Monday, November 23, 2009

November 23, 2009

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
Thanks to all who accepted my invitation to share their “Thoughts of Thanksgiving” with us. This has been a difficult year and I believe it is critical that we don’t let the negatives overwhelm our blessings. Here are a few responses, some of which I have abbreviated. I am hopeful that you will add your own.

“We are thankful for the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man--nature, music, great books and the opportunity to serve others.”
Lee Ayres

“Family and good friends. The “things” in my life pale in comparison to the people I care about. People are eternal and everything else is not.”
Kurt Madden

“I am thankful that we live in a place that allows us the opportunity to think, learn, create and contribute.”
Alice Saviez

“The Marjorie Mason Center is grateful for the incredible numbers of compassionate, generous and energetic individuals who make this such a wonderful place to live, work and thrive.” Pam Kallsen

“For me it can be the little things, looking at the sun shining through the three leaves or our fourth grandson’s birth.”
Kathy Bray

“I am thankful for life, love of family and friends, health and well-being and that we live under the protection of a free and peaceful nation each day.”
Kay Garabedian

“I am thankful for learning so much from God – relationships, caring, intimacy, and connectedness.”
Doug Davidian

“I am thankful to have an opportunity to make a difference, work with extraordinary people, and for my wonderful daughter, Noelle.
Deb Nankivell

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 16, 2009

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
I would like to try something I’ve never done before in the fifteen plus years I have been privileged to contribute to our Bulletin. Next week we shall celebrate Thanksgiving Day. For what will you be most thankful this year? Please send your thought(s) to me ( so I can pass your feelings on to others. We will share as many of thoughts as possible in next week’s bulletin. As for me, I shall once again be thankful for family, friends and all of those who understand that in exchange for living in an imperfect democracy we owe it to ourselves and others to try to leave this a better place than we found it. Such is the mission of the Fresno Business Council. Such is the Spirit of Thanksgiving.

California Forward’s Budget Reforms and Local Control Measures
The current structure of California government is based upon another era and patches that didn’t fix the underlying problems—structural, systemic and power dysfunctions. Our board has endorsed the 2010 Reform plan aimed at two primary goals—serving community before single interests and restoring power to local government. The reforms include:

Best Practices Budget Accountability Act
• Planning Ahead—two-year spending plans with 5 year fiscal forecasts.
• Results & Accountability—goals for every program linked to budget decisions.
• Performance Review—Oversight of major expenditures; ten year review cycles for programs.
• Reduce Debt When Revenues Spike—Use one time revenues to pay down debt.
• Pay-As-You-Go—No new programs without funding source.
• Majority vote budget/deadline—forfeit pay and per diem if not on time. Retains 2/3 vote for tax increases.

Community Funding Protection and Accountability Act
• Protect local taxes—state prohibited from taking local taxes or fees.
• Collaborative Problem Solving—encourages local institutional alignments to solve problems and eliminate duplication.
• New Resources for Community Services—If county-wide plan adopted, county can ask for sales increase up to 1 cent to be distributed to local government.
• Accountability for Outcomes—discretion coupled with reporting on progress and support of voters to continue.

For more in depth information, go to the website,

Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9, 2009

Message From the Chair Emeritus—Richard Johanson
A year has gone by since the voters of this nation used the privilege granted them in our constitution to elect by majority vote those candidates for public office they prefer to serve them during the ensuing political cycle. Whenever we become disenchanted with the performance of the party in power, we make a change. The underlying strength of this country resides in having a strong two party system with the primary responsibility of the “out” party being to serve as the watchdog over the actions of the other. Our history tells us that rancor, diatribes pitting one party against the other and forecasts of impending doom have always been a part of this process. What has never changed has been that cadre of citizens who quietly and efficiently continue their quest of transformation amid the ongoing political turmoil. Such has been the role of the members of the Fresno Business Council and our extended family of those dedicated to making our tomorrow better than our yesterday.

“It’s Different This Time”—A Community Steps Up Together
Barn raising is an American tradition where everyone came together when someone needed a barn. Most were volunteers, a handful of those with special skills were paid and everyone benefitted, not just the family with a new barn. Early Americans understood interdependence and that there are challenges we can only meet as a united whole. Community transformation is one of them. As the RJI continues to accelerate driven by the EDC, Office of Community and Economic Development at Fresno State, Lyles Center, WIB, State Center and others, the City of Fresno is sparking increasing engagement from many institutions and organizations to revitalize the Lowell Neighborhood. Here is an excerpt from a recent blog from Craig Scharton, the head of the Downtown and Community Revitalization Department:

What an unbelievably great meeting! Fresno State is on it. They have departments lined up with classes and internships all focused on Lowell. Off the top of my head: construction management, recreation, education, the library (for research and database), political science, psychology, business, engineering, arts (lighting)...and others that I'm forgetting. They have a matrix of every department's involvement. They have specific classes that will be involved. They are organizing an event to link nonprofits in Lowell to students. This is so incredibly gigantic. They are hosting a national conference for Urban Universities next year and will bring schools from around the country to Fresno to see how an engaged city and university can work together. Somebody pinch me...I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that this would all be happening so quickly. Dr. Welty, the Provost and Assistant Provost are all actively engaged to pull this focus and follow-through together. I do not believe that there is anything quite like what is happening, anywhere in the country. As Mayor Swearengin says, "it is different this time." Folks, it is different, I've been doing this stuff off and on for 25 years. I have never seen things happening like this before.