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
4:53 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Schwarzenegger Weighs in on Debt, Pensions, Budget

He’s largely stayed out of the public eye since he left office, but former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is hitting the talk show circuit to promote his new book. Schwarzenegger is downplaying the size of California’s debt, but sounding the alarm on pensions and the lack of a state budget reserve.

In an interview with NPR’s Talk of the Nation, Schwarzenegger was asked if he would have done anything differently as governor, given how deeply the state is in debt.

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Government & Politics
8:52 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Governor Might Have Had Prop 30 In Mind When Vetoing Bills

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown acted on almost 1000 bills this legislative session. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, political analysts say the Governor likely had his tax initiative in mind when deciding what to sign into law. 

Governor Brown vetoed about 12-percent of the bills that landed on his desk. Kevin Riggs, a former TV reporter who covered the Capitol for years, says Brown was trying to show voters that government can be responsible by vetoing legislation that might have harmed the economy, to give his November tax measure a boost.

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Community
5:17 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

President Obama to Visit Kern County, Declare César Chávez Site a National Monument

The Chavez Memorial Fountain at La Paz in Keene, CA.
Credit National Parks Service

President Obama announced today that he will visit Kern County next Monday to declare the headquarters of the late United Farm Workers union co-founder César Chávez a national monument. The Chávez compound in the small community of Keene, located in the Tehachapi hills east of Bakersfield served as the home for both the UFW and Chávez for several decades. 

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Government & Politics
3:50 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Immigrant Groups Upset With Governor Brown's Vetoes

Immigrant rights groups in California say Governor Jerry Brown is turning his back on immigrant communities.

Brown vetoed the so-called Trust Act. It would have stopped local police from cooperating with federal authorities to detain suspected illegal immigrants, unless they are charged with a serious or violent felony.

Reshma Shamasunder with the California Immigrant Policy Center says that federal policy has resulted in 80-thousand deportations.

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Government & Politics
8:40 am
Mon October 1, 2012

For Brown, Busy Final Weekend of Bill Actions

California Governor Jerry Brown (file photo)
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown cleared a mountain of legislation off his desk over the weekend ahead of a midnight Sunday deadline. Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on some of the bills he signed and vetoed.

Brown signed a bill that will give some juvenile murderers sentenced to life without the possibility of parole a chance at parole after all; a bill that bans a controversial form of therapy aimed at “turning gay people straight,” and one that will allow some undocumented immigrants to obtain California drivers licenses.

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Gun Control
2:56 pm
Sat September 29, 2012

Brown Signs Limited Ban On Open Carry of Rifles

Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

It will soon be a crime to publicly carry an unloaded rifle in California cities. Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday that makes it a misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.

Carrying loaded firearms in public is already against the law.

Democratic Assembly member Anthony Portantino says he authored the bill after gun advocates began showing up in restaurants and public places carrying unloaded long guns.

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Government & Politics
11:27 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Soft Drink, Beer, Oil Industries Give Big to Prop 30

Governor Brown at the kickoff rally for Prop 30 earlier this year
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Supporters of California Governor Jerry Brown’s November tax initiative have raised more than $25 million since the start of the year. That includes large donations not just from traditional Democratic allies like labor unions, but some major industries and corporations as well.

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Technology
6:35 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

California Governor Signs Driverless Car Bill

State Senator Alex Padilla, Google co-founder Sergy Brin (center) and California Governor Jerry Brown answer questions from the crowd at Google headquarters in Mountain View
Official Google YouTube channel

Legislation aimed at getting the first driverless vehicles on the road in California was signed into law today. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill at Google headquarters in Mountain View.

Google has a dozen computer controlled cars – most of them Toyota Priuses -- equipped with self-driving technology. Designers say the robotic vehicles could make roads safer, since most car accidents are the result of human error.

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Food
5:58 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

California School Staff Meet To Strengthen Fresh, California Foods in Schools

California school lunch staff want to include more state-grown food into cafeteria meals. They met in Oakland yesterday to share ideas on how to make that happen.

The Center for Ecoliteracy helped bring together school lunch directors and chefs from Los Angeles to Sacramento. The advocacy group says that fresh, Californian food is good for kids’ health, and the state economy.

“Real kids need real food to learn and grow.”

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Environment
5:35 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Governor Brown Signs Environmental Bills

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

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a number of bills Tuesday that he says are designed to help the environment and improve state parks.

The Governor signed two bills that will keep state parks open and improve their management. One of them places a two-year moratorium on any park closure. It designates 30 million dollars to prevent parks from closing, to match private and local donations, and for park maintenance.

Another bill requires the state parks department to create a plan to generate revenues and calls for tighter accounting practices.

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Education
9:52 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Molly Munger Criticizes California Governor Jerry Brown's Tax Measure

Proposition 38 proponent Molly Munger says California Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative doesn’t do enough for schools. But she also says she understands if voters cast their ballots for both measures.

Munger’s Proposition 38 would generate about 10 billion dollars annually for schools by taxing all but the poorest Californians. The Governor’s tax initiative, Proposition 30, raises about $6 billion a year primarily by taxing the wealthy, and through a sales tax increase.

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Government & Politics
10:57 am
Fri September 21, 2012

New Field Poll on Prop 32 Shows Measure Trailing

For the second time this week, a new poll shows Proposition 32, which would change rules on union and corporate political donations, faces a tough road to passage on California’s November ballot.

The latest Field Poll conducted with UC Berkeley shows Prop 32 losing 44 percent to 38 percent.  The six-point margin is similar to this week’s Public Policy Institute of California survey, where the measure trailed 49 percent to 42 percent.

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Health
10:46 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Prescription Overdose Deaths By Teens Up, Summit Seeks Solutions

More teenagers are abusing and dying from prescription drug use.  Members of law enforcement, counselors, and prevention specialists gathered in Sacramento for a statewide summit on Thursday to see what can be done to reverse the trend.   

Sherrie Rubin and her son, Aaron traveled to Sacramento from San Diego for the summit.  They were among the 140 participants.  Sherrie says Aaron started abusing pills in high school. 

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Government & Politics
3:39 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Task Force Says California's Finances Unsustainable

Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

A non-partisan State Budget Crisis Task Force is recommending that California develop a two-year spending plan. The report released today called the state’s current financial structure unsustainable.

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Science
2:47 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Shuttle Endeavour Prepares For Final Flight Over California

Space shuttle Endeavour is seen atop NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA, at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Credit Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

UPDATE: NASA now says the shuttle will leave Edwards AFB at around 8:15 a.m. Friday, an hour later than originally planned.

Residents of eastern Kern County will get to see the space shuttle Endeavour take to the skies one last time on Friday, as the aging spacecraft makes its final journey to a museum in Los Angeles. 

The shuttle, carried on the back of a specially modified 747 jetliner landed this afternoon at Edwards Air Force Base, after taking off earlier in the day in Texas.

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High Speed Rail
9:20 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Federal Government Approves High Speed Rail Construction Plans

Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

The federal agency that oversees the nation's railroad system has officially approved plans for the first leg of California's controversial high speed rail system.

The Federal Railroad Administration's approval on Wednesday was a necessary step to allow construction to begin early next year on the Fresno to Merced component of the system. 

The approval by the FRA will allow the California High Speed Rail Authority to proceed with purchasing right-of-way from landowners for the system. 

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Health
8:59 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Millions of Californians May Still Be Uninsured in 2019

Millions of Californians may still be living without health insurance five years after the full implementation of the federal health law. 

A UC Berkeley and UCLA study projects two to three million Californians will have new health coverage by 2019. But co-author Ken Jacobs of the UC Berkeley Labor Center is looking at the other number.

“As many as 3 to 4 million Californians are predicted to remain uninsured.”

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Real Estate
5:58 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

RealtyTrac: California Leads Nation In Flipped Homes

Homes in Merced, one of areas of the country hid hardest by the foreclosure crisis
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Data out today show a big spike in the rate of California homes purchased and resold within six-months.

People in the real estate business call it “flipping.”

“Flipping is the process of buying a home or other property, usually at a discounted price, improving that property through rehab and repairs and then reselling that.”

Daren Blomquist is with RealtyTrac. The research firm has released new nationwide figures on flipped properties.

“Not surprisingly the state with the most flips in the first-half of 2012 was California with nearly 26,000.”

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Education
5:52 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

CSU Trustees Approve Tuition Changes; Anti-Tax Group Threatens Lawsuit

Fresno State, one of the CSU system's 23 campuses
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California State University trustees have set the stakes for the November election. If Governor Jerry Brown’s sales and income tax measure passes, the CSU will roll back a previously-approved nine percent tuition increase. If Proposition 30 fails, the university will leave it in place – and tack on an additional five percent increase.

Meanwhile, a draft letter to CSU applicants about Prop 30’s impact has Jon Coupal with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association threatening a lawsuit.

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Community
3:36 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Fresno Ranks Last In New Study of Immigrant Integration Progress

Fresno County's efforts at integrating new immigrants into the overall population fall short when compared with the rest of the state.

That's the finding of a new report by the University of Southern California's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. 

The study measures a variety of indicators including the economic impact of immigrants in the local economy, educational performance, the warmth of welcome by the community at large, and civic engagement.

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