October 27, 2017




Local/Regional Politics:


Hiltzik: In Amazon HQ frenzy, Fresno offers the most innovative deal of all: nothing

Los Angeles Times

As was expected by everyone in the entire world, Amazon’s request for bids for a new headquarters location set off a feeding frenzy among municipal and state leaders all across North America. Upon the tolling of the Oct. 19 deadline, proposals had come in from 238 cities, states, and regions in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Many of these offered unimaginably lavish tax incentives — let’s face it, the equivalent of bribes. New Jersey offered $7 billion. Chicago and Illinois, $2 billion, with a broad hint that lots more could be had for the asking. That’s not counting the more childish bids for attention, such as Tucson’s shipping a 21-foot cactus to Amazon’s existing headquarters in Seattle, or the offer by Stonecrest, Ga., to rename itself “Amazon.”

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Fresno rendering plant cleared to relocate as City Council OKs deal

Fresno Bee

A deal to relocate a meat-rendering plant out of a southwest Fresno neighborhood was unanimously approved Thursday evening by the Fresno City Council, providing a victory for neighbors who for years have complained about odors. The council approved a development agreement with Darling Ingredients, which runs the operation on Belgravia Avenue, as well as planning and zoning changes for the company to build a new plant about three miles west near Fresno’s wastewater treatment plant.


What does a national public health emergency mean locally? Health officials aren’t sure


Kern County health officials say they’re not sure what to expect locally from President Donald J. Trump’s announcement Thursday that he intends to authorize a robust fight against the devastating opioid epidemic spreading throughout the country.


California’s First Female State Senator (Valley’s Rose Ann Vuich) Refused to Be Ignored

The California Report – KQED News

Women in the California Capitol have been speaking up recently, calling out an atmosphere of sexual harassment. They’re part of a long line of women in Sacramento who refuse to be ignored, including Rose Ann Vuich, California’s first female state senator. The Central Valley Democrat was elected in 1976 and was known for ringing a bell whenever the presiding officer referred to the “gentlemen” of the Senate. Congressman John Garamendi served with Vuich in the Legislature and remained friends with her for years.


A reporter who went to jail to protect a source joins this Hall of Fame class

Fresno Bee

A former Fresno Bee reporter who was sent to jail for refusing to identify a confidential source is among this year’s inductees to the Media, Communications and Journalism Hall of Fame at Fresno State. An Induction and Scholarship Reception to celebrate the honorees and recognize student scholarship recipients will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Speech Arts Building Studio A (Room 172). Former Bee reporter Joe Rosato Sr. received recognition in 1976 when he and three other Bee staffers spent 15 days in jail rather than give up the name of a confidential source. During their incarceration, virtually all major media outlets in the country spoke out in their defense.



State Politics:


All 14 California GOP members back plan to repeal state and local deductions


All 14 California House delegates voted today to back a budget blueprint that could eliminate state and local tax deductions, a move that would be costly for many California taxpayers.

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Here’s why Republicans could help send Dianne Feinstein back to Washington — even if they can’t stand her

Los Angeles Times

Larry Ward is no fan of Dianne Feinstein. “Time to retire,” he says of the Democratic senator from California. “Too old.” Coming from a Republican such as Ward, that’s hardly surprising. He’d have gladly been rid of Feinstein a long time ago.

But it’s voters like Ward — conservatives who feel voiceless and adrift, bobbing like red specks in a blue sea — who could help usher the 84-year-old Feinstein back to Washington with a new lease on her Senate seat.

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California Secretary of State Alex Padilla backs Gavin Newsom for governor over former colleague Antonio Villaraigosa

Los Angeles Times

Secretary of State Alex Padilla, the highest-ranking Latino in a statewide elected position in California, endorsed Gavin Newsom for governor on Thursday.


Handicapping the California Governor’s Race

Alta Online

After a half-century in California politics and too many wins and losses to count, Gov. Jerry Brown is nearing some kind of retirement. He will be a tough act to follow, but four Democratic politicians and two token Republicans are declared candidates, and there are a couple of other possibilities, making for a potentially crowded race. The size of the field is important because the more candidates there are, the fewer primary election votes it takes to advance to a November runoff in California’s “top-two” system.


Federal Politics:



House narrowly passes budget — setting up mammoth tax fight


House Republicans cleared a crucial hurdle in their drive to overhaul the tax code Thursday after narrowly approving the Senate’s budget. By passing the measure, 216-212, Republicans unlocked procedural powers that allow the Senate to pass a tax bill with just 51 votes — and evade Democratic filibusters. But even with the ability to sideline Democrats, the GOP faces a daunting task as it tries to rewrite the tax code. Heading into the vote, it was unclear whether enough GOP lawmakers would support the measure. A band of Republicans from high-tax states vowed to vote “no” on the budget unless GOP leaders scrapped plans to curb the state and local tax deduction currently in the GOP’s tax proposal.

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Tax Reform:

Here’s why Trump’s tax plan will hit Californians especially hard

Los Angeles Times

Many Californians face a big financial hit under the Republican tax plan, which would eliminate a major tax break that benefits state residents more than those anywhere else in the U.S. The federal deduction for state and local taxes allowed Californians to reduce their taxable income by $101 billion in 2014, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. The tax outline released Wednesday by President Trump and top congressional Republicans would ax the break, which largely benefits residents in states that are Democratic strongholds.

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Trump, GOP at odds over using 401(k)s to pay for tax cuts


President Donald Trump and Republicans were at odds on Wednesday over changing the 401(k) retirement program to help finance tax cuts, with the president insisting the middle-class favorite will remain untouched and lawmakers open to revisions.

See also:


Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a ‘National Health Emergency’

Roll Call

“We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.”

See also:


Siding With Trump, Judge Clears Way for Trial Over Health Subsidies


A federal judge sided with the Trump administration on Wednesday in a ruling against 18 states that sought to compel the federal government to pay subsidies to health insurance companies for the benefit of millions of low-income people.


Senate GOP votes to repeal consumer rule


In a further rollback of Obama-era regulations, the Republican-led Senate voted narrowly to repeal a banking rule that would have allowed consumers to join together to sue their bank or credit card company to resolve financial disputes.


Treasury calls for looser federal oversight of insurance companies


The Treasury Department on Thursday called for fundamental changes to the way federal agencies regulate insurance companies under the Dodd-Frank Act financial rules. In a report released Thursday night, Treasury said regulators should move away from regulating insurance companies based on size, and instead focus on risky activities conducted by such firms. The move could require Congress to amend Dodd-Frank, which created strict rules meant to limit dangerous activity in banks and financial firms.


GAO to investigate Trump’s voter fraud commission


The Government Accountability Office will investigate President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission, following calls from Democratic senators for the watchdog agency to look into the commission. GAO said it would investigate the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in response to a letter last week from Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). In a response letter to Bennet, the agency accepted the request on Wednesday “as work that is within the scope of its authority.”


Trump says Democratic donor airing impeachment ads on TV is ‘totally unhinged’

Washington Post

President Trump took to Twitter on Friday to deride political mega-donor Tom Steyer as “wacky & totally unhinged,” firing back at a California billionaire who is funding and starring in a television ad campaign calling for Trump’s impeachment.


How Facebook, Google and Twitter ’embeds’ helped Trump in 2016


Facebook, Twitter and Google played a far deeper role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign than has previously been disclosed, with company employees taking on the kind of political strategizing that campaigns typically entrust to their own staff or paid consultants, according to a new study released Thursday. The peer-reviewed paper, based on more than a dozen interviews with both tech company staffers who worked inside several 2016 presidential campaigns and campaign officials, sheds new light on Silicon Valley’s assistance to Trump before his surprise win last November.


Donald Trump & Republicans — GOP Mainstream Has Shifted

National Review

The showdown between President Donald Trump and Senator Jeff Flake turned out to be no contest. It wasn’t Trump who was out of the GOP mainstream, but Flake.


Will 2018 be a “wave” election?

Brookings Institution

Three months ago, we asked in this space whether the extraordinary number of Democrats running against Republic incumbents in U.S. House elections were an early sign that 2018 might become a “wave” election.




25 days later, Vegas survivors say they can still hear the bullets and the screams

abc news

Heather Melton dreams of her husband every night. Mike Greenfield says he constantly hears gunshots. Russell Bleck sometimes hides in his closet. Lisa Fine went to Hawaii to cope with her stress. Dean McAuley keeps seeing faces of those who did and didn’t make it.

And all five of them say they’ve had trouble sleeping ever since Oct. 1 — the day they survived the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Melton, Greenfield, Fine, Bleck and McAuley were all in attendance at the Route 91 Harvest music festival, when Stephen Paddock opened fire from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino onto the crowd and killed 58 people.

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CHP wants to know why a man walked into the path of a semi truck

Fresno Bee

Authorities are trying to identify a man who walked in front of a big rig truck and was killed on Highway 99 near Tulare. About 1:35 a.m. Thursday, Royal McCoy, 32, of West Palm Beach, Florida was driving his semi-trailer south on Highway 99, just north of Bardsley Avenue, when a man walked down an embankment next to the highway and into the truck’s path.


Fitzgerald: A man who escapes to Alcatraz

Stockton Record

In 1962, prisoner John Paul Scott escaped Alcatraz penitentiary and swam for the shore. The ebb tide dragged him three miles to the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.


Irvine Museum showcases ‘Moods of California’ and the state’s Impressionists

Los Angeles Times

They say there’s no change of seasons in California. “They” are wrong. At least, that’s what the Irvine Museum, and its latest exhibition, “Moods of California,” will have you believe. Through Feb. 8, the museum is presenting 39 paintings that capture the Golden State in various seasonal states, as well as its different ecological regions. The paintings — oils on canvas, mostly from the early 20th century — illustrate that the climate can be as varied as the landscape. The museum has categorized the state into seven distinct ecological regions: North Coast, Central Coast, South Coast, Shasta-Cascades, Sierra Nevada, Central Valley and desert.





When Trump talks big tax cuts, California’s workers should check their wallets

Sacramento Bee

The Republican tax plan would be a windfall for the wealthy people and corporations, and would offer little for the middle class. It would be especially bad for many California taxpayers.


California’s Central Valley needs a lot more than Trump, Republicans are offering on opioids

Sacramento Bee

President Trump declared the nation’s opioid epidemic a public health emergency. But without money, states can’t do much.


Community Voices: The forgotten victims of domestic violence: children

Bakersfield Californian

In recent years the topic of domestic violence has received increased attention in the media. News outlets have put a spotlight on high profile cases, from the murder of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman in the early 1990s, singer Rhianna’s assault by then-boyfriend Chris Brown in 2009, NFL player Ray Rice attacking his fiancée in 2014, to Amber Heard’s accusations of abuse from Johnny Depp in 2016.


Editorial: PG&E records show utility cannot be trusted

San Jose Mercury News

Even if PG&E is not to blame for the Wine Country wildfires , Californians must come to grips with the fact that the utility’s maintenance record shows it cannot be trusted.


Our View: Unusual solutions for two of Stockton’s prolonged problems

Stockton Record

They are two suggestions that on the surface seem laughable. Give someone money with no strings attached, and paying someone for not committing a crime. Laughable in that they play into giving some a handout and not a hand up. Yet that is exactly what Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs plans to do. They are plans that deserve a conditional endorsement for a…


California’s bail system is broken. Risk, not wealth, should determine who can go free

Los Angeles Times

Despite the loud objections voiced by California’s bail industry, the basic principle of pretrial justice in this state ought to be clear: People who are arrested but haven’t yet gone to trial should be locked up or set free depending on how likely they are to flee or cause harm, not on whether they can afford bail. A committee of judges appointed by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye suggested a set of guidelines earlier this week for pretrial release that is based on that same notion — as are the reforms already implemented in a handful of jurisdictions around the nation that de-emphasize or eliminate money bail in favor of a system based on the risk a defendant poses to the public.


Halloween spirit

Sierra Star

BOO! As this weekend approaches, there will be the usual pre-Halloween parties and then the big day arrives for the kids to enjoy. Where I live, a group of parents organize a cadre of spooks, goblins, witches, cowboys, assorted monsters, and other costumed kids and drive the Tricksters around to the various homes that have called in to tell them we are interested in the festivities. It is wonderful. The kids are organized, well-behaved, polite, and they all arrive at one time. I only have to get up once to answer the door and take care of 75-80 young ones.




Small-scale farmers bring creativity to Stockton

Stockton Record


NAFTA: Farmer’s Case for the Trade Deal

National Review

President Trump fails to understand the importance of free-trade to America’s long-term economic success.


Lead in imported candy tops contaminated food list in state, UCSF study says

San Francisco Chronicle

A new joint study between UC San Francisco and the California Department of Public Health, published Thursday in “Environmental Health Perspectives,” has found that the CDPH has issued more health alerts over the last 14 years for lead in candy than for the other top three sources of food contamination — E. coli, Botulism, and Salmonella — combined.


Prop. 64: Sifting through the weeds of local cannabis rules

San Jose Mercury News

Proposition 64, the recreational marijuana law that was approved by California voters last year, takes effect Jan. 1. The looming deadline is making local civic leaders take steps now to comply with the law, while limiting its impact on Los Gatos and Monte Sereno. Both municipalities already have marijuana regulations on the books. In Los Gatos, a previously approved ordinance prohibits medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation, processing and delivery of medical marijuana. The new ordinance that was tentatively approved by the Los Gatos Town Council on Oct. 17 deals with commercial marijuana operations.


UC San Diego developing public awareness campaign on pot’s effect on drivers

San Diego Union-Tribune

UC San Diego has begun looking for effective ways to talk to the public about how marijuana can impair a person’s driving abilities, a move prompted by the legalization of recreational marijuana in California.


San Francisco looks to Oakland as it plans to regulate recreational pot sales

San Francisco Chronicle

A controversial Oakland cannabis law — which prompted a year of scrappy, knock-down political fights before it finally passed in March — has become a blueprint for lawmakers in San Francisco.





For stories on Las Vegas mass shooting and ”gun control,” See: “Top Stories – Other,” above




California’s bail system is broken. Risk, not wealth, should determine who can go free

Los Angeles Times

Despite the loud objections voiced by California’s bail industry, the basic principle of pretrial justice in this state ought to be clear: People who are arrested but haven’t yet gone to trial should be locked up or set free depending on how likely they are to flee or cause harm, not on whether they can afford bail. A committee of judges appointed by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye suggested a set of guidelines earlier this week for pretrial release that is based on that same notion — as are the reforms already implemented in a handful of jurisdictions around the nation that de-emphasize or eliminate money bail in favor of a system based on the risk a defendant poses to the public.


Is massage parlor ordinance keeping prostitution down?

Visalia Times-Delta

Roughly five years ago, Visalia started seeing a boom in massage parlors opening across town — so many that city officials teamed up with Visalia Police Department to regulate the businesses.

Marin man charged in alleged mow-down of four cyclists on charity ride

East Bay Times

A Novato man accused of intentionally striking cyclists with his pickup truck in West Marin earlier this month has been charged with four felony hit-and-run charges. Aaron Michael Paff, 21, is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Marin Superior Court. He would face up to five years in prison if convicted of all the charges, said Assistant District Attorney Barry Borden. The Marin County Bicycle Coalition, in announcing the charges to its members, said the organization is “very disappointed that Paff is only facing hit-and-run charges.”


Riverside County adopts “Lean” approach to transforming probation department


When data from a Riverside County jail study were released last year, the county’s probation department responded by changing the way it did business. The report, conducted by CA Fwd’s Justice System Change Initiative (J-SCI), showed nearly half of the daily jail population was not in custody for a new crime. This number included individuals who returned to jail for a warrant, failed to make a court appearances or a violated their conditions of probation. With the data in hand, the Riverside County Probation Department turned its focus to this population. Among the changes the probation department instituted to curb violations include The Bridge Program for young clients and the CORE (Communicating Openly Requires Engagement) program in which probation officers interacted with their clients via smartphones. Implementing these two new programs along with tracking data signaled a culture change within the department.


Do body-worn cameras improve police behavior?

Brookings Institution

Police departments across the United States are facing a crisis of confidence


Envisioning an Alternative Future for the Corrections Sector Within the U.S. Criminal Justice System


Challenged by high costs and concerns that the U.S. corrections sector is not achieving its goals, there has been a growing focus on approaches to reform and improve the sector’s performance.


Public Safety:


Update: More information comes out over abrupt dismissal of Stanislaus Consolidated chief

Modesto Bee

Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Chief Rick Weigele has been dismissed after only five months with the fire protection district. That information comes from Weigele himself. Stanislaus Consolidated’s board members have not disclosed what action they have taken against the chief or the reasons for the action. Questions are swirling, such as: was the Brown Act violated at Wednesday’s special meeting, where Weigele’s performance was evaluated; and can the district keep a fire chief for any length of time? Weigele will be the third chief to leave Stanislaus Consolidated in two years.




Four arrested for arson in Pier Fire that burned 37000 acres and cost $40 million

Fresno Bee

Four people have been arrested on arson charges, accused of sparking the Pier Fire forest fire in Sequoia National Forest and the Giant Sequoia National Monument east of Springville that threatened several mountain communities, authorities in Tulare County said Thursday. On Aug. 29, a fire broke out about 2 a.m. in the Tule River gorge when a stolen car was set on fire. The fire quickly spread to both sides of Highway 190.

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PG&E violated safety rules, was late on thousands of Wine Country electricity inspections and work orders

San Jose Mercury News

PG&E violated electricity-grid safety regulations at least 11 times in the North Bay in the years prior to the ferocious wildfires in that region, state audits show. What’s more, the state Public Utilities Commission’s newly released audits from 2015 and 2016 show that PG&E failed in thousands of instances over a five-year period to conduct timely inspections and work orders required by the state’s regulator in Sonoma and Napa counties. From August 2010 to September 21, 2015, one PUC document concluded, a total of 3,527 work orders were completed past their scheduled date of corrective action. September 2015 is the last time the state agency audited the utility’s electricity systems in Sonoma and Napa counties, audit records show.

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Wildfire Recovery Will Stretch California’s Toxic Cleanup Capacities

Capital Public Radio

The massive task to clean up toxic debris in the neighborhoods affected by this month’s devastating wildfires is expected to be complete sometime early next year.


Deadly CA Wildfires Prompt Congress to Consider Easing Tree Cutting Regulations


House Republicans are targeting environmental rules to allow faster approval for tree cutting in national forests in response to the deadly wildfires in California. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said lawmakers will vote next week on a bill to loosen environmental regulations for forest-thinning projects on federal lands. The GOP argues the actions will reduce the risk of fire. The Republican bill “includes reforms to keep our forests healthy and less susceptible to the types of fires that ravaged our state this month,” McCarthy said Thursday.


GOP targets environmental rules after wildfires


House Republicans are targeting environmental rules to allow faster approval for tree cutting in national forests in response to the deadly wildfires in California. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Thursday that lawmakers will vote next week on a bill to loosen environmental regulations for forest-thinning projects on federal lands. The GOP argues the actions will reduce the risk of fire. The Republican bill makes needed changes to forest management and “includes reforms to keep our forests healthy and less susceptible to the types of fires that ravaged our state this month,” McCarthy said.






Economy posts impressive growth despite hurricanes


The U.S. economy grew at a 3% annual rate from July through September, the Commerce Department said Friday. Economists were expecting 2.5% at best, partly because of the damage from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Growth in the third quarter “demonstrates that the hurricane ended up having little lasting impact on the economy,” says Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, a research firm

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Trump’s Latest Decision: Choosing a Fed Chairman


President Trump delights in making spectacles out of personnel decisions. He conducted cabinet interviews at his New Jersey golf club, inviting members to gather and gawk. He summoned both finalists for a Supreme Court seat to the White House on the day of the announcement. And now he is conducting the most dramatic and drawn-out search for a Federal Reserve chairman in the long history of the stolid institution.




Workforce Training: DOL Can Better Share Information on Services for On-Demand, or Gig, Workers


Studies GAO reviewed suggest that workers who engage in on-demand, or “gig” work, differ in their characteristics and types of work performed, but each of these defined these workers differently.


AI’s Promise and Risks


Earlier this year, 116 technology luminaries signed an open letter (PDF) imploring the United Nations to ban “lethal autonomous weapons systems,” warning that they would “permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever.” According to the Independent, it “marks the first time that artificial intelligence (AI) experts and robotics companies have taken a joint stance on the issue.”






New center aims to improve science education for Merced students

Merced Sun-Star

Merced City School District officials, elected officials and community members gathered Wednesday for a dedication ceremony to the districts recent learning center, district official said. The STEAM Center, which stands for science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics, opened in August and is located by Ada Givens Elementary, officials said. The 5,460 square foot center is open to all students in MCSD and provides them with hands-on learning that helps them prepare for their future.


Fresno Police investigate possible hate crime after student reported physical altercations on campus


Sophomore Logann Pruneda is speaking out after she says she was attacked on campus at Bullard High school for being gay. Her parent allowed the 16-year-old to sit down with us for an interview. She says a group of students pelted her with juice boxes and shouted homophobic slurs during a non-scheduled fire drill Monday.


Charter school prepares teachers to personalize learning for every student


A leading charter school organization is combining what many regard as two of the most promising education innovations to prepare a new generation of teachers for California and the nation. Summit Public Schools, which operates 11 schools in California and Washington State, has established what are called teacher “residencies,” innovative training programs based on the medical residency model that enables new doctors to work under the supervision of an experienced physician. In the case of teacher residencies, teachers-in-training work closely with an experienced teacher for an entire school year.


As DACA winds down, 20,000 educators are in limbo

The Washington Post

Vicente Rodriguez runs an after-school program in Loma Linda, Calif., but dreams of becoming an English and ethnic studies teacher in a state desperate to fill teaching jobs.


Higher Ed:


CSUB to host open forum kicking off presidential search

Bakersfield Californian

The search is on to replace Cal State Bakersfield President Horace Mitchell, who announced he will retire at the end of the academic year. A committee of trustees convened to select Mitchell’s replacement — California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White among them — will host an open forum Monday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at CSUB’s Dore Theatre. Trustees will review the role of the committee, hear comments and input from community members and explain the search process. They’ll also go over what they’re looking for in a future president.


Huge fundraising push: UCSF aims to raise $5 billion

San Francisco Chronicle

UCSF, which operates a large health system and graduate programs in medicine and nursing, has already raised $3 billion since the quiet phase of the campaign began in 2013, mostly from philanthropic organizations and foundations. The institution’s leaders say it is the largest fundraising campaign ever by a public university, and the first that is focused solely on life sciences.


UC, roiled by 1st Amendment controversies, to launch national free speech center

Los Angeles Times

The University of California, where the free speech movement started and students now argue over how far unrestricted expression should go, announced plans Thursday to launch a national center to study 1st Amendment issues and step up education about them.


A look at Pell Grant recipients’ graduation rates

Brookings Institution

The federal government provides nearly $30 billion in grant aid each year to nearly 8 million students from lower-income families (mainly with household incomes below $50,000 per year) through the Pell Grant program, which can give students up to $5,920 per year to help pay for college. Yet in spite of research showing that the Pell Grant and similar need-based grant programs are effective in increasing college completion rates, there are still large gaps in graduation rates by family income. For example, among students who began college in the fall 2003 semester, Pell recipients were 7 percentage points less likely to earn a college credential within six years than non-Pell students.






Trump could make visiting a national park more expensive than a Six Flags ticket

Washington Post

The Trump administration is considering substantial increases in entrance fees to 17 of the most popular national parks during their peak season, asking Americans to pay prices that rival the gate costs of amusement parks such as Six Flags and Busch Gardens. Starting as early as January, the entrance fee for a single automobile would go from $25 to $70 at Joshua Tree National Park in California — the largest price increase since World War II. A similar increase at 12 more parks would take effect in May and then at the final four in June. The cost of riding a motorcycle into the parks would rise to $50 and walking or biking in would cost $30.


California Taps VW Cheating Penalty to Help Build Emissions Lab


The California Air Resources Board plans to break ground Friday on a vehicle emissions test lab that will cost $419 million, with a third of the money coming from penalties that Volkswagen AG is paying because of its diesel cheating scandal.




PG&E pushing for ratepayers to pay California wildfire costs


Fearing billions of dollars in future liability, PG&E has been aggressively urging state regulators to make it easier for the company to charge ratepayers — rather than its shareholders — when its power lines and other electrical equipment cause wildfires


CPUC Postpones SDG&E Fire Settlement Vote For Third Time


The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday postponed for a third time a decision on whether San Diego Gas & Electric can charge ratepayers for costs related to the 2007 wildfires. Administrative law judges ruled earlier this year that SDG&E cannot recover costs from ratepayers, since SDG&E “did not reasonably manage and operate its facilities prior to the wildfires.”




Tulare hospital closes to patients until new management found

Fresno Bee

Tulare Regional Medical Center and clinics will not be open for patients beginning midnight Sunday, leaving the city without a hospital and health workers potentially without jobs. The district issued a notice Thursday afternoon stating it is voluntarily suspending its license with the state of California to operate the 112-bed hospital, clinics and other outpatient facilities.

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County fires Behavioral Health director a week after hiring him

Union Democratic

One week after hiring Dr. Eric Emery to lead the Tuolumne County Behavioral Department, the Board of Supervisors voted to fire him during a special meeting held behind closed doors Wednesday morning. County officials and elected leaders remained tight-lipped when pressed for an explanation behind Emery’s abrupt firing, citing confidentiality policies related to personnel matters and concerns about violating privacy rights. “It’s really for everybody’s protection,” County Counsel Sarah Carrillo said of the secrecy. “That’s the same with all personnel matters … I can’t talk about any of it.”


Walters: Health access too important for mere sloganeering


Sunday’s initial quasi-debate among the four declared Democratic candidates for governor strongly indicated that access to medical care may be a dominant campaign issue. However, it also strongly indicated that voters will likely see more sloganeering on the issue than reality-based prescriptions. That would be unfortunate, because it’s an issue that potentially affects not only the wellbeing of 39 million Californians but the state’s largest single economic activity.


California Mounts ‘Resistance’ to Protect Medicaid Patients’ Reproductive Health Care


Amy Moy, vice president of public affairs with Essential Access Health, said newly-signed legislation represents “California resistance in the Trump era.”


Confusion abounds as enrollment nears for California health insurance exchange

Los Angeles Times

If the comments on Covered California’s Facebook page are any indication, you’re all suffering from acute health insurance confusion: “I wanted to sign up again this year … I’m hesitant now because of what Trump has done. Should I still consider?” “Does the removal of subsidies mean we might lose our premium tax credits during the year?”“So you’re telling me that [Trump’s] executive order didn’t do anything? I am so confused.” I don’t blame you. Choosing a health plan through Obamacareexchanges will be doubly hard this year given President Trump’s recent move to cut off federal payments for a key consumer subsidy, his administration’s decision to shorten exchange open-enrollment periods in most states to 45 days, Congress’ failed attempts to repeal Obamacare and the departure of some insurers from certain markets. Let me ease your mind straightaway on three critical points.

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Taking stock of insurer financial performance in the individual health insurance market through 2017

Brookings Institution

The report finds that insurers were on track to break even or make modest profits on ACA-compliant individual market policies in 2017, on average, before the Trump Administration’s decision to end cost-sharing reduction payments.


Pharmaceutical Founder Arrested In Alleged Nationwide Opioid Scheme


On the same day President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, the co-founder of a prominent opioid medication manufacturer has been arrested on fraud and racketeering charges. John Kapoor, former CEO of Insys Therapeutics, has been charged with conspiring to push the company’s signature drug for unacceptable uses through a series of bribes and kickbacks. Subsys, as the drug is known, transmits the extremely powerful narcotic fentanyl in spray form, allowing it to be placed beneath the tongue for fast, potent pain relief. It is meant only for treating cancer patients suffering from severe pain.


A Bold Step to Control Prescription Drug Prices

Pew Trusts

In a move that could lead to lower drug prices for Medicaid programs across the country, Massachusetts is asking the Trump administration for the authority to exclude some new medicines from the state’s health program for the poor. Amid a steep rise in prices for some medications that has strained state budgets in recent years, Massachusetts said that the change would give it leverage to extract lower prices from pharmaceutical manufacturers. And if the request is approved, health analysts say, many other states likely would follow suit.


House GOP Leaders Announce Children’s Health Insurance Vote

Roll Call

Arguments erupted on the House floor Thursday between Republican and Democratic leaders over the prospect of a vote next week on a GOP-only bill to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.




Car drives into immigration protesters outside Rep. Ed Royce’s office

Los Angeles Times

A vehicle drove into a group of protesters outside of GOP Rep. Ed Royce’s office in Brea on Thursday afternoon, but no injuries have been reported to police so far. The alleged driver, 56-year-old Daniel Wenzek of Brea, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. He was booked and released pending further investigation, according to Lt. Kelly Carpenter of the Brea Police Department. Organizers say several hundred people were protesting outside Royce’s office. Many of them arrived on buses after a morning news conference with elected officials and labor leaders in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park. They were trying to deliver letters to Royce (R-Fullerton) about what losing temporary protected immigration status would mean to them, said Andrew Cohen, a communications specialist with the organization Unite Here.


Hammers, axes will help test Trump border wall prototypes –


The U.S. government announced Thursday that prototypes for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico have been completed and will be subjected to punishment to test their mettle — by workers wielding sledgehammers, torches, pickaxes and battery-operated tools.


A Field Guide to the DREAM Acts


As President Donald Trump pledges to roll back Obama-era protections from deportation, lawmakers are working to provide a new legal pathway to citizenship for the group of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. They hope to reimagine and reintroduce the proposed DREAM Act of 2001, before existing immigration legislation is completely dismantled.




Land Use:


City of Fresno delays rental inspection program to February 2018

The Fresno Bee

Fresno tenants will have to wait until early next year for the city’s interior housing inspections to start.


Fresno rendering plant cleared to relocate as City Council OKs deal

Fresno Bee

A deal to relocate a meat-rendering plant out of a southwest Fresno neighborhood was unanimously approved Thursday evening by the Fresno City Council, providing a victory for neighbors who for years have complained about odors. The council approved a development agreement with Darling Ingredients, which runs the operation on Belgravia Avenue, as well as planning and zoning changes for the company to build a new plant about three miles west near Fresno’s wastewater treatment plant.




Inside a Capitol fight over housing

Capitol Weekly

The housing crisis — “debacle” might be a better way of putting it — has no quick or easy solution. For decades, housing production has not kept up with population growth in California, leaving Californians to struggle with soaring bills, longer commutes and more people living under one roof.


Higher Housing Demand Means Fewer Zombie Foreclosures


Fewer neighborhoods have vacant homes in limbo, or properties not yet repossessed by a bank. Sometimes referred to as “zombies,” these foreclosures are notorious for dragging down property values and just generally being sore thumbs on the block. “The numbers of these zombie foreclosures are dwindling dramatically in most parts of the country, that includes California,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. Blomquist says between July and September, there were 345 zombie foreclosures in California.


How Free Legal Help Can Prevent Evictions

Pew Charitable Trust | Stateline

This year, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., have approved funding to provide legal defense to low-income tenants at risk of eviction.





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


Gas tax increase sparks campaign against two Democrats

Sacramento Bee

Joining a pair of 2018 ballot initiative campaigns to repeal the gas tax, an independent expenditure committee is dropping radio ads against two Democratic lawmakers for their votes in support of Senate Bill 1, the $5.2 billion a year fuel and vehicle registration increase that takes effect Wednesday.




California gas taxes to rise 12 cents a gallon next week

San Francisco Chronicle

Gasoline and diesel fuel prices in California will rise next week because of a big jump in taxes to pay for transportation projects. Effective Wednesday, the statewide excise tax on gasoline will jump by 12 cents per gallon to 41.7 cents. For diesel fuel, the excise tax will jump by 20 cents per gallon to 36 cents, and the sales tax will rise to 13 percent from 9 percent (plus local taxes). With diesel around $3 a gallon, the sales tax increase works out to about 12 cents per gallon. Gasoline prices at the pump will rise within days of the tax increase, but probably not by the full 12 cents.


Donald Trump Wants to Raise Your Gas Prices


The Trump administration is floating a 40 percent hike in gas taxes to fund a $1 trillion infrastructure package, a regressive tax that would disproportionately hurt the low- and middle-income Americans who compose the president’s political base.Gary Cohen, whom President Donald Trump appointed as director of the National Economic Council, raised the idea when he met Wednesday with a group of moderate Democrats and Republicans called the Problem Solvers Caucus. Cohen reportedly told the group that Congress would have the opportunity to vote for a gas tax increase of 7 cents early next year.


High-Speed Rail Authority Plans Controversial Tunnel Between Gilroy and Chowchilla

CBS San Francisco

A long, expensive single tunnel is raising new concerns about the first leg of high-speed rail in the Bay Area. Kiet Do reports.


Reclamation Releases Environmental Documents for the Merced to Fresno California High Speed Train Project

Sierra Sun Times

The Bureau of Reclamation has finalized an environmental analysis of a proposal to replace or relocate irrigation pipelines in the Central Valley to accommodate guideways for the Merced to Fresno section of California’s High Speed Rail Project. Reclamation’s Environmental Assessment concluded that moving the irrigation laterals and other associated actions for the rail project will not have significant impacts to resources or people. The actual work of moving laterals would be completed during the non-irrigation season so water users would not be affected.





Delta tunnel project decision time has arrived

Sacramento Bee

A new option has entered the discussion of Delta water supplies: one cross-Delta tunnel instead of two. For now, California’s WaterFix proposal, pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown, is for two tunnels under-crossing the Delta for 35 miles, allowing up to 60 percent of Delta water exports to come from the main channel of Sacramento River. Implementing such a major project requires extraordinary political and financial support that so far is lacking.


Priorities for California’s Water

Public Policy Institute of California

This past year was a prime example of California’s highly variable climate—and a precursor of the types of extremes that are expected to become more common. After five years of drought exacerbated by record heat, 2017’s record rain and snow brought more challenges—stressing dams and levees, causing landslides, and adding fuel to fire-prone landscapes.


2.1 million Americans use water wells with hazardous levels of arsenic, USGS estimates

PBS NewsHour

In a new report, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates 2.1 million Americans use water wells with high levels of arsenic, a naturally occurring metal linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neurological deficits. While arsenic is an ancient health threat, this analysis offers one of the first nationwide appraisals for the groundwater contaminant and spotlights regulatory gaps in the nation’s water infrastructure.





Valley Cultural Calendar

Valley Cultural Coalition

Great things are happening in the Valley. Here’s a list of VCC member offerings to keep you busy and entertained!


Blast from the past with downtown walking tour

Bakersfield Californian

While an average Saturday walk downtown could be about grabbing a green tea matcha latte at Cafe Smitten or picking up produce at one of the farmers markets, this one will be different. Put on your walking shoes and join local historian Ken Hooper for a journey into the past exploring Bakersfield’s Tenderloin. This tour exploring downtown’s east side is modified from one offered in May by Hooper, who is a U.S. history and archiving teacher at Bakersfield High School and president of the Kern County Historical Society. There will be more information presented in this walk, which should run about an hour and a half with 15 designated stops.


A Day to Remember: Clovis Veterans Memorial District going all out for Veterans Day

Clovis Roundup

An armistice between the Allied Powers and Germany on Nov. 11, 1918 signaled the end of World War II – and gave birth to the national holiday known today as Veterans Day. Originally called Armistice Day before Congress replaced “Armistice” with “Veterans” in 1954, the day celebrates the service of U.S. military veterans from the five branches of service – Army, Marine Corps., Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Veterans Day (Nov. 11) falls on a Saturday this year and Clovis Veterans Memorial District is asking the community to come out and celebrate the holiday as they honor veterans with a day of activities. CVMD’s goal for the annual event to bring veterans together and educate the community on the origin of Veterans Day.


Community briefs: Thank a vet, and educate him too: BC to hold Veterans Week events


Bakersfield College aims to honor local veterans with several events