The state of the country’s divisive politics, the essentialness of water allocation for the livelihood of Valley agriculture, and the importance of “good old legislating” were a few of the topics touched upon by Senator Dianne Feinstein during her visit to Fresno on June 1, 2017.


The Washington Report luncheon event, hosted by the Central Valley Community Foundation, was held at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Fresno. Over 400 community leaders, residents, elected officials, educators and law enforcement officials were in attendance to listen to a Question & Answer session between CVCF President and CEO Ashley Swearengin and Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA on issues affecting the Central Valley.

The event began with a special presentation honoring Mariposa County Sheriff Deputy Rudy Mirelez. Mariposa County Sheriff Doug Binnewies shared with event attendees the story of Deputy Mirelez’s bravery. On the morning of October 1, 2015, Deputy Mirelez was able to place himself between an armed suspect and his injured partner, return fire and delay the suspect until back-up arrived to apprehend him, despite being shot twice – once in the face and once in the torso. “It is a privilege to count Deputy Rudy Mirelez as a partner in our mission to protect the people of Mariposa County. He fearlessly responded when his fellow deputy was in danger. We will never know how many lives he may have saved by his courageous actions that day. I congratulate him on this well-deserved honor. His bravery will always be remembered and will serve as an inspiration us all.”

Photo courtesy of Kristie Mitchell, Public Information Officer with the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office

Deputy Mirelez joined Sheriff Binnewies, Senator Feinstein, and US Attorney Phillip A. Talbert on stage for the presentation. Senator Feinstein presented the Local Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery to Deputy Mirelez, thanking him for his service and his bravery, telling him, “You have much life left in you.”

As event attendees enjoyed lunch, Senator Feinstein was joined on stage by Ashley Swearengin to begin the Question & Answer session. Senator Feinstein spoke of her battle with legislators for adequate water allocation for Central Valley farmers, and of the importance of collaboration despite political differences. In a bill approved by Congress in December, approximately $600 million was set aside for surface and groundwater storage, water recycling and conservation, desalination projects, and other components. The bill was the joint effort of Senator Feinstein, a Democrat, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican. “That’s what good legislative craftsmanship is all about,” Senator Feinstein said, of her collaboration with McCarthy. “It’s how you solve problems.”

The Senator also addressed the issue of undocumented immigrants, a topic of particular importance and concern to the Central Valley ag community. “The undocumented community does farm work, and they are good,” Senator Feinstein said. “The ag worker is always looked at as the least among us, and it’s just not so.” Senator Feinstein discussed an immigration bill she has introduced with her colleagues in the Senate that would provide a “blue card” to immigrants looking to work in agriculture. The blue card would shield farmworkers from deportation and would, after five years, provide a path to obtaining a green card, if an individual has not been arrested and has paid all of their taxes in that period. Of the bill, Senator Feinstein said, “[the bill] takes the ag worker and gives them an opportunity to show what they can do with a path toward citizenship.”

To watch the entire program and listen to more of the senator’s comments, please click here to view the recorded broadcast by CMAC.

For more media coverage of this event, please visit the following links: ABC30, KMJNow, KVPR, The Fresno Bee

The Central Valley Community Foundation wishes to thank all who attended this event. Ticket sales benefitted the Central Valley Promise Fund at CVCF, a joint initiative of our region’s higher education institutions to provide college scholarships for thousands of Valley students. This event raised over $10,000 for the Central Valley Promise!