Government & Politics

News about government and politics

The City of Fresno has officially rolled out its complaint reporting app called ‘Fresgo’. The smartphone app lets people take pictures and report issues like pot holes, downed stop lights, and other problems throughout the city.

The app, called Fresgo, is intended to replace the cumbersome and sometimes confusing process of filling out paper work or contacting the appropriate city department to report issues.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the app lets people take a picture, tag their location, and send it straight to the city to fix their complaint.

Joe Moore, KVPR

With the implementation of Proposition 47 central valley law enforcement leaders warned about its potential to drive crime up. They argued that fewer people facing felonies gives people less chance to recover from addiction and change their life, while leaving them on the street to re-offend. But now even some in law enforcement are questioning if that is the case.

Valley Public Radio took a close look at the data from Fresno city and County to see if, six months into the experiment, the warnings are coming true.

New Data: Nearly One In Ten California Workers Is Undocumented

Jun 29, 2015
PPIC

It's difficult to tally a population that lives in the shadows, but new data estimates that 2.7 million immigrants are living illegally in California. That's more than any other state in the nation.

The majority of California's undocumented immigrants arrive from Latin America, and specifically Mexico. Laura Hill is a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. She expects that trend to continue. 

KVPR/Jeffrey Hess

A free public science education center is officially open in Northwest Fresno. The Highway City Science Center is moving into a community center that has been closed for 5 years since deep Recession era budget cuts.

The center is moving into one of the most underserved areas of Fresno off highway 99 in an area known as Highway City.

It will host science programing for children and adults, such as a fully assembled whale skeleton and electrical workshop.

Manuel Hernandez with the Fresno Parks Department says the center is a huge boost to the area.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The contract to run concessions in Yosemite National Park - everything from gift shops to the Ahwahnee Hotel - is the largest in the National Park System. And soon, a new company could be running those amenities, with a new contract worth an estimated $2 billion. 

Last week Yosemite officials announced that Aramark has been selected to be the park's new concessionaire, replacing Delaware North, which has run operations in the park since 1993. The move sparked a flurry of discussion about what the move means for park visitors. 

Ronald Reagan's Nuanced Legacy as California Governor

Jun 19, 2015

A statue of Ronald Reagan will be unveiled in the California state Capitol rotunda on Monday. It’s funded by private donations under a law signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2012. Much has been said of Reagan’s legacy as president – but as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, his time as California governor often goes overlooked.

Reagan in 1966 campaign video: “As of now, I am a candidate seeking the Republican nomination for governor.”

Last-Minute Budget Legislation Irks Water Agencies

Jun 18, 2015
John Chacon / CA Dept of Water Resources

Late-emerging legislation designed to deal with the drought could be part of the budget package California lawmakers will vote on Friday. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, water agencies say the state is overstepping its authority with some of the provisions in the proposal.

Part of the legislation would give state water regulators the ability to force local water agencies to consolidate. Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, says the intent is to help communities without access to safe drinking water.

Brown Now "Open" To New Taxes Without Voter Approval

Jun 18, 2015

California Governor Jerry Brown says he’s changed his position on taxes now that he’s been elected to another term. He says he’s open to new taxes that would fund road maintenance and health coverage for low-income Californians. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

Brown in 2010 TV ad: “I’m Jerry Brown. California needs major changes…”

It was a core promise of his 2010 campaign:

Brown in 2010 TV ad: “…and no new taxes without voter approval.”

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown has appointed a new person to head the regulatory agency in charge of oil and gas extraction in California. David Bunn will head the Department of Conservation, replacing former director Mark Nechodom who resigned earlier this month.

The department has been at the center of intense scrutiny over its regulatory oversight on everything from fracking to the illegal injection of oilfield wastewater water into federally protected aquifers.

Brown, California Lawmakers Reach Budget Deal

Jun 16, 2015
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

California Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders have reached a state budget deal.

The $115 billion general fund spending plan relies on the governor’s conservative revenue estimates. But it also includes money for some of lawmakers’ top priorities, including child care and higher education.

The governor called negotiations “strenuous” but says the budget is sound.

Brown: “All in all, I’d say it’s been difficult but very productive, and certainly I’m glad that we got this far.” 

Joe Moore/ Valley Public Radio

On the final day of budget negotiations, the Fresno City Council has an additional $4 million to spend.

The city is getting the additional money from a one-time fund from the state.

The city council voted to spend it on a variety of projects such as updating the parks master plan, re-painting the art museum, and putting one million away in reserve.

During discussion of the budget, Council president Oliver Baines said it is refreshing to have a stable growing revenue.

File Photo

The Chief of the Fresno Police department is asking for more help to fight a rising rate of some crimes in the city. Fresno Police chief Jerry Dyer says it is increasingly difficult to attract people to law enforcement.

Fresno Police Chief Dyer is asking for a bigger budget to hire up to forty more police officers to patrol the city’s streets.

The department may also double the signing bonus to $10,000 to lure more recruits.

Dyer says it has becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified officers citing a national mood against police officers.

Flikr-Victor, Creative Commons

There are roughly 1,000 fewer people in Fresno County who are on Felony probation. The County Probation Chief says that is due to changes brought about by Proposition 47.

By turning some felonies, especially drug convictions, into misdemeanors there are now only about 8,000 people under county supervision compared to 9,000 a year ago according to Probation Chief Rick Chavez.

Chavez says it is not necessarily a bad thing that fewer people are on probation as long as people who are now convicted of misdemeanors access treatment for addiction.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Sanger Mayor Joshua Mitchell is stepping down. FM89’s Joe Moore reports it’s the latest move in a city that’s been rocked by turmoil, corruption charges and a state investigation into the mayor’s actions. 

Vandalism, arson, and even death threats. Those are just some of the claims made by Sanger Mayor Joshua Mitchell who announced his resignation Wednesday. 

Immigrant Health Care Bill Passes Senate

Jun 2, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Many – but not all – of the people living in California illegally would be able to obtain health insurance under a scaled-back proposal that’s cleared the state Senate. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara’s bill is less comprehensive – and less expensive – than previous versions. But, he told senators, this would be a vote they would remember.

Caltrans

A popular route into Yosemite Valley is about to get a makeover. FM89's Joe Moore reports on the effort t fix damage that happened nearly 10 years ago.

In May 2006, a rockslide in the Merced River Canyon severely damaged Highway 140 between Briceburg and El Portal. Caltrans eventually reopened the road later that year with a temporary detour around the unstable mountain of rock, but that temporary detour is now almost a decade old. 

Google Maps

A local organization is asking the City of Fresno to build a new park for residents in an older part of town.

Jose Leon-Barazza with the Southeast Fresno Community Economic Development Association will ask the city council on Thursday to spend $200,000 to do preliminary work to turn a largely vacant 48-acre parcel on South Peach Avenue into a park and soccer fields.

California Budget Proposal Raises Questions Of Vaccine Bill Retaliation

May 28, 2015
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Assembly Republicans want to know if Legislative Democrats are using their state budget proposals to punish a medical group that opposes California's controversial vaccine bill.

In separate proposals for the fiscal year that starts in July, Senate and Assembly Budget subcommittees voted last week to restore six of the seven optional Medi-Cal benefits that are currently unfunded by the state. There's only one benefit they're not proposing to restore: chiropractic services.

Kern County Homeless Collaborative Faces of Homelessness Facebook Page

On Wednesday, crews from the City of Bakersfield closed down a homeless encampment on South Union Avenue that many residents had called home for years. In recent months the area had become a growing concern for officials responsible for enforcing city codes. Homeless advocates estimate that at the close, around 24 people lived in the encampment. Officials estimate that all but five found some sort of housing, either through shelters, programs or with family members.  

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno Police Department is moving forward with a plan to purchase 300 new body cameras for officers. The city council approved the $2.5 million purchase today which also includes 400 TASER devices. The cameras are in addition to 100 purchased earlier this year after the city received an anonymous $500,000 donation. 

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