March 2009

 

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IN THIS ISSUE:

Community Groups Demand Police Accountability

From the Editor

Right Wing Politicians and Growers Attack Fresno Environmentalist

Workers Wages Stolen: DA Refuses to Prosecute

Workers Rebuild Their Union
Poetry Corner

New Leadership in the Local Democratic Party

Queer Eye

Getting Rid of Pests

Music and Arts Calendar

Music Group S.O.U.L.S. to be Featured at UU Church

Seerger vs. Board

Progressive Religion…is not an Oxymoron

Rally in the Valley

Opinion and Analysis from the Grassroots

Credo

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Community Groups Demand
Police Accountability

By Mike Rhodes

The video of a Fresno police officer beating Glen Beaty, a homeless man, has been shown around the world. The image of the officer pounding Beaty in the face, over and over again, is now etched in our collective minds. The show of excessive force, seen in the video, has pushed the need for police accountability to the top of this city’s agenda—community groups, the mayor, and the chief of police all agree that it is time to establish an Independent Police Auditor (IPA).

On February 13, a coalition of 20 community groups came to Fresno City Hall demanding police accountability. Bill Simon, chairperson of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union—Northern California, stated the groups demands as follows:

1. An immediate Pattern and Practice Investigation of the Fresno Police Department by the Federal Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

2. The City Council, with the support of the Fresno Police Officers Association, take immediate action to support Mayor Swearengin’s direction to the city manager and the Police Chief to establish an IPA

3. The Mayor, City Council Members, Chief of Police and President of the Fresno Police Officers Association set up and participate in a meeting or a series of meetings so that community members can come and voice their concerns

4. Culture and sensitivity training for the Fresno Police Department

5. Full implementation of a Community-Based Policing Program

Simon said “the immediate implementation of all five of these actions is essential both for the protection of the members of the community and for the protection of those police officers who are dedicated to serving the public.”

Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin reasserted her support for an IPA and says she began working on the implementation with Police Chief Jerry Dyer and City Manager Andrew Souza two weeks after she took office in January 2009. At a February 12 press conference, Swearengin said she has received a preliminary draft of the IPA plan, but is still “looking for input from the City Council, the City Attorney’s office, and from the community.” A public hearing at City Hall was held on February 24. Now, either the City Council will vote to support an IPA, something they have been unwilling to do in the past, or the proposal is likely to be put on the ballot. A recent poll conducted by KFSN ch 30 indicated that 84% of Fresno residents want an IPA.

Dyer, speaking at the February 12 press conference, said that Internal Affairs was investigating the beating incident and that a report would be completed around March 1. Dyer said the investigation will be reviewed by the “City Manager, who will have full authority over the review of that Internal Affairs investigation, and it will also be reviewed by the City Attorney’s office.” According to Dyer, the investigation will then be reviewed by the State of California Attorney General.

Dyer said that the DA’s office would conduct its own independent investigation, looking at all criminal aspects of this case. He said this investigation “will include the actions of the suspect in determining whether or not those rise to the level of criminal activity.” No mention was made of any investigation into the actions of the police officer, who has not yet been identified.

Attorney Rick Berman, according to a February 13 article in the Fresno Bee, says he has been asked to represent Beaty. The Bee quoted Berman as saying that it is “ludicrous” that the police would pursue criminal charges “against the guy they beat up.” In the article, Berman was also quoted as saying that the officers involved “did not follow accepted or proper procedures” and that “they brutalized a mentally disturbed old man who was just sitting under a tree.”

Beaty is now in the Fresno County Jail, charged with “deterring an officer by threat/violence,” which is a felony. In other words: the victim of this beating, Glen Beaty, is being charged with a no bail felony and nobody (at least as of February 22, when this article was written) has demanded that the police officer who attacked Beaty be prosecuted.

Rev. Floyd D. Harris, speaking after the mayor and police chief’s press conference, said, “I was surprised to hear about the Attorney General getting involved in the case, which is something positive.” Harris noted that the mayor said she was supportive of an IPA, but “that until we get an IPA, folks in this city are going to have to be very careful when they come in contact with police officers.”

Harris organized a group of volunteers with video cameras to go into the community on the Saturday following the attack on Beaty to film what happens when people come into contact with the police. The project is called Copwatch, and Harris is a founding member of that organization.

The groups demanding police accountability and an IPA have formed a new community organization, which they have named the Coalition for Police Reform and Accountability (COPRA). This group will work along side of the Central California Criminal Justice Committee (CCCJC), which has been working for years to bring an IPA to Fresno.


Bill Simon (center) spoke at this February 13 press conference at City Hall, following the beating of a homeless man by a Fresno police officer, to demand police accountability.
Groups Working on Police
Accountability Issues
Central California
Criminal Justice Committee
P.O. Box 4555
Fresno, CA 93744
(559) 229-9807
http://cccjc.org/home/ Coalition for Police
Reform and Accountability
4974 N. Fresno St., #185
Fresno CA 93726-0317
copra-fresno@sbcglobal.net Fresno Copwatch
453 N. Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93701
(559) 498-6033
IWAPGH@aol.com National Network in Action
Rev. Floyd D. Harris
xyfloyd@aol.com
http://www.nationalnetworkinaction.org/
http://westfresno.blogspot.com/
 

The year has not gotten off to a good start for Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer. First, three members of the FPD narcotics department were arrested in a car theft ring. The entire narcotics department was subsequently shut down. Then, a video emerged showing an FPD officer beating the heck out of a homeless man. Dyer, speaking at a February 12 press conference, said “this has been a long two weeks, perhaps the most stressful two weeks I have had in my time as the chief.”

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From the Editor

You are probably reading this newspaper because you support a free press and believe in alternative/independent media. After all, the information in these pages, our strident support for peace, social, and economic justice, and our efforts to get you involved with the people in this community who are working for social change, is unique. What you might not know about, however, is the effort and sacrifice it takes to print this newspaper every month.

Did you know that the Community Alliance newspaper is available in over 100 locations? Just getting the newspapers to that many locations takes the time and effort of numerous volunteers. Not only that, but we are in a constant battle to get and keep our newsstands up around town. Just last month I was asked to remove our newsstand in front of the main Post Office in downtown Fresno. They said they were having all of the newsstands removed, but when I went back three weeks later, the other newspapers stands were still there. This also happened at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Clovis, where we were told to remove our newsstand, but the other papers were allowed to keep their stands up. Even Fresno City College, where we now have four stands, tried to stop us from distributing the Community Alliance. A representative for the college claimed that free papers are a “littering” problem, as if littering trumps our constitutional right to a free press.

Those distribution problems are dealt with by persistence and sometimes legal challenges. That was the case when we were told we could not have a newsstand at the Fresno Airport, even though they allow the distribution of numerous other newspapers. A letter from the ACLU brought them around and you can now find the Community Alliance at the airport. We are currently considering legal action to defend our right to distribute this newspaper at government offices, which are on public property. We think you, not some right wing government bureaucrat, should determine what you can and can’t read.

Sometimes, like when we had a newsstand burned to the ground right in front of the Fresno Police Department HQ, we are rather astonished at the level of hatred and intolerance for this newspaper, simply because it supports police accountability and other social justice issues. In that case, the police claimed they were totally unaware that a fire had taken place right outside of their headquarters. Yeah, right!

As difficult as it is sometimes to get the newspaper distributed, it is even more challenging to make this newspaper a financially viable operation. It probably seems to you that we must be doing OK, because we get printed every month and here you have the latest copy right in your hands. But, the reality is that we are a shoestring operation and the only way we survive is because of dozens of volunteers, great advertisers (please support them!), generous donations, a couple of hundred subscribers, and a handful of truly amazing sustainers.

I’m absolutely humbled by our sustainers! We have a half dozen supporters who contribute $100 a month and several others that give us $1,000 (or more) a year. Without that extraordinary commitment to a free press, this newspaper would not be possible. The belief these donors have in this project keeps me going when times are hard.

As the economy slogs toward the largest depression most of us have ever known, the economic reality has hit home. I have only been able to work on this newspaper, for next to nothing, because my wife has had a good job as a union organizer at SEIU-UHW. If you take a moment to read the article on page 6, you will see that SEIU-UHW is in a crisis that has resulted in most of the staff either leaving or being fired. Those workers, including my wife and daughter, are now volunteers and do not expect to be paid until the new National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) is up and running. That might take a while.

What this means is that if you want to keep reading the Community Alliance newspaper every month, you need to become a subscriber. If you are already a subscriber, we need you to donate (over and above the subscription rate), or become a monthly sustainer. Our survival is literally in your hands.

Support Local Alternative/Independent Media It has been almost two years since the Community Alliance newspaper sent out a special appeal, asking for your financial support. We have discovered that it is not possible for us to survive on subscriptions and advertising alone. That is why we are asking you to help us by making as generous of a contribution as possible to this fund appeal. We have five supporters who have been giving us $100 a month for over a year now – it would be great if you would be number six! If $100 a month is more than you can give, please consider sending us $10, $20, or $30 a month or a one time gift of any amount. Please show your support by sending us a contribution today. I could not ask you for such a generous contribution, if I was not willing to make a similar sacrifice. I feel very strongly about the importance of publishing a local alternative/independent newspaper and think the work we are doing is the foundation for building a progressive movement for social change. That is why I have been the editor for over 10 years, mostly working as an unpaid volunteer. The amount of time I spend on the CA has steadily increased over the years and it is now a full time job, for which I get paid $1,000 a month. The gap between what I’m paid and the value of the work is well over $1,000 a month, which is my contribution to the CA. So, I feel no guilt in asking you for a monthly contribution in the $10 – $100 range. I’m asking you to do what you can to keep the alternative press alive in Fresno and the Central Valley. Every issue of the Community Alliance newspaper brings hope and encourages readers to build a powerful progressive movement for social change. The CA has changed public policy in Fresno, which has led to improved conditions for the homeless. We regularly feature articles about community activists – validating the work they do and showing that Another World is Possible. Many of the stories in this newspaper are ignored by the corporate media and are available only because we have the audacity to speak truth to power. Last, but certainly not least, our Peace and Social Justice calendar has the most comprehensive listing of progressive events in the Central Valley. In Solidarity,
Mike Rhodes
Editor
Community Alliance newspaper
P.O. Box 5077, Fresno Ca 93755
(559) 978-4502
AllianceEditor@comcast.net
www.fresnoalliance.com
 

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Right-Wing Politicians and Growers Attack Fresno Environmentalist

By Brandon Hill

In a classic case of mainstream media’s corporate bias and conflict of interest KMPH reporter Ashley Ritchie, the recipient of over $300,000 in farm subsidies and member of a wealthy South Valley farming family decided to include, out of context, the most damning remarks of her interview with local environmentalist, Lloyd Carter. Journalistic ethical standards recommend that reporters avoid and at the very least disclose financial conflicts of interest. Ritchie did neither and should not have been covering agricultural issues, particularly those as contentious as the ones discussed at the Fresno State water debate February 4th. In the highly edited clip broadcast on the news and oft repeated on air and in print over the following days Carter says with respect to some farmworkers, “They’re not even American citizens for starters. Do you think we should employ illegal aliens? What parent raises their child to be a farm worker? These kids are the least educated people in America or the southwest corner of this Valley. They turn to lives of crime. They go on welfare. They get into drug trafficking and they join gangs…” This in response to a comment about agriculture’s contribution to our Valley.

Conservative politicians and growers held this anti–Lloyd Carter rally in front of City Hall last month (February 10, 2009). Their goal was to eliminate Carter as an articulate spokesperson for water issues and to attack the entire environmental movement as racist elitists. Not everyone was fooled by the right wing’s insistence that they were the guardians of farm workers’ rights and protectors of the environment.

In the full interview before a February 4th water debate at Fresno State Carter begins to answer Ritchie’s question by saying, “Jim Costa’s Congressional District is the poorest congressional district in America. That’s the Westlands Water District. There is wealth being generated out there but it’s flowing to very few people. The farm economy of Fresno County does not spread the affluence. Just remember Fresno is the poorest city of the 50 biggest cities in America.” There is a grain of truth to Carter’s remarks about the standard of living those in the Valley’s Westside must endure; farmworkers are being given a raw deal regardless of water supply which can lead to a variety of social problems.

In an ironic and hypocritical move following the airing of his comments, several local political figures chose to condemn Carter publicly. The politicians brazenly used his comments out of context to demonize him and the environmental community and drive a wedge between the broader Latino community and environmentalists – two groups that are natural allies.

The California Latino Water Coalition, which amounts to a front group for corporate agriculture’s interests, organized a rally in response to Carter’s comments. At the rally at Fresno City Hall Congressman Devin Nunes decried, “Racist and uninformed views of radical environmentalists and their friends…that favor fish over our families.” Other politicians with close ties to agribusiness and representatives of ag industry groups stepped forward with similarly disingenuous remarks. Most remarks focused on the perceived wrongs of environmentalists not the plight of farmworkers or immigrants. To those familiar with politics it was almost laughable that these individuals were stepping forward as champions of the Latino community and farmworker rights. Rey Leon, chair of the Mexican American Political Association was disenchanted by the rally. In an interview with Mike Rhodes of the Community Alliance Leon said, “All of this is very unfortunate to me…they are working their hardest to create this division between farmworkers and environmentalists. We are environmentalists. We are being used by the ag industry to try to create division.” The dog and pony show is just the latest in the attempts by agribusiness and their allies to mischaracterize and oversimplify the water debate and assassinate the character of those who would dare oppose them. Those who know Mr. Carter know that he is not a racist and that in his time as an activist he has frequently sympathized with the plight of farmworkers.

In the debate on water issues at Fresno State, which pitted environmentalists against agriculture oversimplification and scapegoating abounded. The favorite target of agriculture was the Delta Smelt, an indicator species that has seen its numbers drop to record lows. The Smelt is the proverbial canary in the coal mine whose precipitous decline beginning years ago was the signal of a collapsing Delta. The collapse of the Delta ecosystem is also having a disastrous effect on many other species including salmon and Killer Whales, commercial fishermen and the recreational fishing industry which contribute $30 million and $4 billion to the economy respectively. When Valley politicians talk about the financial demise of families they seem to forget the impact an unhealthy Delta has on Delta farmers and fishermen. In response to the Delta’s collapse, agricultural panelists expressed support for a Peripheral Canal, an idea that voters rejected overwhelmingly during the Eighties (nearly 80% of Fresno County voted against it). Currently, the canal is attracting interest from a variety of groups due to the dire consequences inaction might hold for the ecosystem. However, despite what ag panelists would have us believe, few environmental groups have pledged more than heavily conditional support for a canal.

In reality, the crisis that Westlands and other Valley farmers face has little to do with the Endangered Species Act or a crucial fish species as rational minds agree. The crisis is due in large part to an insatiable demand and unwise use of a finite resource – a problem that will become magnified in the future. Secondary problems are corporate welfare which is sustaining agricultural operations that would not otherwise be viable and chronic salinity problems in the district.


Lloyd Carter came under attack by right–wing politicians, growers, and their allies over comments he made at a February 4 water forum at CSUF.

In response to the water supply issue, the agriculture panelists rehashed tired arguments for new surface water storage(dams) as the primary solution to our problems. The environmental panelists of course disagreed with this argument on the grounds that it is environmentally damaging and fiscally irresponsible. According to studies conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California even conservative estimates of water savings by increases in urban water efficiency outmeasure estimated savings by additional dams and are far more cost effective. In contrast, agricultural panelists characterized urban conservation as a task we have already accomplished. The Institute study also cites the impact of urban water recycling, agricultural conservation, and groundwater storage which could yield around 4 million acre feet in water savings, still far more than new dams. The study acknowledges the potential of additional dams, but includes the disclaimer that financial and environmental concerns call into question the feasibility of these proposals. It doesn’t take a think tank or professional researchers to determine these facts; common sense is all you need.

The panelists were knowledgeable and passionate, but the debate left much to be desired. It is doubtful that anyone came away with a better understanding of how we should address the problems underpinning California water issues. Ideally, such a forum should inform and in turn mobilize citizens to action; this debate probably left audience members either more confused or more passionate about guarding their own narrow set of interests. In the end, the solution will not come from debates designed with the hope of being entertaining, attempts to neatly encapsulate complex issues, or phony outrage to further political goals, but with the unglamorous mundane work of compromise and collaboration.

Through the reconciliation of diverse interests to meet shared goals we can work our way out of crises. It may sound naïve, but it is the only way. Policy recommendations on the primary issue of a reliable water supply for our state are clear – the water wars start at home. Water conservation by urban users is key and the San Joaquin Valley must start doing its fair share if we are truly serious about preserving agriculture as well as our environment.

Brandon Hill is an environmental activist and a student at California State University Fresno majoring in political science. He can be reached at bhill968@gmail.com.

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Unequal Justice and Class War on the Poor

By Mike Rhodes


Pam Kincaid spoke out for justice. Kincaid is seen here speaking at the Homelessness Marathon in 2007, a few months before her death.

Imagine that Mayor Ashley Swearingen is beaten almost to death on a downtown street. She is rushed to a hospital emergency room where the police interview her about the incident. The police would be under intense pressure to bring the perpetrator of the crime to justice, and the hospital would be expected to do everything necessary to provide the mayor with the best medical care available.

But what if the police refused to investigate the crime and the negligent care she received at the hospital resulted in her suspiciously falling to her death from the hospital’s fourth floor balcony?

Pamela Kincaid was not the mayor of Fresno. She was a homeless woman and the lead named plaintiff in a lawsuit against the City of Fresno that successfully argued that the city was taking and destroying homeless people’s property. The lawsuit was settled, after Kincaid’s death, for $2.3 million—the largest settlement of its kind in the United States. The settlement money went to more than 300 class action members—all homeless people in Fresno.

In mid-July 2007, Kincaid was savagely beaten, and the only known witness claimed that a Fresno police officer was involved. When Kincaid arrived at the emergency room of the Community Medical Center, the Fresno Police Department was called. The officers wrote a report but did not follow up on the beating, even after being told that there was an eyewitness to the attack.

On August 1, 2007, Kincaid was recovering at Community Hospital. Her memory of the incident was improving, her health was getting better and she was looking forward to being released. She was talking to her attorneys, numerous friends and medical personnel, none of whom indicated that she was suicidal. Inexplicably, in the middle of the night, Kincaid passed a nurses’ station, went through what the hospital insists were locked doors attached to a loud alarm system and ended up on the fourth floor balcony. The final report from the hospital says Kincaid somehow got onto the balcony without anyone noticing and went over or under the 8-foot wall to her death.

Because of Kincaid’s social and economic status, there was nobody to hold the hospital accountable. Kincaid’s daughter had been taken away years earlier and adopted by another family. Her husband is in California State Prison at Avenal and because of his incarceration could not claim that he suffered an economic loss due to his wife’s death. There was nobody who could legally claim a loss based on Kincaid’s death, therefore Community Hospital was not held accountable for its failure to protect the health of the patient.

Justice for the homeless, particularly for the homeless who dare to stand up for their rights, is not blind. It may be through understanding the life experiences of the poor and the homeless, in their struggle with the judicial and legal system, that the class nature of this community is most clearly exposed.

Want to Help the Homeless? The Community Alliance newspaper recommends making a donation to the following Saturday Food Not Bombs fresnofnb@hotmail.com Sunday Food Not Bombs http://home.comcast.net/~fresnofnb/ St. Benedict Catholic Worker http://www.sbcw.org/ The Sleeping Bag Project: www.sleepingbagproject.org They give food to the homeless without any strings attached. We would not want our readers to give contributions to groups that force the homeless to attend religious services or, worse, take and destroy homeless people’s property. Larry Arce, the CEO of the Rescue Mission, has directed his staff to take and destroy homeless people’s property. In October 2006, when he was called as a witness in a federal lawsuit, he said, “we clean the street in front of the Rescue Mission every day and throw everything away that is left behind.” When asked if they would throw someone’s property away if they had left it in a cart in front of the mission while they got a warm meal, he said, “If someone leaves their property in front of the Fresno Rescue Mission, they have no sense.” Arce said they have thrown many shopping carts full of homeless people’s possessions away over the last several years. Attorneys for six homeless people have filed a lawsuit in Fresno County Superior Court alleging that the Rescue Mission (a homeless shelter in downtown Fresno) has taken and destroyed personal belongings that are critical to their survival, such as clothing, medication, tents and blankets, as well as irreplaceable personal possessions, such as family photographs, identification, personal records and documents.

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Workers’ Wages Stolen: DA Refuses to Prosecute

By Mike Rhodes


Chris Schneider, the executive director of Central California Legal Services, wants the Fresno County District Attorney to prosecute employers who steal their employees’ wages.

Why is the Fresno County District Attorney’s office not helping this area’s most vulnerable workers? Farm workers who have had their wages stolen by unscrupulous employers are being turned away when they complain to the DA about these ongoing crimes.

Chris Schneider, the executive director of Central California Legal Services (CCLS), said that “if an individual had broken into 40 houses and stolen hundreds of dollars from each of the houses, it would be all over the media. The DA and the sheriff would say they are going to find these people, they are going to prosecute them and they are going to put them in jail.” Schneider wonders why the DA and the sheriff are not as aggressive in pursuing wage theft.

During the past few months, hundreds of farm workers in the Central Valley have been asking California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) and the CRLA Foundation for help because they have not been paid their wages. Over and over, workers complain that they were hired for field labor and performed their jobs, but when it came time to get paid, the employer disappeared or claimed that he had no money to pay.

“We have had these cases before, but never the volume that we are seeing now,” says Alegria De La Cruz, the directing attorney for the CRLA Fresno Office. “A nasty combination of bad actors have found easy ways to steal from workers in these tough times.”

According to Rocio Madrigal, a community worker with the CRLA Foundation, “many workers fall into a trap of working for someone who they do not even know, but they have no choice because they have to feed their families during times of scarcity. But when you don’t know who you’re working for, you are very vulnerable to being cheated.”

The CRLA, the CRLA Foundation, the CCLS and other organizations have been working together to put the force of the law on the side of the unpaid workers. “It is a criminal act to induce a person to perform labor and then fail to pay that person anything for their labor,” says Schneider. “It’s not only a minimum wage violation. It is outright theft.”

As the number of these cases increases, advocates hope that the DA will take an active role in prosecuting employers who engage in schemes to rob workers of their wages. The cases are being pursued by the workers through the California Labor Commissioner’s wage claims process. However, if the defendants fail to appear, the workers may well end up only with a judgment that they will then be forced to collect. “A judgment is helpful,” says De La Cruz, “but unfortunately, we have a large number of judgments that we haven’t been able to collect on. Strong action from the whole community is necessary to stop these abuses.”

For More Information California Rural Legal Assistance 2115 Kern St. Suite 370 Fresno, CA 93721-2100 Phone: 559-441-8721 www.crla.org/   Central California Legal Services 1999 Tuolumne St. Suite 700 Fresno, CA 93721 Phone: 559-570-1209 E-mail: fresno@centralcallegal.org www.centralcallegal.org

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Poetry Corner

A “return engagement” from local poet/artist/activist Dixie Salazar. As long-time supporters of an independent police review process, we at the Alliance welcome Dixie’s immediate response to the latest proof that an Independent Police Auditor is needed.

Business As Usual

at the AM PM mini mart—hot coffee
mixed with swallows of fog
morning rush of Cheetos and cigarettes
tall Colt 45’s to ease the shakes—
rap pounding
over the parking lot—leaked
from tinted windows—kids grabbing sodas
and Twix before the American History
beat goes on—
sun straining through beefy clouds
above a vacant lot
silver weeds fight to survive
the crush of tossed cardboard
and wink of broken glass.
Business as usual
two cops are beating a homeless man
one holds him down
while the other punches his face
bus fumes scatter—the beat
goes on—Kanye’s “Heartless”
the man flops like a fish on the dock
while the fist socks into flesh
then bottoms out in bone
now they have him cuffed
with one last punch to the head
blur of commerce speeding past
everyone tuned into morning hate
of late AM commute—
to jobs they hate—punching
time clocks at Sears and Zacky Farms—
the beat goes on—
Later they’ll say he started it—
pulled a ballpoint pen
the chief will say his people
will look into his people—
investigation—but not too internal—just the usual
peek—till this blows
over and the radio dials turn back
to The Pussy Cat Dolls
business as usual—
February 9, 2009
this time the produce man at Von’s—
his trunk full of bruised fruit
turns on his video cam.

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Workers Rebuild Their Union

By Mike Rhodes

One of the most influential progressive political groups in Fresno, which is also the largest union of organized workers in this community, is in the midst of a radical transformation. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) took over the United Healthcare Workers (UHW) local on January 27, 2009. In the Fresno area, there are about 10,000 workers at Kaiser, homecare providers, and employees in long term care facilities who are affected by this hostile takeover. There are 150,000 UHW members statewide.

At the center of the dispute is the issue of how democratically unions are run, how well they represent the interests of the members, and the pace at which the union grows. The International wanted to take all of the homecare workers (including about 8,000 in Fresno) out of UHW and put them into a mega-local that represented homecare workers throughout the state. UHW leadership fought the International, because they believed the contracts they won for homecare workers were better than the wages and benefits they would receive through the new mega-local. When UHW put the issue to a vote late last year, 98% of those who cast a ballot wanted to stay with the UHW.

In late January, the International sent UHW an ultimatum demanding that homecare workers be transferred into the new mega-union. When UHW leadership responded that they would be willing to cooperate with the transfer if their members were allowed to hold a democratic vote on the matter, the International put them into a trusteeship and removed the elected leadership of UHW.

Three days before the International put UHW into trusteeship, over 1,000 union members rallied at the Fresno District Fairgrounds. UHW member Connie Lara said “I helped build this union that we are in. From the very beginning, my hard work and the voices of other members have all gotten together and we intend to keep it and I’ll be damned if we are going to give it up like that to somebody else. We are going to fight!” Jackie Peppars said “they will hear the ring of our songs, they will be blinded by the color of our member driven force, by the sweat of our brows, the courage of our hearts, the strength of our backs, (SEIU president) Andy Stern . . . will know what we are made of.” Norma Raya was perhaps the most direct when it came to UHW members feelings about the International. She said that “if anybody from SEIU, which is the International, comes to your facility or comes to your homes, just throw them out. Tell them to go away, sick your dogs on them or something, but throw them out.”

A New Union is Formed

The decision to form a new national healthcare union comes after Andy Stern and other SEIU leaders rejected the compromise proposal from UHW to end the conflict with California healthcare workers. UHW’s compromise proposal would have enabled California healthcare workers to work within SEIU by guaranteeing that caregivers had the right to a fair vote before being transferred from one SEIU local union to another and that healthcare workers, rather than bureaucratic outsiders from Washington, would control the collective bargaining relationship with their Employer.

“For decades, healthcare workers in California have wanted to be part of a democratic, progressive movement that would raise standards for care givers and the patients and residents we serve. Events over the last several days have proven that’s not possible in SEIU,” said Angela Glasper, a 20-year optical services clerk from Kaiser Permanente. “Healthcare workers deserve to be part of a union that healthcare workers control democratically, not one that is led by a handful of outsiders from Washington D.C.”

The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) is the successor to United Healthcare Workers West (UHW) the oldest healthcare workers union in the country.

“As a healthcare workers union, NUHW is committed to continuing the tradition of a member-led, democratically controlled union,” said former UHW president Sal Rosselli, “There are lot of things that we still have to figure out, but we know NUHW will be all about accountability to the members, democratic-decision-making, organizing the unorganized and winning improvements for healthcare workers and the patients and residents we serve.”


Dozens of homecare workers, Kaiser workers and other caregivers protested at the State of California building in Fresno last month (February) to protect services for seniors and people with disabilities. They’re part of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), an independent union formed recently by the elected leaders of United Healthcare Workers–West (UHW) after they were undemocratically ousted by the SEIU.
Communications Workers of America in Bargaining Communications Workers of America AFL-CIO is bargaining new labor contracts with telecommunications giant AT&T. Regional contracts set to expire soon include more than 180,000 workers across the United States. CWA Local 9408 represents almost 1,000 workers in the Fresno and surrounding areas who build, maintain and provide communications and data services. The titles include outside technicians as well as inside forces, and Mobility (formerly Cingular) retail stores and call centers. There is considerable discontent among union members over recent moves by the company as it jockeys for position in bargaining. Publicly, AT&T claims to be suffering from losses in revenue due to the economic downturn and changes in the market. In fact, AT&T posted a net profit of $13.4 billion last year. CEO Randall Stevenson made $25 million and shareholders received $9.7 billion in dividends. AT&T is going forward with plans to eliminate 12,000 jobs, an effort that began in December and will continue throughout 2009. CWA leaders are currently conducting mobilization activities, including strike votes (Mobility had 85% approval) and informational pickets. According to Local 9408 President Roy Granados, “We love our jobs and lead the industry in quality service and dedication to our customers: We only ask for a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and adequate healthcare for our families.”

For information: Stan Santos,  VP CWA Local 9408
CWA Strike Preparation 
559-248-9408

Hundreds of rank and file union members from Fresno went to this rally in the Bay Area to save their union.

The New Union is off to a Good Start

In the largest single-day filing in California healthcare history, the NUHW petitioned for elections in 62 California hospitals and healthcare facilities with National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) offices in Oakland and San Francisco.

Only days after its founding, NUHW filed petitions to represent nearly 25,000 workers. The union expects to file petitions for thousands more in coming weeks with the NLRB and with the California Public Relations Board for those workers whose employers fall under state rather than federal labor laws. “Thousands of workers are rushing to sign petitions for NUHW. I helped to signed up 106 people at my facility within hours,” said Suzanne Redell, a respiratory care practitioner at Saint Louise, a Daughters of Charity hospital in Gilroy, who is organizing her co-workers into NUHW.

The Union has Pledged to be more Democratic than SEIU

“What’s happening here is so exciting, we’re building a union of the healthcare workers, for healthcare workers and by healthcare workers united in NUHW,” said Anita Cook, a unit secretary at Kindred Hospital in San Leandro. “SEIU isn’t building anything. Their goal was and is to tear apart the most effective collective group of healthcare workers in the country. We’re tired of SEIU’s hostile tactics, threatening phone calls, their collusion with employers and governors like Blagojovich, and the corruption of Stern’s appointees like Local 6434 head Tyrone Freeman in Los Angeles, disgraced SEIU Executive Vice President Annelle Grajada, and the appointees who have just taken over what had been our local. We don’t trust them with our contracts, we don’t trust them with our dues—we just don’t trust them.”

Immediately after the filing with the NLRB at Oakland’s Federal Building, Cook added, “NUHW is building a union that respects workers. We have a chance to do things right, we can continue to fight for higher standards for workers and patients and give workers a voice. We’re tired of the SEIU lies. SEIU says they want non-union workers to have a voice, but they suppress members who don’t agree with them. Andy Stern also says labor law should be changed so that if a simple majority sign cards, an employer should recognize the union. We’ll see if he and SEIU walk away and leave us alone now that majorities have signed petitions saying we want NUHW.”

The NLRB is expected to schedule elections within the next month for the 9,000 nursing homes and hospitals named in the first NUHW filings. NUHW filed petitions at four Daughters of Charity facilities, Children’s Hospital of Oakland, four Sutter facilities, including Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and California Pacific Medical Center, as well as several nursing homes chains and independent nursing homes.

Organizing efforts under way in Fresno have signed up hundreds of homecare and Kaiser workers to join the new NUHW. More information about this important labor struggle can be found at www.nuhw.org.

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New Leadership in the Local Democratic Party

By Michael D. Evans

The Fresno County Democratic Central Committee (FCDCC) elected a new chair on January 7 to lead local Democrats for the next two years. Gary Alford was elected unanimously, moving from vice chair to chair. Alford replaced Joel Murillo, a Fresno-based attorney who served one term as chair of the FCDCC.

Alford is the associate director of the Fresno Teachers Association, a 4,000-member union that is affiliated with the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association. A crane operator by trade, he got involved in the teachers’ union when he took a job as a teacher in a vocational training program.

Alford hails from Florida by way of North Carolina and has been in the Fresno area for about seven years. After arriving in Fresno, he and his spouse, fellow organizer Brenda Emerson, went looking for Democrats and “stumbled on the party at an event when [Arnold] Schwarzenegger got elected in the recall.”

“I’ve been involved at one level or another in political campaigns for probably 20 years,” says Alford. His organizing and political background worked to his advantage in getting him elected chair of the FCDCC.

The California Democratic Council calls the county central committees the “smallest and frequently the most visible manifestation of the Democratic Party on the local level. [They] are the official voice of the Democratic Party for a county.” In addition, the central committee charters all the Democratic clubs within a county and has the responsibility for establishing cooperative efforts among the clubs.


Gary Alford is the newly elected chair of the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee. Alford wants to double the size of the Democratic Party in Fresno County and ensure that Democratic elected officials uphold “Democratic values.”

“My vision of the Democratic Party for Fresno County is to grow it to double and triple its current size, which is a lofty goal,” says Alford. “My immediate thing is to involve people who aren’t currently involved. I want a group of 500 people who are willing to do something. We have enough cheerleaders; we need some people on the team that the cheerleaders can cheer for.”

Alford wants to “reach out to people who are Democrats and let them know that they are wanted in the party.” He also intends “to fight the Republicans trying to steal our base.” During the last election cycle, an allegedly illegal scheme was employed in Fresno County to shift registered voters from Democratic to Republican; the result was a substantial number of registration switches in the final weeks of the election cycle, contrary to the prevailing trend elsewhere in the country.

Although Alford finds DINOs (Democrats in Name Only) to be common in Fresno County, especially among elected officials, he believes that the party “must find other people to take those positions who really want to uphold Democratic values. If we don’t, we really don’t stand a chance of turning the party around or turning the county around. People have to decide what they are.”

Such outreach extends to all geographic areas of Fresno County with a goal of pulling in people “who want to see something happening in their communities,” says Alford. “They must be willing to step out, and they’ll need thick skin — as they will probably take some minor abuse — but they need to be public so that people will know there are other Democrats here.”

The election of Barack Obama as president has drawn increasing attention to Democratic Party organizations throughout the country, not only for their contribution to getting him elected but also for their anticipated role in promoting his legislative agenda and inspiring change locally.

Obama’s victory “should allow us to reach out to the minority community in a way that we haven’t in the past,” says Alford. “It should embolden some of our minority population to be involved with the party and with politics in general.”

Alford hopes that Obama will “continue to inspire the bipartisanship that we saw in Fresnans for Obama, which worked so hard here to get him elected. They were predominantly Republicans.”

Still, Alford is somewhat skeptical that the bipartisan support will survive. “This is the Central Valley — the Wild West. There are people here who have real heartburn with having an African American in that seat.”

“Four years down the road,” says Alford, “it will be a much different election here locally. There won’t be the fervor to replace the president, because Bush was so bad for so long, so we may not have that kind of bipartisan support again.”

Voter registrations in Fresno County still favor Republicans, although Democrats now have a plurality in the city of Fresno. Yet the Central Valley is still considered safe Republican territory. “Obviously, we’re dealing with a very conservative area,” notes Alford. “And I think there’s a lot of people out there who would like to see us [Democrats] go away.”

Increasing the number of voters registering as Democrats remains a key goal for the party. “Over the last two election cycles, the SEIU [Service Employees International Union] spent a large amount of money concentrating on Latinos who either were unregistered or were registered Republicans and working on flipping them — legitimately,” says Alford. “We must continue that effort.”

In the last election, Democrats identified areas with large pockets of Latinos and focused on registering voters in those areas. “But it’s not just signing folks up to vote,” says Alford. “I could sign up a hundred people in a day, but if we lose track of them, if we don’t involve them and get them to actually come out and vote, then it doesn’t do us any good.” Alford wants to help new registrants understand the value and rewards of participation in the process.

A recent Community Alliance article pointed out that had the Democratic City Council districts in Fresno turned out at the same percentage as the Republican districts in the 2008 election, the Democratic candidate, Henry T. Perea, would likely have been elected mayor. As it was, the turnout “was all about Obama,” says Alford. “Unfortunately, it didn’t trickle down. People don’t realize that just voting for the guy in the head shed doesn’t necessarily fix the things you want. All politics is local.”

Volunteers were invited to participate in the Alliance effort to challenge a number of propositions advocated by the governor in 2006. Shown here is activity from the training session, in which a number of local Democrats were active in their support of this labor-driven initiative.

With the election of Ashley Swearingen as mayor of Fresno, Republicans continue to dominate City Hall even though ostensibly the municipal elections are nonpartisan. Alford says that means “Arnold [Schwarzenegger] will continue to come down here and use the area as an ATM and as a launching spot for all his conservative ideas.”

Alford would like to see the Democratic Party concentrate its electoral efforts on local races. He sees a role for the party in identifying candidates and providing them with support in terms of volunteers, fund-raising and introductions to various community groups.

If the projected population expansion in Fresno results in additional City Council seats, Alford intends to identify them “as Democratic seats, stake our claim to them and then dig in and fight tooth-and-nail to keep them.”

Recent news reports have indicated that some local school boards may change their methodology for electing district candidates such that only those voters who reside in the district will be eligible to vote in that district race (as opposed to an at-large election for a district representative). Alford believes this change would be “an interesting dynamic that would give the local activist candidate a better chance.”

The local party’s relationship with the California Democratic Party has been described as analogous to that of an abandoned stepchild. However, Alford notes, “There are some people who realize the Central Valley has got to be worked, mined and improved upon.” He points to Eric Bauman, who is a candidate for vice-chair of the California Democratic Party, as one of the few with the state party who “gets it” regarding the concerns of the Central Valley.

“We’ll never turn the Central Valley into the same kind of a vote mecca [as Los Angeles and San Francisco] because we don’t have the population here and we won’t,” says Alford. “But we need to realize that the political spectrum is changing. In California, it’s not North-South for being Red-Blue, it’s East-West and, actually, it’s Coast-Valley. We’ve got to concentrate on the valley because that’s where the growth potential is — not just for the Democratic Party but also for the land to put more people.”

Alford contends that the bottom line for the Democratic Party is turnout. “We’ve got to see to it that we have a serious GOTV [get-out-the-vote] effort in every election. Otherwise, we’re spinning our wheels and wasting our time.”

Michael D. Evans is a political activist, editor and writer. He can be reached at evansm@usa.net.

Get Involved! With the many pressing issues that face our nation, state and community, no time is better than the present to become an active participant in influencing the decisions that will determine our future at each level of government. The Democratic Party provides an avenue through which to do this, and there are a number of ways to participate as Democrats in Fresno County. Fresno County Democratic Central Committee
Gary Alford, Chair
Standing Committees: Budget & Finance, Fund-Raising, Campaign Services, Organizational Development, Issues & Legislation
Meets 1st Wednesday of each month, 7 p.m.
State Building (P St. & Tulare Ave.)
www.fcdcc.org Clovis Democratic Club
Evelyn Haulman, President
Meets 3rd Thursday of each month, 6 p.m.
Denny’s Restaurant (710 W. Shaw Ave., Clovis)
www.clovisdemocrats.org Fresno County Democratic Women’s Club
Patsy Montgomery, President
Meets last Monday of each month, 11 a.m.
International Catering (4277 West Ave.) Fresno Stonewall Democrats
Daniel Martin, President
Meets 2nd Wednesday of each month, 6 p.m.
Carrows Restaurant (4280 N. Blackstone Ave.)
www.mangen.com/stonewall Kennedy Club of the San Joaquin Valley
Ray Ensher, President
Meets 1st Saturday of each month, 9 a.m.
Denny’s Restaurant (141 N. Abby St.) San Joaquin Valley Democratic Club
James Williams, President
Meets 3rd Wednesday of each month, 6 p.m.
Denny’s Restaurant (1110 E. Shaw Ave.)
www.sanjoaquinvalleydemocrats.org West Fresno Democratic Club
Charles Taylor, President
Meets 3rd Saturday of each month, 2 p.m.
Big Ced’s BBQ (1342 Tulare St.) Democrats in Action
Jeff Adolph, Executive Director
Office: 255 N. Fulton Ave., Suite 104
Phone: 559-486-5422
www.fresnodemocrats.com

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QUEER EYE
Bulldog Athletics—Dubious Luxury?

By Dan Waterhouse

Is it time to end intercollegiate athletics at Fresno State?

In order to address California’s record-setting deficit, the largest shortfall since the Great Depression, deep cuts to state programs will be necessary. Public education will take big hits, possibly as much as 30 percent in the next few years. Safety net programs will also be hard hit. And, the California State University system will have to reduce enrollment and turn qualified students away. Fees will be going up and student aid going down—the Governor does not plan to match fee hikes with funds for student assistance.

At Fresno State, the number of entering freshmen next fall semester was slashed, and the number of transfer students is being reduced. An academic counselor told us that campus enrollment has to be cut by 2,200 students next academic year (a roughly 10 percent reduction in warm bodies). Student fees are expected to go up another 10 percent.

At the same time, boosters expect students to shoulder a larger part of the responsibility of coming up with additional funds for the Bulldogs sports program. The intercollegiate athletics program has been a money-loser for the university for most of the last 15 years. Last year, the program ended up losing over a million dollars, and it looks like it is on course to do the same this fiscal year. Students voted down a more than $50 per semester fee hike during advisory balloting last spring; university president Dr. John Welty ended up implementing a $32 per semester fee to support athletics. That money is used to help pay for women’s swimming and diving and lacrosse.

Students were angered that their voice was ignored by university officials. Most students do not go to campus sports events. Many say they struggle to stay in school and feel they should not have to support something they do not participate in. Some point at the outlaw image of the athletic program as a reason they do not support it. The antics of certain players and coaches over recent years have earned Fresno State the nickname of “Felony State.”

Out in the community, while many people were excited by the baseball team’s improbable run to becoming National Champions last spring, the vast majority of Fresno could care less about the program. Most see the university’s primary mission as delivering a high-quality education, not providing entertainment. A recent study commissioned by a group of prominent alumni, the “Friends of Fresno State,” concluded that the athletic program has “polarized the Fresno ‘community’ because of losing teams, scandals or lawsuits which create a negative image of not only Fresno State athletics, but for the entire university, its staff, faculty, and students.” Many community “thought leaders” feel athletics overbalances academics right now and are not pleased about the imbalance. If academic performance is not the first priority, there is little support among that group for “growing athletics.”

Boosters seem to have a sense of entitlement to the program, and some hold student and community opinion in contempt. Those people feel the students and the community must pay for the program, even though they do not support it. They regard anyone who does not buy into their entitlement as fools or worse. To add insult to injury, many boosters want the university to take large sums of money away from academics and pump it into intercollegiate sports. This reaches a new height of hypocrisy. I suspect many of these boosters have argued, “No bailout and no stimulus spending” as the national and local economy tanked. Yet, they want their failing “business”—yes, Fresno State athletics is a business—rescued.

So, instead of focusing on athletics at Fresno State, let’s focus on the real mission of the institution. Perhaps it is time to bow out of big time college sports here in Fresno.

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Green Fresno – Getting rid of Pests, Naturally

By Ingrid Carmean

There is a rumor that San Francisco has banned all pesticide use. Yes, they did and then realized that was a big mistake. “soon there were widespread rat infestations, as well as weeds blocking traffic and median strips.”* They now have an excellent, carefully thought out and evolving Integrated Pest Management program for lowering pesticide use and pest problems to the minimum. Fresno should have a similar program.

In this first article I want to explain, very simply, Integrated Pest Management or IPM.

1. Decide if you have a problem and identify it.
2. Seek a non-toxic solution to the problem
3. If that is not possible seek a pesticide that is the least toxic, effective solution.

Let’s take a moment to examine non-toxic solutions. In order to survive organisms need:

Air
Food
Water
Shelter
A certain temperature range
And each other.

If you deprive an organism of any one of these it will not survive. So we have a whole range of non-toxic methods of control to consider.

Many times food removal is the only necessary means of control. Frequently we do that by taking out the trash and cleaning up spilled food items. By sealing a crack ants are going through we are depriving them of food, water, and shelter. Cockroaches can be frozen, mice can be excluded from the shelter of a building, pigeons can be deprived of water, fly swatters and vacuum cleaners can control spiders and many occasional pests.

Pesticides are limited in their actions. They kill pests that are present. The environment which attracted or housed the pest still exists.

This is the first of a series of articles on pesticides. Each month I have time I will be submitting short articles on pesticides.

* City and County of San Francisco’s Road to IPM and Environmental Stewardship March 23, 2007 Call Notes http://www.ipminstitute.org/Articles/MarchPublicAgencyIPMConfCallNotes092507.pdf

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Music and arts calendar

Sunday, March 1

“Footloose” by the Good Company Players at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater, 1226 N. Wishon Ave. Call 559-266-9494 for times. (through March 15)

“The Piano Lesson” directed by Thomas-Whitt Ellis at the John Wright Theatre, 5201 N. Maple Ave. Call 559-278-2216 for times. (through March 7)

2nd Annual Cesar Chavez Tribute Exhibition, Arte Americas, 1630 Van Ness Ave., 11 a.m.–5 p.m./Thursdays until 8 p.m. (through April 4)


Pieter Moerdyck

Rogue Festival: “Spider Baby the Musical” at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton Ave., 4 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Acoustic Highway, “Songs We’ve Written and Other Sins,” at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton Ave., 8:30 p.m., $5.

Rogue Festival: Aileen Imperatrice (Meet the Artist), “Fun with Pop,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 2:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Airplane Jayne is Talking About “It” Again… at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 7:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Ananka Belly Dance Company, “Dream of Scheherazade,” at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton Ave., 7 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Artists’ Repertory Theatre, “All in the Timing (Too),” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 4 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Baba Brinkman, “The Rap Guide to Evolution,” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 2:45 p.m. & 9:30 p.m., $10.

Rogue Festival: Barry Smith’s Baby Book at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 4 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: California Arts Academy, “Rent,” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 7 p.m., $12.

Rogue Festival: Charlie and the Chocolate Porno Factory at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 7:30 p.m., $3.

Rogue Festival: Cool Reflection at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 7 p.m., $5.

Rogue Festival: Elliott Owensby & Kyle Warkentin, “Music Reflection,” at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 6:15 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Erynn Richardson (Meet the Artist) at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 2:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Floradora at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 6:15 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Gemma Wilcox, “The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over,” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 2:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Josh and Will Are Idiots Productions, “Cupid is a B*tch…a musical about true love,” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 5:30 p.m., $6.

Rogue Festival: Katherine Glover, “No Stranger Than Home,” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 7 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Kurt Fitzpatrick, “Hooray for Speech Therapy,” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 8:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Midyne Spear at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 1 p.m. & 5 p.m., $3.

Rogue Festival: Over the Moon Productions, “Some Reckless Abandon,” at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 1 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Pipe on the Hob, “Celtic Storm,” at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 7:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Ryan Paulson, “I’m Uncomfortable,” at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 2:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Sandy Schulte-Day (Meet the Artist), Animal Spirits Series, at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 2:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Spencer/Morris Group at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 3:45 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Suicide Lounge Classics at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 5:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Tanjora Tribal Bellydance, “A Journey,” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 5:15 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Terrance McArthur, “The Show Show Strikes Back,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 5 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: The 2nd Street Dancers, “That 80s Show,” at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton Ave., 5:30 p.m., $5.

Rogue Festival: The Blake and Baba Show at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton Ave., 2:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: The Magic and Comedy of Tony Blanco at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 4 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: The Murray Girls, “Child Ballads,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 1 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: unsupported productions, “Half Time at the Super Bowl,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 6:15 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Woodward Shakespeare Festival, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 1 p.m., $7.

Spindrift performs at Audie’s Olympic/Club Fred, 1426 N. Van Ness Ave., 9 p.m.

Tokyo Garden Jazz Jam featuring the Craig Von Berg Trio at Tokyo Garden, 1711 Fulton St., 6 p.m.


Bad Boys Zydeco

Monday, March 2

S.I.N. and DJ Evil G.Free! at Audie’s Olympic/Club Fred, 1426 N. Van Ness Ave., 9 p.m.

Tuesday, March 3

Open Mic/Open Jam with Aesop & The Olympians at Audie’s Olympic/Club Fred, 1426 N. Van Ness Ave., 9 p.m.

Wednesday, March 4

Acoustic Open Mic with Pieter Moerdyk at Javawava, 1940 N. Echo Ave., 7 p.m.

Rogue Festival: Edward Stewart (Meet the Artist), “The Shaping of Things to Come,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 8:45 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Erynn Richardson (Meet the Artist) at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 8:45 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Gemma Wilcox, “The Honeymoon Period is Officially Over,” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 7 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Gregory Ramirez, “Confessions of a Karaoke DJ,” at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 7:30 p.m., $3.

Rogue Festival: Josh and Will Are Idiots Productions, “Cupid is a B*tch…a musical about true love,” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 8:30 p.m., $6.

Rogue Festival: Rattananan Moerdyk (Meet the Artist), “Spirits in the Paper,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 8:45 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Rose & Clarice Gardenia Falls Las Vegas REVUE at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 8:45 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: San Joaquin Literary Association, “Poetry and Prose from Fresno State,” at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 8:45 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: The People Next Door, “Chronicles of Death,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 7:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Travis Sheridan, “Bipolarity of Life: How to Enjoy Life Without Medication,” at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 7:30 p.m., $4.

Thursday, March 5

Alliance of California Artists Downtown Window, Gallery 1 & 2 Painting Exchange, 2120 Kern St., 3:30 p.m.

AMO III by FCC students at Studio 74, 1274 N. Van Ness Ave., 5 p.m.

Post ArtHop: Primer Skyline and Red Cortez at Tokyo Garden, 1711 Fulton St., 9 p.m.

Rogue Festival: Charlie and the Chocolate Porno Factory at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 8:45 p.m., $3.

Rogue Festival: Improver Behavior, “Parvo Pet Store,” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 10 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Kurt Fitzpatrick, “Hooray for Speech Therapy,” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 8:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: LTN Productions, “The Oddly Shaped Comedy Show,” at Full Circle Brewing, 620 F St., 8:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Megill & Company, “Assemblings III,” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 8:30 p.m., $8.

Rogue Festival: Merlinda Espinosa, “Voce Inocentes,” at Full Circle Brewing, 620 F St., 7 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Songs 4 Pints/Ceol ‘s Craic at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 7:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: The Magic and Comedy of Tony Blanco at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 7 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: The Valley Burlesque Society, “Lions & Tigers & Burlesque, OH MY!” at Full Circle Brewing, 620 F St., 10 p.m., $7.

Ron Thompson & the Resistors at Crossroads, 3315 N. Cedar Ave., 6 p.m.

Friday, March 6

3 Guys Playin’ the Blues at the Sequoia Brewing Co., 777 E. Olive Ave., 8:30 p.m.

CineCulture Screening: The Armenian Genocide, Discussant: Prof. Barlow Der Murgrdechian, at 121 McLane Hall, Fresno State University, 5:15 p.m.

Eleven Hundred Springs and the Bret Neilsen Band at Audie’s Olympic/Club Fred, 1426 N. Van Ness Ave., 9 p.m.

High Priority at Fibber McGee’s, 6650 N. Cedar Ave., 9 p.m.

Meatball Magic with DJs Heinz, Cuddles & Cuckoo at the Red Lantern, 4618 E. Belmont Ave., 10 p.m.

Rogue Festival: “A Flea in Her Ear” directed by Debbi Shapazian at Fresno City College Theatre, 1101 E. University Ave., 7:30 p.m.

Rogue Festival: “Spider Baby the Musical” at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton Ave., 10 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Abigail Nolte at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 10 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Aileen Imperatrice (Meet the Artist), “Fun with Pop,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 6:15 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: An Audience with Lynn Ruth Miller at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 6:15 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Ananka Belly Dance Company, “Dream of Scheherazade,” at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton Ave., 7 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Annette Ash, “Houseboats, Headwinds and Highways,” Palomino’s, 805 E. Olive Ave., 7 p.m., $8.

Rogue Festival: Artists’ Repertory Theatre, “All in the Timing (Too),” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 10:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Benjamin Boone Jazz Quartet at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 9 p.m., $10.

Rogue Festival: Body Rock Circus! at Full Circle Brewing, 620 F St., 7 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Boxcar Figaro, “Songs from the Train of Love,” at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 6:15 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Cool Reflection at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 5:30 p.m., $5.

Rogue Festival: Edward Stewart (Meet the Artist), “The Shaping of Things to Come,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 6:15 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Ellouise Schoettler, “Flesh on Old Bones,” at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 7:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Fear of Ambiguity, Grow and Dance for Camera and Pet Friendly at Mike Briggs Properties, 1212 N. Van Ness Ave., 5 p.m., 7 p.m. & 9 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Improver Behavior, “Parvo Pet Store,” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 5 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Josh and Will Are Idiots Productions, “Cupid is a B*tch…a musical about true love,” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 8:30 p.m., $6.

Rogue Festival: Katherine Glover, “No Stranger Than Home,” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 7 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Kurt Fitzpatrick, “Hooray for Speech Therapy,” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 10 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Linda Dryden, “Ropes of Sand,” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 5:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: LTN Productions, “The Oddly Shaped Comedy Show,” at Full Circle Brewing, 620 F St., 10 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Megill & Company, “Assemblings III,” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 6:15 p.m., $8.

Rogue Festival: Over the Moon Productions, “Some Reckless Abandon,” at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 7 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Pieter Moerdyk, “Party Pooper Antichrist,” at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 8:45 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Sandy Schulte-Day (Meet the Artist), Animal Spirits Series, at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 6:15 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Songs 4 Pints/Ceol ‘s Craic at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 10 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Suicide Lounge Jacks Off On Broadway at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 10 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Tanjora Tribal Bellydance, “A Journey,” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 7:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: The 2nd Street Dancers, “That 80s Show,” at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton Ave., 8:30 p.m., $5.

Rogue Festival: The Acoustic Kinetic Collective at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 8:30 p.m., $5.

Rogue Festival: The People Next Door, “Chronicles of Death,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 7:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: The Rogue Night Club with Lynn Ruth Miller, Jaguar Bennett, Black Light Poetry and Illegitimus at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 11:30 p.m., $5.

Rogue Festival: The Valley Burlesque Society, “A Magical Night of Daring Divas,” at Full Circle Brewing, 620 F St., 8:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Tom Hosler, “Songs of the Didjeridoo,” at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 7:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Tony Imperatrice, “My Big Organ Show: Music, Laughter, and The Meaning of Life,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 8:45 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Travis Sheridan, “Bipolarity of Life: How to Enjoy Life Without Medication,” at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 8:45 p.m., $4.

Soul Good with DJs Manny Burton, Transparent Tony B and Ben Martinez at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 10 p.m.

Saturday, March 7

Eleven Hundred Springs at Audie’s Olympic/Club Fred, 1426 N. Van Ness Ave., 9 p.m.

High Priority at Fibber McGee’s, 6650 N. Cedar Ave., 9 p.m.

Latino Night with DJ Gustavo at the Red Lantern, 4618 E. Belmont Ave., 10 p.m.

Rogue Festival: “A Flea in Her Ear” directed by Debbi Shapazian at Fresno City College Theatre, 1101 E. University Ave., 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Rogue Festival: “Spider Baby the Musical” at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton Ave., 5:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Abigail Nolte at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 7:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Acoustic Highway, “Songs We’ve Written and Other Sins,” at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton Ave., 2:30 p.m. & 7 p.m., $5.

Rogue Festival: Airplane Jayne is Talking About “It” Again… at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 6:15 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: An Audience with Lynn Ruth Miller at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 3:45 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Ananka Belly Dance Company, “Dream of Scheherazade,” at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton Ave., 4 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Annette Ash, “Houseboats, Headwinds and Highways,” Palomino’s, 805 E. Olive Ave., 6 p.m. & 8:30 p.m., $8.

Rogue Festival: Artists’ Repertory Theatre, “All in the Timing (Too),” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 1 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Barry Smith’s Baby Book at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 1 p.m. & 8:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Benjamin Boone Jazz Quartet at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 10 p.m., $10.

Rogue Festival: Boxcar Figaro, “Songs from the Train of Love,” at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 1 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: California Arts Academy, “Rent,” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 2:30 p.m., $12.

Rogue Festival: Cool Reflection at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 4 p.m., $5.

Rogue Festival: Elliott Owensby & Kyle Warkentin, “Music Reflection,” at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 1 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Ellouise Schoettler, “Flesh on Old Bones,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 5 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Erynn Richardson (Meet the Artist) at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 1 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Fear of Ambiguity, Grow and Dance for Camera and Pet Friendly at Mike Briggs Properties, 1212 N. Van Ness Ave., 5 p.m. & 7 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Gregory Ramirez, “Confessions of a Karaoke DJ,” at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 6:15 p.m., $3.

Rogue Festival: Kurt Fitzpatrick, “Hooray for Speech Therapy” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 8:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Liesl Garner, “Strengthen Me with Raisins,” at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 7:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Linda Dryden, “Ropes of Sand,” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 2:30 p.m. & 7 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Megill & Company, “Assemblings III,” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 5 p.m. & 8:30 p.m., $8.

Rogue Festival: One Big Rogue Party with Trey Tosh at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 10 p.m., $10.

Rogue Festival: Over the Moon Productions, “Some Reckless Abandon,” at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 2:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: Pipe on the Hob, “Celtic Storm,” at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 2:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Rattananan Moerdyk (Meet the Artist), “Spirits in the Paper,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 1 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Ryan Paulson, “I’m Uncomfortable,” at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 4 p.m. & 7 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: San Joaquin Literary Association, “Poetry and Prose from Fresno State,” at the Spectrum Gallery, 1306 N. Wishon Ave., 5 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Sandy Schulte-Day (Meet the Artist), Animal Spirits Series, at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 1 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Spencer/Morris Group at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 5 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Terrance McArthur, “The Show Show Strikes Back,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 3:45 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: The 2nd Street Dancers, “That 80s Show,” at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton Ave., 1 p.m., $5.

Rogue Festival: The Acoustic Kinetic Collective at the Starline, 833 E. Fern Ave., 5:30 p.m., $5.

Rogue Festival: The Blake and Baba Show at Dianna’s North, 826 N. Fulton Ave., 8:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: The Magic and Comedy of Tony Blanco at Dianna’s South, 726 N. Fulton Ave., 5:30 p.m., $7.

Rogue Festival: The Murray Girls, “Child Ballads,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 7:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Tony Imperatrice, “My Big Organ Show: Music, Laughter, and The Meaning of Life,” at Ashtree Studios, 1035 N. Fulton St., 2:30 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Travis Sheridan, “Bipolarity of Life: How to Enjoy Life Without Medication,” at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 6:15 p.m., $4.

Rogue Festival: Woodward Shakespeare Festival, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” at Severance Art Studio, 1401 N. Wishon Ave., 6:30 p.m., $7.

Wendy Warner (cello) at Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St., 8 p.m.

Autumn Thief

Sunday, March 8

“A Flea in Her Ear” directed by Debbi Shapazian at Fresno City College Theatre, 1101 E. University Ave., 2 p.m.

Mosaic Jazz Jam Session featuring Andre Bush and David Aus at Marsol, 3075 N. Maroa Ave., 7 p.m.

Wendy Warner (cello) at Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St., 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 10

Art-Tique—The East Wall Painting at the Cedar-Clinton Branch Library, 4150 E. Clinton Ave., ,10:30 a.m.–noon

From Ritual To Romance/Mozart Season @ The Exit, The Exit (formerly The Belmont), 1533 E. Belmont Ave., 6 p.m.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Tower Theatre, 815 E. Olive Ave., 8 p.m.

Wednesday, March 11

“A Flea in Her Ear” directed by Debbi Shapazian at Fresno City College Theatre, 1101 E. University Ave., 7:30 p.m. (through March 14)

Acoustic Open Mic with Pieter Moerdyk at Javawava, 1940 N. Echo Ave., 7 p.m.

Pipe on the Hob at the Woodward Park Library, 944 E. Perrin Ave., 7 p.m.

Thursday, March 12

Ron Thompson & the Resistors at Crossroads, 3315 N. Cedar Ave., 6 p.m.

The Hot Toddies at Full Circle Brewing, 620 F St., 8 p.m., $8.

The Vienna Boys Choir at Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St., 7:30 p.m., $27+.

Friday, March 13

3 Guys Playin’ the Blues at the Patio Café, 5138 N. Palm Ave., 7 p.m.

Body Call with DJ Professor Stone at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 10 p.m.

CineCulture Screening: Iranian film TBA, Discussant: Dr. Hamid Dabashi, at 121 McLane Hall, Fresno State University, 5:15 p.m.

Fresno Filmworks: A Night at the Oscars at the Tower Theatre, 815 E. Olive Ave., 5:30 p.m. (live-action short films), 8 p.m. (animated short films), $10 ($15 for both shows).

Mistress of Reality, Moses, Revolution Mother and Who Rides The Tiger at Audie’s Olympic/Club Fred, 1426 N. Van Ness Ave., 9 p.m.

Undercover at Fibber McGee’s, 6650 N. Cedar Ave., 9 p.m.

Saturday, March 14

Autumn Thief at Full Circle Brewing, 620 F St., 8 p.m., $6.

Latino Night with DJ Gustavo at the Red Lantern, 4618 E. Belmont Ave., 10 p.m.

The Chop Tops, The Rocketz, No Dice, The Strikers and Motel Drive at Audie’s Olympic/Club Fred, 1426 N. Van Ness Ave., 9 p.m.

Undercover at Fibber McGee’s, 6650 N. Cedar Ave., 9 p.m.

Sunday, March 15

Cabaret Music Delight with Café Musique (fund-raiser for the Hadassah Medical Organization) at Temple Beth Israel, 6622 N. Maroa Ave., 3 p.m. Call 559-439-8715 for details.

Tokyo Garden Jazz Jam featuring Mike Dana & his band at Tokyo Garden, 1711 Fulton St., 6 p.m.

Wednesday, March 18

Acoustic Open Mic with Pieter Moerdyk at Javawava, 1940 N. Echo Ave., 7 p.m.

Thursday, March 19

Inner Ear at Full Circle Brewing, 620 F St., 8 p.m.

Ron Thompson & the Resistors at Crossroads, 3315 N. Cedar Ave., 6 p.m.

Friday, March 20

CineCulture Screening: Flow, at 121 McLane Hall, Fresno State University, 5:15 p.m.

Meatball Magic with DJs Heinz, Cuddles & Cuckoo at the Red Lantern, 4618 E. Belmont Ave., 10 p.m.

Modern Jazz Trio at Full Circle Brewing, 620 F St., 8 p.m., $5.

Rockaholics at Fibber McGee’s, 6650 N. Cedar Ave., 9 p.m.

Saturday, March 21

Bad Boys Zydeco and Mo Fo at Full Circle Brewing, 620 F St., 8 p.m.

Body Rock with DJs Don D and F Plus at Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton Ave., 10 p.m.

Latino Night with DJ Gustavo at the Red Lantern, 4618 E. Belmont Ave., 10 p.m.

Rockaholics at Fibber McGee’s, 6650 N. Cedar Ave., 9 p.m.

Sunday, March 22

“1964: The Tribute” at the Tower Theatre, 815 E. Olive Ave., 7 p.m.

Mosaic Jazz Jam Session featuring Andre Bush and David Aus at Marsol, 3075 N. Maroa Ave., 7 p.m.

Wednesday, March 25

Acoustic Open Mic with Pieter Moerdyk at Javawava, 1940 N. Echo Ave., 7 p.m.

Tim Gardea Presents A Skylit Drive at The Exit (formerly The Belmont), 1533 E. Belmont Ave., 6 p.m.

Thursday, March 26

Ron Thompson & the Resistors at Crossroads, 3315 N. Cedar Ave., 6 p.m.

Friday, March 27

CineCulture Screening: My Brother Nikhil, Discussant: Dr. Kaberi Kar Gupta, at 121 McLane Hall, Fresno State University, 5:15 p.m.

Deja Blues at Sequoia Brewing Co., 777 E. Olive Ave., 7 p.m.

Shadow Fax at the Babylon Club, 1064 N. Fulton Ave., 8 p.m.

Special Reserve at Fibber McGee’s, 6650 N. Cedar Ave., 9 p.m.

Ted Hughes’s Tales from Ovid directed by Ruth Griffin at the Dennis & Cheryl Woods Theatre, 5201 N. Maple Ave. Call 559-278-2216 for times. (through April 4)

Saturday, March 28

Deja Blues at Sequoia Brewing Co., 777 E. Olive Ave., 7 p.m.

Fresno Bonsai Society Spring Bonsai Show at the Shinzen Garden, Woodward Park, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Joe Walton & the Starr Choice Band at Carlton’s Bar & Grill, 2504 Ventura St., 6:30 p.m.

Latino Night with DJ Gustavo at the Red Lantern, 4618 E. Belmont Ave., 10 p.m.

Ovideo and Sacred Math at Tokyo Garden, 1711 Fulton St., 9 p.m.

Special Reserve at Fibber McGee’s, 6650 N. Cedar Ave., 9 p.m.

The Super Lucky Catz at Full Circle Brewing, 620 F St., 8 p.m.

Sunday, March 29

Blues/Zydeco Dance & BBQ with Bad Boys Zydeco at Full Circle Brewery, 620 F St., 2 p.m., $10.

Fresno Bonsai Society Spring Bonsai Show at the Shinzen Garden, Woodward Park, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

The Community Alliance Music and Arts calendar provides information on local activities related to music, film, theater and other performing arts. E-mail submissions to calendar@fresnoalliance.com.

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Music Group S.O.U.L.S. to Be Featured at Unitarian Universalist Church

by Lorenzo Bassman

On Sunday, March 22, 2009, at 10:30 a.m., the regular Sunday morning worship service at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno will feature Sounds of Urban Life Soldiers (S.O.U.L.S.). S.O.U.L.S. is an Oakland-based consciousness-raising vocal group that combines elements of jazz, funk, hip hop, spoken word, neo-soul and sometimes dance. S.O.U.L.S. is the main performing group of the nonprofit organization Urban Voices Collective (UVC), founded by Bill Jackson, who also manages the group. UVC’s mission is to bring together a diverse group of professional hip hop and spoken word artists to give free performances and interactive workshops at various venues in San Francisco Bay Area communities, with the goal of not only entertaining, but also educating, inspiring, and edifying people — especially disadvantaged youth.

As a public schools educator in the East Bay area for more than 20 years, “I noticed that many inner city youth aren’t motivated to learn or achieve by the conventional methods of teaching used in classroom settings,” said Jackson. “That’s one of the main reasons why we’re losing many of our kids to the mean streets of Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco, and East Palo Alto.”

“Music has always been one of the greatest passions of my life, and I know that it’s a powerful educational tool and a sure way to reach young people,” Jackson continued. “Seeing so many young people hanging out on the streets aimlessly with no direction or pursuing a life of drug dealing and other crimes saddens me. It’s such a tremendous waste of human potential.”

According to Jackson, “the inspiration for the S.O.U.L.S. anti-gun violence theme song and music video titled ‘Squash it!’ was my witnessing the aftermath of numerous shootings and murders right on the West Oakland street that I have lived on for the last 17 years. Consequently, I wanted to enlist the services of talented artists who shared my vision to use our creative efforts to reach out to the community.” And indeed, UVC has taken its message of anti-violence, hope, and transformation to places where it is most needed, such as juvenile halls, substance abuse recovery facilities, and street rallies against violence. Some UVC artists who give powerful testimonies have themselves either been juvenile hall detainees or had troubled lives, but they have turned their lives around to go on to college and/or develop successful entertainment careers involving bright futures and travel abroad. “We can tell that UVC artists are making an impact when youngsters approach and ask to connect with them, and when they are repeatedly requested to perform and continue getting positive feedback from community institutions.”

UVC, which has been doing verbal interactive workshop/performances at juvenile halls (writing utensils are not allowed there due to the security risk), will expand its efforts to begin more academic workshops at schools and community centers — teaching youth how to express themselves through developing their writing and communications skills as they learn the fundamentals of creating hip hop lyrics, music, and spoken word.

For more information about UVC, S.O.U.L.S. and UVC’s other artists, visit www.urbanvoicescollective.org or INK”http://www.trueviberecords.com” www.trueviberecords.com.

Again, S.O.U.L.S. and their music will be featured during the regularly scheduled Sunday morning service at The Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, at 10:30 a.m. on March 22, 2009. UUCF is located at 2672 East Alluvial, between Chestnut and Willow Avenues. For more information about the church, visit www.uufresno.org.

Lorenzo Bassman is the Music Director and Events Coordinator at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno. He can be reached at lorenzo.bassman@fresnocohousing.org.

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Seeger vs. Board of Education Ends in an Apology By Dave Itzkoff Nearly 50 years after the San Diego school district demanded that Pete Seeger sign an anti-Communism oath before performing in a high school auditorium, the school board has apologized to Mr. Seeger, the Associated Press reported. In May 1960 Mr. Seeger was scheduled to perform at Hoover High School, when the board demanded he sign a pledge that the concert would not promote Communism or the overthrow of the government; he refused, but a judge allowed the concert to be performed. On Tuesday the school board passed a resolution declaring that it “deeply regrets its predecessors’ actions” and apologized to Mr. Seeger, the Associated Press noted.. In an interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Seeger said, “the board’s resolution was a ‘measure of justice that our right to freedom of expression has been vindicated’.”
Pete Seeger at age 88 photographed on 6-16-07 at the Clearwater Festival 2007 by Anthony Pepitone

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Progressive Religion … Is Not An Oxymoron

Liberation Theology: A Success Story

By David E. Roy

Sometime back, Community Alliance editor Mike Rhodes asked me to consider a column on Liberation Theology. While I was in seminary and graduate school back in the early to mid-1970s, Liberation Theology surfaced in discussions with other students and faculty. My take on it at the time was that this was an intense and radical effort led primarily by Roman Catholic priests to focus on the plight of the poor of Latin America.

Liberation Theology Today?

As I attempted to research the state of Liberation Theology today, I found that many of the significant sources were a decade or more old. Puzzled, I sent an e-mail to my theological mentor and guide, John B. Cobb Jr. His reply:

“… [T]he fact that your material is old is not surprising. Liberation theology in Latin America is more a part of its history than a living movement by that name. There are many who claim that history as their own, but they do not function as a movement any more.

“One can point both to defeats and successes. Whereas at one time many bishops gave support, the Vatican has pretty much shut down thoroughgoing statements of liberation theology in Catholic circles, and on the whole the Protestant churches have moved to the right.

“But on the other side, the situation in Latin America has changed in the direction for which liberation theology called. Brazil and Argentina have thrown off the yoke of the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and although they are quite moderate, they no longer take orders from Washington. In Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador we have for the first time governments that put the concerns of the indigenous people in a central position. In general, except for Colombia, the U.S. no longer calls the shots.”

Liberation Theology: A Radical Return to Core of Christianity

As I explored books, articles and news articles, I came away with the impression that Liberation Theology is characterized by a radical return to the core of the Christian tradition, namely the focus on the poor and the oppressed.

As I wrote in a column last May, “…Jesus of Nazareth [w]as a Jewish rabbi who lived, preached, and acted in the midst of a people who were under the fierce control of the Roman Empire. …[W]hen Jesus is quoted as speaking of the Kingdom or Reign of God, this needs to be understood (and would have in that day) as being in direct contrast to the oppressive Kingdom or Reign of Caesar. This was a subversive viewpoint. … Jesus’ concern for the poor and oppressed, which is considered central to his ministry by most Christians, … must be seen in this context.”

There are many progressive Christians, supported by solid biblical scholarship, who believe that this radical stance is what led to his death.

What is Concern Without Real Change?

After all, what does it mean to be concerned about the poor and the oppressed if this concern does not support or actually produce change? This is why care for those at the margins is so fraught with danger to the status quo. If a society’s economic systems are maintaining the egregious imbalance, then those who benefit from the lopsidedness are going to resist the change and those who are seeking to effect the change.

As we have seen in the history our own nation, as well as elsewhere in the world, this process of change can easily become volatile and deadly. Many Christians, however, feel that their tradition calls them to be non-violent, despite suffering from violence directed at them.

Latin American Liberation Theology

Liberation Theology, as a movement, is not easy to define. There are activists in areas of the world besides Latin America that use the name and language of Liberation Theology, including Africa and Asia. This column, however, will focus only on the history of this movement for our neighbors to the south.

One of its unique features was that its activity arose from the ground up, in sharp contrast to the hierarchical nature of the Roman Catholic Church. While local priests definitely were central to this widespread effort to focus on economic and political liberation for the poor, the laity had a great deal of say and influence because they were centrally involved. In today’s language, these stake holders were included –or, perhaps better, included themselves when room was made for them.

Base Communities: Bible Study and More

Much of the work has been accomplished through what are called base communities. A base community is literally made up of the base of a local town or village. As such, much of the concern of any particular group is focused on the issues facing that community. It might be sanitation, it might be safety … anything that is a problem for the members of that local group.

However, these base communities are linked to the parish and the parish priest. In fact, it was the role of the priest to set these groups in motion.

Initial Support from the Vatican

The official impetus to this came from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) under the leadership of Pope John XXIII, though this has been understood as the Council’s response to the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) that began in 1955 and focused on the highly impoverished citizens of the region. Subsequent meetings of CELAM in Medellín, Columbia (1968) and in Puebla, Mexico (1975) helped to solidify this movement.

According to theologian Robert McAfee Brown* there may have been more than 100,000 base communities in Latin American, with 80% of those in Brazil alone. They typically have been small groups of perhaps 15-30, comprised of Christians in the community who joined together to share concerns about local problems. They also studied biblical texts, sang, prayed, and if there was a priest present, shared in communion.

Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement (MST) is the largest social movement in Latin America with an estimated 1.5 million members. One tactic of the MST, which is closely associated with the Liberation Theology Movement, is to take over land and return it to poor and landless peasants. The MST members in the photo above were getting ready to cut the barbed wire on this property and occupy the land on the other side.

More Emphasis on Justice than Personal Salvation

Like most who are oppressed, they read the biblical texts as stories and accounts that reflected their own struggles. The focus in general was not so much on personal salvation as on what I would call reformation of their local world to be more in harmony with God’s aims of justice for all. This is a powerful and central theme in the Christian bible as well as in the Jewish bible. One cannot read the words of the Prophets without getting a strong sense of the importance of justice for all, in particular for those with little or no power.

Strong Opposition to the Base Communities

As a result, many in these groups, and the priests and bishops that sanctioned and supported the base communities, came under fire from local and national authorities – and eventually from the Vatican itself. Laity and priests were arrested, sometimes tortured. Eventually, there were many who were killed.

The Vatican, beginning with Pope Paul VI who succeeded John XXIII, made strong moves to reign in the work done in the name of Liberation Theology. Pope John Paul II in particular strove hard to condemn and close down the Latin American church’s involvement with Liberation Theology.

Silencing the Priests

This has included sanctioning and silencing those who would not be still. This even has been extended to the Peruvian priest, Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, considered by many to be an extraordinary theologian and one of the primary figures in the movement.

One of the chief complaints by the Vatican is that the movement has been allied with Marxists who, by definition, are anti-religion (at least religion as it is often understood). Another is that some in the movement have advocated violence.

Has the Movement Reached Its End?

Nonetheless, in Latin American at least, there has been a lot accomplished through this difficult and courageous movement. The question is whether or not this movement has reached its end.

I personally do not think this is the case, whether or not it is called Liberation Theology. Why? Because of the context in which we are all living today. The extraordinarily far-reaching damage caused by the financially and politically powerful has been exposed for many to see. This revelation could result in bringing into focus the importance of the values that underlie Liberation Theology for far more people.

A Global Leveling?

There seems to be the potential for a world-wide leveling that is surfacing. If this happens, it will be in part due to the actual, swift, and complex interconnectedness of information and finance.

We are literally seeing the systemic nature of our global economy, for example. Problems caused by greed in one area can no longer be contained as easily. And, because of the amount of information available, many more of us can see the devastating effects – and know more clearly who are the ones causing the problems. We could do worse than have the values inherent in Liberation Theology guide this great leveling if it becomes a reality.

_______

*See Liberation Theology: An Introductory Guide, by Robert McAfee Brown, Westminister/John Knox Press, Louisville, KY (1993) (The section on Notes and Resources contains an excellent bibliography through the publication date. Brown is Professor Emeritus of Theology and Ethics at Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA.)

Ordained in the United Church of Christ, David Roy is a pastoral counselor and a California licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who directs the Center for Creative Transformation. He has a Ph.D. in theology and personality from the Claremont (California) School of Theology. Send comments to him at admin@cctnet.com or 5475 N. Fresno St., Ste. 109, Fresno, CA 93711.

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Cindy Sheehan Returns to Fresno for Rally in the Valley for Peace & Social Justice

By Ken Hudson

Cindy Sheehan is the headline speaker for this year’s Rally in the Valley for Peace and Social Justice. This free event sponsored by Peace Fresno will be Sunday, March 22, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. at downtown Fresno’s Eaton Plaza, which is at the historic water tower at Fresno and “N” Streets. The theme this year is “Peace! Let’s Do it!” Many people consider Cindy’s action in Crawford, Texas during the summer of 2005 to be the turning point of public opinion regarding the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq. She still continues her efforts for peace: working closely with Code Pink, recently running for U.S. Congress in the 8th District, and now hosting a daily radio show called Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox. (You can listen to her show weekdays, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m., by livestreaming at www.Green960.com). Also speaking will be syndicated columnist, Roberto Rodriguez, who has been co-writing “Column of the Americas” (with Patrisia Gonzales) since 1994. You may remember reading his columns in a certain local daily newspaper. Of course, the Raging Grannies will be on hand, along with other local musicians on a solar-powered stage. Rally participants will also engage in a “die-in” at the new Federal Building near Eaton Plaza. People will lay on the ground in silence in front of the building for a few minutes to symbolize the death and destruction caused by war. Various local groups involved with peace and social justice issues provide informational tabling before and during the rally.

This event has been held yearly (well, almost) since March, 2002. In the aftermath of 9/11, when Peace Fresno was formed, Vincent Lavery suggested that we gather together as many peace and social justice organizations as possible in a public call for peace while all around us people were clamoring for war. We also wanted to connect the dots between the issues of peace and social justice, and demonstrate how they are so interrelated. Sixty-five organizations from Bakersfield to Modesto joined together that day to show the Valley the way of peace. Professor Derrill Bodley spoke of his daughter, Deora, who was killed on 9/11 aboard Flight 93, and how she would not have wanted her life to have been a cause for war. The rally wasn’t designed to be an annual event but the following year brought the U.S. invasion of Iraq, so another rally was held. Then the occupation continued and so did the rallies. Our hope, of course, is that the need for peace rallies comes to a complete end. In fact, we didn’t start describing the rally as an “annual” event until last year. Wouldn’t it be great, though, if we could hang up our rally pants for good?

For more information contact Peace Fresno at www.peacefresno.org or kenhudson2@gmail.com or phone (559) 487-2515. For a video archive of past
rallies, go to www.sunmt.org .

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Opinion & Analysis from the Grassroots

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Now is the Time to Invest in Higher Education

By Jessica Adams & Diane M. Blair

For the first time in its history, the California State University system may be turning away up to 10,000 qualified students from its 23 campuses. Campuses are also anticipating reducing course offerings, increasing class sizes, deferring maintenance and equipment purchases, and cutting back on student services like counseling and advising. These are the likely consequences of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s latest proposed cuts to higher education and the CSU budget in particular. The CSU has already lost over $246 million from the 2008-09 budget due to the financial crisis, and now the Governor is asking for an additional $66.3 million in cuts. For 2009-2010, the Governor has proposed another $283.6 million be cut from the funding promised under the Governor’s Higher Education Compact. These cuts come on top of more than a half-billion dollars in state funding cut from the CSU five years ago.

Students are already facing hardships due to these cuts. “When it comes to registration I can never get my major classes. It’s because there are not enough classrooms, faculty, computers and software for my major,” explains one Fresno State graphic design major. This full-time student is expecting to take close to six years to graduate with a four-year degree. This student is not alone—these on-going cuts make it much more difficult for many students to graduate on time. Student fees continue to rise, and by lengthening their stay at the university, students are more likely to take on heavier debt to graduate. The Governor has proposed a 10 percent fee hike for 2009-2010, and if adopted this will be the seventh fee hike in eight years resulting in a cumulative fee hike of 135 percent for undergraduates and 175 percent for graduate students since 2002.

At the same time the cost of education is increasing, financial aid is decreasing. Cal Grant payments are currently being delayed, and while the CSU has agreed to allow students to register and begin classes this semester in spite of the delayed payments, the system is not covering the cost of living allowance stipends. The CSU estimates that the proposed cuts to the program next year will result in a loss of at least $15 million in need-based grant aid for CSU students.

While it is clear that the state is in a financial crisis, now is the time to be investing in higher education as a way to move us through this economic crisis. For every dollar spent on the CSU, the state sees a return of $4.41. Every year 90,000 new CSU graduates enter the workforce. In the Central Valley, the Fresno, Stanislaus, and Bakersfield campuses graduated over 7,300 students last year. CSU campuses educate the majority of the state’s bachelor degree recipients in several critical economic fields, including business, agriculture, and engineering. The CSU system also grants over 80 percent of the degrees awarded in public service fields including education, criminal justice, social work, and public administration.

The state receives more in taxes and pays less for government programs for citizens with higher education levels. For example, a college graduate in California is 78 percent less likely to use welfare and 87 percent less likely to be incarcerated. Recent national studies also suggest higher education increases voting behavior and has a positive impact on civic participation. Children of college-educated parents are more likely to achieve higher education, have higher levels of cognitive development, and have higher future earnings. In addition to these benefits from our graduates, the CSU cycles $13.6 billion through the state’s economy and supports over 207,000 jobs annually, some of which are threatened under the current budget cuts. The three Central Valley campuses generate over $68 million in tax revenues per year and sustain about 25,000 jobs.

California’s leaders need to remember that an educated workforce is central to our state’s success. The California State University system has played a key role fulfilling the state’s commitment to accessible, affordable, high quality education to all, but especially first-generation college students and historically underrepresented communities. Since 2003-04 the CSU has had almost yearly double-digit increases in first-time freshman enrollments of African-American and Latina/o students. At the Fresno, Stanislaus, and Bakersfield campuses over half of the 39,000 students educated are students of color, and last year they earned 38 percent of the degrees awarded.

Now is the time for a renewed commitment to higher education in California. Higher education is an investment in our struggling middle-class and our state’s future. Higher education is not a burden to the troubled state economy, it is part of the solution.

Jessica Adams is the Chair of the new Student Unit of the League of Women Voters of Fresno. It is the only League student unit in the State of California

Diane M. Blair, Faculty Advisor for the Student Unit and Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at CSUF, is also a Board member of the League of Women Voters of Fresno.

Is Peace Possible for Palestine?

By Jay Hubbell

I have been aware of the presence of a few Palestinians in the Fresno area from the time of the US attacks on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. There are both those who have immigrated here and those who have been born and raised here. But until the most recent attack on the people of Palestine in Gaza, when some 400 people, mostly under age 40, turned out at the Blackstone and Shaw intersection to protest, I did not realize that local residents with Palestinian roots must number in the thousands.

Local Palestinians are part of a worldwide Palestinian diaspora that began in 1948 with the declaration of independence by the white European Zionist Jewish colony in Palestine that adopted the name of the ancient Hebrew kingdom of Israel, abolished by the Roman Empire nearly 2,000 years ago. Today, after 60 years of concerted ethnic cleansing through violence and oppression, only 150,000 Palestinians out of the indigenous Palestinian population of 950,000 remain in what was the original 1948 Jewish state.

Palestinians call the period of 1948-1949 “al-Nakba” which translates as “the Catastrophe.” At that time Zionist armed militants expelled some 400,000 Palestinians from their villages and into permanent exile. Today, due to a high birth rate, some 1.4 million Palestinians (20 percent of the population of Israel) remain within the boundaries of the greater Israel that has inexorably garnished more land from the Palestinians by force and violence since al-Nakba. Israel refuses to acknowledge these residents as Palestinian and refers to them as “Israeli Arabs.” They are largely confined to a few poverty-stricken ghettos in Galilee and the Negeb Desert. Since Israel is officially a Jewish theocracy, all non-Jews are discriminated against and regarded as second class citizens as a matter of law.

The probable new prime minister of Israel, Tzipi Livni, has alluded to further ethnic cleansing during a campaign stop in December by saying, “And among other things I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel, those whom we call Arab Israelis, and tell them: ‘Your national aspirations lie elsewhere.’”

The new tack of Zionist officials such as Livni is to advocate a two state “solution” for the Palestinian question. I suspect that their motive is to enable the remainder of Palestinians in Israel proper to be “persuaded” to leave for the larger Palestinian ghettos of the West Bank and Gaza. Once there (as we have seen by Israel’s brutal attack on the Palestinian people of Gaza) they can be easily cordoned off from any aid or contact with the rest of the world, treated as prisoners in immense concentration camps and killed at will with US made missiles and terror weapons such as illegal white phosphorous bombs.

Is peace possible in such an environment? I posed that question to Sam, who is a member of Peace Fresno and a refugee from Palestine. He said that at one point he believed that Israelis and Palestinians were close to reaching an agreement and could have lived in peace. Now, after the Israeli invasions of Lebanon and Gaza, he no longer believes peace is possible.

Sam recently went to visit Jordan because of the death of his mother. He remarked that if he wanted to go back to his home, the Israelis would never invite him in for tea.

As of this writing, Hamas, the government of Gaza, has negotiated in good faith for a peace agreement with Israel in talks in Cairo. Now, the deal is being jeopardized by Israel setting new preconditions. They demand the release of the sole Israeli soldier who is being held as a prisoner of war in Gaza. And Israel has also backed away from any commitment to the year-and-a-half time frame for the agreement.

The recent election in Israel has evidenced a sharp turn toward the political right with calls for more military actions against the Palestinians in Gaza and totally repression and disenfranchisement of those Palestinians who can vote within Israel.

Is peace possible in such a political climate?

Jay Hubbell is a Fresno peace and social justice activist. He is a founding member and current Member of the Executive Board of Peace Fresno and founder of Fresno Stonewall Democrats.

Society’s Failure

By Ruth Gadebusch

It was with horror that I watched the newscast video of the police beating a man – around the head, no less – who was already down. There was more horror to come when I heard the name as that of a man I had watched grow up as a very close friend of one of my sons. One is not supposed to know the people in these kinds of predicaments; though I have known both murderers and their victims since coming to Fresno. We expect these stories to be about somebody over there somewhere, not in our venue.

This situation just goes from bad to worse eliciting even more horror as I hear the limp excuses from the police chief and a few bloggers that the video did not capture what provoked the police action. I do not care what provoked the police, there is no excuse for beating a man who is already down. I have watched the video over and over. It most certainly was not a matter of the victim pulling the officer down, as one blogger contended, which caused his partner to indulge in the vicious beating. Nor was it the victim’s kicking. Wouldn’t you kick too if that was the only part of you available to defend yourself? His arms were already held twisted into unnatural positions by the officers as he was viciously beaten. I will be amazed if some bones were not broken by the way his body was contorted.

It appears that previous interaction between the police and the victim entered into the reaction of the two officers involved. If so, then they almost certainly knew of his mental health difficulties. As we and much of the nation now know, Glen Beaty has had numerous interactions with law enforcement in recent years. It is clear he is more than a common drunk or responsible for criminal action. The man is ill. The prevailing temperament in this area of locking up such people and throwing away the key is hardly the answer.

The treatment of mental illness in our society is a travesty. Not only is there a stigma attached to mental illness, but a person with such illness is incapable of making rational judgments. Yet there is little that friends and family can do because of citizen rights. We must find a solution, a balance, to this dilemma for all the Glen Beatys out there. His family tried. His friends tried.

At one point an employer, an unnamed hero in my book, took him by the scruff of the neck, as Glen’s friends would say, and demanded that he get treatment. That resulted in a number of years of good living, but as so often is the case, Glen – feeling better – “went off his meds.” Beer became his medicine of choice. Despite all efforts the last few years have been a far cry from the Glen I remember.

This very real person was a tall good looking “young man.” ( Friends of my children will always be “young” to me). He had one of the most sonorous speaking voices that one can imagine. I always wanted him to become a radio announcer. My younger son remembers him as a superb mechanic who was always ready to help out on the old cars that the young men had. While I knew a bit about his problems, to see him like this is a heart breaker..

Not only has society failed this man and so many others with mental issues, we are failing in controlling some of our law enforcement. I appreciate that they deal with so much of the sordid side of life that it is easy simply to expect the worst of all. Nevertheless we cannot tolerate the behavior seen in the video. No matter the provocation we can ill-afford officers who lose their cool.

We can also not afford just an “inside investigation.” If ever there was an example of why we need an independent police auditor, it is this case. The good police need it even more than we citizens. The police force is comprised of individual humans who naturally want to put their best foot forward. That is human nature just as I can excuse my sins quicker than I excuse yours! What could serve the police force better than to have an outsider vindicate their actions? While I would not expect vindication in this case, I truly believe that in most cases the police action would be shown to be proper.

The poet reminded us, what a gift to see ourselves as others see us. An independent auditor might even be able to diffuse some matters before they become a cause celebre. Let us turn this episode in the life of Glen Beaty into a valuable lesson.

The above does not even address all those homeless in that part of town where few of us travel. This city has most assuredly been less than kind toward these needy who find themselves living in dire circumstances. Whether they are there due to mental illness, loss of jobs and housing, or poor judgment, they deserve consideration not condemnation. Nor are all our down and outers in that part of town. Glen Beaty was found near where he lived and attended school as a boy. I have nothing but compassion for him and his family.

As we look at what might have been in the life of Glen Beaty may we find compassion for so many others in similar situations. May we see our law enforcement, expected to be our friend and helper, using better methods for dealing with the problems of our fellow/sister citizens. It is our obligation to ensure some good will comes from this ever so sad story that brings another siege of bad publicity to our area. We can, we must do better.

Ruth Gadebusch is a former naval officer, 13 years as a Fresno Unified School District Trustee, Vice-President of the Center for Civic Education, Community Activist.

From the Greenhouse

By Franz Weinschenk

All of a sudden, everyone seems to be gung-ho about building nuclear power plants. “Don’t worry,” they insist. “Those babies are totally safe!” they tell us. During the last election, Sen. John McCain promised to build 50 as soon as he was elected president—and 50 more a couple of years later. And then, every so often there’s a big spread in the Fresno Bee about somebody wanting to construct one right here in the Central Valley.

And it’s not just politicians. Lots of talk-show hosts can’t wait to go nuclear telling us that building them is no big deal and will solve all our energy and foreign oil dependency problems. Over and over, they repeat the myth that Europe and Japan have solved their nuclear waste problem by recycling it. So, why worry? Just go ahead and build, build, build. Luckily, President Obama takes a more cautious view—and there is good reason to do so.

Here is what the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) says about nuclear waste: “Since the only way radioactive waste finally becomes harmless is through decay, which for high-level wastes can take hundreds of thousands of years, the wastes must be stored and finally disposed of in a way that provides adequate protection of the public for a very long time” [italics added]. That’s a direct quote from the NRC’s Web site.

Although it’s true that nuclear power plants don’t emit greenhouse gases like those that burn fossil fuels, there are many other worrisome problems that need solutions before we let ourselves get snookered into going along with the current nuclear frenzy.

The nuclear lobby likes to forget nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl, where 400,000 people had to be resettled, and Three Mile Island, which took 14 years and a billion dollars to clean up. And just last summer, you hardly heard about an accident at the French Tricastin nuclear plant near Avignon, where radioactive uranium leaked into two rivers. Of course, accidents also happen at regular power plants—but when they do, we’re not dealing with substances that are highly radioactive and deadly dangerous for an unbelievable number of years.

Currently, plans call for processing our nuclear waste into a Pyrex-like substance that, while hot, is poured into stainless steel barrels and supposedly buried in Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Only one problem: Nevadans don’t want it there. And who can blame them?

The French say they’ve solved their nuclear waste problem. You see, they don’t “bury” it; they just “store” it on the assumption that in 50 or 100 years some genius will come along and reprocess the mess they’ve “stored” for all these years—and make it all safe.

According to Scientific American, it’s true that new generations of reactors generate less waste, however, the down side is that they “produce significant quantities of plutonium.” And you know what? That’s just what would-be terrorists would love to get their hands on so they could build a few dirty bombs.

Yes, some scientists speculate that one of these days we’ll find a way to reprocess nuclear fuel without any waste, but for the time being, all scientists agree that day is not here yet. In the meantime, it seems foolish to build more nuclear facilities not knowing for certain what to do with the radioactive waste they produce.

On top of that, everybody agrees that nuclear plants are easy to locate from land, sea and air. They make excellent targets for terrorists. If some of these fanatics were able to explode even one nuclear plant, the result would be every bit as devastating as if they had actually set off a nuclear bomb. FBI Director Robert Mueller has testified that Al-Qaeda has exactly that plan as one of its target possibilities. The impact of a commercial jet or a missile hitting a nuclear plant could trigger an explosion of a megaton nuclear bomb. It could contaminate 25 million acres for 100 to 1,000 years. In addition, transporting nuclear waste by any means is extremely risky inasmuch as it’s difficult to protect moving targets at so many diverse locations.

More downside: Nuclear power plants need tremendous amounts of water to cool their reactors. And we don’t have that kind of water here in the Central Valley. Finally, nuclear plants are exceedingly expensive to build and no private insurance company will insure them.

So why risk the nuclear option when we have an unlimited supply of wind, sun, biomass, hydroelectric and geothermal power generating ability? True, the output per plant may not be as dramatic, but isn’t it better to proceed with caution at least until we’re absolutely certain that nuclear power plants are 100% safe?

Franz Weinschenk has been a teacher and school administrator in Fresno for more than 50 years. He can be contacted by e-mail at franzie@SCCCD.org.

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Credo

By Richard Stone

Maia and George “Elfie” Ballis are the resident spirits at Sun Mt. Environmental Center, located in the Sierra foothills near Prather. Many of us are accustomed to seeing George (elfin hat on head, eye pressed to his camera) recording the history of our local progressive community. We may have seen Sun Mt. ‘docu-poems’ at various events or at their website. But unless you have spent time at their uniquely ‘green’ laboratory/residence, or caught some of George’s occasional oratory (recently, for example, as an award recipient at Metro Ministry’s annual dinner, and at the M.L.K. Jr, Awards ceremony) the history and philosophy of this remarkable couple may have escaped you. Well, no longer—and remember that you read it here first.

To begin with, it needs to be said that the work emanating from Sun Mt. is a fully cooperative venture. Although George is often the front man, and although Maia and George have different talents, there is a unity of purpose and cross-pollination of perspectives created by 40 years of living and working together. “We don’t just collaborate on projects, our projects come out of our mutual experience, and we’re together 24/7 much of the time. It’s also been essential to the quality of our work that we’re both artists, and bring a dedication to expressing inner truth and esthetic power to what we do.”

Concretely, what comes out of Sun Mt. are presentations in a variety of media—all of it a potent blend of the personal and the political, of art and organizing. There is the ongoing stream of video pieces using George’s documentary footage, but co-produced into small works of art. There are walls and books full of powerful paintings and photographs. There have been newsletters, books, a CD-Rom, and myriad verbal and visual messages of political outrage and of hope. All of this is expressive of a philosophy of living far from the economic and religious pieties of ‘The American Way.’ They have followed ‘the path less taken’, re-discovering where they are and what their situation demands of them as they go along.

Of this vast array of good works they have produced, George and Maia say, “We have no idea if we’re having an impact…sometimes you might not know for years, and sometimes never. But this is what we’re called on to do. It is our life. And it is deeply satisfying to work together on projects related to issues with planetary implications.”


George (Elfie) Ballis and Maia Sorter Ballis in 1971 (photo above) Elfie and Maia collaborate on a more recent project (photo below)

This is a portrait of Maia and Elfie at work today. But the story of how this seemingly mismatched pair became a unit is more than an anecdote, it is a metaphor for their way of living, their credo.

George comes from Greek ancestry, raised in the bluff culture of Minnesota. His upbringing and environment produced a confident, self-reliant all-American boy: the high school quarterback who became a U.S. Marine in WWII, who married the local beauty. But, as the possessor of a remarkably sensitive B.S. detector, George found himself impelled to get at the truth below the variances between word and deed he found rampant in American life. Mostly ‘to see what was going on’, he followed his nose to the Civil Rights battles in the south, and to the UFW’s dramatic work in Central California. And it was here, in Kingsburg to be exact, that in 1967 he and Maia crossed paths.

Maia is from a genteel Lutheran background. But she had an artistic flair and a hunger to get beyond the dogmas of established religion and the superficiality of her job as an interior designer. It was her openness to new experiences and her willingness to volunteer for a Habitat-for-Humanity-like project that first brought contact with George. “We were leaving the worksite at the same time, both in MG Midgets. He pulled up alongside me and yelled, ‘Do you wanna drag?’ I didn’t know what to make of this wild man,” Maia recalls.

A year or so later, (each emerging from a moribund marriage) they met again, and again it was related to ‘movement work’ they elected to pursue instead of a conventional career. George says, “One day she showed me some of her paintings. There was especially one that blew me away. She told me later that I was the only one she showed it to who liked it; but as soon as I saw it I said to myself, ‘There’s someone home.’ The rest is history.”

One issue that had caused division in their early years together was spirituality. Maia had left her childhood religion behind, but felt a deep attraction to metaphysics, to belief that there are powerful ordering forces beyond our senses and conventions of reality. George was a staunch non-believer—except for his willingness to follow his intuition, what he called “the electricity.” But after moving to the property they re-named Sun Mt., George felt spoken to by the spirits of the place, and was led to a kind of shamanic understanding of relationship with the earth and all creation.

For Maia, George’s new openness to ‘what lies within and beyond’ healed a breach between them…and gave weight and body to her – till then – ethereal quest for spiritual connection. Still today they continue with a daily practice of ‘counseling’ with the voices of Big Mamma Earth; a practice that provides ground for direction and decision making which feeds their passion for the work they do.

George and Maia declined to put their credo into a few words, but I’ll try for them. “Believe in your truth as you discern it, and become what you believe.” What is possible when people dare to put their truth on the line with each other is the visible, but unspoken, testament of Sun Mt.

Richard Stone is on the editorial board of the Community Alliance newspaper.

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  • Mike Rhodes

    Mike Rhodes is the executive director of theCommunity Alliance newspaper and author of the book Dispatches from the War Zone, about homelessness in Fresno. www.mikerhodes.us is his website. Contact him at mikerhodes@comcast.net.

  • Michael D. Evans

    Michael D. Evans is a political activist, editor and writer. Contact him at evansm@usa.net.

  • David Roy

    David E. Roy, a recently retired psychotherapist after 45 years, moved to Fresno in 1987. His Ph.D. combined psychotherapy, philosophy and theology. He’s worked as a journalist in Tucson, was on Fresno’s Human Relations Commission and was the first marriage and family therapist hired by Fresno County. He’s currently working on a coherent theory about the roots of our species’ current trend toward domination and violence. He oversees 12 rescued cats.

  • Ruth Gadebusch

    Ruth Gadebusch, a former naval officer, was recently recognized by the League of Women Voters with its Lipton Award for volunteer work in various community endeavors. She was elected four times to the Fresno Unified School District Board, appointed by Governor George Deukmejian to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and is an emeritus member of the Board of the Center for Civic Education.

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