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From the Fresno Bee: Swearengin hands out bonuses to Fresno Police Chief Dyer, top staffers

Hmmm… Years spent taking payroll for union workers to the bone, seeking concessions and making cuts, and now it’s bonus time for a few? Without telling the City Council?

From the Nov. 5, 2015, Fresno Bee:

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin has handed out more than $200,000 in bonuses to key staff members the past few years, raising universal outrage among City Council members who say they were unaware of the cash payouts.

The bonuses at issue – which include the 2014 budget year and continue through the current year – came as the city emerged from dark budgetary times born during the Great Recession that featured the constant specter of bankruptcy. The current $1.2 billion budget includes more money for some departments.

The bonuses also may violate city law. In 2010, the council approved the Transparency in City Government Act, which requires the city to post on its website information about city employee earnings and payments to consultants. Part of the act requires the administration to disclose all compensation – including bonuses and deferred compensation – every year during the budget hearings.

But City Council members say that hasn’t been done since 2012, and both they and union officials were apparently in the dark about these bonuses.

Read more here:


Democratic Coffee, Episode 12: Doug and Estella Kessler, and Democratic Precinct Captains

Democratic Coffee, Episode 12: Doug and Estella Kessler, and Democratic Precinct Captains

In Episode 12 of the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee’s ‘Democratic Coffee’ podcast, local Democratic “power couple” Doug and Estella Kessler talk about their histories as active Democrats, and tell listeners about the Fresno County Democratic Party’s “Precinct Captain” program, an effective and fun way to lead local Democrats in their own neighborhoods.

Download the episode here, or listen now by clicking the Play button below. You can now subscribe to our Democratic Coffee podcast through iTunes. To subscribe, click here to open your iTunes account, then click the ‘View in iTunes’ and ‘Subscribe’ buttons. New episodes will then be delivered to your iPhone, iPod or iPad with every sync.

Democratic Coffee, our audio podcast, features news and interviews with local Democrats presented as friendly conversations over coffee. New episodes will become available approximately every other week. Please continue to join us for a Democratic Coffee!

Photos from our ‘Proud to be Democrats’ event

Shots from our ‘Proud to be Democrats’ event, held on a beautiful Saturday in Fresno’s Radio Park.

Posted by Fresno County Democratic Party on Saturday, October 31, 2015

Debate viewing potluck tonight at Democratic Party HQ

No cable? Join us for a viewing party for the Republican presidential candidates’ debate at the Democratic Party HQ (1035 U St.) on Wednesday, October 28, at 5 p.m. Join fellow Democrats as we critique the competition. We will have a potluck dinner and snacks, so please bring something to share. For more info, call 559-495-0606.

Classic Bernie Sanders: Outsider on the Inside

Classic Bernie Sanders: Outsider on the Inside

From the Fresno for Bernie campaign: An opinion piece by Chip Ashley, Steering Group, Fresno For Bernie:

Chip Ashley, staffing the Fresno County Democrats booth at the 2015 Big Fresno Fair.

Chip Ashley, staffing the Fresno County Democrats booth at the 2015 Big Fresno Fair.

In a political season when many are looking for an outsider, Bernie Sanders brings to the table the best of both insider and outsider.

In one sense, Sanders is an insider. He has served in federal elected offices for 25 years. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990 after serving three terms as Mayor of Burlington. In 2006 he was elected Senator in Vermont, where he still serves.

But Sanders is not the typical insider who relies on focus groups and polls to tell him which way the political wind blows at a given moment. He has not given in to the temptation to take contributions from the powerful few who have taken over the economy and now enjoy all of its benefits while ordinary citizens must work harder and harder just to stay even in an economy designed by lobbyists and politicians in the pockets of the rich and powerful for the rich and powerful.

Sanders is an outsider in the sense that he knows he serves each and every member of his constituency, not just those with enough money to buy elections. A popular bumper sticker sums it up: “Bernie Sanders: Not for Sale.”

Tabling for Bernie at the recent Intermountain Nursery Harvest Festival, I talked with a Vermonter named Bob. Bob said simply, “There’s nobody like Bernie.” When I learned Bob was from Vermont, I said, “I guess you know where all the bodies are buried.”

“There aren’t any,” he said.

Bob then went on to explain that Senator Sanders had helped his brother, a veteran having trouble getting help from the VA for his hearing disability. Sanders took the trouble to have Bob’s brother’s records pulled and went to bat for him, finally getting him the help he needed.

Bernie knows who he works for.

This is why Bernie was re-elected twice as Mayor, six times as Congressman, and once as senator.

In a post-moral, post-ethical world, Bernie Sanders is fighting to re-establish ethical and moral imperatives. For Sanders ethics and morals are not about merely personal behavior; they are about community. And Sanders is willing to take unpopular votes when it is right to do so.

As a Congressman in 1996, Sanders was only one of 57 House members to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). At the time, rural Vermont favored the bill, but Sanders voted against it simply because it was the right thing to do. But Vermonters respected Sanders’ vote and elected him senator in November of that year.

Sanders understands the moral imperative that government in a real democracy is about serving the whole community and enabling every member of the community to live a rich and meaningful life. For Sanders democracy is about individuals, but it is about a community of individuals and how they live together and help each other.

Bernie Sanders is an insider who thinks outside the box. He’s a classic.

For ongoing Fresno County activities to nominate and elect Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016 follow Fresno For Bernie on Facebook. You can reach Chip Ashley at