Government & Politics

Government & Politics
7:24 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Faced With Measure W, Fresno Council Revokes Water Rate Increase

Fresno City Hall (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council voted Thursday to repeal a city water plan they introduced in 2013, after a referendum petition known as Measure W threatened to put the repeal before voters.

Measure W began as a grassroots campaign and eventually collected 5500 signatures, enough to become a ballot measure. The water plan it helped repeal involved increasing Fresno residents' water bills to pay for a $410 million-upgrade to the city's water infrastructure. City Councilmember Steve Brandau:

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Government & Politics
3:32 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Kashkari Takes Poverty Message To Fresno, Spends Week Living On Streets

Neel Kashkari posed as a homeless person in Fresno looking for work as part of a new campaign video released this week.
Credit YouTube/ Kashkari for Governor

Neel Kashkari has taken his campaign to become California's next governor to the streets of downtown Fresno in a viral video attacking Governor Jerry Brown's message of a "California comeback."

In the 10 minute-long YouTube clip released by his campaign Wednesday night, Kashkari is seen posing as a homeless person, searching in vain for work at various locations in Fresno. His campaign claims that the former Treasury Department official spent one week living on the streets with just $40 for food.

Video transcript:

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Government & Politics
6:16 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

In Kern County, Voting Rights Bill Meets Opposition

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Last week, the Kern County Board of Supervisors went on record against AB 280.  It’s a California bill that would require counties with high minority populations to get approval from Sacramento before making major changes in election procedure. 

For instance, before moving a polling site location, Kern County would need to get the ok from the California Secretary of State to ensure that it’s not discriminating against minorities and low-income voters.

Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez says that would be far too costly.

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Government & Politics
1:13 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Fresno County Supervisors Vote To Oppose High Speed Rail

file photo
Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors reversed course on Tuesday morning, voting to officially oppose California's controversial high speed rail project. 

The 3-2 vote comes just days after contractors working for the rail authority began demolishing buildings in Fresno to make way for the train. 

Since 2007, the county has officially held a position in support of the project, though in 2012 the supervisors sent a letter to the authority that was critical of the effort. 

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Veterans
6:49 am
Fri July 25, 2014

California Spending Millions To House Homeless Vets

The Fresno Veterans Home recently opened in Southwest Fresno. (file photo)

California has $600 million in bond funds to spend on homeless veterans. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, public workshops are being held around the state to gather ideas about how to spend that money.

Last June voters approved using the existing bond money to provide more affordable housing for California’s 15,000 homeless vets.

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Government & Politics
11:40 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Brown Says California Will Do Its Part On Immigration Crisis

California Governor Jerry Brown says the surge of undocumented immigrant children crossing into the United States from Central America is a humanitarian problem rather than a political one. (file photo)
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown is taking a trade trip to Mexico next week. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento Brown weighed in Wednesday on what Mexico and California can do to help with the current immigration crisis.

Brown says it’s primarily up to federal government to deal with the influx of immigrant children crossing into the United State from Central America. But he says strong relationships between places like Mexico and California can help ease the situation. Brown says the surge of immigrants is more than a political problem.  

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Government & Politics
6:36 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

County Registrars: Overhaul Recount Process, But Carefully

County elections officials say California’s recount process badly needs an overhaul – but they’re warning state lawmakers against rushing changes into law before thinking them through.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The recount in the state controller’s race may be over, but that hasn’t stopped critics of California’s recount process from calling for an overhaul. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, county election officials are warning state lawmakers to write new rules carefully.

San Bernardino County Registrar Michael Scarpello spent last Friday staffing up. His county’s recount was scheduled to start on Monday. But it didn’t, because former Assembly Speaker John Pérez canceled his recount bid Friday afternoon.

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Government & Politics
2:52 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Brown Names New Supreme Court Nominee

Governor Jerry Brown has picked Stanford law professor Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar as his next nominee to the California Supreme Court.
Credit Office of the Governor

A Stanford law professor who was born in Mexico and immigrated to California as a teenager has been selected as the next nominee to the state’s Supreme Court. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Governor Jerry Brown has named Stanford Law Professor Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar to replace retiring Justice Marvin Baxter. Cuellar has been at Stanford since 2001. He also assisted President Barack Obama on immigration issues during the Obama transition into office.

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Government & Politics
6:28 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Perez Stops Recounts In Controller's Race

Former California Assembly Speaker John Perez calls off vote recount in state controller’s race.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Former California Assembly Speaker John Perez is calling off the vote recount he requested in the race for state controller.

Perez requested the recount in 15 counties after finishing third in the June 3rd primary. The Los Angeles Democrat was 481 votes behind fellow Democrat Betty Yee. Perez picked up only a handful of votes in recounts this week in Imperial and Kern counties.

He says in a statement that "there is simply not enough time to see this process through to the end."

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Government & Politics
7:49 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Drought Could Lead To Financial Hardship for Water Agencies

Credit Valley Public Radio

Conserving water could cost some California water agencies. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on a notice issued today from Moody’s Investors Service.

Moody’s says state-wide water restrictions approved this week could eventually lead to lower credit ratings for California water agencies. That’s because less water use means lower water sales, which in turn means less revenue.

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Government & Politics
7:37 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Fresno City Council Puts Off Measure W Decision, Asks For Study

Fresno City Hall (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno voters may get to weigh in on a referendum that would overturn a planned hike in water rates, but the final decision didn't come Thursday. 

Instead of moving forward with putting Measure W on the November ballot, or repealing the rate hikes - the city council voted to commission an expedited study on the issue.

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High Speed Rail
7:26 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Fresno County Supervisors Wait On Poochigian Proposal To Oppose High Speed Rail

Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors decided to wait on a proposal Tuesday that would have formally positioned the county as opposed to California’s high speed rail project. The effort which was led by Supervisor Debbie Poochigian, who says the project’s funding should be diverted to other areas like water or public safety.

Poochigian spoke with Valley Public Radio on Monday afternoon before the meeting:

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Government & Politics
5:00 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Measure W Signals Shift in Fresno Politics

Credit Valley Public Radio

A grassroots campaign to roll back a planned water rate hike that then sparked a lengthy legal battle could soon wind up before Fresno voters.

On Thursday the Fresno City Council will decide whether to put a referendum called Measure W on the November ballot, or to repeal the water rate plan. The move comes after a citizens group announced last week that its petition drive has collected over 5,500 valid signatures—more than enough to qualify for the ballot.

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Government & Politics
4:02 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

In Fresno, De Leon Backtracks On Tumbleweed Comments

During his trip to the Central Valley, Kevin de Leon, right, takes a tour of Roosevelt High School with Luis Chavez, a Fresno Unified Board Member.
Credit Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Incoming State Senate President pro tem Kevin de Leon made his first official appearance in Fresno today just weeks after controversial comments about the San Joaquin Valley and high speed rail. FM89's Diana Aguilera reports.

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Kevin de Leon visited Fresno's Roosevelt High School today to learn how Fresno Unified plans to use about $90 million dollars in state funding to retrofit aging campuses for energy efficiency.

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High Speed Rail
1:14 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

James Fallows: California's High Speed Rail Plan Is 'Better Than The Alternatives'

James Fallows

The Atlantic's James Fallows says California's high speed rail project may be flawed and expensive, but he also calls it better than other methods of accommodating the state's growing population.

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Government & Politics
6:01 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Referendum On Fresno Water Rate Hike Qualifies For November Ballot

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno voters may soon get a chance to overturn the City Council's planned hikes in water rates.

Fresno City Clerk Yvonne Spence confirmed today that a referendum petition submitted in late June has over 5,500 valid signatures--more than enough to put Measure W on the ballot.

The measure aims to allow voters to overturn a water plan approved last summer by the Council.  The plan would on average double water rates over the next 3 years in order to fund a $410 million upgrade to the city's water system. 

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Government & Politics
3:23 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

New Assembly Minority Leader Talks Of 'Rebranding' California GOP

California Assembly Republicans have chosen a new woman to lead them, Modesto's Kristin Olsen. (file photo)

Assembly Republicans have a new leader in Sacramento, and she's from the San Joaquin Valley. Modesto's Kristin Olsen joined us on Valley Edition to talk about her priorities from education to a water bond. She also spoke about her ideas on how California Republicans can better connect with voters in the future. 

On her vision for Republicans in California:

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Drought
5:42 am
Mon July 7, 2014

Much Of California's Emergency Drought Relief Money Still Unspent

California water managers are selectively watering parts of the state Capitol grounds to preserve historic trees while letting grassy areas dry out.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

It’s been four months since Governor Jerry Brown signed what he and Democratic lawmakers called “emergency drought legislation.” It promised nearly $700 million in immediate drought relief. But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, nearly 90 percent of that money has yet to be spent.

It was late February when Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders announced – with great fanfare – emergency drought legislation.

Brown: “What needs to be done will be done – and is being done.”

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Government & Politics
4:52 pm
Sat July 5, 2014

Modesto Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen Chosen to Lead Assembly GOP

California Assembly Republicans have chosen a new woman to lead them, Modesto's Kristin Olsen. (file photo)
Credit Office of Kristin Olsen

There will be a new woman leading California Assembly Republicans. And, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the choice is getting good marks on both sides of the aisle. 

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen will officially take over as Assembly minority leader in November. The Modesto Republican says her focus will be on creating more jobs, lowering taxes and improving education.

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Government & Politics
5:14 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

California Assembly Committee Passes Farm Worker Sexual Harassment Bill

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

  A California Assembly committee passed a bill Wednesday that would give the state the power to revoke the licenses of farm labor contractor’s if they hire supervisors who have sexually harassed workers.

Michael Marsh is an attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance. He says his office deals with complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault on a regular basis.

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