Government & Politics

Government & Politics
6:09 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

California Bill Would Allow More Than Two Parents Per Child

The California law that says a judge can recognize only two legal parents per child would change under a bill working its way through the legislature. The bill’s author says not every family today looks like “Ozzie and Harriet’s.”

Democratic Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco says he wrote the bill to recognize non-traditional families…where there might be biological non-custodial fathers or surrogate mothers. The bill rises from the case of a child who had two legal mothers.

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Government & Politics
5:41 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

DOJ Takes Merced County Off Voting Rights Act List

Merced County's historic courthouse museum in Downtown Merced.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The US Department of Justice announced this morning that it has reached an agreement with Merced County that will let election officials there avoid the process of having to clear many voting decisions with the federal government.

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Government & Politics
6:30 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Audit of State's Hidden Surplus Money Due Next Week

California's State Capitol Building
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

We should learn next week whether there’s any more hidden surplus money in California state special funds. The state's Finance Department plans to release its audit of those accounts after $54 million dollars in surplus money was found in two parks funds.

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Government & Politics
3:31 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Study Suggests Environmental Benefits From High Speed Rail

California High Speed Rail Authority

A new study suggests that the proposed high speed rail project could have big environmental benefits for California.

The study, released by UC Berkeley, compared the future sustainability of high speed rail with plane and car travel. It found a mature high speed rail system would use less energy and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers accounted for more fuel efficient cars and planes in the future. And they looked at different levels of ridership when calculating greenhouse gas emissions.

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Government & Politics
6:23 pm
Wed July 25, 2012

California Governor Downplays Parks Scandal

California Governor Jerry Brown is downplaying the state parks scandal in his first public statement on the issue.

Last week, the Brown administration revealed that the Parks department had failed to report 54 million dollars in two funds for the last 12 years. State Parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned as a result.

But the governor says it’s better to find money than to discover money missing.

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State Parks Crisis
9:00 am
Tue July 24, 2012

Future of Mariposa Museum Still In Doubt

Randy Bolt is one of three remaining employees at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa. The museum may close later this year.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Randy Bolt has a passion for rocks. Well, not just rocks, but gems and minerals too. He's a historic guide at California's Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa. 

He can tell you about the state's official gemstone, "which most people have never even heard of, which is actually one of the rarest  gems in the world, it's called Benitoite, named after San Benito Creek."

Or he can tell you about the history of the world-famous nugget from the California Gold Rush that is nearly the size of a basketball.

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Government & Politics
3:32 pm
Fri July 20, 2012

California Parks Director Resigns Admid Scandal

California Governor Jerry Brown has accepted the resignation of state Parks Director Ruth Coleman after learning the department underreported tens of millions of dollars for at least 12 years.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the State Parks and Recreation Fund and the Off Highway Vehicle Fund held a total of 54 million dollars more than what was reported.

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California News
8:52 am
Fri July 20, 2012

For Stockton, Calif., Bankruptcy 'Freezes Everything'

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 9:20 am

Many cities around the country are faced with growing costs and shrinking revenue. Despite making sweeping cuts, Stockton, California recently became the largest city to file for bankruptcy. Host Michel Martin talks with Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston about how she's managing a city that's operating in the red.

Special Report: State Parks
2:31 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Community Rallies as State Park Faces Threat of Closure

Many of California’s state parks were saved from closing this year thanks to operating agreements with nonprofits and private organizations.  Others are on the rocks – or narrowly avoided closure, like Benicia State Recreation Area, which we heard about yesterday.  But one state park in Nevada County offers quite a different story. As Amy Quinton reports in the second of our two-part series, the entire community pulled together to save South Yuba River State Park.

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Government & Politics
11:55 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Governor Brown Signs High Speed Rail Funding Bill

Governor Jerry Brown speaks at a bill-signing ceremony Wednesday at the future site of San Francisco's Transbay Transit Center.
Amy Quinton Capitol Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law on Wednesday that allows initial construction of a high speed train.

Governor Brown emphasized that California isn’t just funding a bullet train, but making an investment in the state’s economic future. The bill authorizes the state to begin selling $2.6 billion in voter approved bonds.

He celebrated the signing in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Both cities will serve as major hubs for the eventual 130 miles of track through the Central Valley. But the Governor chose not to sign it there.

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The Two-Way
9:33 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Could Compton Become California's 4th City To Go Bankrupt?

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 6:33 am

Financial troubles are surfacing in another California city: Compton, just south of Los Angeles, is in trouble. Just like Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and San Bernardino, Compton's bills are too big and its income too small.

Last week, Standard and Poor's, Compton's credit rating agency, put the some of the city's bonds on credit watch. S-and-P cited problems with alleged waste, fraud and misuse of city dollars, and blamed city officials for failing to turn over documents that might clear up questions.

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Special Report: State Parks
5:44 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

State Park Scrambles as It Faces Two Week Deadline

Benicia State Recreation Area
Capitol Public Radio

It's been a rollercoaster ride for California state parks. A year ago, the Department of Parks and Recreation selected 70 parks to close on July 1st as a result of budget cuts. But operating agreements with private partners have kept 40 of the parks open.

Now it appears all but a handful will stay open, but nobody knows for how long. In the first of a two-part series looking at the state of California's state parks reporter Kathleen Masterson visited one still struggling to stay open.

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Government & Politics
5:04 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Veterans Boulevard funding up for vote

A preliminary map of the Veterans Boulevard interchange at Highway 99 in north Fresno.
Courtesy City of Fresno / CalTrans

Fresno’s long planned Veterans Boulevard interchange on Highway 99 between Herndon and Shaw Avenues may be closer to becoming a reality.

The Fresno City Council is scheduled to vote Thursday on a plan to spend $5.4 million on design and engineering plans for the roadway, which will connect Herndon Avenue across Highway 99 with Grantland Avenue.

The project is expected to solve a number of traffic problems in the fast growing area west of Highway 99. Last year, the City Council also approved the first phase of a planned El Paseo regional shopping center near the boulevard.

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Government & Politics
4:56 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

High speed rail releases revised environmental study

Artists rendering of a station for the state's planned high speed rail system.
California High Speed Rail Authority

The California High Speed Rail Authority has released a Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project section between Fresno and Bakersfield. The Authority has provided alternative routes in response to public dissatisfaction with the proposals in the original report released last year.

Frank Oliveira of the group Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability, says he's still concerned with the revised draft, as he isn't convinced the Authority has done what they can to understand the effects the high speed rail could have in the Valley.

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Government & Politics
6:03 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

State budget suspends Brown Act provisions

Local government boards in California are no longer required to post agendas or disclose decisions made in closed sessions. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the legislature suspended those provisions of the state’s public meeting law in the budget passed last month.

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Valley Public Radio News
5:44 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

CalPERS Investment Return Way Short of Projections

CalPERS barely earned any money at all during the fiscal year that ended June 30th. The nation’s largest public pension fund announced a one-percent return on investment today.

The California Public Employees Retirement System’s one percent return is nowhere near its projection of seven-and-a-half percent. It’s even below the California State Teachers Retirement System, which earned a one-point-eight percent return.

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Valley Public Radio News
5:36 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

As Their Numbers Dwindle, Prison Inmates Help Fight Fires

California prison inmates help fight the Robbers Fire in Placer County.
Ben Adler Capitol Public Radio

Fire fighters battling wildfires across California this week are getting support from hundreds of state prison inmates. That's been the case for years, but as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, Governor Jerry Brown's prison realignment is starting to reduce the number of inmates available to help.

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3:37 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

California bankruptcies spark concern over Fresno's finances

Lead in text: 
Could the City of Fresno follow Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and San Bernadino in declaring bankruptcy? According to Barron's, Wall Street experts remain concerned about Fresno's financial position, thanks to the city's long term labor contracts and limited revenue options. They say the downsides of filing for Chapter 9 protection will likely serve as a deterrent for most cities, but Fresno's case is still a concern.
With three California cities opting to file for bankruptcy protection within the past month, many are worrying this could open the floodgates to more municipal bankruptcies. But Citi strategists say the bankruptcy option still brings enough stigma and costs to deter other troubled cities. Citi notes that the cases of Stockton, San Bernardino and Mammoth [...]
Valley Public Radio News
7:05 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Court closures expected to hurt rural communities

Fresno County Courthouse
Joe Moore - Valley Public Radio

California’s budget problems have put a strain on all state departments - including local county courts. Valley Public Radio's Gabriela Ornelas tells us how Fresno County residents may find getting to a courtroom much more difficult in the coming weeks.

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The Two-Way
1:44 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Proposed California Bill Would Allow For More Than Two Parents

State Sen. Mark Leno.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 2:52 pm

It seems that around the country, the most fervent legal debate around modern families revolves around gay parents.

A California lawmaker is adding to that debate by challenging the notion that a child only has two parents. A bill proposed by Sen. Mark Leno would allow a child to have multiple parents, The Sacramento Bee reports.

Currently California law permits no more than two parents per child.

The Bee adds:

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