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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Business
3:12 am
Fri February 7, 2014

AOL Blames Obamacare For Changes To Retirement Benefits

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 9:26 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's hear now from the CEO who says Obamacare forced his hand when it comes to employee benefits. Tim Armstrong, the CEO of tech giant AOL, said the company had to change the way it matches the deposits employees make to their retirement accounts.

NPR's Richard Gonzales has more.

RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: Armstrong told CNBC that company costs due to Obamacare left him with a tough decision.

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The Salt
4:32 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 6:00 pm

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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The Two-Way
5:07 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Immigrants Won't Be Shackled At San Francisco Court Hearings

An undocumented immigrant in Illinois.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Federal immigration officials in at least one jurisdiction — San Francisco — have agreed to limit the routine shackling of immigrants who appear in court proceedings.

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Around the Nation
3:28 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Jerry Brown Declares A Drought Emergency In California

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 2:20 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In California, Governor Jerry Brown has signed an emergency drought declaration, saying his state is seeing the driest weather in about a century. This is California's third consecutive dry year with no appreciable rain in sight. As NPR's Richard Gonzales reports, cities and counties across the state are taking drastic measures.

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Around the Nation
3:12 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

In California, Alarm Grows Over Shrinking Water Levels

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:33 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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Politics
3:35 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Jerry Brown Proposes A New Budget For California

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 5:36 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Today, California Governor Jerry Brown announced that the state's healthier finances will mean billions of dollars of new spending. The winners in the governor's proposed record budget include schools and welfare. He also wants millions spent on maintaining roads and parks.

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Economy
4:42 am
Thu December 12, 2013

California Still Owes U.S. Billions For Unemployment

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:00 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

California, according to recent budget numbers, is slowly recovering from its years of multi-billion dollar budget deficits. The state is on track to turn a $2.5 billion budget surplus at the end of the current fiscal year. But that's general fund money. It does not address another gaping deficit. The state owes almost $10 billion to the federal government for money spent on unemployment benefits.

NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.

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Around the Nation
1:17 am
Tue December 3, 2013

As Rent Soars, Longtime San Francisco Tenants Fight To Stay

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:02 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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Around the Nation
1:03 am
Fri November 15, 2013

With Robberies Up, Oakland Residents Turn To Private Cops

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

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 10:16 am

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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U.S. Commutes: The Way We Get To Work
1:23 am
Wed November 13, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 1:18 pm

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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Around the Nation
3:01 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

San Franciscans Nix Waterfront Development Plans

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 4:21 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The subject of affordability in American cities came up in a referendum yesterday in San Francisco. Voters rejected measures that would have given a green light to a major luxury condo development. The city is enjoying a construction boom. And some San Franciscans saw this vote as a fight over the kind of city they want.

Here's NPR's Richard Gonzales.

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U.S.
3:07 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Police, Community Relations Strained After Teen's Death

Hundreds of protesters march toward the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office in response to the death of Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa.
Noah Berger Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 7:43 am

Sonoma County, Calif., is probably best known for its good wine, green sensibilities and otherwise healthy and peaceful living. But that peace was shattered last week when a county sheriff's deputy shot and killed a young teenager carrying a toy gun.

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Law
3:15 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

How A County Clerk Ignited The Gay Marriage Debate In N.M.

Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins talks with Thom Hinks and Richard Sunman (far right) after they obtained a marriage license at the Dona Ana County Clerk's Office in Las Cruces, N.M. In August, Ellins' office began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Juan Carlos Llorca AP

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 10:51 am

New Mexico law doesn't explicitly ban or approve same-sex marriage. There were a spate of lawsuits seeking to clarify the issue, but they were tied up in the courts. Then in August, the clerk of Dona Ana County, Lynn Ellins, a long-time supporter of same-sex marriage, consulted his staff.

"And we all agreed that it was about time to bring this thing to a head, and if we did nothing, the cases would languish in the district court if we did not move to issue these licenses and try and put the ball in play," Ellins says.

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Politics
2:20 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

California Won't Wait For Congress On Immigration Reform

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 9:56 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In other immigration news, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a measure that makes it harder for federal immigration officials to detain people believed to be in this country illegally. The new state law, called the Trust Act, restricts local police from holding undocumented immigrants without serious criminal records and turning them over to immigration authorities. NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.

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Sports
3:06 am
Thu September 26, 2013

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

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 3:28 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.

Sports
4:03 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

In Comeback, Oracle Team USA Wins America's Cup

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Business
3:18 am
Thu September 12, 2013

Calif. City Proposes Unique Plan To Avoid Foreclosures

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 4:09 am

A federal judge in San Francisco on Thursday hears arguments over a radical plan to stem the foreclosure crisis. The City of Richmond is proposing to buy underwater mortgages in order to help keep local residents in their homes. If banks don't want to sell those mortgages, the city says it is prepared to invoke eminent domain to seize the mortgages.

U.S.
3:04 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Bay Bridge Reopens After Troubled Makeover

San Francisco's Bay Bridge is open again, after being closed over the weekend to allow the last phase of a retrofitting project to finish up. While commuters are celebrating the bridge's return, the project was a lesson in cost overruns and delays.

Business
3:13 am
Tue August 20, 2013

SEC Bans Falcone From Trading For 5 Years

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 3:40 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Back in this country, a major hedge fund manager, Philip Falcone and his company, Harbinger Capital Partners, have agreed to pay $18 million to settle charges over the improper use of his company's money.

As NPR's Richard Gonzales reports, Falcone is also barred from the securities industry for five years.

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U.S.
12:56 am
Tue August 20, 2013

One By One, California Agents Track Down Illegally Owned Guns

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

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 6:57 am

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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Law
3:06 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Holder Proposes Reducing Minimum Sentences For Drug Offenses

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 4:03 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder outlined federal steps to cut long prison sentences for some drug offenders. In a speech before the American Bar Association, Holder said the change is necessary to curb growing incarceration costs and to make the justice system more fair.

Code Switch
3:13 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Oakland Braces For Seeing Subway Shooting On The Big Screen

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

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 3:00 pm

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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Around the Nation
3:02 am
Mon July 8, 2013

NTSB Investigators Probe Clues Of Asiana Flight 214 Crash

More details are emerging about the crash of Asiana flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday that killed two people. The Boeing 777 jet nearly stalled on its approach to land, and the flight crew tried to take corrective action just seconds before it hit the ground. There's also word the pilot, while having extensive flying experience, had only 43 hours on the 777.

NPR Story
4:41 am
Sun July 7, 2013

Crash At San Francisco Airport Kills Two

Originally published on Sun July 7, 2013 12:21 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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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

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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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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National Security
3:12 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Silicon Valley Tied To NSA Surveillance Leaks

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 6:11 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

I'm Audie Cornish. And it's time now for All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC)

CORNISH: People in the tech world are buzzing over the revelations of massive NSA data gathering, and the tech industry appears to be deeply involved. The leaked documents say that some of the biggest names, Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft have assisted in NSA surveillance.

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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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Around the Nation
2:55 am
Thu May 23, 2013

Same-Sex Couples Upset Over Removal Of Immigration Amendment

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 10:54 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This follow-up now on the move for immigration reform: When a Senate committee approved a bill overhauling immigration laws this week, it was a victory for supporters of reform, but a bitter pill for one group: the gay and lesbian community. Both Republican and Democratic senators rejected an amendment that would have allowed American citizens to sponsor their same-sex partners for permanent residency. NPR's Richard Gonzales reports from San Francisco.

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