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Meg Whitman on Fresno: ‘It’s awful.’

UPDATE: Some more reading on this: Here’s a news story, with much more context, from The Bee’s John Ellis. And here’s another take from The Bee’s Opinion Talk blog.

ORIGINAL POST: Speaking to the San Jose Mercury News’ editorial board on Tuesday, gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman had this to say about our fair city’s economic state:

“Fresno looks like Detroit. It’s awful.”

What do you think? Are you offended by this? Or is she just telling it like it is? Is this gonna whip Fresnans into a tizzy again? Between this and Jerry Brown basically having to get dragged into Fresno for their Oct. 2 debate, any Fresnans out there just not feeling the love from the Guv candidates?

Responses to "Meg Whitman on Fresno: ‘It’s awful.’"

melanie says:

It’s sad and a little true. Parts of Fresno and even Clovis can feel a little like a ghost town. New and old strip malls alike have high vacancy rates, and yet the construction of new ones continues. Large empty buildings that were filled with grocery stores are empty everywhere because of companies wanting to move into newer facilities rather than renovate where they are. With park maintenance being cut back, soon parks and medians will be even more unkempt, adding to the blight.

bradley says:

Meg Whitman has spent $119 MILLION dollars on her gubernatorial campaign.

I have nothing else to say.

brittneycaan says:

I am not offended after reading the whole article. It is true that the economic conditions in fresno are horrible. With massive unemployment, and most of my friends who are college graduates can’t find jobs. I am of the lucky ones even though I am working in AZ now. I read the article as the economic conditions are awful not the city itself. I am always proud to say Fresno is my hometown.

bradley says:

a more direct response:

Yes, her quote sounds bad. And the word “looks” misdirects from the economic context of her comment”awful.”

But to compare Fresno to Detroit is careless speech, period, and points a crassness that has been evident throughout her campaign.

I do not think see sees California communities as full of people — more like a spreadsheet of data.

JLH says:

She’s on the money in comparing Fresno To Detroit. I’d go even further and compare it to Springfield, MA!

jaurique says:

I travel to Bay area often and you see more vacant office buildings there then I have ever seen in Fresno. It may be easier find a job in bay area but companies come and go there. Also try to buy a home there, you kids and thier kids will still be paying the mortgage after you die. As well the rent is so high thier. $1800 month for studio in bad side of town.
While i have had many opportunities to move out of Fresno for higher paying, better career opportunities, I still choose to stay in Fresno. Meg Whitman you just lost a lot of votes from us “awful” people

Marc M. says:

Snark reply #1:

8 MILE!

Famous says:

I seriously hope we don’t get all butt-hurt over this. I get that she’s running for governor and all that, but getting all fired up every time someone calls Fresno out for not being some utopia just makes us look stupid. My take: Who cares?

Jeffrey Whitaker says:

I am not offended at all. She calls it how she sees it. I’m a Fresnan born and bread, but with double digit unemployment rates, high teen pregnancy rates, lack of education, and the people with college degrees moving out of the city to large metro areas further continues the poor economic state of the city. With the economy the way it is..makes it even worse. “When the rest of California gets an economic “cold”..Fresno get an economic “pneumonia”. I just got back from ATL and I tell them Im from Cali, they instantly say “L.A. or S.F.” They instantly think of palm, trees and beaches. And I tell them “nonono’ this is Central Cali. Totally diffrent from So cal or No Cal. I tell them its like the Midwest with all the farmland and migrant workers and blight. But it’s my home…Fresno will never be a large megalopolis with any political pull becaus our major industry is ag. Theres too much competition in Cali. So Cal and No Cal gets all the love.

Bryan Harley says:

I agree with Bradley, it’s just careless speech. Yes, the City of Fresno is hurting economically. Meg Whitman, how about you tell us how you’re going to help fix the problems instead of making stupid comparisons that only good for a sound bite?

Joe Moore says:

Is this really a stupid comparison? Or maybe more accurate than we might want to admit? Remember when the Brookings Institution compared Fresno to pre-Katrina New Orleans in their report “Katrina’s Window” about the nation’s highest concentrations of urban poverty? Would it have been as bad if she had said “New Orleans” instead of “Detroit?”

Bryan Harley says:

The only people who’ll get butt-hurt are the ones that read this out of context. You can’t deny the economic problems of this region.

traci says:

Oooh, good point!

Chukknob says:

That’s an outrage. Fresno is way worse than Detroit. What a goober. Let’s put Fresno on eBay like those other small towns. Sarcasm of course.

traci says:

Agree. Agree. Agree. Agree.

and also…. agree.

Bryan Harley says:

Joe, it’s a stupid comparison because it’s just a sound bite that hits the surface and doesn’t offer any greater discussion or solutions.

Mike Oz says:

She could have very easily made the same statement about Fresno in an endearing way — “Fresno, like Detroit, is having tough times as of late. That’s awful for the people who live there.”

Less Tacos more Truth says:

Way to “spin” this quote Mike and make it sound like something it isn’t.

She is NOT calling Fresno “awful” she is calling the current economic situation in Fresno “awful”.

Get a clue and stop trying to spin things…maybe less time with your face stuffed in taco plates and more research before posting junk like this???

If you don’t think the current state of Fresno’s economy is “awful” maybe spend some time with the double digit % of people currently unemployed in Fresno. Or maybe go talk to the business owners who are closing their doors on a weekly basis. Or give a call to the owners of all the empty office and retail locations to see how it feels to have the banks taking ownership of those properties???

Fresno is one big ghettoe but i dont care i make the most of it

Mike Oz says:

“Meg Whitman had this to say about our fair city’s economic state.”

And I didn’t spin anything. I just asked for reaction. I offered no opinion.

“Or is she just telling it like it is?”

More reading, less ranting.

Mike says:

Well…. Detroit was decimated by the car companies leaving town and unemployment went crazy. The Ag business in Fresno is our auto industry. When they turned off the pumps it killed our largest industry.

So I feel our current condition is similar to that Detroit.

Is that the direction she was headed with her description, I would like to think so.

Am I on point on this?

Chris says:

There’s not much context provided here (it’s an awfully short snippet of what I’m guessing is a much longer discussion). It seems pretty obvious that she’s talking about the state of the economy in Fresno. She’s been to the region a LOT, and has laid out clear plans for how to create private sector jobs across the entire state.

Titles are IMPORTANT says:

Title of this piece…

“Meg Whitman on Fresno: ‘It’s awful.’”

A title like this just asks to rile people up as “another person dissing Fresno” when it’s not. Before reading the article ones opinion of what the article is about is set based on the title already.

Like others I did ready everything and the only thing I take offense to is the title of this post.

Megs view that Fresno’s economic situation is “awful” is SPOT ON and if you are offended by it you live in lala land.

parkbench559 says:

Our largest industry also has much to do with our perennial high unemployment rate, below average wages even in non-ag employment, dropout rates, and so on leaving the valley as the “Appalachia of the West.” How about developing a diverse economy that includes manufacturing, tech, creatives and clean energy (solar, anyone?). Oh no, that would force ag wages out of subsistence level. Or sub-subsistence levels. Whey “they turned off the pumps,” which were turned on in June, it should have forced some creative entrepreneurship instead of all the unseemly whining from the Valley.

The Spelling Bee says:

i agree with you, but one word: bread. teeheehee.

Jeffrey Whitaker says:

I think that obviously in the next 20yrs renewable energy, bio energy, green energy is gonna be the next BIG thing. I think the Central Valley people should come up with great ideas to capitalize on that industry.

bradley says:

I would agree with you but for one point: She’s campaigning to be the Governor of California. What she says, and how she says it will have (already has) tremendous impact, like it or not.

Jason says:

So I’ve been jokeing around about this on Twitter all morning and was treated with This

bradley says:

its ok to “rile” a bit. The Beehive is about engagement, not neutral reporting.

Chris says:

Fresno Bee follow-up:
“Whitman didn’t really trash Fresno with Detroit remark”

http://fresnobeehive.com/opinion/2010/09/whitman_didnt_really_trash_fre.html

As “awful” as Fresno may be, it didn’t stop Whitman from making sure that Fresno was a debate site. Essentially, we elected Arnold and Meg understands that Calfornia’s Detroit is integral to the California election map.

Her saying Fresno’s awful means one thing: tax dollars could come to Fresno in a Whitman administration.

Famous says:

AND …

There it goes.

Fresno really can get riled up over the silliest crap.

Scott Kruse says:

As a 4th generation Californian from Fresno, I agree. Fresno thinks and acts “least cost, first use” (short term) and never thinks “least cost, end use” (long term). Fresno & Clovis worship sprawl and neglect maintenance where ever possible. The metro area could have light rail, but instead chose a 1950s approach to freeways – cheap, wipe out housing, and poor design. Fresno has the lowest per capita area for parks – counting aquifer recharge basins and schools as “parks”. They attempted to rename the airport “Fresno – Yosemite International” but everyone knows the truth, it is still FAT – Fresno Air Terminal. Fresno has a large blue collar base, the southeast and southwest areas are in severe decline and the City invests in one bad scheme after another. The gateway to the deepest canyon in North America (Middle Fork of the Kings River) is destined for a large rock quarry because of short-term thinking. Fresno County has the highest pesticide use, primarily on west side crops, in all of California. When Whitman learns more about California geography she will realize that Fresno is severely economically and socially depressed. The San Joaquin River Parkway exists despite poor land use in Madera and Fresno Counties. Air quality Fresno south is some of the worst in the state and the Air District only thinks of fines, not air quality or improvement.

JeffinSac says:

She spoke the truth and the media is bashing her for it?

E.J. says:

Meg Whitman has spent $119 MILLION dollars, Coz She knows the money that she spent to her campaign will get it back to her once she sit in the office..

Mike Oz says:

I don’t think “the media” is bashing her. I only asked people what they thought.

Some agree. Some don’t.

Jasmine says:

“I do not think see sees California communities as full of people — more like a spreadsheet of data.”

Exactly! Agree x2

Phoebe says:

Meg Whitman lost my vote when she announced that she would defend Proposition 8 if she becomes governor. While I don’t think she was talking trash on Fresno I do think she should be more careful with her words.

Conlan says:

I think it’s premature to criticize her for “speaking in soundbites” or “not offering solutions”. The quote was clearly chosen *because* it was a good soundbite from a larger interview. That’s what journalists do, and what we ask them to do.

steve says:

People hate it when politicians lie. And they hate it when they tell the truth. Check out the stats. Check out the scenery. Check out your mind.

grfrog says:

“Sticks and Stones…” or whatever she meant ~~ she would still be better than another 4 years with Jerry Brown…Do you remember Gov. Moonbeam???

rick says:

I think Ashley Swearengin should challenge Meg Whitman to a “cat fight” and the winner gets to be governor. You could call it “rumble in the park 4″, hold it at chuckchansi park and give all the proceeds to our broken down schools.

bob says:

I know who to vote for now

AntiMusick says:

the only thing i have liked about Arnold as Governor has been that he seems to have visited Fresno more than any other Governor ever has.
Is it because he has personal friends here, he like it here, or because he is passing on the way from L…A to Sacramento?
Meg can suck it. Detroit once had 2 million people and now has about 750,000 people… Fresno is still growing. Meg should not be governor or state dog catcher, if she is going to talk s**t on Fresno, because when you talk s**t on Fresno you are talking s**t on the State because Fresno is the Heart of California.

Gary Van Zandt says:

When Ms. Whitman said “it’s awful” she must have been referring to herself whilst looking in a mirror.”

DrRem says:

You need to look at the obvious facts. Fresno County is still the most productive place in the world, we have not killed off the ag industry at all. I assume you simply forgot to check a single fact relating to our production. A handful of farms have been denied water due to the drought and the attempt to support the more productive areas on the Delta. I don’t know why people that complain about the water issue always ignore the facts. I prefer to believe it is out of simple ignorance. I do know there are some people that will lie to all of us rather than admit to the simplest of known facts, I just don’t think it’s you.

DrRem says:

You need to look at the obvious facts. Fresno County is still the most productive place in the world, we have not killed off the ag industry at all. I assume you simply forgot to check a single fact relating to our production. A handful of farms have been denied water due to the drought and the attempt to support the more productive areas on the Delta. I don’t know why people that complain about the water issue always ignore the facts. I prefer to believe it is out of simple ignorance. I do know there are some people that will lie to all of us rather than admit to the simplest of known facts, I just don’t think it’s you.

Patrick Vandenberg says:

Poor Detroit, now being compared to Fresno. Both awful.

Victoria Partida says:

I am not from Fresno so am not sure what is the whole deal with the water issuse, but other issures I am aware of. In all my honest opinion, she did not seem to care much about the Latino vote. I mean at least pretend; since this debate was broadcast in spanish channel Univision and many were watching. I will not vote for her and I will make sure to tell my family, friends and everyone who I know that can vote,not vote for Meg Witman she does not support Latinos!