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Water
9:55 am
Fri November 30, 2012

State Water Project Plans For 30 Percent Allocation Next Year

Lake Oroville in northern California - file photo

California water officials say farmers and others who rely on the State Water Project can count on at least 30 percent of the requested water amount in the coming year. 

The Department of Water Resources says the initial allocation is always conservative since it’s made before the rainy season. 90 percent of the state’s snow and rain comes between December and April.

This week’s storm is giving the State Water Project an early boost and the water supply is expected to increase as more storms roll in.

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Government & Politics
4:19 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

California Lawmaker Proposes Changes to Proposition 13

Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

California Democratic state Senator Mark Leno plans to introduce a constitutional amendment on Monday that will make it easier to pass local taxes for schools.

The amendment would allow voters to pass school parcel taxes with a 55-percent vote instead of the two-thirds vote required by Proposition 13.

Jon Coupal with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association says the legislation isn’t surprising given that Democrats now hold a supermajority in the legislature.

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Education
9:53 am
Thu November 29, 2012

Study: Hurdles Remain for California College Transfer Students

A new study shows California community college students still face obstacles when they try to transfer to the California State University system. 

Despite a law passed two years ago intended to make it easier for students to transfer to CSU, many community colleges still don’t provide acceptable degrees.

According to a study by the non-profit “Campaign for College Opportunity,” an average of just five degrees have been developed by each of the 112 community colleges.

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Valley Edition
1:40 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

On Valley Edition: What's the Future for the GOP; F.E.R.N.; Christmas At Kearney

This week on Valley Edition we look at the future of politics in California, in the wake of a November election that saw Democrats gain a two-thirds majority in the Legislature, and Republican voter registration drop below 30 percent. FM89's Joe Moore brings us the second report a two-part series on the impact of California's new "top-two" election system. This week we learn how the new reforms may force some of the state's smaller political parties off the ballot entirely. 

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Governance
1:09 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

New "Top Two" Election System Causes Problems For Smaller Political Parties

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series on the impact of California's new top-two election reform.

When California voters approved Proposition 14 in 2010, supporters hailed it as a way to make many races for Congress, the Legislature and state offices more competitive, thanks to a new top-two election system.

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Just One Breath
10:55 am
Mon November 26, 2012

For Some California Prisoners, Valley Fever Becomes A Life Sentence

Kevin Walker acquired disseminated cocci while serving time at the federal prison in Taft.
Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker arrived at Taft Correctional Institution, a federal prison in western Kern County, in December 1999 to serve a 14-year sentence for attempted possession of cocaine.

But another kind of sentence awaited him, one far more painful than confinement alone.

In July 2001, fluid-leaking boils broke out across Walker’s face and body. Once he was diagnosed with valley fever, doctors put him on an antifungal drug — amphotericin B — but the drug was so powerful that it caused his kidneys and liver to begin failing.

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Governance
5:02 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Electoral Reforms Led to More Close Races, Experts Say

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Now that the dust has settled after this month's general election, political observers from across the state are busy examining the results to see just what effect California's efforts at redistricting and electoral reform had in their first full test at the ballot box. Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore reports that in same cases, the result is too close to call. 

For most California voters, the trip to the ballot box this November looked much like it always has, albeit with longer lines at some polling places and a record number of "vote by mail" ballots.

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Valley Edition
3:01 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

On Valley Edition: Top Two Primary Aftermath; Homeless Housing; Farber Gift

This week on Valley Edition, we learn about how the state's new electoral reforms worked in real life following this month's election. Did the "top two" primary make the general election candidates more moderate and contests more competitive? Or did little actually change? Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore brings us a special report. 

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Government & Politics
2:40 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Speaker Pérez Wary of Overplaying Democratic Supermajorities

Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

California Democrats have gained a supermajority in both state legislative houses for the first time in 70 years.  But as KPCC’s Julie Small reports, the Assembly Speaker says his party won’t exploit the power.

The two-thirds majority in the Assembly and Senate gives Democrats the power to raise taxes without Republican votes.  They’ll also be able to expedite bills and change legislative rules.  But Assembly Speaker John Perez downplays that new power.

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Just One Breath
6:33 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Valley fever takes an animal toll, and pets rely on the same treatments as people

Debra Stone holds her dog Nemo, who appears to be doing very well after recently being diagnosed with valley fever.
Henry A. Barrios The Bakersfield Californian

The first valley fever victim that Dr. Demosthenes Pappagianis remembers was Mbongo — a gorilla at the San Diego Zoo

“I was a kid in San Diego at the time and saw the article in the newspaper,” recalled the veteran researcher on the animal’s 1942 death from the disease, also known as coccidiomycosis. “I didn’t know what cocci were at that time, but I knew that a gorilla at the zoo had died.”

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Just One Breath
6:00 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Valley Fever Research For Pets May Yield Benefits For Humans

Bobbi Duke holds Crash, her three-legged cat that is recovering from valley fever. Another family pet, Lucas, a dog, has also been diagnosed with valley fever and she has concern that Sheeba, another family dog, may also have valley fever.
Henry A. Barrios The Bakersfield Californian

Dogs, not people, may hold the key to improved treatments, even a possible cure, for valley fever.

One way researchers have lured private money is by proposing research projects involving pets, the theory being that companies and donors would see more of a market potential in dogs and cats suffering and dying from the disease.

Dogs and humans get hit with valley fever in a very similar way. They inhale spores from a fungus common in the soil in the Southwest. The spores take root in the lungs and can spread to other organs and parts of the body.

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Transportation
7:04 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Caltrans Picks Preferred Route For Centennial Corridor Freeway in Bakersfield

A map from Caltrans depicting three options for the Centennial Corridor route
Caltrans

Plans to connect Bakersfield's Westside Parkway across Highway 99 to Highway 58 are becoming clearer today, as Caltrans has selected what it calls a "preferred alternative" for the proposed Centennial Corridor freeway.

The alignment, known as "Option B" would travel west from the current Highway 58 interchange across Highway 99 though the West Park neighborhood. The freeway's path would then turn northwest, crossing both Stockdale Highway and Truxtun, in order to connect with the Westside Parkway near Mohawk Street.

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Health
3:57 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Study Links Flame Retardants to Developmental Delays in Children

According to study authors, flame retardant chemicals can leach out from upholstered furniture, particularly if the foam is exposed through rips.
Credit Courtesy UC Berkeley Media Relations

A new UC Berkeley study adds to research that suggests flame retardants common in California homes are linked to neurodevelopmental delays in kids.

The study followed nearly 300 women from pregnancy to when their children were 7 years old. Researchers tested mother's levels and then the children's levels for the flame retardant compound polybrominated diphenyl ethers, known as PBDE. They wanted to assess in utero effect as well as childhood exposure, says lead researcher and UC Berkeley epidemiologist Brenda Eskenazi.

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Health Care Reform
11:21 am
Thu November 15, 2012

California Intends to Run New Health Marketplace On Its Own

The logo for California Covered, the state's new health benefit exchange.

California plans to tell the federal government this week that it will operate a key component of the federal health law on its own. 

States have until the end of this week to tell the federal government if they will operate their own health insurance exchanges. States also have the option to receive help, or have the federal government manage their marketplaces.

The California Health Benefit Exchange board has signaled its intent to go it alone by approving a detailed operations plan and grant proposal.  

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Government & Politics
5:13 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

State Analyst: CA Budget Deficit Drops to $1.9 Billion

Legislative analyst Mac Taylor released his office’s annual fiscal outlook today. He’s projecting a $1.9 billion deficit over the next year-and-a-half, followed by a growing surplus in each of the next several years.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California’s once-enormous budget deficit has shrunk to just under $2 billion, and the state could soon have a surplus.  But Mac Taylor, California’s non-partisan legislative analyst is urging caution as state finances improve.

Not long ago, California hit rock bottom, with a massive budget deficit. 

Nearly four years ago Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told a crowd, “the $42 billion deficit is a rock upon our chest that we cannot breathe until we get it off.” 

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The Moral Is
12:49 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Commentary: Male Politicians Need to Do More Listening

The 2012 election season will be remembered for a number of things, from the contentious presidential debates to the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy. The issue of women’s rights stood out as well, as a number of candidates made controversial comments about rape and abortion. In this edition of our commentary series The Moral Is, Andrew Fiala says in the national dialogue that has followed, one thing has been largely absent -  listening.

The views expressed on The Moral Is are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Valley Public Radio.

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Government & Politics
5:33 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

CSU Board of Trustees Delays Decision On Student Fee Increase

California State University leaders have delayed a vote on a proposal to increase student fees.

The proposal would charge extra fees on so-called “super seniors,” students who take more courses than required, and course repeaters. Governor Brown asked the CSU Board of Trustees to postpone the vote.

"Let’s measure up to the expectation of the voters, and that means getting out of our comfort zone – whether we’re trustees or faculty or administrators or students or anyone else.  The taxpayers got out of their comfort zone, so we have to follow suit,” said Brown. 

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Government & Politics
4:00 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Strong Success for Tax Measures May Not Be New Trend

Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Before last week, California voters had rejected every statewide tax measure since 2004.  This election, they approved two of them.  They also said yes to more than 70 percent of the local tax and bond measures on last week’s ballot.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, this may not be the start of a new trend.

The passage of Propositions 30 and 39 snapped a seven-measure winning streak for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.  But President Jon Coupal says that doesn’t mean the attitudes of California voters are changing when it comes to taxes.

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Global Warming
1:08 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

California Launches 'Pay-to-Pollute' Carbon Market

An oil refinery in Bakersfield (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California is launching a big part of its fight against climate change on Wednesday. The state is holding its first auction in the "cap and trade" program where industrial businesses will have to buy allowances to emit greenhouse gases.   The goal is to reduce the state's emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. From Sacramento, Kathleen Masterson reports on how the complex market is designed to reduce pollution. 

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Valley Edition
12:49 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Valley Edition: Valley Fever; Fracking; Latino Music Exhibit

This week on Valley Edition, we continue our series of special reports on the fungal disease known as valley fever. Journalist Rebecca Plevin from the Reporting on Health Collaborative brings us the story of a young girl from Delano who contracted the disease last year, changing her life forever. Host Juanita Stevenson also talks with Yesenia Amaro, a health reporter for the Merced Sun-Star and member of the collaborative,  about the effort to bring more attention to this disease, and Dr. Dee Lacy, an infectious disease specialist with Kaiser Permanente Fresno. 

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