(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.
Public 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, includingRev. Floyd Harris andNikolas 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 aPerea).
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
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?
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
(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?
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.
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’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