Fresno County officials say retirees are needed for part-time work, a consultant talks about what a public market could mean for downtown Fresno, and a "frequent flier" gets his last ambulance ride.
Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers at fresnobee.com.
What happened: Fresno County's top officials on Tuesday defended a practice of rehiring retirees for part-time work despite criticism that the workers are cashing in on both a paycheck and a pension. The Board of Supervisors signed off on waivers for more than 40 employees who don't comply with a new state law that seeks to limit what is known as double-dipping. The law requires government retirees to stay off the job for at least six months before returning to work.
What it means: As part of Tuesday's action, the Board of Supervisors directed county managers to return in six months with a report on how many retirees remain in extra-help positions.
What readers said:
"Retired annuitants save agencies money, that's why they use them. They usually earn less than they did when they were permanent, they don't get benefits, and they don't earn additional credit toward retirement. Knowledge is a scary thing for some people. :)"
"It's bad enough they will collect more money for retiring than I make in two years, but then to come back and get another paycheck from the county, who runs on our taxes, thereby keeping the position from going to someone else who won't receive half their pay and pension, but to do it before the six months that they are supposed to wait is up is just greedy."
-- Julie Keeney
" 'The Board of Supervisors signed off on waivers for more than 40 employees who don't comply with a new state law that seeks to limit what's known as double-dipping. The law requires government retirees to stay off the job for at least six months before returning to work.' BOS says, 'Laws, laws, we don't need no stinking laws.' "
Public market plan
What happened: Fresno could one day have its own version of Seattle's Pike Place Market. But instead of vendors tossing fish, the permanent public market would feature foods grown and produced in the Valley, drawing customers from across the region. On Wednesday, Ted Spitzer, a public market consultant who helped open several such markets nationwide, explained the concept to about 60 dreamers, downtown cheerleaders and business people in a packed Fresno conference room.
What it means: Although Fresno's business development director, Craig Scharton, is coordinating the planning, the city would not plan, manage or fund a market. Most are run by nonprofit groups and paid for with a mix of private money and tax credits, Spitzer said.
What readers said:
"There are numerous farmers markets around fresno/clovis, but something like this could be more of a cultural showcase and "thing to do", instead of strictly shopping."
"Reading this story, I was remembering the now-defunct food court ("Farmers Market"?) on Divisadero and 41, which was a thriving, popular, crowded place until some bozo sold the land to Office Depot (Max? Whatever). That was a place that WORKED, people! And yet it was killed. Hard not to be a cynic when you've spent more than 20 years in this town."
"Oooooooooo... I want the Churro concession rights!!!"
What happened: A Fresno homeless man who called for an ambulance on average of nearly twice a day for more than a year, racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs, died Jan. 5 after being taken by ambulance to Community Regional Medical Center.
What it means: Lonzel McPeters said he needed an ambulance so frequently because he suffered from seizures. But medical service providers said it appeared sometimes McPeters just wanted a free ride across town.
What readers said: "You can get as many ambulance rides as you want.......but.......you only get one ride in the coroners wagon (on the tax payers dime). If Lonzel was indeed mentally ill I wish him well in the next life. If he was simply working the system......I still wish him well in the next life."
Catching Up is compiled by Bee editors. Go to fresnobee.com/catchingup/ to comment or learn more about these stories.