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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Higher Education
12:35 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Tentative Contract Reached Between CSU And Faculty

California State University and its faculty union have reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract.

Professors, counselors and other members of the California Faculty Association won’t be getting raises. But if the state-funded university system somehow gets an influx of cash, there’s an option to re-open salary talks. Claudia Keith is with C-S-U:

“Essentially, the tentative agreement calls for no salary increases for the first two years with the opportunities to re-open in the last two years of the contract.”

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Government & Politics
9:44 am
Tue July 31, 2012

California's Budget On Hook For Wildfires

The wildfires blazing across California this fire season aren’t just burning through trees, grasses and homes, they’re burning through the state budget as well.  

Fifteen helicopters. Seven bulldozers. 46 fire engines. And 900 people. It took all that to fight a single California wildfire this summer – the Robbers fire in Placer County. It’s paid for with a special state emergency fund. If that runs out, says H.D. Palmer with the governor’s Department of Finance.

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Government & Politics
6:09 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

California Bill Would Allow More Than Two Parents Per Child

The California law that says a judge can recognize only two legal parents per child would change under a bill working its way through the legislature. The bill’s author says not every family today looks like “Ozzie and Harriet’s.”

Democratic Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco says he wrote the bill to recognize non-traditional families…where there might be biological non-custodial fathers or surrogate mothers. The bill rises from the case of a child who had two legal mothers.

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Government & Politics
5:41 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

DOJ Takes Merced County Off Voting Rights Act List

Merced County's historic courthouse museum in Downtown Merced.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The US Department of Justice announced this morning that it has reached an agreement with Merced County that will let election officials there avoid the process of having to clear many voting decisions with the federal government.

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Government & Politics
6:30 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Audit of State's Hidden Surplus Money Due Next Week

California's State Capitol Building
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

We should learn next week whether there’s any more hidden surplus money in California state special funds. The state's Finance Department plans to release its audit of those accounts after $54 million dollars in surplus money was found in two parks funds.

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Government & Politics
3:31 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Study Suggests Environmental Benefits From High Speed Rail

California High Speed Rail Authority

A new study suggests that the proposed high speed rail project could have big environmental benefits for California.

The study, released by UC Berkeley, compared the future sustainability of high speed rail with plane and car travel. It found a mature high speed rail system would use less energy and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers accounted for more fuel efficient cars and planes in the future. And they looked at different levels of ridership when calculating greenhouse gas emissions.

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Environment
7:25 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

Valley reacts to Brown's Bay-Delta tunnel plan

Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans today to make big changes to the state’s water supply system - and the plan is already being met with both support and criticism from up and down the state.

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Government & Politics
6:23 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

California Governor Downplays Parks Scandal

California Governor Jerry Brown is downplaying the state parks scandal in his first public statement on the issue.

Last week, the Brown administration revealed that the Parks department had failed to report 54 million dollars in two funds for the last 12 years. State Parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned as a result.

But the governor says it’s better to find money than to discover money missing.

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Health
12:50 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

California Health Leaders Call for "Culture of Coverage"

Key players in implementing the federal health overhaul in California say the public should be part of building a ‘culture of coverage.’

Kim Belshe is on the board of the California Health Benefit Exchange, an online marketplace where people will soon be able to buy coverage. She says in order for the federal health law to serve its purpose, schools, labor, faith and community organizations need to be on board.

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State Parks Crisis
9:00 am
Tue July 24, 2012

Future of Mariposa Museum Still In Doubt

Randy Bolt is one of three remaining employees at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa. The museum may close later this year.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Randy Bolt has a passion for rocks. Well, not just rocks, but gems and minerals too. He's a historic guide at California's Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa. 

He can tell you about the state's official gemstone, "which most people have never even heard of, which is actually one of the rarest  gems in the world, it's called Benitoite, named after San Benito Creek."

Or he can tell you about the history of the world-famous nugget from the California Gold Rush that is nearly the size of a basketball.

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Valley Public Radio News
3:07 pm
Fri July 20, 2012

Children's Hospital Gets New CEO

The Children's Hospital Central California Board of Trustees have named Todd Suntrapak as the hospital's new President and CEO.

The Board of Trustees said they conducted a national search for the position, and decided on Suntrapak based on his contributions to the hospital's expansion as a regional referral center.

Suntrapak has worked as the hospital's Chief Operating Officer since 2005, during which time trustees say he provided leadership in clinal operations and business development.

Suntrapak will assume the position, effective immediately.

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Special Report: State Parks
2:31 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Community Rallies as State Park Faces Threat of Closure

Many of California’s state parks were saved from closing this year thanks to operating agreements with nonprofits and private organizations.  Others are on the rocks – or narrowly avoided closure, like Benicia State Recreation Area, which we heard about yesterday.  But one state park in Nevada County offers quite a different story. As Amy Quinton reports in the second of our two-part series, the entire community pulled together to save South Yuba River State Park.

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Government & Politics
11:55 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Governor Brown Signs High Speed Rail Funding Bill

Governor Jerry Brown speaks at a bill-signing ceremony Wednesday at the future site of San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center.
Amy Quinton Capitol Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law on Wednesday that allows initial construction of a high speed train.

Governor Brown emphasized that California isn’t just funding a bullet train, but making an investment in the state’s economic future. The bill authorizes the state to begin selling $2.6 billion in voter approved bonds.

He celebrated the signing in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Both cities will serve as major hubs for the eventual 130 miles of track through the Central Valley. But the Governor chose not to sign it there.

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Environment
5:47 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

UC Merced Study Rates Valley's Progress on Environment

Researchers say the Central Valley has made environmental improvements, just not as much as they'd like. That's according to a new study released today by UC Merced and The Great Valley Center.

The results of the study indicate that watersheds are reaching normal levels, wetland habitat restoration is on the rise, urbanization is slowing, and key air quality indicators are improving. Director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, Roger Bales, says these are important indicators in the quality of land, water, and air in the region.

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Valley Writers Read
3:57 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Bob Hudgens "Mulberries for Mohammed" & Jerry Fisher "Lilli and Her German Soldier"

This week on Valley Writers Read we hear two stories. First, Bob Hudgens tells us a story about how he author made a friendly connection with a person from a different culture in "Mulberries for Mohammed." Then in Jerry Fisher's "Lilli and Her German Soldier" we hear about a German soldier at the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp falls in love and saves the life of a German Jewish girl.

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Special Report: State Parks
5:44 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

State Park Scrambles as It Faces Two Week Deadline

Benicia State Recreation Area
Capitol Public Radio

It's been a rollercoaster ride for California state parks. A year ago, the Department of Parks and Recreation selected 70 parks to close on July 1st as a result of budget cuts. But operating agreements with private partners have kept 40 of the parks open.

Now it appears all but a handful will stay open, but nobody knows for how long. In the first of a two-part series looking at the state of California's state parks reporter Kathleen Masterson visited one still struggling to stay open.

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Government & Politics
5:04 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Veterans Boulevard funding up for vote

A preliminary map of the Veterans Boulevard interchange at Highway 99 in north Fresno.
Courtesy City of Fresno / CalTrans

Fresno’s long planned Veterans Boulevard interchange on Highway 99 between Herndon and Shaw Avenues may be closer to becoming a reality.

The Fresno City Council is scheduled to vote Thursday on a plan to spend $5.4 million on design and engineering plans for the roadway, which will connect Herndon Avenue across Highway 99 with Grantland Avenue.

The project is expected to solve a number of traffic problems in the fast growing area west of Highway 99. Last year, the City Council also approved the first phase of a planned El Paseo regional shopping center near the boulevard.

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Government & Politics
4:56 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

High speed rail releases revised environmental study

Artists rendering of a station for the state's planned high speed rail system.
California High Speed Rail Authority

The California High Speed Rail Authority has released a Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project section between Fresno and Bakersfield. The Authority has provided alternative routes in response to public dissatisfaction with the proposals in the original report released last year.

Frank Oliveira of the group Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability, says he's still concerned with the revised draft, as he isn't convinced the Authority has done what they can to understand the effects the high speed rail could have in the Valley.

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Health
9:04 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Adult day health care patients face change

Adult day health care in California is feeling the pinch of the state’s budget crisis. The state has been working to scale back the publicly-funded program that helps elderly and fragile adults. Meanwhile, centers are struggling to keep their services going. Pauline Bartolone visited one center in Sacramento that serves as a community space for Eastern European immigrants.

Every weekday at Altamedix adult day health center in North Sacramento, over a hundred Russian speaking immigrants follow a tight schedule of health education and exercise.

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Education
8:13 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

CSU Trigger Cut Options: Reduce Enrollment or Increase Tuition

California State University Fresno
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Reduced enrollment or a mid-year tuition increase. That’s the choice the California State University could face if voters reject Governor Jerry Brown’s November tax measure.

You’ve heard of trigger cuts. Now, there’s a "trigger on a trigger" – a $150 per semester tuition increase to meet a potential 250 million dollar cut. That’s one proposal CSU Trustees are looking at. The other would reduce enrollment by three percent, or about 6-thousand students. Robert Turnage is with the CSU Chancellor’s office:

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