Scant rainfall and dry conditions have prompted an estimate from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that water deliveries to Central Valley farms are expected to be 30 percent of normal this year -- far less than half of last year's delivery, when rain was in abundance.
From the Fresno Bee's Robert Rodriguez and Mark Grossi: "This year, precipitation in Northern California is just 51% of the seasonal average as of Feb. 16. In the upper San Joaquin River basin, it's been even drier: The basin has reached just 43% of the seasonal average. Although water district officials are hopeful things will improve, farmers are already making decisions based on the lower forecast."
"West-side farmers anticipate idling more land, or switching to lower value crops that require less water."
From the Chronicle's Bob Egelko: "The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento by 17 students and two graduates who took part in the demonstration, which was organized by Occupy UC Davis. Twelve said they were pepper-sprayed, and eight claimed illegal arrests."
"The students sat in the UC Davis quad to protest recent tuition increases and the use of force by UC Berkeley police, who had clubbed some demonstrators while breaking up an encampment on that campus a week earlier."
A federal judge in San Francisco has ruled that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act is discriminatory, and that the federal government should ignore the statute and provide health care services to gays and lesbians. The decision, which is in line with the Obama administration's contention that DOMA is illegal, is unlikely to be the last word. Appeals are all but certain to carry the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
From the LAT's Carol J. Williams: "White ordered the federal Office of Personnel Management to enroll the wife of Karen Golinski, an attorney for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in the health benefits program available to other employees of the federal judiciary. The Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the extension of federal benefits to same-sex spouses, and Golinski's wife, Amy Cunninghis, had been repeatedly denied coverage since the couple married in 2008.
"The court finds that DOMA, as applied to Ms. Golinski, violates her right to equal protection of the law … without substantial justification or rational basis," wrote White, who was named to the federal bench a decade ago by President George W. Bush.
Former Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, a Dinuba Democrat, is pondering running for election in the 21st Congressional District.
From the Fresno Bee's John Ellis: "Bustamante certainly has the star power Democrats have been seeking since state Sen. Michael Rubio, a Bakersfield Democrat, pulled out of the race for family reasons."
"When Rubio pulled out, it left Hanford Republican David Valadao as the lone candidate. A first-term Assembly member, Valadao established himself as the clear front-runner with almost $408,000 raised as of Dec. 31. Since then, two Democrats have entered the discussion."
"Runner had won a special election last year to fill a vacancy in the Senate caused when her husband, George Runner, won election to the state Board of Equalization. She had previously served in the state Assembly, where in 2008 she first announced she had been diagnosed with the autoimmune condition."
"The senator’s prognosis is excellent and she is expected to make a full recovery that would allow her to finish her term in the Legislature this year, according to Matt Rexroad, a campaign spokesman."