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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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/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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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/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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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/.

Transcript

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

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

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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

Transcript

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/.

Transcript

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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11:29am

Sat February 15, 2014
Law

Flood Of Gay Marriage Cases Releasing Stream Of Federal Rulings

Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 10:48 pm

Virginians demonstrate outside Federal Court in Norfolk, Va., on Feb. 4. The judge ruled this week that Virginia's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
Steve Helber AP

A federal judge in Virginia struck down that state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage this week. It's just the latest in a string of similar rulings in conservative states, and it indicates that the strategy for winning marriage equality in federal courts is moving faster than many had expected.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen said Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because "core civil rights are at stake." She compared the case to the landmark 1967 Supreme Court ruling recognizing interracial marriage.

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6:50pm

Thu January 30, 2014
The Salt

Small Cuts To Food Stamps Add Up To Big Pains For Many Recipients

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:00 pm

The farm bill proposes a $1 billion cut to food stamps, which would affect nearly 850,000 struggling families who already depend on food banks like the Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland, Calif.
Antonio Mena Courtesy of Alameda County Community Food Bank

In a rare display of bipartisanship, the House of Representatives Wednesday approved a massive five-year farm bill that costs nearly half a trillion dollars.

The bill includes some reductions to food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, to the tune of nearly $1 billion a year. It's far less than what many Republicans had wanted. But the cuts are large enough to worry some Democrats and many food stamp recipients.

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5:12pm

Tue January 14, 2014
Around the Nation

In California, Alarm Grows Over Shrinking Water Levels

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 6:33 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Last week, we were shivering in depths of the polar vortex. Now another sign that Mother Nature is in charge. This time it's California, where right now it should be rainy season. Instead, there's growing alarm over a persistent lack of rain. The state is suffering its third consecutive dry year.

And as NPR's Richard Gonzales reports, there are calls for the governor to officially declare a drought.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTSTEPS)

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5:11am

Wed December 25, 2013
Around the Nation

Number Of States Allowing Gay Marriage Expected To Grow

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 7:04 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As we approach the end of 2013, we've been looking at numbers that tell the story of this year in different ways. Today's number: 38. That's the percentage of Americans who live in a state where same-sex marriage is now legal. Supporters of same-sex marriage say that percentage is likely to grow dramatically in just a few more years. NPR's Richard Gonzalez reports.

RICHARD GONZALEZ, BYLINE: When the history of the legal and political battle over same-sex marriage is written, this will likely go down as the banner year.

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3:17am

Tue December 3, 2013
Around the Nation

As Rent Soars, Longtime San Francisco Tenants Fight To Stay

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 6:02 pm

San Francisco has long been a desirable place to live — and that's even more true today as the city is basking in the glow of another tech boom. But the influx of new money and new residents is putting a strain on the city's housing market.

The city has the highest median rent in the nation, and evictions of longtime residents are skyrocketing.

Ground zero for San Francisco's eviction crisis is the Inner Mission District. Until recently, this edgy neighborhood was home to a mix of working-class Latinos, artists and activists.

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3:03am

Fri November 15, 2013
Around the Nation

With Robberies Up, Oakland Residents Turn To Private Cops

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 12:16 pm

Security officer Steven Long patrols the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood in Oakland, Calif. With city police struggling to control crime, several neighborhoods have hired private security to patrol local streets.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

The city of Oakland, Calif., is in the middle of a robbery epidemic. In response, some residents in several Oakland neighborhoods are taking matters into their own hands, hiring private security companies to patrol their neighborhoods.

Overall, robberies in Oakland are up 24 percent over the past year, with armed robberies up 45 percent. Since the recession dried up local tax revenues, the Oakland Police Department has been hamstrung by the loss of more than 200 officers and can't respond to all the calls it receives for help.

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3:23am

Wed November 13, 2013
U.S. Commutes: The Way We Get To Work

How A Free Bus Shuttle Helped Make A Small Town Take Off

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 3:18 pm

There were 1.5 million boardings on the Emery Go Round last year. Zikhona Tetana, a visiting scientist from South Africa, is taking the Emery Go Round to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory facility in Emeryville. "It's convenient and always on time," she says.
Cindy Carpien NPR

This story is part of an ongoing project on commuting in America.

What's known as the "last mile" of a commute can be the Holy Grail for many city transportation planners. How do you get people from their major mode of transportation – like a train station – to their final destination?

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5:06am

Thu September 26, 2013
Sports

Oracle Team USA Defeats New Zealand To Win America's Cup

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 5:28 am

Oracle Team USA completed a remarkable comeback to win the America's Cup regatta, winning eight straight races. The American team, backed by Silicon Valley billionaire Larry Ellison, beat Emirates Team New Zealand. Just a few days ago, the American team trailed the Kiwis, and were on the brink of being eliminated from the competition.

5:30pm

Wed September 25, 2013
Sports

In Comeback, Oracle Team USA Wins America's Cup

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 6:03 pm

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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2:56am

Tue August 20, 2013
U.S.

One By One, California Agents Track Down Illegally Owned Guns

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 8:57 am

Firearms seized during a sweep by the Los Angeles Police Department using the California's Armed Prohibited Persons System initiative. The program uses a database to identify gun owners who are no longer allowed to possess a firearm.
Damian Dovarganes AP

In California, officials are ramping up a unique program that identifies and seizes guns from people who are prohibited from keeping them. Under state law, a legally registered gun owner loses the right to own a firearm when he or she is convicted of a crime or becomes mentally ill.

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5:13am

Fri July 12, 2013
Code Switch

Oakland Braces For Seeing Subway Shooting On The Big Screen

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 5:00 pm

Cephus "Bobby" Johnson in 2011, when the former transit officer who shot Johnson's nephew, Oscar Grant, was released from jail. Johnson and other family members have seen Fruitvale Station, a new feature film depicting the shooting, multiple times.
Jason Redmond AP

It's not often that Oakland, Calif., hosts a movie opening. But there is plenty of anticipation for Fruitvale Station.

The film is about the life and death of Oscar Grant, a young black man who was fatally shot in the back by a white transit police officer in the early morning hours of New Year's Day in 2009.

Grant was killed by Officer Johannes Mehserle, who claimed to have been reaching for his Taser, not his handgun. Mehserle was tried and convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served 11 months of a two-year term.

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