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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Government & Politics
10:54 am
Fri October 19, 2012

Brown Won't Rule Out Future Budget Cuts if Prop 30 Passes

California Governor Jerry Brown
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

From the moment he took office at the start of last year, Governor Jerry Brown has told California voters the state needs new revenue.  But his November tax initiative, Proposition 30, faces strong opposition on several fronts and is hovering at around 50 percent support in the polls. 

Governor Brown sat down with reporter Ben Adler Thursday in Sacramento to talk about the impact of Prop 30’s passage or failure on next year’s budget. 

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Government & Politics
11:34 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Proposition 38: Molly Munger's Tax Initative

Californians will soon decide whether they want to increase taxes to support public schools. Our election 2012 coverage continues with a report on Proposition 38.

If you watch TV in California, you’ve probably seen the commercials. They’ve aired in every major market.

Prop 38 would raise about 10 billion dollars a year for K-12 schools starting in 2013, by taxing all but the poorest Californians. Behind the TV ads and Proposition 38 is wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger.

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Just One Breath
5:38 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

More People Dying from Valley Fever, Especially Those With Chronic Disease

Dr. Navin Amin examines Archie Scott, a patient with valley fever, at his office in Bakersfield. Dr. Amin is the chair of the family practice department at Kern Medical Center and a valley fever expert.
Henry A. Barrios / The Bakersfield Californian

More people are dying from valley fever than previously thought, and illnesses including diabetes, lung disease, arthritis and certain cancers may increase a person’s chances of dying from the disease, according to a new study.

This past year, researchers have puzzled over the rise of valley fever cases. Diagnosed cases have grown from 1,200 in 1995 to more than 20,000 in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Now researchers have new evidence to consider: a study to be published in the November issue of the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.

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Just One Breath
5:00 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Public Health Champion Felled by Diabetes and Valley Fever

Jeff Jue served as the director for the Mental Health Department in Merced, Sonoma, and San Francisco counties. He was considered a leader in social services by those familiar with his work before dying of valley fever at the age of 62 in 2005.

The last time Linda Jue saw her husband alive, he was in the intensive care unit in a lot of pain.

Right before doctors gave him painkillers, Jeff Jue gave her two thumbs up and smiled.

The former Merced County mental health director was fighting for his life at the time. Doctors at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto were treating him for valley fever.

Jue was starting to enjoy his retirement when it was suddenly cut short by the fungal disease.

“He had only been retired for three years,” said Linda Jue, who lives in Modesto.

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Health
11:46 am
Wed October 17, 2012

California Health Leaders Say Healthy Families Transition Prepares State for Federal Overhaul

California health leaders say moving nearly 900,000 children in the Healthy Families program over to Medi-Cal will help the state get ready for the federal health overhaul.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Diana Dooley spoke in advance of a legislative oversight hearing on the transition.  

“There are a number of advantages for the children in the Medi-Cal program, it does give the security of knowing where their coverage will be in advance of 2014.” 

Dooley says kids in the two programs have some of the same providers.

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Environment
11:31 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Coalition of Water Providers Agree on Delta Projects

Top, Consumnes River delta. Bottom, Sycamore Slough (south of Woodbridge Road). Both November 8, 2011. (photos by William G. Miller, Cole~Miller Photography)
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Study San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center / California Department of Fish and Game

A list of more than 40 short term projects to improve the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta is now in the hands of California agencies. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, water providers and environmentalists are hopeful some projects will finally get off the ground.

When it comes to the state’s water, there is rarely agreement. But a coalition of Delta water managers, farmers, and environmentalists has agreed on smaller projects to protect the estuary.

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Government & Politics
11:18 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Proposition 37: Genetically Modified Foods

In November Californians will decide whether to require that foods containing genetically engineered ingredients say so on the package.  On its face Proposition 37 seems like a simple addition to a label, but it could have much broader ramifications. 

Stacy Malkan with the group supporting Prop 37 says consumers have the right to know what's in the food they're eating.

"This is America, it's a democracy, it’s a free market system, and the way it’s supposed to work is we give people the information  so consumers can make informed choices about what we buy and eat."

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Government & Politics
10:44 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Proposition 36: Changes to 'Three Strikes' Law

Casey Christie The Californian

A challenge to California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law is on the ballot this fall with Proposition 36.  Proponents say some felonies should not result in life in prison.  Opponents say a change in the law would allow dangerous  criminals to be released.  

The proposition lists felonies that would qualify as a serious or violent crime - or 'strike' - and would make a defendant eligible for a life sentence. 

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Environment
9:43 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Arvin Residents Take On Air Pollution With 'Bucket Brigade'

The small community of Arvin has some of the worst air in the nation.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The small Kern County community of Arvin has some of the worst air in the nation. Surrounded on two sides by mountains at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, the city's 16,000 residents breathe air polluted by cars, trucks and industrial operations from nearby, and from across the valley. But now some members of the community are taking matters into their own hands, with a "bucket brigade" that aims to clean up the air. But their efforts are not without controversy. 

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Environment
8:38 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Sacramento San Joaquin Delta Residents Oppose State's Canal Plan

Top, Consumnes River delta. Bottom, Sycamore Slough (south of Woodbridge Road). Both November 8, 2011. (photos by William G. Miller, Cole~Miller Photography)
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Study San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center / California Department of Fish and Game

The Sacramento San Joaquin delta supplies drinking water for more than half of California. Just inland from the San Francisco bay, this patchwork of levees, farmland and waterways is threatened by rising seawater.  But people who live there say the state's plan to take freshwater from north of the delta will only make things worse 

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Government & Politics
8:37 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Proposition 35: Human Traffickers

Sharmin Bock has helped convict dozens of child sex traffickers.

“In my 23 years as a prosecutor, I have to say, I have never seen a defendant as manipulative and dangerous as a trafficker,” says Bock.

Bock is an assistant district attorney in Alameda County, and co-author of Proposition 35. The initiative would increase prison time for people convicted of forcing others into commercial sex or labor - and could fine them more than a million dollars. She says Prop 35 would crack down on people who exploit children.   

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Health
9:16 am
Fri October 12, 2012

Plague Found in Animals in California's Mountain Regions

California health officials are alerting people to protect themselves from plague after animals in Northern and Southern California tested positive for bacteria that cause the disease.

El Dorado County officials say there may be elevated plague risk in the South Lake Tahoe area after a chipmunk was found positive at the Taylor Creek Visitor Center.

Dr. Vicki Kramer of the California Department of Public Health says the finding isn’t cause for alarm, but it’s a reminder to take precautions.

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Environment
5:29 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

New Poll Shows GMO Labeling Prop Losing Support

A new poll finds support for Proposition 37 on California’s November’s ballot dropping. Prop 37 would require labels on all foods containing genetically-modified ingredients.

The California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University poll shows support has declined by 19 points in the last two weeks.

It’s dropped from 67-percent to 48 percent. Michael Squires with Pepperdine says one reason for the change might be that 43-percent of voters say they’ve seen advertising about the measure.

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Education
5:26 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Majority of California Public School Students Improving

For the first time, a majority of California public schools met or surpassed academic achievement goals this year.

53-percent of schools scored at or above state achievement goals on the Academic Performance Index. That’s an increase of four percentage points over last year.

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Election 2012
12:29 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Proposition 34: Death Penalty Repeal

Casey Christie The Californian

Our series on the initiatives Californians will be voting on next month continues with a look at Proposition 34, which would repeal the death penalty.

Both sides of the capital punishment debate actually see eye to eye on one thing – the current system isn’t working.

“We haven’t put somebody to death in six years. It is simply a broken system that’s wasted $4 billion or $5 billion," says Steve Smith with the Yes on 34 campaign. 

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Business & Economy
8:29 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Foreclosure Process Speeds Up in California

file photo
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Banks are speeding up the home foreclosure process in California, according to data out today. But one analyst says the process may start to slow down again.

It took lenders an average of 335 days, or about 11 months to complete the foreclosure process on California properties in the third quarter.

Daren Blomquist with foreclosure listing service RealtyTrac says that was down three percent from the previous quarter and an eight percent drop from a year ago.

"These foreclosures, if they’re going to happen, it’s better that it’s more like a band-aid that you rip off."

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Government & Politics
10:38 am
Wed October 10, 2012

Fresno County to Explore Housing Inmates In Other Counties

Fresno County is exploring the possibility of contracting with other counties to house inmates in their jails, as soon as January of next year.

The Board of Supervisors voted to move forward with the analysis of what such a plan would cost at its meeting on Tuesday.

It’s part of an effort to stem the early release of prisoners from the county jail. A pair of new state laws allow counties to place inmates in jail facilities in other counties when their own jails reach capacity.

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Election 2012
10:00 am
Wed October 10, 2012

Proposition 33: Auto Insurance Premiums

Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

We continue our look at next month’s California election ballot with Proposition 33. It would change state laws on auto insurance premiums.

If you’ve been with the same car insurance company for five-straight years or more, you’re probably getting some type of “continuous coverage” discount. But let’s say you wanted to switch to a different company. Right now in California, you can’t take that discount with you.

“Prop 33 would allow consumers to shop that discount to competing carriers," says Rachel Hooper, who is with the Yes on Prop 33 campaign. 

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Environment
7:07 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Legislators and Businesses Call for "Green Chemistry" Law Delay

Some legislators and industries are asking for a delay in implementing California’s law that regulates toxic chemicals in consumer goods.

The state’s “Green Chemistry” law requires businesses to identify and find alternatives to some chemicals that could be harmful.

More than a dozen Democratic lawmakers have joined the call for a thorough analysis of the economic impact of the regulations.

Ann Grimaldi represents the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. She says the regulations could generate unpredictable costs.

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Election 2012
4:01 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Battle Between Two Rival Tax Measures on California's Ballot Heating Up

A screen capture of a new ad released by the Yes on 38 campaign, attacking rival ballot measure Proposition 30

The battle between two rival tax measures on California’s November ballot is heating up. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Proposition 38 proponent Molly Munger has released a new TV ad blasting Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, Proposition 30.

Despite Munger spending more than $30 million  on her tax measure, until now the campaign for Proposition 38 has avoided mentioning Proposition 30.

But Munger’s latest ad criticizes the Governor’s competing tax initiative, saying it allows politicians to take money away from schools.

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