Breaking down Fresno's Bonusgate

George Hostetter dives into City Hall amid Mayor Swearengin’s Bonusgate crisis, providing the backstory & questions from the fallout.

Where was I when all this was going down?



After all, I was The Bee’s City Hall reporter for pretty much the last six years.

I knew nothing about the bonuses. But several anti-Swearengin sources did tell me to check out the allegedly pricey benefit packages of some top officials in the Administration.

I chewed on the tips, only to file them away. There they sat.

I mention this because one day, about a year ago, I bumped into former City Manager Jeff Reid at City Hall. I was sitting on a bench outside the council chamber, feeling beat-up.

Reid asked about my long face. I told him about the pressure I was getting from sources to chase the “benefits” tip. Then I told him about what that might mean to my access to administration officials.

I didn’t have to go into detail. Reid has plenty of City Hall scars. He knows what it’s like to be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“You pick your battles,” he said.

He didn’t have to add the kicker: Then you live with the consequences.

That’s the question facing the City Council and the Administration. Is it worth it to turn Bonusgate into total war?

  1. The point is that these payoffs have been “dark money,” dark taxpayers’ money lavished on favorites furtively, well out of taxpayers’ eyes and knowledge. AKA personal slush fund

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