The coverage by the Fresno Bee of the local May 1 march and rally in support of immigrant rights was simply amazing. It was, in my opinion, a clear reminder of why we need alternative/independent media coverage of local events. I looked at the front page of the Fresno Bee on May 2 hoping to see a photo of the 500 people who took part in the march and rally in downtown Fresno the day before. Seeing nothing there, I opened the paper and on page 3 was featured a rally of what looked like 30–40 businesspeople (organized by the Tea Party) who oppose high speed rail—full color photo, illustrated map and in-depth story, but nothing about the 500 people celebrating the local May Day event.
Turning the page, I saw a single person in a photo with the headline “Remembering Fallen Officers,” taken in the same place (Courthouse Park) where the May Day rally and march was held. This was a story about law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
When readers finally got to the Bee’s May Day coverage on page 10, the headline read “Clashes Scar May Day.” The photo shows police and protesters fighting in Oakland; the caption referred to the violence and said, “hundreds of activists across the U.S. joined the worldwide May Day protests.” Hundreds? Hundreds?!? There were hundreds in Fresno alone, which was not mentioned.
The Bee connected the violence at the May Day events with the Occupy movement in the photo caption, and the story below focused on violent clashes between participants and the police. At the end of the story, praise was heaped on the 100,000 May Day marchers in Russia, which it was claimed were celebrating Vladimir Putin’s government (and presumably the end of communism). Not a word was mentioned about the May Day rally and march in Fresno. It is as if it never happened.
Next to the Bee’s main May Day story was an article, “Five Men Arrested in Bomb Scheme,” that linked an attempt to bomb a bridge in Cleveland with the Occupy movement, because it was claimed that the participants once attended an Occupy event. The proximity of the article looks to me like a thinly veiled propaganda effort to further link violence, the Occupy movement and May Day.
The May Community Alliance newspaper, on the other hand, had a front-page story encouraging readers to participate in both the May Day march and rally in downtown Fresno and the Occupy Fresno event held at a local bank. We told the history of May Day (International Workers Day) and gave information about how to participate in those local events. This month, we continue our coverage with an article on page 10 about immigrant rights and photos of the march and rally on page 11.
Alternative/independent media validates the work progressive activists are doing by telling their story and encouraging people to participate in building a movement for peace, social and economic change. If you are tired of the Bee ignoring, distorting and lying about what is going on in this community, please consider subscribing, or if you already subscribe, donating to keep the Community Alliance newspaper financially viable.
We could really use your support right now, as we do not (as I write this sentence) have enough money to print the next issue. A subscription/donation form is available on page 23.
The future of the Community Alliance is in your hands.
Speaking of financial trouble, we also have the City of Fresno, which is in a fiscal crisis of its own. But unlike the financial problems that this newspaper is experiencing, the problems at City Hall are the result of decade after decade of Republicans dominating the local political landscape. Over the years, conservatives (always the friend of the businessperson) have allowed builders and developers to reap huge profits by not taxing them enough to cover the expenses of necessary infrastructure.
In addition to not taxing the rich, conservatives have burdened us with one financial boondoggle after another. City Hall
- built the downtown baseball stadium that is a constant drain on the city budget. ended up owning the Metropolitan Museum by guaranteeing loans that defaulted.
- were partners in the Granite Park business park that failed.
- built parking garages we don’t need, yet must maintain.
- bought (from the Economic Opportunities Commission) a community center in West Fresno that was built but never opened.
- makes taxpayers liable for unrestrained officer-involved shootings.
- purchased a massive video surveillance system that violates our civil liberties and wastes our money.
The list goes on and the financial incompetence is staggering. For a political party that always puts business before workers and the poor, the Republicans sure have made some incredibly bad business decisions. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost.
City Hall’s response? The mayor has privatized essential public services (commercial sanitation), is hammering away at city workers’ wages and benefits, and will probably end up declaring a fiscal emergency to get what she wants.
Stockton is a little further along in the process of financial crisis than Fresno. It has already declared a fiscal emergency, and bankruptcy is a serious possibility. The Community Alliance has heard rumors of bankruptcy being declared by the City of Fresno. Someone at City Hall even gave us the date when it is supposed to happen, but that could just be a cynical negotiating tactic by the Republicans to beat up the unions.
I would like to report that progressives in Fresno have an alternative budget plan to present, but we don’t. If we did, it would certainly call for some much needed changes.
For example, rather than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars destroying homeless encampments (like the city did last October and November), we might open up the Community Center on California and Elm so those without homes could have some place to get out of the heat. Progressives would then get homeless people into housing because we know that living in an apartment costs less than living on the streets. The high cost of living on the street is because of medical, policing and other expenses related to homelessness.
Progressives, if we had political power, would end the war in Afghanistan, reduce the bloated military industrial complex and use that money to improve our community. We would provide help for the mentally ill and drug and alcohol addicts rather than putting them in jail. We would build a thriving and vibrant economy by supporting an aggressive alternative energy program that would end our reliance on foreign oil, and we would make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes.
If you have ideas for how to challenge Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s slash-and-burn budget proposal, send it to me and we will print as many suggestions as we can in next month’s Community Alliance newspaper.