Thumbs up to Mathews Harley-Davidson of Fresno and all the other Valley businesses, groups, schools and individuals that provided holiday toys and food to the needy this year. Mathews gave away 119 bicycles and lots of toys while serving chili dog lunches to families with children from nearby Susan B. Anthony Elementary School. The motorcycle dealership has helped out during the holidays for about 20 years, according to owner Cara Mathews.
Thumbs up to the Madera County Board of Supervisors for unanimously rejecting an automatic 1.4% pay raise that would have bumped salaries by $1,001 to $72,516. The supervisors' salaries are tied to those of state Superior Court judges, who are receiving a 1.4% raise retroactive to July 1. "Our board has an obligation to lead by example," board Chairman Max Rodriguez said. "Finances remain tight and it's simply not the right time."
Thumbs up to University of the Pacific economist Jeff Michael for speaking the truth about the central San Joaquin Valley economy: It's overly reliant on the low-paying agriculture and retail sectors, and on the well-paying government sector, which is shrinking. Improved educational attainment could lead to more opportunities in higher-paid professional services and research-and-development jobs. But, Michael asks, "Is the Valley providing the amenities and the quality of life that (professionals) — who are highly mobile — are seeking?" It doesn't appear so, based on how many Valley leaders refuse to allocate resources to improving our quality of life.