Valley Public Radio News

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. 

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Education
11:36 am
Tue May 7, 2013

New Approach To Classroom Discipline Pays Off at Fresno's Yosemite Middle School

Yosemite Middle School in Fresno has seen a new approach to classroom discipline pay big results.
Credit Fresno Unified School District

Teacher Jenna Perry’s 7th grade English class at Fresno Unified’s Yosemite Middle School sounds like most others. Kids work to finish up their assignments, as the period is about to end. But there is something that makes her classroom different.

“Ok, before we leave today, let’s go over our class goal today. Somebody tell me, should we earn a point for staying on task? Why or why not? Regina?” says Perry.

At the end of every class before students are dismissed, they go over their goals, which are spelled out in a social contract they all wrote and all signed.

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Government & Politics
5:46 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

California Supreme Court Says Cities Can Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Medical marijuana advocates rally on a lawn near the Capitol after the California Supreme Court ruled cities and counties can ban dispensaries within their borders.
Credit Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

California’s highest court has come down on the side of cities and counties in the fight over the location, or even the existence, of medical marijuana dispensaries. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento. 

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Government & Politics
12:56 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

New California Prison Plan 'Best of the Bad Options'

Avenal State Prison
Credit CA Dept of Corrections

“The best of the bad options”. That’s how the Department of Corrections is characterizing its plan to reduce prison overcrowding in California. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

More inmates will be sent to lower security fire camps, some elderly and sick prisoners will be paroled early, additional beds will be leased from county jails. Those are among the measures California is proposing to further reduce prison overcrowding.

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Environment
5:16 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

New Study Examines Collapse of Honey Bee Colonies

Credit USDA/EPA

The collapse of honey bee populations in the U.S. is the result of a number of factors, ranging from insects and diseases to pesticides, according to new study released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection agency.

The report says a parasitic mite is the single most destructive pest to bee populations, and is closely linked with what has come to be known as colony collapse disorder.

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Water
5:12 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

What Snow? Final Snow Survey Yields Dry Results

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The season’s final snow survey in California found what most expected – dry conditions. Snow surveyors found absolutely no snow on the ground at Phillips Station, nearly 7,000 feet up Echo Summit in the Sierras.

Water content in California’s snowpack is only 17 percent of normal, meaning a below average water supply this summer.

Frank Gehrke with the Department of Water Resources says despite that, most reservoirs are near normal levels for the date thanks to early winter storms.

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Environment
5:45 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Major CEQA Legislation Passes First Committee Test

Lawmakers are considering a number of bills that would change California’s Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. The more than 40-year-old law guides almost all development projects in the state.

The bill garnering the most attention passed its first legislative test today. Democratic Senate President pro Tem Darrel Steinberg’s bill would streamline some aspects of the environmental law.

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Education
4:14 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Brown's 'Principle of Subsidiarity' Draws Support - with an Asterisk

Mechanical engineering students at Monterey Trail High School in the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove participate in a computer-aided design drafting exercise.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

There’s a paradox in many of the reactions to Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to give California schools more flexibility on how they spend their state tax dollars.  There’s general support around the Capitol for breaking down the funding walls surrounding several dozen programs.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, everyone seems to have a favorite program they want to protect.

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Environment
3:26 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Brown Administration Sidesteps Controversial Delta Comments

Top Brown Administration officials wait to testify at a State Senate hearing on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. From left: Charlton Bonham (Director, Dept. of Fish & Wildlife), John Laird (Secretary of Natural Resources) & Mark Cowin (Director, Dept. of Water Resources).
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers who represent the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region are seething over recent comments from Governor Jerry Brown’s point man on the state’s proposed water delivery tunnel project.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

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Health
6:44 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Prison Health Advocates Call For More Steps to Stop Valley Fever Outbreak

On Monday afternoon, the federal receiver in charge of health care in California’s prisons ordered the state prison to remove inmates from two Central Valley prisons who are especially at risk of contracting valley fever.  A day later, the state and experts are digesting that directive. Valley Public Radio's Rebecca Plevin reports, as part of the Reporting on Health Collaborative’s investigation into the disease.

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Government & Politics
5:01 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Is More Parole The Answer For Overcrowding in California Prisons?

California Governor Jerry Brown has until Thursday to release a plan for reducing prison overcrowding in California. (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown has until Thursday to release a plan for reducing prison overcrowding in California. Releasing more inmates may not be popular, but one law professor says it could be the way to go. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

About 30,000 inmates are serving life sentences in California prisons. Of those inmates, about 9,000 are currently eligible for parole.  UCLA Law Professor Sharon Dolovich  says if the state is looking to reduce its prison population, that might be a good place to start.

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Environment
11:42 am
Tue April 30, 2013

As 'Fracking' Debate Heats Up, Weighing Risks Key to Possible Monterey Shale Boom

Much of the Monterey Shale formation lies beneath the San Joaquin Valley. (file photo)
Credit Kathleen Masterson / Capital Public Radio

Could California be on the verge of a new gold rush? That’s the finding of a new study from USC about the potential economic impact of oil that lies deep beneath the Central Valley, known as the Monterey Shale. But extracting that oil isn’t easy, and it would require the use of a number of advanced techniques, including hydraulic fracturing.  And that’s attracted concerns from environmental groups and state regulators. Valley Public Radio’s Joe Moore reports on some recent developments in the fracking debate.

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Environment
11:33 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Several Bills Would Regulate 'Fracking' in State

In Colorado, fracking operations are underway. (file photo)
Credit Kathleen Masterson / Capital Public Radio

Ten bills that would regulate hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for oil are working their way through the California legislature. The proposals range from requiring more scientific study to a moratorium. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the industry opposes almost all of the bills.

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Agriculture
2:08 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Environmental Advocates Call For Phasing Out Strawberry Pesticides

Credit Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Some environmentalists say hazardous strawberry pesticides should be banned in California by 2020. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, strawberry growers say finding an alternative to fumigants is difficult.

On the steps of the Capitol, farm workers, environmentalists and health leaders called on the state to phase out soil fumigants used most heavily in strawberry production. They say fumigants have a wide range of health effects, are highly volatile, and drift from where they are applied. Martha Arguello is with Physicians for Social Responsibility.

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Government & Politics
5:37 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

White House Touts 'Strong Cities' Effort in Fresno, Rerouting Planned Bus Line

President Obama meets with mayors participating the Strong Cities, Strong Communities program, including Fresno's Ashley Swearengin in March 2012
Credit EPA.gov

A federal effort to cut red tape and better use existing  resources to help economically struggling cities like Fresno is beginning to pay off, according to Obama administration officials. 

In a statement issued Thursday, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz praised the "Strong Cities, Strong Communities" (SC2) program for supporting communities like Fresno.

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Government & Politics
1:30 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

With Competing Political and Legal Pressures, Brown Defends Prison Realignment

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown is taking hits both inside and outside the State Capitol as he faces a stinging federal court order to reduce California’s prison population - and impassioned calls to expand it.  Katie Orr has more from Sacramento on the events Tuesday that show the competing political and legal pressures surrounding the governor.

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Health Care Reform
12:54 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

California Considers Expanded Roles for Nurses in Primary Care

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Most counties in California have a shortage of primary care doctors. And with millions more people in the state expected to get health coverage next year, lawmakers are proposing ways to make sure basic care is available in areas that need it. One bill would allow nurse practitioners to treat patients without consulting a physician. Health care reporter Pauline Bartolone reports on what it might mean for patients.

Some nurse practitioners in California already see patients without a doctor in the room. Patients like Anastacia Casperson.

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Government & Politics
6:44 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

California Undocumented Driver License Bill Moves Forward

Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo (file photo)

Under current law, if you don’t have a Social Security number, you can’t get a license to drive in California. But proposed legislation would change that. Katie Orr reports from the Capitol.

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Government & Politics
6:35 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Governor's Brown's Sacramento Loft Broken Into

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown says he had an unwelcome visitor at his Sacramento loft a couple of days ago when he and his wife weren’t home:

“A guy jumped – got in, got up to the roof, jumped down on the balcony and was trying to break in. and one of my neighbors called the police.  And he was arrested and I think he’s out on his own recognizance,” says Brown.

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Innovation
11:34 am
Tue April 23, 2013

''Mini Maker Faire' Highlights Fresno's Quirky Creativity, Innovation

Chris McCoy, with the depart of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, tinkered with a 3D printer at the event.
Ezra Romero Valley Public Radio

In a region of the country known for its agriculture exploits and groundbreaking farming techniques a new sort of innovation is developing.  The Fresno Grizzlies along with Fresno Idea Works held the first ever Mini Maker Faire in Fresno on Sunday. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero has this report.  
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It was a regular day at the ballpark. The crack of the bat, the crowd cheering as a player hits a ball out of the stadium and Parker -- the Fresno Grizzlies mascot – making the audience smile between innings.

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Health
9:30 am
Tue April 23, 2013

CDC To Hold Valley Fever Symposium in Bakersfield, McCarthy Says

Congressman Kevin McCarthy has enlisted the help of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to raise awareness of valley fever, and to encourage the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to waive a fee needed to put a valley fever skin test on the market.
Credit Shelby Mack / The Bakersfield Californian

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will visit the San Joaquin Valley later this year to train public health professionals and the public in recognizing and defending against valley fever, Congressman Kevin McCarthy said Monday after an in-depth meeting with the agency and its director.

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