Residents south of downtown Fresno say the city needs to clean up trash piles left by homeless people, City Hall shifts money from its cash-strapped Parks Department to keep the lights on at the Convention Center, and former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry reportedly is mulling a run for state Senate.
Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers at fresnobee.com.
What happened: Members of the Golden Westside Planning Committee and residents who live in tidy houses near Ventura Avenue and E Street urged Fresno city officials Wednesday at a news conference to clean up trash left in their neighborhood by the homeless. "This is truly a health hazard to our community," said Kevin Hamilton, deputy chief of programs for Clinica Sierra Vista.
What it means: City spokesman Mike Lukens said the city will put trash bins in the neighborhood. Council Member Oliver Baines said residents should expect to see the trash cleaned up within a month. But, he said, the city has to figure out whether the property that needs cleaning is publicly or privately owned, and also avoid cleanups that could spark lawsuits.
What readers said:
"I have seen a large roll off dumpster placed on Monterey between E and the alley to the west and the dumpster would get emptied by the residents of the camps faster than it could be filled up. As trash goes in, people sort through it and throw it back outside the container."
"Homeowners in the Tower District are threatened with fines when alleys behind their homes fill up with trash that the homeless leave behind. What kind of craziness is this? Since when do law abiding, hard working, tax paying, responsible citizens have fewer 'rights' than the homeless?"
"You make it sounds so easy -- just a few trash bins and toilets. But if another little group pops up somewhere else, there goes the same. And then the judge gets asked, "isn't running water and washing facilities a minimum?"And then it gets dangerous because predators, junkies and thieves move in so we need security. And then the disability requirements pop-up -- "how does a wheelchair-bound person get into a porta-potty?" and pretty soon the City has become the final provider of services of everyone who doesn't want to or can't care for themselves. And here is the biggest problem with this whole stupid pending disaster -- It's NOT the city's job! The State and County get millions of dollars to deal with this and can't seem to seem to find their own butts when you spot them one hand on a butt cheek. They have the money and the legal directive to deal with this -- and they don't."
Parks cash shifted
What happened: City Hall bailed out the Fresno Convention Center, which owes big bucks to PG&E, by handing over Parks Department money that was supposed to pay for long-neglected green space. The sad irony? The shifted money won't even cover the Convention Center's entire PG&E bill.
What it means: It's not as if the Convention Center is a ghost town. Touring Broadway musicals stop at the Saroyan Theatre. The mayor has held her annual State of the City luncheon in the New Exhibit Hall. Yet, city officials question whether it's enough to justify all those operating costs and all that debt service just to compete in an entertainment/meeting industry. After a decade of privatized management, the city has seen a small savings on the operations side more than offset by soaring bond bills.
What readers said:
"Peter, meet Paul."
"The same city that 'invests' in baseball fields and convention centers and raids one budget to pay another now says that it has to double my water rates to pay for water system improvements. The common thread here is that the city makes very poor, speculative decisions and the residents ends up paying for it."
"Parks? Who needs parks? Its not like they icnrease property values, promote health and make the city attractive. Fresno should continue devoting large sums of money to widening roads. That will solve the valley's ills."
Autry eyes Senate?
What happened: Former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry, who has been out of office and off the political radar for four years, is considering a run for the state Senate seat vacated by Bakersfield Democrat Michael Rubio. Sacramento's legislative GOP leaders feel he is the only person with the political clout to run in a solidly Democratic district and deliver it into Republican hands. But local Republicans question whether Autry is conservative enough politically and fiscally.
What it means: Autry said Saturday he's not running. The field's best-known candidates now are Hanford Republican Andy Vidak and Shafter City Council Member Fran Florez.
What readers said:
"Let's see -- Autry has zero work ethic and no concept of sound public finance. Sounds to me like he'd be perfect for Sacramento!"
"Autry introduced privatization to the city and established the first financial reserve. For Tal Cloud to state Autry is responsible for the current financial problems of the city just shows how ignorant he is of the truth."
-- Jerry Duncan