September 28, 2017




Local/Regional Politics:

Fresno council candidate Esparza accused of improper fundraising

The Fresno Bee

A Fresno County Board of Education member has come under fire for allegedly using thousands of dollars raised through his school board campaign treasury to further his 2018 bid for Fresno City Council – more than six months before city candidates are allowed to raise money.


Turlock City Council considers anti-hate resolution

The Modesto Bee

Two weeks after she initially brought an anti-hate resolution to the Turlock City Council, Danielle Ray-Reyes stood before council members Tuesday night and challenged each of them individually.


Merced County elected official says ‘ghost’ criticized him

Merced Sun-Star

After getting pushback from Merced County residents for sharing a questionable anti-Jewish conspiracy theory Facebook post, Supervisor Rodrigo Espinoza questioned whether those critics even exist, according to a video he posted Tuesday.


Sheriff Joe Arpaio: ‘I don’t understand why I’m so controversial’

San Jose Mercury News

Fresh off a presidential pardon, America’s most infamous lawman is coming to California this week as part of an effort to re-enter the political arena.


State Politics:


California’s next presidential primary will be earlier

Sacramento Bee

California will hold its 2020 presidential primary in March rather than late in the process in June, under state legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday.

PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and Their Government

Public Policy Institute of California

Most California adults and likely voters (58% each) say Republicans in Congress should work with Democrats to improve the current federal health care law. Solid majorities also say it is the federal government’s responsibility to ensure health care coverage for all Americans.

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Latino state lawmakers back Antonio Villaraigosa for California governor

Los Angeles Times

The Legislature’s California Latino Caucus on Wednesday endorsed former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for governor.


California’s top elections officer now says his agency’s website wasn’t the one ‘scanned’ by Russian hackers

LA Times

Five days after saying he had been told Russian hackers scanned the state’s main elections website for weaknesses in 2016, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said Wednesday that it turns out it didn’t actually happen that way.

See also:

GOP delegation sour on House majority 

Capitol Weekly

Throughout the 2016 election cycle, Capitol Weekly conducted several polls. Two of them, one during the primary and the other during the general, were targeted to voters right after they had mailed in their ballots. In total, more than 80,000 Californians participated in these surveys.

Federal Politics:


Essential California: California’s winners and losers from Trump’s tax plan

Los Angeles Times

Many Californians face a big financial hit under the Republican tax plan, which would eliminate a major tax break that benefits residents here 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. “Elimination of the state and local tax deduction could lead to an economic downward spiral in California,” State Controller Betty T. Yee warned. Los Angeles Times

See also:

California seeks more sway by moving up presidential primary


Super Tuesday, the jam-packed day of presidential primary voting every four years, may get supercharged in 2020 with California joining the pack, bringing along its prize of the most delegates.

See also:

Poll: Majority of voters say Trump isn’t fit to be president


A majority of American voters say Donald Trump is not “fit to serve as president,” according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, with 51 percent of respondents saying they are embarrassed to have Trump serve as president.

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Half of California’s likely voters think Sen. Dianne Feinstein should retire, poll finds

Los Angeles Times

As Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein contemplates a 2018 bid for reelection, a new poll has found that 50% of California’s likely voters think she shouldn’t run again.

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Roughly 5 million people left California in the last decade. See where they went

The Sacramento Bee

An unprecedented number of Californians left for other states during the last decade, according to new tax return data from the Internal Revenue Service.


Does America still believe in the right to be wrong?


The whole idea of a free society is based on a very simple idea that is very hard to live by: People have the right to be wrong.



Modesto should get busy finding a city manager

Modesto Bee

Interim city manager Joe Lopez might be best suited for job, but we won’t know until we look


California rivaling Louisiana for rates of syphilis? There’s no excuse for that.

Sacramento Bee

For the third year in a row, sexually transmitted disease rates have risen, with California near the top for some infections.


Jeff Sessions’ stance on campus speech may cynically pander to the right, but it’s also correct

Los Angeles Times

Atty. Gen Jeff Sessions delivered a powerful message this week in support of free speech on college campuses, warning that the American university is being transformed into an “echo chamber of political correctness and homogeneous thought.” He also promised that the Justice Department would support…




Hemp in California: Could marijuana’s mellow cousin be the next environmental and economic boon?

Orange County Register

The 40 or so people gathered in conference room 502B at Los Angeles Convention Center came from starkly different backgrounds.


California is trying to educate people about marijuana before recreational sales start

Los Angeles Times

Months before California allows the sale of marijuana for recreational use, the state has launched an education campaign about the drug, including highlighting the potential harms of cannabis for minors and pregnant women.



Claims mislead about California forcing jail time for using wrong transgender pronoun

PolitiFact California

A bill to prevent discrimination of LGBT seniors in California’s long-term care homes is one step from becoming law. It passed the Legislature this month and now sits on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.


Sentence Enhancements: Next Target of Corrections Reform?

Public Policy Institute of California

Senate Bill 180, which has passed through the legislature and is currently on the governor’s desk, aims to change a sentence enhancement related to dealing drugs. The bill would repeal the three-year enhancement for a prior conviction related to drug sales, except in cases where a minor is used in the crime. The repeal would affect just 2.3% of the people who entered prison between October 2015 and September 2016. In light of the state’s efforts to downsize its prison and jail populations, however, the bill’s passage could create momentum for similar reforms.




Amid uncertainty, San Diego-Tijuana group touts NAFTA’s benefits

The San Diego Union-Tribune

An anxious delegation of business leaders and elected officials from San Diego and Baja California gathered in the nation’s capital this week, seeking answers on the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement as negotiations for the treaty’s update have entered a third round.


Record inequality: The top 1% controls 38.6% of America’s wealth

CNN Money

The richest 1% of families controlled a record-high 38.6% of the country’s wealth in 2016, according to a Federal Reserve report published on Wednesday.



Elevate CA: More empowered workers needed to grow California’s middle class


Businesses with increased employee decision-making are more stable and profitable Read More





Scores flat in 3rd year of California’s Smarter Balanced tests …


Statewide student results on the standardized tests measuring knowledge of the Common Core standards were essentially flat in 2016-17, after a year of strong gains.

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Fresno, Valley students’ results on state test scores

The Fresno Bee

Fresno County students are doing better academically this year, but still are falling behind most of the state, according to test scores released Wednesday by the California Department of Education.


CUSD experiences rise in math, english language scores for third straight year

Clovis Roundup

Clovis Unified School District students continue to excel in both mathematics and English language arts as test scores continue to climb in Year 3 of California’s Smarter Balanced Assessments.


Fresno district raises substitute teacher pay amid strike talk

The Fresno Bee

Substitutes stand to earn $500 a day as Fresno Unified School District prepares to recruit replacements in the face of a possible teachers strike.


CUSD transforms former ITT Tech building into professional development and health center

Clovis Roundup

When ITT Technical Institute closed its doors last year, a new door opened for Clovis Unified.

California schools facing $24B in retiree health costs 


California schools are on the hook for $24 billion in future health care costs for their retirees, a mountain of debt that’s forcing some districts to curb benefits or spend less on teacher salaries and classroom equipment, according to a new state report.


Walters: Legislature muffs a chance to improve the lives of our children 


California legislators had a rare opportunity this year to make a significant improvement in the lives of millions of children at little or no cost – and they muffed it.


Charter Schools and the Local Control Funding Formula

Public Policy Institute of California

Over the two decades since their inception, charter schools have become a significant part of the California public school system. Quasi-independent, but publicly funded, these schools educate about 10 percent of the state’s students.


Taking college classes in high school can lead to more college success


New evidence says taking college classes while in high school can improve a student’s chances of earning a college degree.


Higher Ed:

More California Students Taking Advanced Placement Exams 

Capital Public Radio

More California high school students appear to be preparing for college. The number of students taking college-level Advanced Placement, or AP, tests went from about 300,000 in 2013 to nearly 370,000 this year.


Helping your college age child in a medical emergency

As a parent, there are few things worse than getting a call saying your young-adult child is being taken to the emergency room. Now imagine getting that call –but the doctors and nurses won’t tell you anything about your child’s condition.


California Today: LA College Teams Up With a Former Student, Barack Obama

New York Times

It has long been one of the lesser-known facts about the life of Barack Obama. For all the talk about the former president and his Ivy alma maters — Columbia University and Harvard Law School — he actually spent the first two years of his higher education life, from 1979 to 1981, attending Occidental College in Los Angeles.




Talk of a Ban on Non-Electric Cars

New York Times

Gov. Jerry Brown is said to have considered the question. According to a report in Bloomberg, he asked a state regulator about a plan by China to phase out sales of fossil-fuel vehicles.


Importance of Working Landscapes to California’s Economy and Climate Change

California Economy Reporting

To accelerate California’s policy leadership in the face of global crises like water scarcity, climate change and uneven economic development between urban and rural areas, it is essential to recognize of the importance of the state’s natural capital, especially in relation to working landscapes and rural economies. 


 ‘Horizontal hurricanes’ pose increasing risk for California 

San Francisco Chronicle

As increasingly intense hurricanes batter the Southeast and the Caribbean, heightening some of the worst fears about a changing climate, California is facing its own threat of bigger and more destructive storms. Mounting research, much of it done in the wake of the near-record rains that pulled California out of a five-year drought this past winter, shows that seasonal soakers may not come as often as they used to, but could pack more punch when they do arrive.




Congress on track to miss two big health deadlines


Congress is at risk of missing two deadlines for health programs impacting millions of people, as funding is set to expire on Saturday.


Anthem says market concerns forced exit from health exchange

San Francisco Chronicle

Health insurer Anthem said Wednesday that it is leaving Maine’s health insurance exchange next year because of market volatility and uncertainty.


Kaiser Permanente CEO: A Bipartisan Health Bill Is The Way To Go


Now that the latest GOP health care proposal is being left for dead, you might think that health care reform efforts are over for the near future. But don’t dismiss bipartisan efforts already underway that aim to stabilize the insurance market and potentially give states more flexibility in meeting federal standards.


‘This is where the need is’ Health center funding cliff would shutter rural physician training programs

Peeking through the gates of a chain link fence in a Delano schoolyard, Jazmeet Bains witnessed health injustice during recess when she was just a girl.


Kern ranks among highest in state for STDs

Somebody contracts a new sexually transmitted disease in Kern County every hour, among the highest disease incidence rates in California – even as state figures reach record highs, according to new figures released Tuesday by the California Department of Public Health.


Helping your college age child in a medical emergency

As a parent, there are few things worse than getting a call saying your young-adult child is being taken to the emergency room. Now imagine getting that call –but the doctors and nurses won’t tell you anything about your child’s condition.


Spouses of H-1B visa holders left waiting to hear on work fate 

San Francisco Chronicle

Spouses of H-1B visa holders remained in flux Wednesday as the Department of Homeland Security asked again for more time to consider a lawsuit challenging these foreigners’ right to work in the U.S.


For a Preview of the Border Wall, Look to California 

NY Times

On a dusty patch of land surrounded by a chain-link fence near the border here, workers this week began shoveling ground for a large-scale prototype for a border wall with Mexico.




Californians and Housing Affordability

Public Policy Institute of California

According to a recent report from the California Department of Housing and Community Development, California’s homeownership rate is the lowest it has been since the 1940s, and nearly one in three renter households spend at least half of their income on rent.

See also:

Property tax break proposed for California ballot

The Sacramento Bee

California homeowners looking to move up would get a major financial break under a possible 2018 ballot measure to change a key provision of the state’s landmark tax law.




For stories on federal tax reformSee: “Top Stories – Federal Politics,” above


New Law Penalizes Employers Who Fail to Provide Information About Annuitants Working During Retirement

On September 23rd, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill No. 1309, which provides for assessments on employers that fail to report the hiring and payroll information of California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) members working in retirement. The fine is 200 dollars per month for each annuitant employee the employer fails to report. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2018.



McCarthy: Time to Send California’s Sputtering High-Speed Rail Project to the Scrap Yard

After billions of dollars in cost overruns and missed deadlines, California’s top Republican in Congress is again training his fire on his state’s high-speed rail project, arguing that the mammoth $2.5 billion Obama-era stimulus boondoggle is still struggling to get off the ground and should be scrapped altogether.


House Republicans threatened with ‘robust and powerful’ battle over California gas tax

Sacramento Bee

Major backers of California’s recently approved gas tax and vehicle registration fee increasessent letters earlier this month to the Republican House delegation threatening political repercussions if its 14 members join a campaign to overturn the road repair funding plan.


California Air Resources Board eyes future ban on gas-powered engines

The Sacramento Bee

Get ready to scrap your gas guzzler. And your gas sipper, too.


The digital road to safety

Brookings Institution

America’s roadway network is one of the country’s most essential infrastructure systems. Whether traveling by car, bus, bike, or foot, over 140 million workers use the country’s streets to get to work, and millions more depend on them for a range of personal trips to stores, schools, and other destinations.  Businesses across the country, meanwhile, relies on roadways to get their products to and from markets. As such, ensuring roads are safe for all travelers is a national priority.




Why thousands of bad bills are creating frustration with Modesto Irrigation District

The Modesto Bee

If you’ve run into problems with the Modesto Irrigation District’s new billing system, you’re in good company.


Farmersville water rates could go up

Visalia Times-Delta

Farmersville residents will likely be paying more for their monthly water service.


Weather experts predict La Nina year

The Fresno Bee

Is it time to get out the rain boots? Not just yet, weather experts say.


US Fish and Wildlife Service approved Delta pumping increase

The Sacramento Bee

Federal fisheries regulators have approved a controversial plan opposed by environmental groups that would allow for more pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta this fall.


US and Mexico may be at odds, but they’ve reached agreement on managing the Colorado River

Los Angeles Times

The United States and Mexico expanded a long-term agreement Wednesday that will allow both nations to continue using the Colorado River while also pushing more conservation efforts to ensure that water is available during droughts.