Grewal tied to Big Oil
According to the Modesto Bee, candidate for California Senate District 5 Mani Grewal has been the beneficiary of over $500,000, “in spending to promote Grewal’s senate campaign.” The money’s been provided by The Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class Research Committee, a group funded by oil and natural gas companies. Read More

Update on fundraising for Valley’s congressional candidates
Is Democrat TJ Cox in trouble in California’s Congressional District 21? Could be, as former incumbent David Valadao has taken the fundraising lead after a huge fourth quarter during which he brought in $632,051.17. Read More

Lyin’ Ted does it again
Ted Howze, already on record for claiming he would produce evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 election and failing to do so, has been exposed for another lie. Read More

Newsom sends millions to Fresno for homeless
After visiting some of Fresno’s facilities for the homeless and mentally ill, Governor Gavin Newsom is sending $11.5 million to California’s fifth largest city as he tries to stem the state’s rising tide of people experiencing homelessness. Read More

Ceres rejects help for homeless
In a move typical for those favoring punishment over help, the Ceres City Council has remained united against declaring a homeless emergency crisis. The council rejected the declaration a year ago, when the state offered funding to those who declared a local emergency. Read More

RIP Dave Lopez
Though he was only 53, it seemed like Dave Lopez had been around forever. He was a big man and bigger presence in Modesto and Stanislaus County. A two-term member of the Modesto City Council, Lopez could easily be caricatured as the kind of back-slapping, deal-making politician of days gone by. Read More

Harder acquires money for homeless veterans
With homeless numbers rising to an all-time high and veterans especially vulnerable, Congressman Josh Harder was able to acquire almost $150,000 for 15 veteran families in Stanislaus County. Read More

Devin Nunes falls down the Trump hole
From the very beginning of the Trump administration, Devin Nunes made it clear that his loyalty to the Grifter in Chief was absolute. It now appears that Nunes may even have been, or at least attempted to have been, an accomplice in the Trump/Giuliani extortion scheme to fabricate dirt on Joe Biden. Read More

AG bill would protect farmers and farmworkers
Reliable estimates suggest almost a quarter million of California’s farm workers are undocumented immigrants. Congressmen Josh Harder and TJ Cox have sponsored a bill that would lead to citizenship for farmworkers with a history of steady employment. The bill is among a few current California proposals that enjoy bipartisan support. Read More

Local districts proposing another water sale to San Francisco?
A credible report from a source described only as “a whistleblower” claims representatives from three local water districts met on October 29 to discuss a water sale to San Francisco. The meeting included Steve Knell, General Manager from Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) and Tom Orvis, Chairman of the OID Board of Directors. Read More

Hundreds of thousands of acres to be fallowed
While Valley farmers and water agencies have a twenty year window to achieve groundwater sustainability, restrictions on pumping will actually begin next year. Gary Serrato, former General Manager of the Fresno Irrigation District, said recently that he expects “between 800,000 and 1,000,000 acres” to come out of production throughout the Central Valley. Read More

Denham, McCarthy, and Valadao received Ukraine money
Kevin McCarthy and David Valadao, two recipients of money from donors now accused of violating campaign finance laws, say they will divest themselves of the money they received from Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Read More

Democrats fail to endorse Costa
Valley delegates for the Democratic Party were split on whether to endorse incumbent Jim Costa or Esmeralda Soria, the Fresno City Councilmember who is challenging him from the left. Costa pulled 49.8% of the ballots on the first vote October 6, then had a two vote margin on the second round. Read More

OtPR still the go-to on water and environment
Anyone mystified or wanting the most informed inside information on Governor Newsom’s veto of SB 1 and the multiple ramifications of the now-sanctified voluntary agreements from water districts in the San Joaquin Valley can check in on On the Public Record. Read More

Hallinan announces for Supervisor
Tom Hallinan, attorney for the City of Ceres and a Ceres resident, has announced he will run for Supervisor in Stanislaus County’s District 5, currently held by Jim DeMartini. Earlier this year, DeMartini announced he would be stepping down and moving out of the area. Hallinan enters the race a strong favorite, especially since Anthony Canella decided not to run. Read More

Marijuana and illegal drugs in Denham-owned building
Police found guns, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and butane hash oil in a building owned by a company in which former congressman Jeff Denham is a partner. Located in an industrial district in Turlock, the building is adjacent to a separate Denham-owned building used for Denham’s plastics business. Read More

Costa faces primary challengers
Conventional wisdom has always said the only way Valley Democrats can win is by leaning conservative. Thus, from Congressional District 9 on down to 23, either Republicans or “Blue Dog” (conservative) Democrats have held sway for years. But recent wins by Josh Harder in District 10 and TJ Cox in 21 may have presaged a transformation in the Valley’s long conservative tradition. Read More

Nunes sues Fresno Bee, McClatchy
Continuing a rampage of lawsuits, Congressman Devin Nunes has sued the Fresno Bee and its parent company, McClatchy. The suit alleges the Bee pursued a “scheme” to “defame” the congressman and “destroy his reputation.” Nunes has also sued the people who objected to him calling himself a farmer during his campaign for congress; he defeated Andrew Janz by a five percent margin. Read More

City of Modesto denies Straight Pride event permit
Citing the organization’s lack of liability insurance and safety concerns, the City of Modesto has denied the National Straight Pride Coalition permission to hold a parade and meeting in Modesto’s Graceada Park, site of famed Mancini Bowl and 100 years of summer concerts by the city’s volunteer-staffed MoBand. The application for a permit by the group dedicated to what it calls heterosexual Christian values ignited a firestorm of protests amid details that would strain credulity if featured in a daytime soap drama. Read More

Gallo takes the lead on community values
In a bold and unequivocal letter to employees at E&J Gallo, its leaders both repudiate the bogus pretenses of advocates of “Straight Pride,” and reaffirm the values contained in the national motto, “E Pluribus Unum.” Gallo’s statement is yet one more indicator that no one is fooled by the thin garment of camouflage that supporters of Straight Pride hope will conceal the white supremacist values of an organization that isn’t just nativist and nationalist, but homophobic, bigoted, and hateful. Read More

Books, drugs, data and more
Sam Quinones’ Dreamland has been out since 2015. It’s still the best overview of the opioid epidemic anywhere—how it got started, how the pharmaceutical companies pushed it, and how gangsters capitalized on it with black tar heroin from Mexico. Now, the rest of the media world is catching up with Quinones and offering more specific detail about the mind-staggering extent of a marketing scheme that the drug pushers—aka Big Pharma—knew was resulting in financial ruin, addiction, and death. Read More

Turlock considering allowing homeless tent camp
Turlock city officials are considering allowing a homeless camp for a portion of the city’s estimated 250 homeless people. Though no one thinks allowing homeless people to camp in tents at designated sites is an ideal solution, it’s proving to be an effective interim solution for people who would otherwise be in downtown streets, neighborhood parks, and along our rivers, canals, and freeways. Read More

Bad as it is, Valley air is getting better
Even though air quality in the San Joaquin Valley ranks among the worst in the nation, it’s better than it used to be. In fact, a recent study argues that the reason the notorious Valley Tule Fog has almost disappeared in the northern part of the Valley is due to improved air quality. Read More

Fresno Grizzlies losing sponsors
The Fresno Grizzlies minor league baseball team has lost at least two major sponsors because of an ad featuring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a group photo with Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Un. The group is described as “enemies of freedom.” Read More

Bad air costs Valley $6 billion
The southern San Joaquin Valley has the worst winter air particulate levels (PM2.5) and summer ozone levels in the United States. The northern part of the Valley is better, but still hazardous to health. The pollution has punishing effects on Valley residents in the form of high incidences of childhood asthma, heart and lung disease, and a host of other maladies. Read More

Denham takes lobbying job
Turns out those rumors Jeff Denham would run again for congress in California’s District 10 were ill-founded. Denham has joined the hordes of other “retired” politicians and taken on a job as a lobbyist—the job description won’t be much different than his role as a congressman. Read More

Newsom administration bans popular pesticide
A pesticide used widely throughout the San Joaquin Valley has been banned by the Newsom administration. Chlorpyrifos, used on a range of crops including almonds, is believed to harm brain development in babies. Read More

Homeless count keeps growing
Stanislaus County’s “Focus on Prevention” program is five years old now. The latest “point in time” count, conducted in January, showed 1923 homeless people, a record since the count began. The previous high was 1800. That was in 2009, during the Great Recession. Read More

Stapley scorches Modesto Irrigation District
Some of us lamented Garth Stapley’s promotion to Editor of the Modesto Bee’s Editorial page, not because we thought Stapley didn’t deserve the job but because we lamented the loss of the Bee’s best reporter. Turns out Stapley is still on task as a superb investigative reporter. Read More

Harder slams DeVos for hypocrisy
Newly elected Representative for California’s Congressional District 10 Josh Harder hasn’t wasted any time getting to work. He’s already made more high profile visits to his district than former rep Jeff Denham did over a year’s time, and Harder has also been promoting legislation that would help Valley citizens. Read More

Selling out to Westlands Water District
Donald Trump’s acting Secretary of the Interior is David Bernhardt, former lobbyist for Westlands Water District and dedicated foe of sustainable fishing and farming. The Trump administration’s plan for the San Joaquin Delta and San Joaquin Valley rivers is to ruin them so Westlands corporate farmers can continue growing nuts for export. Read More

Harder hits the right note (again)
Most anyone who followed Josh Harder’s brilliant campaign last year knew he would apply tremendous energy and focus once in congress—he’s one of those people whose cruising speed is several levels above the recommended maximum. Read More

“The threat of climate change is both ominous and abstract”
Congressman Jerry McNerney in California’s 9th District is one of our most-informed leaders on energy and climate. An engineer and former consultant for traditional energy utilities as well as clean power sources, McNerney is well-versed in the science and economics of energy and climate change. Read More

Harder stands firm
Despite what many believe is a risky position, Josh Harder is standing tall on his campaign promise to support Medicare for All. So-called “Blue Dog” Democrats, including Fresno’s Jim Costa, are still claiming the costs outweigh the benefits. But if Josh Harder understands anything, he understands economics. Read More

Time to lose half a million acres of farmland?
While insiders have been saying for years that the realities of water supplies should dictate how much land we farm, public discussion rarely ensued. Now, realistic proposals for fallowing farmland are finally out in the open. Read More

Got smog?
Despite decades of talk and proposals to do something about it, air pollution is still a major threat to public health in the San Joaquin Valley, even in the northern portion, where Modesto and Merced routinely rank in the top ten cities in concentrations of particulate matter.  Read More

Harder forwards bi-partisan bill for vets
Despite lip service to veterans, both political parties have failed to provide them adequate compensation for the harm many suffer in service to their country. Mental illness is especially rampant among vets, and too seldom acknowledged as a factor in divorce, bankruptcy and homelessness. Read More

Latino vote made a difference
Despite conspiracy theories from the likes of Ted Howze and Donald Trump, November’s surge of Democrat wins is easily explained by one word—turnout. And a key factor in turnout was the Latino vote. For years, and especially in the San Joaquin Valley, insiders have despaired at getting out the Latino vote. Read More

Bee doubts Berryhill can serve
In a powerful editorial, the Modesto Bee suggests newly-elected Stanislaus County Supervisor Tom Berryhill should step down. Berryhill, who has been absent from public view for most of the last year, recently broke his hip and has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Read More

Brown rebukes sheriff’s attack on “sanctuary state”
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson has blamed the killing of Newman Police Officer Ronal Singh on a California law passed in 2017, but on January 6, Governor Jerry Brown offered a strong rebuttal to that theory. Brown said that the killer’s arrest dates preceded the passage of SB 54, the so-called “sanctuary” policy. Read More

Will OID double down on dumb?   
Just off a big loss to the Oakdale Groundwater Alliance (OGA) in Fresno’s Appellate Court, Oakdale Irrigation District’s (OID) Board of Directors are apparently eager for another hefty payout to water attorney Tim O’Laughlin, followed by an almost certain defeat. OID Directors are considering suing the state for thwarting OID’s practice of abandoning its water rights so it can sell water to buyers far south of the San Joaquin Delta. Read More

Inside TJ’s big win
While Republicans from Paul Ryan on down to Jeff Denham and Ted Howze keep insisting there must have been dirty pool involved in the come-from-behind victories of Democrats like Josh Harder and TJ Cox, insiders knew all along that Harder and Cox applied relatively simple tactics to bring about their upset wins. First and foremost, both Harder and Cox were gluttons for work. Read More