Richard Gonzales

Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.

Gonzales joined NPR in May 1986. He covered the U.S. State Department during the Iran-Contra Affair and the fall of apartheid in South Africa. Four years later, he assumed the post of White House Correspondent and reported on the prelude to the Gulf War and President George W. Bush's unsuccessful re-election bid. Gonzales covered the U.S. Congress for NPR from 1993-94, focusing on NAFTA and immigration and welfare reform.

In September 1995, Gonzales moved to his current position after spending a year as a John S. Knight Fellow Journalism at Stanford University.

In 2009, Gonzales won the Broadcast Journalism Award from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. He also received the PASS Award in 2004 and 2005 from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for reports on California's juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.

Prior to NPR, Gonzales was a freelance producer at public television station KQED in San Francisco. From 1979 to 1985, he held positions as a reporter, producer, and later, public affairs director at KPFA, a radio station in Berkeley, CA.

Gonzales graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor's degree in psychology and social relations. He is a co-founder of Familias Unidas, a bi-lingual social services program in his hometown of Richmond, California.

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Around the Nation
2:06 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Transit Strike Sends Commuters Scrambling In San Francisco

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 6:12 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For two days now, about 400,000 commuters in the San Francisco Bay Area have had to find an alternate way to get around. Workers for the area's rail system are on strike. The dispute at Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, is over pay, benefit and safety issues. Employees walked off the job early Monday morning as their contract expired. For now, NPR's Richard Gonzales reports that most travelers are taking the disruption in stride.

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Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court
7:22 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Same-Sex Marriages Resume In California

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its injunction on gay marriages in California on Friday. They'd been on hold while the challenges to Proposition 8 worked their way through the appeals process.

Around the Nation
3:27 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Bay Area Residents Forced To Wait For Bridge Repairs

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 7:40 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's go next to California, where the largest public works project in the history of that state is running over budget, over time, and has lost the public's confidence. The new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, with a price tag of $6.4 billion, was scheduled to open on Labor Day. There's still time, but that deadline is in doubt, as questions are raised about safety.

NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.

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It's All Politics
12:52 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Political Battles Still Dog Redistricting In California

California Citizens Redistricting Commission members sign resolutions certifying the final vote for new legislative and congressional maps at the Capitol in Sacramento in 2011.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 8:47 am

In most states, the power to draw lines for political districts rests with legislators. In recent years, California voters have tried to make the process less political by taking it out of lawmakers' hands. But not everyone is happy with how things are turning out.

To understand redistricting in California, consider this: Over a 10-year period beginning in 2000, there were 255 congressional races, and only one seat — that's right, one seat — changed parties.

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U.S.
1:19 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

On California Prisons, It's The Governor Vs. The Courts

Gov. Jerry Brown in January calls for federal judges to return control of California prisons to the state. This month, a federal appeals court denied Brown's request and ordered the state to reduce its prison population immediately.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 3:32 pm

California Gov. Jerry Brown is locked in a legal battle over control of his state's prison system. Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling ordering the state to drastically reduce its prisoner population. Brown claims the state has made substantial progress, but the governor has stopped short of complying fully with the court order.

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Around the Nation
3:28 am
Tue April 2, 2013

In Bankruptcy, Stockton Must Decide Pension Issue

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 4:04 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A federal judge has ruled that Stockton, California, may enter into bankruptcy proceedings. That opens the way for Stockton to become America's largest bankrupt city. The population there is 300,000, bigger than Cincinnati, Newark, New Jersey or St. Paul, Minnesota. NPR's Richard Gonzalez reports that others cities share Stockton's problems.

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Guns In America: A Loaded Relationship
1:16 am
Wed March 20, 2013

How To Be The Good Guy With A Gun At School

Stockton Unified School District Police Officer Myra Franco and Chief Jim West patrol 50 schools in California's Central Valley region. One of the campuses was the site of a 1989 shooting massacre.
Richard Gonzales NPR

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 7:30 am

Ever since the Newtown, Ct., school shooting, there's been a raging debate over how to keep America's schoolchildren safe. National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre proposed stationing an armed guard in every school in the country. Critics said that idea was impractical and would be too expensive to carry out.

But many schools and school districts already have armed police officers. Since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, about one-third of the schools in the U.S. have added some kind of armed security, according to federal data.

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Around the Nation
3:07 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Oakland To Issue IDs That Double As Debit Cards

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan (center) and former Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente are registered for the Oakland City ID Prepaid MasterCard program by Jaime Suriano (left) Feb. 1 in Oakland, Calif.
Ben Margot AP

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 7:11 am

The city of Oakland, Calif., is taking a major step toward helping to bring many of its residents, especially illegal immigrants, out of the shadows.

It will issue a municipal identification card to anyone who can prove residency.

Oakland isn't the only city to issue such ID cards to illegal immigrants. New Haven, Conn., and San Francisco already do that.

The Oakland card, however, has a unique feature — it doubles as a debit card.

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Education
3:38 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Berkeley Receives $1M For Undocumented Students

Meng So, coordinator of the University of California, Berkeley's Undocumented Student Program, says students he helps are from low-income families with no experience navigating a university such as Berkeley. So calls undocumented students "underground undergrads."
Carol Ness UC Berkeley

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 7:34 pm

The University of California, Berkeley is taking the DREAM Act a step further. On Tuesday, the school announced a $1 million scholarship fund specifically for undocumented students.

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U.S.
2:24 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

School District Owes $1 Billion On $100 Million Loan

Students leave Miramonte Elementary, in the Clovis Unified School District in Los Angeles. School districts across California have taken out loans requiring payments that far exceed the original loan amounts.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 2:10 pm

More than 200 school districts across California are taking a second look at the high price of the debt they've taken on using risky financial arrangements. Collectively, the districts have borrowed billions in loans that defer payments for years — leaving many districts owing far more than they borrowed.

In 2010, officials at the West Contra Costa School District, just east of San Francisco, were in a bind. The district needed $2.5 million to help secure a federally subsidized $25 million loan to build a badly needed elementary school.

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Around the Nation
3:27 am
Mon November 19, 2012

California Learns From Hurricane Sandy In Northeast

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 8:38 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Emergency managers around the nation have been paying close attention to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. From California, NPR's Richard Gonzales a look at what lessons disaster planners there say they've learned.

RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: Superstorm Sandy didn't sneak up on anybody.

CHRISTOPHER GODLEY: They had days of warning before it made landfall, before the damage really started to occur, so people could prepare themselves, their families, their neighborhoods.

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U.S.
9:29 am
Sat November 10, 2012

BBQ Support: Feeding Fellow Americans After Sandy

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Twelve days after Hurricane Sandy smacked the eastern seaboard and beyond, tens of thousands of people still lack basic necessities - food, water, even shelter. NPR's Richard Gonzales sent us this postcard about three men from Chicago who took it upon themselves to bring some comfort to Sandy's victims.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHATTER)

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House & Senate Races
3:17 am
Sat November 3, 2012

Race For Redrawn Calif. District Is Tight And Pricey

Democrat Ami Bera is challenging Lungren. Bera ran against Lungren in 2004 and lost, but since the district was redrawn, the race has become competitive.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Sat November 3, 2012 8:48 am

Dan Lungren has been in and out of public office since 1979. The Republican represented a Southern California district in the '80s, served as the state's attorney general for eight years, and then returned to Congress to represent the Sacramento area in 2004.

These days, he's still the same pro-business, limited-government conservative he's always been, Lungren told a friendly audience in the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova.

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Business
2:32 am
Wed October 10, 2012

California's Gas Prices Begin To Stabilize

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 4:48 am

Motorists should be seeing some relief from the recent record spike in gas prices. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded hit $4.67, according to AAA. That price hike sent elected officials scrambling. Some are calling for a federal investigation, while others are taking emergency steps to increase supply.

Around the Nation
2:39 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Did Man Who Armed Black Panthers Lead Two Lives?

Richard Aoki was known as the "minister of education" for the Berkeley, Calif., chapter of the Black Panther Party.
Nikki Arai Courtesy of Nancy Park

Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 9:39 am

In the mid-1960s, the Black Panthers came to symbolize black militant power. They rejected the nonviolence of earlier civil rights campaigners and promoted a radical socialist agenda.

Styled in uniforms of black leather jackets, dark sunglasses and black berets, the Panthers were never shy about brandishing guns, a sign that they were ready for a fight.

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Business
1:40 am
Thu September 27, 2012

In Solyndra's Wake, Solar Company Sees Bright Spot

SoloPower is betting it will succeed where others have failed with a $197 million loan from the Department of Energy.
SoloPower/PRNewsFoto AP

Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 7:59 am

A small solar power company hopes to become a winner in a market littered with losers.

San Jose, Calif.-based SoloPower is opening a $60 million manufacturing facility in Portland, Ore., Thursday as it works toward receiving a major government loan — like the one given to now-bankrupt Solyndra. SoloPower thinks it has a strategy to succeed where Solyndra failed.

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Around the Nation
2:29 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

It's Hard To Tell La Familia You're Gay

Samantha Moreno, in pink, with her family. "The hardest part of coming out is to know that you're about to hurt someone that you love," she says in a video featured on the website of Familia es Familia, which aims to help Latino families accept their LGBT loved ones.
Courtesy of Samantha Moreno

Originally published on Fri September 14, 2012 3:50 pm

Coming out to your family as gay or lesbian can be an excruciating experience, and it is no less so if you're part of a Latino family.

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Around the Nation
4:43 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Calif. Leaders Agree To Overhaul Pension System

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 2:04 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

California's governor, Jerry Brown, has announced a set of long-awaited reforms to his state's underfunded public pension system. The Democratic governor says the package will save the state about $30 billion in the future. More details of the cost savings are expected later today.

Brown is hoping the reforms will pave the way for another of his policy goals, as NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.

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U.S.
3:08 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Budgets Tight, States Ask Voters To Raise Taxes

California Gov. Jerry Brown, speaking in Sacramento on Wednesday, advocates a ballot initiative that would increase sales and income taxes. Several states have measures on the November ballot that seek to plug deficits by raising taxes.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 4:03 pm

Tax increases will join political candidates on the November ballot in several states struggling to plug some big holes in their budgets.

One of the most closely watched measures is in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown has staked his reputation on closing his state's multibillion-dollar budget gap.

On Wednesday in Sacramento, Brown officially kicked off his campaign to get voter approval to raise taxes via the Schools Public Safety Protection Act, also known as Proposition 30.

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Business
2:50 am
Wed August 8, 2012

Chevron Fire May Lead To Higher Calif. Gas Prices

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 9:52 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Here in the U.S., analysts are trying to figure out what affect an oil refinery fire could have on gasoline prices. The fire erupted Monday night at an important refinery in Richmond, California. It's owned by Chevron Corporation. It was extinguished within five hours, but could have a lasting impact.

NPR's Richard Gonzales reports that gas prices are expected to shoot up in an already expensive market.

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NPR Cities: Urban Life In The 21st Century
12:55 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Oakland Turns A Corner As Calif. Faces Budget Woes

Ryan Curtis leans in for a kiss from Love Kovtun on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland's Uptown neighborhood in April. New businesses and investment have helped revitalize the city's downtown over the past decade.
Laura Morton for NPR

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 12:17 pm

The city of Oakland, Calif. has long been associated with crime, poverty, urban decay and, more recently, violent protests tied to the Occupy movement.

So it may have been a surprise to New York Times readers when the newspaper listed Oakland as No. 5 among its top "places to go" in 2012.

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Around the Nation
2:40 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Stockton Clearing Path For City's Bankruptcy

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 7:06 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. We're going to begin this hour in the city of Stockton, in California's Central Valley. Stockton has suffered badly in the housing crisis and tonight, the city council is set to approve a plan that will lead to bankruptcy. Stockton, home to 290,000 people, will become the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy. As NPR's Richard Gonzales reports, it's a bitter pill for a city many felt was on the mend.

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Around the Nation
2:55 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Some Immigrants Relieved After Deportation Changes

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 4:25 pm

Communities across the country reacted differently to President Obama's new immigration order.

Around the Nation
1:50 am
Fri May 25, 2012

Walk This Way: Crossing The Golden Gate Bridge

More than 200,000 people crossed the bridge the day it opened in 1937. Many walked. Others ran, tap-danced, roller-skated, unicycled, or strode on stilts.
Courtesy of GoldenGateBridge.org

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 12:15 pm

On May 27, 1937, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge opened, connecting bustling San Francisco to sleepy Marin County to the north. The Oakland-Bay Bridge had opened six months earlier — but the Golden Gate was an engineering triumph. It straddles the Golden Gate Strait, the passage from the Pacific Ocean into the San Francisco Bay, where rough currents prevail and winds can reach 70 mph.

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Million-Dollar Donors
3:57 am
Sat May 19, 2012

With Eye On Future, Billionaire Investor Bets On Paul

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who has donated more than $2.5 million to a superPAC backing GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in October.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 19, 2012 9:19 am

In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, only one candidate remains to challenge presumptive nominee Mitt Romney: Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Even Paul has said he will no longer campaign in states that have yet to hold their primaries. And Paul has always been considered a long shot to win. But that hasn't deterred many of his hard-core supporters, including the Silicon Valley billionaire who has bankrolled the superPAC backing Paul.

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Business
2:42 am
Tue May 15, 2012

LightSquared Files For Bankruptcy Protection

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 7:51 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Lightsquared, a company that had hoped to build a nationwide wireless broadband network, has filed for bankruptcy. Its plans ran afoul of government regulators who said the new network would interfere with Global Positioning System, or GPS, signals.

NPR's Richard Gonzales has the story.

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Election 2012
2:54 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Obama's Gay Marriage Stand May Not Sway Latinos

President Obama speaks during a campaign fundraiser Monday at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. The event, co-hosted by gay- and lesbian-rights leaders and a Latino nonprofit, featured singer Ricky Martin.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 5:49 pm

President Obama is attending a campaign fundraiser Monday night co-hosted by gay- and lesbian-rights leaders and a Latino nonprofit. The event is being headlined by singer Ricky Martin.

Obama maintains a commanding lead over likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney when it comes to support among Latino voters. But those same voters are generally regarded as socially conservative, leading some to wonder how the president's support for same-sex marriage might affect the Latino electorate.

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Around the Nation
1:39 am
Tue April 3, 2012

Oakland Police: Former University Student Kills 7

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan address reporters after a gunman allegedly killed seven people at a California religious college. The suspect, identified as One Goh, is a 43-year-old Korean who has been living in the United States.
Kimihiro Hoshino AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 4, 2012 12:01 pm

Oikos University is housed in a nondescript single-story industrial building in a business park near the Oakland International Airport.

The university's website says it trains men and women "for Christian leadership, both lay and clerical." But it doesn't say how many students attend. It offers courses in nursing, music, biblical studies and Asian medicine. And now it's the site of one of the deadliest mass shootings in California in recent memory.

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Economy
4:20 am
Sun March 11, 2012

An Example To Avoid: City Of Stockton On The Brink

The beleaguered city of Stockton is fighting to avert bankruptcy by cutting staff, including a quarter of the roughly 425-member police force.
David Paul Morris Bloomberg

Originally published on Sun March 11, 2012 4:21 pm

The city of Stockton, Calif., about 90 minutes east of San Francisco, is broke and on the brink of bankruptcy. Stockton's road to insolvency is a long one, and it appears that, financially speaking, everything that could go wrong in Stockton did.

If Stockton can't solve its budget crisis, it would be the largest American city to go bankrupt.

The City's Seen Better Days

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U.S.
12:54 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

For Cash, Murderer Leads Police To Victims' Remains

San Joaquin sheriff detectives sift for human remains that were excavated from an abandoned ranch near Linden, Calif., on Sunday. Authorities say Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog wantonly murdered an unknown number of victims before their arrest in 1999. Now, one of the convicted killers is leading investigators to burial sites that have yielded hundreds of bones.
Craig Sanders AP

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 4:45 pm

In California's Central Valley, authorities are excavating the gruesome remains of an unknown number of murder victims who were buried many years ago by a pair of convicted murderers and drug users.

The search began last week after one of the convicts agreed to lead authorities to the remains in exchange for cash.

But, the case raises some thorny ethical and legal issues: Should convicted criminals be able to benefit from their wrongdoing?

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