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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4:54pm

Fri August 17, 2012
U.S.

Budgets Tight, States Ask Voters To Raise Taxes

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 6:03 pm

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

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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5:27am

Wed August 8, 2012
Business

Chevron Fire May Lead To Higher Calif. Gas Prices

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 11:52 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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2:55pm

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

Oakland Turns A Corner As Calif. Faces Budget Woes

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 2:17 pm

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

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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4:20pm

Tue June 26, 2012
NPR Story

Stockton Clearing Path For City's Bankruptcy

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 9:06 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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3:50am

Fri May 25, 2012
Around the Nation

Walk This Way: Crossing The Golden Gate Bridge

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 2:15 pm

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

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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5:57am

Sat May 19, 2012
Million-Dollar Donors

With Eye On Future, Billionaire Investor Bets On Paul

Originally published on Sat May 19, 2012 11:19 am

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

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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4:54pm

Mon May 14, 2012
Election 2012

Obama's Gay Marriage Stand May Not Sway Latinos

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 7:49 pm

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

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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3:39am

Tue April 3, 2012
Around the Nation

Oakland Police: Former University Student Kills 7

Originally published on Wed April 4, 2012 2:01 pm

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

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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3:00pm

Mon March 26, 2012
Sports

Ping-Pong Prodigy Seeks Olympic Glory

Olympic hopefuls are training to represent the U.S. at this summer's games in London. Among them is a 17-year-old table-tennis player with his sights set on the games.

6:20am

Sun March 11, 2012
Economy

An Example To Avoid: City Of Stockton On The Brink

Originally published on Sun March 11, 2012 6:21 pm

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

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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2:54pm

Fri February 17, 2012
U.S.

For Cash, Murderer Leads Police To Victims' Remains

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 6:45 pm

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

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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4:00am

Fri February 10, 2012
Business

Advocates Not Impressed With Foreclosure Settlement

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 8:02 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Steve Inskeep.

Here's a sign of just how huge the housing and foreclosure crisis has been. Five big banks agreed to pay about $25 billion to people who've been harmed bank's abuses, plus an extra billion to settle a claim involving a mortgage company. And one of the first reactions is that all that money could not possibly be enough.

President Obama says the banks will spread the money around.

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3:25am

Mon February 6, 2012
U.S.

Unions Create TV Ad To Appeal To Young People

A new TV ad recently test-launched by the AFL-CIO discusses work, but never mentions unions specifically.
Courtesy of the AFL-CIO

12:01am

Thu January 19, 2012
Crisis In The Housing Market

Silicon Valley Homebuilder Finds A Profitable Niche

James Witt stands next to the foundation of a house he is building in Palo Alto. Witt has built a successful business by tearing down and rebuilding houses in Silicon Valley. His business has survived four recessions, including the most recent one.
Cindy Carpien NPR

The U.S. housing market may be singing the blues, but there are pockets where home sales are rising. James Witt, a homebuilder in California's Silicon Valley is surviving and thriving thanks to his luck, location, and knowledge of the local market.

Witt is a tall lanky man whose graying long hair suggests an actor in a Western movie. He's standing on his 3-acre property in Palo Alto, which includes an updated old farmhouse and a yard with a pair of donkeys. One, named Perry, has an interesting pedigree.

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4:00am

Wed January 18, 2012
Around the Nation

Calif. Gov. Brown's Speech To Outline More Cuts

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 5:36 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The economy may be improving but state governments are still working to repair the damage to their books. We're keeping track with a series of reports, and we go this morning to the nation's most populous state, which has some of the nation's largest problems.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Here in California today, Governor Jerry Brown gives the State of the State address. He'll outline more cuts to government programs while asking voters to approve a measure to raise taxes. Here's NPR's Richard Gonzales.

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8:02am

Sat December 10, 2011
Hard Times: A Journey Across America

Latinos Get Little Credit For Rebuilding New Orleans

Methodist Pastor Oscar Ramos conducts English classes for Latino immigrants in New Orleans. The majority of the immigrants say they arrived after Katrina to work in reconstruction and intend to stay.
Richard Gonzales NPR

Part of a monthlong series

Since Katrina, the Hispanic population in the New Orleans metro area has skyrocketed by more than 33,000 people. That's a 57-percent increase in the past decade, much higher than the national average.

They came for the construction jobs — and they've chosen to stay. Often, you can find about a dozen Latino men hanging out near a home improvement store looking for work near a mostly black neighborhood.

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1:49am

Tue November 15, 2011
Around the Nation

Occupy Protesters In Oakland Ponder Their Next

The Occupy Wall Street movement began in New York and soon protesters were pitching their tents across the country. Since then, protesters have been evicted from their campsites in Oakland, Calif., and in a number of other cities across the country.

5:17am

Sun November 13, 2011
Hard Times: A Journey Across America

Big Sky Country Has Lots Of Room For Optimism

Billings, Mont., has a diverse economic base, as evidenced by the confluence of stockyards, oil refineries and natural beauty. The unemployment rate for Billings' Yellowstone County was 5.3 percent in September, far lower than the national average.
Richard Gonzales NPR

Part of a monthlong series

In Billings, Mont., the land of the "Big Sky," there aren't many clouds. A city of about 100,000 people between Denver and Calgary, Billings is weathering the economic storm better than many other communities in this country.

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5:34am

Tue November 1, 2011
Hard Times: A Journey Across America

Calif. County Yearns For 'The Way It Used To Be'

Craig and Linda Black sit at a table in the yard of their home in Vacaville, Calif. They are desperately trying to hang on to their home after falling behind on their mortgage payments.

Richard Gonzales NPR

Part of a monthlong series

There's a lot to like about Solano County, Calif., a collection of bedroom communities between San Francisco and Sacramento: great climate, diversity and until recently, very stable neighborhoods.

But it also has the second-highest foreclosure rate in the country. Its largest city, Vallejo, went bankrupt. And unemployment here is 11 percent, higher than the national average.

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1:23am

Thu September 29, 2011
Around the Nation

California's New Prison Policy Has Some Skeptics

California is days away from launching a dramatic shift in the way it handles criminal offenders: Starting in October, the state will redirect tens of thousands of nonviolent felons away from state prisons to local facilities.

The state's plan is called "realignment." It shifts certain functions from the state to the counties, says Barry Krisberg, who teaches criminal justice at the University of California, Berkeley, law school.

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12:01am

Fri September 16, 2011
Around the Nation

California Turns To China For New Bay Bridge

Catwalks hang over a section of the newly constructed eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in Oakland, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

California is spending more than $7 billion building what it says will be an architectural marvel: the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. But the state saved a lot of money sending some of the construction work overseas.

The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge will have a distinctive design to rival its more famous cousin, the Golden Gate Bridge.

Bart Ney, a spokesman for the project, recently stood near the top of a gleaming white tower, more than 500 feet above the San Francisco Bay.

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12:01am

Tue September 6, 2011
Law

Proposition 8 Proponents Fight For Appeal Rights

The latest round in the legal battle over same sex marriage will be fought Tuesday in a hearing before the California State Supreme Court.

The arguments will focus not so much on same-sex marriage itself, but on Proposition 8, the voter-approved initiative banning such marriages. A federal judge has ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional and the issue before the court on Tuesday is whether proponents of the initiative have the legal authority, or standing, to pursue an appeal.

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4:54pm

Thu August 25, 2011
Around the Nation

New Deportation Rules Give Boost To Gay Rights

Anthony Makk (right) and husband Bradford Wells at their San Francisco home on Aug. 8. Though legally married in 2004, Makk faces deportation back to his native Australia.
Noah Berger San Francisco Chronicle via Polaris Images

Thousands of same-sex married couples now have hopes of staying together in the U.S. thanks to a change in deportation policy. The government says it will now prioritize deportations, giving lower priority to those with families in the U.S.

And the Obama administration has included same-sex couples in its definition of family.

Left In Legal Limbo

Bradford Wells, 55, a longtime resident of San Francisco, has good days and bad days.

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4:04pm

Wed August 3, 2011
U.S.

Airport Contractors Feel Sting Of FAA Shutdown

Construction equipment sits idle at the work site of a half-completed 236-foot FAA control tower at Oakland International Airport.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

The stalemate in Congress over funding for the Federal Aviation Administration means the suspension of more than 200 airport expansion and renovation projects around the country, which is putting tens of thousands of people out of work.

Electrician Richard Zemlok is one of 60 engineers and contractors who were laid off in Oakland, Calif., as a result of the dispute.

He's no stranger to layoffs. A taut, barrel-chested man in his 50s, Zemlok spent 22 years at a local Toyota assembly plant before it was shut down last year.

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12:01am

Mon June 20, 2011
Education

Inside San Quentin, Inmates Go To College

Charles Gross, a neuroscience professor at Princeton University, looks at a sheep brain with students at San Quentin as part of an Introduction to Biology class at the prison.
Courtesy of Linn Lee

Correction officials in California see San Quentin State Prison, once a notoriously violent place, as a model for reform at a time when the state's prison system is in crisis. It's under a U.S. Supreme Court order to reduce its overcrowded facilities and continues to cut rehabilitation programs for lack of money.

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4:00am

Fri June 10, 2011
Law

Jury Reaches Verdict In Calif. Journalist's Murder

A jury in California has convicted a Black Muslim leader in the murders of three men, including journalist Chauncey Bailey. The news paper editor was gunned down on his way to work four years ago. Bailey had been writing a story about the finances of Your Black Muslim Bakery in Oakland.

4:00am

Thu May 5, 2011
Law

Defense Rests In Trial Involving Journalist's Murder

In Oakland, California, the prosecution and defense have rested in the trial of a man accused of ordering the murder of a well-known journalist. Chauncey Bailey, an editor for a local community paper, was gunned down in August 2007. Prosecutors say Bailey was killed because he had run afoul of the leader of a local Black Muslim group.

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