Friday, October 30, 2009

Marketing yourself amongst Fresno's high unemployment

In an US News article, Fresno was noted as one of the cities suffering with some of the highest rates of unemployment. At over 15%, the city is in the company of other communities made up of younger people and immigrants such as Modesto, Stockton and Redding. On the other side, cities like Arlington, VA and Anchorage, AK have grown during the recession due to strong industries-- energy and government, respectively.

Before you pack your bags for Alaska to get a place where you can 'see Russia from your house', there are opportunities to better market yourself that will you help you snag that new job.

Just Pay 20%
The County of Fresno, Fresno Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and other organizations and agencies have teamed to implement the federal Economic Stimulus 80/20 Program. The 80/20 Program will pay 80 percent of the cost to hire a new employee for a year including salary, training, insurance and even uniforms. The employer pays the remaining 20 percent. The employer cannot have laid off workers in the past 90-days and the new employee must be a CalWorks recipient. Watch the ABC-30 News Story.

Market Tax Credit to Pay Your Salary
Depending on where you live and where you potential employer is located, you could be worth thousands of dollars of tax credit for that business. Search the Fresno tax credit map to see if you are eligible.

While times are tough, there are still thousands of jobs out here in Fresno. Sites like has hundreds of locally posted jobs on a daily basis.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop died of a cardiac attack earlier today, June 25, 2009. Find out about Michael Jackson Tributes taking place in Fresno.
Share your comments and thought about Michael Jackson.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Transparency, Accountability & Capacity Report: Assessment of Fresno Black Chambers of Commerce

After the historical election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States and Ashley Swearengin as mayor of Fresno along with the economic down turn, business as we know it has changed. Even as our nation and city turn a new page, the stakeholders of Fresno’s African-American business community realize that the function and purpose of a black chamber becomes more imperative in maintaining a healthy business climate. After several years of discontent, a group of former members of the San Joaquin Valley Black Chamber of Commerce started the Central California Chamber of Commerce in 2007.

The status of two chambers has created an upheaval within the community- corporate partners are uncertain whom to support, government is tittering between both, and the black community is unclear as to which to best serves its interest.

After a 120-day evaluation and assessment process that incorporating reviewing Chamber programs and systems, interviews and surveys, The Transparency, Accountability & Capacity Report: Assessment of Fresno Black Chambers of Commerce presents observations and recommendations about how to best move forward.

As always, I welcome your comments and I have extended the offer to publish a written response from their of the chambers.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Rock Obama

What would happen if President Obama got ANGRY? Check it out (this was too funny to pass up)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Feb 24th Links- IPA Hearing & Obama Speech

Thanks to Mike Rhodes, KFCF has archived the testimonies of the IPA Hearing on its website at

Also, if you missed President Obama's "state of the union" address, you can play or download a copy at KCFC's sister station KPFA's archives at .

Friday, January 23, 2009

Pictures from DC

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Spirit in Washington: Inauguration

America made history on January 20th, 2009. I was a part of history. I will be able to one day to look back and tell the story of where I was the day that the first black man was made president. Though this sound cliché’, these words were amongst many quoted and described by myself and other visiting universal citizens from across the globe that quickly filled the streets of Washington D.C.

The cold morning of waiting for the Green line Metro in Greenbelt Maryland started the morning of inauguration at about a windy 18 degrees. The line of patron reached half a mile to the back fence of the metro station. SheRee Johnson, my best friend, also from the Central Valley and me attended this historical event together.

Standing in line for over an hour and a half seemed like no time as we talked and fellowshipped with other visiting patrons. I was surprised to see people openly communicating with each other. I also was touched by the stories that I heard. D.C. reportedly had no arrest. That shows that what I am saying about the sense of family and peace promoted by President Obama was a valued ethic during the inauguration events. As each person openly stated on the train where they were from, and how cold the weather was or how they didn’t care that they took an unpaid day off work or even an AWOL was well worth attending this almost unbelievable day.

By the time I arrived to the National Mall, it was 8:15 a.m. The streets were full, and the air was almost unbearable. I recall wearing three pairs of thermal pants and a pair of jeans, four tops, a trench pea coat and a scarf. The weather was nothing to play with. There were people everywhere. I even saw people within the entertainment industry freely walking the streets of D.C. A statement that the Obama family was the celebrities of this event. I mean this was the most people I seen in my life at one event. I approached the capitol from the behind, with hopes of getting a good spot in front. But s authorities informed us the Mall had been closed well before 7 a.m. being that it was over capacity.

We traveled by foot 1.5 miles around the large crowds and finally reached the Metro Center Metro Station and traveled to a more urban neighborhood in D.C, known as U St. Which is also home to Ben’s Chilli Bowl, where Obama ate just 5 days prior to our arrival. Entering the door of the historic Busboys and Poets Bookstore/Restaurant we were met with hellos and tear filled eyes as the Clintons approached the seating area on the television screen and the ceremony came to a start.

We made friends, exchanged numbers, made toast and even cried with strangers as our first African American President was inaugurated. A feeling of equality can describe what I felt after the intense words of Obama’s speech. I felt no race, no color, no gender and others in the room felt the same way. As the tissues passed and champagne filled glasses everyone basked in the ambiance of hugs and on the spot utterance of their feelings after reality had set in.

I was in fact overjoyed that I was able to experience this historical moment. After being exhausted from the large crowds and heavy walking I retired as the rest of the world partied…………….to be continued.

Leonard Smith
Bowie State University '09
Hometown: Lemoore, CA

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From Washington: Tuesday

What a day was today!

The college friend I'm staying with in Washington and I left at about
6:45am, and headed to the Metro for a ride to the Capitol area. What
we found were subway trains already PACKED with exuberant
inauguration-goers. We found out later that the crowds were made
thicker by a half-hour delay on that line due to a passenger having
fallen onto the track. No word on any injuries, but apparently the
incident did cause a delay of about half an hour.

When we reached the destination station near the Congressional office
buildings, everything came to a standstill. The station exit simply
couldn't handle such a flood of people. Three trains arrived during
the time it took us to exit. The station operator was on the PA
system telling everyone to "walk straight through the gate" and "keep
it movin'". Eventually, being in an irrepressibly cheerful mood, the
crowd started to parrot these calls, and the words seem to take on a
political dimension. The station operator caught on too, and started
mixing in "yes we can" with her other instructions. This made a long
and frustrating wait thoroughly enjoyable. It was a remarkable
display of unity and the powerful of a joyful spirit.

We met briefly with friends from Fresno who had just flown from
Sacramento into New York, driven directly to Maryland, parked there
and made their way by subway into Washington. This was at about
7:30am, and they were already clocking a 24-hour day. We shared
tickets and split up from there. We didn't see them again because
they were on their way back to New York as soon as the ceremony was
over. What commitment! (And, ouch!)

The ceremony was fantastic. You saw it all on TV -- and you probably
had a better view than almost any of the 2,000,000 of us on the Mall.
Having tickets, we were able to get a little closer and could at least
see the Capitol (though we were too far away to see any individuals).
Mainly we relied on a Jumbotron, partially obscured by an
inconveniently placed tree, to show us the action. A 3- or 4-second
delay between the video and sound made the viewing a bit odd.

Later, walking away from that location, I realized how lucky we were.
Hundreds of portable toilet units were in place FAR from the Capitol,
near the Washington Monument. From there, depending on where you were
situated, you couldn't even tell where the Capitol was. Certainly
seeing the Capitol made things feel special.

The other special thing was the crowd. The Jumbotrons showed the
various celebrities and dignitaries filing in. There were strong
reactions -- positive and negative -- to the different figures. I was
particularly interested to hear impressions from some of the DC
residents about some of the national or local figures I didn't
recognize. It was a fun way to share a story with a friendly neighbor
and help pass the time. After all, speaking of passing the time,
things didn't really start until 11am, and we were in place by about
9. So, plenty of waiting. Not to mention being packed in so tight
that you felt pressure from your neighbors on all sides!

As chaotic as arriving was, leaving the Mall area was particularly
rough. My friend and I ended up walking several miles, sometimes in
circles, trying to escape the rush of the crowd, looking for a working
subway station, and navigating blocked streets, which were many and
seemed placed at random. By the time we reached our home station and
got ourselves to a restaurant, we had been on our feet for nine hours
straight -- all with almost no food or water. So you can understand
why we didn't stick around for the parade!

Those I've talked to all agree this is a historic occasion which we
would never have missed. However, at this point, I also agree with
those who say it's probably something I'll never want to do again!

Elliott Balch

From Washington: Monday

I knew when I ran into -- who else? -- Lyle Lovett at Dulles airport
Sunday night that it would be a good trip to Washington. If Lyle can
marry country, gospel, and jazz, surely the nation can come together
for one day to celebrate a historic new beginning in its leadership.

And come together we have. At the Marriott next to my friend's
apartment near the Zoo yesterday, I passed part of a cohort of 5,000
university students in town for the national Inaugural Convention.
They were waiting for charter buses to take them downtown.

When I got downtown via Metro, I realized a bus would be the last way
I'd want to try to get around. Lines to get in the House Office
Buildings, which house the Representatives' personal offices, were
wrapped around the block. Just to get in the Rayburn Building, where
I was picking up inauguration tickets, the line was over quarter-mile
long and three abreast. It took two hours of standing in the cold
just to get in the building.

Once in the building, the scene was slightly chaotic. Not everyone
had arranged tickets through a Member of Congress, so folks were
storming the halls looking for any extras. Extras were hard to come
by, though. I got really lucky that Congressman Radanovich had a last
minute cancellation or two, freeing up a ticket for me.

Elliott B.

The Obama Inauguration

I so was excited to watch the inauguration of the country's first black president this morning. Online with Facebook broadcasted the entire ceremony live. The inaugural speech will reair this afternoon at 5, 7, and 9 PM EST.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Fresno Inaugural Events

Fresno Inaugural Events

Join Fresno area residents of all ages for breakfast, Inaugural viewing & a celebration of our America's 44th President who is bringing CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.

Contact the Democrats in Action office: 559-486-5422

'We are the Change' Celebration

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

5-7 PM

African-American Museum of the SJV

1857 Fulton Street, Fresno, CA 93721


This is an opportunity to commemorate the life of King and the presidency of Obama at the local level through the

“We are the Change” Celebration . This event invites local elected officials, business and community leaders to participate in a day of festivities that will unite greater Fresno. RSVP your attendance, please contact Kimberley Jackson at (559) 243-1550 or at

Day One

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

9 PM-1:30 AM

The Starline

831 Kern Street

Fresno, CA 93728

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Fresno Swearing-In Ceremony

Today, well wishers, the media and family members from as far away as Aspen, Greece gathered to welcome the change of the guard in Fresno's leadership. At the first council meeting of the year, the City Clerk swore in Council members Andreas Boregas and Lee Brand along with Mayor Ashley Swearengin. In a capacity filled chamber, Brian Calhoun, Jerry Duncan and now former-Mayor Alan Autry also said farewell and thanked their colleagues, staff and the residents of Fresno for the opportunity to serve.

In her usual get-down-to-business fashion, Mayor Swearingin took the opportunity to speak about her plans for her first 100 days in office. Of the number of task and initiatives she plans to employ immediately, here a few I found interesting:
  • Conduct a city efficiency analysis. This would be an update to a 2002 report comparing our city service to like cities
  • An in-depth department evaluation. Along with this evaluation, department are being asked to present budget scenarios with 4 and 8 percent reductions for the upcoming 2009-20 fiscal year.
  • Revamping and refocus of economic development department to the Downtown & Community Revitalization Department. Announce of the changes and its team was presented last week in a press conference at the Holiday Inn's Sky Room.
  • Revising and simplifying the city's procurement process that will favor local businesses
  • Partnering with community initiatives to increase resident's awareness and access to free earned income tax credit (EITC) services in the city.
  • Establishing the Fresno Citizens Academy, a voluntary program to educate and engage citizen leaders

Kudos the Mayor for demonstrating political class by recognizing her former campaign opponent and current council member, Henry T. Perea for his service while voicing her willingness to work with him.

In addition, the Council elected Councilmember Cynthia Sterling as the first African-American and woman to hold the position of Council President. The Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) presented flowers to both Sterling and Swearengin.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Like liquor stores, like payday... regulate them

While I'm not a huge fan of payday lending and check cashing companies, I do believe they provide a needed service in low-income communities-- access to basic banking and lending services. The larger question is why are these companies doing so well in certain neighborhoods? It's because of the lack of traditional financial institutions in these neighborhoods.
Like liquor stores that concentrate where there are few grocery stores, these act as a viable alternative at a premium to their customers. Similarly, I believe the non-traditional financial industry should be regulated as state and local government does liquor stores in two ways:

(1) These non-traditional financial institutions should be required to get a city-issued condition use permit (CUP). Liquor outlets are required to get a CUP which requires to some form of resident oversight through entities like the District Implementation Committees or the Planning Commission.

(2) The City of Fresno Planning Department should restrict the number of pay-day loan and check-cashing services within a neighborhoods. The state Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) restricts the concentration of liquor outlets in residential areas. .

Lastly, the City can encourage/incentivise development of neighborhood banking. It was encouraging to see the City Council began to evaluate its financial/banking policy. With a near billion dollar budget, the City can influence the practices of bank through its deposit policy. The City's Bank of Fresno is a step in the right direction.

For more information on pay day loan services, consumer tips in using them and more, check out Americans for Fairness in Lending.