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.

Pages

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?

Read more

5:43pm

Wed October 30, 2013
U.S.

Police, Community Relations Strained After Teen's Death

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 9:43 am

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

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.

Read more

4:54pm

Tue October 22, 2013
Law

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

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 12:51 pm

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

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.

Read more

5:13pm

Wed September 25, 2013
NPR Story

In Comeback, Oracle Team USA Wins America's Cup

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In San Francisco today, a dramatic winner-take-all finish to the America's Cup race. Oracle Team USA, the defending champion, completed a remarkable comeback to win the regatta, 9-8. The American team is led by Silicon Valley billionaire and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. They were on the verge of elimination to their opponent, Emirates Team New Zealand. Trailing 8-1, the Oracle team then won eight straight races, concluding this afternoon in the high winds of San Francisco Bay. Announcer Todd Harris had the call on the NBC Sports Network.

Read more

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.

Read more

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

Fruitvale Station, a new feature film depicting the shooting, multiple times." href="/post/oakland-braces-seeing-subway-shooting-big-screen" class="noexit lightbox">
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.

Read more

6:41am

Sun July 7, 2013
NPR Story

Crash At San Francisco Airport Kills Two

Originally published on Sun July 7, 2013 2:21 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Read more

9:22pm

Fri June 28, 2013
Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court

Same-Sex Marriages Resume In California

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its injunction on gay marriages in California on Friday. They'd been on hold while the challenges to Proposition 8 worked their way through the appeals process.

2:52am

Wed May 29, 2013
It's All Politics

Political Battles Still Dog Redistricting In California

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 10:47 am

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

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.

Read more

4:38am

Thu May 23, 2013
Around the Nation

Same-Sex Couples Upset Over Removal Of Immigration Amendment

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 12:54 pm

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.

Read more

3:19pm

Tue April 30, 2013
U.S.

On California Prisons, It's The Governor Vs. The Courts

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 5:32 pm

Gov. Jerry Brown in January calls for federal judges to return control of California prisons to the state. This month, a federal appeals court denied Brown's request and ordered the state to reduce its prison population immediately.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

California Gov. Jerry Brown is locked in a legal battle over control of his state's prison system. Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling ordering the state to drastically reduce its prisoner population. Brown claims the state has made substantial progress, but the governor has stopped short of complying fully with the court order.

Read more

3:16am

Wed March 20, 2013
Guns In America: A Loaded Relationship

How To Be The Good Guy With A Gun At School

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 9:30 am

Stockton Unified School District Police Officer Myra Franco and Chief Jim West patrol 50 schools in California's Central Valley region. One of the campuses was the site of a 1989 shooting massacre.
Richard Gonzales NPR

Ever since the Newtown, Ct., school shooting, there's been a raging debate over how to keep America's schoolchildren safe. National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre proposed stationing an armed guard in every school in the country. Critics said that idea was impractical and would be too expensive to carry out.

But many schools and school districts already have armed police officers. Since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, about one-third of the schools in the U.S. have added some kind of armed security, according to federal data.

Read more

5:07am

Mon February 25, 2013
Around the Nation

Oakland To Issue IDs That Double As Debit Cards

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 9:11 am

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan (center) and former Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente are registered for the Oakland City ID Prepaid MasterCard program by Jaime Suriano (left) Feb. 1 in Oakland, Calif.
Ben Margot AP

The city of Oakland, Calif., is taking a major step toward helping to bring many of its residents, especially illegal immigrants, out of the shadows.

It will issue a municipal identification card to anyone who can prove residency.

Oakland isn't the only city to issue such ID cards to illegal immigrants. New Haven, Conn., and San Francisco already do that.

The Oakland card, however, has a unique feature — it doubles as a debit card.

Read more

5:14pm

Tue December 11, 2012
Education

Berkeley Receives $1M For Undocumented Students

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 9:34 pm

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

5:00pm

Fri December 7, 2012
U.S.

School District Owes $1 Billion On $100 Million Loan

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 4:10 pm

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

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.

Read more

Pages