Cox Chairs First Capitol Hill Meeting. It Lasted Just 12 Minutes.



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Rep. TJ Cox chaired his first meeting of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday (Feb. 26). The official portion didn’t last long.

Politics 101

David Taub

The topic was how industries manipulate science and climate change information, but much of Twitter’s reaction was about the brevity — 12 minutes — of the hearing.

In Rep. Louie Gohmert’s (R-Texas) opening statements, he said that the topic was outside of the jurisdiction of the committee. He then moved to adjourn before hearing any of the witnesses.

Cox called for a voice vote. The yeas were louder than the nays.

“The motion is not agreed to,” Cox said, presumably in jest.

“Is that a denial of fact?” Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) asked, also presumably in jest.

A roll call adjourned the meeting by a 4-2 vote, along party lines. How could that be when Democrats have the majority?

Besides Cox, only one other Democrat attended, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan). Gohmert, Johnson, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona), and Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico) voted to adjourn.

Despite the early termination, Cox continued on. He listened to the witnesses testify for an hour.

Cox wrote on Twitter:

“Today, the GOP members of our committee walked out of our hearing on climate denial, refusing to listen to our witnesses. You couldn’t have a more ironic response to a hearing on climate denialism — but that’s not stopping us. We are still going, tune in if you can!” he said.

Initially noticed by Blaze Media correspondent Nate Madden, the reaction wasn’t kind to Cox.

Tavlian worked on the 2018 campaign of David Valadao, the incumbent Cox defeated to win his seat to congress.

To which a Cox spokesman told Politics 101:

“It’s unfortunate, although not surprising, that science deniers would choose to end a hearing on climate change and deny experts their opportunity to testify on this critical issue. Congressman Cox will continue to listen to the experts and his constituents who understand the challenges that climate change poses to Central Valley’s farmers and ranchers.”

Supervisor Election Is Tuesday

With four days to go before the special election to fill a vacancy on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, labor is increasing its ante on Nasreen Johnson.

The Fresno EOC publicist received a $20,000 contribution from SEIU Local 2015 State PAC, reported on Wednesday (Feb. 27). That organization represents long-term care workers.

That contribution came after candidates reported cumulative totals through Feb. 16. SEIU 521, which represents hundreds of county employees, gave Johnson $45,000 (reflected in the chart below).

She faces Fresno City Councilman Steve Brandau and Fresno businessman Steve Hosey in the race to replace Andreas Borgeas, who vacated the seat when he became a state senator.

A comparison of fundraising figures through the Feb. 16 reports:

Candidate Total Money Raised in 2019 Total Money Spent in 2019 Cash on Hand Debt
Nasreen Johnson $104,026 $78,500 $28,026 $2,500
Steve Brandau $103,100 $135,999 $64,655 $0
Steve Hosey $25,543 $15,039 $10,503 $5,000


Additionally, Brandau reported $9,000 in large contributions (more than $1,000) since Feb. 16. He has reaped thousands of dollars from the developer and real estate community.

Looking at turnout, voters returned had 23% of the 72,148 absentee ballots through Thursday (Feb. 28). The second supervisorial district has 113,596 registered voters overall.

Clovis Election Numbers

Also on March 5, Clovis voters will select three candidates for the city council. Four are running, and the top three will be elected.

The latest financial figures through Feb. 16 show incumbent Bob Whalen not raising any money thus far in 2019. He still holds on to $35,800 previously raised, with no debt. In fact, Whalen donated more to Steve Brandau’s supervisor campaign ($1,000) than he took in himself.

Incumbent Drew Bessinger raised $1,350 for 2019 but also spent the most thus far of any candidate, $11,000. He still has $2,500 remaining, with no debt.

The third incumbent in the race, Jose Flores, raised only $50 in 2019, spending about $3,300. He still has about $6,800 with no debt.

The fourth entrant and the lone challenger, Maeketah Rivera, did not file financial paperwork as she has not raised or spent enough to meet the requirement to do so.

Voters there have returned 17% of the 41,366 absentee ballots sent out through Thursday (Feb. 28).  The city has 64,890 registered voters.

Onstot Leaving KSEE, Balekian Taking Over

KSEE 24’s Evan Onstot announced Thursday that today is his last day at the station. The lead anchor and host of “Sunday Morning Matters” is moving to KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City in a similar capacity.

Onstot joined KSEE in Sept. 2014 after stops in Lubbock, Texas and Billings, Montana. During his Fresno tenure, public affairs program “Sunday Morning Matters” became the show for local politicians and journalists (including GV Wire’s Bill McEwen and yours truly) to talk shop.

The Oklahoma City TV market is the 41st largest, as designated by ratings tracker Nielsen. Fresno is 54th. In announcing the change on his broadcast last night, Onstot said one reason for the move is to be closer to family. At least he’ll be closer to another Fresno legend, former Bulldog hoopster Paul George who stars for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Alexan Balekian will take Onstot’s place at the anchor desk. The Fresno native returned to the station last year after years away at stops in Phoenix and Virginia, covering everything for quarterbacks to Congress. While known mainly for his quirky sportscasts in his first go-around with the station, Balekian honed his news chops finding his way back to the Central Valley.

A Michael Cohen Moment

Michael Cohen at Capitol Hill this week.

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, made most of the national political headlines this week with his Capitol Hill testimony.

Many Fresno journalists who were around in 2007 remember him as Trump’s point person in the Running Horse circus.

Trump expressed interest in buying the failed golf course/housing development. Cohen served as Trump’s spokesperson on the issue.

At the time, I worked the assignment desk at KSEE. Anytime I asked Cohen about anything, he was usually tight-lipped and barely provided usable information. At least he answered his phone.

Needless to say, Trump never bought the property. The original developer went to jail. The land wound up being sold to an entity under Darius Assemi, publisher of GV Wire.

The land, now known as Mission Ranch, is an almond orchard.

Neloms Replacement

T.J. Miller

While no one at City Hall is talking about why Parvin Neloms is no longer the parks director at the city of Fresno, his interim replacement has been announced.

It’s T.J. Miller. She serves as the city’s director of customer relations and analytics, overseeing the FresGO mobile app. Miller has been at City Hall since 2013.



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