July 13th, 2014 | Opinion
Dave Herb serves as the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee’s liaison to the Fresno City Council, and he has graciously agreed to make his thoughts about the meetings by the Council and other local governmental bodies available to Democrats in Fresno County through our website.
Ballot measure on water rates — As a recovering public employee, I have little sympathy for citizens who do not want to pay their fair share of essential public infrastructure costs. The current drought should alert even the most casual observer to the critical nature of our water quality/quantity issues. It is a fact that the metropolitan population is expected to double by 2050. We used to be the largest city in the world to subsist entirely off of underground water. Surviving off of underground water is no longer possible and we need to utilize surface water. This means more storage and treatment of surface water resources. I consider myself to be an environmentalist, but until and unless we find the will or the way to stop growth we must have increased water supplies. Conservation can bend the curve, but ultimately growth increases demand. In years past, the city practiced the urban growth management process. This meant that new growth was expected to pay its own way. There were no arbitrary lines on a map. Developers could go where they wanted if their land was planned for urban development, but if they leap-frogged beyond existing urban boundaries they paid the cost to expand or extend required services (streets, sewers, water, etc.). The council’s proposed rate increase for surface water treatment takes the increased demand for water created mostly by new growth and places the burden on the backs of current rate payers. This is not how I define “fair share.” What is currently proposed may be business friendly, but it is not based on “fair share.” If the ballot measure recently submitted by Mr. Doug Vagim is approved, the council and its consultants will have to go back to the drawing board. I recommend that people support the proposed ballot measure.
City budget – After predicting that the city was heading over the cliff of bankruptcy if Measure G (privatized residential trash collection) was not passed, the mayor started this year’s budget session by noting the rainbow on the cover of her budget document. We are now past the threat of bankruptcy and on our way to a $27 million rainy day reserve fund. This is good news. However, an uptick in the property taxes in the wake of a multiyear economic recovery is hardly a surprise and makes me wonder about the proposal to privatize an efficient municipal service under the threat of bankruptcy. Was this prudent budget management or a pretext to privatize a public service which would likely have had a long term adverse impact on local rate payers and displaced employees?
Sidewalks vs. developers – In recent weeks the City Council voted to permit Granville Homes to modify established property development standards for new residential subdivisions in a manner which will likely block neighborhood sidewalks. Developers accurately note that the General Plan calls for higher density/smaller lots and this makes for tiny backyards. One solution is to reduce the required 20-foot front yard setback. Contrary to what many people assume, the required front yard is not as much to provide a neighborhood playground as it is to provide an off-street parking space on the apron/driveway in front of the garage. In an effort to maintain a viable backyard, Granville proposed reducing the front yard driveway to 8 feet. Not a bad idea at first glance; however, the 8 foot driveway together with a 10 foot sidewalk/planting strip creates an 18 foot area which will provide a tempting off-street parking area if you don’t mind blocking the sidewalk. Unfortunately, the disabled will mind, and if you believe in neighborhoods you understand that sidewalks aid in turning a collection of houses into a neighborhood of family homes. If the truth is known, developers don’t seem to like sidewalks. They cost money. The average home buyer does not understand the importance of details like sidewalks until after they are living there. I am disappointed in Granville. In the long term, the quality of their neighborhoods will suffer. Additionally, I am very disappointed in the council, whose job it is to govern the details of how we build our community. The balance between profitable development and healthy neighborhoods is not being maintained.
July 4th, 2014 | Volunteer Opportunities
A team of volunteers is needed to help newly-naturalized U.S. citizens register to vote immediately following each monthly Naturalization Ceremony in downtown Fresno. Want to help? Join our team of Fresno County Democrats outside the ceremonies, scheduled on the following dates:
We need as many volunteers as possible in order to maximize our registration potential. To volunteer, contact Linda Traynor via e-mail at email@example.com, or contact the Fresno County Democratic Party at 559-495-0606.
June 20th, 2014 | Opinion
An open letter for Texas Governor Rick Perry, from CADEM Chair John Burton:
June 19, 2014
Governor Rick Perry
The Associated Press has reported that for all of your incessant California-bashing, you may be considering a move to the Golden State after your term as Governor of Texas ends.
We don’t blame you.
California has a lot to offer. From some of the best coastline in the world, national parks like Yosemite and Joshua Tree, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley, from San Diego to the crown jewel of San Francisco, this is simply the place to be.
That said, you really ought to know what you’re signing up for here. It may not be your scene.
Here in California we don’t stick our heads in the sand or twiddle our thumbs when it comes to Global Warming. We know it’s real, and our Governor Jerry Brown is leading the way to combat the threat we all face. California signed the Climate Change Pact together with the Governors of Oregon, Washington State and British Columbia. We’re building the nation’s first high speed rail system and we passed the Global Warming Solutions Act close to ten years ago.
Then there’s the matter of you equating homosexuality with alcoholism. Rick, it will take more than marching in this month’s San Francisco Pride Parade for you to begin to walk those comments back, but if you’re planning to make the move, it couldn’t hurt to start there.
This is California, the home of Harvey Milk. We’re a national leader in the fight for equal rights and marriage equality. Our Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom threw the gauntlet down way back in 2004 when, as mayor of San Francisco, he decided enough was enough and fought to give gay and lesbian couples the right to get married (and divorced for that matter) just like everyone else.
You should also know our minimum wage is set to go up to $10 an hour here thanks to our Democratic legislators and Governor Jerry Brown.
We understand even our state’s harshest critics would love to call California home, and apparently you’re no different. We’re just saying it wouldn’t hurt to do a little research before you load up the U-Haul and head west.
Peace and friendship,
The Fresno County Democratic Party welcomes Dave Herb to our website. Dave has volunteered to serve as the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee’s liaison to the Fresno City Council, and he has graciously agreed to make his thoughts about the meetings by the Council and other local governmental bodies available to Democrats in Fresno County through our website.
The following is Dave’s first report:
Bus Rapid Transit - After lengthy debate the Fresno City Council has agreed to move forward on a watered down version of a high speed enhancement to the City’s FAX System proposed by councilperson Olivier. The new service will add improved service along Blackstone, Kings Canyon and Shaw Avenues. Council President Brandau remains the one opponent to the project because “there is not adequate demand.”
Community Centers Evangelizing - The three community centers run by faith based groups have raised concerns about religious activities during regular operating hours. City staff has been contacted. Sites have been inspected. Operators have been counseled and contracts are being clarified. Any future problems should be reported to the liaison. Note: These restrictions do not apply to after-hours activities at the facilities conducted by private parties.
Invocation Issues – The Supreme Court has recently banned religiously based invocations to open governmental meetings. The question has been asked if local agencies are aware if the issues. The city attorney’s office has been alerted to this issue and staff is studying the court’s ruling. No changes in the tradition have been made yet.
Public Hearing Process – Both city staff and political leaders have lost sight of the need to adhere to the timing of noticed public hearings. Items scheduled for a time certain should not be differed for hours. Your liaison had a brief meeting with the council president to express concern on this issue and received a promise to improve the council’s procedures.
Measure Z Reauthorization — The Board of Supervisors recently failed to take action to place a new Measure Z item on the November ballot. Supervisors Perea and Larson supported the measure but the other three board members were confused by out of town opponents of the zoo expansion. Committee members were encouraged to contact the board and ask them to place the measure on the ballot for November do that voters can decide the issue.
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