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On Valley Edition: High Speed Rail Jobs; Reforming California

Oct 4, 2011

This week on Valley Edition, we talk about the job creation potential of California's planned high speed rail system with Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin. We also learn about plans to train the Valley's workforce to be ready for the hundreds of construction jobs that the project will create. Also on this week's program we look at the 100th anniversary of California's revolutionary experiment with direct democracy by looking ahead to the next century of reforms.

Segment 1: Job Training & Job Creation with Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin has long been an advocate for job creation and education. Prior to taking office in 2009, she led Fresno State’s Office of Community and Economic Development, and in 2002, she co-founded the Regional Jobs Initiative. However, despite efforts to job start job creation, Fresno still has one of the highest rates in the state, above 15 percent, and a recent study by the Brookings Institute highlighted the disconnect between the education levels of unemployed, and the jobs available in the region. On this Valley Edition, host Juanita Stevenson talks with Mayor Swearengin about job training and economic development, and the potential impact High Speed Rail could have on the city’s economy and job market.

Segment 2: High Speed Rail Job Training
Some have called California’s planned high speed train project the largest public works project in a generation. It promises to create tens of thousands of jobs, many of them right here in the Central Valley. But those jobs require educated, skilled workers. Will those jobs be filled by the ranks of the unemployed here in the Valley? Or will the rail authority and contractors need to look from outside the region to fill these positions? Valley Edition host Juanita Stevenson asks Blake Konczal of the Fresno County Workforce Investment Board, and Chuck Riojas of the IBEW Local 100, about a new program to train workers for these jobs.

Segment 3: Reforming California’s Government: 100 Years Later
One hundred years ago this month, California’s experiment in direct democracy was born with the introduction of the ballot initiative and referendum process. Now a century later, Californians are again looking at new ideas to fix what many feel is a broken system in Sacramento. So what might the next 100 years have in store? Could it be a part-time Legislature, a “merger” of the Assembly and the State Senate, or changes to the state’s term limits law? Valley Public Radio’s Joe Moore brings us a special report, and host Juanita Stevenson talks with Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC about what future reforms might be just around the corner.

Segment 4: What role should the federal government play in education?
From the No Child Left Behind Law, to the federal Race to the Top program, the federal government has played an increasingly active role in education throughout the country. A new national report by the League of Women Voters examines what role Washington should play in local schools. In this segment, host Juanita Stevenson talks with Jacquie Canfield, from the League of Women Voters of Fresno about the report, and an upcoming event titled “Too Many Children Left Behind: What Should We Do?, which takes place Wednesday October 5th at the First Congregational Church in Fresno.