Local Agency Formation Commision Official, Supervisor Bob Waterston, Bad-mouthed Fresno Native, Author and Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine West Writer, Mark Arax, Who Called Him Idiot
LAFCO is a powerful commission in Fresno County. When its supervisor got ticked off by the unfavorable reporting of the media, he got upset and singled out one journalist to unleash his anger on. Well, let us just say he picked the wrong guy. Author of very popular Valley and agriculture-based books, Mark Arax was not attending the meeting as a reporter. He did not have to continue to bite his tongue. He had to respond to the bad words launched at him. In his tirade, he said reporters make money by trashing Fresno County nad city of Fresno planning efforts. He stated that they do that without offering any solutions. Supervisor Bob Waterson ripped reporters during that recent LAFCO meeting.
Reporter Mark Arax was attending the meeting because he needed materials for a new book he is writing. "The Lost Valley" chapter will examine the encroachment and paving of the San Joaquin Valley's farmland by developers. In his previous books, one can tell that this famous son of the Valley clarified and took his position on various issues faced by Fresno. He wants to protect the farmland. He wants responsible development. He would not like to see what happened to Los Angeles happen to Fresno. By doing so, he may make some people mad. For sure, he wanted to be at that meeting where the LAFCO members were going to discuss the adoption of a sphere of influence adjustment for the city of Fresno. 14 square miles would be huge space. Keep in mind that a sphere of influence is an extension of future boundaries for a city.
It must be noted that Mark Arax was not the only one to be castigated. Some Bee reporters also received Mr. Wateston's lasso. "I know Mark Arax and I know some other reporters from The Bee that have written stuff, and it's amazing Mark writes for the Los Angeles Times and he lives in Fresno and so I always wonder why he stays here because it's so bad. But that's how he makes money is beating up his hometown, and that's fine...."If you don't like what's going on, why don't you tell us what to do?" D'uh, Mr. Supervisor does not know much about telecommuting and valley bureau! Mark Arax is supposed to cover the Valley.
Mark could not abide by the codes of journalism. He could not keep his mouth closed. He had to offer some clarifications. Mr. Waterston took a cheap shot at him over his opposition to the annexation of 9,000 new acres. He presented the evidence of hundreds of thousands of acres that Fresno has for infill development. He complained in his letter that much of the prime farmland would just be undeveloped. Pollution, crime and traffic would encroach on the rural lifestyle. His letter which was published by the local paper was read during the meeting. There was no doubt that the supervisor and others were addressing him.
So, putting on his citizen's hat, Mark Arax responded, "I feel I can now address a few things here. This body was created to protect farmland, stop sprawl and not go into areas prematurely. There hasn't been a single word about farmland preservation from any of you here today." Mr. Waterston asked Mark to quiet down. He was not willing to listen to his viewpoints. He was not willing to give Mark an apology, "If you want an apology, you can apologize for beating us up in the paper. I am in charge, you're not." There came the time when Mark had to put him in his place or remind him of his position, "Then act like a chairman, not an idiot."
The chairman did apologize to Mark Arax who was not covering the meeting as a reporter. He is a resident, an author and a native with interests in seeing the Valley grow responsibly. Mr. Waterston still stuck to his guns, "He is beating us up inside and out," He said. "When the L.A Times stories come out about Fresno they go across the country and Fortune 500 companies see them. Company executives are left with an unfavorable impression of Fresno.
The city officials must know that all eyes are branched on them. All the more reasons to lead with transparency!
Find large lots in the foothills from Granville's Rolling Hills/Ventana Hills Development