Developer Comfort Zone Ahead

(Published in the February 2020 issue of Community Alliance)

By Kevin Hall

Let’s hope Fresno city council members Miguel Arias and Esmeralda Soria haven’t already cost Andrew Janz the mayor’s race. They’ve certainly taken off the election table a trio of huge issues for hundreds of thousands of voters: affordable housing, sprawl, and climate change.

mapPublic prosecutor Janz is assumed to be running a close second in the race for Fresno mayor against the city’s just-retired police chief, reported rapist Jerry Dyer, a Trump-Republican. Four other candidates, including Rev. Floyd Harris and Nikolas Wildstar, have filed but report no funds raised.

In a big break with fellow Democrats, Janz is refusing campaign contributions from developers. In a city infamous for its sprawl and corrupt political climate, that’s akin to a candidate for state or federal office saying no to oil and methane lucre (ask a Perea).

Local developers really don’t like it when people won’t take their money and implicitly agree to furthering their agenda. Janz is signalling it won’t be business as usual at city hall in his administration. If he wins the office without having sought their support, he certainly won’t feel obligated to them, unlike the current mayor and council members. Continue reading Developer Comfort Zone Ahead

Brown Wave or Whitewash?

A quick response to Joe Mathews ‘Looking for California’s Biggest Wave?’

By Kevin Hall, 1.27.20

With so many flaws in this analysis of Fresno politics (full article below), what really stands out in the superficial “Brown Wave” theme is the writer’s unproven contention that we’ve turned a corner thanks to the city council once again having a majority of Latino members. 

He relies on the stereotype of all Latino Dems as progressive, despite this being a group of three moderates and the Republican-in-all-but-registration, Luis Chavez, the DINO who has endorsed Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims for reelection despite her enthusiastic support for Donald Trump. He also backed Tea Party extremist Steve Brandau for Fresno County Supervisor.

Joe Mathews’ writing on the central San Joaquin Valley last caught my eye with an opinion piece from February 2018 in which he extolled the virtues of Fresno-Madera-Clovis menage-de-sprawl. He suggested naming the leapfrog developments across the river up Fwy. 41 “Future Town.” Seriously. Continue reading Brown Wave or Whitewash?

No Courage, All Campaign

(This is the script of the opening segment for the Jan. 10, 2020 broadcast of Climate Politics. The shows airs on KFCF 88.1 FM from 5-6 pm on the second and fourth Fridays of each month. Hosted by Kevin Hall, the show’s premise is that to respond to climate change, our political climate must change, too. The entire broadcast includes interviews with Kathryn Phillips of Sierra Club California regarding the state’s Green New Deal and Fresno activists Dee Barnes and Mike Rhodes on efforts to block former police chief Jerry Dyer from becoming mayor.)

ENTIRE EPISODE PODCAST: Climate Politics Broadcast, Jan. 10, 2020 (it’s a little choppy)

By Kevin Hall

2. Residents of 'Reverse' TriangleWelcome to Climate Politics. Today’s show is a mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’ll be doing a deep dive into a bad candidate for Fresno mayor, but before that we get to hear some very good news from Sacramento. The ugly, of course, comes in the form of grim climate news from around the world and another round of scientific studies warning of our rapidly destabilizing atmosphere and the collapse of the ecosystems on which all life depends.

This is no time for the politics of old. We need to be drawing bright lines — right now — between progressive politicians who understand the climate-crisis timeline, and their status quo counterparts. This election is the most important in world history. We must succeed, over the next five years, at laying down the massive policy changes needed to reverse our suicidal course. Continue reading No Courage, All Campaign

Jim Costa’s Primary Concern

July 3, 2019

By Kevin Hall

FRESNO-Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old political wunderkind who introduced the Green New Deal congressional resolution earlier this year, made a telling candidate endorsement in late May.

The Democratic Socialist from Queens, who a year ago successfully primaried long-time incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, announced she is backing a fellow progressive Latina. Like Continue reading Jim Costa’s Primary Concern

Oil Slick on the Blue Wave

NEW! Check out the discussion on the Climate Politics radio show here (soundcloud).

May 4, 2019

By Kevin Hall

The headline reads, “API Plans Major Disinformation Campaign: Industry opponents of a treaty to fight global warming have drafted an ambitious proposal to spend millions of dollars to convince the public that the environmental accord is based on shaky science.” Continue reading Oil Slick on the Blue Wave

Developer Dollars, Democratic Duplicity

(This article first appeared in the April 2019 issue of Community Alliance magazine.)

By Kevin Hall

Few were downtown at Fresno city hall on a cold morning in late January to witness the new council fail its first real test of character. The one that matters most in city politics, it’s a single-question exam: Do developers still run this town?

They do.

The new five-member, veto-proof Democratic majority on the council has raised the hopes of many locals. At long last, some say, our humble burg of half a million souls will be governed by a body with a greater interest in the needs of poor and working families, one willing to take on the special interests running roughshod over lives and futures.

Assemi Kashian $ Totals
When dread developer Darius Assemi looks up at the dais in Fresno City Hall, he is looking at more than $200,000 invested by his family members and their businesses in the political careers of the current council and mayor. The city’s election cycle limits are easily ignored and candidates often receive four or five times the limit from Assemi interests. Commercial developer Ed Kashian is the second most prolific backer in local politics.

Continue reading Developer Dollars, Democratic Duplicity

Oil Money Seeps into Fresno Politics

March 31, 2019

By Kevin Hall

Today would be a good day for Paul Caprioglio, Luis Chavez, Nelson Esparza, and Esmeralda Soria to get out their checkbooks and return some dirty campaign contributions. Nearly $100,000 in Big Oil money made its way into Fresno politics in 2018, and the Fresno city council members have received direct and indirect contributions from Chevron and the California Independent Petroleum Association.

Soria Oil $
Council member Esmeralda Soria received $5,000 in direct contributions from the California Independent Petroleum Association in 2018. Chevron donated $90,000 to the Chamber of Commerce PAC which gave $5,400 each to Luis Chavez and Nelson Esparza.

Soria’s contributions came directly from the Irvine-based petroleum association in the form of a pair of $2,500 contributions on Feb. 24 and June 4, according to City of Fresno Electronic Filing System reports. She has a direct connection to the organization through Willie Rivera, a former coworker. Himself an elected city council member in Bakersfield, Rivera is the regulatory affairs director for the oil organization.

Rivera is apparently serious about his job as the local oil industry’s junkyard dog fighting off government regulation. In 2018 his association PAC launched campaigns in Arvin, Kern County, against young, progressive Latinx officeholders there who supported Mayor Jose Gurrola’s ordinance limiting oil operations within the beleaguered city limits. Soria and Rivera worked together in the offices of state senator Michael Rubio, the disgraced official from Bakersfield who left office a year early to join Chevron in their war on the planet as director of government relations. Continue reading Oil Money Seeps into Fresno Politics