Government & Politics

News about government and politics

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. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

For the second time in two months the Fresno City Council has voted down a proposal to start a farmland preservation program. FM89’s Joe Moore reports. 

Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s administration had wanted to apply for a $100,000 state grant to help start the effort, which is a key part of the city’s new general plan. 

Brown's New Budget Proposal Includes Tax Credit For Poor

May 14, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Gov. Jerry Brown will include a state earned income tax credit in the revised budget proposal he'll release Thursday morning, according to information provided by the Brown administration to Capital Public Radio.

The proposed tax credit would benefit an estimated two million Californians in deep poverty while reducing state budget revenues by $380 million a year. It was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Office of Rep. David Valadao

This week we take a look at the world of politics with John Ellis of The Fresno Bee. We talk about John's recent article that suggests how a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding redistricting in Arizona could shake up local congressional districts, including the hotly contested seat in CA-21 currently held by David Valadao. We also talk about what candidates are already jockeying for position for Assembly and other races throughout the regions. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council has voted to move forward with an ordinance that aims to crack down on vacant blighted properties throughout the city. FM89’s Joe Moore reports backers hope the effort will improve struggling neighborhoods. 

No more boarded up windows. A new five person city “blight team” to assess the problem and daily fines for continued violations. Those are some of the measures of the new anti-blight ordinance that passed its first vote Thursday. 

Faith in Community

In many of Fresno’s older neighborhoods, blighted properties and boarded up homes are a big problem. FM89’s Joe Moore reports a proposed new law aims to crack down on those property owners.

Residents say abandoned, boarded up buildings drive down property values and often attract  illegal activity. That’s why the Fresno City Council is set to vote on a new ordinance tomorrow to crack down on vacant blighted buildings throughout the city.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin:

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno's Blackstone Avenue has seen better days. A drive down the six lane strip of asphalt that stretches from downtown past ramshackle used car lots and abandoned storefronts all the way to the booming River Park area on the northside, can tell you a lot about where the city has been and where it is headed. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Authorities have arrested a woman in connection with the structure fire that seriously injured Fresno Fire Captain Pete Dern last month. Valley Public Radio’s Joe Moore reports. 

Julia Harper is facing charges of unlawfully causing a fire which causes great bodily injury. Fresno Fire Chief Kerri Donis announced the arrest at a press conference Thursday.

Donis: “During the investigation, Harper admitted to her responsibility for starting this fire.”

Latino Leaders Call For District Based Elections

Apr 23, 2015
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould /

Latinos make up 40 percent of California’s population, but just about 15 percent of the state’s mayors and city council members. A bill backed by the state’s legislative Latino caucus is seeking to make city governments more representative. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The bill would require some cities with populations of more than 100,000 to hold district-based municipal elections, instead of at-large elections. 

Slow Progress In Congressional Water Talks

Apr 16, 2015
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. 

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.

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. 

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

Mar 30, 2015
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.

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.

Fresno Deputy Police Chief Arrested For Dealing Drugs

Mar 26, 2015
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...

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.

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.

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.

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.