Save Jesse Morrow Mountain
At the Feb. 9 [Fresno County] Planning Commission meeting regarding mining Jesse Morrow Mountain, 200-plus people in opposition to the mine were treated like enemies of growth, jobs and development. Cemex [Corporation] filled up rows of seating early with unions and employees. The meeting was “open to the public,” but the majority of those in opposition were not allowed in.
We requested signup sheets to speak and were told no signup was required. Cemex presented for three hours. Afterward, we were told we did need sheets. However, there weren’t any available. When the sheets were finally passed out, a Cemex employee tossed the stack into his file box, until a citizen said, “Hey, pass those on!”
More than a hundred people in the hallways were upset. More than 70 requests to speak were turned in and more were on the way. Fewer than 10 of those supported Cemex, but the commission let them speak first. Names are usually called in the order they are received. The citizens in the hallways didn’t see the PowerPoint presentations and couldn’t hear most of the time. There weren’t enough handouts, and Cemex handed new information to the commissioners during the meeting. Can you say Brown Act violation?
Ultimately, time ran out. The meeting will be rescheduled. The people who left early (many had been there for more than seven hours) will not be allowed to speak. Early on, people requested a postponement and were denied one. Now the postponement the commissioners decided to take gives Cemex several weeks to prepare their rebuttal, after which the people will have to respond immediately. The people should be given several weeks to prepare as well.
This meeting was a travesty and the people deserve rectification. The Planning Commission should have a real (accessible) public meeting, let all citizens speak and then make their decision, then and there. Stop the games.
Fresno City Manager Angers Progressive Activist
I’m a past activist in local Fresno politics who now lives in Mesa, Arizona, and am presently visiting many friends in Fresno, where I also attended a recent meeting of Occupy Fresno at their site in the park next to the County Hall of Records. There I learned of the efforts of Mayor [Ashley] Swearengin and Police Chief [Jerry] Dyer to remove homeless people from city parks and other facilities, instead of trying to find a place where they could be safe and secure, with sanitation and other basic services. I was horrified by stories of how people are losing what little they have to protect themselves from the cold weather and how “Big Sue” died in the streets.
Appalled by the lack of concern and the aggressive efforts of the city in persecuting homeless people and destroying their belongings instead of helping solve the problem, I went with Occupy Fresno to protest this continuing travesty at the mayor’s recent breakfast meeting to revitalize the downtown area.
Occupy Fresno people held up a sign that was based on a verse in the Bible that essentially said, “That those of you that are against the weak and poor do this also against me—referring to Christ.” I held up a sign that said that “You will know a Christian by his love—homeless people need love.”
Today, it seems that the city considers homeless people as trash that needs to be cleaned out instead of people that need help, and only the property owned by affluent people needs to be restored. As 400 attendees waited in line at the breakfast to enter the building, they mostly ignored the protesting people and their signs, including me.
However, when I went up to the line and said hello, the city manager replied, and without knowing who I was, he said, quoting him, “I prayed and I was told to do what I am doing,” and he also said “I am doing more than you,” as witnessed by others. Perhaps many prayers could be answered if instead of spending city money on harming homeless people, it could be used to help them.
Community Alliance Has Readers All Over the World
I found your Web site while looking for a Sierra Club e-mail address for the Tahoe area. I wanted to send out Red Alerts regarding a recent announcement I read, which stated Nevada and California have signed an agreement to try to win a bid for a Winter Olympics at Lake Tahoe. As a native Californian, who currently resides in Munich, a city that just escaped “winning” the financial, economic, environmental and social disaster of a Winter Olympics, I am anxious to prevent California being visited by the unscrupulous anti-life IOC [International Olympic Committtee] clan and their greedy real estate developing friends. Even applying costs millions of tax dollars; believe me, Munich taxpayers are footing the bill for the city’s Olympic bid.
Anyway, one thing led to another and I was reading about PG&E cutting down oak trees(!), which led me to your Web site. I saw much too much of my native southern California homeland bulldozed, asphalted and shopping malled out of existence, and I am appalled that PG&E has gotten even worse. It is heartbreaking to think about the loss of even more oak trees in the state of California. I remember the rolling hills between Fresno and Coarsegold with the yellowed grass and the oak trees.
However, I was most pleased to read about the work you are trying to do. I lived and worked in Yosemite during the early 1980s. In those days, Fresno never struck me as a haven for progressives. So it was definitely a brightening up moment to read your Web site (even though much of your news is depressing!). Keep up the good work!
“In the Hood” Column Is Appreciated
Thanks for the encouraging article! It is so refreshing when folks showcase the beauty of our neighborhood—what my family gets to experience every day with our neighbors. Lowell is an especially fun place to be because even as we wonder at how far it has come, we find more and more reason to hope for more! Relatively new developments not mentioned in the article include formation of the very active Lowell Neighborhood Association and Union de Familias groups of residents. The Lowell Community Development Corporation looks like another up-and-coming harbinger of transformation for us. I think you pinpointed the answer to our prayers when you said, “Changes have mainly been the work of some remarkable individuals who have had faith, commitment and ingenuity.” Woohoo!
Without Police Accountability, There Is No Justice
I am the younger brother of Raul Rosas (who is mentioned in your September 2011 issue). I am writing to ask if there is any help I can receive. It has now been about six months since my brother has passed, and we still haven’t had any resolution. The coroner’s office will not give my family an official death certificate that states what my brother’s cause of death was, and there are no lawyers who will take on our case getting the cops in trouble for what they did to my brother.
What’s really messed up is that three ambulances showed up to look at my brother at about five-minute intervals and the first two were sent away. Maybe if the first ambulance could have immediately given him CPR my brother would still be here. Can somebody give me some help on what I can do to get the ball rolling with at least getting these cops in trouble?
While our country celebrated Lincoln’s birth, the entire world celebrated the birth of another liberator, Charles Darwin, who shares the same birthday, Feb. 12, 1809, and is ranked with our greatest scientists—Galileo, Copernicus, Newton and Einstein. Darwin liberated the human mind, while Lincoln liberated millions of human beings by helping to end slavery.
International Darwin Day (www.darwinday.org), a global celebration of the advancement of human knowledge and the achievements of science and reason, reminds us to improve our world through education and reasoned discourse and to reject today’s opposition to scientific knowledge and inquiry, the religious traditions that often feed such opposition, and the politicization and undermining of science by ideologues and zealots. By encouraging human beings to practice critical thinking and inspire them to wonder about the world they live in, it promotes an environment of learning that advances human development and fosters a sense of interest and respect for the natural world.
Unfortunately, at a time that science should be elevated rather than disdained, too many politicians are gripped by an anti-science fervor. In the recent Republican presidential debates, some candidates firmly denied the overwhelming evidence of climate change or even asserted that vaccines somehow cause mental disabilities in children. The fervor isn’t merely rhetorical; many in Congress reject teaching science-based health and sexual education in public schools. Politicians around the country remain opposed to teaching evolution in public schools or want religious texts brought into science classrooms.
On Feb. 7, Rick Santorum, known for his extreme anti-science views, with the backing of evangelicals and Tea Party adherents, won the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses and a nonbinding primary in Missouri. SB 89, “providing that the governing body of a school may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life,” is well on the way to passage by the Indiana House of Representatives. No wonder the United States is viewed worldwide as a country living in a religious delusion unaligned with the facts that doesn’t seem to care how ridiculous this ignorance appears!
George B. Kauffman
Greedy Landlords Are the Problem
In regard to the homeless problem in Fresno, let the greedy landlords provide shelter for the homeless. I come from a different state and I have to tell you, I have never seen such greed. The landlords of Fresno should be ashamed of themselves “if they had a heart.” My wife and I rent from a man that has plenty of money and many homes, but yet like all the rest of the greedy landlords of Fresno, he overcharges to line his pockets in gold and could care less about his fellow man. This is an age-old problem. For centuries, landlords have always been greedy; we simply just can’t get rid of them. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself: What do the city and greedy landlords do with all that money we give them?
A Christian Answer
Where are the so-called Christian churches? The modern-day church has failed. I pray for a change of heart for the city officials who have neglected the homeless. I pray that God would stir up the people who call themselves “Christian” to get out there and help the homeless! The conservatives that yell and moan and cry about the current administration and big government need to shut their mouths if they cannot live out the Great Commission. You want less government? Then let’s get out there and help people.