A quick look at the policy and politics that have made recent headlines in California’s rural counties.
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BUTTE: County officials have a wish list for the federal water bill that was passed last Wednesday, including funding for flood relief structures and enhancements of a regional sewer treatment facility.
FRESNO: Fresno County is under fire for an alleged understaffing of its public defender’s office. According to the David Carroll, executive director of the Sixth Amendment Center—a nonprofit that works to ensure adequate representation of all persons accused of crimes—states that to meet national guidelines, the office needs to employ 139 lawyers. That is 88 more than it has today. According to ABC 30, the department is handling nearly 2,000 misdemeanor and 600 felony cases a year, which is four times the recommended caseload by the American Bar Association. The Sixth Amendment Center believes an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice is in order.
A Fresno County farmworker has gathered the signatures of over 3,000 of her colleagues in an effort to decertify the United Farm Workers (UFW) union at her place of employment. UFW has been representing workers at the east Fresno County farm for 20 years and this is the second attempt to dissolve the union in the past several years.
Last week, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to seek almost $80 million in state funds to build a new 300-bed jail in downtown Fresno. The Fresno Bee Editorial Board praised the move.
GLENN: After receiving a settlement from Glenn County for overcharging property tax administration fees from FY’s 2009-12, the Willows City Council approved the use of $108,000 to upgrade the city’s antiquated computer system. $3,000 of the settlement will go towards boosting the public library’s budget, as requested by Glenn County officials.
KINGS: The Kings County Board of Supervisors joined forces with other foes of high-speed rail and filed a court brief last week asking a judge to bar the California High-Speed Rail Authority from spending or committing any Proposition 1A bond money until the agency has complied with the 2008 ballot act. The board will take part in a Nov. 8 hearing in a Sacramento County Superior Court.
TEHEMA: County supervisors approved a new classification system last week that will give 5% salary raises to 46 of its sheriff’s deputies and correctional officers.
On a lighter note, a Tehema County man is claiming that the notoriously-evasive Bigfoot has taken up residence in his backyard and has been tormenting him for weeks. See the video report below for more on this riveting story.
TULARE: County supervisors contributed almost $12,000 to local nonprofits in September through the county’s Good Works fund. According to the Visalia Times-Delta, the “Good Works fund is intended to support local nonprofits achieve their mission of community service.”