal on the table in Congress. The CHIP program provides health insurance for 1.4 million children in California and nine million kids nationwide. These children are from families who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford a private plan.


California moves against unlicensed stem-cell treatments — but is it doing enough?

Los Angeles Times

On Oct. 2, California took a major step to address an emerging public health crisis. That’s the day Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law imposing the first regulations in the country aimed at direct-to-consumer marketing of unlicensed, unproven — and sometimes disproven — stem-cell “treatments.”


With Obamacare, fewer Americans were uninsured when they were told they had cancer

Los Angeles Times

As President Trump and his allies in Congress keep pushing to get rid of Obamacare, new research shows that the contentious law has succeeded in expanding health insurance coverage for Americans with cancer..


Caffeine ‘detox’: How and why to cut back on your daily fix


Are you one of those people who can’t get your day started without a cup of coffee? Perhaps you need an espresso at work to keep you alert in the late afternoon. Maybe you grab energy drinks when cramming for an exam or late-night work project. Or maybe you have a habit of drinking caffeinated soft drinks.


Short on staff: Nursing crisis strains U.S. hospitals


A shortage of nurses at U.S. hospitals hit West Virginia’s Charleston Area Medical Center at the worst possible time. The non-profit healthcare system is one of the state’s largest employers and sits in the heart of economically depressed coal country. It faces a $40 million deficit this year as it struggles with fewer privately insured patients, cuts in government reimbursement and higher labor costs to attract a shrinking pool of nurses.




ICE official, sheriff clash over suspected Wine Country arsonist

San Jose Mercury News

Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano is firing back against accusations by a top U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official that he refused to cooperate with the agency and hold an undocumented immigrant who now stands accused of setting fire to a Sonoma Valley park in the midst of the deadly Wine Country infernos.

See also:




New affordable housing laws passed in California

Visalia Times-Delta

Last week Governor Jerry Brown signed a package of 15 housing legislation aimed at addressing California’s affordability crisis. We covered several of them, new housing bills to provide funding for low-income housing, trying to lower the cost of construction, fast-track the permitting process and restrict the ability of cities and counties to block new development.


Homeowners Near Yosemite Are Struggling To Stay Insured

Valley Public Radio

With fires burning across California devastating entire communities, homeowners are beginning to file claims with their insurance companies. But in the mountains of eastern Madera County, many homeowners say they’re losing their insurance during a time when they could need it most.


Housing economist poses the big question: Will the Bay Area bubble burst?

San Jose Mercury

To burst or not to burst? That was the question posed Thursday by economist Lawrence Yun at the 27th Annual Convention and Expo of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. He gave himself an out — as in, what if Facebook and the whole tech sector were to unexpectedly tank? Were that to happen, if corporate hiring were to take a dive, anything goes.


California’s Housing Crisis Is a Nasty Intersection of the State’s Worst Problems

Zócalo Public Square

California’s sky-high housing prices haven’t just made it hard to find and afford a place to live. They’ve put pressures on the economy, the environment, transportation, and health that threaten the California dream itself, said panelists at a Zócalo/AARP event at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Los Angeles.




For stories on “tax reform” See: “Top Stories – Federal Politics,” above


California state worker union raising dues to fight Trump agenda

Sacramento Bee

A small California union has big plans to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year during the remainder of President Donald Trump’s term to help it support political candidates opposed to labor policies coming out of the White House.




Madera County asking for input on North Fork $1.86 million roundabout

Sierra Star

The Madera County Public Works Department is in the last phase of the design of a roundabout’ at the intersection of Road 274 and Road 225 just east of North Fork, and will hold a public workshop at 6 p.m., Oct. 26, at North Fork Elementary School, to provide details of the plan.


Stockton airport considers adding San Francisco to its name? Supervisors could vote Tuesday

Modesto Bee

San Joaquin County leaders are considering a proposal to change the name of Stockton Metropolitan Airport and include “San Francisco” in the new name. The county-owned airport would be renamed “San Francisco Stockton Regional Airport”. An advisory committee suggests it will help attract business, increase awareness of the airport’s location and make a connection with the Bay Area for marketing purposes.


Want a truck-driving license? Feds say DMV clerks were selling them for bribes

Sacramento Bee

Two state Department of Motor Vehicle workers have been charged in federal court in Sacramento with taking bribes to alter DMV computer records to provide truck-driving licenses to people who had not passed or, in some cases, not even taken the written or behind-the-wheel driving exams.


Internal ‘Chaos’ Adds to Rough Year for Bullet-Train Agency


The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s rough year continues with the departure of another top executive at the agency overseeing the state’s $64 billion bullet-train project. Jon Tapping, the agency’s director of risk management since 2012, is leaving, the Los Angeles Times reported in a story that quoted an unnamed agency official describing internal “chaos.” Authority Chief Executive Jeff Morales left in June. Morales’ second-in-command, Dennis Trujillo, quit in late 2016.




Cost of Oroville dam repair nearly doubles to $500 million

Sacramento Bee

The reconstruction of Oroville Dam’s flood control spillway is likely to cost as much as $500 million, state officials said Thursday, as design changes and unexpected additional work has inflated the cost of the project.

See also:


New federal forecast: What the coming La Niña means for California rains

San Jose Mercury News

After enduring the driest stretch of years in our history, and then logging the wettest spell on record this past winter, befuddled Californians have one question on their minds these days:


Worried about your water? Documentary shares stories of communities taking action

PBS NewsHour

The Flint, Michigan, lead contamination disaster in 2015 raised awareness about the dangers of unsafe water. A new documentary, “Troubled Water,” created by journalism students at Arizona State University, explores how communities around the nation are affected, and how grassroots efforts are fighting back to bring clean water to families. Judy Woodruff reports.




Phillip V. Sanchez, ex-U.S. ambassdor, dies in Fresno at 88

Fresno Bee

Phillip V. Sanchez, who became the highest-ranking Hispanic official in the administrations of presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan as a U.S. ambassador and assistant director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, died Monday night in his hometown of Fresno. He was 88.


Scare up the Halloween spirit with these frightful, delightful events

Stockton Record

Whether you want to celebrate fall or want to make Halloween last a bit longer, there are plenty of events in Stockton and San Joaquin County to keep everyone entertained.


Yes, you can raise money for Boys & Girls Clubs by eating Buffalo Wild Wings

Bakersfield Californian

Buffalo Wild Wings is raising money for sports programs at Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide this month.

All month long, customers can donate any amount they want along with their checks. The money will go to the national ALL STARS program, which provides grants, uniforms, equipment and other resources to Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation.


Community Calendar – October 19 edition

Sierra Star

Coarsegold Community Center Bingo: Mondays: doors open 10 a.m., first game 12 noon; Wednesday evenings doors open 5:30 p.m., first game 6:30 p.m.; 3rd Saturday of the month doors open 10 a.m., first game 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 1 to February 22; bingo and burgers on Saturday. Community Center, 35610 Hwy. 41, Oakhurst. Details: Joe (559) 683-7953.


When a big earthquake hits, your first instinct can mean life or death

Los Angeles Times

Californians born in this state might instinctively drop under a table, cover their head and hold tight. Out-of-staters might feel an urge to flee out the door.