Government & Politics

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

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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Government & Politics
10:02 am
Thu June 28, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Budget

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a roughly $90 billion spending plan into law for the fiscal year that starts on Sunday. It’s designed to close the state’s $16 billion deficit. The Governor’s signature came just hours before a midnight deadline to sign the main budget bill Democratic lawmakers sent him earlier this month.

It came with little fanfare, and his office did not release any details about his line-item vetoes. The spending plan includes cuts to welfare, social services and more. It also assumes voters will approve Brown’s tax hike on the November ballot.

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The Two-Way
12:50 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

City Of Stockton's Looming Bankruptcy: Pictures Tell The Story

Among the projects that have helped put Stockton in the red: this downtown multiplex, which opened in 2003 and cost $15 million in public and private money.
Ian Hill KQED

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 7:19 am

Stockton, Calif., is on the verge of becoming the largest city in the nation to declare bankruptcy after its city council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to approve a spending plan that's essentially "a day-to-day survival budget," as the Los Angeles Times puts it.

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Immigration
4:02 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Fresno Immigration Activist Welcomes New Obama Policy

President Obama's announcement today on immigration reform is receiving a warm welcome from local immigrant rights advocates.

Pedro Ramirez, the former student body president of Fresno State who gained national notoriety in 2010 because of his status as an undocumented immigrant, says this is a step in the right direction that will make a profound difference for hispanic students in the valley.

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Government & Politics
3:00 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Pension math spurs calls for reform

When you look up the origins of word “pension” in the dictionary, you’ll see that it comes from the Latin verb, pendo, which means to pay or value, and to weigh or hang. It’s actually the same root that gives us nouns like pendant. And back here in the 21st century, the costs of providing a defined benefit retirement programs are increasingly weighing down budget across the state.

According to some estimates, California's three largest statewide pension systems, CalPERS, CalSTRS and the UC Retirement System could have a combined shortfall of as much as $500 billion.

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Government & Politics
11:56 am
Thu May 31, 2012

With Realignment, Fresno County Jail Floor Likely to Reopen

Since 2010, the second and third floors the Fresno County Jail in Downtown Fresno have been empty. Budget cuts resulted in the layoffs of around 70 officers who worked in the jail, forcing Sheriff Margaret Mims to close the floors, and begin the early release of prisoners.

"Right now our capacity is at about 2,300 inmates and we run at 100 percent capacity almost all of the time," said Mims.

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Government & Politics
9:57 am
Mon May 7, 2012

Prop 28 Would Change Term Limits

Currently, California lawmakers can serve a total of fourteen years: six in the Assembly, and eight in the Senate. Nick Schroeder from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says Prop 28 would allow a legislator to serve up to twelve years.

“Fundamentally, what this measure does is it allows a person to serve more years in one house, either in the Assembly or Senate but fewer total years in the legislature…”

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