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Hearing set for Oroville shooting suspect | Cal Fire staffing shortage | Overdose deaths set record

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The latest North State and California news on our airwaves for Thursday, May 12.

Oroville bus shooting suspect mentally competent to stand trial, prosecutors say

According to prosecutors in Butte County, a doctor has found the suspect in a deadly mass shooting in Oroville mentally fit to stand trial.

The suspect, Asaahdi Coleman, 21, of Sacramento, had undergone a doctor’s evaluation after his defense attorney questioned his ability to understand the criminal proceedings against him and assist in his own defense.

Coleman is charged with a single count of murder and four counts of attempted murder in connection with the Feb. 2 Greyhound bus shooting in Oroville.

Criminal proceedings have been suspended since March to address questions surrounding Coleman’s mental fitness. He has not yet entered a plea.

A Butte County judge set a competency hearing for May 18 to allow Coleman’s attorney to further review the doctor’s report, which prosecutor Mark Murphy said finds Coleman is competent to stand trial.

Outside of court, Coleman’s defense attorney, Robert Marshall, declined to comment on the contents of that report.

— Andre Byik, NSPR

Cal Fire union president comments on firefighter shortage

Cal Fire is experiencing a statewide staffing shortage in another drought year. Tim Edwards is president of Cal Fire Local 2881, which represents the agency's more than 7,000 employees. He said this staffing shortage didn't happen overnight.

"It was lack of investment early on. And when budget problems happened years ago, the first thing to be cut was fire and we never bounced back from that,” Edwards said. “We don't really have a recruitment problem within Cal Fire, what we have is a retention problem."

He said firefighters can spend 40 to 60 days on fire lines multiple times a year. In some cases, Edwards added, that's more time than they spend at home. He said the size of recent fires has also taken an emotional toll on those who've worked them. A bill pending in the legislature proposes to hire an additional 1,100 firefighters in the near term.

— CapRadio Staff

Overdose deaths set another record, according to CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Wednesday that more than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, setting another record.

Dr. Aimee Moulin is a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at UC Davis. She said overdose deaths were up about 15% between 2020 and 2021 nationally and cited two reasons: the pandemic, which disrupted people's social and treatment networks, and the proliferation of fentanyl, which is about 80-to-100-times stronger than morphine.

"And those two forces really have collided at the worst possible time so we really have a big hole to dig ourselves out of in terms of getting people into treatment and addressing this epidemic,” she said.

The Biden administration recently unveiled a drug control strategy and a plan to fight methamphetamine use.

— CapRadio Staff

Cryptocurrency donations could soon be accepted by CA campaigns

California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) could soon open the door for campaigns to accept cryptocurrency donations.

California is currently one of nine states that bars campaign contributions in cryptocurrency because they're so hard to regulate and trace. But in recent years, tens of thousands of cryptocurrencies have rolled out. Jay Wierenga, a spokesperson for the FPPC, said the state doesn't want to fall behind.

“We as a commission are always trying to keep up with changing political activity trends,” Wierenga said.

Next week, the FPPC will consider several recommendations from staff, among them treating crypto like cash and requiring that it be converted into cash before being deposited into a campaign bank account.

— Adhiti Bandlamudi (KQED), The California Report 

Stories from NPR partner stations are edited by NSPR Staff for digital presentation and credited as requested.

In other news

  • Candidates make their pitches: “Candidates for local office met Monday night, May 4, at the Trinity Arts Performing Arts Center for a Q&A. The event was hosted by Soroptimist International of Trinity County, and moderated by Joanne Harper, Track and Field coach for Trinity High." — The Trinity Journal
  • LaMalfa announces Congressional Art Competition winner: “Today, Congressman Doug LaMalfa announced the winner of the Spring 2022 Congressional Art Competition. Casey Lee Rhine, a Paradise resident and sophomore at Core Butte High School, was awarded first place for the submission, 'The Remains,' which is a symbol for the destruction of the 2018 Camp Fire.” — Lassen County Times
  • California governor backs plan to pay for some abortions: “California taxpayers would help pay for abortions for women who can't afford them under a new spending proposal Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday to prepare for a potential surge of people from other states seeking reproductive care if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.” — The Associated Press
  • Corning moves to buy property for plaza project: “With authorization from the City Council authorization Tuesday, Corning will execute the agreement to purchase and sell of 1113 Solano St. for its downtown plaza project.” — Red Bluff Daily News

In case you missed it

Headlines is published every weekday morning at 8:30 a.m. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and NPR One. Theme song Borough is courtesy of Blue Dot Sessions

Angel Huracha has been a part of the journalism field since 2006 and has covered a range of topics. He is a graduate of Chico State with a Bachelor's degree in news-editorial and public relations with a minor in English.
Alec Stutson grew up in Colorado and graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in Radio Journalism, 20th/21st Century Literature, and a minor in Film Studies. He is a huge podcast junkie, as well as a movie nerd and musician.
Adia White is a broadcast journalist and producer with nearly 10 years of experience. Her work has appeared on WNYC, This American Life, Capital Public Radio and other local and national programs. She started at North State Public Radio as a freelance reporter in 2017 before leaving for a stint at Northern California Public Media in Santa Rosa.