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.

Audit of State's Hidden Surplus Money Due Next Week

Jul 27, 2012
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics /

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.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition, we talk with the UC Merced scientist behind a new study of the Valley's environment, and find out where we're making progress and where we're still falling behind in cleaning up our air and water. We also examine the fiasco involving the State of California's Department of Parks and Recreation, which last week discovered over $50 million in an account that had gone unreported for a decade, all happening at the same time that many parks have been threatened by closure.

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.

Joe Moore - Valley Public Radio

California’s budget problems have put a strain on all state departments - including local county courts. Valley Public Radio's Gabriela Ornelas tells us how Fresno County residents may find getting to a courtroom much more difficult in the coming weeks.

When you look up the origins of word “pension” in the dictionary, you’ll see that it comes from the Latin verb, pendo, which means to pay or value, and to weigh or hang. It’s actually the same root that gives us nouns like pendant. And back here in the 21st century, the costs of providing a defined benefit retirement programs are increasingly weighing down budget across the state.

According to some estimates, California's three largest statewide pension systems, CalPERS, CalSTRS and the UC Retirement System could have a combined shortfall of as much as $500 billion.

Prop 28 Would Change Term Limits

May 7, 2012

Currently, California lawmakers can serve a total of fourteen years: six in the Assembly, and eight in the Senate. Nick Schroeder from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says Prop 28 would allow a legislator to serve up to twelve years.

“Fundamentally, what this measure does is it allows a person to serve more years in one house, either in the Assembly or Senate but fewer total years in the legislature…”

This week on Valley Edition we talk about the City of Fresno's new "fiscal sustainability plan," and find out what city leaders are doing to avoid bankruptcy. We also hear about efforts to bring solar power to Valley homes, and a new program that aims to help disadvantaged kids and share with them the joy of cycling.

Valley Edition for March 27, 2012:

This week on Valley Edition we talk about the recent resurgence of an old idea, splitting up the Golden State, with the authors of a new book called "California Crackup." We'll also talk about the continuing effort to revitalize downtown Fresno.

This week on Valley Edition we talk about how political gridlock in Washington D.C. has created an unprecedented backlog at the Federal Courthouse in Fresno. Recently retired justice Oliver Wanger joins us for this special report. We also look at a new study that links spikes in air pollution with stays at local hospitals.