A former City College instructor is found guilty of misdemeanor battery, a Fresno firm is chosen to provide consulting services for the state's high-speed rail project, and three GOP congressmen from the Valley help pass a bill ending a 16-day federal budget stalemate.
Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers at fresnobee.com.
What happened: A Fresno County Superior Court jury only needed to deliberate an hour before finding former Fresno City College teacher Brian Calhoun guilty of misdemeanor battery on a student. Calhoun's attorney had attempted to portray the student, Kevynn Gomez, as a member of the "thug culture," a young generation of students who lack respect for authority or elders.
What it means: Calhoun's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 22. The battery charge carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and/or a fine.
What readers said:
"It is interesting that "Thug Culture" is applied to blacks & Hispanics, yet violence by old white guys does not deserve the same label. If everyone had been respectful towards each other, none of this would have happened. I have been called worse by students and I have learned to control my emotions. I try to see my students the same way a loving parent would, not as "thugs". Viewing people with a racist or bigoted outlook requires the added burden of constant anger."
— Curtis T. Wilson
"Maybe Calhoun can get treatment for his anger and alcoholism in jail, oh that's right Mimms will let him out in 6 days, sorry Calhoun no taxpalyer help for you! Hopefully Gomez will also sue Nuttail for his "thug" comment, he is as scummy as his client!"
— G William Norris III
"How might things have turned out had the substitute teacher thought to ask Mr. Calhoun to 'step outside' to discuss the situation as he simultaneously insisted that the students maintain respect which might have meant simply being quiet? This was a perfect storm of events complete with inappropriate comments from a student and unprofessional behavior by teachers. Sad situation."
— Nancy Flynn
Consulting for HSR
What happened: A Fresno firm won a two-year, $1 million contract to take over consulting chores for the Merced-Bakersfield section of the state's proposed high-speed rail project. Precision Civil Engineering, headed by Ed Dunkel Jr., was deemed the best qualified from among six companies that responded to the authority's advertisements in August.
What it means: Dunkel said the bulk of the company's work will be outreach and public relations to people and communities within the 110-mile section. The rail authority's scope of work also calls for analyzing route alternatives, station area planning, and developing private investment opportunities.
What readers said:
"Congratulations Precision Engineering. Local businesses will prosper over the long haul as Fresno becomes a major transportation hub for the valley."
— Giovanni Pivirotto
"A million bucks for consulting? I thought the state was broke."
— John Cameron
"That's the real reason this project has so many cheerleaders. A million here for consulting, two million there for design, a few hundred thousand for this legal mitigation, and so forth. Add it all up and look at how much has been squandered before a single patch of dirt has been moved, let alone a train ran."
— Matthew J. Desatoff
What happened: Facing what many warned could be an economic chasm, three GOP House members from the Valley backed off their previous hard line and voted for a bill that avoided the serious "Obamacare" rollbacks and revisions they once deemed essential. Buoyed by unanimous Democratic support, the House ended the federal shutdown by a 285-144 margin.
What it means: Congress is only prolonging the inevitable — the bill extends the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. Failure to resolve the issue could prompt an unprecedented federal government default, with serious repercussions to the national and world economy.
What readers said:
"I find it interesting that they voted in lock step with the tea party all they way up to the end when they realized their rhetoric and obstruction is not what we want. Now will they get off their trash filled rhetoric and pass immigration reform and a farm bill or will they stay in lock step with the others and try to destroy our great nation."
— Dana Bobbitt
"We definitely need immigration reform, by enforcing our laws and deporting/incarcerating these law breakers. If you need workers, establish a work program, but no amnesty for illegal law breakers. Also, no farm bill. Why are farmers special? Why not a big subsidy for furniture stores, auto garages and on and on. Make it on your own like every other business has to."
— David Guith
"Vote them ALL OUT!"
— Homer Mc Cauly
Catching Up is compiled by Bee editors. Go to fresnobee.com/catchingup/ to comment or learn more about these stories.