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Valley Public Radio

The next time you go to Fresno City Hall or see a city employee looking for people watering their yards on banned watering days, that employee might be carrying a concealed fire arm. That's if the the Fresno City Council approves a new proposal from council member Garry Bredefeld.

There are more than 1,500 people in the city of Fresno who have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Among that group, some almost certainly are city employees working everywhere from behind a desk to doing code enforcement on abandoned properties.

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Late last year the California Department of Justice launched a "patterns and practices" investigation into the Bakersfield Police Department, after a series of incidents and officer involved shootings that drew national attention. New police chief Lyle Martin has been on the job for about as long, and now he has another issue to deal with: an encounter a few weeks ago between his officers and 19-year-old Tatyana Hargrove. It left the African-American woman with injuries from punches and a police K-9.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

When new presidential administrations come into office, they often make changes to agencies and appoint people who share their political outlook. The same is true under the leadership of President Donald Trump.

However, one seemingly obscure reorganization involving leadership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural development program is sending shockwaves throughout Central California and beyond. One of those concerned is Farmersville Mayor Paul Boyer.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

California’s newest US Senator Kamala Harris swung through the valley Wednesday taking time to hear from farmers about what they want out of Washington D.C.

Access to water and the need for comprehensive immigration reform topped the worries of the growers and local elected officials who met with Senator Harris at a packing house south of Fresno.

Meeting in what is largely seen as a stronghold of support for President Donald Trump, the Democratic Senator extended a bipartisan olive branch saying she is interested in working with Republicans to get things done.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday endorsed an effort to cut the size of Giant Sequoia National Monument by over 70 percent. The proposal to shrink the monument came from Supervisor Steve Worthley, who used to work in the timber industry. He says the Forest Service isn’t doing a good job managing the monument, increasing the risk of wildfire.

“Leaving it as a national monument will only make it that much more difficult to engage in active management which is what is necessary,” said Worthley.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council has unanimously approved a new lease agreement with the Fresno Grizzlies baseball team for Chukchansi Park. The move could help clear the way for a new ownership group to take over the team.

 

The new lease would have the owners pay the city $500,000 a year in rent, compared with roughly $750,000 a year in the current agreement. It also includes a provision requiring both the club and the city to set aside $300,000 a year to pay for repairs and maintenance at the 15-year-old stadium, starting in 2020. 

The Fresno City Council has passed a ban on recreational marijuana sales and public use in the city. It passed on a 4-3 vote. The ban also extends a prohibition on outdoor cultivation of cannabis. The push for the ban was led by councilmember Garry Bredefeld who represents District 6.

Bredefeld: “Having recreational dispensaries is a problem because it sends a message to our youth that this is ok. And it isn’t ok. I don’t think it’s ok. I don’t think Prop 64 is ok.”

Fresno Chamber of Commerce

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand focused on job creation as he delivered his first state of the city speech today at the Fresno Convention Center. Brand says he wants to build upon this year’s announcements of new fulfillment centers for retail giants Amazon and Ulta Beauty, which are both now under construction.

The plan is to create 10,000 new jobs in the city in the next 10 years with similar operations, and another 10,000 spillover jobs in other sectors.  

BRAND: “The goal is to make Fresno the e-commerce capital of the west coast.”

Voice of Witness

A new book aims to document the stories of valley farmworkers through oral histories. It's the project of editor and independent journalist Gabriel Thompson, and features interviews with dozens of people who have spent their lives working in the fields of California. The book is called "Chasing The Harvest" and is published by the group Voice of Witness. Thompson joined us on Valley Edition to talk about his experiencing collecting the stories that make up the book.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

While many valley counties have seen their budgets improve in recent years, that hasn't been the case in Kern County. That's because as California's leading oil producing region, the county budget follows a boom and bust cycle that mirrors that of the energy industry. When oil prices are high, property tax revenue booms, as the valuation of land is based on the value of oil that remains in the ground. But when oil prices are low, the county's budget takes a big hit.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein used a visit to the Central Valley Thursday to criticize President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. Valley Public Radio’s Jeffrey Hess caught up with the senator at a farm in western Fresno County.

Standing beside a freshly irrigated olive orchard, Feinstein warned that leaving the international climate change initiative could make the Central Valley un-farmable.

Ezra David Romero
Valley Public Radio

Understanding the information on a voting ballot can be tough even for English speakers. For many second language learners the voting process can be so intimidating that they don’t vote, in part because of the lack of materials in their own language.

Now a group of Punjabi people in Fresno want to change that experience.

Almost every afternoon older Indian-American men from the province of Punjab gather under the shade and play cards in Victoria West Community Park in West Fresno. Deep Singh says it’s a chance to get out of the house.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Finding enough money to pay for child care is a struggle for many Central Valley families. But last year despite the region’s high poverty rate, Fresno County returned $10 million in unspent money to the state that was earmarked for child care for low-income families.

whitehouse.gov

It's hard to imagine two Republican leaders with more dramatically different political styles than Bakersfield's Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump. While McCarthy rose to his position as House Majority Leader thanks to a warm and affable public personality, Trump's style has been anything but. Yet the two have a remarkably close working relationship.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Nearly 1,000 people in the Central Valley are now officially new U.S. citizens. And for many, they say the recent Presidential election played a big role.

975 people from 57 countries took the oath of citizenship at the Fresno Convention Center Tuesday, the final step in their process of moving from immigrant to citizen.

Among them was 35-year old Norma Minjares, who was brought to the country by his parents as an infant.  

She, like many in the crowd, say last fall’s election pushed her to finally seek citizenship.

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