Richard Gonzales

Correspondent Richard Gonzales is based in San Francisco. His reports are featured regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.

Gonzales describes his beat this way: "Willie Brown, Jerry Brown, medical pot, gay marriage, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court, and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California the rest of the country should know about. California has the reputation for generating new ideas and trends and we try to keep track of them."

He began his California stint in September 1995, after spending a year studying the impact of international trade and information technology on the American political process as a John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University.

Gonzales joined NPR in May 1986 when he covered the U.S. State Department during the Iran-Contra Affair and the fall of apartheid in South Africa. In August 1990, he assumed the post of White House Correspondent and reported on the prelude to the Gulf War and President George Bush's unsuccessful re-election bid. From 1993 through 1994, Gonzales covered the U.S. Congress, focusing on NAFTA and immigration and welfare reform.

In 1988 Gonzales received a World Hunger Media Award for "Street Children in Maputo." He was also honored by the World Affairs Council of Northern California in 1984 for his documentary on the war-ravaged Miskito Indians of Nicaragua.

Before joining NPR in May 1986, Gonzales was a freelance producer at KQED-TV/San Francisco. From 1979 to 1985, he was a reporter, producer, and later, public affairs director at station KPFA-FM/Berkeley.

Gonzales graduated from Harvard College in 1977 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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4:30pm

Fri May 8, 2015
Law

San Francisco Police Texting Scandal Could Compromise Thousands Of Cases

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 10:38 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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3:38am

Fri May 1, 2015
U.S.

California Bill Could Limit Police Access To Body Camera Footage

Originally published on Fri May 1, 2015 12:46 pm

Oakland police officers, wearing body cameras, form a line during demonstrations against recent incidents of alleged police brutality nationwide.
Elijah Nouvelage Getty Images

The unrest in Baltimore and other cities regarding alleged police misconduct has prompted new calls for law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. Such recordings could provide accountability and transparency in potentially controversial circumstances.

At least, that's the idea.

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3:51am

Thu April 16, 2015
The Salt

How Almonds Became A Scapegoat For California's Drought

Originally published on Sat April 18, 2015 12:17 pm

You may have heard by now that it takes one gallon of water to produce just one almond. And those are considered fighting words in drought-stricken California, which produces 80 percent of the world's supply of the tasty and nutritious nut.

So when almond grower Daniel Bays hears that, he just shakes his head.

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4:34pm

Tue March 24, 2015
Around the Nation

California Plastic Bag Referendum Could Spark Environmental Showdown

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 12:40 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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12:01pm

Tue March 24, 2015
It's All Politics

Calif. Lawyer Proposes Ballot Initiative To Kill Gays And Lesbians

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 12:35 pm

Rainbow flags fly in front of San Francisco City Hall in 2013 after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California.
Noah Berger AP

California's system of direct democracy — the voter initiative process — has produced landmark laws reducing property taxes, banning affirmative action and legalizing medical marijuana.

Now there's a bid to declare that "the people of California wisely command" that gays and lesbians can be killed.

You read that right.

The "Sodomite Suppression Act," as proposed, calls sodomy "a monstrous evil" that should be punishable "by bullets to the head or any other convenient method."

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4:55am

Thu March 19, 2015
Business

Blue Shield Of California Loses Its Tax-Exempt Status

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 6:03 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

7:38pm

Tue March 17, 2015
The Two-Way

More San Francisco Police Officers Accused Of Sending Racist Texts

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 8:02 pm

In a rapidly unfolding scandal, San Francisco law enforcement officials are pledging to review the case work of four city police officers who are accused of sending a series of racist and homophobic text messages.

A published report says the San Francisco Police Department is also investigating at least 10 other officers in connection with the sharing of offensive text messages.

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4:21am

Mon February 23, 2015
U.S.

Immigration Courts 'Operating In Crisis Mode,' Judges Say

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 1:54 pm

People in Miami protest the Texas district judge who on Tuesday temporarily blocked the implementation of President Obama's executive actions on immigration.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

As Congress debates the fate of President Obama's immigration policies, the nation's immigration court system is bogged down in delays exacerbated by the flood of unaccompanied minors who crossed the southern border last summer.

The administration made it a priority for those cases to be heard immediately. As a result, hundreds of thousands of other cases have been delayed until as late as 2019.

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5:10pm

Sat February 21, 2015
U.S.

Texas Court Ruling Leaves Undocumented Immigrants In Legal Limbo

Originally published on Sat February 21, 2015 6:54 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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6:18am

Wed January 14, 2015
Politics

Harris Opens Bid For Boxer's Senate Seat, But Others May Follow

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 6:53 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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4:29pm

Thu December 25, 2014
Around the Nation

Employers Help Legal Immigrants On Path To Citizenship

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 3:34 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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5:15am

Thu December 11, 2014
Race

First The Protest, Then The Storm: Bay Area's 5 Straight Nights Of Clashes

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 1:45 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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11:23am

Mon December 8, 2014
The Two-Way

Democratic Mayors Back Obama's Immigration Plan, Citing Economic Benefits

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 2:50 pm

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is hosting mayors from across the country to support President Obama's executive actions on immigration.
Mark Lennihan AP

Short on the heels of a nonbinding House vote to block President Obama's executive action on immigration, some 20 Democratic U.S. mayors are meeting today in New York City to send a different message:

They want to help implement the president's plan.

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7:21am

Sun November 23, 2014
Politics

Immigrants Scramble To Figure Their Status Under Obama's Plan

Originally published on Sun November 23, 2014 1:26 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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5:53pm

Mon September 8, 2014
Men In America

Making Fatherhood An Insider's Game: Becoming A Dad, Again, At 49

Originally published on Tue September 9, 2014 9:12 am

Dale Conour with his son Quinn, 2. Conour's two children from a previous marriage were already young men when Quinn was born.
Rosanne Sax Courtesy of Dale Conour

Meet Dale Conour, a strapping, athletic man of 52. At midday, he's at home eating lunch with his son, Quinn, who is 2 1/2. Half of the living room of their San Francisco apartment is clearly Quinn's territory, filled with building blocks, a tepee and a train set.

Conour, a brand strategist and former magazine editor, is currently between jobs — which frees him up for afternoons like this with Quinn.

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4:06pm

Mon August 25, 2014
Around the Nation

Wine Country Quake Leaves Behind Bottles In Shards

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 7:53 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The USGS estimates the damage from the earthquake at more than a billion dollars. In Napa, emergency managers are making their initial assessments. Napa City Manager, Mike Parness, explains the process.

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4:14pm

Mon August 11, 2014
Law

Strapped And Stretched, Non-Profits Struggle To Defend Immigrant Minors

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 8:51 pm

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6:47pm

Fri August 8, 2014
The Two-Way

A Top Immigration Judge Calls For Shift On 'Fast-Tracking'

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 7:27 pm

Immigrants board a bus after being released from U.S. Border Patrol detention in Texas last month. An immigration judge says the Obama administration's "fast-tracking" effort means many people go into court without an attorney, opening a door to future problems.
John Moore Getty Images

As the Obama administration says the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the Southwest border is declining, the White House is being urged to stop fast-tracking their deportation hearings. That call is coming from an unusual source: one of the nation's top immigration judges.

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5:00am

Fri August 1, 2014
NPR Story

Expedited Hearings For Migrant Children Raise Concerns

Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 7:14 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

4:20pm

Thu June 26, 2014
Politics

Senate's Immigration Reform Bill Is Declared Dead At One Year Old

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 7:10 pm

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A year-long effort to push a comprehensive immigration reform bill through the House was officially declared dead yesterday. Prospects for the bill were always dicey and the debate became more complicated by the recent wave of unaccompanied children seeking entry into the United States. NPR's Richard Gonzales has more.

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5:13pm

Thu June 19, 2014
Arts & Life

Never Tell Them The Odds: Cities Vie To Host 'Star Wars' Collection

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 7:12 pm

While cities are still competing for the not yet built Lucas Cultural Arts Museum, parts of the collection are already on display. The "Star Wars Identities" traveling exhibition, currently at the Cite du Cinema in Saint-Denis, France, features 200 objects from George Lucas' collection — including the costumes of Chewbacca, Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa.
Patrick Kovarik AFP/Getty Images

A short time ago, in a city not far away, Star Wars creator George Lucas decided to build a museum to house his movie memorabilia and his art collection.

There's just one looming question: Where should it go?

Lucas says he'll spend $300 million of his own money to build the proposed Lucas Cultural Arts Museum and will provide a $400 million endowment after his death. In addition to holding Skywalker artifacts galore, the museum would also host Lucas' private art collection, featuring works by Norman Rockwell and N.C. Wyeth, among others.

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3:09am

Thu June 12, 2014
The Salt

Fight Over Calif. Oyster Company Splits Chefs And Land Defenders

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 4:38 pm

The Drakes Bay Oyster Farm caters to local residents and restaurants. But unless its lease is renewed, its days are numbered.
Richard Gonzales NPR

Drive just an hour and a half north of San Francisco, and you're in Drakes Estero, named for the first English explorer to lay claim to California.

This near-pristine, wind-whipped marine wilderness is a federally protected home for large beds of eelgrass, the base of the marine food chain. The estuary hosts the largest colony of harbor seals on the West Coast, and tens of thousands of resident and migratory birds.

It's also home to the Drakes Bay Oyster Co.

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3:06am

Thu May 29, 2014
Race

Shooting Of Sikh Army Veteran Divides Community

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 11:31 am

A photograph of Parminder Singh Shergill is displayed during his funeral services at Cherokee Memorial Park in Lodi, Calif., on Feb. 8.
Randall Benton Sacramento Bee

In late January, a mentally ill man was shot and killed by two police officers in Lodi, Calif., south of Sacramento. Tragedy often follows a confrontation between the police and a mentally ill person, but the facts of this case are in dispute.

The victim was a Sikh Army veteran, and his death has roiled the Sikh community and the city. On a recent Saturday evening, more than 100 people gathered at the Sikh temple in the largely agricultural community of Lodi, to remember Parminder Shergill.

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4:16pm

Mon April 21, 2014
News

Teen Stowaway Somehow Survives Flight To Hawaii In Wheel Well

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 7:26 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

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5:02pm

Sat March 29, 2014
Code Switch

Activists: We Want An Emancipator, Not A 'Deporter In Chief'

Originally published on Sat March 29, 2014 6:59 pm

Members of a coalition of Latino groups rally outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Activists say they plan more rallies and demonstrations across the country to push for action on immigration reform.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Activists who support an overhaul of the immigration system are angry and frustrated. The immigration bill that passed in the Senate in June is stalled out. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is on pace to deport some 2 million illegal immigrants since taking office six years ago.

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1:12pm

Sat March 29, 2014
Politics

The Story Of Calif. Senator's Arrest Reads Like Pulp Fiction

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 4:04 pm

San Francisco state Sen. Leland Yee leaves the San Francisco Federal Building after he was arrested and released on bond Wednesday.
Ben Margot AP

It's a case that has stunned California's political community: A prominent Democratic lawmaker has been accused in a federal complaint of participating in an elaborate conspiracy involving guns, gangs, drugs and bribery.

State Sen. Leland Yee was known as a champion of open government and gun control, but not any more. A 137-page federal affidavit accuses the lawmaker of soliciting and taking bribes from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for political favors.

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3:21am

Wed March 26, 2014
The Salt

Truckin': Salmon Take A Long, Strange Trip To The Pacific Ocean

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 9:53 am

Pacific Or Bust: Fingerling Chinook salmon are dumped into a holding pen Tuesday as they are transferred from a truck into the Sacramento River in Rio Vista, Calif. From here, they'll be towed downstream for a bit, then make their own way out to the Pacific Ocean.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

In California, severe drought has imperiled millions of juvenile salmon who now face waterways too dry to let them make their usual migration to the Pacific Ocean. So state and federal officials are giving millions of salmon a lift — in tanker trucks.

Over the next two-and-a-half months, some 30 million Chinook salmon will be trucked from five hatcheries in the state's Central Valley to waters where they can make their way to the ocean.

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4:44am

Tue March 18, 2014
Business

Businesses Help Guide Workers Down Path To Citizenship

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 5:28 am

Silicon Valley companies have launched a drive to provide citizenship services on-site to employees holding green cards. The belief is that such employees become more valuable workers.

6:10pm

Wed March 12, 2014
Law

Ruling On Gay Juror May Cause Ripples In Same-Sex Marriage Cases

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 8:14 pm

A legal dispute between pharmaceutical companies Abbott Laboratories and SmithKline Beecham ended up before a federal appeals court. The court's ruling may have implications for laws that concern gays and lesbians.
Tim Boyle Bloomberg via Getty Images

There was a small development in a case before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this month that could have a major impact on the legal battle over same-sex marriage. The case involves a dispute between two pharmaceutical companies, a gay juror and the level of legal scrutiny directed by the appellate court.

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3:37am

Wed February 26, 2014
Parallels

Gays And Lesbians Seeking Asylum In U.S. May Find A Hard Road

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 7:43 am

Activists protest Uganda's anti-gay legislation in Nairobi, Kenya, this month. LGBT status has been grounds for asylum in the U.S. since 1994, but winning refugee status can be difficult, particularly for people who are unable to obtain visas to the U.S. before applying.
Dai Kurokawa EPA/LANDOV

Even through a long-distance line from Uganda, you can hear the fear and anxiety in the young man's voice. Nathan, 19, is gay. NPR is not using his surname because he fears arrest.

"Right now we are not safe," he says. "Because we are hearing some people say ... 'If we get you, we will kill you. If we get you, we'll do something bad to you.' "

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