Archive · Fresno

In search of Mayoral bid, Perea looks to garbage

GARBAGE IS EVERYWHERE

What’s good for the city is good for the county, right?

We move ahead a few years, to the 2005 range. At the time I had moved at The Bee from reporting to editing. One of the reporters I worked with was Kerri Ginis, as fine a county reporter as the newspaper ever had.

Fresno County had to figure out a way deliver trash services to people in unincorporated areas (the county covers some 6,000 square miles) and meet the ever-growing list of environmental laws.

Ginis kept Bee readers well informed throughout the debate. No small feat since trash policy is mind-numbing.

In short, the supes split the county into exclusive service areas, each belonging to a specific hauler. Alan Weaver, head of the county’s Public Works Department, told me on Tuesday that there are now 13 areas served by 10 haulers.

This arrangement was for 12 years with a 10-year option exercised by mutual agreement. Weaver said the deal ends in February 2018, 25 months from now.

Along the way, Council Member Perea left the City Council (succeeded in District 7 by his son, Henry T. Perea) and became a supervisor. He took his supervisor’s seat in time to vote for the county trash plan. (He noted on Tuesday that most of the policy work had been done before the got there, and his yes vote was largely a show of respect for all this fine labor.)

Things moved along on the City of Fresno and Fresno County fronts. You know what that means – politics and emotion 24/7.

Along came November 2008. That’s when Fresnans went to the polls to elect a new mayor. Autry was being termed out. In the backdrop was a national economy going into the tank.

Ashley Swearengin, second in the June primary, surprised many by rolling to a convincing victory over Henry T. Perea.

Swearengin took possession of the mayor’s office. Henry T. Perea returned to his seat on the council dais. Henry R. Perea watched it all from his supervisorial seat.

The experts weren’t kidding when they called it the “Great Recession.” The collapse of the housing market hit Fresno just as hard as the rest of America. Things got so bad with the shrinking general fund that Swearengin was soon holding news conferences to beg volunteers to help keep the parks clean.

Where was she going to find extra money to keep Fresno out of the same bankruptcy court that was the last refuge for places like San Berndardino and Stockton?

Swearengin turned to trash.

George Hostetter
George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.

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