Interview

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. 

 

John Chacon / California Department of Water Resources

We in California are depleting our groundwater aquifers faster than we can replenish them. Over the last few decades in the San Joaquin Valley, that deficit has averaged close to two million acre-feet per year, a total that was exacerbated by drought conditions that may become more common as the climate continues to change.

To help reduce this deficit, state lawmakers and Governor Brown in 2014 passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, which aims to overhaul the way growers, cities and other water users manage the resource.

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.

 

KERN COUNTY HOMELESS COLLABORATIVE FACES OF HOMELESSNESS FACEBOOK PAGE

A statewide survey conducted last month by the Public Policy Institute of California found most Californians see homelessness as a top issue for the state, but how counties are choosing to tackle it differs widely. In Kern County, officials are considering jailing homeless people for misdemeanor drug offenses. To go into effect, the proposal needs funding approval from the Bakersfield City Council.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

When we talk about climate change and greenhouse gases in California, it’s tough to ignore the dairy industry: State data estimate dairies to be responsible for about 3 percent of the state’s annual greenhouse gas emissions – mostly due to burping cows and fermenting manure. Although the industry has already made some reductions to its emissions, a recent state law requires the industry to reduce its methane footprint even further over the next decade.

Valley PBS

You’ve likely seen the green California sticker with the words “My Job Depends on Ag” on cars, trucks and tractors around the Valley. Behind that slogan is a Facebook community of farmers and agricultural-enthusiasts. The movement has since inspired a television show.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

In the past, when government agencies and the media requested court records from the Kern County Superior Court, they could typically access them for free.

Last month, however, that changed, due in part to a rising number of incoming record requests. According to some sources, rising court fees are becoming a national trend. In this interview, Valley Public Radio reporter Monica Velez breaks down the new policy to explain what’s changed, why it matters, and whether it has the potential to violate constitutional rights.

Count Basie Orchestra

Making audiences feel good: That’s the goal of the Count Basie Orchestra, which formed nearly 85 years ago under the leadership of celebrated jazz musician and composer Count Basie. The group will be performing what it’s dubbed “explosive jazz” at the Visalia Fox Theater on October 11 and the Bakersfield Fox Theatre on October 12. In this interview, FM89’s David Aus previews the concerts with director Scotty Barnhart, getting a taste of what makes the group’s sound unique and what audiences can expect next week.

Lindsay Fox, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Earlier this week, the state Department of Public Health urged Californians to stop vaping immediately, less than a week after Governor Newsom signed an executive order to curb vaping among youth.

And yet, unlike in many other states, the California legislature has yet to pass a single law related to vaping. In this interview, FM89’s Kerry Klein interviews CalMatters politics reporter Ben Christopher about the status of vaping bills in the legislature and the central role of Merced Assemblyman Adam Gray.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Air quality stole a lot of headlines this week, as the Trump Administration moved to revoke California’s ability to set its own tailpipe emissions standards distinct from those mandated federally by the Environmental Protection Agency. Not only could the move prevent future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, it could also prevent gains in air quality that are much needed in the San Joaquin Valley and California’s other polluted air basins.

Courtesy of Thomas Olsen / Bakersfield Museum of Art

Bakersfield is well known in the arts for its contributions to country music, notably the Bakersfield Sound. But it’s not as well recognized for its architecture. A new exhibit at the Bakersfield Museum of Art may help change that. It’s called Bakersfield Built: Architecture of the 1960s. Several events are being held in conjunction with the show, including a symposium and guided tour of modern homes this Saturday, September 21.

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

For the Weekend, we’re bringing you poetry from writer, poet, and Fresno State professor Brynn Saito.

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno has been under pressure the last few months to release its own list of priests who have been accused of sexual abuse. Although a list hasn’t been released yet, the diocese is rolling out a settlement program for survivors. Some attorneys who represent survivors find it to be strategic and controversial. 

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Over the last 200 days of legislative session, freshman Congressman TJ Cox has brought the House Committee on Natural Resources Chair Raul Grijalva to the San Joaquin Valley for a water tour, co-sponsored Valley Fever legislation, and thrown his support behind a number of Democratic party agenda items. Last weekend, he held an open house at a new district office in Selma. 

 

California High-Speed Rail Authority

This week, California lawmakers began honing in on a plan that would divert money away from high-speed rail, and instead fund transportation projects in major hubs like the Bay Area and Southern California. Los Angeles Times National Correspondent Ralph Vartabedian has been covering the bullet train’s development. He says this plan is a response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement that high-speed rail will only cover the San Joaquin Valley. 

 

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

When California adopted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014, it became the last Western state to regulate its groundwater. If local groundwater agencies fail to submit plans to the state by 2020, the law says state water agencies could take over management of groundwater, a resource that’s critically important to Valley agriculture.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

In early July, a downtown Fresno non-profit called Common Space teamed up with local health organizations to run a mobile clinic designed specifically for LGBTQ+ individuals – a community that’s at elevated risk for HIV, mental health problems and suicide. Patients could gain access to specialized care such as hormone replacement therapy and training for how to self-administer injections, but providers also offered HIV testing and basic preventive screenings.

Julie Leopo / EdSource

Skipping school, cutting class, senior ditch day - some consider truancy a part of adolescence. But looking at the data, one reporter found that students in rural regions have a much higher risk of being chronically absent from school, and the reasons aren’t so simple. David Washburn reported on this issue in a two-part series for the online publication, EdSource.

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