Wall Street money could light up Fresno's streets

FRESNO, Calif.

The cash strapped city of Fresno hasn't been able to keep up with the copper wire thieves. Back in December the city decided to start cementing in the access boxes to the wire, to keep thieves out. But paying for it was a problem. City Council member Lee Brand wants to use money the city is expecting from a financial settlement to fund the work.

"What I'm doing is allocating that money specifically for this program that was identified 3 months ago to proactively install theft deterrence to the street lights."

The city could get more than a million dollars from AIG Financial. The company is settling with local governments around the country over alleged fraud involving municipal bond sales. The city is already guaranteed about a quarter of a million and City Attorney James Sanchez expects more will be coming... eventually.

"We're confident we have a good case to proceed and the case will return to the city but again, timing for us is the most significant issue."

But there are no guarantees. The Mayor and City Manager have indicated support for the plan, and a majority of the City Council appears to be willing to go along.

City Council member Sal Quintero is among those on board: "If we're able to get those street lights turned on, our crime rate goes down so one thing leads to another and I think it's a great use of money."

The public works department says cementing the wires in isn't a big problem because maintenance on the wiring is rare, unless it's been pulled out. The city council will consider this repair and funding plan at their meeting on March 1st.

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