What happened: Two homeless men in Fresno have called for an ambulance an average of nearly twice a day for more than a year, racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs and even more when they get to a hospital. Some say Cesar Arana and Lonzel McPeters are using the system as a free taxi service. But the men say they're just trying to get to a hospital for treatment of their chronic illnesses.
What it means: Fresno city officials, social-services agencies and hospitals have offered the men bus tokens, housing, food and rehabilitation counseling without success. Community Medical Centers in Fresno has a program that offers housing, rehabilitation counseling and links to services to assist repeat emergency room patients.
What readers said:
"When the health care debate was raging about "Obamacare", those of us who have been involved in EMS, truly understood this cost shifting reality. That overcrowded ERs, due to abuse, misuse, lack of a primary care physician, or real emergency cases, were the MOST expensive form of care. That transport by ambulance, whether needed or not, sequesters a crew from availability."
"These two homeless people could do their part. ... They could be more considerate by living homeless within walking distance to the hospital. If they're living on the street, again, I say they should live on the street in front of the hospital."
Staying on track
What happened: California High-Speed Rail Authority leaders acknowledge they have "a lot of damage to undo" with Valley farmers and property owners along the route of the proposed train system. As political battles loom in Sacramento over issuing $2.7 billion in bonds to begin building the system later this year in the Valley, authority chairman Dan Richard said a new business plan and new leadership are focused on rebuilding the agency's credibility.
What it means: The newest plan is going through revisions that may be unveiled in the next month or two, Richard said. The emphasis is to find ways to "do it better, faster and cheaper." A key challenge will be persuading state legislators to allocate money from Proposition 1A, a $9 billion bond measure for high-speed rail construction.
What readers said:
"Integrating HSR with BART, Amtrak, the CalTran, ACE, and Metrolink is likely where Jerry Brown will have to go if he wants to salvage the system. lower the cost and put HSR into operation in this lifetime. Transfers are something of a bummer, compared to a single seat, single ticket ride. But transfers sure beat no ride and they are vastly preferrable to buses. If the airlines can do it, so can HSR."
"Shame for supporting an excellent move forward into the future and helping to accommodate California's continuously growing population? Nope."
What happened: Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan's visit to Fresno on Thursday underscored the relationship between Mexico and the Valley and highlighted concerns about protecting the region's agriculture industry from anti-immigrant legislation. His visit was also a nod to the growing strength of Fresno's Mexican Consulate, which in the past few years has taken the lead in promoting better education and health care for the Mexican-American community.
What it means: Sarukhan is at the forefront of promoting a comprehensive immigration reform agenda with the U.S. His plan -- which calls for reform on both sides of the border -- includes a temporary worker program in the U.S. and a system to legally identify the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants.
What readers said:
"I have the perfect solution to the whole Criminal Trespasser problem: Any business who hires illegals, gets fined $10,000 a head for each illegal employed; after the fine is paid, the business gets confiscated and sold at public auction, as it was used in the commission of a crime. Anyone who rents to illegals, gets fined $10,000 a head for each illegal living in the home/apartment - after the fine is paid, the home/apartment complex is confiscated and sold at public auction, as it was used in the commission of a crime."
"studies show illegals' economic impact demonstrates they actually contribute more to public reserves in taxes than they cost in social services...undocumented immigrants also contribute to the U.S. economy through their investments and consumption of goods and services; filling of millions of essential worker positions resulting in subsidiary job creation, increased productivity and lower costs of goods and services; and unrequited contributions to Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance programs...."
Catching Up is compiled by Bee editors. Go to fresnobee.com/catchingup/ to comment or learn more about these stories.