Valley news of the week -- April 25-May 1

April 30, 2010 

FRESNOBEE.COM

Last week was full of news, including a horrific murder charge against a baby sitter, a big verdict against Fresno Police, a discouraging report on air pollution and plans for rebirth of a much-loved Valley department-store chain.

Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers on fresnobee.com.

DA ends probes

What happened: Fresno County’s district attorney told The Bee that her office can no longer afford to investigate every case in which a Fresno police officer kills or wounds a civilian.

What it means: The decision, ending a long-standing policy that also is common around the state, leaves Eddie J. Aubrey, the city’s new police auditor, as the only check on the police department’s internal investigations.

What readers said:

“Well, if all we have left is the city’s police auditor, we’ll have to beef up that authority to include independent investigations and subpoena power, now won’t we?”

--djkc

“A good investigator should be able to talk to all of the witnesses who were present at a shooting in a matter of days … I think Aubrey can do that.”

--hikerdude1965


Police lose suit

What happened: The city of Fresno agreed to pay $1.7 million to settle claims that police used excessive force to break up a 2005 homecoming celebration for a soldier returning from Iraq.

What it means: Coupled with an earlier payout of $1.6 million to a Clovis couple, the city has paid $3.3 million to settle lawsuits stemming from the incident.

What readers said:

“These multi-million dollar settlements are criminal. No long term damage was done.”

--paulii

“Expect a lot more DUI checkpoints to cover the cost of this lawsuit.”

--toochs


Valley air gets an F

What happened: The American Lung Association gave the Valley another flunking grade for its air quality.

What it means: The group’s annual air-quality report found that five of the nation’s 10 urban areas with the highest spikes in fine particle pollution are in the Valley -- the worst showing of any air basin in the country.

What readers said:

“The San Joaquin Valley, what a great place to call home.”

--monkeyboy1

“Besides the smoke of the summer mountain fires, be advised Valley Fever will also take you down. So absolutely stay away, and if you live here please move out of the area. Now off to tend my luxurious garden under large white puffy clouds of spring, good afternoon all.”

--Oly


Baby sitter charged

What happened: Reedley residents were shocked to learn that a 19-year-old baby sitter had been arrested on suspicion of killing a baby girl in her charge.

What it means: Police said doctor reports contradict Danielle Martzen’s claim that the baby fell from her bed. But the girl would never harm a child, her attorney said Thursday.

What readers said:

“OMG I WENT TO MIDDLE SCHOOL WITH HER IN REEDLEY SHE WAS A CHEERLEADER I GUESS YOU CAN SAY SHE WAS POPULAR I WOULD OF NEVER IMAGINED HER DOING SOMETHING LIKE THIS.”

--Adriana_1990

“You don’t know all the information and facts in this case. Don’t judge!”

--ldsgirl


Gang crackdown

What happened: Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer ordered a crackdown on gangs in southwest Fresno after two people were shot to death Sunday.

What it means: The killings raised the weekend homicide total to three and the city’s total for the year to 20 -- nearly twice the number at this time last year.

What readers said:

“Does anyone here actually care whether gang members kill each other? Because I don’t.”

--forcho130

“Well! That’s good! But! Where are they going to put them when they arrest them? There is no jail left.”

--collieterrier


Gottschalk(s) redux

What happened: A former chairman of Gottschalks Inc. wants to resurrect the venerable retail name with a new chain of department stores.

What it means: Joe Levy said he has formed a new company -- called Gottschalk by Joe Levy Inc. -- and hopes to open the first store Nov. 1 in the old Gottschalks space in Sierra Vista Mall.

What readers said:

“I am very excited by this news! I have grieved over the loss of Gottschalks … I can’t thank Mr. Levy enough for this endeavor.”

--plynch

“Same management team, same concept, worse environment … I’m betting against.”

--rtmoore21


Fresno hits 500k

What happened: State population estimates put Fresno’s population over 500,000 for the first time.

What it means: Despite two years of recession, the city continues to grow. This year’s population estimate is up 1.4% from 2009, compared to 1% for the state.

What readers said:

“Unless things change in CA, specifically in Fresno, I don’t see the growth for the next 10 years. If things don’t get better, I can see a decrease in population.”

--gottaloveit

“No matter the state of the economy, Fresno has grown and will continue to grow … with nearly 39 million people in this state and counting, the people have to go somewhere.”

--natek77


Twist of the week

What happened: A movie theater in Tulare has introduced seats wired to move in response to action on the screen -- for $8 extra.

What readers said:

“I wonder if the seats can be adjusted to shake a bit of loose change from patrons’ pockets.”

--dthurley

Catching Up is compiled by Bee managing editor Jack Robinson.

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