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Kern County

Kern County Supervisors have adopted new district lines following a legal settlement with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The group sued the county alleging the 2011 supervisorial redistricting disenfranchised Latino voters by drawing lines that divided communities like Arvin and Delano, diluting their political power. In February MALDEF won the suit in U.S. District Court, setting up settlement talks to draw new district lines and new procedures for upcoming elections.

Christina Lopez

This weekend’s historic "March for Our Lives" rally saw hundreds of thousands of students gather from coast-to-coast and across the world in solidarity with students whose lives were cut short due to gun violence in their schools. This weekend, students from high schools across Kern County participated in Saturday’s rally that drew over 500 in attendance in west Bakersfield. FM 89’s Christina Lopez reports.

Hundreds of students from across Kern County high schools gathered along Truxtun Avenue for the March for Our Lives rally in Bakersfield.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In February a U.S. District Court Judge ruled in favor of a Latino civil rights group in a suit challenging the way the county drew supervisorial district lines in 2011. In the suit, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund argued that by splitting eastern Kern County cities between two districts, the county unfairly also broke up Latino communities in the San Joaquin Valley, instead of allowing for a second Latino-majority district, in addition to the current District 5.

James Burger, reporter for the Bakersfield Californian (file photo)

Despite the passage of Proposition 64, commercial marijuana dispensaries are technically illegal in Kern County after a vote last year by the Board of Supervisors. While the board may consider making changes to that policy for some medical cannabis dispensaries, the issue has led to a political firestorm. Rival camps have accused supervisors of unethical conduct, in one case including accusations of bribes. With so much turmoil, we spoke with reporter James Burger of The Bakersfield Californian, who recently wrote a series of reports on the allegations.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Latino civil rights group in a lawsuit against Kern County over voting rights. The ruling found county supervisorial districts that were created in 2011 violated the Voting Rights Act because they intentionally divided Latino communities between two districts.

Christina Lopez / KVPR

Tuesday marks six days since a 19-year-old man walked onto a South Florida high school campus, opened fire, and murdered 17 people. Many students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have spoken out for stricter gun laws. Now students in Kern County are doing the same. On Monday afternoon, students from Bakersfield High School organized a rally in southwest Bakersfield in support of gun safety on high school campuses. FM 89’s Christina Lopez brings us this story.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A Kern County Superior Court Judge has issued a ruling in favor of a Bakersfield bakery owner in a LGBT civil rights lawsuit. Judge David Lampe sided with Cathy Miller, owner of Tastries Bakery, who refused to sell a cake to a lesbian couple. Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio filed a complaint with the state, which in turn brought legal action against Miller for violations of the Unruh Civil Rights Act. It's a state law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, as well as sexual orientation.

 

By some measures, Stewart Resnick is the biggest farmer in California. His empire of almonds, pomegranates, pistachios and citrus covers over 120,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley. Known today as The Wonderful Company, Resnick and his wife Lynda have grown their multi-billion dollar fortune on products like POM Wonderful pomegranate juice and Wonderful Halos mandarin oranges. And despite California’s drought, in recent years they’ve kept growing, thanks to shrewd management of their most precious resource - water.

Kern DA: Serna Shooting Was Justified

Feb 2, 2018

Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green has determined that Bakersfield Police officer Reagan Selman acted reasonably when he shot and killed 73 year-old Francisco Serna in December 2016. Serna was unarmed, and suffering from dementia. Police later discovered the item he was holding in his pocket was a crucifix.

 

Christina Lopez / Vall

Millions around the country and world made their voices heard this weekend during the second annual Women’s March. Homemade signs for women’s rights, equality for all, and support for immigrants were raised in Bakersfield -- an unlikely scene in the heart of conversative Kern County, which voted majority Republican during the 2016 election. FM89’s Christina Lopez attended the first annual Women’s March in Kern County this past Saturday, exactly one year since President Trump was sworn into office, and shares this report.

Blue Note Records

Gregory Porter is one of the brightest stars in the jazz world. Since he burst on the scene in 2010 with his critically acclaimed debut album Water, Porter has won two Grammy Awards for best jazz vocal album, and is one of the most in-demand artists in the genre. His new record Nat King Cole and Me has earned him spots on NBC's Today Show and Late Night With Stephen Colbert, and soon a concert at Carnegie Hall. 

Kern County Public Library Facebook

The former Masonic Lodge on East Green Street in downtown Tehachapi is soon to become the new home of the city's branch of the Kern County Library. The move to the new, larger, more modern space has been long awaited by the residents of the mountain community.

Kern County Department of Public Health

New data from the California Department of Public Health show that cases of valley fever are on the rise across the state. The airborne fungal disease is also the subject of a new public awareness campaign in Kern County, featuring sheriff Donny Youngblood.

City of Bakersfield

It’s been an eventful first year on the Bakersfield City Council for Andrae Gonzales, who represents downtown, Westchester and other Ward 2 neighborhoods.

A new report from the Southern California American Civil Liberties Union claims that the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff’s Office have - in the ACLU’s words – "engaged in patterns and practices that violate civil rights" including the excessive use of force.

Kern County Announces New Awareness Campaign For Valley Fever

Nov 7, 2017
Center for Health Journalism Collaborative

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood grew up in Kern County. He hikes here, he rides horses here and he golfs here. He remembers elementary school field trips to Shark’s Tooth Hill to dig for relics here. He has done just about everything that could put him at risk for breathing in the coccidioidal fungal spore that causes valley fever, the insidious respiratory disease endemic to the area.

A relative got sick and died from the disease years ago after he was misdiagnosed. Then, a few months ago, Youngblood’s significant other got sick. Youngblood decided to get tested.

Vision Zero Kern Facebook page

According to a new report from the City of Bakersfield, 64 pedestrians and cyclists have been killed in accidents in the city in the last three and a half years. The new bicycle and pedestrian safety report says only around a quarter of those accidents were the fault of drivers. However, some say the number of deaths in the area is much larger, as the city's report doesn't count accidents that occurred in county islands.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Kern County Board of Supervisors is set to review a proposal Tuesday from local economic development officials that would lift existing caps on tax rebates, and bring new jobs to the county.

Flickr user Robert Valencia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

For the second year in a row, California’s rate of premature births has increased. But according to new data, the trend is even more alarming in the San Joaquin Valley.

Across California, 8.6 percent of live births are premature, according to the health advocacy organization March of Dimes. That means they were born before 37 weeks of gestation. The group gave the state a B on its annual premature birth report card. Of the 15 counties ranked in the report card, Fresno County scored the worst, with a prematurity rate of over 10%. Both Fresno and Kern Counties earned a C.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

One of the most widely used insecticides in America is the subject of a regulatory battle. Earlier this year the Trump administration chose not to move ahead with efforts to ban chlorpyrifos, first put in place by the Obama administration.  Now, California is in the process of tightening its own regulations of the insecticide, and that has some farmers searching for answers.

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