The city of Fresno continues to dismantle homeless encampments around downtown, the Assembly approves a bill allowing undocumented residents to obtain a California driver's license, and Valley residents will have new insurance options under Obamacare after enrollment opens on Oct. 1.
Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers at fresnobee.com.
City keeps closing homeless camps
What happened: City of Fresno workers dismantled a third homeless encampment in as many weeks on Monday. Community sanitation employees gathered in the morning on H Street south of Ventura Avenue to clear illegal makeshift structures from the roadside. Among the displaced was the pastor of a homeless ministry who has been negotiating with city officials to get off the streets for the past four years.
What it means: Mayor Ashley Swearengin's vision is clear. The camps are a public health hazard to homeless, homeowners and businesses alike, she says. Get the homeless into solid housing, she says, then we'll tackle the other issues. City Manager Bruce Rudd said a task force of police and code enforcement officers will ensure the camps don't return.
What readers said:
"I am also as I have said numerous times not against cleaning up the mess and the encampments, I do think it can be handled differently and there are cities that have been successful in cleaning it up by providing safe areas and then using social service workers from city and county to help those that will take it, arrest those that need to be and give mental health aide to the sick. but Fresno would rather do it the stubborn hard way. thus the problem is out of hand.
I am all for a new construction moratorium until all the infill is complete and down town is revitalized until we stop the sprawl and growth north nothing will change and it will get worse."
— Dana Bobbitt
"I said the same thing in the Modesto Bee and got crucified. There are people here who get over $1,000 a month in Disability checks, etc., and refuse to find a room because they would have to live by rules and/or give up their vices...they refuse."
— Gary Hall
Undocumented could get licenses
What happened: In the waning hours of the 2013 legislative session, the Assembly on Thursday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to receive driver's licenses.
What it means: The surprise 55-19 vote moved California a signature away from putting into law a measure that immigrant advocates have sought fruitlessly for years, with past attempts thwarted by legislative vote and gubernatorial veto.
What readers said:
"This is an outrage and it must be stopped. Every politicians who supports it MUST be thrown out of office. It's time that the Democrat party is fumigated. If Gov. Brown signs it into law he must be recalled from office!!! Just because some other states allow it doesn't mean we have to. People here illegally should not be rewarded."
"Like i said, if you're driving on our roads, I prefer you to be licensed to do so. Arguing about privilege is kind of ignoring the reality. And I thought that all vehicles driving on our roads were already required to have insurance... do you think they are currently getting pulled over and getting a pass for not being insured because they're undocumented?"
— Joe Peterson
Valley readies for health care options
What happened: Beginning next month, thousands of central San Joaquin Valley residents will be enrolling in insurance plans — many for the first time — under the Affordable Care Act. Under the new federal law, an estimated 45,000 people in Fresno County will be eligible to sign up for Medi-Cal, the joint state-federal health insurance program for the low income. Another 65,000 in Fresno, Kings and Madera counties — and more than 100,000 in Tulare and counties north from Merced to San Joaquin — will qualify for federal tax credits to help pay for insurance plans.
What it means: Altogether, the Affordable Care Act could decrease the number of uninsured by more than 40% in counties from Tulare to Stanislaus, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care research group. The largest group to remain uninsured will be about 300,000 undocumented immigrants who are ineligible for Medi-Cal or Covered California plans. Getting more people insured will be good for the Valley, health experts say. Those with insurance are more likely to get preventive care and help to control chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma.
Catching Up is compiled by Bee editors. Go to fresnobee.com/catchingup/ to comment or learn more about these stories.