Lunch Links

Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, believes that first-year Assembly Members are committed to moving California forward — even if it requires crossing party lines.


Assembly Member Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, has a new spin on the adage that in the West, whiskey is for sipping and water is for fighting. Speaking at the Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s “Eggs and Issues” breakfast Friday morning, Patterson said that “water is like trying to broker peace in the Middle East.”

The freshman Assembly member and former Fresno mayor stayed true to his conservative, free-enterprise roots during his talk, but also offered hope that he and other members — Democrats and Republicans — of the body’s large first-year class could forge alliances born of “dispassionate, fact-based analysis” of what California must do to quicken and expand its economic recovery.

Because of voter-approved term-limits modifications,  many of the freshmen in the Assembly are likely to end up serving 12 years. Such familiarity could breed either partisan contempt or friendships that cross party lines.

For California’s sake, let’s hope that Patterson’s enthusiasm for bipartisanship is felt throughout the Assembly and Senate. Clearly, Republicans will have to be strategic about which bills they support. As Patterson said, ‘The Democrats own the joint.”

Lawmakers, lobbyists and developers are trying to come up with Redevelopment 2.0 to replace the model disbanded by Gov. Jerry Brown. But the conservative website CalWatchdog says the new version contains the same flaw as the original: focusing on blight instead of unemployment.

The Los Angeles Times offers this report on salmon restoration in the San Joaquin River. According to reporter Bettina Boxall, “104 fall-run chinook (were) trapped over a period of weeks late last year and hauled in tank trucks down California 99 — around dry riverbed not yet restored — for release in the upper river at Camp Pashayan on the outskirts of Fresno.”

Our Letter of the Day is from Berl Jay Hubbell of Fresno, who says that Gov. Brown’s proposed Delta tunnel project is a scam.



Lunch links

Rio Mesa would be home to about 200,000 people within 50 years, comparable to present-day Modesto, according Fresno City Manager Mark Scott.


Fresno City Manager Mark Scott has sent a letter to Madera County officials spelling out city’s position on development in the Rio Mesa area on the Madera side of the San Joaquin River.

In a nutshell, Scott advocates for “smart growth” and asks Madera County to work with closely City Hall to mitigate impacts and to equitably pay for transportation infrastructure.

Media, including The Bee, have portrayed a built-out Rio Mesa as comparable to 100,000 population Clovis.

But Scott, citing the 33,000 housing units planned for Rio Mesa and another 40,000 units planned west of Highway 41, says that Madera County is really ushering in a city that will be as large as present-day Modesto (population about 200,000)  “within 50 years.”

The city manager also calls for a a regional planning entity involving Fresno, Fresno County, Madera County and the Madera County Transportation  Commission to examine needs, impacts and potential mitigations in the Rio Mesa and surrounding areas.

Finally, Scott says that the city sued Madera County over Rio Mesa to preserve its legal standing, and that the lawsuit can go away if Madera officials are willing to address City Hall’s concerns about Rio Mesa.

You can read Scott’s letter here.

News that Alameda County’s top administrator would receive a $420,000 a year pension is the latest flashpoint in the debate about public employees pensions. Now the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Matt Clark has compiled a list of the state’s 12 highest paid county administrators. Check it out here. BTW: Fresno County’s John Navarrette didn’t make the Top 12, but he’s still niclely compensated at about $179,000 ,000 a year plus pension and health benefits.

Our Letter of the Day is from Lawrence M. Fischbach, who says that he likes living in zip code 93706 even though the life expectancy there is nearly 20 years shorter than for folks in northeast Fresno.





Breakfast Links

The Borowitz Report, a satirical look at politics and other subjects, is the most popular feature at The New Yorker website. Today’s headline: “Scalia Furious He Has to Hear About Gay Couples All Week.”

Our Letter of the Day deals with classroom discipline, which has been a hot topic the past couple of weeks. This one, “Realities of school discipline,” is from a teacher’s perspective.

Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters cuts a short video most weekdays dealing with items of statewide interest. Today, he is saying that the U.S. Supreme Court isn’t likely to issue a sweeping ruling on gay marriage. Check out the Dan Walters Daily.

A new wrinkle has been added to the global warming debate: Is there a tipping point from which our climate and environment can’t recover? Some scientists says yes in this piece first published by Scientific American.

Can anyone beat the National Rifle Association? Bill Clinton did. But columnist Roger Simon of Politico says that Wayne LaPierre and the NRA are likely to beat back any attempt at a ban on so-called assault weapons.



Add your voice to the Community Conversation

We are trying something new once a month on The    Bee’s printed Opinion Page.

On the third Monday of each month, we’re printing  letters dedicated to single topic in a format we’re calling the Community Conversation.

The subject is “How to fix the Fresno City Hall budget,” and, thus far, a majority of submissions have been anonymous. As we don’t print anonymous letters, we are looking for more of you to contribute your ideas.

To prime the pump for the first Community Conversation, we are waiving the usual 30-day sit-out rule for people who have their letters published.

The deadline is Thursday, and the first Community Conversation will publish Monday, March 18.

Submit your idea in 150 words or less and email it to Put “Community Conversation” in the subject field.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Fresno cited as suffering from ‘The Biggest Gap’

Adam Liptak writes in The New York Times about the growing clout of small states to bring home federal money at the expense of large states.

Powering the small-state muscle: the fact that every state is allotted two U.S. Senators regardless of size. In addition, strategic use of filibuster rules has kept federal dollars from being distributed in proportion to population.

Fresno is cited as an example of city with great needs that largely is ignored by the feds.

Here is what Liptak writes:

Fresno, Calif., is a city of a half-million people with a long list of problems, including 14 percent unemployment, the aftermath of a foreclosure crisis, homeless encampments that dot the sun-blasted landscape and worries about the safety of the surrounding county’s drinking water.

A thousand miles away, a roughly comparable number of people inhabit the entire state of Wyoming. Like Fresno and its environs, Wyoming is rural, with an economy largely based on agriculture. It is also in much better shape than Fresno, with an unemployment rate around 5 percent.

Even so, Wyoming receives far more assistance from the federal government than Fresno does. The half-million residents of Wyoming also have much more sway over federal policy than the half-million residents of Fresno. The vote people in Fresno remember best was taken in 2007, when an immigration overhaul bill that included a guest worker program failed in the Senate. Both agricultural businesses and leaders of Fresno’s large Hispanic population supported the bill, much as polls suggested a majority of Americans did.

But the immigration bill died in the Senate after a 53-46 vote rejecting a bid to move the bill forward to final passage. Wyoming’s two senators were in the majority and California’s two senators on the losing side.

Had the votes been allocated by population, the result would have been lopsided in the other direction, with 57 votes in favor and 43 against.

Even 57 votes would not have been enough to overcome a filibuster, which requires 60. In the last few years, 41 senators representing as little as a third of the nation’s population have frequently blocked legislation, as the filibuster (or the threat of it) has become a routine part of Senate business.

Beyond the filibuster, senators from Wyoming and other small states regularly oppose and often thwart programs popular in states with vastly bigger populations. The 38 million people who live in the nation’s 22 smallest states, including Wyoming, are represented by 44 senators. The 38 million residents of California are represented by two senators.

In one of every 10 especially consequential votes in the Senate over the two decades ending in 2010, as chosen by Congressional Quarterly, the winning side would have lost had voting been allocated by population. And in 24 of the 27 such votes, the majority of the senators on the winning side were Republicans.

David Mayhew, a political scientist at Yale, cautioned that the political benefit to Republicans is “quite small as well as quite stable,” adding that it is important not to lose sight of small blue states like Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont. But he acknowledged that small states of both political stripes receive disproportionate federal benefits.

Professor Frances E. Lee, a political scientist at the University of Maryland and  an author of “Sizing Up the Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation,” argues that the partisan impact of the small-state advantage is larger. “There is a Republican tilt in the Senate,” she said.

“The way Republicans are distributed across the nation is more efficient,” she added, referring to the more even allocation of Republican voters, allowing them to form majorities in small-population states. Democrats are more tightly clustered, especially in large metropolitan areas.”

You can read the entire article here