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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Education
7:37 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

California Bill Would Put English-only Instruction Back Before Voters

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A voter-approved  law that requires all California public school classes to be taught in English would go before voters again in 2016 under a bill now in the state legislature. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports.

Professor Patricia Gándara with the UCLA Civil Rights Project says a state-commissioned 2006 study proves that English-only instruction has few, if any, benefits.

Gándara: “The conclusion was that there had been no appreciable closing of the gaps between English learners and other students as a result of Prop. 227.” 

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Government & Politics
7:18 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Brown Calls Special Legislative Session on New Budget Reserve

Governor Jerry Brown's Director of Finance, Michael Cohen, discusses the governor's "rainy day fund" proposal with reporters at the Capitol Wednesday.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown is throwing the full weight of his office behind his push for a new state budget reserve by calling the legislature into special session next week.  But Republicans say he’ll have to strengthen his proposal to win their support.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

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Community
3:55 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Creative Fresno Celebrates 10 Years

Creative Fresno has
Credit Courtesy Creative Fresno

Back in the mid 1980’s writer and urban planner Charles Landry was the first to describe how creativity and specifically those involved in creative professions could transform a city – something he called the Creative Cities movement.

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Government & Politics
11:58 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Carl Bernstein: Still Searching For The 'Best Obtainable Version Of The Truth'

Journalist Carl Bernstein will speak in Fresno on Wednesday
Credit Courtesy Carl Bernstein

Few journalists have made a bigger imprint on American history than Carl Bernstein. Together with his Washington Post colleague Bob Woodward, Bernstein helped uncover the Watergate scandal, which eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.

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Education
6:01 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

New Teacher Dismissal Bill Deal Has Governor's Support

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

After three years of bitter disputes, there appears to be a deal in the California legislature on a bill that would make it easier for school districts to fire teachers accused of abusing students.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, not all education groups are on board.

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Environment
5:53 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Cap-and-Trade Money Would Go To Affordable Housing and Transit Under Proposal

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (file)
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Money generated from California’s cap-and-trade program would go to mass transit, sustainable affordable housing and high speed rail under a proposal by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, Steinberg is backtracking from his previous proposal.

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Government & Politics
12:07 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Low-Income Californians Pay More State and Local Taxes Says Study

Credit Valley Public Radio

A new report says adjustments to Proposition 30 and other tax policy changes could improve the situation for low-income Californians who pay a disproportionate share of their income in taxes.  From Sacramento, Max Pringle reports.

The California Budget Project says the bottom 20 percent of Californians pay more than 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while earning about $13,000 a year on average. The top one percent pay just under nine percent. They earn an average $1.5 million dollars per year. Luke Reidenbach is a Budget Project analyst.

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Immigration
5:33 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Immigrant Rights Groups Criticize Kern County Sheriff Over TRUST Act

UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta speaks at a protest Wednesday outside the office of Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood
Credit UFW Foundation Twitter / twitter.com/UFWF/

A trio of farm worker rights organizations protested outside the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Bakersfield Tuesday saying that Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood should follow the law by enforcing the TRUST Act that went into effect January 1.

Marichel Mejia with the United Farm Workers Foundation and the Kern Coalition for Citizenship was at the protest.

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Drought
10:24 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Drought Operation Plan For Two Water Projects Released

The San Luis Canal carries water to farms and wildlife areas near Los Banos (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California and federal agencies released a plan Wednesday about how they’ll operate the state and federal water projects during the drought. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the plan does not change water allocations.

The operations plan provides a guideline of how the two water systems will deal with the drought from now until November.  It looks at two different scenarios. One assumes much drier conditions than the other. Maria Rea with the National Marine Fisheries Service says under both scenarios winter-run Chinook salmon are at risk.

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Government & Politics
11:23 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Governor Brown Defends Prison Practices

California Governor Jerry Brown speaks at the 25th Annual Crime Victims Right’s Rally at the state Capitol in Sacramento.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown says reducing prison overcrowding continues to be a top priority. Brown talked with reporters Tuesday after speaking at the 25th Annual Crime Victims Right’s Rally at the state Capitol. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

A federal three-judge panel has given the Brown administration an additional two years to reduce prison overcrowding to court-mandated levels. The ruling was a victory for Brown who had factored the extra time into his proposed budget. But he says court intervention remains a burden.

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Development Watch Blog
8:24 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Failed Downtown Fresno Housing Project Leaves City Holding The Bag

An artist's rendering of the proposed Bastian Court development in downtown Fresno.
Credit Mission Housing Development Corporation

When it was first announced nearly seven years ago, the Bastian Court apartment complex was supposed to be an important part of a revitalized downtown Fresno. The city council liked the vision so much that they approved spending over $3 million in low-income housing funds on the project.

But now the land hat was once slated for a five story mixed-use building near the former Fresno Met Museum sits vacant, and could soon have a new owner - the City of Fresno. 

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Energy
2:51 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Senate Committee Moves Ahead With Fracking Moratorium Bill

A California senate committee has moved a bill forward that would place a moratorium on fracking. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the move comes less than a year after the passage of legislation that regulates the oil-extraction process.

Senate Bill 4 put several fracking regulations in place for the oil industry. SB4 also requires a study analyzing the health and safety risks of fracking. At the committee hearing, oil industry representatives called the regulations some of the strictest in the nation.

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Health Care
2:43 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

California Lawmakers Consider Medical Interpreters Program For Second Time

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

For the second time in a year, California lawmakers will consider a bill that would create a medical interpreters program. As Capital Public Radio’s Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone reports, the bill’s backers say circumstances are different this time.    

This year’s bill is essentially the same as last year’s. The state would pay interpreters to help Medi-Cal patients who have limited English skills to understand their health care.

Will Shuck with the California Assembly Speaker’s office says what’s different this year is the timing.

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Community
9:28 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Fresno Zoo's Four Malayan Tiger Cubs Vital To Species

Fresno Chaffee Facebook http://www.facebook.com/fresnochaffeezoo

Fresno has four new celebrities - Berani, Cinta, Arya and Batari. They're four Malayan tigers, born in January at the zoo. Only 500 of these tigers are known to exist in the wild today, and their birth is an important part of the survival of this species. 

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo's Assistant Curator Lynn Myers joined us on Valley Edition to talk about the breeding program, and how the public can see the cubs at the zoo.We also talked about the death just days ago of the father of the cubs, a 17 year-old male named Paka.

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Development Watch
4:42 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

City of Fresno Envisions New Downtown Developments Near Chukchansi Park

A conceptual rendering from the Fulton Corridor Specific Plan shows a vision for a mixed use area with entertainment and housing along the Kern Mall gate to Chukchansi Park
City of Fresno

Downtown Fresno's Chukchansi Park could get some new mixed-use neighbors and a makeover, if a new development plan advanced by city officials moves forward.

According to a copy of the proposal obtained by KVPR,  the City of Fresno and the city's redevelopment successor agency are asking developers to submit plans to purchase publicly owned land near the stadium and build housing and retail developments. The project, which would cover over 5 acres, could also include a portion of land within the city-owned Chukchansi Park along Inyo Street. 

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Artist Interviews
12:20 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Wu Man Brings The Pipa To New Audiences Beyond China

Pipa artist Wu Man
Valley Public Radio

This weekend the Fresno Philharmonic brings local audiences a truly unique concert – one that mixes sounds of "East and West," featuring pipa soloist Wu Man. The Chinese native will perform the Concerto for Pipa and Orchestra by Academy Award winning composer Tan Dun, who is best best known in the U.S. for his score for the film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. The orchestra will also perform two symphonies by Beethoven.

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Government & Politics
10:08 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Brown Praises Counties' Creativity In Implementing Realignment

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

California Governor Jerry Brown is praising counties and law enforcement agencies for their work implementing his landmark criminal justice system overhaul known as “realignment.”  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the law enforcement groups are lobbying the governor for a significant change to the program. Speaking to a law enforcement convention in Sacramento, the governor praised counties’ creativity under realignment in the two and a half years since it took effect.  Under the program, the state shifted responsibility for low-level offenders to counties. 

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Health Care
12:43 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Deadline Sparks Surge in Covered California Applications

Uninsured Californians apply for health insurance through the state's federal health care exchange at a union-sponsored "enroll-a-thon" in Sacramento Monday.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California’s health insurance exchange says it’s received a surge of last-minute enrollments ahead of Monday’s midnight application deadline.  Enrollment events popped up across the state as the Covered California call center reported waits of more than an hour in the final days.  Ben Adler reports from one such event in Sacramento.

A room full of people waited up to 45 minutes at a Sacramento union hall to sign up for the Covered California health care exchange on the final day of open enrollment.  Union organizers called it a 17-hour “enroll-a-thon.”

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Agriculture
10:14 am
Mon March 31, 2014

California Bill Would Mandate Paid Rest Breaks for Farm Workers

file photo
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Paid rest breaks would become mandatory for farm workers and other outdoor workers under a bill now in the California legislature. The measure is an attempt to prevent heat related illnesses. From Sacramento, Max Pringle reports.

People who work outdoors are susceptible to dizziness, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal. Nicole Marquez with the advocacy group Worksafe says farm workers are commonly paid based on how much they pick.

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Education
7:56 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

California Begins Testing New Student Assessments

Sacramento fourth grader Aanyah Jacobs practices California’s new student assessment.
Credit Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

California is preparing to implement Common Core education standards. As part of that change, the state is replacing standardized tests with new “assessments” meant to better judge students’ knowledge. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the state must first test the test.

In the media lab of an elementary school in Sacramento, fourth grader Aanyah Jacobs answers questions that pop up on a computer screen one at a time. She’s one of the more than three million California public school students testing out the state’s new assessment.

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