Government & Politics

News about government and politics

California Sentencing Institute / Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

A new report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice shows that Valley Counties on average send more people to jail and state prison than the rest of the state. Kings County topped the list with the state's highest per capita population in state prison, over 1,500 adults for every 100,000 people. Tulare and Kern counties weren't far behind.

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

An audit of California’s 560 “special funds” finds no more hidden assets. The audit comes after $54 million in surplus parks funds were discovered in two separate special funds accounts.

The discrepancy results from the difference in data given to the state controller’s office and the finance departments. The audit showed a $415 million difference between the two departments.

But State Finance Director Ana Matosantos says most of those differences arise from different accounting methods and timing of transfers.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Airports in Fresno and Bakersfield could be forced to close if lawmakers in Washington D.C. can't reach a deal on deficit reduction in the coming months, according to a new analysis released today by a Washington D.C. think tank. 

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

California’s Proposition 30 campaign released its fundraising numbers for the first half of the year today. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the campaign for Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative has raised more than six million dollars so far.

California's Budget On Hook For Wildfires

Jul 31, 2012

The wildfires blazing across California this fire season aren’t just burning through trees, grasses and homes, they’re burning through the state budget as well.  

Fifteen helicopters. Seven bulldozers. 46 fire engines. And 900 people. It took all that to fight a single California wildfire this summer – the Robbers fire in Placer County. It’s paid for with a special state emergency fund. If that runs out, says H.D. Palmer with the governor’s Department of Finance.

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.

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.

Audit of State's Hidden Surplus Money Due Next Week

Jul 27, 2012
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.

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.

California Governor Downplays Parks Scandal

Jul 25, 2012

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.

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.

California Parks Director Resigns Admid Scandal

Jul 20, 2012

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.

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.

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.

Governor Brown Signs High Speed Rail Funding Bill

Jul 19, 2012
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.

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.

State Park Scrambles as It Faces Two Week Deadline

Jul 17, 2012
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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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.

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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