Thumbs up, thumbs down

Thumbs down to state officials, particularly Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, for not properly monitoring the spending of billions of dollars in Proposition 63 mental health program funds. Steinberg wrote the 2004 ballot initiative that levies a 1% tax on people making more than $1 million a year, but he clearly didn't pay attention to how counties were spending the money. Media reports of funding for programs such as yoga and gardening finally got the state Legislature's attention last year. A report from state auditor Elaine Howle this week says that state agencies are not adequately monitoring the effectiveness of county programs and there should be more oversight. Given the critical need for mental health services, nary a dollar should be wasted.

Thumbs up to the Madera County Deputy Sheriffs Association, which is providing backpacks, paper pads, pencils and erasers for needy students at elementary schools throughout the county. The Getting Back to Basics Kickoff is Tuesday at La Vina School. "(This) is one step toward helping to keep our students motivated so that they will want to stay in school and a good opportunity for us to get a head start on building bridges between law enforcement and our community," said DSA President Deputy Mike Motz.

Thumbs up to Granville Homes, the Fresno Fire Chief Foundation, Rubber Soul Bicycles, Huffy Bicycles and Central Distributing for supporting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Fresno County's Books for Bikes Program. One hundred bikes were awarded Wednesday to children who read books over the summer. Huffy discounted the bicycles, which were purchased by Granville Homes. Rubber Soul assembled the bikes at no charge and provided locks. Fresno Fire Chief Foundation pitched in helmets, and Central Distributing transported the bikes to the Zmmerman Boys and Girls Club.

Thumbs up to Breck Reeves and Sarah Reeves of Exeter for turning in to Visalia police $6,900 that Breck found at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Visalia. Guadalupe Salazar of Yettem went to the DMV the next day and asked if anyone had found a large sum of money. Salazar was directed to police and, after showing documentation of ownership, got his money back.