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Wednesday June 9, 2004
THE LONG FAREWELL:
RONALD WILSON REAGAN 1911-2004

by Staff Writers

        SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - More than 115,000 cars filled with admirers of Ronald Reagan lined up outside the Reagan Library as an estimated 106,000 mourners filed past the former president’s flag-draped coffin at the Simi Valley hilltop. In one of these cars Tom and Leann Hobbs and son Quentin of Fresno had driven for hours from the San Joaquin Valley on a trek to pay their respects to the fallen president. Because the Santa Monica freeway and side roads were blocked with with endless traffic jams outside Simi Valley, the Hobbs were disappointed as were many thousands of others.
        Jesse and Joni Garcia of Woodland left their home in Northern California at 6 p.m. Monday and finally walked past the casket at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday. “It took five hours for the last five miles of the freeway,” said Jesse Garcia, 52. They spent two more hours in the parking lot before boarding a bus. “It’s a lifetime event. I wanted to show my gratitude. I wanted to show my love,” he said.
         In Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, the focus shifted to the Reagan family as they prepared to escort the former hollywood leading man, California Governor, and President of the United States remains on a flight to the nation's capital aboard a presidential Boeing 747. The body, which is scheduled to arrive at Andrews Air Force base at around 5 p.m. EST, will then to be taken to the Capitol Rotunda to lie in state until a funeral at the National Cathedral on Friday. It will then be returned to California for burial at the presidential library that evening.
         Reagan, the nation’s 40th chief executive, was 93 when he died Saturday of pneumonia, as a complication of Alzheimer’s disease. He announced he had the disease a decade ago. His death revealed that the popularity of the former Republican president, California governor and movie actor remained strong despite his long absence from public life.         
        The public expression of sympathy for Reagan's death began Monday after his body, accompanied by Nancy Reagan, 82, and his children, was brought 40 miles from a Santa Monica mortuary by motorcade to the library in the Ventura County hills northwest of Los Angeles.
      After a short service, Nancy Reagan walked to the casket and placed her left cheek to it. Her daughter, Patti Davis, hugged her tightly, and other family members joined them around the casket.

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The Tower District News


January 12, 2004
STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS
By Alan Aurty Mayor, City of Fresno

    FRESNO --  Before we get started, let me clear the air on a few things. First of all, I am honored and humbled to have been elected your Mayor for a second term. There was some talk about my heart not being in this job. I can assure that this is not the case. In fact, there is more of my heart in this job than any other body part with the exception of my belly which, unfortunately, enters the second term significantly larger than the first.
        Thanks for those who voted for me. Those who didn’t, there are no hard feelings. I stated in last year’s address that it is impossible to determine the state of our city without first addressing the state of our state and the state of our country. The three are inextricably connected.
         This year, as in any year past or any to come, will be no different. I also spoke of the times in which we live – one of the most challenging eras in our history. Unfortunately, today that too is no different. Just as World War II significantly defined the greatest generation, the War on Terrorism will occupy a dominant space in the legacy of this generation and, yes, the legacy of this City.
         It may not be politically correct, but you need to know where your Mayor stands. I stand in full support of President Bush. This is a war we must win and I support our President in his steadfast commitment to do so. Here in our state, severe budget problems, decades in the making, have finally come crashing down, adding additional challenges to Californians.
         For California cities, the roll call is staggering – Long Beach, $67 million deficit; L.A., $300 million deficit, San Diego, $166 million deficit, San Francisco, $352 million deficit. But yet in the midst of this storm, a city has emerged that has defied the pundits, confounded its critics by meeting these challenges head-on and, in the process, earned its way to unprecedented levels of state and national prominence.
         I’m proud to tell you today that city is the place we call home – Fresno, CA. Over the last several years, as the success of our City became known throughout the country, I have been asked three questions, over and over: What are you doing? How are you doing it? Will you send me some information on that? I’m always happy to share with them our story. Most recently, I was asked to be the Keynote Speaker to open the 4th annual City & County Innovations Summit in San Diego, a national organization. I was honored to represent our community and once again tell our story to a national audience.
         So how have we, as a city, managed to move farther and faster than anytime in our history, during one of the most difficult times in our history? Very simple, by rising up to meet our challenges, not shrinking from them, and by understanding that the true success of our city, or for that matter, the state of our city, cannot be accurately measured solely by politics, policies and programs.
         The true indicator of present and future success lies in three factors that are much more telling and much more powerful. They cannot be Fed Exed, faxed, or e-mailed because they reside in the heart and soul of our people. I am talking about values. In particular, three community values essential to the lasting health of any city.
         It is the same three core values that have allowed our country to survive two world wars, the Great Depression and become the strongest superpower the world has ever seen. The first core value is UNITY. We’ve have heard the sayings:“ There is strength in unity”“ All for one – one for all”“ United we stand – divided we fall”“ We either hang together or hang apart” And we know that all of these sayings are true no matter how many times you utter them. In 1999, I announced my decision to run for Mayor of Fresno.
         I ran on the premise that, although we had accomplished much in our city, over the course of two plus decades a condition had developed that, if continued to be left unaddressed, would preclude us from ever becoming the vibrant, globally competitive city we all wanted to be. An inequity of access to education, opportunity and quality of life had literally created a“ Tale of Two Cities.”
          I took some heat, a lot of heat, from several corners of our community for describing our city in such a manner. Some said I was “running down our city and running our schools down.” I suppose some could have taken my words as an attack upon them and their particular interest. But I think the vast majority saw it as it was truly meant to be: as a clarion call to action. To do what our parents and grandparents did when faced with problems that must be solved: to acknowledge the truth regardless of how painful a task that might be. Then come together, work together, stay together, stay focused, stay strong and stay the course until the mission of solving that problem is accomplished.
         That call went out almost four years ago. The voice of the skeptics and critics were in full force. (Fred at Gym-miracle) But we did come together and the voices began to fade – we worked together and they faded even more. We have stayed together and now these voices are being drowned out on an almost daily basis by our community celebrating yet another victory. You know, in the movie, “A Few Good Men,” Jack Nicholson uttered a memorable line:“ You can’t handle the truth.”
         Well, the City of Fresno has not only handled the truth, we have dedicated ourselves, like the generation before us, to facing that truth head-on as a united community committed to ensuring equal access to opportunity, education, and quality of life for every Fresnan in every neighborhood.
         Back in 1999 we also identified some critical issues in our city that we vowed to bring the full force of this newly united Fresno upon. Four years later, although there is much left to be done in each of those areas, the results are something every hardworking Fresnan can feel proud of. Let’s take a quick look at some of these key issues. In the area of GROWTH, we literally had no plan four years ago.
         For nearly thirty years we had succumbed to unbridled growth to the North accompanied by an abandonment of the South, no General Plan update since 1984 and a relationship with Clovis and the County that wouldn’t even let us get together, much less plan together. Today, we have made significant gains. Through newfound cooperation between the City, County and Clovis, we have a general plan that is not only working, but is a model for the rest of the Nation.
         When we unveiled it in 2002, we were told that the plan would not work. “People just don’t want to live in the southern section of the City,” we were told by some. In reality, what we have seen is a 25% increase in building permit activity since 2001. We have seen market rate housing projects proposed for southeast and southwest Fresno. The vast majority of growth is in southwest and southeast Fresno.
         They said it couldn’t be done. Well I’m here today to tell you that it has been done and it is working! In addition to new market rate housing projects, the City’s Housing Division has assisted over 1000 families with affordable housing opportunities through our first time home buyer assistance program. It is my commitment that this Administration will do everything it can to keep the American Dream of home ownership alive for every Fresnan, regardless of social condition or position. Thanks to collaboration between the City and Redevelopment Agency, we now have a downtown that has been re-born, not revitalized.
         The downtown skyline has changed dramatically and there are over 2,000 new employees in downtown Fresno and enoughparking for all of them. We are going to see our first downtown housing proposal – a joint venture called Vagabond Lofts between the City, RDA, Granville Homes and Pyramid Homes. A special thank you to the Assemi family for accepting the challenge to build housing in downtown Fresno. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to the groundbreaking ceremony for this historic project. In addition, much progress has been made on Vision 2010. The land has been cleared for the new 5th District Court of Appeals; the two IRS Buildings have made it through the pipeline and are now completed.
         The Federal Courthouse and Regional Medical Center expansion are nearing completion; and we are in negotiations with Forrest City, a national developer, to develop 85 acres south of the stadium into a master-planned mixed-use project. At this rate, Vision 2010 may very well be renamed Vision 2009! A very special thank you to Dan Fitzpatrick and Jerry Duncan for their hard work. As our City continues to expand, it is vital that we address the infrastructure requirements.
         My recently released budget takes the single largest step towards ending the “Tale of Two Cities” by implementing the largest investment in City history, the “No Neighborhood Left Behind” initiative. The plan focuses on constructing and repairing critical infrastructure in 71 neighborhoods where little or no infrastructure currently exists, and in some places has never existed. The project’s total cost is budgeted at $45 million over a six-year period starting with $10 million in ‘05. One of the wisest and most prudent investments our City has ever made. In addition to the “No Neighborhood Left Behind” initiative, the citywide investment in neighborhoods will continue with over $16 million in funding.
          We have set records every budget year on infrastructure spending. This funding will allow our Public Works department to continue with their work program that last year allowed them to overlay 40 miles of City streets, install 200 ADA ramps, remove and replace over 10,000 cubic yards of damaged sidewalks, curbs and gutters. But infrastructure is not just about concrete and blacktop, but also about crime reduction and quality of life as well. A neighborhood that has good sidewalks, curbs and gutters will in turn give its residents a sense of pride. In many instances, after infrastructure was replaced or repaired, we have seen homeowners turn around and invest in their homes…a new roof, new landscaping, new windows.
         The fact is, a proud neighborhood is a safer neighborhood. A neighborhood whose residents are involved and care about each other will see reductions in crime. See Council, I’ m learning! Thank you for the message that has been hammered at me – you were right. I n 2003, the City of Fresno experienced its lowest crime rate in 32 years. Through prudent management and hard work, the Fresno Police Department has become a model for public safety agencies throughout the country. The department was recently awarded first place in the 1st annual California Law Enforcement Challenge. We know there is a rising gang problem – we are ready to meet it and defeat it.
         The Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (M.A.G.E.C.) consists of thirty-five full-time officers from participating agencies. The goal of M.A.G.E.C. is to eradicate criminal street gangs. In June and again in August of 2003, M.A.G.E.C. joined with other Department units and local agencies including the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, California Youth Authority, State Parole and U.S. Marshals to conduct two large scale, pro-active gang suppression operations. For six weeks, more than 200 officers set out to locate and arrest violent parolees and those involved in gang violence.
         The truth is, as I’ve stated before and I’m not going to sugarcoat it, we have seen an increase in gang activity in Fresno, as has every other city in California. And the truth is, we will not tolerate it. But in order to have a truly effective Public Safety policy, this zero tolerance policy regarding street violence must also be accompanied by early intervention with our at-risk youth. We all know that a criminal is usually created long before his or her first crime. That’s just a fact.
         The “Buddies” program was created to provide positive adult role models for at-risk children. It started with volunteers from the Fresno Police Department that agreed to make a one-year commitment to spend a minimum of four hours per month mentoring their “buddy.” It’s not like they don’t have anything else to do in the police department - that’s how much they love this program. It quickly expanded to local churches and service organizations as a way of increasing community involvement.
          No city our size is without some kind of civilian oversight. It is intended to ensure the trust of our community, a trust that the police department has worked so hard to build up and we can’t let perception tear it down as we prepare to make our way through a more violent community.
         The City’s Economic Development Department and EDC have also formed a strong partnership that has contributed greatly to some significant recognition or our job creation efforts. Most notably, Inc. Magazine recognized Fresno as #1 in California and #4 in the Nation among medium size cities in economic vitality for entrepreneurs. Also, Fresno was ranked 8th out of the 200 largest cities in the Nation in short-term job growth and 2nd in the State for Metro Area Employment Growth. Those are the facts– we are winning.

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©1867 -2004 Fresno Republican Newspaper
All Rights Reserved.

The Tower District News

~ REPRISE ~
14 July, 1955

Beach Storming 3rd Marine Bulldogs
Take Iwo Jima One More Time

by Sgt. Howard E. Hobbs, USMC

      SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN -- On 14 July we embarked 40 officers and 780 enlisted on the USS APA Class troop carrier at Yokosuka, Japan. On 14 July at 0900 we stormed ashore carrying out Operation LEX.    On February 19, 1955 a 7th Fleet Task Force 53 that included the 3rd Marine Division, debarked and made a landing on the historic WWII Iwo Jima island beachead.
   Iwo Jima was Japanese home soil, part of Japan, only 650 miles from Tokyo. It was administered by the Tokyo metropolitan government. No foreign army in Japan's 5000 year history had trod on Japanese soil.
To the US, Iwo Jima's importance lay in its location, midway between Japan and American bomber bases in the Marianas.
    Since the summer of 1944, the Japanese...MORE!

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©1867 -2004 Fresno Republican Newspaper
All Rights Reserved.

The Tower District News

~Reprise~
April 1, 1892
JACK THE RIPPER
IDENTIFIED IN LONDON

Fresno Mornig Reupublican

        FRESNO, CALIF. --The Argus News out of London announced today that Deeming has confessed to the murder of his wife and four children at Dinham villa, Rainfall, near Liverpool, and that he has also confessed to the murder and mutilation of the last two women whose bodies were found in the purlieus of White Chapel.
     Deeming's appearance closely tallies with the description gievn the White Chapel fiend, Jack the Ripper, and although he does not admit killing the other White Chapel victims, it is believed that when he finds all hope of escape from the clutches of the law is cut off he will confess, not only of these murders, but of others of which the police know nothing.
     It transpires that the unfortunate woman, whose body was found together with four children under the floor of the Rainhill residence, was not Deeming's first wife. Some years ago a sensation was created in Australia by the mysterious disappearance of the wife and two children of a man who then went by the name of Williams, but who turned out to be Deeming.
     The family then resided in Sydney. There was grave suspicion of foul play at the time, but the bodies were not found, and the essential proof of the murder being lacking, the matter will be allowed to drop. Deeming subsequently went to England and married a woman whose murder he now confessed.
     The Argus says Deeming makes no mention of his object in mutilating the bodies of the White Chapel victims, but adds there is scarcely a doubt that the man is afflicted with a disease similar in some respects to nymphomania.

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The Tower District News

March 25, 004
Internet Ruling
Puts Interior Dept. Back Online

By Robert Gehrke. Associated Press

          WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Interior Department will go back online after an appeals court Wednesday blocked a judge's ruling that ordered most of the department's computers disconnected from the Internet.
     It took the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit just three hours to grant the government's request to restore the Interior's Internet access. It had been shut down since March 15 to protect money owed to American Indians from computer hackers.
     The shutdown disrupted public's access to Interior Department Web pages, land managers' communications, disbursement of mineral royalties to states, and education of children in Bureau of Indian Affairs schools. Interior Secretary Gale Norton said she was pleased with the appeals court decision and will continue pushing for a permanent reversal of the Internet shutdown.     "Meanwhile, tonight we have begun to restore our Internet connections across all impacted agencies of the department and will work quickly to restore them to pre-March 15 levels," she said.

[Editor's Note: Last November, Interior flunked a security test given by a House panel. But so did the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Justice, Treasury, Defense, Labor and Transportation, among others. It just so happened that Interior was already in the midst of a bitter court case in which faulty security could play a role and DOI was taken down.]

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©1867 -2004 Fresno Republican Newspaper
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The Tower District News

Saturday March 13, 2004
Polygamy, Incest
in Fresno Mass Murder

By Brian Sokolooff, Associated Press

    FRESNO, Calif. - A man suspected of murdering nine of his family members apparently was involved in polygamy and incest, fathering two of the victims with his own daughters, police said Saturday.
    The bodies of six females and three males, ages 1 to 24, were found tangled in the back room of Marcus Wesson's home Friday. Fresno's largest mass murder ever quadrupled its homicides for the year in a single night and disturbed officers so much that some immediately needed counseling.
     Wesson, described by police as "very calm," was arrested Friday after emerging from his home covered in blood. Wesson, 57, has fathered children with at least four women, two of whom are his own daughters, said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.
    Wesson, described by police as "very calm," was arrested Friday after emerging from his home covered in blood. Wesson, 57, has fathered children with at least four women, two of whom are his own daughters, said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer."We are exploring the possibility that there were other women he was involved with, either sexually or in some sort of polygamist relationship," Dyer said.
     Police said they believe all the victims are members of Wesson's family, but they declined to release names pending notification of kin. Wesson was cooperating with police, who planned to charge him with nine counts of murder, Dyer said."If this does not qualify for the death sentence, then there is no case that would," Dyer said.
     Six coroners, triple the typical weekend staff, were working Saturday to identify the victims and determine how they were killed, Deputy Fresno County Coroner Sarah Davis said. Officers were originally called to the home Friday afternoon for a child custody dispute.    Inside was a discovery so grisly reduced Dyer to tears.
     The bodies were so entangled in a pile of clothing that it took hours for investigators to reach a final count, police said. Ten coffins lined a wall inside the home's front room."What's making it so difficult is the bodies are not only intertwined, but stacked on top of each other," Dyer told reporters Friday night. Police were not sure of a motive, but Dyer said "there may have been some type of ritual" involved.
     "I've been with the Fresno Police Department for 25 years, and I've never experienced anything of this nature," said Dyer, who wiped his eyes Friday night as officers carried bodies out of the home, cradling the youngest ones in their arms.
     The scene was so gruesome some of the first officers into the house were placed on administrative leave and received counseling Friday night. Six police chaplains were at the house throughout the evening as detectives continued to gather evidence. Officers were called to the home Friday afternoon by two women who said a man had their children and would not release them. 
      The man initially ignored orders to come out, running into a back bedroom as two other women fled the house. They were unharmed. A neighbor, Chris Tognazzini, said he heard two gunshots moments before police arrived.yer said the women who called authorities told them they had given custody of their children to Wesson two years ago and now wanted them back
    The slayings shocked authorities in Fresno, a city of 440,000 about 190 miles southeast of San Francisco. Dyer said the city had seen three murders in the last 2 1/2 months, the fewest number for a 10-week period in more than three decades.the nine deaths represent the largest mass killing ever in this San Joaquin Valley city. Seven people were killed in rural Fresno in 1993
     .Another neighbor, Johnny Rios, said that on many nights he heard loud banging coming from the house, as though the people inside were building something. "There was something up over there," Rios said.

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©1867 -2004 Fresno Republican Newspaper
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The Tower District News


~Reprise~
September 23, 1958
The Twisted Cross Alive & Well
at Fresno State College

by Howard E. Hobbs, Editor & Publisher
Fresno Republican Newspaper
[Contains 1,678 words]

    FRESNO STATE -- Prior to the recent wave of popular discussions on the behavior of 'ordinary Germans' under Nazism, this writer has been attempting to focus public and scholarly attention on the life of Fresno State German Language instructor who, while posing as as an American "foreign student" actually was a paid radio broadcast propagandist for the Third Reich in Berlin between 1933 and 1939.
    
Karl Leonard Falk, one of the most extraordinary figures in the history of Fresno State College carried into his work in Fresno California many of the Nazi values and traditions he personified while working for the Third Reich in Nazi Berlin as a young man. Falk worked directly under Goebbels, Hitler's Reichs Minister for Propaganda and Re-Education. While in Hitler's employ, Falk wrote a series of propaganda tracts widely disseminate in Czechoslovakia's sudetenland. Falk even managed to draft an anti-American work of over 100 pages which was published by Hitler as a Berlin University text-book on the evils of American newspaper journalism.
    Moreover, as a well-known author of numerous anti-semitic tracts, he had been pondering for a long time the problems of the Jewish controlled news media in Germany. Falk weaves his own views into his 'history of the basic problems with American newspapers' interlacing them with sometimes heavily pedagogical explications on the nature and pitfalls of greed, monopoly, and the 'appetites' of American newspaper readers.
    Berlin was at that time the preeminent urban renewal site in the entire world. Germany through the late thirties was under continuous rebuilding. Berlin, with its position at the center of state and Party architectural policy, experienced Hitler's redesign of the capital and its centralization under the direction of Albert Speer who was given authority to control architectural policy as Inspector General of Building for the Reich Capital in Berlin (Generalbauinspektor fur die Reichshauptstadt Berlin).
    Because of the scale of the urban plan, quarries and contractors, architects and bricklayers were all mobilized by Speer's offices, making his proposals the largest single architectural project in the German building economy. The actual plan, included a north-south and east-west axis at the heart of the City, a concentration of subway and train facilities, a redesign of the Konigsplatz, and a major housing program.
    The north-south axis became the core of the urban design and was meant to function as the main ceremonial boulevard of the new Aryan Berlin. p>The few art historians who have analyzed National Socialist art and architecture have consistently turned to Speer's redesign of Berlin as paradigmatic of the overblown schemes of the Party to project its ideological goals through visual form, to create literally the "word in stone." Scholars have most often emphasized three key components of the Berlin redesign: the massive scale of the plan, the iconography of neoclassical forms, and the choice of materials, above all stone.     
    Alex Scobie, for example, has argued that the scale, materials, and iconography of prestige projects in Berlin were used by Nazi architects and critics to promote an ideological connection to classical political and social institutions. Even Speer, in his Inside The Third Reich memoirs, confirms the following parameters: The Fuehrer style widely claimed by the Nazi Party press was neoclassicism multiplied, altered, exaggerated, and often presented through a distorted point of view. Hitler thought he had found certain graphical relationship between the Dorians and his own Germanic world.  Size, the indestructible nature of stone architecture, and the iconography of neoclassicism were all at play in Speer's extreme ideological mystifications.
    When considered in terms of anti-Semitism, this scholarly concern with architectural form in general, and with the urban planning of Berlin in particular, has led to an investigation of the specific Party and state institutions that used architectural communication to reinforce a connection to a specious racial history or some supposed essence of German Arayaness.
    The destruction of the European Jews has been amply linked to pseudo-scientific Nazi racial theories as such propaganda was reinforced by art and architectural expression in a brutal connection between architectural history and anti-Semitism.
    This writer sees the connection between Karl Leonard Falk's oppression of the Jews initially characterized by slurs and stereotypes that were supported by incessant fallacious racial propaganda spewing out of the Propaganda Ministry and the psychological function of Speer's architectural goals that were integrated into the creation and implementation of state policy against the Berlin Jews.    But this propaganda set-stage was quickly stage-managed with brutal tactics that concentrated the Jewish community in Berlin and eventually led to mass deportation and mass murder.
    To grasp how the work of Karl Leonard Falk played a key role in the decisions made concerning a Nazi policy of extermination of the Jews requires recognition that the formal design of a monumental urban plan for Berlin functioned as piece of the puzzle for developing a final solution through a systematic anti-Semitic policy. To understand this connection it is important to concentrate attention on the implementation of particular economic and social policies aimed at the Berlin Jewish population during the years 1933-1938.
    Specifically, anti-Semitic housing policy (concerned as it was with controlling and then removing the Jewish population) became a focus of key efforts made by Propaganda Ministry tracts, films, and radio broadcasts, and by Speer to complete the monumental plans for the rebuilding of Berlin by 1938.
    Since the rapid industrialization of Berlin in the late nineteenth century, housing had been a perennial problem and concern of the city's building administration and a factor in every major site plan for monumental architectural projects. A lack of suitable housing reached crisis proportions with Speer's attempt to impose a massive urban design on a city that already suffered from an insufficient number of dwellings for the ever-growing industrial working population. Within the context of the housing debate, Speer even interested himself in particular modernist solutions, such as mass-produced prefab housing units.
    It is important to remember the clear historical connection between housing policies in reference to the political uses to which urban planning was put in Berlin urban renewal during this period. While the political function of architecture has been a major focus of a critical discussion of urban planning in Berlin not widely recognized today. Speer's role in implementing policies against the Jews in Berlin was apparent from the Third Reich's systematic anti-Semitic housing policy and systematic development of architectural interests and the oppression of the Berlin Jews.
    For example, documentary evidence indicates that Speer not only implemented but also attempted to formulate an anti-Semitic policy to serve his architectural interests. If Hitler's ideas on urbanization are shockingly like those which were expressed by Karl Leonard Falk in the 1950's in Fresno, California.
    Falk, by that time had been appointed to head the Fresno Housing Authority, a key political position at Fresno City Hall. Like Hitler and Speer before him, Falk's vision for a new Fresno was not a vision Fresno as a center of a rich and growing cultural and socioeconomic diversity but as a site of political power. Falk's architectural plan for urban redevelopment of Fresno concentrated on the downtown area adjacent to the hall of its political power.
   Downtown Fresno, for Karl leonard Falk would be transformed into a base for gigantic government housed in monumental public buildings surrounded by jails and prison buildings, amid a huge public mall, wide expansive walkways, public art, and the absence of evidence of private property. Such were the symbols of Falk's dream of gaining political power through a piecemeal approach that would eventually overwhelm and subdue Fresno's citizens through wide ranging exercise of City Hall's police powers, and wide ranging use of condemnation powers to rid the core of the City of its homes, apartment houses, and small businesses.
    Falk's vision of societal utopia was not one that saw the democratic participation of free citizens and the trading of ideas in the political marketplace, but of the exercise of tyranny of the minority over the majority. It is true that Falk wanted to create an American-style Third Reich. That fact is subtly illustrated in his refusal to buy-American because of his fanatic devotion to Hitler's a mass-produced people's car the Volkswagen, the only car Karl Leonard Falk would own.
     Karl Leonard Falk, then, was at heart, an urban planner and a modernizer who dreamed of creating a consumer society in Fresno, California exclusively for Aryans, like himself, based on conquest by urban renewal funds and block grants from Washington D.C., the darker side of Fresno City Hall and the U.S. Congress between the years 1938-1971. Those were the years of Karl Leonard Falk's New Reich , and of course made possible by his academic tenure and Presidency at Fresno State College.
     Falk cherished his collection of German newspaper anti-Jewish propaganda and pornography in Julius Streicher's smutty German newspaper, Der Sturmer. A representative portion of Karl Leonard Falk's anti-Jewish smut predilection, even prior to his experiences inside Berlin, is available for viewing at the Fresno State University Madden Library, Special Collections, in Karl Falk Collection of German Notgeld.
    The Karl Falk desiderata includes facsimiles of two front pages of Der Sturmer, from the early 1930's. Incidentally, Julius Streicher's work was described in The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler as 'remarkable for those qualities of brutality and bestiality ... in which the Jews were always depicted as sub-human monsters and perverts.' [Robert Payne, The Life & Death of Adolf Hitler, pages 167-168. Praeger Pub. Co., New York, 1973.]
     Incidentally, Streicher was captured by U.S. Military at the end of the war and held to answer for his war crimes. He entered a not guilty plea and was subsequently convicted of treason by his taking part in psychological warfare against the United States.
    Falk escaped prosecution as a war criminal by returning to the U.S. and taking a foreign language teacher job from a Fresno State College president who found Falk eminently qualified to teach undergraduate courses on the German language and Nazi culture.When Fresno State was being considered for University status, Falk's 1939 Technische University of Berlin doctorate. was upgraded by the University of California and Professor Karl Leonard Falk was suddenly transfigured into Fresno State University Social Science department chair status. Transcripts on file with the State of California, however, lacked any record of Falk having enrolled in, much less any completed coursework from any accredited university in Social Science disciplines.

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Thursday February 26, 2004
On A Clear Day
See How Far He Runs?

by Howard E. Hobbs PhD, Editor & Publisher

The Mayor!FRESNO -- In a recent meeting of Alexander Hamilton School parents, Fresno Mayor Carlos Alan Autry was asked to address three specific public concerns about the involvement of Fresno City Hall staff in the launching of a $250,000 newspaper venture called The New Valley Times. The Mayor quickly adopted the "duck and cover" approach and shined-on all questioners.
     He has called for a fresh approach at City Hall
. It is apparent that city residents want knowledgeable leadership and direction, not politics as usual. Leadership requires the courage to Make decisions that will benefit the next generation.
     He has promised that kind of leadership. But talk is cheap. He made statements like, "You don’t need a city charter to know that education is the foundation of any community." And, he said he "believes in the tremendous power in the truth and "fiscal responsibility ensuring that every taxpayer’s dollar is accounted for and used appropriately and judiciously for essential City services." When asked "The New Valley Times - is that the vision for Fresno?      His answer was.MORE!

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Monday, January 26, 2004
Is Mock Journalism
Protected Speech

  By John Council, Contributor


    FRESNO -- The Texas Supreme Court heard a lively debate recently in a case of first impression that may determine whether satire is a protected form of speech.
     At issue is "Stop the Madness," a 1999 article printed in the Dallas Observer. The article is a mock story with made-up quotations attributed to public officials including District Attorney Bruce Isaacks and Court-at-Law Judge Darlene Whitten of Denton County, Texas, according to lawyers for the newspaper.
     The article was so outrageous that the average reader could not have taken it seriously, the lawyers assert. But Mike Whitten, a lawyer for Isaacks and Darlene Whitten, alleges that some readers did believe the article was true, making it libelous. (The Whittens are husband and wife.)
     The article, over which a box with the word "News" in it was placed, concerned the arrest of fictional 6-year-old Cindy Bradley for writing a book report on Maurice Sendak's children's book "Where the Wild Things Are."
     According to depositions in the case, the genesis of the article was an actual October 1999 incident in which Darlene Whitten ordered the detention of a 13-year-old who allegedly wrote an essay with a violent tone and turned it in at school.
     Isaacks and Darlene Whitten sued the Dallas Observer and its parent company, alleging libel in New Times Inc. v. Isaacks, after the alternative weekly newspaper refused a request by the officials to publish a retraction of the article. A trial court and the state 2nd Court of Appeals refused the Dallas Observer's summary judgment motion, which the newspaper then appealed to Texas Supreme Court.
    Lawyers for the Dallas Observer argued on Dec. 3 that the article was a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment."The ultimate message that the Dallas Observer was trying to convey was that the actions the officials made were misguided," argued Jim Hemphill, a partner in Austin's George & Donaldson who represents the Dallas Observer. "That is an opinion. And that is protected."
     But Mike Whitten, a partner in Denton's Whitten Law Firm, argued that the Dallas Observer went too far because numerous readers allegedly believed the article was true. Whitten said both of his clients received nasty comments from people who were outraged by it.
    " I think if you publish a false statement of fact about someone and it's believed by a reader, then that's libelous whether you label it satire or it's in the driest journal," Mike Whitten argued.
     The fictional article contained fictional quotes from Whitten saying: "Any implication of violence in a school situation, even if it was just contained in a first-grader's book report, is reason enough for panic and overreaction."
     The fictional article quotes Isaacks as saying: "We've considered having her certified to stand trial as an adult, but even in Texas there are some limits." And the fictional 6-year-old Bradley was quoted saying: "It's bad enough people think like [J.D.] Salinger and [Mark] Twain are dangerous, but Sendak? Give me a break, for Christ's sake. Excuse my French."
     Some of the justices questioned Mike Whitten how anyone could believe the article was true based on those quotes.
    " How many 6-year-olds do you know that are familiar with Salinger?" asked Justice Scott Brister, the court's newest member, who was appointed by Governor Rick Perry in November. " Not too many," Mike Whitten replied. "I don't know how many readers know Salinger."
     Also central in the justices' questioning was the application of New York Times v. Sullivan to the Dallas Observer article. That seminal 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling found that to win libel cases, public officials must establish "actual malice" to prove that a publication knew its article was false or published a story with reckless disregard for whether it was true or false.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2004
George Bush
State of the Union

By I. M.Wright, Contributor

    FRESNO -- On Tuesday, President Bush delivered his State of the Union address. Contrary to the popular view, the Constitution does not require this annual exercise. Article II only directs the president "from time to time" to give "information on the State of the Union" to Congress.
     The framers intended the president to assist Congress in performing its legislative duties. In modern times, however, that assistance has given way to usurpation, as Congress routinely abandons its legislative powers, leaving a quasi-imperial presidency (aided by a number of extra-constitutional regulatory agencies) to exercise the Nation's sovereign power. It's hard to imagine one man would be up to such a task. George W. Bush certainly was not on Tuesday.
     The president built his address around the consistent theme of his presidency: "compassionate conservatism." The exact meaning of his philosophy has always been elusive, but Tuesday's speech provided a good roadmap for the novice traveler.
     In short, compassionate describes the president's metaphysics and epistemology, and conservatism summarizes his ethics and politics. On all four counts, compassionate conservatism is a philosophy repugnant to the values embodied in the American constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
     Metaphysics establishes the nature of existence. It is rooted in the law of identity—A is A, as Aristotelians would say.
     Metaphysics establishes what is, while epistemology determines how a consciousness can acquire and use knowledge of its existence. This sounds like weighty stuff, but it's important to understand the foundation of any philosophical system.
     In George Bush's philosophy, he views existence as ultimately unknowable; he accepts, without evidence, the existence of God and a realm beyond the comprehension of man's consciousness. This metaphysical view determines Bush's epistemology, since he rejects reason as the sole means of acquiring knowledge. Instead, Bush considers reason and faith to be equally valid methods of cognition.
     Compassion is Bush's shorthand for acquiring knowledge via faith and emotion. The president believes that man's understanding of the universe comes from compassion, which is his emotional acceptance of other peoples'—and God's—perceptions of reality. By this standard, Bush finds truth in the compassionate acts of man towards man. Ultimately, he believes, God reveals himself through such acts, and this makes true knowledge of existence knowable to man on some level.
    This theory of knowledge allows Bush to accept contradictory premises. The best example from his address came when he talked about the prospects for democracy in the Middle East: "We also hear doubts that democracy is a realistic goal for the greater Middle East, where freedom is rare.
     Yet it is mistaken, and condescending, to assume that whole cultures and great religions are incompatible with liberty and self-government. I believe that God has planted in every heart the desire to live in freedom. And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again."
     Bush assumes, on faith, that man instinctively possesses the knowledge to "live in freedom". But history tells us otherwise. Freedom, liberty, and individual rights are social concepts that took centuries to develop. The United States first brought these concepts into a unified republic. But there was nothing automatic or religious about this accomplishment. And
    Contrary to the president's statement, these concepts are incompatible with many cultures and religions. If they were compatible, why then haven't individual rights republics sprung up throughout the Middle East? Indeed, why haven't they sprung up in Asia or Africa? But since Bush believes they are compatible, all evidence to the contrary, then it must be true, for faith makes it so. On matters of ethics and politics, Bush's compassion melds with conservatism. This means the president views rights as derived not from man's existence, but rather from institutions invested with compassionate or mystical authority.
     Bush referred to rights just once in his speech, saying America's foreign policy sought a "peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman". But the rights he spoke of were not those derived from man's nature, but from man's creator, or God.
     All rights, in the president's view, exist only by permission of established authorities. Or to use a more conventional conservative premise, order takes precedence over liberty.
     In the section of Bush's speech on morals, the president points to four specific problems: illegal drugs in schools, performance enhancing drugs in sports, teenage sexuality, and gay marriage. On each issue, the president relies first, foremost, and finally on the ethical principle of "duty." Consistent with a compassion-based epistemology, all men must judge their actions by the emotional needs of others.
     Students must submit to forced drug testing, not because it's in their self-interest or respects their rights as individuals, but because the president says "we love you, and we don't want to lose you". The children must think of the emotional needs of their parents. Similarly, athletes must stop using drugs, not because it harms them, but because they must be "good examples" for the children.
     On issues of sexuality, the president's compassion meets his fear and bigotry. He calls for doubling "federal funding for abstinence programs" so that students can learn to fear their sexuality as they fear drugs. The very concept of the government directing the education of children about sex—the most important, intimate, and value-based of all human actions—is appalling. If the president believes schools may forcibly test students for drug use, would he also be open to testing students to preserve their virginity? It may sound far-fetched, but once the government claims ownership of the mind and the body, I have difficulty ascertaining the limits of that authority.
     And then there's gay marriage. This section of the speech may have been the most morally repugnant. The president openly coddled the bigotry of those Americans who would deny homosexuals their right to form and raise families on equal footing with other Americans. Bush pledged to "defend the sanctity of marriage," as if it were something other than a man-made institution. The president couldn't bring himself to acknowledge the existence of homosexuals, much less respect their rights. Instead, he offered this moral gem: "The same moral tradition that defines marriage also teaches that each individual has dignity and value in God's sight". Notice he didn't say individuals have "rights", only dignity and value.
     The moral tradition Bush cites—Judeo-Christian morality—has not had a good track record through the centuries. Indeed, this tradition was invoked in support of the Dark Ages, the Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, slavery, the American civil war, segregation, and now homophobia. From an objective moral view, there is no difference between Bush's defense of gay marriage's bigoted opponents and George Wallace standing in the doorway at the University of Alabama in defense of the "moral tradition" of segregation.
     Finally, we come to Bush's politics, the outgrowth of his conservative ethics. Since Bush relies on "moral tradition" to define his ethics, it's logical that he relies on institutions—rather than man and his nature—to define and implement the scope of man's rights. This is why you'll never hear this president call for the abolition of any government department or major program; his conservatism requires institutions be treated with delicate care bordering on reverence. 
     Consider the president's position on healthcare. His only veto threat of the night came when he vowed to stop "and any attempt to limit the choices of our seniors, or to take away their prescription drug coverage under Medicare". In other words, seniors have a right to prescription drug coverage because the institution of Medicare gives it to them. Now Bush's defenders will argue the administration spearheaded Medicare reforms, notably a limited health savings account program. This is a potentially useful reform, I'll grant you. But it does not mitigate the president using a government program to create a new "right" that exceeds the government's constitutional power.

And while the president said a "government-run health care system is the wrong prescription," these words rang hollow. We already have a government-run health care system. Unlike the systems in Canada or Europe, however, the American government relies on quasi-private managed care companies to ration health care. Managed care firms receive government subsidies and special legal protections, and they charge prices consistent with the government's Medicare rates. Yet despite this, Bush shows no signs of seeking to undo this system. If anything, his healthcare policy requires strengthening managed care, something that will only prevent the free market from taking hold.
     The other major institution Bush reveres is public education. He reveres it so much, he bragged about a 36% increase in the federal budget for education. And he won't stop there. Bush asked for expanded aid to colleges and students. He claims this will train workers for better jobs. The fact that individuals already can receive this training without extra tax dollars is lost on the president. Bush does not judge ideas on its rational merits, but on the level of "compassion" it causes him to experience. Certainly helping people attend college is charitable, but when that charity comes at the expense of innocent taxpayers, it is also robbery.
     Bush's education policy demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of education, which is not surprising given his non-reason-based epistemology. In one passage, he makes a tautological argument: "Some want to undermine the No Child Left Behind Act by weakening standards and accountability. Yet the results we require are really a matter of common sense: We expect third graders to read and do math at third grade level - and that is not asking too much. Testing is the only way to identify and help students who are falling behind."
     When I was in third grade, I read and performed math at what New York State considered a seventh-grade level. But I was not allowed to leave third grade early, and in other states, my proficiency would have been fixed at different levels. The point is, grade levels are a construction of the government-run school system. They have nothing to do with education. Individual students learn according to their own abilities and opportunities. But government schools focus on the collective at the individual's expense. Many parents have long recognized this fact, and either educates their children at home or place them in a private school more conducive to their child's learning style (such as the Montessori Method).
     American healthcare and education suffer from the same political-economic design flaw: the free market in both has been replaced by a government-directed rationing scheme. Consumers are generally not free to purchase their own healthcare and education without working through the rationing scheme; even if they can, they're still required to pay taxes to support the schemes. Bush never addresses this basic problem, because to do so would force him to renounce the underlying institutions, something his conservatism (and his compassion-based epistemology) won't allow him to do.
     At the end of the day, we are left not with the bold, visionary leader that some conservatives believe George Bush to be. We are left with a small man promoting small ideas. Bush may talk the rhetoric of a pro-capitalist, pro-individual rights leader, but his actions are that of a man who sees the role of government as that of a grand charity, where acts are judged by compassion rather than reason and merit.
     But charity is not a moral basis for government; charity is a byproduct of a successful society that produces a surplus of wealth that be shared according to the values of its producers. Unless the government is built on an unimpeachable foundation of reason, individual rights, and capitalism, true charity is not possible; what you have instead is "compassionate conservatism", a philosophy that promotes emotional, intellectual, and political stagnation.

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Monday, January 26, 2004
McClatchy to Publish
Fresno State's Mock
Journalism News

By Howard Hobbs PhD, Editor & Publisher

    FRESNO -- According to the Fresno Bee Newspaper, today's early edition describes a brighter future for Fresno by 2015 which is depicted as having 3% unemployment, clean air, a downtown lake surrounded by fine restaurants and upscale homes, a monorail and top-notch schools. Bee editors see one hitch, however. "The only hurdle: the community itself." To overcome public resistance, however, McClatchy, the publisher of the Fresno Bee has a plan.
     The thinking goes somewhat along this line, a quote from Pablo Lopez, in today's Fresno Bee "Local & State" business pages - "Mock newspaper sees bright future for Fresno... in 2015..." and discusses a mythic "New Valley Times" newspage which might or might not be distributed as another Fresno Bee pull-out for home-delivery and news rack availability. 
    What suddenly brought this on? It's origins seem lost in the tule fog some where back in a 1998 brainstorming session among Fresno State students in a "government" class in which a curricula covering other myths like affordable housing, zoos, parks, a new university plan focusing proximity to the ski slopes and sandy coastal beaches were the center focus of discussion.
     Enter, Fresno State President John Welty and Ken Newby, president of the Fresno Business Council who will now step forward in the glare of another public news spectacle today and announce the launch of yet another university mission impossible.  Already being quoted in the Fresno Bee prior to Dr. Welty's scheduled news conference later in the day, "It's important for Fresno's future to get as many people working on the changes that are needed," Welty said. "The newspaper will get people thinking about what's possible by 2015... Fresno State is taking a leadership role because it has the resources -- professors, lecturers, students, staff and libraries -- and a public institution's duty to improve the region in which it is located."
    Ashley Swearengin, chief executive officer of newspaper project and executive director of Fresno State's Office of Community and Economic Development, is already loaded up with job duties in the Regional Jobs Institute, trying to create 30,000 real jobs in five years or less. Now she has a theoretical 24-page "New Valley Times" publication to get out on timely basis. The vision to accomplish this is getting blurred, however. First off, how to get hundreds of people to work for nothing as unpaid and non-insured volunteers.
     Then, of course, someone has to proof-read the sources of the stories, proof-reading, and fact-checking, data entry, type-setting for real-time and Internet communications, and so forth. If this, as yet, nonexistent newspage will be distributed to local schools, then composing, printing and distributing the mock newspaper presents insurmountable fiscal and accounting regimens not presently faced by local school officials. Ashley Swearengin, by the way, while the executive director of Fresno State's Office of Community and Economic Development, she told reporters today that she will continue in her present job responsibilities at Fresno State and as chief operating officer of the Regional Jobs Institute.

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Thursday January 22, 2004
Indian Gaming
Measures on Ballot?

By Caroline Woon
Cal Daily Bruin Contributor

     FRESNO -- Two years after overwhelmingly passing Proposition 5, the Indian Self-Reliance Initiative, voters will once again be asked to give gaming on tribal lands their stamp of approval this March.
     Proposition 1A would allow for the opening of two casinos on each of the 107 Indian reservations in California and authorize the negotiation of gambling compacts with federally recognized tribes. Another proposition on the ballot would affirm a compact tribes made with the state government in 1998.
    "Proposition 1A is a constitutional amendment that will make clear, once and for all, that Indian gaming is legal," said Waltona Manion, communications director of the Yes on 1A Californians for Indian Self-Reliance coalition.
    Although the original version of this measure passed by nearly a 2-to-1 margin in 1998, its provisions violated the state constitution, which strictly forbids certain types of casino games.
     A lawsuit filed by Nevada casinos resulted in the California Supreme Court overturning Proposition 5 last August. Proposition 1A, however, would remove a century-old ban on the operation of slot machines, and banking and percentage card games such as blackjack.
    This possibility has raised concerns among certain groups which believe that legalized gambling will have a negative impact on the state, both socially and economically. 
    "Prop 1A is bad for everyone involved, including Native Americans," said Leo McElroy, campaign coordinator for the Stop 1A-No Casinos coalition. "Our main issue with it is the massive expansion in gambling and the problems that it causes," he said. "We are really on the way to becoming 'Nevada West.'"
    The measure would in fact up the number of casinos allowed in California from 41 to 214, while nearly tripling the number of slot machines. It would also lower the minimum age for gambling to 18.
    "I have societal objections to 1A," McElroy said. "It will be giving false hopes to people who think that if they sit at the table long enough, they'll get rich. And the billions of dollars that go into (building) these casinos will come right out of California's economy."
    Advocates of 1A said tribal gaming promotes American Indian self-reliance by providing jobs and funding for education, housing and health care. "It's all about Indian economic survival," Manion said. "Because of gaming, the Sycuan tribe in San Diego can now offer badly needed services such as a health clinic, fire station, preschool and a library."
     According to Manion, approximately two-thirds of American Indian employment opportunities are created by tribal gaming. "Indian lands are located in remote areas, with no infrastructure, and no available labor pool," she said. "Gaming has been the most effective economic development tool that tribes have had in 200 years. It has literally removed entire communities off of welfare."
    Even if passed, opponents say that a court challenge to Proposition 1A is inevitable, since it violates the constitution's "equal treatment clause," which guarantees that "a citizen or class of citizens may not be granted privileges and immunities not granted on the same terms to all citizens." But in 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Indian tribes are sovereign entities and have the right to offer high-stakes gaming. This decision was reaffirmed by Congress the following year.
    A competing measure that also addresses the issue of gambling on tribal lands is Proposition 29. Its approval would lead to the enactment of a different set of tribal-state compacts negotiated in 1998, but only in the event that Proposition 1A is rejected."Tribes were forced to sign these compacts under the threat of U.S. attorneys stepping in and closing them down," said Sal Russo of Russo, Marsh & Raper, a public affairs and political consulting firm. "A compact should be a good faith negotiation. From the perspective of Indian sovereignty, the compacts of 1A are a better product in the sense that there is agreement, there is a willingness," he added.
    Proposition 29 also contains far more restrictive provisions, limiting the total number of slot machines to less than half of what Proposition 1A would allow. This set of compacts provides control for local citizens over casino locations, guarantee workers' rights and regulate licensing procedures. Not a single Indian tribe in California has pledged its support for Proposition 29.

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January 16, 2004
Casino Towns Linked
to Higher Crime Rate

By Lee Shearer
Staff Writer

    FRESNO STATE -- Communities with casino gambling have higher crime rates than communities that don't have casinos, according to researchers at the universities of Georgia and Illinois.
    There was no increase in murder rates, said UGA economics professor David Mustard, who co-authored the as-yet unpublished paper with economist Earl L. Grinols of the University of Illinois and Illinois graduate student Cynthia Hunt Dilley.
    But six other felony crimes did increase, Mustard said: aggravated assault, rape, burglary, auto theft, larceny and forcible robbery. Auto theft showed the sharpest increase -- 30 percent higher in counties with casinos -- followed by robbery, at 20 percent, according to the study.
    Overall, casinos push up the crime rate by nearly 8 percent, the study concludes. The researchers timed the release of their study to coincide with the final report of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, which is expected today to propose steps to halt the spread of gambling.
    The higher crime rates don't show up right away, but tended to appear in the third year after a casino opened -- perhaps because it takes chronic gamblers that long to exhaust their resources, Grinols suggested. About 2 percent to 5 percent of the gamblers in casino areas can be classified as ''pathological'' or ''problem'' gamblers, according to Grinols.
    Earlier studies have shown conflicting results -- that crime stayed the same, increased or even decreased after casinos come in, Mustard said, and some experts have even argued that casinos cause crime to go down because they increase employment in an area.
    But those studies were limited by a small time frame or a small area of geographical study, he said. ''What makes our study unique is that it's the most exhaustive study on the subject,'' Mustard said.
    The researchers included census data from every county in the United States and looked at crime data over a 20-year period beginning in 1977. They also introduced statistical control factors to account for 50 variables that might affect crime rates, including things like the age of the population in the area, income levels, race and population growth.
    Nationally, crime rates have been steadily decreasing in the 1990s after steady increases in the 1970s and 1980s. The number of counties with casinos has increased from 14 in 1977, all in Nevada, to 167 in 1996.
    According to the national gambling commission, total legal wagers have grown to about $600 billion a year in the United States -- more than is spent by Americans on cars or groceries. And the poor bet more, according to the commission.
     According to the commission report, gamblers with household incomes $10,000 a year wager three times more money than those with household incomes exceeding $50,000 a year.
    Nationally, casino revenues were $26.3 billion in 1997, the commission says. But the increased crime came at a cost of some $12.1 billion annually -- about $63 for every adult American, according to the researchers.
    The point, said Mustard, is that ''What you want to do is evaluate the costs and benefits of the casinos. Crime is one of the costs, and you want to look at all the costs and all the benefits,'' he said. Mustard pointed out that the study was unfunded -- that the researchers took no money from either pro- or anti-gambling sources.

    [Editor's Note: Go to Yosemite News for latest local area casino up-dates. And for pro-con positions see Casino Economics.]

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January 7, 2004
Legislative Analysis
Measures Requiring Reimbursement

The Leglistative Analyust Offfice 925 L Street, Suite 1000, Sacramento, CA

    SACRAMENTO -- In 2002 and 2003, the Commission on State Mandates determined that 23 sets of state laws impose state reimbursable mandates on local governments. The commission estimated the state's cost to reimburse local agencies for these mandates is about $400million.
     This report reviews the newly identified mandates, and offers recommendations as to whether each mandate should be repealed, funded, suspended, or modified. This report, submitted in fulfillment of Chapter 1123, Statutes of 2002 (AB 3000, Budget Committee), reviews 23 sets of state requirements that the Commission on State Mandates (CSM) identified as state-reimbursable "mandates" in their 2002 and 2003 reports to the Legislature. These newly identified mandates are in addition to over 100 ongoing state requirements that the CSM (or its predecessor agency) previously determined to be state-reimbursable mandates.
     The Legislature's intent in requiring the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) to prepare an annual analysis of newly identified mandates was to ensure that it had information regarding each new mandate at the time the Legislature considered the annual mandate "claims bill." Pursuant to Government Code Section 17612, the claims bill (1) usually provides the initial state reimbursement for newly identified mandates and (2) gives the Legislature some opportunity to review commission actions. After a mandate receives its initial reimbursement through the claims bill, the Legislature traditionally funds a mandate's ongoing costs in the annual state budget.
     Given the mounting costs of state mandates, the Assembly held hearings to review mandates and the mandate reimbursement process. Because of the state's fiscal difficulties, however, the Legislature did not introduce a claims bill to reimburse local agencies for newly identified mandates -- provided no funding for ongoing mandates in the 2003-04 budget -- declared its intent in Chapter 228, Statutes of 2003 (AB 1756, Budget Committee), to continue deferring mandate reimbursements through 2004-05 -- acted to reduce local agency mandate responsibilities and associated state liabilities by suspending local agency requirements to implement 39 mandates in 2003-04, including eight newly identified mandates.
     This report, submitted in fulfillment of Statutes of 2002 (AB 3000, Budget Committee), reviews 23 sets of state requirements that the Commission on State Mandates (CSM) identified as state-reimbursable "mandates" in their 2002 and 2003 reports to the Legislature. These newly identified mandates are in addition to over 100 ongoing state requirements that the CSM (or its predecessor agency) previously determined to be state-reimbursable mandates.
     The Legislature's intent in requiring the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) to prepare an annual analysis of newly identified mandates was to ensure that it had information regarding each new mandate at the time the Legislature considered the annual mandate "claims bill." Pursuant to Government Code Section 17612, the claims bill (1) usually provides the initial state reimbursement for newly identified mandates and (2) gives the Legislature some opportunity to review commission actions. After a mandate receives its initial reimbursement through the claims bill, the Legislature traditionally funds a mandate's ongoing costs in the annual state budget.
     Given the mounting costs of state mandates, the Assembly held hearings to review mandates and the mandate reimbursement process. Because of the state's fiscal difficulties, however, the Legislature:

  • Did not introduce a claims bill to reimburse local agencies for newly identified mandates.
  • Provided no funding for ongoing mandates in the 2003-04 budget.
  • Declared its intent in Chapter 228, Statutes of 2003 (AB 1756, Budget Committee), to continue deferring mandate reimbursements through 2004-05.
  • Acted to reduce local agency mandate responsibilities and associated state liabilities by suspending local agency requirements to implement 39 mandates in 2003-04, including eight newly identified mandates.

    This report reviews the newly identified mandates and offers recommendations as to whether they should be repealed, funded, suspended, or modified. In addition, in some cases, we recommend the Legislature request the CSM to reconsider its quasi-judicial "Statement of Decision" regarding a mandate, or modify the mandate's reimbursement methodology (referred to as the measure's parameters and guidelines, or "Ps&Gs").

    Figure 1 displays the newly identified education and noneductaion mandates that are the subject of this report, along with the CSM's estimate of each mandate's costs. In reviewing Figure 1, readers should note that it includes one mandate (school site councils) listed in the CSM's 2002 report, but subsequently invalidated by the court. Because the state has no responsibility to reimburse school districts for this mandate, its costs are excluded from the figure's revised total. Readers also should note that the CSM reports as two mandates any set of state requirements that apply to local agencies and K-14 districts. Because four mandates reported by the CSM have such a dual application, the list of unduplicated state requirements imposing a mandate totals 19.

    Local government animal control agencies care for stray and surrendered animals in California communities. Such care includes housing, medical care, and vaccinations. These agencies also pursue the successful adoptions of the animals in their care and euthanize those animals that are not placed.
     Seeking to reduce the euthanization of adoptable stray animals, the Legislature enacted Chapter 752, Statutes of 1998 (SB 1785, Hayden). Prior law provided that no dog or cat impounded by a public pound or specified shelter could be euthanized before three days after the time of impounding. Chapter 752 requires the following:

  • An increase from three days to four to six business days, as specified, in the holding period for stray and abandoned dogs and cats. A holding period of four to six business days for other specified animals. The verification of the temperament of feral cats. The posting of lost and found lists. The maintenance of records for impounded animals. The release of animals to nonprofit rescue or adoption organizations. "Necessary prompt veterinary care" for impounded animals.
    In 2001, the commission determined that Chapter 752 imposed a reimbursable mandate by requiring, among other activities, that certain animals be cared for longer than the three days previously required by law.

Analysis

    Costs Exceed Legislative Expectations. The Legislature did not anticipate incurring significant, if any, state-reimbursable mandate costs when it enacted Chapter 752. Instead, the Legislature expected that much, or all, local agency increased costs to care for animals longer than three days would be offset by (1) increased adoption and pet recovery fees and (2) savings from avoided euthanizations. As we discuss more fully in the 2003-04 Analysis (see page F-133), however, the commission determined that Chapter 752 imposed a broad mandate and local agency claims for mandate reimbursements likely will total $10 million annually.
     Parameters and Guidelines Lack Clarity. Both our office's and the Bureau of State Audits' (BSA) review of this mandate's Ps&Gs found areas of ambiguity that allow local agencies to claim some costs that appear to exceed the range of activities mandated by Chapter 752. For example, the BSA reviews notes that the Ps&Gs allow local agencies to receive reimbursement for capital costs not associated with Chapter 752. In addition, our review found that the Ps&Gs are not sufficiently explicit regarding the requirement that offsetting savings and revenues be deducted from reimbursement claims.

    Recommendation

    Because the measure's costs greatly exceed the Legislature's expectations, we recommend that the Legislature reconsider Chapter 752 and make modifications as necessary to reduce the scope of the requirements imposed upon local agencies. While we acknowledge the importance of the humane treatment of animals, such a reconsideration of Chapter 752 is appropriate given the mandate's higher-than-anticipated costs and the fiscal constraints of the state. Accordingly, we recommend that the Legislature revise Chapter 752 to reduce the overall requirements imposed on local agencies and the associated state mandate costs. Until such a revision is enacted, we recommend that the Legislature continue to suspend this mandate in the annual budget bill.
     In the alternative, should the Legislature wish to maintain all the requirements of Chapter 752, we recommend the Legislature direct the commission to revise the Ps&Gs to make changes to address the issues identified in the BSA's report and the 2003-04 Analysis. The following language, included in a future claims bill or other legislation, would provide the commission this direction:
     The Commission on State Mandates shall review the parameters and guidelines for the Animal Control mandate and make revisions consistent with the findings of the Bureau of State Audits and the 2003-04 Analysis by the Legislative Analyst's Office.

    Brown Act Reform

    We recommend the Legislature change certain requirements of the Brown Act imposed in 1993 (requiring agenda postings by local advisory bodies and disclosure of matters discussed in executive sessions) into advisory guidelines, because detailed rules governing advisory bodies do not necessitate a statewide mandate. Should the Legislature, in the alternative, wish to maintain these requirements, we recommend that the Legislature direct the commission to reconsider its mandate determination in light of a recent California Supreme Court decision.
     In 1953, the Legislature enacted the Brown Act, declaring, "all meetings of the legislative body of a local agency shall be open and public, and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting of the legislative body." Since 1953, the Brown Act has been amended many times to expand or clarify its requirements—and to delineate the legislative bodies to which the act applies. 
   Article XIII B of the California Constitution generally requires the state to reimburse local governments for the cost of complying with "new programs" or "higher levels of service." Article XIII B specifies, however, that the state need not reimburse local governments for costs to comply with state mandates enacted before 1975. The original requirements of the Brown Act, and its pre-1975 amendments, therefore are not state-reimbursable mandates.
     Chapter 641, Statutes of 1986 (AB 2674, Connelly), modified the Brown Act to require local agencies to prepare and post agendas for public meetings at least 72 hours before the meeting. In 1988, the commission found that local costs to implement this Chapter 641 requirement constituted a state-reimbursable mandate. Since this date, local agencies have been reimbursed for agenda preparation and posting, at a rate of about $100 per agenda. This mandate is commonly referred to as the "Open Meetings Act" mandate.
     In 1993, the Legislature enacted measures to further clarify and modify Brown Act requirements (Chapter 1136, Statutes of 1993—AB 1426, Burton; Chapter 1137, Statutes of 1993—SB 36, Kopp.) Local agencies, in turn, filed a test claim with the CSM, contending that these changes constituted a state-reimbursable mandate. On April 27, 2000, the commission ruled that the Legislature created a state-reimbursable mandate by enacting these two measures because they (1) subject some additional legislative bodies to the Brown Act (specifically, local bodies created by state or federal statute and committees with less than a quorum of legislative members) and (2) place new requirements on local agencies regarding the disclosure of matters discussed during executive sessions. These additional Brown Act requirements are commonly referred to as the "Brown Act Reform" mandate.
     Earlier this year, the commission reported to the Legislature that reimbursing noneducation local agencies for the Brown Act Reform mandate would total $8.8 million, with annual ongoing costs of about $1 million. Because the commission's cost estimate is based on information reported by fewer than half of the local agencies eligible for claiming reimbursement, the actual ongoing costs of this mandate may be considerably greater than the commission's estimate.

    Analysis and Recommendation
    
    The public policy goals of the Brown Act are indisputable. Representative government depends on an informed and involved electorate and open meetings are a vital part of this process. The key question for the Legislature regarding the Brown Act Reform mandate, however, is not whether the state should require local agencies to hold open governing board meetings. Rather, this mandate raises the issue of whether the state should detail all the rules regarding all public hearings—or whether some matters could be determined locally. In our view, the manner in which local agencies provide for public participation in local advisory body hearings and the disclosure of matters discussed in executive session do not reach the level of importance necessitating a statewide mandate. Moreover, we observe that there is significant local interest in open hearings and matters discussed in executive sessions and thus, even in the absence of a mandate, local agencies would continue to perceive pressure from their constituencies to follow these procedures. Accordingly, we recommend that the Legislature revise the Brown Act Reform Act to make these requirements advisory guidelines.

    Alternative Recommendation

    The California Supreme Court's recent decision in Department of Finance versus Commission on State Mandates suggests that the commission's findings regarding the Brown Act Reform mandate were overly broad in their interpretation as to the types of legislative bodies eligible for mandate reimbursement. Should the Legislature wish to maintain the Brown Act Reform mandate, we recommend the Legislature direct the commission to reconsider its Brown Act Reform mandate Statement of Decision in light of the California Supreme Court's decision. The following language, included in a future claims bill or other legislation, would give the commission the authority and responsibility to complete such a review:
     The Commission on State Mandates shall review its Statement of Decision regarding the Brown Act Reform test claim and make any modifications necessary to this decision to clarify whether the subject legislation imposed a mandate consistent with the California Supreme Court 2002 decision in Department of Finance versus Commission on State Mandates.

    County Treasury Oversight Committee

    Because the oversight committee's responsibilities are largely duplicative of the responsibilities of county boards of supervisors, we recommend the Legislature enact legislation making these advisory committees optional.
    Chapter 784, Statutes of 1995 (SB 866, Craven), requires counties that invest surplus funds to establish a County Treasury Oversight Committee to review and monitor the investment policies of the county treasurer. The commission estimates the cost of this mandate to be $1,634,000 (prior-year and 2002-03 claims) and $299,000 annually thereafter.
     The provisions creating these oversight committees were part of numerous legislative reforms enacted in the aftermath of the Orange County bankruptcy to (1) increase accountability for local officials involved in investment decisionmaking, (2) restrict the types and maturities of financial instruments that local governments use for investment purposes, and (3) increase reporting regarding local investment policies and holdings. In addition to these legislative reforms, counties experienced increased requirements from the financial community—involving new accounting and financial reporting standards for funds held in county investment pools.
     The public and private reforms enacted in the mid-1990s have created multiple safeguards against the kind of errors that led to the Orange County bankruptcy. Taken together, these reforms have increased standards governing local government investment practices. In view of these increased standards, we believe it is appropriate for the Legislature to consider whether this mandate—dictating the specific form of local investment oversight committee—is needed to serve a statewide interest.

    Findings and Recommendation

    Our review indicates that the advisory oversight committee's functions are largely duplicative of the more stringent requirements imposed on county boards of supervisors. For example, the advisory committee is required only to "review and monitor" the treasurer's annual investment policy, whereas the county boards of supervisors (1) must approve or reject proposed changes to the treasurer's investment policy, (2) receive quarterly investment reports, and (3) face legal and fiduciary responsibilities relating to the safekeeping and management of public funds. While it may well be in the interest of a local board of supervisors to maintain their advisory oversight committee to assist them in monitoring county investments, we believe that such a decision regarding the form of an advisory committee could be left to counties without materially affecting the level of oversight or public scrutiny of treasurer's investments. Accordingly, we recommend the Legislature adopt legislation to make the mandate optional, for an annual savings of about $300,000.

    Public Safety and Criminal Justice

    Child Abuse Treatment Services Authorization and Case Management We recommend that the Legislature suspend the requirement that counties "approve" treatment facilities attended by child abuse probationers, pending a review of the efficacy of such treatment services.
     Chapter 1090, Statutes of 1996 (AB 3215, Hawkins), requires that certain individuals convicted of child abuse enroll in a one-year counseling program as a condition of their probation. The probationer is required to pay for the counseling. The county probation offices are required to approve the treatment facilities and review progress reports provided by the facilities for individuals in treatment. The commission found that county costs to approve the treatment programs and provide case management for individuals in treatment constitutes a reimbursable mandate, estimated to cost $542,000 through the 2002-03 year.
     Our review found that fewer than ten counties have submitted reimbursement claims for carrying out this new requirement. Discussions with both claiming and nonclaiming counties revealed that the difference between the two groups centered on their interpretations of "a counseling program approved by the probation department." Contacted counties that had not submitted claims interpreted the requirement to approve counseling facilities to mean that they needed to provide a list of acceptable facilities to the clients. Accordingly, these counties did not incur costs that they considered significant enough to warrant reimbursement. Those few counties that have claimed costs appear to have interpreted "approve" to mean that the county probation office needed to visit the programs in their county, review their treatment protocols, and certify that those were acceptable facilities. In other words, these claiming counties believed they faced a mandate to "certify" treatment facilities, rather than simply make referrals, as is the case in the nonclaiming counties we contacted.

    Recommendation

    We recommend that the Legislature suspend this mandate and direct the Department of Social Services to conduct a study of the efficacy of this program. The purpose of the study is to determine whether this treatment reduces incidents of re-abuse. If the treatment is not having the desired effect, the Legislature should eliminate both the requirement for treatment and associated case management requirements. Conversely, if the treatment is deemed effective, then the Legislature should consider retaining the child abuse treatment requirement for probationers and clarifying that "approved" in this context means "referral" rather than "certification." This would substantially limit future mandate claims.

   Local government animal control agencies care for stray and surrendered animals in California communities. Such care includes housing, medical care, and vaccinations. These agencies also pursue the successful adoptions of the animals in their care and euthanize those animals that are not placed.
Seeking to reduce the euthanization of adoptable stray animals, the Legislature enacted Chapter 752, Statutes of 1998 (SB 1785, Hayden). Prior law provided that no dog or cat impounded by a public pound or specified shelter could be euthanized before three days after the time of impounding. Chapter 752 requires the following:

* An increase from three days to four to six business days, as specified, in the holding period for stray and abandoned dogs and cats. A holding period of four to six business days for other specified animals. The verification of the temperament of feral cats. The posting of lost and found lists. The maintenance of records for impounded animals. The release of animals to nonprofit rescue or adoption organizations. "Necessary prompt veterinary care" for impounded animals.

In 2001, the commission determined that Chapter 752 imposed a reimbursable mandate by requiring, among other activities, that certain animals be cared for longer than the three days previously required by law.

Analysis

Costs Exceed Legislative Expectations. The Legislature did not anticipate incurring significant, if any, state-reimbursable mandate costs when it enacted Chapter 752. Instead, the Legislature expected that much, or all, local agency increased costs to care for animals longer than three days would be offset by (1) increased adoption and pet recovery fees and (2) savings from avoided euthanizations. As we discuss more fully in the 2003-04 Analysis (see page F-133), however, the commission determined that Chapter 752 imposed a broad mandate and local agency claims for mandate reimbursements likely will total $10 million annually.
Parameters and Guidelines Lack Clarity. Both our office's and the Bureau of State Audits' (BSA) review of this mandate's Ps&Gs found areas of ambiguity that allow local agencies to claim some costs that appear to exceed the range of activities mandated by Chapter 752. For example, the BSA reviews notes that the Ps&Gs allow local agencies to receive reimbursement for capital costs not associated with Chapter 752. In addition, our review found that the Ps&Gs are not sufficiently explicit regarding the requirement that offsetting savings and revenues be deducted from reimbursement claims.

Recommendation

Because the measure's costs greatly exceed the Legislature's expectations, we recommend that the Legislature reconsider Chapter 752 and make modifications as necessary to reduce the scope of the requirements imposed upon local agencies. While we acknowledge the importance of the humane treatment of animals, such a reconsideration of Chapter 752 is appropriate given the mandate's higher-than-anticipated costs and the fiscal constraints of the state. Accordingly, we recommend that the Legislature revise Chapter 752 to reduce the overall requirements imposed on local agencies and the associated state mandate costs. Until such a revision is enacted, we recommend that the Legislature continue to suspend this mandate in the annual budget bill.
In the alternative, should the Legislature wish to maintain all the requirements of Chapter 752, we recommend the Legislature direct the commission to revise the Ps&Gs to make changes to address the issues identified in the BSA's report and the 2003-04 Analysis. The following language, included in a future claims bill or other legislation, would provide the commission this direction:
The Commission on State Mandates shall review the parameters and guidelines for the Animal Control mandate and make revisions consistent with the findings of the Bureau of State Audits and the 2003-04 Analysis by the Legislative Analyst's Office.

Brown Act Reform

We recommend the Legislature change certain requirements of the Brown Act imposed in 1993 (requiring agenda postings by local advisory bodies and disclosure of matters discussed in executive sessions) into advisory guidelines, because detailed rules governing advisory bodies do not necessitate a statewide mandate. Should the Legislature, in the alternative, wish to maintain these requirements, we recommend that the Legislature direct the commission to reconsider its mandate determination in light of a recent California Supreme Court decision.
In 1953, the Legislature enacted the Brown Act, declaring, "all meetings of the legislative body of a local agency shall be open and public, and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting of the legislative body." Since 1953, the Brown Act has been amended many times to expand or clarify its requirements—and to delineate the legislative bodies to which the act applies.
Article XIII B of the California Constitution generally requires the state to reimburse local governments for the cost of complying with "new programs" or "higher levels of service." Article XIII B specifies, however, that the state need not reimburse local governments for costs to comply with state mandates enacted before 1975. The original requirements of the Brown Act, and its pre-1975 amendments, therefore are not state-reimbursable mandates.
Chapter 641, Statutes of 1986 (AB 2674, Connelly), modified the Brown Act to require local agencies to prepare and post agendas for public meetings at least 72 hours before the meeting. In 1988, the commission found that local costs to implement this Chapter 641 requirement constituted a state-reimbursable mandate. Since this date, local agencies have been reimbursed for agenda preparation and posting, at a rate of about $100 per agenda. This mandate is commonly referred to as the "Open Meetings Act" mandate.
In 1993, the Legislature enacted measures to further clarify and modify Brown Act requirements (Chapter 1136, Statutes of 1993—AB 1426, Burton; Chapter 1137, Statutes of 1993—SB 36, Kopp.) Local agencies, in turn, filed a test claim with the CSM, contending that these changes constituted a state-reimbursable mandate. On April 27, 2000, the commission ruled that the Legislature created a state-reimbursable mandate by enacting these two measures because they (1) subject some additional legislative bodies to the Brown Act (specifically, local bodies created by state or federal statute and committees with less than a quorum of legislative members) and (2) place new requirements on local agencies regarding the disclosure of matters discussed during executive sessions. These additional Brown Act requirements are commonly referred to as the "Brown Act Reform" mandate.
Earlier this year, the commission reported to the Legislature that reimbursing noneducation local agencies for the Brown Act Reform mandate would total $8.8 million, with annual ongoing costs of about $1 million. Because the commission's cost estimate is based on information reported by fewer than half of the local agencies eligible for claiming reimbursement, the actual ongoing costs of this mandate may be considerably greater than the commission's estimate.

Analysis and Recommendation

The public policy goals of the Brown Act are indisputable. Representative government depends on an informed and involved electorate and open meetings are a vital part of this process. The key question for the Legislature regarding the Brown Act Reform mandate, however, is not whether the state should require local agencies to hold open governing board meetings. Rather, this mandate raises the issue of whether the state should detail all the rules regarding all public hearings—or whether some matters could be determined locally. In our view, the manner in which local agencies provide for public participation in local advisory body hearings and the disclosure of matters discussed in executive session do not reach the level of importance necessitating a statewide mandate. Moreover, we observe that there is significant local interest in open hearings and matters discussed in executive sessions and thus, even in the absence of a mandate, local agencies would continue to perceive pressure from their constituencies to follow these procedures. Accordingly, we recommend that the Legislature revise the Brown Act Reform Act to make these requirements advisory guidelines.

Alternative Recommendation

The California Supreme Court's recent decision in Department of Finance versus Commission on State Mandates suggests that the commission's findings regarding the Brown Act Reform mandate were overly broad in their interpretation as to the types of legislative bodies eligible for mandate reimbursement. Should the Legislature wish to maintain the Brown Act Reform mandate, we recommend the Legislature direct the commission to reconsider its Brown Act Reform mandate Statement of Decision in light of the California Supreme Court's decision. The following language, included in a future claims bill or other legislation, would give the commission the authority and responsibility to complete such a review:
The Commission on State Mandates shall review its Statement of Decision regarding the Brown Act Reform test claim and make any modifications necessary to this decision to clarify whether the subject legislation imposed a mandate consistent with the California Supreme Court 2002 decision in Department of Finance versus Commission on State Mandates.

County Treasury Oversight Committee

Because the oversight committee's responsibilities are largely duplicative of the responsibilities of county boards of supervisors, we recommend the Legislature enact legislation making these advisory committees optional.
Chapter 784, Statutes of 1995 (SB 866, Craven), requires counties that invest surplus funds to establish a County Treasury Oversight Committee to review and monitor the investment policies of the county treasurer. The commission estimates the cost of this mandate to be $1,634,000 (prior-year and 2002-03 claims) and $299,000 annually thereafter.
The provisions creating these oversight committees were part of numerous legislative reforms enacted in the aftermath of the Orange County bankruptcy to (1) increase accountability for local officials involved in investment decisionmaking, (2) restrict the types and maturities of financial instruments that local governments use for investment purposes, and (3) increase reporting regarding local investment policies and holdings. In addition to these legislative reforms, counties experienced increased requirements from the financial community—involving new accounting and financial reporting standards for funds held in county investment pools.
The public and private reforms enacted in the mid-1990s have created multiple safeguards against the kind of errors that led to the Orange County bankruptcy. Taken together, these reforms have increased standards governing local government investment practices. In view of these increased standards, we believe it is appropriate for the Legislature to consider whether this mandate—dictating the specific form of local investment oversight committee—is needed to serve a statewide interest.

Findings and Recommendation

Our review indicates that the advisory oversight committee's functions are largely duplicative of the more stringent requirements imposed on county boards of supervisors. For example, the advisory committee is required only to "review and monitor" the treasurer's annual investment policy, whereas the county boards of supervisors (1) must approve or reject proposed changes to the treasurer's investment policy, (2) receive quarterly investment reports, and (3) face legal and fiduciary responsibilities relating to the safekeeping and management of public funds. While it may well be in the interest of a local board of supervisors to maintain their advisory oversight committee to assist them in monitoring county investments, we believe that such a decision regarding the form of an advisory committee could be left to counties without materially affecting the level of oversight or public scrutiny of treasurer's investments. Accordingly, we recommend the Legislature adopt legislation to make the mandate optional, for an annual savings of about $300,000.

Public Safety and Criminal Justice

Child Abuse Treatment Services Authorization and Case Management We recommend that the Legislature suspend the requirement that counties "approve" treatment facilities attended by child abuse probationers, pending a review of the efficacy of such treatment services.
Chapter 1090, Statutes of 1996 (AB 3215, Hawkins), requires that certain individuals convicted of child abuse enroll in a one-year counseling program as a condition of their probation. The probationer is required to pay for the counseling. The county probation offices are required to approve the treatment facilities and review progress reports provided by the facilities for individuals in treatment. The commission found that county costs to approve the treatment programs and provide case management for individuals in treatment constitutes a reimbursable mandate, estimated to cost $542,000 through the 2002-03 year.
Our review found that fewer than ten counties have submitted reimbursement claims for carrying out this new requirement. Discussions with both claiming and nonclaiming counties revealed that the difference between the two groups centered on their interpretations of "a counseling program approved by the probation department." Contacted counties that had not submitted claims interpreted the requirement to approve counseling facilities to mean that they needed to provide a list of acceptable facilities to the clients. Accordingly, these counties did not incur costs that they considered significant enough to warrant reimbursement. Those few counties that have claimed costs appear to have interpreted "approve" to mean that the county probation office needed to visit the programs in their county, review their treatment protocols, and certify that those were acceptable facilities. In other words, these claiming counties believed they faced a mandate to "certify" treatment facilities, rather than simply make referrals, as is the case in the nonclaiming counties we contacted.

Recommendation

We recommend that the Legislature suspend this mandate and direct the Department of Social Services to conduct a study of the efficacy of this program. The purpose of the study is to determine whether this treatment reduces incidents of re-abuse. If the treatment is not having the desired effect, the Legislature should eliminate both the requirement for treatment and associated case management requirements. Conversely, if the treatment is deemed effective, then the Legislature should consider retaining the child abuse treatment requirement for probationers and clarifying that "approved" in this context means "referral" rather than "certification." This would substantially limit future mandate claims.

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The Tower District News

Monday December 29, 2003
Iraq Coalition Casualties
By Howard Hobbs PhD, Editor & Publisher

    FRESNO -- According to official military records, the number of U.S. Marines killed in action in Iraq since May 2 includes a staggering number of non-combat deaths. There was much fanfare Thursday over the fact that the latest U.S. combat death this week pushed the official total to 224.
     The vast majority of those killed -- at least 70% -- were age 18 to 30 but several soldiers in their 40s or 50s have also died of injuries.
     Pentagon officials said that there have been about five deaths among troops assigned to the Iraq mission that commanders say might have been suicides.The most recent non-combat death was Cory Ryan Geurin, age 18, a Marine lance corporal from Santee, Calif. "He was standing post on a palace roof in Babylon when he fell approximately 60 feet," the site said.  
    Then on July 13, Jaror C.Puello-Coronado, 36, an Army sergeant, died while "manning a traffic point when the operator of a dump truck lost control of the vehicle.
     One recent death occurred in a mine-clearing accident. Others "died of natural causes," and still others lost their lives in a "vehicle accident." A more detailed record of the latest military fatalities as of 12/28/2003 is summarized as follows:

Total Fatalities since May 1st: 339
March 20th through May 1st: 139
Hostile US Fatalities Since May 1st: 214
Hostile Fatalities Since May 1st: 261
US deaths since July 2nd: 273
Total Fatalities since December 13th: 30
Total Hostile Fatalities since December 13th: 22

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The Tower District News

December 12, 2003
The Saving Lie:
City Hall Calls for
Fresno Area School Reforms

By Howard Hobbs, Ph.D. Editor & Publisher

    FRESNO -- Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Peter Mehas Ed.D. is the administrator for budgets and credentialing of teachers in outlying Fresno County school districts K12. Following an announcement on Thursday by current Fresno Mayor Alan Autry, Mr. Mehas called reporters in and told them, "One thing I want to make very, very clear. We will vehemently oppose any mayor that wants to take over governance of the (Fresno area) school system."
    What brought this tirade to the public eye? Last week, Mayor Autry said, "The way the (school) system is set up is dysfunctional."  Mehas replied that he was "sick and tired of political pandering" by Autry. "I would expect the mayor to apologize after using that kind of rhetoric." Autry defended his comments saying his criticism is nothing new. "This is like a broken record with the defenders of the system...There's nothing that I said last night that I haven't been saying for the past four years."
    Mayor Autry was instrumental in obtaining City Council approval of a strict truancy ordinance and is making overtures for obtaining authority for making appointments of ex-officio members to the governing board of the Fresno Unified School District.
     Autry recently played an instrumental role in obtaining passage by the Fresno City Council of a truancy ordinance. On Wednesday he attended a town hall meeting at Centennial Elementary School in Fresno where he made critical remarks about the Fresno Unified School District Board. He emphasized that he thought the district hired a consulting firm run by a former FUSD employee to audit its books and records and questioned why the district also hired a private investigator to investigate Fresno High School students recently thought to have been in on a disruption of the District Office.
    In closing remarks, Mayor Autry said the (school) system is failing and "I will not be silenced while this system commits socioeconomic murder of our children."
    Of course, Mayor Autry's reported use of such language in his phrase "...the (school) system commits socioeconomic murder of our children..." serves only one purpose in his public appeal. It is a "saving lie" an imaginative concept, no doubt, but also an element of his argument whithout which such a proposition is without moral appeal.
     Moral issues, however, are not decided by mayors no more than are moral issues decided by elected education officials. Anyone who tries to do that is cheating.
     In short, the "truth" of moral questions is not discovered, negotiated nor enforced by taxpayers. In that context, "truth" would become a function of power and force. Perhaps a more useful question is how are such saving lies assailed and toppled?  Who benefits?

       [Editor's Note: To read more on the moral issues addressed in this editorial, see "The Saving Lie" Truth and Method in the Social Sciences", F.G. Bailey, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. Copyright University of Pennsylvania 2003. This text is currently shelved at the New Books Section in the Henry Madden Library, CSU Fresno Call No. H 61 B234 2003.]


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The Tower District News

August 2, 2003
US Firms Cut, 44,000 Jobs after July Fall Off
Cal State University Hikes in Student Fees Linked

By Fresno Republican Staff Writers

      FRESNO -- The California State University, the nation's largest university system, has a massive task of complying with the mandates of the state legislature. The resulting fee increase was nnounced on the heels of the nation's business firms cutting 44,000 jobs in the 6th month of continuous decline.
     California State University trustees voted Monday to hike student fees in the face of cutbacks expected under Gov. Gray Davis' proposal to reduce state spending by $10.2 billion over the next 18 months.
    The US Department of Labor just announced that there has been a 71,000 drop in factory jobs which is more than double the 32,000 reported only last month.
     These facts suggest a clear link between Trustee action taken to raise fees following the announcement by the Labor Department, earlier this week.

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The Tower District News

July 22, 2003
Unscrambling Liberia
Only one reason to refuse intervention
by William F. Buckley, Jr.

    The Liberia squeeze serves political purposes for those who labor to accumulate faults in Mr. Bush's leadership. But some of these are conflicting. Certainly the Democrats will need to straighten out their views on the military and on expeditionary relief.
     There is only one reason to refuse intervention in Liberia. It isn't a bad reason, but isolationism — the presumptive rule against going into a foreign country — looks squat and provincial and uncaring in such a situation as Liberia's. And then there is the question of military resources. The critics have been playing hard the line that our entry into Iraq has depleted our resources. That's true, and ..More!

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The Tower District News


July 21, 2003
Stebbins Dean
Crack Up in Naples!
By Thomas Hobbs, Staff Writer

     FRESNO - Stebbins Dean, CEO of Fresno’s Chamber of Commerce, has been arrested in a police sting operation in Naples, Florida. The arrest was covered in the local Naples Daily News. Collier County Sheriff’s report states that Dean negotiated purchase of what he believed to be crack cocaine from undercover officers on Saturday night.
   
   At the time of his arrest, Dean told officers he was in staying at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples while attending a conference for the national Chamber Executives' Leadership Forum...More.

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The Tower District News

July 1, 2003
Impact of Internet Technology:
Commercial Real Estate Transactions
By Edward Davidian, Staff Writer

    FRESNO -- After suffering wide market swings in the past two decades, the commercial real estate market is now experiencing rapid technological change directly associated with the Internet revolution and its diffusion throughout our economy.
     Technology interventions have changed the production function for real estate, so much so, that at the advertising of the product now seems new, improved, and produced more efficiently at a lower cost. The production function, as well as, the inputs to the production of real estate sales and services now seamlessly include factors of production of land, labor and marketing.
     Technology affects the production of real estate through all three points of entry. It acts as "upstream" to affect the efficiency of production or quality levels of the inputs to the production process.
     Examples include the improved insulating properties of glass curtain walls and the spread of the secondary market and securitization in the commercial mortgage market. Technology can act incrementally to simply produce the same product more cheaply.
     It may mean the development of an entirely new technology approach. It is a part of all production processes for all goods. For example, improvements in the financial efficiency of the market for "intangible" commercial mortgages and the "low-tech" development of messenger and delivery services by office management companies involve the application of technology, just as does the spread of information technology and the Internet.
     Even though technology increases the productivity of the economy and by increasing the demand for real estate stock and services, it does not necessarily do so for each sector of the real estate market.
     New electronic devices, new drugs and health therapies, as well as bioengineered products, are proliferating. These influence the downstream users of the real estate product by creating demand to house the production, distribution, and marketing of these goods and by creating additional wealth in the economy that generates demands for additional consumer good production.
     Those areas will thrive that host various elements of the market for such goods. Transportation development and the development of cities is continuing to decentralize growth of the largest metropolitan areas.
     New construction technology has affected the real estate market through three innovations: the development of steel frame construction, the invention of the elevator, and the introduction of mass manufacturing methods in building constructions.
     The first two made possible the development of high?rise office and residential structures and larger employment and residential districts within the feasible range of commuting.
     The third, mass manufacturing techniques, include standardization, prefabricated materials, and critical path method (CPM) construction management techniques, which have considerably lowered the cost of production of real estate structures. Innovations will continue to be introduced in the area of construction technology.
     Most notably, the "smart building", with high?tech control systems and "wired" for broadband technology, is coming into its own.
     More efficient procurement systems improve commerce. Financial engineering has definitely come into its own in the provision of debt and equity capital to real estate.
     A clear impact of the Internet on current markets is the provision of analysis, including everything from appraisal methodologies to asset and property management support, accounting, tax planning, construction management tools, and specialized software for statistical analysis.
     Surprisingly enough, the firms that may profit most from availability of this product may not be existing large multi-faceted players, but rather the up-and-coming technology oriented "niche" players, which heretofore have not had sufficient infrastructure or resources to support such an extensive analytic function.
     Consolidation will also come Web-based purveyors of analytical tools as applied to real estate, although this component of the industry is still in the start?up phase, with many products being offered by the information providers.
     The survivors ultimately will be those that provide the most value-added to the most users, are adequately capitalized, and have the best infrastructure to support their product, including a capable user?support network.
     The third and fourth levels of product provision to real estate by the Web are the facilitation of real estate transactions online and, ultimately, the development of online real?time auctions of real estate interests, which eliminate the "middlemen" who are necessary for traditional real estate transactions.
     Facilitation of transactions online does not actually transform the marketplace, but only the location at which the transaction takes place, it becomes virtual as opposed to physical.
     It could involve anything from online completion of application forms and offering contracts to actual acceptance and transfer of ownership online. The development of a real-time online auction transaction mechanism would be a fundamental transformation of the marketplace, dramatically changing existing market roles.
     Progress toward putting real estate transactions online, however, has been uneven, with the residential primary and secondary mortgage market being the furthest along, and the secondary market for commercial mortgage debt being not very far behind.
     The Internet also impacts the speed of residential sales, as many components of the transaction can increasingly be provided remotely. The segment of the market least likely to be impacted by Web-based innovations is the sales process for large commercial properties, which are a relatively thin market and highly heterogeneous, requiring high levels of personalized due diligence.
     The market for securitized REIT and REOC shares on Wall Street is a different animal, as it already is an online real-time auction as part of the stock exchange, but that should be distinguished from the sale of whole fee interests in individual assets through the private markets, which will continue to have a place in the real estate market.
     The commercial secondary mortgage market will be not far behind. The market for residential sales and "bulk" sales of commercial property portfolios will experience movement online with a commensurate reduction in the roles of traditional intermediaries.
     As REM and REOCs become a larger share of commercial market ownership, the online electronic marketplace of the stock exchange will penetrate further into the real estate market.
     However, this level of activity is separable from the transfer of whole-property fee interests in commercial property in the private markets, which will continue to require a high level of personalized due diligence owing to the thinness of the market and the heterogeneity of the product.
     The agency positions associated with larger commercial property transactions will prove the most immune from Web obsolescence.
     Will the need for regional malls and other retail real estate shrink as e-commerce becomes a significant portion of total retail sales?
     It depends. Second-tier regional malls, power centers, and big boxes may be at risk to the extent that they do not provide subsidiary benefits to consumers such as food and entertainment.
     The highest rates of penetration by e-commerce are predicted to be for computer hardware and software, accessories, music, consumer electronics, and flowers.     However, the overall level of penetration into the space?based retail market by 2010 is predicted to be only 5.4%, significantly lower than many optimistic estimates.
     Further, a Census Bureau survey of Internet usage found only an estimates 2% of U.S. households were using the Internet to shop online, significantly lower than other estimates such as Forrester's 9% figure for 1998.
     The recent decline in the share prices of many e-commerce dot.coms may portend the fact that neither the economies, nor the broad base of demand exists for e-shopping and that it may well exist more as a niche in the market, as do the catalog and the shopping television network, than as a supplanter of traditional shopping.
     Even if ecommerce does take off in popularity, however, the resulting higher rate of economic growth overall may more than make up for the loss.
     Will high-rise office buildings become white elephants, as downsizing, outsourcing, back officing, and telecommuting reduce the need for large blocks of office space in central locations?
     Many central cities will continue to experience soft office markets as decentralization continues. "Landmark" high-end skyscrapers have rarely worked out well financially and have been more the products of grandiose vision than economic sense.
     However, agglomeration economies will continue to be important, and clusters of office space, perhaps less high-rise, lower density, less marble-plated, and more flexible and functional will continue to be in demand.
     There will continue to be a viable office cluster but a smaller one, relatively if not in absolute terms, and only one of many others spread throughout the metropolitan region.
     The amount of office space per worker will continue to decline. Will cities become increasingly disperse as the economic mandates for physical proximity and agglomeration become less important in the new world of "virtual" space?
     Decentralization will continue, including low density zoning requirements, increasing affluence, a flight to high-quality schools and government services, and U.S. tax policy encouraging the purchase of larger homes.
     Four things could cause a reverse migration to the central city: increased transportation costs; an aging population; federal government policy with respect to the pricing of transportation, the support of homeownership, and intervention in land use regulatory policies; and local government policy with respect to taxes, land use regulation, and service provision.

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The Tower District News

June 9, 2003
Fresno State Officials
Named Cheating
Slam!
By Howard Hobbs PhD, Editor & Publisher

    FRESNO STATE -- Documents made public today in NCAA letters, link former Fresno State adviser to academic fraud. The former academic adviser for the Fresno State basketball team allegedly acted in bad faith wwhen he participated in an ongoing cheating scandal that led to the curent NCAA investigation...More

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The Tower District News

June 5, 2003
San Joaquin River
Just Keeps on Rolling Along

By Amy Williams, Staff Writer

   Bureau of Reclamation PhotoFRIANT -- There are over 75,000 river dams in the United States, and Friant is one of them.  It diverts river water to meet household needs, irrigate fields, supply factories, control flooding, generate power, permit barge traffic deep inland, and make lakes for boating and fishing. Yet, dams for all the good they do, it must be remembered, they do decrease the natural runoff from watersheds.
    We have now seen that less sediment washes down stream to replenish coastal wetlands and beaches. We discovered recently, salt levels are rising at river deltas, as less fresh water flows out. Most dams interfere with migration routes and spawning grounds, and water released after long periods behind Friant Dam is often oxygen-depleted and polluted.
     San Joaquin River and the Sacramento Delta have more than a hundred dams and water-diversion systems built to provide irrigation and reclaim cropland have transformed the watersheds.
     Water withdrawals past years have depleted the San Joaquin River's flow by up to 90 percent. Gene Rose writes in his new book The San Joaquin, A River Betrayed,
"... by the time it reaches the San Joaquin Delta, nearly 400 miles and 10,000 vertical feet later, it has become little more than a public sewer, a fouled, controlled drain for agricultural and municipal wastewater..."
    
There is hope expressed by Fresno area writer and naturalist, Howard Hobbs, Ph.D., in recent observations published in the Clovis Free Press newspaper, The Secret of the San Joaquin River Delta,
"...For centuries, Clovis ranching along the the San Joaquin River and Big Dry Creek area has coexisted with wetland wildlife of abundant number and variety. The wild things which live on this once damp prairie biome have flourished because of a strict ranching ethic and an unlimited water supply which supported their every need.."

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The Tower District News

May 25, 2003
Politics in an Uncertain World
How politicians Reduce Information Costs

By Howard Hobbs Ph.D., Editor & Publisher

   FRESNO -- Advertising is the life blood of newspapers and politicians. Newspaper, radio spots and print ads cost a lot of money. Rational citizens seeking public office these days, are under great pressure to increase the quality of political rhetoric and to cut down the quantity of scarce money resources for communicating needed political information to voters.
    One model, which appears to form the base of most of local Fresno political campaign practice, is the strategic use of Fresno's free information stream...More!

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The Tower District News

May 19, 2003
Mayor Autry Meets
Big City Slicker

Howard Hobbs PhD, Editor & Publisher

     FRESNO -- This City played host to one the foremost business writers in New York City this week. Lynn Cook of Forbes Magazine was here for a few hours and Mayor Alan Autry eagerly explained his economic vision for a bigger and better roadmap, and of privatizing many of the City's functions. It is Autry's idea to downsize the enormous City governance...More!

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The Tower District News

May 20, 2003
Luxury Apartments
Destroyed Overnight

Burning Questions Remain

By Thomas Hobbs, Staff Writer

    FRESNO STATE -- Emergency Traffic Advisory: University Police asked anyone coming to the campus this morning to avoid Barstow and Cedar Ave. approaches from the north side. A fire at an off-campus student apartment community has caused a traffic hazard. Unrestricted access is from the South and East roads to the campus via Chestnut or Shaw Avenues only...More!

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May 15, 2003
Valley Area Home Sales Skyrocket
Howard Hobbs PhD, Real Estate Economist

     FRESNO -- The median price of an existing, single family detached home in Central California hit a new record during the first quarter of 2003, rising 14.3 percent to $337,780, the California Association of Realtors reported today.
    Closed sales of existing, single family detached homes in California amounted to 573,030 for the first quarter of 2003 at a seasonally adjusted ...More!

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The Tower District News

May 5, 2003
Home Apartment Resales
Heat Up Fresno Real Estate Market

by Thomas Hobbs, Fresno Republican Newspaper Staff Writer

    FRESNO - Home sales in the Central Valley have increased sharply due to low interest rates and attractive pricing.
     For example, I cite the case of Paul Gestic who recently moved to Fresno from the Bay Area. Paul was looking to invest his recent windfall from the sale of another property in Richmond, CA. He noticed early on that the real estate market pricing in Fresno-Clovis was climbing into the stratosphere.
     Moving quickly to capitalize on the market, Gestic closed escrow on an ideal buy for $180,000 cash. It was a run-down 10-plex apartment house in Fresno's Tower District. By leveraging the profits from the sale in Richmond, he cleared $187,000 on the transaction. That's a great return on anyone's investment in less than one year.
     Gestic is not the only one who has noticed this, the possibilities are everywhere. Home sellers are taking their equity and reinvesting it after years of saving and waiting for the market to get hot. Home pricing in Fresno and Clovis is attracting the attention of people from L.A. and the Bay Area.
     "Low interest rates are driving up sales, and there's a sudden shortage of income properties on the market," says Gestic. "The market is being fueled by owners selling pricey real estate in the Bay Area. The market in Fresno is heating up as a consequence," he said.
     Paul Gestic is a primary Realtor with Fresno Income Properties under the Larry Hawkins Real Estate firm at 723 E. Locust Avenue, Suite 121 in northwest Fresno 559-438-9410. When I last spoke with him today business is booming.

Letter to Editor

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Sunday May 4, 2003
Price Hunting Home Buyers
Go online to Click-n-Save!
By Howard Hobbs Ph.D., Real Estate Economist

    FRESNO -- House hunting on the Internet for single homes and multi-family units has become the hotest new toy in the Valley real-estate market in past few days.  
    Widspread use of Internet access by potential home buyers is a major information bonanza dished-up by local real estate vendors and brokers who are experiencing marked expansion of listing and sales this week. The home of your dreams is just a click away. Case in point, Fresno Realtor, Larry Hawkins.
    The Internet is making a surprising impact on sales this week in the San Joaquin Valley. Especially in the Clovis-Fresno home market.
     Analysis of this trend leads to one conclusion - prime movers are looking for upscale communities with access to at least one major interstate freeway system.
     Major retailers use these communities as distribution points to transport products to major urban markets quickly and cheaply.
     Such areas also are home to other businesses which can make good use of side roads, highways and rail systems adding to the community's attraction to business and housing expansion.Major trucking firms have traditionally invested heavily in the infrastructure.
     This area of the San Joaquin Valley has become one of the fastest expanding local economies in the West. Small and medium size employers have reported little trouble this Spring in attracting a trained labor force.
     The Central Valley has experienced some decline in the area's agricultural work force as a result of increasing mechanization. This appears to be tied, in part, to workers moving from ag jobs to industrial work that pays hourly wages of $15 to $17, including incentives, according to the latest U.S. Labor Department stats just out this week.
     Rural counties that are located on or near major interstate freeways like the Clovis-Fresno Highway 168, 198, and 99 attract major firms. The County is booming, drawing trucking, auto-parts, and other major retailers.
     Widspread use of Internet access by potential home buyers is a major information bonanza from local real estate vendors and brokers who are experiencing marked expansion of listing and sales this week.

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The Tower District News

   April 12, 2003
Economist View
is Gloom & Doom

By Howard Hobs Ph.D., Real Estate Economist

     FRESNO -- Economists forecast a scaled back April. In fact, their numbers for a third-straight month are gloomy.
    Average forecasts for the first two quarters are down by one-third from the rate forecast in a survey conducted before the start of the year.
     War jittere and the jump in energy prices early in 2003 took a toll. When the Commerce Department releases its initial reading on gross domestic product for the first quarter, our panel of 54 economists believes it'll put growth at a meager 1.7% rate.
     Economists don't expect much more in the second quarter, despite the signs of success in the war and a drop in oil prices.
     The average forecast is just 2.1%. In the third and fourth quarters, they believe growth will accelerate to 3.6% and 3.9%, respectively.

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The Tower District News

 

April 2, 2003
Stanford Anti-War Activities
Clash With Hoover Institutio
n
and Bush Administration

by Emily Biuso, The Nation Magazine

   WASHINGTON -- As student antiwar activists work to make their case against war persuasive to ambivalent classmates, the leaders of a Stanford University peace group have launched a different kind of campaign--to reform a conservative think tank on campus with dubious ties to the Bush Administration.
     The 84-year-old, Stanford-based Hoover Institution, long famous for its influence over national Republican policy, currently wields substantial power at the Pentagon, with eight Hoover fellows sitting on the Defense Policy Board advising Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the war in Iraq.
     But the institution makes an impact, albeit of a different sort, at its home in California, too.
     A generous sum ...and More!

 

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The Tower District News

March 13, 2003
Could a $15 Pylon
Save Your Child's Life?

By Thomas Hobbs, Staff Writer

    FRESNO - It was a clear morning yesterday and traffic was moving briskly. A man in a bright orange vest stepped into the busy street and raised his arms halting the oncoming cars. A moment later, children moved safely across the street and through the doors of Alexander Hamilton Middle School.
      When I returned the following morning to photograph this amazing scene, I was stunned to find there was no crossing guard, no traffic cones, the sound of squealing tires, and the sight of kids frantically dodging traffic as cars sped through the crosswalk at break-away speeds.
      Leann, a concerned mother of a 5th grade student at Hamilton had walked her son to the crosswalk where I was watching and waiting in dismay. She related that just last week the volunteer told her he might have to stop coming to the school in the mornings and afternoons.
      In a private discussion with the volunteer, he did share with me his thoughts about traffic safety, "I tried to slow dawn the oncoming traffic to a safe speed by warning drivers with safety pylons. Drivers would frequently whiz through this intersection narrowly missing the children. Later, I was told by my supervisor not to use them, so I quit."
     It's time for the City Fathers to establish a pedestrian crossing light at the intersection. If you would like to post your comments on this column or make recommendations, please contact the writer at editor@fresnorepublican.com.

[Editor's note: For further information see California Vehicle Code section 21373, School Board Requests for Traffic Control Devices; Section 21455, Signals at Other Than Intersection; and Section 21456, Walk, Wait, or Don't Walk Pedestrian Signal. To become involved in the Crossing Guard Safety Program at 29 high-risk elementary school intersections, contact Norm Gurley at 559-237-3101 or email at info@volunteerfresno.org. This story was originally posted on March 1, 2003.]

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The Tower District News

   

January 1, 2003
State Water Use
Deadline Missed!
By Mark Clark, Fresno Republican Staff Writer

    FRESNO -- Efforts by water officials in Southern California failed on Tuesday to achieve a water use plan for water from the Colorado River before a midnight deadline.
     The Bush administration said it will now stop flows from the Colorado River to California cities and farms beginning in January today. This action is ther first time in American history that...More!

The Tower District News

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Friday December 13, 2002
Lott's Choice
An American Tragedy
By Howard Hobbs PhD Editor & Publisher

   WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Thursday openly denounced Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, for intemperate comments that shocked and may have cost the Republican majority in Congress the goodwill of the nation.
     Bush's censure came as calls for the Mississippi senator to resign his congressional leadership post rang out at the Capitol.
    President Bush angrily told reporters...More!

The Tower District News

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December 12, 2002
WARGAME IRAQ
Highest Levels of the U.S. Government at Play?
By Howard Hobbs, Ph.D.

    WASHINGTON -- The Council on Foreign Relations appears to have been collaborating with informants inside the National Security Council on the coming War with Iraq.
     In the meantime, MSNBC has aired an all too realistic inside look at how the National Security Council could advise President George W. Bush on some attack plans that might just come in handy by this time next week.
     According to an informant, this cozy relationship all started last month in a dramatic series of meetings at National Security Council offices, where veterans of past administrations and experts in foreign policy discussed...More

The Tower District News

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December 6, 2002
Davis' Cuts
Calif Education To Bone
By Edward Davidian, Staff Writer

      FRESNO - Gov. Gray Davis is calling for huge cuts in education funding that could destroy the academic progress of California students and cause an "education recession" that could hurt our public schools and our state for years to come, warns Wayne Johnson, president of the 330,000-member California Teachers Association.
      "Recent investments in public education have been paying off," Johnson said. "Student achievement has increased and test scores are up. Any reductions must be made away from the classroom or we will destroy that momentum. We can't afford to force our schools into an education recession."
Johnson said state legislators convening in a special session Monday to deal with the budget deficit of at least $21 billion over the next 18 months should remember that:
      More than $3.1 billion was cut from our public schools to help the state balance the budget between last year and this year. Any additional immediate cuts must be made away from the classroom.
      California needs a long-term plan to address the immediate and future needs of our students and schools. Resolving the budget crisis by increasing class sizes or laying off teachers is reckless.
      "This is a long-term problem that needs a long-term solution," said Johnson. "Any additional budget cuts will make it harder to attract qualified teachers at a time when we already face a teacher shortage and overcrowded classrooms."

[Editor's Note: The California Teacher's Aaaociastion is affiliated with the 2.7 million-member National Education Association.]

The Tower District News

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December 6, 2002
The Inside Story of
The Unheavenly City

By Thomas Hobbs, Editor

Unheavenly City Cover - click to order at Amazon     FRESNO -- Edward Banfield's recent book "The Unheavenly City Revisited" addresses the role of government in society. His focus is on urban poverty and the reaction and inaction of local government in addressing these problems in the inner city. Many urban poor in our cities and small towns are relegated to low-income jobs carrying no benefits. In order to get health and welfare benefits from an employer, full-time permanent jobs are necessary.
     Inner city slum areas have few good full-time jobs because most employers have moved their plants out to the suburbs. With the businesses gone, the only tax base for supporting the schools are taxes on dilapidated and substandard housing. Mediocre schooling for minorities in inner cities contributes to black-white achievement differences. The old adage, "the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer" is holding true in inner city economics.
     Professor Banfield's conservative views on urban poverty drew widespread criticism in the 1970s and kept students flocking to his classes. He was the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Urban Government at Harvard from 1959 until he left for a teaching position at the University of Pennsylvania in 1972.
     Banfield returned to Harvard four years later as the George D. Markham Professor of Government, and remained there until his retirement. He is the author of several books, including The Unheavenly City Revisited, in 1990. The book drew criticism for allegedly downplaying America's urban crisis and disputing that racism is the root cause of urban African-American poverty.

The Tower District News

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- Updated -
December 4, 2002
The Grinch Who Stole
Christmas Tree Lane

By Thomas Hobbs, Editor

    FRESNO -- Last night Fresno's historic Christmas Tree Lane was the subject of the annual walk. This writer was among the 5,000 who turned out. I began this year's annual walk at Lansing and Van Ness Blvd.
Christmas Tree Lane Walk 2002     Christmas Tree Lane decor was the best we've seen it in several years. This writer was reassured about the safety of the walk when he noted two law enforcement officers walking ahead of his group.
     A police presence is needed in Old Fig Garden, a county island, outside the city of Fresno's jurisdiction. One home owner would agree. Jeff Martens had carefully planned and laid-out his lighted decor on the Night Before Christmas Tree Lane opened for its annual "walk."
     On Monday, a day before the traditional Christmas Tree Lane walk-thru, Jeff Martens' yard and fence displays were set up and tested. By the following evening, however, his yard and fence display with lighted wreaths, garlands were dark.
     Martens told reporters, "To have something like this done almost at the very beginning of the evening is really disappointing."
    Checking with the Fresno County Sheriff's Department our reporters learned that 50 Sheriff's deputies were assigned to patrol the Van Ness Blvd. on opening night. A spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office said, "...decorations were probably stolen during the afternoon when there were few people around."
     As we reached the intersection of Van Ness and Ashlan, I noted that Fresno County Sheriff's Deputies were present with their patrol car headlights on illuminating the the surface of the roadway for the safety of the crowd.
     The Martens' incident was the only reported theft out for about 150 upscale residences in the somewhat secluded neighborhood. Event spokespersons said there were a million or more lights along the Deodar Cedar lined two-lane County roadway. The event is said to have been initiated in 1918.

    [Editor's Note: A man was sentenced to three years and eight months is prison yesterday for breaking into two homes on Christmas Eve and stealing presents from under a lighted tree. Timothy R. Robinson, 23, plead guilty to two counts of burglary and two counts of grand theft and was sentenced by Circuit Judge Richard Tombrink in a Florida court. Robinson also received five years' probation. ]

The Tower District News

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December 4, 2002
Natural Health
Chiropractic Management
By Edward Davidian, Staff Writer

    FRESNO -- Anthony L. Rosner, PhD, the director of research for the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research, has just released a research study of his findings on the effectiveness certain types of care used fin chiropractic management of common childhood disorders.
     The report points to the urgent need for further research into chiropractic management of this media, infantile colic, nocturnal enuresis, asthma, scoliosis, and neurological disorders like attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
     Dr. Rosner told reporters, that his findings present a convincing premise for chiropractic management of specific childhood conditions for the immediate future He said, "chiropractic management as a treatment option for infants and children should be a hallmark of any credible and viable medical practice."

    [Editor's Note: A member of the Fresno Republican Newspaper's editorial staff was injured a few weeks ago while stopped a red light on Clovis Ave. The company vehicle he was driving, was struck from behind by a negligent driver who failed to stop. Our news staff vehicle was struck from behind and our staff person was injured. A medical consultation was arranged with Michael Dayton M.D., his medical office then referred our staff to the Fashon Fair Health Care Center in Fresno for chiropractic x-ray, examination of head, neck, thoracic pain and limited range of motion issues. In a local matter where those types of injuries are fully covered by auto insurance, the Fashion Fair Health Care in Fresno. This is the case with our staff and Fashion Fair Health provided staff with timely non-invasive treatment and pain relief. We are happy to report that staff is back at work. Fashion Fair Health is located at 4845 N. Fresno Street at Fashion Fair.]

The Tower District News

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December 3, 2002
War & Morality
By Peter Schwartz

    FRESNO -- Mr. Bush's policy toward Hussein is doomed to failure because it refuses to evaluate the conflict with Iraq in moral terms. The hallmark of our political leaders today is moral uncertainty--a quality that is shaping President Bush's shapeless policy toward Iraq.
     Despite his repeated assertions about the dangers posed by Saddam Hussein, Mr. Bush chose to embrace the appeasing resolution recently passed by the U.N. Refusing to condemn Saddam Hussein as a vicious dictator whose government has no right to remain in power, the resolution offered him the mollifying "commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.
     " Wagging a finger at the tyrant who routinely gases political opponents and amputates the tongues of his critics, the Security Council warned Hussein that noncompliance will result in some fuzzy "serious consequences."
     The Council members agreed with the Syrian representative, who insisted that the resolution "should not be interpreted [to] authorize any entity to use force." "The legitimate concerns of Iraq should be respected," said the Chinese deputy ambassador.
     Hussein, who has snubbed his nose at 16 previous resolutions, knows that as long as he goes along with the ridiculous pretense that the arms inspectors can actually disarm him, the world's diplomats will keep him safe from a U.S. attack.
     The U.N. opposes the unilateral use of force by America, because that would be a declaration of moral certainty--a declaration that there is a danger which necessitates the extreme response of military action. The use of force would be an unambiguous statement that there are no "legitimate concerns of Iraq" to be respected, and that a dictatorial warmonger will not be allowed to remain in power.
     By contrast, the diplomatic approach to Iraq--the one President Bush has accepted--rests on the premise that no one can be sure what is right. Diplomacy asserts: "Since there is no black-and-white, all differences are resolvable, so let's consider everyone's desires and work it out like gentlemen."
     U.N. representatives hail the current resolution because it was cobbled together by the collective consciousness of the world's rulers.
     No nation has the right--they all claim--to act on its own. No nation can take it upon itself to determine when it should go to war. Such decisions can emerge only from an international consensus that hails the "legitimate concerns" of all parties and that eschews all moral judgment.
     President Bush could have categorically repudiated this approach. If he were more confident in the morality of waging a defensive war, he could have announced that the principles of a free country mandate that we defend ourselves by removing the threat posed by Iraq, regardless of whether other countries agree.
     After all, Hussein is a self-avowed enemy of America. He went to war with us eleven years ago, when he tried to seize control over the oil that America buys.
     He attempted to assassinate the ex-President Bush. He has chemical and biological weapons which can readily be delivered to the U.S. He is pursuing a program to acquire nuclear weapons. He finances and harbors terrorists.
    Any dictatorship that has the capability, and has demonstrated the willingness, to attack America's interests, is a threat that deserves to be eliminated. The justification for war is not some amoral calculation about geopolitical "balances of power."
     The only justification is a moral one--and the only nation entitled to invoke it is one that upholds freedom. In a battle between gangsters, both sides are wrong; in a battle between tyranny and freedom, it is the proponents of the latter who are in the right.
     Saddam Hussein is an enemy, potential or actual, of every free country in the world. The outlaw-state of Iraq has no right to its "territorial integrity"--any more than did the Taliban in Afghanistan or the Nazis in Germany.
     We all recognize the objective difference between criminals and the police. The fact that both parties carry weapons does not make it difficult to evaluate the one as a threat to our rights and the other as a protector of those rights.
    The same applies to countries: dictatorships are criminal states, while the government of a free country is the police who uses force to defend its citizens against those criminals.
     The moral distinction between the initiator and the retaliator is obvious to everyone except our diplomats (and our intellectuals). Passing moral judgment is the one act they seek to avoid. "Who are we to judge," they declare amorally--leaving conflicts to be resolved through pragmatic horse-trading and arm-twisting.
     But making moral judgments is the basic requirement of an effective foreign policy. We need to identify the danger posed to the value of human life and human liberty by certain regimes. The government of Iran, for example, which is the wellspring of world terrorism, is a physical threat to America and should be militarily subdued.
     The same goal applies to other aggressor countries that are demonstrable threats to the safety of Americans. Twenty-one years ago, Israel sent 16 warplanes to bomb and destroy a nuclear facility in Iraq that was soon to be activated.
     It sought no U.N. resolutions, it issued no warnings about "serious consequences" and it was undeterred by the prospect of worldwide disapproval. It was confident in the rightness of its actions. One can only hope that President Bush will find the moral courage to emulate that approach.

    [Editor's Note: Mr. Schwartz, woks as the editor of Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution and is chairman of the board of directors of the Ayn Rand Institute (www.aynrand.org/medialink) in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Send comments to reaction@aynrand.org].

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December 2, 2002
State vs. Man
The Changing Tradition
By Daniel J. Mahoney

    FRESNO -- The modern world's landscape is marked by two seemingly inexorable and contradictory processes: on the one hand, the emergence of unprecedented state power, claiming competence over ever greater domains of human life.
    On the other, the rise of a self-assertive "society" aiming to liberate the individual from traditional moral, social, and political restraints. For three centuries, this tug-of-war between growing state power and societal self-assertion has proceeded apace. It has become the unavoidable subject matter of modern social and political theory.
     Thinkers on both the left and right have attacked the legitimacy of political command, upholding the integrity of the individual and society against the encroachments of the state even as the state stubbornly refuses to wither away. The left's chosen instrument for liberating the individual from what Marx called the "alien powers" of domination and exploitation has been revolution. And as Irving Louis Horowitz correctly observes in his important new book...More!

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Wednesday, November 6, 2002
Sterling Magnificent
Ronquillo Absentee
Autry's Collapse
By Edward Davidian, Staff Writer

       FRESNO -- At the latest count, District Three's new Council Member is well known local business person, Cynthia Sterling. It appears that Phil Larson won a seat on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. Probation officer and City Council activist, Dan Ronquillo was significantly trailing Larson at press time this morning.
     Erstwhile television bit player finds voters didn't buy another one of his scripts as Fresno voters didn't buy Alan Autry's script for control of the Fresno Unified School Board last night. In fact, they elected an indecisive simple majority in the Board race. Making matters worse for Autry, the Union-backed candidate won the fourth seat on the Fresno Unified School Board.
    This after, a hard fought campaign spending over $200,000 in order to gain political control for reform of the Fresno Unified School District attendance polices, truancy and the like. Luisa Medina, Tony Vang, Richard Johanson and Patricia Barr will take their seats on the Board this week.
   Board of Education hopefuls spent an inordinate amount of more than $150,000 seeking a City Council seat according the Fresno County Clerks office.

. The Tower District News

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October 31,2002
Conquering Evil
In Iraq & Nazi Germany
Marcia Todd, Contributor

   FRESNO -- George W. Bush isn't the first president to consider how to turn a dictatorship into a democracy. During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman worked to make sure Germany would never threaten the world.
     That's the subject of the book "The Conquerors" by Michael Beschloss. His book includes some revelations about what the U.S. knew about Nazi death camps and when they knew it. Michael Beschloss reports there has always been suspicions that FDR knew more than was stated publicly.
     FDR knew a lot in 1942. What troubled me...More!

October 29,2002
Jailed To The Max
In Downtown High Rise
By Edward Davidian, Staff Writer
    Inside Fresno County Jail
FRESNO -- Fresno County Sheriff, Richard Pierce, says that the current practice of releasing 150 to 200 prisoners each week due to overcrowding is over, "Now I'm releasing mainly felons, before it was misdemeanors. They still needed to be in jail, but now...More!

September 1, 2000
The Impact of the Internet on
Commercial Real Estate Sales

By Howard Hobbs, Ph.D., Real Estate Economist

    Economist at work!
FRESNO -- Technology can be formally defined in an economic context as any intervention that changes the nature of the production function for economic goods, including real estate, so that the goods are improved, or produced more efficiently at a lowercost.
    The production function relates the inputs of real estate stock and services to the output. The inputs include the factors of production of land, and capital, as well as quality and a number of other types of amenities.
    Technology can affect the production of real estate through any of three points of entry.It may act "upstream" to affect the efficiency of production or...More!

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The Tower District News

Reprise  from
March 5, 1936
Literary Dynamite:
MARCHING! MARCHING!

By Howard Pease, The Stanford Review

    PALO ALTO -- The new non-fiction book just published by John Day Company IN DUBIOUS BATTLE, tosses a few sticks of dynamite into the literary and political camps this winter.
     The book's author is a Stanford alum, John Steinbeck, well known for his Tortilla Flat. He now tells a story equally interesting but much more powerful and moving. Old grads who read these books may well sit up and murmur: "What's Stanford coming to these days!"
     It would be difficult to find a more disturbing novel. You may not suspect that you are sympathetic to workers who go on strike and picket their places of employment.
     Steinbeck tells his story from the viewpoint of a single character. Simply told, and personal, is the moving tale In Dubious Battle. This book will never find its way on to the shelves of a Sunday School library. In it, Mr. Steinbeck reveals the ruthless methods used by the Communist agitators as well as the price-cutting tricks of the California orchardists.
     Yet, in the end, the strike of the fruit pickers seems inevitable. And because this problem is so close to home it makes one ponder.
     The plight of the migratory worker in California has long been a national scandal. Each year some 200,000 men, women, and children take to the road, following the crops from place to place, living in tents or squalid hovels, earning sometimes twenty cents an hour for their labor.
     Last year the hop pickers of Sonoma County were paid seventy-five cents per day. Their own efforts to better their conditions often meant withstanding the terrorism of vigilantes-those American Fascisti who dare not wear brown shirts or black shirts-dare not, that is, quite yet! Surely all this makes for a fruitful field ripe for Communistic agitation.
     The Federal Resettlement Administration, which has already established a model migratory camp near Marysville and another in the lower San Joaquin Valley, has funds and Washington approval for twenty more such camps.
     Yet now it finds its way blocked by powerful interests headed by the California State Chamber of Commerce. Although the members of this organization admit the success of the two camps, they do not want the government in control, even though not a single livable camp had been built until the government stepped in.
     It is an interesting contrast to note that the chairman of the agricultural section of the State Chamber of Commerce is also the manager of the University of California's farm in Fresno County, while the authors of the year's best proletarian novels are both from the Stanford campus.
     What, I ask, is Stanford coming to? These books sting like nettles. Furthermore, they make you think. And if you are like most of us grads who thankfully ceased thinking on the day we received our degrees, take my advice and don't read them. They are too disturbing.

    [Editor's Note: Steinbeck's novel is an extraordinary exploration of the power of the mob—for good and for evil In the California apple country, nine hundred migratory workers rise up "in dubious battle" against the landowners. The group takes on a life of its own—stronger than its individual members and more frightening. " In Dubious Battle cannot be dismissed as a 'propaganda' novel—it is another version of the eternal human fight against injustice. It is an especially good version, dramatically intense, beautifully written. It is the real thing; it has a vigor of sheer storytelling that may sweep away many prejudices." —The New Republic. The Stanford Review is owned by the Leland Stanford University Alumni Assoc. It is published 18 times a year.]

. The Tower District News

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October 3, 2002
Alexander's Rag Time Band
Needs a few good musical instruments
Edward Davidian, Staff Writer

    FRESNO -- At the Alexander Hamilton Elementary School this week, music teachers have students all smiles beating time to the sounds of the violin. What's missing in this picture?
    The Fresno school has a a great deal of enthusiasm. Unfortunately, they don't have the music instruments needed for the program.
    The school's new music program requires all students in grades Four through Six to take music.Hamilton music student, Quentin Sanford.
    Hamilton's principal, Steve Gettman, told reporters students have a choice in the type of music they want to participate in, whether instrumental or choir. It's a great opportunity for students like Fifth Grade musician, Quentin Sanford, a violinist who said, "I've always liked the sound of it and I've always wanted to play ... and I finally get to, because at Hamilton they have this program."
    Music is a large part of the Hamilton curriculum. Students take music twice a week, for three years. Music teacher Sandy Bolster says there's just one problem, "At this time, we have no instruments. In band alone, we have about 40 students ready and eager to go with no instruments."
    Mr. Gutman, Ms. Bolster and Quentin Sanford appeared in a KFSN-TV ABC 30 special story covering the Hamilton Music instrument appeal on Thursday night Live at Five show carried by local and ABC affiliates.

    [Editor's Note: If you would like to donate a new or used instrument, you can call FUSD office at 559-457-3698, or drop it off at the school at 102 E. Clinton in Fresno.]

. The Tower District News

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September 30, 2002
Deutschland über alles!
Has Gerhard Schroeder struck
a blow for German nationalism?
By Andrew Gimson

    BERLIN -- Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was sober on Sunday night and drunk on Monday morning, and both conditions were entirely justified.
     When the polling booths closed and the first exit polls were published on German television at 6 p.m. on Sunday, the rival camps were so close that either of them might have ended up with a tiny majority but, as an evening of great confusion and excitement wore on, Mr. Schroeder’s conservative
opponents seemed to move into the lead, which was what most of the
German press reported the next morning.
     At about 11 o’clock that night I arrived at one of the Social Democrats’ election-night parties and found most of them had already gone home, tramping off into the rain in the dispirited belief that they had been beaten, which in a sense they had, for the final figures show that their vote fell by 2.4 percentage points compared to the last general election in 1998, when they threw Helmut Kohl out of office, while the conservatives under the leadership of Edmund Stoiber regained 3.4 percentage points.
    Mr. Stoiber appeared to spend much of that night, and even some of the following day, under the illusion that he had won, though he may just have been overwhelmingly relieved that the campaign, in which he displayed the charisma of a stuffed stork, was at last over.
     Only in the middle of the night did it become become clear that the Social
Democrats had gained more votes than predicted in the former East
Germany, where the votes were counted more slowly and where the PDS
— the successor to the East German communist party — suffered heavy
losses.
     At one in the morning, Mr. Schroeder appeared before his party at its
headquarters in Willy Brandt House accompanied by Joschka Fischer, the
foreign minister and leader of the Greens.
     Then triumphant cries of ‘Joschka, Joschka’ resounded from the assembled Social Democrats, for the Greens had rescued them by putting on nearly two percentage points compared to 1998, which was enough to give the two parties 306 seats in a parliament where 302 seats are needed for a majority.
     The full election results showed the Social Democrats had won a mere 8,864 votes more than their conservative opponents, with the difference between the two camps resting on the success or failure of the minor parties. The Greens, who are generally pacifist, beat the Liberals, who are the nearest thing Germany has to a free-market party.
    The closeness of the result matters, for it means that the war issue was of decisive importance. Mr. Schroeder ought to have lost by a mile, given that his economic management has been every bit as bad as Mr. Kohl’s, which is to say that the difficult decisions have been postponed and there are still four million people unemployed, just as there were in 1998.
    The comparison with Mr. Kohl is instructive, for like him Mr. Schroeder has no interest in economics and is shameless in saying exactly what people want to hear. Mr. Kohl famously promised at the time of reunification that there would be ‘blossoming landscapes’ in the former East Germany, instead of which virtually all the industry there closed down, in part because Mr. Kohl ignored the Bundesbank’s advice and allowed a one-for-one conversion of the eastern into the western currency.
    Mr. Schroeder made promises in 1998 about unemployment which he failed to keep, and has just promised the easterners that nobody who suffered
damage in the recent floods will end up worse off than they were before.
    It is a most implausible pledge, but it is exactly what the easterners want to hear and it has contributed to Mr. Schroeder’s victory. Like Mr. Kohl, Mr. Schroeder has an acute insight, very rare among the German political class,
into the mood of the German people, and is able to compensate for his economic incompetence by brilliant electioneering, in which he convinces his compatriots, or just enough of them, that he is the protector, the patriarch, the strong and decisive figure the fatherland needs at this difficult time.
   Like his predecessor, Mr. Schroeder is a successful nationalist who aspires to unite Germany, yet he achieves some of his most striking effects by methods that Mr. Kohl would have abhorred. There is a sense, indeed, in which Mr. Schroeder saved this election by fighting it against the man he had already beaten in 1998.
     Mr. Kohl led the Christian Democrats from 1973, was Chancellor from 1982 and accepted the conventional wisdom of the Cold War period — an acceptance which helped make this otherwise rather brutish and corrupt
figure respectable.
    For him the German national interest was served by anchoring Germany in the Western community of nations, a club for which it was worth paying any level of member-ship fee, up to and including allowing nuclear missiles to be stationed on German soil and giving up the national currency.
     The greater the sacrifice, the greater the proof of German virtue. He was a dreadful bully, but like many bullies he had a servile side, seen in his bearing when he visited Paris or Washington.
     The present Chancellor is not servile, and has started a row with Washington which Mr. Kohl would have done anything to avoid. The Americans are astonished, indignant and hurt. They thought they could rely on Mr. Schroeder, yet they find that simply in order to win an election he
has renounced their policy on Iraq, and has done so without even consulting them.
    The Chancellor said that Germany will not take part in an invasion of Iraq even if the United Nations sanctions one. For him, one might say, the eastern question is not worth the healthy bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier.
     When Bismarck used those words, the eastern question meant the Balkans, and the Russian foreign minister, Gorchakov, urged him that this was not a German or a Russian, but a European question, to which Bismarck replied: ‘I have always found the word Europe on the lips of those politicians who wanted something from other Powers which they dared not demand in their own names.’
      In his scorn for cant, Mr. Schroeder takes his place in a distinguished tradition. The historical parallel which occurred to his justice minister, Herta
Däubler-Gmelin, was of more recent vintage.
     As every schoolboy, or at least every vaguely attentive newspaper reader, knows, she compared President George W. Bush to Hitler, and also claimed that the United States has ‘a lousy legal system’ and ‘Bush would be sitting in prison today’ if the American laws on insider trading had been in force in the 1980s.
     This was strong stuff and provoked direct retaliation from Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, who announced before the Germans went to the polls that relations between the two countries had been ‘poisoned’.
    Short of informing German voters that Mr. Stoiber was Washington’s preferred candidate, she could scarcely have made herself clearer.
    Mr. Stoiber did try, during the campaign, to attack Mr. Schroeder for endangering Berlin’s relations with Washington, but was then swept away by the overwhelming anti-war tide of German public opinion and started
making wild statements about how the Americans would not be allowed, in the event of war, to use their bases in Germany, a line he quickly modified to say they would not be allowed to use German bases.
    Mr. Stoiber’s position as the American candidate was extremely difficult, and one cannot help urging them to find someone more competent to run against Mr. Schroeder next time.
     On Tuesday of this week, Gernot Erler, the member of Mr. Schroeder’s party responsible for foreign policy, said in a radio interview: ‘It was not at all in accordance with international practice how clearly the Americans ...took sides in this election campaign and stated this very openly.’
     But while this was not the Americans’ intention, I cannot help feeling that they have done Germany’s young democracy a service, by helping the German Chancellor to found his policy on the convictions of his own people, rather than on pious international nostrums.
     Germany will in the end be a truer friend to us for being more truly German. All the same, while Mr. Schroeder was right to have a drink on Monday morning, he would be well advised not to get intoxicated by his own success, which was, when all due respect has been paid to his talents, quite lucky.

Letter to Editor

©1876-2002 by The Fresno Republican Newspaper.
All rights reserved.

Tuesday August 27, 2002
MICHIGAN GOVERNOR
MARKS ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

Armenian Assembly of America Press Release

    FRESNO -- The Armenian Assembly applauded Michigan Governor John Engler (R) today as he signed an act designating April 24 as a permanent "Michigan Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923." The act also states that the period beginning on the Sunday before April 24 through the following Sunday will be days of remembrance in the state in memory of the victims of the Genocide and in honor of the survivors.
     The bill reads as follows: "The legislature declares that April 24 of each year shall be the Michigan day of remembrance of the Armenian genocide of 1915-1923, and that the period beginning on the Sunday before that day through the following Sunday shall be the days of remembrance in this state, in memory of the victims of the genocide, and in honor of the survivors."
     "As a former state lawmaker, I am proud of my home state of Michigan and my colleagues for formally and permanently recognizing the Armenian Genocide," Armenian Assembly Executive Director John Jamian said. "We hope other states and eventually the U.S. Congress will take the appropriate steps to recognize April 24 as an official and permanent day of remembrance across the country."
     He added, "We thank Governor Engler and Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus for their support in this effort. A special thanks to Assembly Board of Directors member Edgar Hagopian for his tireless work in ensuring that the Armenian-American voice on this matter was heard."
     Jamian noted that Lt. Governor Posthumus recently told Assembly supporters at an award ceremony for U.S. Congressman Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) that he appreciated the support and commitment of the Michigan Armenian-American community. He said he would do everything possible to see that this bill was signed into law.
     Jamian and Hagopian, together with community activist Edward Haroutunian, Esq., proposed the bill to their local representatives, Michigan State Senators Thaddeus G. McCotter (R-9) and George Z. Hart (D-9) and State Representative Marc Shulman (R-39). They introduced and sponsored the bill in 2001.
     The bill passed through the Michigan Senate in 2001 and was then approved by the Michigan House of Representatives earlier this year. Michigan, like California, permanently recognizes the Armenian Genocide on April 24 each year. California passed similar legislation in 1981. Some 27 states in the U.S. issued proclamations or passed resolutions marking the day.

     The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

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August 21, 2002
Multi-Million Dollar Civil Suit
Names Chiropractic Clinics &Chiropractors
By Howard Hobbs PhD, Editor & Publisher

          FRESNO -- The nationally known Insurance Letter, today reported a huge civil suit has been filed by the Mutual Service Insurance Companies (MSI) of Maine.
     The Hennepin County District Court in Maine has the case in its jurisdiction and has not set a date for the trial. The law suit named the owners of five separate chiropractic health care clinics and four chiropractic health care specialists as defendants. The suit alleges that the defendants organized a scheme to steer...More!

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©1877-2002 by The Fresno Republican Newspaper.
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Saturday April 27, 2002
Consider the Consequences
of finding a parking place
in downtown Fresno day or night!

By Amy Williams, Staff Writer

    FRESNO -- In the early days of the Fresno parking meter, there was a game shoppers played. It was called "feed-the-meter." It had a fairly simple premise -- jump down the sidewalk every 50 minutes, feed the parking meter and run back to the office.
     Simple premise notwithstanding, it was a pocket change extravaganza that (for its time) featured a City Council that wanted to mesmerize voters with bureaucratic expanse, new City Hall, Arenas, stadiums and so forth..
     It was an addictive little device that certainly did its part in transforming the downtown into the teeth-clenching, parking-meter tax junkie that the Fresno City Council is today.
     On Friday, at noon I stood in the heart of downtown Fresno and counted the number of cars at City parking meters. Not a large number. In fact, in front of the County Library, I counted their number on one hand.
     Before the downtown parking meter era began, business was brisk and merchants had thousands of regular customers, orders to fill, out-of-towners rushed there, everyone dressed up.
     The downtown sales tax, alone, was sufficient to support a much smaller City and County government.
   The intervening years, however, have been hard on the select few downtown merchants whose stores have survived there. Convenient, street and alley     parking is the reason for much of their over-the counter business.
    However, surviving merchants now face irate customers over the new City parking enforcement policies and dramatically increased parking fees, and hours
    Many of the City Council parking games have infuriated shoppers,
including the "Meter Maid." era. Unfortunately, downtown shoppers soon found that going downtown to shop had become much too complex and very low on fun.
     Through the years, assorted City Council members have come up with their version of the "magic tax bullet" to shore up City Council spending sprees.
    This week six of the seven Fresno City Council members voted to enact 24 hour day and night parking fees regulation anywhere in downtown Fresno.
     Well, it’s been a while since locals have taken to the downtown streets and it doesn't look like that pattern will change soon.
     Most out of towners attempting to get into downtown Fresno this week wanted to see what the new tax supported $46,000,000 baseball stadium looked like. What they saw - piles of debris all the way out to the sidewalk and a weary crew hustling to cover-up unfinished construction.
    That was enough to turn them around and headed back out of town faster than a speeding bullet.
     What also disgusted week-end tourists were City parking meters invoking the new City Council parking ordinance -- $5.00 -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Parking garages not excluded. No relaxed parking rules in alleys, anymore either.
         I find my parking skills at $5 a whack, in desperate need of work. As soon as I park, walk up to the meter and discover I don't have twenty-quarters on me, I have this irresistible urge to jump back in my car, and head North to freedom.
     The City's downtown parking crisis comes at a time when the City Council is boasting that the City's new $46 million dollar baseball stadium will be paid for by the helpless citizens who still support a City Council tax collector running wild in the City streets.
     If it were a game-board, or an interactive cyber adventure, this City Crisis would most certainly offer three basic modes of play: training, time-attack, and missions.
     The City Council training model would allow you to learn, practice and hone such skills such as flying your city council helicopter, instead of driving your car and developing proper parking procedures and implementing downtown parking techniques.
     During parking missions we would learn how to avoid detection throughout the downtown closed-off streets and alleys and vacant lots when we drive cars.
     We would learn how to shine our spotlight on the alleyways long enough, to eventually evade police at the corner hooking up a towtruck to an illegally parked baseball fan's Jeep Cherokee, their prey.
     During missions mode, you’ll earn points depending on how well you save a number of hapless taxpayer victims cars that are overparked in the City Garage across from the stadium as the game goes into extra-innings.     
    Score high enough on each mission, and you’ll unlock subsequent levels to challenge your heroic efforts. Be warned -- the further you go, the harder the successive missions become as City taxes skyrocket.
    If you persevere long enough to survive all the missions, you’ll faced the “Final Rescue” mission, which offers"Outsmarting the Parking Meter" the most difficult challenge of all.
     In the end, City Council Crisis comes off as a respectable action-packed arcade game that will provide hours of entertainment. It’s certainly not the answer that hardcore "City Manager" game you might have been hoping for, but then again, it doesn’t pretend to be that smart.
     For those of you who aspire to "Mission Impossible" you can play the role of a real Fresno City councilmember looking for something different to do with his hum-drum existence, you could do much worse than giving the City Council a shot.
     Now, for heavens sakes, stop wasting time -- put on your old clothes and your headset, and go downtown, but don't drive your car, and don't ride the City bus! Take along a hankie to hold over your nose. You'll find out why, by the time you get there.

Letter to Editor

©1877-2002 by The Fresno Republican Newspaper.
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March 12, 2002
Optimal Online Banner Advertising
For The Small Business
Mark Burson, Staff Writer

   FRESNO --   Web Portal Design Corp. recently introduced its updfated online banner advertising program. Client reports are very positive. Web Portal writes most of its own software for the online banner ad program, which provides flexibility to meet specific advertising needs throughout the site.
     The layout of each web pages places most advertisments at the optimal place within the client's view. This is based on statistics and surveys which we have found at various places on the web such as www.wilsonweb.com. Specifically, the ad shows up 1/3 of the way down a standard 640x480 page. As the user clicks on the ad, graphical browsers will open a new window, allowing the user to view the target of the ad while maintaining their place on our site.
     All advertisers are given a user ID and password for online access to their statistics and...MORE!

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April 22, 2002
Millions in Tax Dollars
Lost on Minor League Baseball Stadium?
By South-Western College Economics Publications

 
Fresno's new stadiumMASON...(Ohio) --  Dr. Howard Hobbs' detailed economic research paper --"Public Funded Fresno Stadium: Gross Overestimate of Economic Benefits, Underestimated Economic Costs (1997)" provides a nice summary of the arguments for and against public subsidies for professional sports stadiums.
     He argues, though, that the evidence suggests that the proponents tend to exaggerate the benefits from such projects. Hobbs points out that while spending on such sports stadiums provides jobs for construction workers, it withdraws resources from other alternative investment projects that would also have provided construction jobs.
     Since the rate of return to investment in sports stadiums appears to be lower than in other industries, he suggests that society would be better off if fewer new stadiums were built.
     Hobbs suggests that antitrust actions should be used to break up sports leagues into smaller competing business entities.
     He argues that this would reduce the monopoly power that allows existing sports leagues and teams to pressure cities to provide heavily subsidized new stadiums. Hobbs' baseball economics paper may be accessed online.
    Stadium subsidies do not increase economic activity in total and are not necessary to keep sports leagues in existence.
     Cities, though, face competition for sports teams; small market cities particularly might need to offer subsidies in response to remain competitive with larger markets. River...More!

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Monday April 22, 2002
FRESNO PRO BASEBALL
a scripted red-ink debit entry
and a seasonal job for the unemployed!
Bill Corson, Contributor

   FRESNO --  Baseball! When played by professionals for profit, it is a performance of worldly employment and business.
     It didn't always exist in its current form, with rules, giant municipally owned ballparks, minor leagues, and all the rest.
    History establishes that the first literary reference to "baseball" was made by John Newberry in 1744. Newberry wrote, "The ball once struck - Away flies the boy - From each abandoned post - To the next with joy."
     Since then, other writers have discussed baseball with the same underlying connotation to the play of boys...More!

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Friday April 5, 2002
DOWNTOWN PLAN SCRAPPED!
Sagging Economy Forces City Council to Abandon It's
$1 Billion Redevelopment Project for Office Buildings,
shops, restaurants and housing as economy slumps.

By William Heartstone, Satff Writer

    FRESNO - A long-awaited environmental analysis of the development expected to return shopping to the downtown San Jose Mall area presents a set of major complications that may be a deal-killer in the project's planning stages, and comes as fresh questions are being raised about its economic feasibility and the necessity of City Redevelopment in the project.
     Redevelopment Scrapped!One week after a New York developer withdrew from an ambitious plan to remake the sleepy downtown core of San Jose, city leaders are dramatically scaling back their hopes and facing the realities of a stagnant commercial real estate market in Central and Coastal California regions.
    In an effort to explain the sudden departure of a keystone developer, San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzalez told Fresno Republican Newspaper reporters today, "The environment has changed...given the state of the economy, we have to step back and take a look at a smaller project."
    Palladium, the major developer came to San Jose in the middle of the tech boom and proposed $1 billion complex on the old mall for new
offices, shops, restaurants and housing set among the existing historic buildings around South First and South Second streets.
     Then the bottom fell out of the San Jose economy as the failed Palladium project was abandoned in San Jose's efforts to bring more government workers and shoppers downtown.
     But after the technology market crashed and the extreme drop in Silicon Valley commercial rents, followed by a big jump in the vacancy rate for Class A office space after Sept. 11, the combination proved fatal for Mall redevelopment plans which were already behind schedule.
    Palladium was on its second extension when it pulled out. Gonzalez said San Jose will now concentrate on smaller deals, mostly for retail and entertainment attractions, instead of pursuing grand visions.
     On Friday, about the only retail development still under development in San Jose is a mixed-use project several miles from downtown.
      "As long as the heart of the city is weak, it won't be able to pump blood to the rest of the city," said Scott Knies, director of the San Jose Downtown
Association, a group of business and property owners.
     A multi-story office tower, planned during the boom, is still under construction and was set to open later this year. However, the building has had trouble attracting tenants in a weak market, and commercial brokers say the vacancy rate in San Jose will continue to rise until at least midyear.
     Worse yet, a 500+ room Marriott hotel, now under construction, is facing an uncertain future as it approaches its opening date next year.
     So what does the San Jose City Council know that Fresno councilmembers won't admit?

[Editor's note: Source: San Jose Redevelopment Agency.]

Letter to Editor

©1877-2002 by The Fresno Republican Newspaper.
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April 4, 2002
Tower Outraged?
City Hall Calling Downtown Renewal Project
"The Tower at Convention Center Court"

By Howard Hobbs, Ph.D. President
Valley Press Media Network

    FRESNO -- According to the Fresno City Council map just out, the Fresno Tower District does not rate a mention. In fact, the official 3D Map published on the City of Fresno web site covers just about everything else in sight.Worse yet, Bill Kuebler, a former director of the Tower District was singled out for recognition of his key role in promoting The Tower at Convention Center Court project by City officials. The New Tower    
    Tom Boyajian, who is the current representative on the City Council for the Tower District, could not be reached for comment. However, the projects listed on Boyajian's Web Site do not include mention of a Downtown Fulton Mall project called "The Tower." ...More

Update
March 17, 2001
Tower District
The Best Kept Sequel in Fresno!
By Thomas Hobbs, Editor

    TOWER -- That certain Tower District feeling of pride, place and historic import has returned to these 1930's sidewalks and storefronts.
     Some people are immune to it. What others say is that, deep-down, it's like the feeling in your gut on a warm day like Tuesday when the traffic's moving, curbside parking was jammed, business was happening and streets with names like Broadway, Fulton, Wishon and Van Ness hurriedly delivered carloads of people at The Daily Planet Cafe returning to the newly spruced-up village the hangout where William Saroyan called "home." If you haven't visited lately, you should. I get the feeling here, this place is in full renaissance...More!

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Thursday, December 27, 2001
KEEP LAST FIVE MILES OF
OCEANO DUNES

OPEN TO OHV RECREATION!

By Karen Suty

    FRESNO -- The Friends of Oceano Dunes announced that after sacrificing more than 1,000 miles of beach, they intend to fight for the last five-mile stretch of beach reserved for motorized beach access.
     Currently, less than one-half of one percent of the 1,100 miles of California coastline remains open for multi-use access. Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (ODSVRA) is the recognized leader for producing constructive and enforceable standards for protecting wildlife.
     In spite of that fact, extremist groups continually provide misleading information regarding the park in an effort to inflame the public. This tactic was successful in closing the beaches at Lompoc and Vandenberg. Beach closure of this kind affects everyone: local families, business owners, equestrians, surfers, fishermen, elderly, and the disabled.
     "These extremists manipulate the Endangered Species Act to selectively control public access to California beaches," said Mark Meupolder, Friends of Oceano Dunes vice president. "Our objective is to keep the park open for the over one million people who visit Oceano Dunes each year and to promote responsible recreation." Map of Oceano Dunes Area
     Adjacent to the ODSVRA is an 11-mile Wilderness preserve consisting of over 13,000 acres of beach and dunes-land previously accessible by vehicle.
     Today, the ODSVRA is less than ten percent the size of the Wilderness preserve. Friends of Oceano Dunes strives for a more balanced approach to the protection of threatened and endangered species.
     The appeal initiated to stop the grading of Pier Ramp was defeated by an 8 to 2 margin. Unfortunately, the approved permit is only a three month continuation of the emergency grading permit. The meeting was held in Coronado near San Diego.
     Most Commissioners were in attendance. Seven Friends of Oceano Dunes supporters were able to speak in behalf of keeping Oceano Dunes a vehicle accessible park, including showing a chart of before and after 11 miles were taken away.

Letter to Editor

©1877-2002 by The Fresno Republican Newspaper.
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 5, 2001
Baseball Team
Lost Half a $Billion!
By Howard Hobbs, Ph.D., President
Valley Press Media Network

  Related Story by this writer at West Law

    FRESNO -- At a critical point in the construction of the downtown Fresno Triple-A baseball stadium, word has reached Fresno that Baseball     Commissioner Bud Selig is to reveal in sworn testimony at the House Judiciary Committee Hearing in Washington D.C. that professional baseball is in the worst financial condition ever. In fact, The LA Dodgers organization is worse off than any of the other 25 unprofitable Major League Baseball teams as of the close of the 2000-2001 baseball season. The Dodgers, in fact, turned in a financial loss of nearly $70,000,000.
     Worse yet, an audit just made public shows that civic baseball finance for last season has found the entire baseball stadium industry is at risk due to the tune of $500,000,000 dollars, due in part to the lost lost revenues that predated the 9-11 attacks in New York.
    In spite of these admitted losses to major league baseball team owers, the Fresno City Council is moving ahead a full speed to get into minor league baseball stadium long-term commitments in downtown Fresno this week, as the steel superstructure for the Grizzlies Stadium slowly progresses toward its fateful completion date next Spring.
     Meanwhile, Rep. John Conyers Jr.(D), from Michigan, announced this week he will sponsor an emergency bill in Congress to do away with baseball team owner's antitrust exemption and curtail an limit still other baseball team ownership and management powers.
   Conyers, who called Selig to testify, said yesterday he wanted a full explanation for the curious situation in which figures in the report show that there were only five profitable team operations after deductions for revenue sharing and interest on loans,and deferred salaries.
     The Yankees paid $26.5 million in revenue sharing. The Mets paid $15.7 million. Seattle paid $14.8 million; Milwaukee paid $9.0 million; the Chicago Cubs, paid $2.9 million; and Kansas City, paid $1.5 million.
      The report paints a scary picture of worsening finances in professional baseball.. Revenues of $3.5 billion were wiped-out by skyrocketing expenses of $3.8 billion. The operating loss, $232.2 million, rises to $344.7 million after interest expenses, according to the published financial report out this week.
    The baseball teams' loss widens to $518.9 million after amortization costs, which reflect how much owners paid to buy their teams. The debt has tripled since the close of the 1996 baseball season. It has now reached$3.1 billion and this he figure does not include deferred compensation that is owed to baseball players.
    The report has not been audited by baseball's accounting firms and is based on team figures that have> not all been audited. A baseball official said it was too soon after the season to have audited all the numbers.
    The report, which Conyers provided to reporters Thursday, details the sport's financial woes at a time when Selig is seeking to eliminate two teams. He has not identified the clubs, but they are believed to be the Montreal Expos and the Minnesota Twins.
    As shocking as the report's findings are, there was no mention of specific finances related to stadium debt, salaries and fees paid to owners, and the movement of money between Triple-A and the investors or companies that own teams.
    Operations like this of the owners of pro baseball teams provides the fuel for major public concerns as to whether the financial records of pro baseball teams are reliable and accurate, or even whether the owners are trustworthy. Certainly, this incident exposes major league and Triple-A baseball to criticism that the financial figures are subject to external audit, and closer fiscal scrutiny over elected officials actions where public moneys are involved in constructing stadiums.
     "You can argue about accounting principles around the edges, but the thrust of the numbers is clear," Conyer's said. "The industry is losing a lot of money. Many of the teams are on the way to financial bankruptcy. It doesn't bode well for the game!"

Letter to Editor

©1877-2002 by The Fresno Republican Newspaper.
All rights reserved.

March 1, 2001
Web Portal Internet Firewall,
Programming & Security Experts
Now Based in Clovis!

By Fresno Republican IT Staff Researchers

    FRESNO -- The Palo Alto Web innovator, Thomas Hobbs , CEO of Web Portal Design Corp, unveiled its newest not-for-profit IT products and services this week in Palo Alto.
     Along with the new product roll-out, the high tech Hobbs announced today that the firm had opened its administrative offices in Clovis, Ca. in 1998 and has plans to move its IT support division to the region later this year. The Web Portal move toClovis could add as many as 300 IT jobs there by the year 2005.
     Web Portal the nor-for-profit entity, now offers a full service array of web operations including news media outlets and brings with it extensive experience, modern systems, and quality service.
    
Web Portal's web staff consists of several web, internet, firewall, programming, and security experts with substantial technical experience. They boast numerous years of experience in implementing teir not-for-profit web solutions for the business cmmunity.
    
Web Portal's product and services line has recently broadend to cover the following support functions:
     Web Portal's hosting services result in care free operation of your website. All "behind the scenes" operational functions are handled for you by individuals on our staff dedicated to supporting your site. Any/all web based applications are hosted and maintained at our data center facility by trained and experienced our professionals. Our stringent security requirements insure data is safeguarded from tampering and viewed only by designated individuals.
    All website page modifications are promptly made at your request through formal procedures which will be spelled out in detail to your assigned points of contact. Reporting is performed at set intervals with useful management data for your organization.
   
Our flexibility in providing web services is key to success as a service provider. Be assured that we are capable of providing "turnkey" web hosting services that will meet your every need.
   
Web Portal's staff maintains expertise in web server software on major operating system platforms such as NT and UNIX. The standard database platforms are Microsoft SQL Server and IBM's UDB. Web Portal plans on deploying applications written in a variety of internet programming languages.
     The site is designed to provide the performance, security, and scalability to meet requirements ranging from static HTML content delivery to high volume e-commerce solutions. We maintain fractional T3 connectivity to the internet from our data center, assuring the fastest connection speed anywhere. Internal networks are 100 megabit, with gigabit capability where required. All systems are available, maintained, and monitored 7x24.
    
Web Portal's performs 7x24 automated and manual monitoring of your website to guard against routine site problems, unauthorized access and tampering. If unauthorized access is discovered Web Portal is configuring its servers to notify the government sponsored Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) as well as the Service Provider of the person attempting the attack. The monitoring software allows for site checks every five minutes with e-mail transmissions to designated individuals announcing problems with the site.
    Hobbs said, "...monitoring can be performed to record useful information such as site "hits," query types, most frequently visited pages. We provide monthly reports to customers on requested monitoring data."
    
He said, "Web Portal will perform an assessment of your organizations capability to develop, deploy and deliver internet or intranet applications. We follow a proven assessment model that encompasses an overview of business functions and strategies, as well as a comprehensive review of platforms, practices, procedures and organizational structures to determine your readiness to conduct business from an internet/intranet platform."
     Expected time frame for completing the assessment will depend on the size and complexity of your site and whether you plan to conduct online commerce or just serve static pages.
    
Web Portal will provide contingency and disaster recovery for its client's website. The contingency service will encompass a fully operational website, active within 24 hours of the customer's needed time frame.
     The service is provided for various servers and databases,. "We require routine website, application and database copies to remain current should the site require activation." Hobbs said.
     The contingency and recovery files maintained on the Web Portal site are designrf to be firewall protected with all necessary security and protections. A weekly copy of the backup file is stored can be saved in an offsite vault area for further protection of the needed data.
    
Web Portal provides this not-for-profit service to its member organizations requiring a method of positively identifying individuals and entities to applications and guarded regions of the website. These certificates help to create secure channels of trust between multiple and interrelated parties and systems. The services available include:

  • certificate issuance
  • revocation checking
  • a public available repository
  • hardware and software configuration
  • backup and contingency
  • consulting services
  • operational architecture assistance

    Web Portal can provide a wide range of consulting services to ssmall business companies and organization, ranging from assistance with requirements analysis, system design, platform selection and procurement, through deployment and post-deployment support and enhancement. These services could include:

  1. Site security reviews, up to and including penetration testing.
  2. Network security design and implementation, deploying firewalls, proxy servers, and firewalling routers as appropriate to safeguard your corporate IT resources.
  3. Application design assistance, from initial concept through design, development, testing and delivery.
  4. Stress testing your existing systems to discover potential weaknesses or performance bottlenecks that may impact your customers' experience.
  5. Remote administration of new or existing systems.
  6. Web site design support - static vs. dynamic content, personalization systems, application platform selection and deployment.

    All of these services are designed and implemented to require minimal effort by our customers. Occasional decision making may be necessary to insure your website maintains the level of quality and professionalism found in state of the art websites.

    
Web services are a keystone of Web Portal's IT member service package.

    Volunteer: Fund Raising Specialists, Research and Development Specialsts, Outreach Workers, Social Workers Web Portal Design Corporation 501(c)(3)


Details: Web Portal is in need of volunteers who share the philosophy of our corporate missions to assist us in developing into a strong and viable advocacy organization capable of rendering appropriate administrative services to the management of the community programs offered..

Skills: Not-for-profit management, Fundraising, Program planning and development, community relations/outreach, Research and development, Writing skill.

Dates: Wed May 8, 2000 to Tue Dec 31, 2002 Time 9:00 am - 6:00 pm Est. Time 40 hours per Month.

Categories: Advocacy & Human Rights, Board Development, Immigrants & Refugees s a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 2001.

Its missions also include social services such as case management, counseling, support, advocacy and referral services to the under-served and economically disadvantaged population in Central Valley. Services are available to everyone irrespective of race,color, national origin,marital status,sex,sexual orientation or creed.

Description We need volunteers who share the philosophy of our corporate missions to assist us in programs planning and development.

    [Editor's Note: For further information about Web Portal products and services to small businesses call (559-298-9349) or e-mail the company.]

Letter to Editor

    ©1877-2001 by The Fresno Republican Newspaper.

Fresno Republican News Archive

November 29, 1997
Public Funded Fresno Baseball Stadium
Gross Overestimate of Economic Benefits
Understated Economic Costs

by Howard Hobbs PhD, Contributing Editor
[3,177 words]

FRESNO - City Hall still has a sports stadia hysteria going in full bloom this  week. Mayor Patterson is moving to recoup a City Hall deal with the  Diamond Group tabled by the City Council recently. But, Fresno taxpayers have an allergic reaction to public funding of trivial pursuits and pastimes like publicly funded baseball. There is good reason for caution. The economic impact of sports stadiums has long term consequences.

    Taxpayers say the sports fans who receive the benefit of stadiums should pay the bill. But, the relationship of benefit to burden is not well understood by elected politicians on the Fresno City Council who advocate the building of a downtown baseball stadium [with potential for other uses] that will be subsidized through general obligation bonding by the City.

    In Fresno, like most other cities touting minor league sports stadiums that would be publicly funded, City taxpayers are beginning to feel like a deer caught in the headlights of oncoming traffic.

    Dennis Zimmerman, of Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress, was interviewed on C-SPAN's Washington Journal Thanksgiving Day. Zimmerman told his early morning audience that proponents of municipal owned sports stadia often distort the true facts in their zeal to convince the unwary. Even local economists caught up in the hysteria lend their support to such promotions by suggesting that such sports generate enough economic activity to pay for themselves and therefore it shouldn't be any concern that the public sector is subsidizing their construction and start-up cost.

    There is, however, ample empirical evidence on this subject. Based upon close examination of the true facts, The DR has concluded that there will never be enough extra-taxes generated by a publicly funded baseball stadium in downtown Fresno to make it a painless experience for Fresno taxpayers.

    Partisan forecasts made by some local economists have grossly overestimated the economic benefits and understated the economic costs of the Diamond Group's proposed publicly funded minor league baseball team stadium.

    Taking the Diamond Group's proposal on face value, the Daily Republican Newspaper examined a number of cases and found this to be true in every case of a municipal stadium project in the past few years. Some of the publicly funded sports stadia cost $200 million or more. These municipalities are located in Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati,Cleveland, Milwaukee, Nashville, San Francisco, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.

    Still others have been announced by various municipalities in the planning stages include Boston, Dallas, Fresno, Minneapolis, New York, and Pittsburgh. Still other major publicly owned stadium renovations have obligated taxpayers in Jacksonville and Oakland.

    Worse yet, building industry experts for this type of municipal construction job estimate that more than $7 billion in municipal tax resources will be spent on new sports facilities for professional sports teams before the year 2006.

    Most of this $7 billion will come from the public treasury as a subsidy. This is a profitable incentive for professional sports team owners who would otherwise be required to obtain conventional financing at convention al interest rates. So, the City Hall municipal government sweetens the deal by issuing tax-exempt bonds to help finance sports facilities.

    Owners of professional sports franchises like this method. Tax exemption lowers interest on debt and so reduces the amount that cities and teams must pay for a stadium. Since 1975, the interest rate reduction has varied between 2.4 and 4.5 percentage points. Taxpayers eat the losses and City Hall eventually ends up with an empty sports stadium after the sports franchise moves on to greener pastures. Taxpayers end up with an empty treasury at City Hall.

    Assuming a differential of three percentage points, the discounted present value loss in federal taxes for a $225 million stadium is about $70 million, or more than $2 million a year over a useful life of 30 years. This is common. Ten of these municipal sports facilities built in the 1970s and 1980s, including the Superdome in New Orleans, the Silverdome in Pontiac, the now-obsolete Kingdome in Seattle, and Giants Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands, each cause an annual federal tax loss exceeding $1 million.

    Sports stadia now typically cost their host city about $10 million annually. Even the most successful new baseball stadium analyzed by the Daily Republican, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, costs Maryland residents $14 million a year. The net cost to local government for refurbishing the Oakland Coliseum for the Raiders was about $70 million.

    Most large cities are willing to spend big to attract or keep a major league franchise. But few have the will to deplete the public treasury at City Hall to obtain a minor league sports team, as has been announced in Fresno.

    The economic rationale for any cities' willingness to subsidize sports facilities seems to be the essence of the campaign slogan for a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers Build the Stadium--Create the Jobs! Proponents there claim that sports facilities improve the local economy in four ways.

    Proponents make an over-simplified argument that building a sports stadium does create construction jobs. And, people who attend games or work for the team generate new spending in the community, expanding local employment. Usually, a team attracts tourists and companies to the host city, further increasing local spending and jobs. Moreover, all this new spending has a multiplier effect as increased local income causes still more new spending and job creation.

    In Fresno, public stadium advocates were even arguing that the new stadium would spur so much economic growth that it would be self-financing. If that argument held water, it would mean that the City Hall subsidy would be offset by revenues from ticket taxes, sales taxes on concessions and other spending outside the stadium, and according to Council member Dan Ronquillo, the property tax valuation increases of '...one-tenth of one percent...' arising from the stadium's economic impact.

    Fundamentally flawed, these arguments contain bad economic theories that lead to overstatement of the benefits of stadiums and a complete covering-up of the true costs of such expenditures over time. Anyone who knows economics fundamentals is aware that economic growth takes place only when Fresno's resources [people, capital investments, and natural resources like land] become more productive. Increased productivity, it will be remembered, can arise in two ways.

    One of these comes from economically beneficial specialization by the community for the purpose of trading with other regions. The other, comes from local value added that is higher than other uses of local workers, land, and investments. When is building a publicly financed stadium good for the Fresno economy? Only when a stadium is the most productive way to make capital investments and use Fresno workers.

    Readers will be shocked at the waste of public resources on the current sports stadium hype across this nation. Before, leaping into this form of municipal irresponsibility, carefully examine the Fresno City Council member's local economic development argument. The DR took a close look at the other Cities going down the public financing road and analyzed the effect of specific facilities, and made comparisons among cities that have and have not sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into sports development.

    Zimmerman also made detailed economic analyses of business records on file with the Library of Congress for those same municipalities we examined. What the Library of Congress economists found was that a new sports facility has an extremely small effect on overall economic activity and employment in any geographic area where it is located.

    Not surprisingly, there was not one stadium that earned anything approaching a reasonable return on investment. Worse yet, not one recent facility has been self-financing in terms of its impact on net tax revenues.

    It did not seem to matter whether the economics was confined to local neighborhoods, a municipality, or an entire metropolitan statistical area, the economic benefits of sports stadia are not profitable for City Hall. Sports stadia attract neither tourists nor new industry. Probably the most successful one studied was the one in Oriole Park, where about a third of the crowd at every game comes from outside the Baltimore area. Baltimore's baseball exports are enhanced because it is a half-hour from Washington D.C. which has no major league baseball team.

    Still, the net gain to Baltimore's economy in terms of new jobs and incremental tax revenues has been only about $3 million a year - not much of a return on a $200 million public expenditure. Most professional major league players make inflated salaries for only a few years. Those on the minor league teams are not paid well. As a result there is a lot of player movements in and out of an area where the farm team has its stadium.

    Finally, though a minor league baseball stadium in Fresno might draw good attendance, ticket revenues are shared in baseball with ticket purchases for major league games in the Southern California and the Bay Area. On balance, these factors are largely offsetting, leaving little or no net local Fresno export gain to this community.

    One promotional study estimated that the local annual economic impact of the Denver Broncos was nearly $120 million; another estimated that the combined annual economic benefit of Cincinnati's Bengals and Reds was $245 million. Such promotional studies overstate the economic impact of a facility because they confuse gross and net economic effects and imply that those kinds of gains could be realized in the Fresno sports market, which will never happen.

    Most spending inside a stadium is a substitute for other local recreational spending, such as movies and restaurants. Similarly, most tax collections inside a stadium are substitutes: as other entertainment businesses decline, tax collections from them fall.

    It appears that Fresno promotional economists' statements also may have selectively ignored differences between sports and other industries in income distribution. Most Fresno sports revenue would go to a relatively few managers, coaches, and executives who typically earn extremely high salaries well above the earnings of people in Fresno who work in the industries that are substitutes for sports.

    In fact, most stadium employees work part time at very low wages and earn a small fraction of team revenues. Thus, substituting spending on sports for other recreational spending concentrates income, reduces the total number of jobs, and replaces full-time jobs with low-wage, part-time jobs.

    Another overly simplified argument made in support for the Fresno municipal stadium is that stadiums generate more local consumer satisfaction than alternative investments. The fallacy of that argument is that professional baseball teams are very small businesses that capture public attention far out of proportion to their economic significance.

    Because radio, television broadcast, and newspapers give so much attention to baseball and other sports events many people who are fans do not actually attend baseball games or buy sports-related products. The benefit enjoyed by consumers who follow sports but do not purchase baseball game tickets is a sort of 'public good' the value of which cannot be known. And clearly that 'public good' is not shared by everyone.

    As a result, sports fans are likely to accept higher taxes or reduced public services to attract or keep a minor league team in Fresno, even if they do not attend games themselves. This is a support group that may or may not constitute a base of political support for publicly subsidized baseball in Fresno.

    Moreover, even a minor league baseball subsidy in Fresno would be a monopolistic structure unworthy of public finance. Why? Baseball leagues maximize their members' profits by keeping the number of franchises below the number of cities that could support a team. To attract and keep even a minor league baseball team, for example, Fresno City Hall must compete through a bidding war, whereby other municipalities bid its willingness to pay to have a team, not the amount necessary to make a team viable.

     So, here, suspicion immediately arises as to the extent of Fresno City Council members involvement in negotiations (bidding wars) behind closed doors in violation of the public meeting law, the Brown Act.

    This should be a major concern for local Fresno taxpayers. Monopoly leagues convert City Council member willingness to pay for a team into an opportunity for teams to extract tax revenues. In most cases, local and state governments have paid over $100 million in stadium subsidy, and in some cases have financed the entire enterprise through political leverage brought to bear on local public officials. Is there some reason to expect that Fresno City Hall would not be subjected to this practice, as well?

    The tendency of baseball teams to seek new homes has given rise to the elaborate stadia that feature numerous new revenue opportunities such as luxury suites, sky boxes, elaborate concessions, catering, signage, advertising, theme activities, and even hot-tubs & bars, restaurants, and adult entertainment apartments with a view of the field. A new facility now can add $30 million annually to a team's revenues for a few years after the stadium opens.For this reason, stadium proponents seek to maintain architectural control of design and construction.

    Abuses from exorbitant stadium packages, sweetheart leases, and footloose franchises, have left many citizens and politicians crying foul. Whatever the costs and benefits to Fresno taxpayers of attracting a professional sports team, there is no rationale whatsoever for the federal government to subsidize the financial tug-of-war among the cities to host teams.

    In 1986, Congress apparently became convinced of the irrationality of granting tax exemptions for interest on municipal bonds that financed projects primarily benefiting private interests. The 1986 Tax Reform Act denies federal subsidies for sports facilities if more than 10 percent of the debt service is covered by revenues from the stadium. If Congress intended that this would reduce sports subsidies, it was sadly mistaken. If anything, the 1986 law increased local subsidies by cutting rents below 10 percent of debt service.

    In 1996 senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan(D), concerned about the prospect of a tax exemption for a debt of up to $1 billion for a new stadium in New York, introduced a bill to eliminate tax-exempt financing for professional sports facilities and thus eliminate federal subsidies of stadiums. The theory behind the bill is that raising a city's cost from a stadium giveaway would reduce the subsidy.

    Although Fresno City Hall might respond this way, it would still compete among other municipalities for scarce franchises, so to some extent the likely effect of the bill is to pass higher interest charges on to cities, not teams. The relevance of antitrust to the problem of stadium subsidies is indirect but important. Private antitrust actions have significantly limited the ability of baseball leagues to prevent teams from relocating. Teams relocate to improve their financial performance, which in turn improves their ability to compete with other teams for players and coaches.

    A team has an incentive to prevent competitors from relocating. Consequently, courts have ruled that leagues must have "reasonable" relocation rules that preclude anticompetitive denial of relocation. Baseball, because it enjoys an antitrust exemption, is freer to limit team movements than the other sports.

    Relocation rules can affect competition for teams because, by making relocation more difficult, they can limit the number of teams (usually to one) that a city is allowed to bid for. In addition, competition among cities for teams is further intensified because leagues create scarcity in the number of teams.

    Legal and legislative actions that change relocation rules affect which cities get existing teams and how much they pay for them, but do not directly affect the disparity between the number of cities that are viable locations for a team and the number of teams. Thus, expansion policy raises a different but important antitrust issue.

    As witnessed by the nearly simultaneous consideration of creating an antitrust exemption for football but denying one for baseball on precisely the same issue of franchise relocation, congressional initiatives have been plagued by geographical chauvinism and myopia. Except for representatives of the region affected, members of Congress have proven reluctant to risk the ire of sports leagues.

    Congress could mandate league expansion, but that is probably impossible politically. Even if such legislation were passed, deciding which city deserves a team is an administrative nightmare.

    A better approach would be to use antitrust to break up existing leagues into competing business entities. The entities could collaborate on playing rules and interleague and postseason play, but they would not be able to divvy up metropolitan areas, establish common drafts or player market restrictions, or collude on broadcasting and licensing policy.

    Under these circumstances no league would be likely to vacate an economically viable city, and, if one did, a competing league would probably jump in. Other consumer-friendly consequences would flow from such an arrangement.

    Competition would force ineffective owners to sell or go belly up in their struggle with better managed teams. Taxpayers would pay lower local, state, and federal subsidies. Teams would have lower revenues, but because most of the costs of a team are driven by revenues, most teams would remain solvent. Player salaries and team profits would fall, but the number of teams and player jobs would rise.

    Like Congress, the Justice Department's Antitrust Division is subject to political pressures not to upset sports. So sports leagues remain unregulated monopolies with de facto immunity from federal antitrust prosecution. Others launch and win antitrust complaints against sports leagues, but usually their aim is membership in the cartel, not divestiture, so the problem of too few teams remains unsolved.

    The final potential source of reform is taking root in places like Fresno. Behind the scenes there is a deep grassroots political reaction against granting a subsidy to a pastime like minor league baseball. Especially for use in the most blighted part of the City, downtown no-man's land.

    Stadium politics have proven to be quite deadly in Fresno for these many reasons. To the chagrin of stadium promoters, some Fresno taxpayers apparently know that teams do little for the local economy and are concerned about using regressive sales taxes and lottery revenues to subsidize wealthy players, owners, executives and those with leisure time necessary for the pursuit of pastimes like baseball games in the early afternoons. Ordinary folks are at work while idlers and gamblers are at play.

    Voters rejected public support for stadiums on ballot initiatives in Milwaukee, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle, although no major league team has failed to obtain a new stadium. Still, more guarded, conditional support, and empty political war chests can cause City Hall to be less concerned about negotiating stadium deals than carrying out the necessary and routine functions of getting the most bang for the tax revenue buck in delivering well organized and limited City governance. That is the function of an informed public electorate and the role of this newspaper in achieving it.

[Editor's Update: Grizzlies' official home game paid attendance has been reported as only around 6000 thru 2003.]

© Copyright 1997-2003 HTML Graphics By The Fresno Daily Republican Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Comment

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ABOUT THE FRESNO REPUBLICAN

The Fresno Republican newspaper is located in Fresno, California. This database is a fully searchable text version of the newspaper for the following years: 1877-86. The newspapers can be browsed or searched using a computer-generated index. The accuracy of the index varies according to the quality of the original images. The images for this newspaper can be browsed sequentially, or via links to specific images, which may be obtained through the search results. Over time, the name of a newspaper may have changed and the time span it covered may not always be consistent. The date range represented in this database is not necessarily the complete published set available. Check the local library or historical society in the area in which your ancestors lived for more information about other available newspapers.

Newspapers can be used to find valuable genealogical information about historical events in the lives of our ancestors. They supply all sorts of clues about vital statistics (birth, marriage, and death announcements), obituaries, local news, biographical sketches, legal notices, immigration, migration, and shipping information and other historical items that place our ancestors in the context of the society in which they lived.

Extended Description:

Newspapers are intended for general readers, usually serve a geographic region, and may also be oriented toward a particular ethnic, cultural, social, or political group. Newspapers record the day-to-day or even week-to-week happenings of local community events. They act almost as a diary for events that took place in a certain locality.

Because newspapers are generally geographic in scope they are not limited to governmental jurisdictions; therefore, they can include such things as the report of a wedding of local citizens, even when it occurred in a neighboring county or even another state. Newspapers can also provide at least a partial substitute for nonexistent civil records. For example, an obituary may have appeared in a newspaper even when civil death records did not exist.

Newspapers are not restricted to or bound by the regulations or forms used by more "official" sources. Additionally, because newspapers are unofficial sources, even when they merely supplement the public records, they can provide much incidental information that is simply not recorded anywhere else. For example, a newspaper account of a marriage might indicate that it took place at the home of the bride's parents, perhaps even naming them; it might list the occupation of the groom, or indicate that the ceremony was part of a double wedding in which the bride's sister was also married. These types of details are not likely to appear on a marriage record at the local courthouse.

While newspapers created in large cities were most often concerned with international, national, and state affairs they can contain valuable information about local individuals and should not be passed over. In contrast, small country or community newspapers were concerned with local people and their immediate surroundings and are often rich in genealogical and historical information.

Newspapers are wonderful sources and should not be missed!

Source: "Chapter 12: Research in Newspapers," The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy by James L. Hansen; edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking (Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry Incorporated, 1997).

  [Editor's Note: For further information about Web Portal products and services to small businesses call (559-298-9349) or e-mail the company.]

Letter to Editor

    ©1877-2001 by The Fresno Republican Newspaper.


22 June, 1876
"The Old Log Cabin School House Meeting"
James H. Smart, editor, The Schools of Indiana

    BLOOMINGTON -- Barnabas Coffin Hobbs had a long and productive career as teacher and educational administrator. Hobbs went directly from college to teaching school in 1833. He married Rebecca Tatum in 1843. In 1839 he had been called as principal of the Friends Boarding School, Mt. Pleasant, Ohio, and, for fifteen years after 1851, of the Friends Academy of Bloomingdale, Indiana, where he later retired.  
    Responding to Friends' discontent with secular textbooks, he prepared a series of "select readers" titled School Friend.
 In 1847-49 and following 1866, he headed the Boarding School at Richmond, turning it into Earlham College in 1867, training Allen Jay, Joseph Moore, and other future Quaker leaders. But as an Earlham board member
(1880-92) he led a committee that fired Professor William Pinkham and ex-President Joseph Moore.
    In 1868-71 Hobbs was Indiana's first superintendent of public instruction and advocated and secured the establishment of a state Reform School for juvenile offenders.   
     Hobbs received an M.A. (Wabash) in 1858 and an LL.D. from Indiana University in 1870.
    He was also active in Quaker Meetings and was clerk of the Western Yearly Meeting in 1877, hoping in vain to prevent Conservative Friends from walking out of the increasingly revivalist Yearly Meeting.
    In 1878 Hobbs felt he had been led to visit the Czar of Russia, carrying an appeal from the London Meeting for Sufferings against the persecution of Mennonites; he lectured in Europe and America on international peace and arbitration.

Letter to Editor

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