Obama to visit Fresno, details unknown

President Obama's upcoming visit to Fresno Friday will be his first to the city.
February 10, 2014 4:09:35 PM PST
President Obama's upcoming visit to Fresno Friday will be his first to the city. It's not known yet if it will be a quick stop at the airport or if he will take the time to visit a farm impacted by the drought.

President Obama came closest to Fresno when he dedicated the Cesar Chavez National Monument in the Kern County foothills two years ago. He will visit Fresno Friday to discuss the drought. His visit follows House Speaker John Boehners appearance with Valley republican congressmen in late January.

Political Science Professor Tom Holyoke of Fresno State thinks it's a bit of political theatre.

"I think it's fair to say the President coming out here personally is something of a reaction to the pressure put on Democrats by Congressman Valadao, Congressman Nunes and Congressman McCarthy with the legislation that when through the House the other day," Holyoke said.

The President is expected to meet with local agricultural leaders, which is what all past Presidents have done when they've visited the Valley. Both Presidents Bush and Clinton made a couple of visits to the Central Valley. In addition to meeting with farmers they took side trips.

After a visits to the Valley in 2001 President Bush hiked to the top of Morro Rock in Sequoia National Park. In 1995 President Clinton visited school children in Selma, and made a big hit at the Simonies Farms store in Fresno. Owner Dennis Simonian has pictures of the event posted in the store, and remembers it as a big event.

"Oh that was great that was like a storybook time, when it came, it was unbelievable to have the President of the United States, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, he was the President of the United States come to see a little guy like us," Simonian said.

While President Obama's itinerary hasn't been released Simonian would be happy to see him.

"I would welcome him to the San Joaquin Valley and the main thing I would tell him we're in trouble, we gotta take care of this water issue, we need help," Simonian said.

What help could the President bring? Congressman David Valadao said the President and Democrats in the Senate can take action on environmental and other issues, he feels are contributing to the water shortage.

"We can't control a drought we obviously can't make it rain or snow but what we can do is use the infrastructure we have in place now, to its capacity," Valadao said.

Valadao sponsored a drought relief bill which has passed the House, but is now in the Senate. It rehashes some earlier republican efforts to relax environmental regulations, which the Senate has rejected in the past. The president may not go for the bill, but his visit is seen as a strong show of support for drought relief efforts of some sort.


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