Documenter: Loren Friesen

The Scene 

I logged in through a zoom link via a link provided by Reedley City Council’s website. I had to register with my name and email. The meeting was being held in person, although the City of Reedley encouraged audience members to join via zoom. The zoom camera, though, was positioned on a desk (fairly low angle) closest to council member Tuttle, and showing only him, Mayor Fast, and who I assume (because he was too far away to confirm, even when he spoke) was Councilmember Soleno. All were at their desks in the Council Chambers, in front of the Reedley City Council seal. For zoom attendees like myself, this was the only view of the meeting I had during the entire meeting other than a screen share during a presentation. The two other council members, the City Clerk, people who presented reports and workshops, and any in-person public attendees were off camera. At times, this made it difficult to identify who was speaking, such as during a Police Body Camera workshop where several voices spoke during the presentation. Identity could only be verified by when the speaker was directly addressed (e.g. thank you Commander Kinkaid”). The Mayor looked out into the public when asked for public comments, which is my only clue that there were some people attending in-person.

On Zoom, a comment in the chat box popped up saying: “Disclaimer: The City of Reedley will not be monitoring the chat feature on Zoom.” To make a public comment zoomers would need to use the “raise a hand” feature. 

The meeting started off with a prayer for peace and unity, and for God to bring us together during these difficult times. The prayer was followed by a Pledge of Allegiance. 

The tone throughout the meeting was relaxed, especially during discussion. People made jokes occasionally. That’s not to say the members were not taking their work seriously.

Name of officials: 

Matthew Tuttle, Council District 1

Mary Fast, Mayor, District 2

Robert Beck, Mayor Pro-Tempore, Council District 3

Ray Soleno, Council District 4

Anita Benacout, Council District 5


Items on the agenda included: 

  • The Consent Calendar

  • Confirming council members appointments to boards and commissions for 2021 and 2022

  • A workshop and discussion on the proposal to purchase police body cameras

  • Various reports by council and staff

Of these items, the council voted on the consent calendar, the confirmation of council member appointments to boards and commissions, and the approval of RCTC’s rent waiver.


Mayor Fast pulled item 4 from the Consent Calendar to comment that it was nice to see the sidewalks on East Ave. done, but they disappeared as the street proceeded. She hopes they will continue to be finished. 

There was no debate over the council members’ existing appointments to boards and committees. The County Clerk gae context for this item, saying every 2 years as the council changes they go over these appointments to make sure everyone is comfortable with retaining assignments or are given the opportunity to change assignments. The City Attorney advised that a motion be voted on to keep assignments as they were. 

The River City Theatre Company (RCTC) asked for an additional 3 months of rent waiver – they have had rent waive requests in the past during the pandemic. Granting this waiver would bring the total amount of money spent on their rent waive to $12,250. The RCTC representative said the company feels all facets of their business are affected, from hosting church and community gatherings to performing live events, and have had a very difficult time generating income. Council member Tuttle asked if there is anything they can do to generate their own income during this time, such as zoom plays or plays in the park, or if they qualify for money from the CARES act. The RCTC representative said she can go back and ask the business members about these ideas. The mayor said CARES is only for payroll, therefore probably not qualifying for it. Council member Benatcout said there is money for cultural and arts institutions, and that there should be an extended conversation about raising money. Tuttle also said there could be other grants that they do qualify for. All these comments were made as ideas to pursue for the future, because the motion passed and the rent was waived. 

A presentation delivered by Sergeant Kincaid and Commander Edgar of the Reedley Police Department showcased AXON police body cameras that the department is hoping to purchase. The presentation included comments on the political context on policing and public perception of legitimacy of policing, the benefits of the cameras, specifications of the cameras and advanced technology used in the cameras, contract details, and reasons why specifically the Reedley Police Department are interested in the body cameras. Essentially, Commander Edgar thinks the cameras will only bring about a greater transparency and quicker verification process in a department that does well in being conscientious, calm, and committed to the community when responding to calls. He highlighted this perspective with 2018-2020 data showing that their officers used force, defined from using handcuffs to pulling out a taser, .13%, .11%, .13%, .13% of the time when responding to calls (each percentage is for every 6 months). The cameras, which can live stream and are activated automatically when they detect emergency lights or when a taser or gun is unholstered, would cost $13,856 over 5 years, or $27,171/year. A full warranty, free upgrade at the 2.5 year mark, and file storage is included in the contract. They are awaiting a Department of Justice grant that may assist in the purchase of the cameras.

Council member Tuttle was by far the most engaged in the discussion with the presenters afterward, asking about their wireless capabilities, other city’s use of cameras, reports of malfunction, if they are updated in the 5 years, and how the officers in the department are feeling about it. Mayor Fast asked about how many cameras would be purchased, how they would be checked out or assigned, and also commented that this has been an ongoing discussion with the department because the issue of policing and their credibility to the community is something “they don’t take lightly”. She said “it only takes 1” incident to get on national news. She also highlighted the ease in which officers can catalouge their reports with video, making file management much easier. She ended the workshop saying this isn’t something they’ll be voting on, but she wanted to hear thoughts and comments from the public and staff as they continue to look at this proposition. 

During the report on housing, it was clear from the presenter that there was frustration with the state of California’s protocols for housing design, as it was mentioned that the state will send a task force to check on and penalize local governments that are not adhering to their regulations.

There was no public comment on any of the staff reports, which included updates on COVID infections and deaths, a rebranding of the “5 Cities” agency, updates on money spent for business assistance due to COVID, an update on public infrastructure development, an upcoming workshop on housing plans that will be specifically designed for local communities, and the library’s availability at the senior center. 


The Consent Calendar was approved, with all members voting yes.

Council members retained (or in a council member Tuttle’s case, took over from the previous member) their board and commission appointments. All members voted yes. 

The RCTC rent waiver was approved (with ideas about how to generate their own income in the future to look into). All members voted yes. 

The council was updated by various staff members on plans for economic partnerships with other cities, covid rates (lower compared to other nearby cities), housing development plans, updates on infrastructure projects, and the senior center’s library’s success. They were also noted the increase in housing, which may prompt future conversations about increasing the police force, firefighter force, and other public agencies. 

The council went into closed session to discuss the existing litigation, Edward Di Donna v. City of Reedley, Fresno County Superior Court Case No. 20CECG02331. The zoom ended, and after several attempts to get back on after waiting I could only conclude that they were adjourned (which was the next and last item on the agenda). 

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