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. 

KMC / Kern County

Much of the focus on the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act has been on the newly insured people who stand to lose their coverage. But there could be consequences that reach far beyond just people’s health care and impact nearly every taxpayer in the Central Valley. Repealing the law without a replacement has some county lawmakers worried.

Republicans in Washington D.C. are busy figuring out their way forward on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

National Archives / https://www.archives.gov/files/education/lessons/japanese-relocation/images/order-posting.gif

On February 19, 1942 President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Oorder 9066 which led to the forced removal of Japanese-American citizens from their homes and farms on the west coast, placing them in internment camps. Many of the families that were rounded up and sent to the camps came from the San Joaquin Valley. Many stayed there for years, and some lost their homes and farms.

Caltrans

For years going from east to west in Bakersfield has been a major ordeal. The State Route 58 freeway for decades has hit a dead-end where it meets Highway 99. Travelers on the highway have been force to take the surface streets of Rosedale Highway to continue traveling on SR 58. That soon could change though, as the Centennial Corridor Freeway project aims to connect SR 58 from Highway 99 to the new Westside Parkway freeway, which already exists north of the Kern River. The project is slated to begin construction in a few months.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, took a stand against sanctuary cities and counties Thursday.

He announced he will not submit any federal funding requests on behalf of states, cities, universities or other entities deemed "sanctuaries" for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

In a statement, Hunter argues sanctuaries undermine the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood and Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims were among the law enforcement officials who met with President Trump today as part of the Major County Sheriff’s Association conference. 

Mims: “He pledged his support for law enforcement saying that we’re going to work together to keep our communities and nation safe.”

Mims says Trump also repeated his calls to step up deportations of individuals suspected or convicted of crimes who are in the country illegally.

Fifty-year-old Teresa Gomez moved to the United States as a young woman with one goal: to support her aging mother in Mexico.

For decades, Gomez has sent her mother a third of every paycheck. She organizes merchandise and attends customers at a Barrio Logan grocery store. Her mother has heart problems, and uses the money to survive in the southern Mexican state of Jalisco.

"I send her $400 every two weeks," said Gomez, who has dual U.S.-Mexico citizenship. "I provide for my mother."

Kerry Klein / KVPR

Host intro: Last week, we brought you a story about the San Joaquin Valley’s opioid epidemic, which manifests in inordinately high rates of painkiller prescriptions and hundreds of overdose deaths every year. This week, we explore three strategies that health officials and advocates are using to take aim at the problem. FM89’s Kerry Klein begins at a safe space for drug users.

For over 20 years, meth and heroin users from around Fresno County have relied on the Fresno needle exchange for free medical care and all the clean syringes they need.

Magelene Hope Facebook page / Mercy & Memorial Hospitals Bakersfield

A new coffee shop in Bakersfield offers more than just lattes and blended drinks – it also seeks to raise awareness about human trafficking. In fact, many of the people who work at the Rescue Grounds Coffee Company at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital are victims of human trafficking themselves. It’s all part of a project from the Bakersfield non-profit Magdelene Hope. It’s founder Doug Bennett joined us on Valley Edition to talk about how the women the group is helping and the way the community has responded to the new coffee shop. 

Valley Children's Hospital / Kaweah Delta Medical Center

Two of the valley's largest hospitals are expanding their partnership to provide pediatric care in Tulare County. Valley Children's Hospital and its associated physicians group will now provide medical staffing for Kaweah Delta's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Pediatrics Unit. The move is the latest step in a partnership that goes back decades. It's also led to some controversy among physicians of the Sequoia Pediatrics Group in Visalia, who will no longer have access to the NICU.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

Drive up and down Highway 99 in Fresno County and you will no doubt see evidence that California’s high-speed rail project is slowly becoming a reality. While there’s still big questions about how long it will take to finish the entire project, and how the state will pay for it, the rail authority says it hopes to have trains up and running by 2024.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The Fresno City Council has voted to enact a rental housing inspection program aimed at cracking down on slum housing in the city.

The 4-3 vote came after more than two hours of public comment. Most people spoke in favor of the program, including the influential Apartment Association of Greater Fresno which represents owners and managers, as well as tenants’ rights advocates like Matthew Gundry.

He told the council stories about homes and apartments with untreated pest infestations, black mold, and more that goes ignored by landlords.

UC Berkeley Labor Center

Politicians in California and Washington D.C. are busy trying to figure out the future of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Should it be fully repealed? What will the replacement be? Should there be a replacement at all? While the potential replacement is still a mystery, two researchers at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education took a look at the potential impact of full repeal on the San Joaquin valley’s job market. They claim job losses from a repeal of the law would be worse than job losses caused by the drought.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

The early days of President Donald Trump’s administration have left all manner of people scrambling to keep up and understand the local impacts of a series of executive orders. One major change is the threat to withhold federal funds from so-called “sanctuary cities”, that is cities that claim to not work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to find undocumented immigrants. But what even is a sanctuary city and is Fresno in the crosshairs?

When he explained his executive order targeting ‘sanctuary cities’ last week, President Trump described the order this way.

Flickr User Sharyn Morrow

Recently, you may have heard a startling statistic: drug overdoses now kill more Americans than car accidents. For some years, the same holds true here in the San Joaquin Valley. The lion’s share of those overdoses are from opioids—street drugs and heavy-duty painkillers either derived from opium or made in a lab. Now, health officials are trying to prevent the problem from becoming worse.

Lee Brand / Valley Public Radio

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand took office a little less than 30 days ago, and it’s been an eventful first month. Last week he unveiled his plan to tackle one of the city’s biggest issues – substandard rental housing - conditions that in many cases are unsafe and unhealthy. The plan, which includes a baseline inspection of the city’s existing rental apartments and homes, is one of the biggest changes in years in the way city hall works. It’s also the first big test of Brand’s new administration and his relationship with the city council as it goes up for a vote on Thursday.

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