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Hear local reports on the economy, government, education, health and the environment on Valley Public Radio during All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Valley Edition. 

California High-Speed Rail Authority

Last week news broke that California’s High-Speed Rail Authority is facing another setback - increased costs and a delayed timeline as indicated in the authority's new 2018 Draft Business Plan. The effort to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco with bullet train running through the Central Valley will now cost over $77 billion. On top of that, phase one of the project will not be fully operational until the year 2033.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A new bill in the California Senate would ban so-called "willful defiance" suspensions in k-12 schools throughout the state. The legislation (SB 607) comes amid a recent push from social justice organizations for schools to adopt "restorative justice" or PBIS approaches to school discipline issues, as well as a looming sunset for an existing law that bans "willful defiance" suspensions in grades K-3. While many youth advocacy organizations support the move, some teachers fear it could result in further problems.

Navy Shutting Down Combat Camera Units

Mar 12, 2018

The Navy is eliminating its two Combat Camera units. The move saves the Pentagon money, but it eliminates a program with a history that goes back to the war in the Pacific.

The decision to cut the units has been a blow for Kurt Kinnamon, who joined Navy Combat Camera in 1958 and retired in 1985. He still works as a volunteer at the West Coast unit on Naval Air Station North Island. They dedicated their building to him in October, but the unit is about to disappear.

"I thought it was BS, you know," he said, of the decision to eliminate the unit.

Cindy Quezada / Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative

The 2020 U.S. census is just around the corner, and a new project shows a significant number of Fresno’s residents could be overlooked.

The U.S. Census Bureau maintains a Master Address File of every registered postal address in the country. Don’t have a registered address? You probably won’t be counted.

A new pilot project found 600 housing units in low-income areas of Fresno that weren't listed in the Master Address File—representing 6 percent of residences in those areas.

Harper Collins

A new biography of billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian tells the story of how a young boy from Fresno went on to become one of the richest businessmen in America. From airlines to film studios to the auto industry and casinos, Kerkorian was the consummate dealmaker, but he was also a quiet philanthropist, supporting Armenian causes through his Lincy Foundation. We recently spoke with journalist William C.

Rollin Pickford

A new exhibit at the San Joaquin River Parkway's Coke Hallowell Center For River Studies showcases the works of famed local artist Rollin Pickford. For much of the 20th century, Pickford was acclaimed for his paintings of the landscape of Central California. The new exhibit "Rolling Pickford: California Light" showcases works exclusively depicting the San Joaquin Valley. On display now through April 29th at the River Center at 11605 Old Friant Road in Fresno.

Google Street View

In 2010, architect Julia Morgan became the first woman to win the prestigious Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. It was a landmark achievement for the native Californian, who is most famous for designing Hearst Castle for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. It’s the institute’s highest honor, and one shared by icons of the industry like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Frank Ghery. Even more remarkable – Morgan was awarded the honor 57 years after her death. The award was an attempt in part to correct a longstanding omission by the male-dominated AIA.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new bill in the assembly would grant the California State Parks Department authority over land along the San Joaquin River Parkway. The bill by Fresno Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula would expand the existing Millerton Lake State Recreation Area along the 22-mile stretch of public and private riverbottom land between Friant Dam and Highway 99. State management could help solve an operational and financial problem for public land along the river, such as the 500 acre River West open space area.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Ten years ago, the city of Merced was ground zero for the housing crisis in California. Just a few years before that, the University of California’s brand new Merced campus opened outside the city, which arguably drove the overdevelopment that set up the city to fall so hard during the recession. Now, a decade later, the university has invested in the city with a new downtown building—but that’s not the only new development happening at UC Merced.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

We all know what a port looks like. There’s water and ships stacked high with shipping containers. But those are often in busy areas on the coast: Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland. Well, one Central Valley county has decided to get in on the shipping and distribution game. That county is partnering with the Port of Los Angeles to give their region a boost for distributing around the world.

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In February a U.S. District Court Judge ruled in favor of a Latino civil rights group in a suit challenging the way the county drew supervisorial district lines in 2011. In the suit, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund argued that by splitting eastern Kern County cities between two districts, the county unfairly also broke up Latino communities in the San Joaquin Valley, instead of allowing for a second Latino-majority district, in addition to the current District 5.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Despite California’s status as a sanctuary state, it appears to be the focus of increased immigration activity—especially after a sweep in Northern California earlier this week that drove Oakland’s Mayor to issue a warning to her residents and ultimately resulted in more than 150 arrests. Closer to home, a San Joaquin Valley resident who was recently ordered to leave the country, despite years of being allowed to stay and an appeal from a top lawmaker.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council is dealing with a good problem, an $8.6 million windfall. The council voted Thursday to spend the net balance of the funds - $5.8 million - on a variety of items, from repairs at parks and city owned parking garages to body cameras for police officers. It also includes $1.3 million for a down payment on a planned headquarters building for the fire department. The funding came from carryover items from the last budget year, as well as higher than anticipated hotel and sales tax revenues. 

Foldit screenshot

It wasn’t long after the invention of the internet that scientists discovered the potential for using computing power as a citizen science tool. One of the earliest examples was a computer program developed in the 1990s that allowed users to search for life on other planets. Now a new collaboration takes aim at something a little closer to home: An intersection between citizen science, health, and agriculture, with implications right here in the San Joaquin Valley.

James Burger, reporter for the Bakersfield Californian (file photo)

Despite the passage of Proposition 64, commercial marijuana dispensaries are technically illegal in Kern County after a vote last year by the Board of Supervisors. While the board may consider making changes to that policy for some medical cannabis dispensaries, the issue has led to a political firestorm. Rival camps have accused supervisors of unethical conduct, in one case including accusations of bribes. With so much turmoil, we spoke with reporter James Burger of The Bakersfield Californian, who recently wrote a series of reports on the allegations.

Creative Commons user Pmk58

California has a new water problem, but it's not drought, and it's not endangered fish. Instead it's a roughly 20-pound creature that's described as an "invasive swamp rodent" called the nutria. It's already causing problems in Merced County wetlands and state officials worry the pesky and prolific rodent could further destroy already fragile ecosystems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta and threaten the state's network of canals and levees.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

Fresno is California’s largest city without a light rail system. With the city’s sprawling nature and ample parking lots, efforts to bring rapid transit to the area have never taken off. One other reason – light rail is really expensive. Now, Fresno officials hope to bring some of the elements of those commuter trains to the city’s bus system at a much more affordable price tag. It’s a concept that around the world is called bus rapid transit – or light rail on wheels. We looked at the latest addition to Fresno Area Express service by talking to the people who use it.

Courtesy Amanda Renteria For Congress

Residents in the San Joaquin Valley already know the name Amanda Renteria. Now the rest of the state is about to get acquainted with the Woodlake native and former national political director for the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016. Last week she formally launched her campaign for California governor in a move that puzzled many political observers. After all the June primary is just a few months away, and Renteria needs to build an organization, raise funds, and most importantly get name recognition statewide in a very short timeframe.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Latino civil rights group in a lawsuit against Kern County over voting rights. The ruling found county supervisorial districts that were created in 2011 violated the Voting Rights Act because they intentionally divided Latino communities between two districts.

UCSF Fresno

UCSF Fresno has received a state grant to expand its training programs for medical residents and fellows. The university will receive $2.15 million over three years from the Office of Statewide Health and Planning thanks to the Song-Brown Program—a state law that provides grants in order to increase training for primary care providers throughout California. The funds will be used to support UCSF Fresno’s programs in Family and Community Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Obstetrics and Gynecology.

 

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