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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. 

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Government & Politics
2:32 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Is It Terrible, Or A Treasure? Fresno's Fulton Mall Debate Heats Up

Fresno's 50 year-old downtown Fulton Mall would be removed under a plan proposed by the City of Fresno (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Is Fresno's Fulton Mall a priceless piece of art, or an impediment to revitalization of the city's historic core? That's the issue facing the Fresno City Council later this month, as the debate to re-open the pedestrian mall to vehicle traffic heats up, thanks to a $16 million federal grant. 

On Valley Public Radio's Valley Edition, we invited guests with two different perspectives to join us and talk about their competing visions for the future of this historic part of the city. They were:

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Drought
12:31 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

For Orange Cove, Drought Puts Strain On City's Water Supply

The Friant Kern Canal not only carries Millerton Lake water to valley farms, but also to communities like Orange Cove
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Despite the rains of the past weekend, California’s drought is still a huge problem for communities up and down the state. While many towns in the Valley are bracing for the economic impact of the drought, and the resulting loss of farm jobs, the community of Orange Cove also has to contend with concerns about its water supply.

Mayor Gabriel Jimenez says that while the city has five municipal wells to draw water from the aquifer, they can't be used due to nitrate pollution.

"Now our wells are shutdown, we're 100 percent dependent of surface water," says Jimenez. 

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Government & Politics
8:01 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Fluke Enters Senate Race as Number of Women in California Legislature Declines

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Women’s rights advocate Sandra Fluke is running for a state senate seat. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, her candidacy comes as the number of women in the state legislature is dropping.

Women make up more than half of California’s population, but just over a quarter of the state legislature. The number of women elected to the legislature has been dropping for several years. It’s an issue Fluke has been working to fix.

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Drought
7:52 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Total California Water Storage Near Decade Low

Friant Dam (file photo)
Credit State Department of Water Resources

The Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins are experiencing the steepest drop in water storage in nearly a decade. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, a new study looked at all water storage in the basins, including snow, surface water, soil moisture and groundwater.

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High Speed Rail
7:34 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

GOP Calls To Move High Speed Rail Funds To Other Projects

The Assembly Republican caucus says billions of dollars in high-speed rail bonds and gas tax revenues would be better spent on infrastructure projects - from roads and highways to bridges and ports.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The Assembly Republican caucus says billions of dollars in California high-speed rail bonds and gas tax revenues would be better spent on infrastructure projects.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

GOP lawmakers want to take money from several different sources and spend it on road, highway, bridge and port projects.  What they don’t want to spend it on is high-speed rail.

Conway: “We’re done with that.  We’re over that.”

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Government & Politics
10:45 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Reforming California's Ballot Box Democracy

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

The year 2014 will be a big one California voters. Not only will citizens choose the state’s next governor, and who will represent them in Congress, a number of big issues will likely be on the ballot in the form of propositions. A handful of groups are currently gathering signatures right now to put the issue of marijuana legalization before voters in November.

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Drought
6:43 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Westside Growers Will Get To Keep Last Year's Banked Water

Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) speaks to the media today about California's drought
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Westside farmers who banked excess water last year in San Luis Reservoir anticipating a drought won't have to give it up, according to an announcement today from the US Bureau of Reclamation. 

The farmers had faced the threat of losing that water to other farmers who hold senior water rights, such as the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors. 

The Bureau was facing political bipartisan political pressure against reallocating the water. But the move could leave the door open to lawsuits. 

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Transportation
5:30 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Fresno's Bus Rapid Transit Plan Faces Opposition

A rendering of the a proposed BRT bus for Fresno.
Credit Anil Verma Associates / Fresno FAX

The Fresno City Council is set to debate a proposal tonight to bring a hi-tech express bus line to city. But as FM89’s Joe Moore reports, the $50 million federal grant that would fund the project is generating some controversy.
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The proposal calls for new high capacity express bus service, known as Bus Rapid Transit, to be built along Blackstone and Kings Canyon Avenues in Fresno. The new bus line would replace existing FAX service on those routes and would decrease travel time for riders by as much as an hour and a half in some cases.

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Government & Politics
6:22 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

California Legislature to Tackle Teacher Retirement Fund Debt

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Some lawmakers say it’s time to get serious about paying down debt accrued by California's teachers’ retirement system. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, that will take a big financial commitment.

Assembly Democrats say they’re ready to look for ways to pay down the unfunded liability of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. The governor’s office puts the debt at more than $80 billion.

Speaker John Perez says the Assembly will begin hearings on the issue.

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Drought
11:26 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Drought Forces California Ranchers To Make Tough Decisions

One of about 400 head of cattle owned by Jim Gates of Nevada County Free Range Beef
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

California’s ranchers depend on fall and winter rains to keep grasses growing for their livestock. But the state’s drought is forcing them to make tough decisions. With rangelands dry statewide, moving herds isn’t an option. Many are resorting to buying feed, but its rising cost is making that choice difficult. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, some ranchers must decide whether to sell their livestock or go out of business. 

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Commentary
3:25 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Commentary: Time To Save The Sierra's Vanishing Trails

file photo
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

One of the great things about living in California’s Central Valley is the easy access to one of the great mountain ranges of the world, the Sierra Nevada, and its beautiful forests. Unfortunately, through no fault of anyone in the valley, that access is being threatened.

As a lifelong Californian, I’ve grown to love the mountains so much that I’ve done volunteer work in the forests of the Sierra for the past 15 years. And over that time, I’ve seen a dramatic shift in the condition of the forests. The problems are twofold: a lack of funding, and a lack of personnel.

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Drought
5:08 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Boehner, Valley GOP Representatives Call For Drought Relief

House Speaker John Boehner is calling for emergency legislation in response to California's drought
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

Valley congressional leaders and House Speaker John Boehner met in a dusty cotton field outside Bakersfield today to announce a plan for emergency legislation in response to California’s drought.

Boehner, who was joined by valley Republicans Devin Nunes, David Valadao and Kevin McCarthy told the crowd that the water shortage requires action, and blamed environmental laws for part of the problem.

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Government & Politics
4:15 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Brown Again Calls for Restraint In His 2014 State Of The State Address

California Governor Jerry Brown delivered his State of the State address today in Sacramento.
Credit Office of the Governor

California Gov. Jerry Brown has delivered another message of fiscal prudence in his 2014 State of the State address.

"We can’t go back to 'business as usual,'" Brown told lawmakers at a joint session of the California legislature in Sacramento.

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Government & Politics
5:17 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

TARP's "$700 Billion Man" Wants To Lead California: Neel Kashkari

Caption: Former "TARP" chief Neel Kashkari tells a crowd at Sacramento State University Tuesday that he's running for governor of California.
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

He’s never held elected office.  He’s not a household name.  To the extent he IS known, it’s for running the politically unpopular federal bank bailout program.  And he’s the man many California Republicans are counting on to rescue their party.  He is Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury official under Presidents Bush and Obama.  And as of today, he’s now running for governor of California.  Ben Adler has this profile from Sacramento.

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Water
5:48 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Urge Water Bond and Drought Declaration

State Senator Anthony Canella speaks at a rally on the State Capitol steps on Thursday.
Credit Twitter account of Senator Anthony Canella / http://twitter.com/AnthonyCannella

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, farmers and farm workers gathered on the Capitol steps today to call on California Governor Jerry Brown to declare a drought.

The Latino Water Coalition also wants to see legislation that would put a water bond on the 2014 ballot. Supporters say the state is experiencing some of the driest conditions on record, and farmers livelihoods are at stake.

Republican State Senator Anthony Canella from the Central Valley says increased water storage should be part of the water bond package.

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Environment
12:42 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

California Drought Results In Rare January Forest Fire In The Sierra Nevada

A webcam image taken Tuesday at Bald Mountain shows smoke from the Soda Fire, which is burning in the remote Golden Trout Wilderness.
U.S. Forest Service Sequoia National Forest

Historically dry conditions in the Sierra Nevada have resulted in a rare January wildfire burning in a remote area of the Golden Trout Wilderness, about 20 miles east of Springville.

The Soda Fire was discovered on Tuesday by officials with the Sequoia National Forest. So far the fire has consumed around 130 acres, and is burning at a moderate rate. No structures are threatened. 

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Education
6:01 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

State Board of Education Will Decide How Billions Can Be Spent

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The California State Board of Education will decide tomorrow how school districts can spend billions of dollars in state funding next year. From Sacramento, Katie Orr has details on what's at stake in the meeting.

The board will consider rules that dictate how school districts can spend money targeted toward low-income and non-English speaking students.

Several interest groups want the rules tightened up, to ensure the money isn’t squandered. Samantha Tran is with the advocacy group Children Now. She says some district wide spending could be good.

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Government & Politics
6:00 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Federal and Local Law Enforcement Break Central Valley Mail Theft Rings

Federal and local law enforcement agencies have announced the results of a months-long operation targeting mail theft rings in Sacramento, Fresno and Bakersfield.
Credit Capital Public Radio

Federal and local law enforcement officials have announced arrests and prosecutions in a flurry of mail theft cases.  As Max Pringle reports, Sacramento, Bakersfield and Fresno were the focus of months of investigations.

Last year, U.S. Postal Service inspectors from around the country came to the Central Valley to help local police investigate an upswing in mail theft. Greg Campbell with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service says mail theft and drug abuse usually go hand-in-hand.

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Government & Politics
5:37 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Steinberg Backs Preschool, Redevelopment Rebirth, Water Bond

Darrell Steinberg (file)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg was our guest on this week's Valley Edition. The Sacramento Democrat told KVPR's Joe Moore that he supports the governor's call for fiscal restraint, but is pushing for expansion of certain programs, including a proposal for universal preschool for the state's 4-year-olds. Steinberg also called on his colleagues to resurrect a variant of the state's now-shuttered redevelopment system, and continued to advocate for the state's water bond.

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Government & Politics
5:09 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Steinberg Cool On Cap And Trade Money For High Speed Rail

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (file photo)
Credit Office of Darrell Steinberg

The leader of California’s  Senate is issuing words of caution on Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to use money from the state’s cap-and-trade program to help pay for construction of high speed rail.  

Speaking with Valley Public Radio, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says he’s concerned about the rail authority’s plan to finance construction of the next stage of the bullet train, which would go from Bakersfield over the Tehachapi Mountains to Palmdale in Southern California.

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