On the Merced County Fair, transparency in state government, and more ...
• 68,601: The attendance at this year's Merced County Fair, which ended its five-day run last Sunday. The number represents a drop of 7,052 from 2012 attendance, but fair officials were pleased with the number. They gave out fewer free tickets than in previous years, which likely played a role in this. And even with the 4 percent attendance drop, this year's fair may come out on top financially, since the good weather caused fairgoers to linger on the midway and spend more money. Final financial results have yet to be calculated.
• 90: Percentage of Merced-area students who graduated on time in 2012. This number is an improvement over 2011, but that means 10 percent either drop out or graduate late, a number that needs more improvement.
• 72: The number of hours in print Assemblymember Kristen Olsen's proposed legislation ACA4 would require before a vote can be taken on proposed legislation. Her bill to increase transparency and eliminate last-minute, ride-along legislation would likely have prevented the scenario this week with SB71 and AB76. These last-minute additions to the state budget package, would have effectively gutted the California Public Records Act, one of the pillars of government transparency. Fortunately, due to an immense public outcry, the Legislature and governor reversed positions.
• 700-plus: Number of firefighters battling the wildfires in Mariposa and Madera counties. Officials believe the Carstens fire six miles northeast of Mariposa, which has scorched about 1,700 acres, started from a campfire. It's tragic when fires are caused by acts of nature; it's inexcusable when human carelessness sets off an inferno. Be extra vigilant while camping and traveling this summer.