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Laura Tsutsui

Laura Tsutsui is a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She first joined the station as a news intern, and now covers local issues for KVPR and produces the weekly program Valley Edition. 

A Fresno native, Laura graduated in the spring of 2017 from California State University, Fresno as a member of the Smittcamp Family Honors College. She studied journalism, with a focus in multimedia. While attending Fresno State, Tsutsui was an intern for California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon through the Maddy Institute and an intern for Congressman Sam Farr in Washington, D.C. through the Panetta Institute. In 2015 Laura won an Associated Press Television and Radio Association award for her audio documentary, "Netflix and Chill." 

On this week's Valley Edition, we go up in the air for an aerial view of Kern County’s Cymric Oil Field. And on the ground in Tulare County, will a village of tiny homes help solve the homeless crisis? 

You may know McFarland for the Disney movie about an against-the-odds cross country track team winning the state championship. But now the town is in the spotlight for a different reason - two investigative reporters tell us about its “second chance” police department. 

 

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

After cancelling California rallies due to a health scare in October, presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will be coming to Fresno this week. Sanders’ campaign is hosting a “Green New Deal Rally” at Fresno City College Friday evening at 6 p.m. The free event at the Veterans Peace Memorial Lawn is open to the public.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Governor Gavin Newsom highlighted the state’s economic wins today in his keynote address at the California Economic Summit in downtown Fresno, citing big investments in regional education. 

Economic growth, he said, tends to happen along the coast and is not shared statewide. 

Jason Pohl / Sacramento Bee

Since 2014, Kern County sheriffs have been putting more inmates into isolating suicide watch cells. The effort is to reduce suicide risk, but it hasn’t helped.

Instead, deaths by suicide have risen, although these deaths did not happen to inmates who were in suicide watch jails. Those who have died by suicide were not identified as having a suicide risk.

On this week’s Valley Edition: The first African American park superintendent was instrumental in building a wagon road into Sequoia National Park back in 1903. Now for Veterans Day, a portion of Highway 198 will be renamed for this dynamic Colonel.

We also take you to Tulare County where a dynamic mother-daughter team advocates for infrastructure improvements and basic needs, like drinkable water, in unincorporated communities.

City of Madera

Madera City employees say they haven’t seen a cost of living increase in years, and tonight they’ll be picketing outside city hall, before the council’s meeting, in protest. 

Salary negotiations are not on the council’s agenda, but protesters hope their presence highlights the wage issue. Members of the Madera Affiliated Employees Association are working under a contract that expired at the end of June

City of Madera Facebook Page

Residents of a Madera apartment complex are being evicted en masse, and some suspect the landlord is issuing evictions to avoid upcoming renter protections. 

Last Friday, residents at the Laguna Knolls complex were issued letters saying they have until four days after Christmas to leave. 

Fresno Housing Authority Facebook Page

It’s no secret California is facing a homelessness crisis, with eviction being one way families end up without a home. However, the data on who is evicted and why has been scarce until recently. Ten years ago, sociologist Matthew Desmond began research for his book, “Evicted.” The MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, and Pulitzer Prize winner is helping decipher how eviction is not only a consequence of poverty, but also a cause. He spoke with Valley Public Radio ahead of his visit to Fresno next week, hosted by the Fresno Housing Authority.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

In celebration of the end of Bullying Prevention Week, one Fresno elementary school hosted law enforcement and military members during recess. There were no tricks to the morning event, just treats.

Powers-Ginsburg Elementary students sat in fire engines, talked to police officers, and met a K-9 unit: real-life heroes who don’t tolerate bullying, said the school’s principal, Angela Balliet.

Ezra David Romero / KVPR

Legislation proposed Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives aims to give undocumented farmworkers more protections.  The Farm Workforce Modernization Act will provide undocumented workers a path to legal residency, and for those who want it, citizenship. 

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

  One more candidate has thrown his name into Fresno’s Mayoral Race: The Rev. Floyd Harris Jr. announced his run Monday night during a protest against Fresno police shootings. The Fresno civil rights leader says his decision was influenced by the recently released video footage from 2017 that shows a Fresno police officer shooting 16-year-old Isiah Murietta-Golding in the back of the head. That video is now the focus of a civil rights lawsuit. “We need leadership with backbone that cares about people first and has compassion,” Harris said.

City Of Clovis Facebook Page

The City of Clovis is being sued for its lack of affordable housing. A lawsuit filed in Fresno County Superior Court Wednesday alleged that the city isn’t in compliance with state housing law, and is discriminating against low-income people by not planning for high density housing. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Next week, the Youth Leadership Institute’s policy journal, Calafia, hits the newsstands. Youth Leadership Institute is an organization with offices across the state where staff work to empower youth and help them shape policy and create media. The annual journal is produced by fellows, one from each office. This year’s journal takes the shape of a magazine about intersectional feminism with pieces written, photographed and designed by the young women on the editorial board.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno Bee has served the Valley for nearly a hundred years, but like so many newspapers across the country, it has lost revenue along with dozens of reporters in the past decade. Now, the paper is trying a different approach to serve and inform its public. Inspired by a similar project out of the Seattle Times, the Bee is building an Education Lab. The way the Bee is funding the project is also pretty nontraditional: with private, non-profit funding. 

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: California is trying to manage its groundwater better, but some communities, already grappling with unsafe drinking water, worry they’ll be left behind by local agencies to fend for themselves.

And a Bay Area conservation group just purchased the world’s largest privately owned giant sequoia grove: 530 acres of pristine forest.

Plus: We hear from journalists about two upcoming projects. One of them is run by young women throughout the state, the other is an effort to improve education reporting in Fresno. 

 

 

On this week's Valley Edition: Two violent incidents shook the Sikh community in Bakersfield this year; now a women’s group is running a resource hotline in English and Punjabi.

And one father in Fresno who lost two children to gun violence has a strategy for fighting it in his own neighborhood. Is it working? We follow him to find out.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A recently published study says that Native American students in California experience suspension rates that are twice as high as the state average. The same study also found that expulsion rates of those students are particularly high in Kings County. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

And for the weekend, let’s take a look at a recent aquisition at the Fresno Art Museum: Just added to FAM’s permanent collection is a piece from Fresno native Darren Waterson. He now lives and works in New York City, but he got his early art education at the museum. The new piece is called “LAST DAYS (Gabriel)”. 

Listen to the interview above to hear Waterston describe the painting, and where the Central Valley fits among his work.

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: When it comes to California’s overhaul of groundwater management, many small farmers are wondering: When will they get a seat at the decision making table?

Also, Bakersfield may take a different approach to the homelessness crisis by using empty jail beds to enforce drug laws. 

Plus: We dig deep into the Bakersfield Sound with a new 10-CD collection. 

Listen to those stories and more in the podcast above.

Fox26

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer stepped back into uniform Friday to announce a breakthrough in a 20-year-old murder investigation. At a press conference, Dyer announced that Visalia resident Nickey Stane is the primary suspect in the 1996 rape and murder of 22-year-old Debbie Dorian.

“We anticipate the arrest of Stane for that murder and rape in the very, very near future once some additional investigative work is comepleted by detectives,” said Dyer.

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