Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

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." 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Summers for college students usually mean part time jobs or summer school. But this year, one group of students have dedicated their time to civic engagement. While some of them are new voters themselves, they’re hoping to get other young adults to make voting a priority.

Greg Ballmer

In a small section of Kern County, outside the city of Bakersfield, a dirt ridge rises above the farmland. It’s home to a couple of cell towers, an orchard, and a creature that we didn’t know was there up until the last 25 years. In fact, it's by chance that this animal is no longer flying under scientists’ radar.

The first scientist to identify it was Greg Ballmer, a retired entomologist.

In 1997, Ballmer was driving down Highway 99, just south of Bakersfield,

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

One perception of homeless individuals might be that they’re alone, dealing with substance abuse or mental illness. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes a homeless person has family nearby, and just a strained relationship.  We reported on a Fresno County program that helps house parents and children, usually after they’ve been separated by the courts. This week, we meet one parent who used that emergency housing. Her name is Christina Montalvo, and she spent some time on the streets alone, while her kids lived with family.

U.S. Forest Service - Sierra National Forest (Facebook)

UPDATE: 6:00 PM 7/27/18

Yosemite Valley is going to remain closed for a little longer than initially planned due to the Ferguson Fire. The Park Service announced today that the valley will reopen on Friday August 3rd at 4:00 PM. The Wawona community and Mariposa Grove will remain closed due to smoke and impacts from the fire. Highway 41 will also remain closed. It’s unknown when they will reopen. The popular park attractions closed earlier this week due to the fire. The closures had been set to expire this Sunday.

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

  

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

We’ve reported on homelessness, but what about families who are on the brink? For some of them, finding stable housing is a way to move their lives forward after drug rehabilitation, or court-mandated separation from their kids. With recent approval to relocate, one Fresno County program is trying to make it easier for those families to find housing.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

About a quarter of the nation’s homeless population live in California with most of them concentrated in the state’s larger cities, including Fresno. Governor Brown has responded in his latest budget by including $500 million in grants for cities to address homelessness. Fresno Mayor Lee Brand went to Sacramento to lobby in support of this funding. Despite years of work on the problem, the city’s homeless population is still significant. Some have said in recent times that Fresno has spent too much time and efforts criminalizing homelessness, referencing the so-called camping ban.

Courtesy of Nina Ichikawa.

 

The House version of the Farm Bill barely passed by a margin of two votes last week, and a Senate version is currently in the works. This piece of federal legislation is renewed about every five years and determines policy about agriculture and food assistance, like Food Stamps, or in California we call it CalFresh. Today on our program we welcome Nina Ichikawa by phone to help us break it down. She’s the policy director from the Berkeley Food Institute at UC Berkeley.

Spectrum Dance

 

It’s been 76 years since Japanese immigrants and Americans were incarcerated, and sent to internment, also known today as concentration camps, during World War II. They were sent there by Executive Order 9066 from President Roosevelt. The action was under the pretense of defending national security on the West Coast. It wasn’t until the war’s end in 1945 that the government  began closing the camps. A new book co-written by Heather C. Lindquist and Edgar Award winning author Naomi Hirahara examines that period after the camp’s close, and before the redress in 1988, when the U.S.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno mayor announced a sales tax initiative he will propose to the City Council on Thursday. The proposal could end up competing with another measure that’s vying for a spot on the November ballot.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand wants to raise money for public safety and parks. He’s proposing a half-cent sales tax. If approved by the city council and voters, it could raise up to fifty million dollars a year for the next 15 years.

Today on Valley Edition, we hear about how a disagreement on Facebook led to the ousting of the Tulare City mayor. We also talk to locals who visited the border and describe what they observed while protesting at detention centers, even after the president changed his family separation policy.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, joined Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in Fresno today. The invitation-only event drew protests, despite attempts to keep the location secret.

Ivanka Trump and McCarthy were the guests of honor at a private luncheon for “Protect the House,” a group committed to keeping GOP control of Congress. The event was at Harris Construction, hosted by Fresno businessman Richard Spencer.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

The Trust for Public Land just released their latest Park Score rankings of park systems in 100 cities throughout the nation. While Fresno has scored low in the past, some groups have tried to draw attention to the city’s parks. The rankings come during an effort to add an initiative to the November ballot that would raise money for parks.  

This year, the Trust For Public Land ranked Fresno at 94 out of 100 cities. The city was the lowest ranked from 2012 to 2015, but did make steady improvements in following years.  The city was ranked 90th last year.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

A lot of the news around Bitcoin has to do with its value rising and falling. Many have decided to invest with hopes its value goes up. While the total number of those with Bitcoin is just a fraction of the world’s population, some of them happen to live in Fresno. FM89’s Laura Tsutsui reports that some of these users aren’t necessarily hoping to strike it rich, but instead are trying to understand how cryptocurrency could be a part of our lives in years to come.

Anthony Yang is a researcher and content developer in Downtown Fresno.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Think for a moment about neighborhoods in Fresno. Maybe you thought of the Tower District, or Fig Garden? Or perhaps it was Woodward Park or Sunnyside. What about the area west of Highway 99, between Clinton, Herndon and Grantland Avenues. Today it’s a checkerboard mix of subdivisions, rural homes, and farmland. And getting across Highway 99 to the rest of Fresno, and over the railroad, and Golden State Boulevard is a traffic nightmare. Now, the city is starting a new effort that aims to solve some big problems for area residents.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Over 5,000 people came to the Central Valley this weekend to watch the first World Surf League team competition, live. The event took place at Kelly Slater’s world-class wave pool in Lemoore, and some think this surf ranch is the next frontier for the sport.

Chris Estep loves to watch surfing. He says he and his wife watch the competitions whenever they can, but always from their home in Fresno, via livestream video.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

California's June Primary is around a month away, and some local races are starting to heat up. One of them is in a congressional district that hasn’t seen a close race in years, and now the 22nd Congressional District is drawing renewed national and local attention.

Nunes for Congress

 

One of the nation’s top political forecasting groups has announced that the forecast for one Central Valley district is shifting.

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