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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. 

Alice Daniel / Valley Public Radio

Renters in Fresno County need to make about twice the minimum wage to be able to afford the median monthly rent. Conditions like high rents contribute to the ongoing issue of homelessness in the San Joaquin Valley.

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

The Selma City Council is torn between choosing a district map the community supports or picking one that keeps members from running against each other. 

 

At Monday night’s regular meeting, the council cast votes on a map created by the company it hired, the National Demographics Corporation (or NDC), and a map drawn by a community member. The vote was split because Council Member Jim Avalos abstained.

 

“I need more time to talk to the public,” Avalos said. “I need more time to analyze these maps.”

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

The Selma City Council wants to change the way people vote for council members by creating districts versus at-large voting. But mapping those districts is a complicated process and community and council members have different ideas on how to make it fair.

The first set of district maps that were shown to the five-member council drew controversy at this week's meeting. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

High-profile workers rights activist Dolores Huerta was one of several people cited with misdemeanor charges while protesting at a Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting today. The 89-year-old who helped establish the National Farmworkers Association with Cesar Chavez was calling for higher wages for caregivers. 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Across Fresno and Madera Counties, about 2,600 kids are currently in foster care. Although foster parents, attorneys, social workers and judges work together to move cases through the court system, some needs fall through the cracks. An organization called CASA connects foster youth with volunteers to try to make sure that doesn't happen. The volunteers are also known as CASAs, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. But the organization argues there aren’t nearly enough volunteers to fill the need.

 

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

When Lewanne Osborn moved to the foothill community of Springville 53 years ago, the population was around 900, she said. Flip to the year 2000, and the population went up to 1,092, according to census bureau data. But 10 years later the population declined to 934. 

“In my own mind I just don’t feel like it’s an accurate number,” Obourne said. “I have seen incredible growth, houses going up everywhere, new communities that used to be just nothing but hillside and grassland.”

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Mayor David Cardenas of Fowler wants his small city to be at the forefront of education. That’s why he spends his lunch break passing out fliers, urging families who can’t afford preschool to consider an alternative. His target audience is families with children who won’t be attending kindergarten until Fall of 2020. 

“We’re here because I’m trying to bring this program, but I want to make sure it’s going to be a program for young little kids,” Cardenas says as he drives from the local senior center to the Presbyterian church to drop off a stack of fliers.

Fresno County Sheriff's Department

The Fresno County Sheriff's Department has identified 57-year-old Michael James Congdon as the suspect in Tuesday's shooting of a Sheriff's deputy. 

Congdon is facing two attempted murder charges, one against 49-year-old Deputy John Erickson and the other against Erickson's civilian ride-along. He has been booked into the Fresno County Jail; his total bail is set at slightly over $1.9 million. Congdon, who is from Fresno, is also facing felony charges of shooting at an occupied vehicle, using a firearm to commit a felony, committing a felony while armed and animal cruelty. 

Fresno County Sheriff's Office Facebook page

A Fresno County Sheriff’s Deputy is in surgery after being shot in the Fresno County foothills. The suspect is in custody.

At around 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning, 49-year-old deputy John Erickson had responded to a call of shots fired in the Tollhouse area, said Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “When deputies arrived on scene, they started taking fire from what they described as rifle shots,” she said. “I couldn’t even count how many hit the windshield and side of that pickup.”

Fresno County Department of Social Services

 

Earlier this year, Fresno County stopped taking new applications for foster parents, citing a lack of resources to process them. While the county resumed taking applications this month, there’s still a backlog.

The state established new rules for all caretakers of foster kids in 2015 to eliminate the separate processes it had for foster parents, relatives and adoptive parents.

This week on Valley Edition: Rates of domestic violence appear to be climbing in the Central Valley. How pervasive is it, and what’s behind the increase? We bring you the story of one survivor whose abuser was a Clovis cop.

We also hear from mental health educators who work with high schoolers and other youth. Kids are learning the signs of mental illness, and if a career in mental health is for them.

Later, we talk about a festival brewing in Lemoore, and it’s all about lagers, IPAs, and ales to name a few.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

We want to tell you about a property tax measure that’s coming up on the November 2020 ballot. It has its share of big backers but opponents say it will burden businesses and county assessors. The goal of the measure? To help recoup the loss of funding to schools and public services that was the result of a controversial proposition passed 41 years ago.

 

On this week’s Valley Edition: The Trump Administration has come one step closer to allowing fracking on some federal lands in the Valley. We’ll dive into the plan - and find out how locals feel about it.

Also, a 2020 ballot measure could generate more revenue for schools and public services, but one county office worries, implementation will be costly. And later, we talk to middle school students from Chowchilla about a podcast they created.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

California moved it’s primary election to March. That means the 2020 Primary is only a year away. But before that happens, the Fresno County Elections Office plans to update its voting process by adopting the Voter’s Choice Act model.

“Right now, Fresno County utilizes the precinct model, meaning that there are over 268 polling locations throughout the county,” says Brandi Orth, Fresno County Elections Clerk and Registrar of Voters. “Voters are assigned a specific polling location to go to because their specific ballot will be there.”

On this week’s Valley Edition: The Valley air district is facing scrutiny for how it manages pollution from local industries. Air quality advocates wonder: How well is the program working?

Plus, Fresno County is considering the Voter’s Choice Act Model for the 2020 election, which could mean fewer polling locations, but more days to cast your ballot. We’ll hear from one neighboring county that’s already made the switch.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Earlier in January, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office announced a case of a mistaken drug in Fresno. Three men who thought they were snorting cocaine turned out to have been using pure fentanyl, an opioid that’s 100 times as potent as morphine and many times stronger than heroin. Two of the men recovered, but one died.

VICE News Tonight on HBO

As of this week, the partial government shutdown means many federal employees are going without a paycheck, some of whom are right here in the San Joaquin Valley.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

To get the “I Voted” sticker, you have to understand how the voting process works. And for some refugees in the Valley, it can seem really complicated. Take the Hmong community: Many of the elders fought for the U.S. in the CIA’s secret war in Laos. When they resettled in areas like Fresno, they lacked the tools to become civically engaged. But their kids and grandkids grew up here and now, a group of them are working hard to make sure their elders cast their ballots. To do that, they’re transporting voters and translating propositions.  

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

In small towns, news travels fast. But it’s usually based on word of mouth, not verifiable facts.  More and more rural places in the San Joaquin Valley are becoming news deserts -- even the local newspapers are mostly ads and press releases.We traveled to western Fresno County to find out what that means for the people who live there.

Joseph Riofrio is one Mendota resident who’s frustrated with the limited news coverage.

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