Madi Bolanos

Reporter

Madi Bolanos is the immigration and underserved communities reporter at Valley Public Radio. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border. Originally from Fresno, she is happy to be back reporting on important issues in the San Joaquin Valley. 

Courtesy of Erika Harris

In a letter to Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Terry, the ACLU is accusing the Bakersfield Police Department o​f biased policing during a Nov. 1 demonstration that included both Black Lives Matter protesters and Trump supporters. 

On this week's Valley Edition: We unpack what happened on Tuesday by looking at partisanship in the San Joaquin Valley and discussing how the election will shape California’s future. 

Plus, we take you to the small farming town of Mendota to find out how Latinx businesses there are doing during the pandemic. Some have only survived by taking out loans. 

 

And, two sisters in Fresno share stories about their peacemaking father for San Joaquin  StoryCorps. 

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

The TV station Univision plays in the background at Las Morenitas, a small Salvadorian restaurant on Mendota's main street. Maria Morena has owned the place with her husband, Francisco, for 12 years. After frying pupusas for a few lunch customers, she takes a quick break to talk about the business. 

“We aren’t making any profits,” Morena says. “We’re just paying the bills and well, we have no employees except for the family that has stepped up to help us out.” 

 

While many Fresno voters chose to send their ballots in early this election cycle, some opted to vote in person on Election Day. 

 

At nearly 5 p.m., a line outside of the Mosqueda Community Center in southeast Fresno began to form. But Charlene Brown, 35, said she didn’t mind the wait. She’s been voting since she was 18 and said voting in person is more meaningful.

 

“It’s a different feeling voting in person, to see your visual vote count on the screen,” Brown said. She said she was also inspired by the diverse, young voters she saw while waiting in line. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: Latinx voters are among the largest and most diverse voting blocks in California. We’ll ask our panel, how are campaigns connecting and mobilizing these voters in the final days of the election season? 

Plus we take a deeper look at proposition 23. It requires dialysis clinics to have a doctor on site at all times, but will it really improve patient care? 

We’ll also hear another segment from StoryCorps San Joaquin. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Immigrant rights groups are concerned about a recent uptick in arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They said they want transparency in terms of COVID-19 safety procedures. 

 

At least four people, one in Fresno and three in Taft, have been arrested and detained by ICE in the last week, said Lisa Knox, legal director for the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice.

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: Election season is underway. As Valley voters cast their ballots, we discuss how a predicted high voter turnout could impact local congressional races. 

Plus, a community choir is figuring out a new way to sing together in the pandemic: in their cars with the help of an FM radio transmitter. 

We also speak with the Fresno poet who is a finalist for the National Book Award. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

Federal agents announced Wednesday that they are now working with local officials in Fresno to mitigate the recent rise in crime. There have been 50 homicides and more than 560 shootings this year. 

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California McGregor W. Scott said he was shocked to learn there’s been a 96% increase in shootings compared to last year. That’s why Scott said he arranged to have federal agents help local law enforcement make arrests and decide where people should be prosecuted. 

Fresno State / Fresno State Official Facebook

David Celaya is one of about 30 staff members who learned last Thursday that his position was being eliminated due to budget cuts brought on by COVID-19. He’s worked for the university as a graphic designer for almost 5 years and he said he’s still in disbelief.  

“I’m kind of in denial a little bit and especially because I’m still working on projects,” Celaya said. “What I’m doing today on this random Tuesday is not any different than what I was doing a couple weeks ago.”

 

 

 

This week on Valley Edition: More and more young candidates are running for office. We talk with three Valley youth vying for seats on local school boards.

 

Plus, teaching online is challenging enough. But getting kids to sing in a chorus over the internet? That’s really tricky. Choir teachers are coming up with new ways to make music.  

We also delve into more ballot propositions and update you on the pandemic. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

 

Courtesy of Jaspreet Nagra, Blake Zante and David Paredes

 

David Paredes, 24, is running for the Area 5 seat on the Fresno Unified School Board. Since his campaign started in August, he’s made about a hundred phone calls a day.

“I’m also a direct product of the school system so I feel like I know what has worked and what hasn’t worked and where our priorities need to be,” Paredes said in a call to an FUSD Area 5 resident. “Like increasing access to mental health services for our youth and addressing climate change.”    

    

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

 

The Maxie L. Parks Community Center in West Fresno has been closed since Sept. 3 due to contaminants found in the building. Fresno Councilmember Miguel Arias announced Monday the city will secure funding to clean up the site. 

 

Before the community center was built in 2007, there was a laundromat on the site, Arias said at a press conference at City Hall. He said the city will spend half a million dollars to address two contaminants in the building associated with the dry cleaning industry. 

 

 

The Ninth Circuit Court heard oral arguments for the expansion of immigration detention centers in McFarland on Friday and immigrant rights advocates are hopeful the court will rule against the case.

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: COVID-19 cases are soaring at Avenal State Prison, and inmates there say postponed visitations, rule changes, and constant bed moves are taking a psychological toll. 

Plus, honey bees have already been hit hard by disease, drought and development. Now, the Creek Fire has killed millions more. 

We also continue our election coverage, and delve into more propositions. 

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Tania Bernal

 

Activists across California rallied Tuesday to bring attention to the widespread COVID-19 outbreaks and related deaths at 30 different prisons, jails and detention centers including the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield. 

 

For four minutes, activists across the state live streamed their demonstrations in unison to show solidarity. Six activists put a banner on Mesa Verde’s fence that said “Newsom’s Death Camp” according to organizer Tania Bernal with the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance.

 

Ezra David Romero / KVPR

 

Kern County is known for Big Agriculture and traditionally leans to the right.  Many of the farmers there support Donald Trump. But when it comes to immigration—one of the President's signature themes—not all the farmers there line up behind him.  

Tom Frantz is a fourth-generation almond farmer in Shafter, California.  It’s a small town of 16,000 people— just up the road from Bakersfield. Fields in the area grow almonds, pistachios, cotton, grapes and alfalfa.  

 

Frantz relies on a local contractor to provide the workers he needs to tend his farm. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: Kern County farmers talk about how President Trump’s immigration policies affect the industry.

Plus, we hear from young community organizers in Fresno and Bakersfield who say they’re fed up with the current political system and are working to bring about change. 

Later, we speak to the president of California State University, Bakersfield as the school celebrates 50 years of education.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

A Fresno police officer used excessive force on a black 17-year-old male during a January 2019 incident caught on camera, according to an independent auditor’s review released on Thursday.  

 

The audit says Officer Christopher Martinez continued to punch London Wallace after he was no longer resisting arrest or posed any threat to the officer. 

 

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

 

The Bakersfield Police Department is asking anyone who was a victim of an attack during Friday night's demonstration for Breonna Taylor to report it to the department for investigation. 

 

The protest was organized by the local activist group Black Lives Matter Kern. It started at 5 p.m. in front of the Bakersfield Police Department on Truxtun Avenue.

 

KVPR / Madi Bolanos

For over 35 years, the United States has partnered with Mexico to share resources during peak fire activity. And right now, 100 Mexican firefighters are in Tulare County helping to battle the SQF Complex Fire.

The crew from Guadalajara arrived Friday at the Kern County High School in Lake Isabella, where they were greeted by California fire officials. It’s not the first visit for Ramon Silva, deputy chief of the National Forestry Commission of Mexico. He helped fight the Camp Fire in 2018 so he’s seen the devastation wildfires have wreaked on the state and it concerns him.  

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