You should know about it by now, and if you donâ€™t then they just might be talking about you.
News and opinion Web site thedailybeast.com ranked the smartest and dumbest among Americaâ€™s 55 biggest cities. Criterion included number of nonfiction books sold, percentage of the population with college and postgraduate degrees, and the number of eligible voters who cast ballots in the last presidential election.
You know what comes next: Fresno came in dead last.
Of Fresno, the site remarked, â€œThe race to the bottom wasnâ€™t even close. The largest city in Californiaâ€™s San Joaquin breadbasket, Fresno, had deficiencies across the board. College education (less than 20 percent of the local population have four-year degrees), graduate studies, academic institutions (not much besides Fresno State), book purchases, voter engagementâ€”it ranked in the worst five percent in almost all of our categories. Problems with gangs and crystal meth tend to deter the best and brightest.â€
One is tempted to write this off as another useless waste of numbers. Everyone and their mother loves making lists, from the 50 most hilarious sports moments of all time to the â€œ25 random things about meâ€ you compiled for your Facebook page last spring.
But this site and its list, which I had never heard of until last week, drew comments from no less than Fresnoâ€™s mayor, Ashley Swearengin. â€œThis is a flawed study that uses indicators that donâ€™t accurately measure the intelligence and capability of the people in our city,â€ Swearengin said.
That excuse could be effective if Fresno had just barely come in last, edged out at the last second by a city with a few more masterâ€™s degrees. This isnâ€™t the case. The Daily Beast makes it clear that the â€˜No was blown out by 54th-ranked Las Vegas: â€œThe race to the bottom wasnâ€™t even closeâ€¦ it ranked in the worst five percent in almost all of our categories.â€
Swearenginâ€™s statement was like a football coach blaming the referees for a 70-0 loss.
As an outsider, I want to tell you to rise up. I want to tell you to be outraged and fight back. I want to tell you that you deserve better and I want to believe it.
Then I look at the decisions our leaders are making for the future and lose the fighting spirit.
Fresno State is facing enrollment cuts, which is a backhanded opportunity to make the school a little more prestigious. And what does the administration do? They guarantee admission for anyone in the surrounding area who meets the minimum requirements at the expense of more qualified candidates from outside the area.
You read that right, folks: We are actively trying to keep smart people out.
Then there is the medical marijuana issue. The Bay Area, which ranked as the second smartest place in America, is notoriously pro pot. Fresno, not so much. And last Wednesday, a Fresno County Superior Court judge ordered the closing of nine local medical marijuana dispensaries. You the reader, as always, are allowed to draw your own conclusions.
Fresno, I want to believe in you, I want to defend you in situations like this. Please give me a reason to.