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City of Fresno

For 53 years downtown Fresno's main street was a car-free zone. But after a year and a half of construction, the six-block long Fulton Mall has been removed, and replaced by Fulton Street. Backers hope the project will kick off a wave of investment and revitalization in the area. But critics abound, with some saying it won't work, and others saying it will displace existing businesses and residents, and will set off a wave of gentrification. Others still say despite the new streetscape, nothing really will change.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Police officers across the country and in the Central Valley have been under increasing scrutiny and pressure for how they deal with civilians in the field. At the same time, some departments are acknowledging that their role is morphing into one that is just as concerned with identifying and helping people who might be suffering from a mental illness as it is enforcing the law. Fresno’s Police Chief Jerry Dyer says he is making changes within his force in an attempt to separate committed criminals from people who need a softer form of help.

http://www.garrybredefeld.com/

The first eight months of Garry Bredefeld's return to Fresno City Hall have been eventful. Some of his proposals, like adding a display of the nation's motto "In God We Trust" to the city council chambers, and a ban on marijuana dispensaries have either become law, or are on their way to doing so. Others, like his plan to allow city employees with concealed weapon permits to carry their guns while on the job, have met with opposition from either his colleagues on the council or Fresno Mayor Lee Brand.

GVWire

Longtime Fresno Bee reporter, columnist and editor Bill McEwen has a new job as news director for GVWire.com, a news website run by Fresno-based housing developer Granville Homes. After 37 years in the local news business, McEwen joined us on Valley Edition to talk about his role in this new venture, plus his thoughts on editorial independence, and how GVWire will cover news stories involving the Granville company.

The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a new audit claiming the City of Fresno may have misused millions of dollars in community development block grant money.

 

The audit claims the city misspent or failed to properly track money intended improving living standards in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

 

Steve Brandau - Facebook

A Fresno City Councilmember has a new idea on dealing with the city’s homeless population – a law that would ban camping in the city. Councilmember Steve Brandau is set to take the proposed ordinance before the city council Thursday August 17th. If adopted, the law would ban camping on both public and private property in the city.

Brandau says he’s been getting complaints for months from constituents about people camping in the cooking, bathing and even defecating in public.

Laura Tsutsui / KVPR

Most smartphone users are used to an immediate internet connection in their pocket, thanks to improved phones and carrier coverage. But increasing use of data and unlimited data plans mean wireless carriers are struggling to meet the demand for a faster, better connection. To address this issue, the next generation of wireless technology has state and local lawmakers at odds.

Valley Public Radio

The next time you go to Fresno City Hall or see a city employee looking for people watering their yards on banned watering days, that employee might be carrying a concealed fire arm. That's if the Fresno City Council approves a new proposal from council member Garry Bredefeld.

There are more than 1,500 people in the city of Fresno who have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Among that group, some almost certainly are city employees working everywhere from behind a desk to doing code enforcement on abandoned properties.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

It’s not usually easy to get the state of California to quickly adjust how it spends money in places like the Central Valley, especially after the Governor Jerry Brown himself comes to town for a major bill signing.

But that’s exactly what a group of activists in Southwest Fresno were able to do, convincing the state to make their part of town eligible for $70 million in cap-and-trade funding.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council has unanimously approved a new lease agreement with the Fresno Grizzlies baseball team for Chukchansi Park. The move could help clear the way for a new ownership group to take over the team.

 

The new lease would have the owners pay the city $500,000 a year in rent, compared with roughly $750,000 a year in the current agreement. It also includes a provision requiring both the club and the city to set aside $300,000 a year to pay for repairs and maintenance at the 15-year-old stadium, starting in 2020. 

The Fresno City Council has passed a ban on recreational marijuana sales and public use in the city. It passed on a 4-3 vote. The ban also extends a prohibition on outdoor cultivation of cannabis. The push for the ban was led by councilmember Garry Bredefeld who represents District 6.

Bredefeld: “Having recreational dispensaries is a problem because it sends a message to our youth that this is ok. And it isn’t ok. I don’t think it’s ok. I don’t think Prop 64 is ok.”

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand says he has a vision to create 10,000 new jobs in Fresno and drop the unemployment rate to 5%. That would be a significant accomplishment for a city where the unemployment number is routinely above the state average. One major piece of that vision fell into place last week with the announcement that Amazon will build a fulfillment center in Fresno. Valley Public Radio spoke with the mayor about how he plans to achieve his jobs goal and the first steps already taking place. This interview has been edited and shortened for clarity.

https://www.gordonhuether.com/

Downtown Fresno's Mariposa Plaza could soon get a major new piece of public art. The Fresno City Council is set to vote on a proposal Thursday May 25th to award a Napa  artist a $200,000 contract to create a new piece of public art for square at Fulton and Mariposa Streets.

City of Fresno

Fresno has its first female City Manager. Mayor Lee Brand today introduced Wilma Quan-Schecter as the replacement for the retiring City Manager Bruce Rudd.

Quan-Schecter, who is 43 years old, has been with the city for 9 years and has a background in city planning. At the announcement at Fresno City Hall, Quan-Schecter says she is excited to step into the role.

Fresno Police

Details have begun to emerge about the three men who were shot and killed yesterday in downtown Fresno.

Mark Gassett was shot in the back as he walked home from Catholic Charities with groceries. The 39-year-old died on the scene. He had two children. Fifty-eight-year-old David Martin Jackson was shot outside the Catholic Charities office and died later at the hospital. 

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