Government & Politics

Government & Politics
7:05 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Slow Progress In Congressional Water Talks

When it comes to California drought relief legislation, it’s been a dry year so far on Capitol Hill. Central Valley politicians and farm interests have been in Congress this week to remind lawmakers about the dire situation back home. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

When it comes to California drought relief legislation, it’s been a dry year so far on Capitol Hill. As Kitty Felde reports from Washington, Central Valley politicians and farm interests have been in Congress this week to remind lawmakers about the dire situation back home.

Drought relief legislation this year has gotten off to a slow start on Capitol Hill - unlike last year, when bills were floated in both the House and the Senate.

Mendota Mayor Robert Silva, who spent the week meeting with members of Congress, says things are moving…underground. 

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Government & Politics
4:40 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Fresno City Council Says 'No' To Farmland Preservation Project

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

The Fresno City Council has rejected a proposal to move forward with an effort to preserve area farmland from development.

The council voted down the proposed grant application today to start a farmland preservation program, which is key part of the city’s newly adopted general plan.

The program would require developers to offset the loss of farmland from urbanization by agreeing to preserve farmland elsewhere.

Council member Lee Brand says he wants more public input before committing to such a program.

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Government & Politics
5:39 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Fresno Fire Department Wants Reimbursement Guarantee When Fighting Forest Fires

Fresno Fire Department (file photo)
Credit Fresno Fire Department Annual Report / Fresno Fire Department

The Fresno Fire Department is concerned that requests for aid from state and federal agencies during wildfires could wind up hurting the department's finances.  FM89's Joe Moore reports.

California's drought has resulted in more forest fires in recent years. That's put a strain not only on state and federal fire crews, but also on firefighters in cities like Fresno, that often assist through mutual aid agreements. 

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Government & Politics
5:32 pm
Mon March 30, 2015

California's State Capitol, Like You've Never Seen It Before

The Capitol rotunda is contained within the taller Capitol dome.
Andrew Nixon, Capital Public Radio

Now, a tour of California’s state Capitol – but not just any tour. This one includes a little history … some surprising details that are easy to miss … and a rare trip to the top of the Capitol dome. Here’s Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler.

As a high school marching band tunes up outside the state Capitol, Ken Cooley shows a couple dozen people the building he’s poured his soul into for the last four decades. He’s a Democratic Assemblyman, a longtime staffer and a walking Capitol encyclopedia.

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Cuba
5:31 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Henry T. Perea And Valley Farmers Headed To Cuba For Trade Mission

Cuba
Credit Google Maps

A group of California lawmakers and farmers are headed to Cuba Monday on a trade mission. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on how the Valley could benefit.

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Government & Politics
7:11 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Fresno Deputy Police Chief Arrested For Dealing Drugs

Fresno Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster (file photo)
Credit Fresno Police Department

One of Fresno's highest ranking law enforcement officers was arrested Thursday on drug charges. Fresno Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster is charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, marijuana and oxycodone.

Five other Fresno residents were also charged in the case, including two men the FBI believes are related to Foster. 

Foster has been placed on administrative leave by the department. The arrests are part of an on-going, year-long investigation by the FBI and ATF.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the arrest is totally unexpected...

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Government & Politics
6:58 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Fresno City Council Votes To Loosen Tough Marijuana Law

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council is moving forward with a plan to modify the city's medical marijuana law. But as FM89's Joe Moore reports, the change could be short lived. 

The new law would amend another passed last year by the council that banned all marijuana cultivation in the city. If the new proposal becomes law, residents would be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants indoors, for their personal medicinal use.

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Government & Politics
12:27 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Fresno City Council Hears Call For "ShotSpotter" System, Says Yes

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

The Fresno City Council has approved a request by Police  Chief Jerry Dyer for funding to install gunshot detecting microphones in a three square mile section of the city.

The system, called ShotSpotter, uses the microphones to triangulate the location of gunshots so police can respond. 

Company CEO  Ralph Clark says the system greatly improves a department’s ability to respond to gunshots.

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Government & Politics
5:36 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Visalia On The Way To District Elections For City Council

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

 he city of Visalia is getting closer to altering how they elect their city council. As FM 89's Jeffrey Hess reports, it's a move that some hope will increase diversity in city government.

The city is planning a series of public hearings, beginning in early April, to finalize the five new districts that will each elect one council representative. 

Visalia spokeswomen Nancy Loliva says the city is drawing districts for the first time to settle a voting rights lawsuit over the current system where all council members are elected at-large.

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Government & Politics
6:55 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Fulton Mall Project To Become Reality?

Craig Scharton, owner of Peeves

After years of delays, and ongoing lawsuits, officials with the city of Fresno say they are finally going to turn the Fulton mall back into a street. The question of what to do with the aging pedestrian walking area in the center of downtown Fresno has been a sore spot in the city for years. City and business leaders say all signs point to the project breaking ground as soon as this fall.

A piano player picks out a tune on the piano in the corner of the popular downtown bar Peeve’s.

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Government & Politics
10:27 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

More Money For Drought Aid, But No Mandatory Conservation

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses new emergency drought legislation at a Capitol news conference Thursday, joined by Democratic and Republican leaders.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders aren’t calling for any mandatory water conservation in this fourth year of drought. Instead, they’re offering emergency drought aid for a second straight year. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the state has yet to spend nearly half of last year’s emergency drought money.

The governor did not announce any new water conservation rules. But he hinted that day might come soon if the rain does not.

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Government & Politics
11:00 am
Wed March 18, 2015

New Scrutiny For Brown's Retiree Health Care Proposal As Labor Talks Begin

Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

A new report from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office criticizes California Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed overhaul of state worker retiree health care benefits – just as labor negotiations are getting under way. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento. California faces more than $70 billion in unfunded retiree health care for state workers – and the governor says it’s time to act. Here’s Brown in January on NPR. 

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Government & Politics
11:25 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Kern County Could Explore Privatizing Public Libraries

The Beale Memorial Library in downtown Bakersfield (file photo)
Credit Kern County Public Library

In Kern County, the state’s leader when it comes to oil production, the industry not only drives the local economy, it also helps drive the county’s general fund.

That’s because the county’s assessor puts a value on all of the oil that remains deep underground, and uses that figure when it comes time to collect property taxes. When the price of oil goes up, county revenues soar. But when the price of oil goes down, officials are left scrambling to cover the shortfall.

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Government & Politics
5:28 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

California Bill Would Provide Health Care For Farm Workers

File Photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

 A new bill in Sacramento would help provide medical coverage for farm workers. Fm89’s Diana Aguilera explains more about the attempt to provide health care for all.

Assembly Bill 1170 would create a pilot program to pay for medical, surgical, and hospital treatment for farm workers. It would not only cover on-the-job injuries but also other illnesses.

Assembly member Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) says he introduced the bill because everyone should have access to health care.

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Government & Politics
2:20 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Fresno Leaders Expect Fulton Mall Work Soon, Despite Delay

Credit Valley Public Radio

Fresno City leaders say construction could start on the project to turn the Fulton Mall into a street as early as this summer. Opponents of the project say they are not giving up the fight.

The city had expected to break ground on the project this month.

City Manager Bruce Rudd says they won’t make that goal, but they will begin work soon.

“We are hoping to have this go out to bid within the next 60-to-90 days. It will probably be on the street for sixty days. And hopefully back before the council in August to award a contract,” Rudd said.

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Government & Politics
9:22 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Dyer Hopes New Panel Will Build Trust With Local Youth

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer speaking at a press conference in Fresno on Wednesday.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A local police department is hoping community outreach can help prevent distrust of law enforcement in the wake of violence in Ferguson, Missouri. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says he wants to improve communication and trust between his officers and young people. That’s why he announced a plan Wednesday to create a new youth advisory panel for the department.

Dyer: “We never want to be viewed as an occupying force, we want to be viewed as a department that cares about the people we’re serving.”

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Government & Politics
6:24 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Salas Bill Would Help Homeowners Rip Out Lawns

A drought-resistant garden in the Central Valley. (file photo)
Credit Central Valley Friendly Landscaping Website - http://ucanr.edu/sites/cvlandscape/ / University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

It might become a little easier to replace your lawn with artificial grass if a new bill in Sacramento becomes law. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

Assemblymember Rudy Salas says he wants to take the model the state has used to subsidize solar power on homes across the state and apply it to another green project – removing lawns.

Salas introduced a bill Tuesday that would provide a tax credit to homeowners who remove their lawns and replace them either with drought-resistant landscaping or synthetic lawns.

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Government & Politics
4:14 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Fresno To Get $195 Million Loan For Water Project

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin announces her plan to decrease her proposed water rate hike by 12 percent.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

A new state loan could help make the City of Fresno’s proposed water rate increase more palatable for local rate payers. 

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin announced the city’s revised water plan Thursday, which now includes a $186 million loan from the state. She says while rates would still go up, the new cash means the average monthly increase would be around $3 a month less than originally proposed.

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Immigration
1:45 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Obama's Immigration Program To Start, New "Dreamers" Eligible To Apply

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will began accepting applications for the extended version of DACA on Feb. 18, 2015.
Credit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Next week applications will start rolling in from the first wave of immigrants seeking temporary deportation relief under President Barack Obama’s executive order. Despite strong opposition from Republicans in Congress, Obama’s immigration plan aims to shield up to five million unauthorized immigrants from deportation out of the estimated 11 million living in the United States.  

As soon as Feb. 18, newly eligible immigrants will begin applying for relief under the extended version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

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Government & Politics
10:52 am
Thu February 12, 2015

New Push To Regulate Medical Marijuana In California

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

There’s a new push to regulate medical marijuana in California after similar legislation failed at the state Capitol last year. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the debate centers on how much control cities and counties should have over local marijuana businesses.

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