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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Education
4:38 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 8:34 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.
4:22 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 3:10 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
4:27 am
Mon November 19, 2012

California Learns From Hurricane Sandy In Northeast

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 9:38 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.
10:29 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
4:17 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 9:48 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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Around the Nation
3:39 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 10:39 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
2:40 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 8:59 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
3:29 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

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

in a video featured on the website of Familia es Familia, which aims to help Latino families accept their LGBT loved ones." href="/post/its-hard-tell-la-familia-youre-gay" class="noexit lightbox">
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 4:50 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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U.S.
4:08 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 5:03 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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NPR Cities: Urban Life In The 21st Century
1:55 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 1:17 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
2:50 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 1:15 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
4:57 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 10:19 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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Election 2012
3:54 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 6:49 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
2:39 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 1:01 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
5:20 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 5:21 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.
1:54 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 5:45 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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Business
3:00 am
Fri February 10, 2012

Many Advocates Not Impressed With States' Foreclosure Settlement

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 7:02 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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U.S.
2:25 am
Mon February 6, 2012

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

At a time when young activists from Zucotti Park to Tahrir Square have shown what the Internet and social media can do to help organize people, some American unions have been taking notes.

The AFL-CIO is embarking on a new advertising campaign that combines new and old technologies.

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Crisis In The Housing Market
11:01 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

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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NPR Story
3:00 am
Wed January 18, 2012

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

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 4:36 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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Hard Times: A Journey Across America
7:02 am
Sat December 10, 2011

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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