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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3:44pm

Thu June 26, 2014
Politics

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

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 6:10 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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4:13pm

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 6:12 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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2:09am

Thu June 12, 2014
The Salt

Fight Over Calif. Oyster Company Splits Chefs And Land Defenders

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 3:38 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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2:06am

Thu May 29, 2014
Race

Shooting Of Sikh Army Veteran Divides Community

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 10:31 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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3:16pm

Mon April 21, 2014
News

Teen Stowaway Somehow Survives Flight To Hawaii In Wheel Well

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 6:26 pm

The FBI is saying that a 16-year-old boy is lucky to be alive after he hid in the wheel well of a flight from San Jose to Maui. Severe temperatures and low oxygen would make survival difficult. Investigators are examining the case.

3:34pm

Sat March 29, 2014
Code Switch

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

Originally published on Sat March 29, 2014 5:59 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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12:28pm

Sat March 29, 2014
Politics

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

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 3:04 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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2:21am

Wed March 26, 2014
The Salt

What A Long, Strange Trip: Salmon Are Trucking To The Pacific Ocean

Pacific Or Bust: Fingerling Chinook salmon are dumped into a holding pen as they are transferred from a truck into the Sacramento River Tuesday 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 waters too dry to let them make their usual spawning trip to the ocean. So state and federal officials have embarked on a drastic plan to save them – by letting them hitch a ride on 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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4:02am

Tue March 18, 2014
Business

Businesses Help Guide Workers Down Path To Citizenship

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 4:28 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.

5:10pm

Wed March 12, 2014
Law

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

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 7:14 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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2:37am

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 6:43 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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10:29am

Sat February 15, 2014
Law

Flood Of Gay Marriage Cases Releasing Stream Of Federal Rulings

Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 9:48 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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5:18pm

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 7:00 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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4:16pm

Fri January 17, 2014
Around the Nation

Jerry Brown Declares A Drought Emergency In California

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 3:20 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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4:12pm

Tue January 14, 2014
Around the Nation

In California, Alarm Grows Over Shrinking Water Levels

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 5:33 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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