Adding "wow" to the Board of Supes

John Taylor: December 07, 20070 Comments

Plowing through hours at a Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting waiting for weird developments to occur (see blog posting "A 3 to 2 vote vs. reality"), sometimes other memorable moments occur.

At the Dec. 4 meeting, two items caught my attention. First there were impassioned pleas by supporters of two social services agencies that the board spare them from funding cuts. FIRM (Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries) and Lao Family successfully staved off the cuts, with the board instructing staff to trim money from other groups to sustain those two.

Most people were probably not surprised to hear a Lao Family supporter speaking Hmong to state his case, aided by a translator. But also in the audience was a sizable group of Slavic immigrants, one of whom came to the mike, telling of how Lao Family helped him, making his appeal in Ukrainian. Welcome to Melting Pot 2.0.

The other memorable moment came when Fresno city planner Keith Bergthold provided an update on "the Metro Rural Loop Preservation Feasibility Committee."  Dry as the sounds, Bergthold infused it with life at an incredibly brisk pace. The group of regional planners is trying to create transportation corridors to rationally accommodate growth anticipated by 2050 -- the Valley is expected to grow by roughly 10 cities the size of Fresno.

"We are the people we've been waiting for," was Bergthold's slogan.  He mentioned a couple of books that I'll be pursuing: "Plan B 2.0. Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble" by Lester Brown, and "Innovation Nation. How America is Losing Its Innovative Edge, Why It Matters and What Can We Do to Get It Back" by John Kao.

If nothing else, Bergthold and Clovis city planner John Wright displayed a can-do approach that pleasantly contrasted with typical political nay-sayers.