Mark Arax, the former Los Angeles Times reporter based in Fresno, is joining the staff of the state's Senate Select Committee on Air Quality, a new committee headed by Sen. Dean Florez, a Democrat of Shafter. Capitol Weekly says that Arax will work out of a Fresno office and "is likely to investigate air-quality issues in the Central Valley, among other chores." Arax is the author of "In My Father's Name," an investigation into the unsolved murder 20 years earlier of his own father, and the co-author with Rick Wartzman of "The King of California," about the J.G. Boswell agricultural empire.
Arax is the latest in a series of reporters who have left newspapers to perform investigative chores for the Legislature. Reporters from the Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Sacramento Bee recently joined newly created investigative staffs in the Legislature that were formed to probe government efficiency and potential wrongdoing.
They are among the growing list of journalists who, facing layoffs at their papers, have left the Capitol Press corps to work for the Legislature or administration. Many are working as communications strategists and spokespeople for lawmakers and state officials. Of the 95 print journalists who received credentials to cover the California Legislature during the 2007-08 session, 25 have now left, most of them for government.
Arax's newest book, "West of the West: Dreamers, Believers, Builders and Killers in the Golden State," is due in April.