Capitol Alert: Jerry Brown's canine diplomacy at work in Fresno

dsiders@sacbee.comJanuary 14, 2014 

BROWN

California governor Jerry Brown addresses the media at Fresno City Hall touching on subjects from the state budget, possible declaration of a drought, to High Speed Rail and development of the Fulton Mall on Monday afternoon, January 13, 2014 in Fresno.

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA — Fresno Bee Staff Photo

FRESNO - Tucked into Gov. Jerry Brown's schedule of meetings here Monday was a tour of a pedestrian mall that, despite a variety of redevelopment efforts over the years, remains a dilapidated fixture of this city's downtown.

Brown was underwhelmed.

"I think I'll keep my thoughts to myself," he said at a news conference when asked for his opinion of the mall.

If the Democratic governor was committing a faux pas, he quickly righted himself, volunteering that parts of Oakland looked like Fresno's Fulton Mall when he was mayor.

"I know from Oakland that downtown can be transformed," he said.

Brown mentioned he saw a restaurant on his tour, and he called the eatery's establishment a "bold move."

The restaurant's owner, Craig Scharton, left his job as Fresno's business development director last year to open Peeve's Public House & Local Market.

Scharton heard Sunday that the governor was coming. Knowing he and Brown share an affinity for dogs, he was prepared.

Accompanied by Peeve, the boxer-shepherd mix for which his restaurant is named, Scharton presented Brown with a card for the governor's Pembroke Welsh corgi, Sutter. Included were a couple of dog bones, Scharton said, and the message, "To Sutter: If you're ever in Fresno come by for a pint like any good Welshman would."

Sutter is not along for Brown's two-day swing through Fresno, Bakersfield and Riverside, which concludes Tuesday.

Nevertheless, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who showed Brown the pedestrian mall, described the occasion as "some nice, sort of diplomatic exchanges among the canine family."

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