September 26, 2017



 Local/Regional Politics:

Yellow Fever Mosquito infests Tulare

Visalia Times-Delta

A new species of mosquitoes found in Tulare is not only a nuisance but could potentially bring harmful diseases with their blood-sucking bite.

Council members explain city manager firing votes

Tracy Press News

Early Wednesday morning, the City Council fired former City Manager Troy Brown. Brown had led the city government for three years. His hiring was announced on Aug. 12, 2014, and he took over three weeks later on Sept. 2.

Members of Merced County Jewish community call for apology from elected official

Merced Sun-Star

Members of Merced County’s Jewish community have called for Supervisor Rodrigo Espinoza to apologize and be “a true friend of Jewish people” following an anti-Jewish Facebook post he shared recently.

Six months after city manager leaves, Modesto council considers what to do next

Modesto Bee

The City Council is expected to discuss behind closed doors Tuesday how it will find Modesto’s next city manager. This is nearly six months after City Manager Jim Holgersson and Modesto parted ways March 30. Deputy City Manager Joe Lopez has filled in since then, first as acting and then interim city manager.

State Politics:

Skelton: History is repeating itself for Gov. Brown’s delta tunnels project

LA Times

What Gov. Jerry Brown has been pitching as his California WaterFix is seen by many San Joaquin Valley farmers as a checkbook buster. History may be repeating itself.

Keep an eye out for these 10 California bills that could become law

Los Angeles Times

In a flurry of floor debates, committee meetings and deal-making to wrap up the first year of the Legislature’s session, lawmakers sent hundreds of bills to the governor’s desk.

See also:

The fate of California’s biggest campaign donor disclosure bill may hinge on some small details

LA Times

You wouldn’t expect to see the leader of California’s campaign watchdog agency rooting for Gov. Jerry Brown to veto sweeping new disclosure rules for political donors. And yet, that’s where things stand in a seven-year debate over helping voters follow the money.

California could require cancer warning labels on coffee at Starbucks, other retailers 


A future cup of coffee in California could give you jitters before you even take a sip. A nonprofit group wants coffee manufacturers, distributors and retailers to post ominous warnings about a cancer-causing chemical stewing in every brew and has been presenting evidence in a Los Angeles courtroom to make its case.

At last, California has an official state dinosaur

San Jose Mercury News

At long last, California has an official state dinosaur: Augustynolophus morrisi, whose fossilized remains have been found only in California.

Federal Politics:

7.5 million Californians could lose coverage under latest Obamacare repeal effort, state health insurance exchange says

LA Times

Californians who get their health coverage on the individual market could face dire consequences under the current Republican effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, warned a new analysis released Monday by Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange.

See also:

Probing the early primary

Capitol Weekly

With just-passed legislation from Sen. Ricardo Lara sitting on Gov. Brown’s desk, the 2020 California Primary looks to be headed to the front of the line.

Will the Supreme Court strike down extreme partisan gerrymandering?

Los Angeles Times

The U.S. Supreme Court this fall will hear a series of blockbuster cases dealing with core constitutional rights and basic national values. Among the most important is Gill vs. Whitford, a Wisconsin case that asks the justices to address the toxic threat of partisan gerrymandering. With Whitford, Americans — who by wide margins say they are fed up with gerrymandering — may finally get the breakthrough they have long sought.


Fresno GOP moves fundraiser with Joe Arpaio, criticizes ‘bullying from the left’

Fresno Bee (blog)

The Fresno Republican Party’s annual fundraising dinner, which this year features controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, has been moved to Sunnyside Events in southeast Fresno.

Facebook is fighting “fake news” but raising more questions than it answers (updated)

Facebook announced it will turn over more than 3,000 Russian-bought election ads to the Senate and House intelligence committees. According to the New York Times, the company had previously shared some examples of the ads to Congressional staffers, but not the entire ad selection. In avideo posted to his Facebook account, Mark Zuckerberg said, “While the amount of problematic content that we found so far remains relatively small, any attempted interference is a serious issue.”  The original story is below.

Cyber Security Experts Say New Measure Could Weaken California’s Voting Systems

Capital Public Radio News

Federal officials told California Friday that Russians probed the state’s election system for vulnerabilities before the 2016 election. That’s raising new questions over a bill on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. Cyber security experts say the measure could weaken California’s voting systems.

California Attorney General Joins Amicus Brief to Protect Voters From Having Their Names Unlawfully Removed From Voter Registration Lists

Sierra Sun Times

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined New York and 11 other states in filing an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court to protect voters from having their names unlawfully removed from lists of registered voters. In Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute et al., the Supreme Court will decide whether Ohio’s process for removing voters from its voter registration lists complies with federal law. Ohio’s process is triggered when a registered voter does not vote for two years. Ohio argues that these voters may have moved and will remove them from registration lists unless they respond to a mailed notification to confirm their residence to election officials or vote within the next four years. The amicus brief asserts that federal law prohibits using voting history to trigger removal from registration lists, and that this is not an accurate way to determine whether voters may have moved.

See also:

California Is Already Preparing for a North Korean Nuclear Attack

Foreign Policy

With U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un trading insults and threatening war, California officials are taking the threat of nuclear exchange seriously.

Embracing Populism Means Ignoring the Common Good


This is perhaps most stark in discussions of international trade. The right used to discuss trade as a way to enrich the nation and raise living standards. To grow the economic pie, for everyone. To bring down prices, which in turn increases the purchasing power of wages. Embedded in this understanding is the assumption that economic policy should advance the common good.


Dear Mrs. Kaepernick: Every son should have a mother like you

Fresno Bee

We can’t imagine what it felt like to hear President Donald Trump call you a “bitch.” No woman deserves to be called that name.

Gov. Brown, veto the bill that lets rich telecoms use public property practically free

San Jose Mercury News

The California Legislature wants to give telecom companies a nice big gift: at least $30 million a year, and perhaps billions of dollars in savings at the direct expense of cities that both rely on the money and use their current leverage to negotiate improved coverage for poor neighborhoods.

Social protests continue to spread through the NFL

Stockton Record

On Sunday we saw President Trump unite a segment of the U.S. population as players, owners and coaches banded together to protest during the national anthem before games were played. Some knelt or sat. Others locked arms. And still, others remained in the locker room until the Star…

California Farm Academy Offers Path For Immigrants And Second Career Farmers

Capital Public Radio News

American farmers used to hand down their farms to the next generation of their family. But for the most part, farm succession doesn’t work that way anymore.

Future of farming: Ag careers become high-tech


What does the next generation of agriculture look like? It can be seen in the faces of the students in Craig Potter’s agronomy and other agriculture-related classes at Danville Area Community College.

After Long Fight, Some Farmers Get Relief From High Property Taxes

Pew Charitable Trusts

Tony Giesige proudly points to the corn and beans growing on the northwest Ohio land that has been in his family for three generations. He shows off his tax bills too, but those are a source of pain rather than pride.

Growing problem: Lightening the carbon footprint of cannabis farms

East Bay Times

Consider a typical cannabis farmer, growing an indoor crop. In a protected, controlled environment, they can grow a profitable mix of high-potency, medicinal marijuana and any number of milder strains appealing to a new market.

Decoding California’s redwood trees to bolster future forests

San Jose Mercury News

The operating instructions for nature’s tallest and biggest trees have long been hidden inside their tiny seeds — until now. On Tuesday, scientists are announcing an ambitious plan to decode the full genetic sequences of California’s two most iconic trees — the coast redwood and giant sequoia — to better understand and protect California’s grandest forests.

L.A. presses forward with proposed rules for marijuana businesses despite industry concerns

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles lawmakers tentatively backed a sweeping set of proposed regulations for businesses that grow, sell, process and distribute marijuana Monday, the next step toward giving cannabis the stamp of local legitimacy.

Stanislaus County will consider rules for cannabis

Modesto Bee

Stanislaus County supervisors could approve what officials are calling a conservative strategy for permitting marijuana dispensaries and other commercial cannabis activities.



How some local law enforcement agencies are making headway in reducing violent crimes

Modesto Bee

Mirroring much of the nation, violent crimes generally ticked upward in Modesto and throughout Stanislaus County in 2016, according to data released Monday by the FBI.

Crime Rates Stable Overall, But Some Counties See Big Changes

Public Policy Institute of California

In 2011, California embarked on a series of criminal justice reforms, decreasing the state’s reliance on costly incarceration—and raising fears about the impact on public safety. A look at recently released crime numbers from the California Department of Justice show that while auto thefts are up almost 10%, the state has not seen a broad surge in crime since the reforms started. The violent crime rate is up 1.1% (and when adjusted for an important definitional change, is in fact down about 1%), while the property crime rate is down 3.2%. However, these statewide numbers mask substantial differences across counties.


Satellite Imagery Gives Crews A New Angle In Fighting Fires 

Capital Public Radio

An army of firefighters deployed this summer to fight blazes across California. Many of the larger fires take more than just hand crews on the ground and air tankers dropping retardant or water from the sky to help put out a blaze. Now, a new tool is being used to detect how fires grow from space.

Fast-moving wildfire burns 2,000 acres, damaging one home as hundreds evacuated

Los Angeles Times

Cora Angeles parked her car near a gas station at the foot of her Corona hillside neighborhood. With her granddaughter by her side, she said a prayer.



Elevate CA: Unions and private sector should work together to secure California’s economy

California Economy Reporting

Five million Californians earn less than $12.50 per hour whereas 2.5 million of us are members of a union. Ominously, for those who are concerned with economic justice, California union membership is expected to drop by over a half million people following next year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. Illinois, a case about membership obligations in public sector unions.

The Marriage Divide: How and Why Working-Class Families Are More Fragile Today


This research brief offers an updated portrait of the class divide in American family life, finding that less than half of poor Americans age 18 to 55 (just 26 percent) and 39 percent of working-class Americans are currently married, compared to more than half (56 percent) of middle- and upper-class Americans.

Is economic growth in middle-income countries different from low-income countries?

The Brookings Institution

Slowing growth in emerging markets during the post-global financial crisis period is giving fresh impetus to the so-called “middle-income trap” debate.


Target to up hourly base pay to $15 by end of 2020

Target Corp. is raising its minimum hourly wage for workers to $11 starting next month and then to $15 by the end of 2020, a move it says will help it hire and keep the best employees and make shopping a better experience for customers. The initiative announced Monday is part of the discounter’s overall strategy to improve its business, which includes remodeling stores, expanding its online services and opening up smaller urban locations.

Exploring the Challenges Facing American Workers


Frequent hostility and rising inequality are only two of a wide array of challenges Americans face in the workplace, according to a panel of experts who spoke Sept. 12 at RAND in Santa Monica.



Investigation reveals possible embezzlement, voter fraud at Raisin City School


An emergency audit by state investigators uncovered possible embezzlement, voter fraud, and more trouble at a Valley school district. Parents in Raisin City complained of rigged elections and intimidation by administrators last year. The fiscal crisis and management assistance team looked into a lot of financial irregularities at the school district between 2013 and 2016.

Confederate flag incident spurs VUSD action, parent concern

A photo circulating social media is raising concerns for parents of a Redwood High School student who wore a Confederate battle flag sweatshirt to school last week.

Preschool expulsion: the surprising problem this bill aims to prevent

89.3 KPCC

Blanca Rubio often talks to her children about what she has going on at work. Since she’s a legislator, a member of the California Assembly representing the 48th district, this means talking to her 9- and 10-year-old about the laws she’s writing.

California’s Smarter Balanced test results: Use with caution


When the results of the third year of the Common-Core-aligned Smarter Balanced tests are released in California, as they are expected to be tomorrow, they will almost certainly receive a great deal of attention, in the media and elsewhere. There will be an outpouring of analysis, and another round of back slapping or hand wringing, depending on what the scores show.

Unions make excuses for teachers skipping school


Last week, a new study reported that 28 percent of teachers working in traditional public schools use sick days or personal leave to miss more than ten days of school each year. The analysis, authored by David Griffith of the center-right Fordham Institute, found that the comparable figure at charter schools was 10 percent. Meanwhile, Griffith noted, the typical U.S. worker takes about three and a half sick days a year. The disparity between district schools and charter schools occasioned much comment, given what it says about the effects of collective-bargaining agreements and differences in culture across the two sectors. But at least equally noteworthy was how teachers’-union leaders chose to respond to the analysis.

James Baldwin’s Lesson for Teachers in a Time of Turmoil

The New Yorker

“Let’s begin by saying that we are living through a very dangerous time.” So opens “A Talk to Teachers,” which James Baldwin delivered to a group of educators in October, 1963. (He published it in the Saturday Review the following December.) That year, Medgar Evers, a leading civil-rights figure and N.A.A.C.P. state field director, was murdered in his driveway by a white supremacist in Jackson, Mississippi. That year, four young girls—Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley—were killed when Klansmen bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, in Birmingham, Alabama. That year, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he rode in his motorcade through downtown Dallas.

Higher Ed:

Cal State Bakersfield College Republicans issues statement on Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit

The Cal State Bakersfield College Republicans group put out a statement Monday regarding its effort to bring conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos to the university on Oct. 25.

Kresge awards $550,000 to study effectiveness of basic needs interventions at community colleges

The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation’s Education and Human Services Programs announced today a $550,000 grant to support a series of research studies led by Temple University, designed to help identify effective approaches to secure postsecondary students’ basic needs, so more students can stay on track to graduate.

Vocational Education:

‘New Skills Marketplace’ — Diane Jones on apprenticeships and community colleges


In this episode of the “New Skills Marketplace” podcast, Andy Smarick (AEI) and John Bailey (AEI) sit down with Diane Jones from the Urban Institute to discuss the role of community colleges and apprenticeship programs in closing the skills gap.


Genetic probe of redwoods, giant sequoias is key to restoring forests 

San Francisco Chronicle

Redwood trees, those ancient living monuments to California’s past, are as mysterious to science as they are magnificent, so a team of researchers led by a San Francisco conservation group is attempting to unlock the genetic secrets of the towering conifers.


For stories on Republican attempts to “​repeal and replace”​the ACA, See: “Top Stories – Federal Politics,” above

Yellow Fever Mosquito infests Tulare County

You wouldn’t expect to see the leader of California’s campaign watchdog agency rooting for Gov. Jerry Brown to veto sweeping new disclosure rules for political donors. And yet, that’s where things stand in a seven-year debate over helping voters follow the money.

Anthem cites soaring drugs costs to justify 35% rate hike in California

San Jose Mercury News

Health insurance giant Anthem predicts Californians will pop a lot more pills next year. To make the case for a hefty premium hike in the state’s individual insurance market, Anthem Blue Cross has forecast a 30 percent jump in prescription drug costs for 2018. Such a sharp increase is nearly double the estimates of two other big insurers, and it runs counter to industry trends nationally.

Fox: Go-It-Alone CA Healthcare Plan Won’t Fly 

Fox & hounds

Go-it-alone California has staged daily dramas of opposing the new president and even talking about separating from the union. But the issue that will test whether California can indeed stand on its own is healthcare.

Column: Here’s what’s wrong with the U.S. health care system

PBS NewsHour

In defending his health care plan this week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called the measure “the only process left available to stop a march toward socialism.” The remark was a boiler-plate Republican critique of the Affordable Care Act. But it was also a nod to the massive political divide over health care policy on display in recent weeks.


Democrats to try to force vote on Dream Act with rarely successful procedural move

Los Angeles Times

House Democrats are trying to force a vote on Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard’s version of the Dream Act, they announced in a news conference Monday.

Border wall prep continues but start date still secret 

San Diego Union-Tribune

Federal, state and local law enforcement continued to prepare for the start of construction of prototypes for President Donald Trump’s long-sought border wall in Otay Mesa, though agencies remained tight-lipped about when work will begin.

Column: Forget the border wall, Mr. President. Look to the hole in immigration worksite enforcement rules

PBS NewsHour

If President Donald Trump is serious about stopping illegal immigration, he should forget about the border wall and turn his attention to the gaping hole in the enforcement of immigration law at U.S. worksites.


Fresno County may lease historic Rowell building for DA offices

The Fresno Bee

Downtown Fresno’s historic Rowell Building, once a bustling hub of law offices thanks to its location across the street from the Fresno County Courthouse, could soon become a new hive for attorneys and staff with the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office.

Downtown Fresno’s art collection along the soon to be re-opened Fulton Street is in place


On the Inyo side of Fulton Street, the dust is starting to clear — soon the road will be open to traffic and the art that lines both sides will be fully restored. Andrea Morse says this piece needed some work.

California exodus? Poll finds voters consider moving due to sky-high housing costs

Merced Sun-Star

More than half of California voters say the state’s housing affordability crisis is so bad that they’ve considered moving, and 60 percent of the electorate supports rent control, according to a new statewide poll.

Berkeley councilman pitches granny flats as affordable housing solution

San Jose Mercury News

City Councilman Ben Bartlett will host a forum on the shortage of affordable housing at 6 p.m. Sept. 28 at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St.

The California Housing Crisis


While the U.S. Congress is setting records for futility in passing important measures, the California legislature just completed one of the most productive sessions in its history.

Which California megaprojects get breaks from complying with environmental law? Sometimes, it depends on the project

Los Angeles Times

Year after year, owners of professional sports teams and developers of proposed skyscrapers have pleaded with California lawmakers to grant relief for their projects from the state’s environmental regulations. They’ve found a largely receptive audience.

Deal for new city at Newhall Ranch fuels development boom transforming northern LA County

Los Angeles Times

One of Southern California’s longest-running and ugliest development battles ended in a historic truce Monday when environmental groups agreed to a deal that will allow a new city of 58,000 residents to rise in the Santa Clarita Valley.

See also:

Concord to team up with other Bay Area cities on Amazon HQ bid

San Francisco Chronicle

As cities around the country send gifts to Jeff Bezos and make pitches on YouTube to win’s second headquarters, several Bay Area cities are putting together a joint bid for the project.


Investigation reveals possible embezzlement, voter fraud at Raisin City School


An emergency audit by state investigators uncovered possible embezzlement, voter fraud, and more trouble at a Valley school district. Parents in Raisin City complained of rigged elections and intimidation by administrators last year. The fiscal crisis and management assistance team looked into a lot of financial irregularities at the school district between 2013 and 2016.

CalPERS Considers Paying Down New Debt Faster


CalPERS plans to get local government reaction to a proposed new policy that would pay down new pension debt over a shorter period, yielding big savings in the long run but also requiring larger payments in the early years.


Allegiant passengers make emergency exit at Fresno airport

Fresno Bee

Passengers on an Allegiant Air flight in Fresno made an emergency exit onto the tarmac Monday after a mechanical problem led to smoke in the cabin.

See also:

Improvements planned for Sequoia Airfield if supervisors approve grant

A $359,766 grant could bring new life to Sequoia Field Airport in northern Tulare County.
As proposed, the project will bring navigational aids, including Precision Approach Path Indicators, Runaway End Identification Lights, and an Automated Weather Observatory.


High-speed rail in the Valley was once supposed to be done by Saturday. Not even close

Modesto Bee

In 2010, when the Obama administration started to pony up more than $2.5 billion in economic stimulus money for construction of California’s high-speed rail project, the funds came with three important conditions…

Judge rewrites summary of proposed gas tax repeal initiative, saying it was ‘fundamentally flawed’

Los Angeles Times

A judge on Monday rewrote the title and summary for a proposed initiative that would repeal recent gas tax increases in California. He rejected a title and summary written by the state attorney general’s office as “fundamentally flawed.”

Why Cities Are Concerned About Self-Driving Vehicle Legislation in Congress

Pew Charitable Trusts

Some city government officials and advocacy groups say they are uneasy about aspects of self-driving vehicle legislation that is taking shape in the U.S. Senate.


Contamination found in private wells in north Stockton

Stockton Record

Investigators have discovered what appears to be a new plume of polluted groundwater in north Stockton, the culprit being a chemical commonly associated with dry cleaning businesses.

MWD to debate its stake in $17B Delta water tunnels project 


A proposal to build giant water tunnels under the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta suffered a setback last week when a key partner that was expected to help fund a big slice of the $17 billion project voted to pull out. That leaves the Metropolitan Water District — which supplies imported water for 19 million Southern Californians — to decide whether it should fund its $4 billion share of the project known as the California Water Fix.

California Cities Will Flood, So Why Aren’t We Ready?

KQED Science

After big natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, federal officials often tighten up flood protection standards. That’s what happened in California after Hurricane Katrina twelve years ago. But many flood-prone communities are still struggling to meet those standards, including Sacramento, one of the riskiest flood zones in the country.

Skelton: History is repeating itself for Gov. Brown’s delta tunnels project

LA Times

What Gov. Jerry Brown has been pitching as his California WaterFix is seen by many San Joaquin Valley farmers as a checkbook buster. History may be repeating itself.


Fresno State’s Bulldog Stadium damaged in water line break

Fresno Bee

Fresno State will close one section of seats at Bulldog Stadium for its Mountain West Conference opener against Nevada on Saturday after engineers inspected damage caused by a broken irrigation line.

Critters Without Litters turns five, celebrates dramatic success in reducing animal overpopulation

Critters Without Litters turns five on Sunday. It’s been a productive time for the southwest Bakersfield nonprofit clinic, which spays and neuters dogs and cats at reduced prices.

California Today: Autumn’s First Blush

New York Times

“Dude, autumn happens here too.” So writes John Poimiroo, a travel writer who can understably be a little defensive about California’s fall foliage. Mr. Poimiroo runs, the go-to website for reports on when and where the state’s trees are swapping their summer greens for reds, oranges and yellows.