Mark Arax, an author and former Los Angeles Times reporter based in Fresno, has joined the staff of a new state Senate committee targeting air pollution.
Arax will serve on the staff of the Senate Select Committee on Air Quality, headed by Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter.
Arax, co-authored "The King of California," a critically acclaimed study of the J.G. Boswell agricultural empire. Arax also authored "In My Father's Name," an investigation into the unsolved murder 20 years earlier of his own father.
There was no immediate official confirmation of Arax's duties. However, Arax has an investigative reporting background and is likely to investigate air-quality issues in the Central Valley, among other chores. Arax will work out of the Fresno office, Florez's staff said.
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.