Government & Politics

News about government and politics

State Insists High-Speed Rail Remains On Track

Nov 6, 2015
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

After appearing to pick up steam this year, California's ambitious high-speed rail project hit a snag this week. Opponents are accusing the High-Speed Rail Authority of hiding higher cost estimates. The state insists that costs remain on track, although the trains may not be ready to run on time. Ben Bradford reports from Sacramento.

In January, after years of delays and legal battles, Governor Jerry Brown finally celebrated the groundbreaking for California’s High Speed Rail line.

Valley Public Radio

On this week's Valley Edition: Governor Brown has declared a new state of emergency in California. But it’s not involving a wildfire or a mudslide – it’s actually about the massive die-off trees in the Sierra. We’ll find out what local forestry officials doing scrambling to keep visitors safe. Later in the show we’ll talk about a new opinion piece in the New York Times that suggests California’s best days are behind it. Is the California dream turning dark, or is the state about the reinvent itself once again? 

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The CEO of California’s High Speed Rail Authority is defending the project after Assembly Republicans issued calls for an investigation into project management, following an explosive LA Times report.

The article alleges that the rail authority actively concealed information that ran counter to their projections about the project’s cost and engineering challenges.

Assembly member Jim Patterson says rail CEO Jeff Morales has not been up front about the project and should testify under oath before an Assembly committee.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno City Council President Oliver Baines says a new city-sponsored planning effort could finally give Southwest Fresno residents the community they desire. Speaking on Valley Public Radio's Valley Edition, Baines say the new Southwest Fresno Specific Plan will improve zoning conflicts between residential and industrial uses, and encourage new mixed income developments in the area, thanks to an expedited environmental review process. 

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The Kearney Palms Shopping Center on Fresno Street just west of Highway 99 is often held up as the shining example of the potential future of Southwest Fresno. The grocery store and surround retailers thrive. But the historical legacy of institutional racism has held much of the rest of the neighborhood back. The neighborhood suffers from some of the highest concentrations of poverty in the state, and heavy pollution from industrial developments.

According to Fresno City Council Member Clint Olivier, the city faces an existential threat from "vagrants" who have overrun parks, stores and neighborhoods. In an op-ed column in the Fresno Bee, Olivier calls for a new push from city hall on the issue. 

Kern County Public Library

A new poll shows that a majority of Kern County residents are opposed to the privatization of the county’s public library system. 

The Board of Supervisors commissioned the poll by Price Research of 600 county residents to gauge overall support for the library system. Earlier this year a budget crunch led county leaders to explore a number of possibilities for the system, including handing operations over to a private company.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Bakersfield’s Wild West Shopping Center is getting a new owner. FM89’s Joe Moore reports on why the city council voted last night to buy the property.

The nearly 5 acre parcel sits where westbound Highway 58 dead-ends into Highway 99. For years extending freeway access on 58 to the west side has been a top city priority - a plan now known as the Centennial Corridor freeway.

Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

Governor Jerry Brown signed a pipeline safety bill today authored by Bakersfield Assemblymember Rudy Salas.

Assembly Bill 1420 will now require operators of pipelines near homes and schools to submit maps of those pipelines to the Division of Oil Gas and Geothermal Resources known as DOGGR. The bill also requires DOGGR to determine appropriate methods of testing pipelines.

Rudy Salas says the bill was inspired by a gas leak in Arvin in 2014. Eight families were forced out of their homes for the majority of the year after an underground pipeline leaked.

Joe Moore/ Valley Public Radio

The surprise decision by Bakersfield Representative Kevin McCarthy to withdraw from the House speakers’ race could mean bad news for the Central Valley, according to local political experts. Many have speculated that having a speaker from the valley could have elevated local concerns in Washington.

In an understated way, this is how Representative McCarthy opened his press conference to explain his decision.

“I think I shocked some of you, eh?”

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