Documenter: Loren Friesen
Attending the meeting through the link provided on the Fresno County’s website, the live stream started promptly as the board sat down to commence the meeting. The live stream had 3 cameras: a wide shot of the full board, legal council representative, clerk, and administrative officer, a shot on whoever was speaking from the board, and a shot on whoever was addressing the board.
Below are listed the members of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. Present are in bold:
Steve Brandau – District 2 – Chairman (North Fresno)
Brian Pacheco – District 1 – Vice Chairman west, rural like Kerman, Firebaugh)
Sal Quintero – District 3 (Central Fresno) (over the phone)
Buddy Mendes – District 4 (rural towns like Reedley, Sanger, Fowler, Kingsburg)
Nathan Magsig – District 5 (eastern, rural, mountains)
Steve Brandau commented that they had a “relatively full house this morning”. Only the camera that showed the speaker addressing the board contained any audience in the background, and considering all the speakers who spoke to the board there was an estimate of about 15-20 members in the audience.
Whenever someone approached the board to speak at the podium, they removed their mask. All board members were unmasked, the clerk, and legal representative were unmasked. Social distancing was not maintained, such as when the board presented plaques honoring public service members.
Chairs in the audience had papers marked with an “X”. Most of the audience stayed in the back, sitting and standing.
The meeting started at 10 AM.
As stated on their website, Fresno County’s goal, in sum, is to provide excellent public services to our diverse community. Specifically the County is “defined and authorized under the California Constitution, law, and the Charter of the County of Fresno, and provides countywide services, including elections, voter registration, law enforcements, jails, vital records, property records, tax collection, public health and social services. In addition the County serves as the local government for all unincorporated areas.“
Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been complaints within the county from service workers that Fresno County has been left out by the start in its distribution of vaccines to the virus. The board sent a letter to California governor Gavin Newsom on January 30 requesting 30,000 vaccines a day. The feeling of being neglected by the state regarding vaccines, and the overall contempt for state government, was made clear through several of the board member’s comments during their personal reports.
The board unanimously approved the agenda.
Boardmember Magsig pulled item 17 from the consent agenda. After which the consent agenda was unanimously approved. Magsig did so to give extra appreciation to Chief Mark Johnson, who is retiring from the fire department, and to give him the floor to share stories from his career. The board unanimously voted on a resolution to honor his career.
The board held a healing about an update on homelessness efforts, to which there were staff reports and public comments that conflicted with staff reports.
After hearing the appeal, the board unanimously approved an appeal of the Planning Commission’s denial of a variance application, concluding that the planning commission may have had some miscommunication when first hearing the original proposal and that this could have been avoided if the City of Fresno’s housing plan and the County of Fresno’s housing plan had been updated (which is being done right now).
The board unanimously approved an amendment to ease fencing requirements in urban districts.
The board unanimously approved, after a public hearing from a staff member of Public Works and Planning, a resolution that would allow the vacation of a certain road right-of-way of East Belmont Ave.
The board unanimously approved, after a public hearing from a staff member of Public Works and Planning, a resolution to approve the vacation of 2.4 acres east of Summer Ave.
Each board member gave reports and comments as a way to “provide direction”.
Boardmembers Magsig, Chairman Brandau, and Vice-Chairman Pacheco all stated that they are looking forward to the Clovis Rodeo and are looking to have it open safely. Vice-Chairman Pacheco and Boardmember Mendes were blatantly critical of the vaccine rollout in Fresno County, and of the federal and state government in general. Mendes said “most of the federal and state politicians have a terminal case of rectal cranial inversion, to which a board member off camera, probably Brandau, laughed and added “Don’t forget the City of Fresno.” Vice-Chairman Pacheco also wants to try out, in the future, a free trash dump day for the citizens of his district, and he was very appreciative of the Department of Public Works for saving the City of Mendota tens of thousands of dollars when reacting quickly to prevent flooding damage during last week’s storm.
The Board reported on various appointments they would like to make to various vacancies across public service (timecode 1:57:00). The board unanimously voted to approve the appointments.
The public made comments to the board. Nearly every comment was related to cleaning up voter fraud and the horror of democracy dying due to such rampant fraud, pledging support for Mark Johnson for the Board of Voter Registration, and distaste for the state government. One notable comment was that the coronavirus is “just a flu” that we will all get and recover from. Brandau summed up the public’s comments when concluding the meeting by referring to Joesph Stalin’s (perhaps misattributed quote) “It’s not the vote that counts, but he who counts the vote that counts”.
Regarding pulling item 17 from the consent agenda, Magsig said that Chief Johnson helped create a contract that “saved the taxpayer millions” when making sure that the County of Fresno wouldn’t assume liabilities for fire damage in “white areas” (which, in context, sounded like an area related to fire liability). Chief Johnson, in a stoic manner, said that “I try to forget most of the stuff I’ve done in my career for my own health”, and regarding the Creek Fire that “I think the outcome was the best it could be. He concluded that “it was the greatest honor of my life to be a firefighter and serve here”.
Magsig again called attention to Johnson and his crew’s hard work during the fire, working 72 to 96 hours straight. All other Board Members quickly went around expressing gratitude, especially Boardmember Mendes. Johnson and his (assumed) family, about 10 people, came up to the board to take pictures (unmasked and not distanced).
Regarding item 3, celebrating the 32 year career of Bill Ward of the Probation Department, Robert Martinez, Assistant Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission, gave quick testimony to Ward’s positivity and inspirational ability towards the youth. Ward then gave a speech saying that he would always tell kids that there is “no future without education” and to “never look for excuses to fail”. He concluded that “life is no mistake; you can make your dreams come true or you can not”.
Board members went around giving takeaways from his speech, hoping that he continues his amazing work and spirit with kids. They gave him a plaque and took pictures with him, unmasked and not distanced.
Regarding item 4, the Department of Social Services gave a verbal update on their work on homelesses. They have served 1500 unduplicated clients with beds, and have spent $500,000 per month (one time funds from the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and FMCOC) since October 2020. They have filled 91% of 432 beds (averaged over 11 months).
For vaccine planning, the department has categorized their database by age and underlying conditions, and are ready to prepare mobile clinics.
Overall the department said that the county was doing a good job reducing homelessness before 2019, but now that number is ticking back up.
Boardmember Magsig said he’s received reports from his office that not all the money available is being spent and asked about methodology of spending. Program Manager Laura Moreno said that all money comes with requirements and is spending according to state and federal plans.
Boardmember Quintero thanked staff for the briefing report, and asked as a question for the future what happens if money for the beds aren’t spent. Delphino, though, wanted to respond and said that the bed contracts were actually reimbursement contracts a total of 5 hotels will remain after covid after these emergency beds go away, and the intention is to make them affordable housing over 2-3 years. Although giving beds has been effective, she thinks housing will have more sustainable results.
The public then made comments:
Cindy Cordino, Christ of Helping Hands asked if the County of Fresno can get a health bus, especially for rural homeless. She also questioned who is monitoring the social workers because they have been asking for very personal information of the homeless and then not following up with them.
Rebecca Earnest said that “all the social workers need to be investigated because they aren’t doing their job”. She said although she isn’t a criminal, an alcoholic, or a drug user, she can’t get any help. “This isn’t working. The people in charge need to be investigated.”
An unidentified public speaker asked if the county can take one of the hotels and make it a place for mental health.
Brandy Nuevas said that the county needs to be pursuing other options for housing to serve a larger population and treat the homeless with respect. “Don’t talk about them, talk to them”. She said that many were being promised hotel rooms but weren’t being given one. She also expressed appreciation for Crossroad Villages.
Regarding item 5, the appeal to the Planning Commission’s denial of an application, Chairman Brandau, Boardmember Mendes, and Boardmember Quintero went on record that they talked to Dirk Pushel, who represents the applicant, about this item. The applicant decided not to apply to the County of Fresno because of extra costs, although it would have made more sense to do so because the proposal was based on the County plan. The applicant called to attention that the City of Fresno and the County of Fresno plan need to update with each other, to which the board members apologized that it wasn’t so right now and that it is currently being updated to match each other. The applicant also noted miscommunication between both neighbors that misunderstood the nature of the proposal and subsequently issued complaints, and the Planning Commission itself because some of the members were calling in to the meeting. The proposal actually asks for what the local government, such as Councilmen Esparza, want in the area.
Regarding item 6, Adrianna Hopper read a brief statement outlining the proposed amendment – to ease fence requirements in urban districts, including that it was coordinated with emergency services, the planning commission considered and recommend approval on Dec 10, and the Fig Homeless Association send an email asking for increase in fence height in some areas.
Regarding item 7, Adriana Hopper of Public Works and Planning read a brief statement outlining the proposed amendment – requesting to hold a hearing to vacate 32,885 square feet of public road, saying it was consistent with the general plan and not essential for public use.
Regarding item 8, Adriana Hopper of Public Works and Planning read a brief statement outlining the proposed amendment – requesting to hold public hearing for required finds 2.4 acres east of Summer Ave, saying it was consistent with the general plan and not essential for public use.
Regarding Board Member announcements and comments:
Hopes the Clovis Rodeo can be held safely, saying the COVID-19 rate needs to drop significantly. All members expressed support for Magsig sending a plan to the Public Health Department. Brandau said that citizens don’t need to go if they don’t want to.
Said the board is working with Reedley and Clovis on libraries and specifically on building the Clovis Library soon
Emphasised on a strategy for vaccination rollouts in rural areas
proposed a full debate for adopting a plan regarding rural rent control, wanting to mirror proposals in the City of Fresno, the City of Clovis, and 60 other cities in California. He expressed frustration at the ACLU (later corrected to Rural Legal Assistance) and Fresno Bee for its comments on the issue. Board members expressed consent in the proposal.
Expressed outrage at a particular resident’s trash in Easton, saying that “this looks like a third-rural country”. He wants to notify the resident and, if no response, clean it up and bill the resident. Magsig made sure that the property is viewed from a public road, clarifying with the legal council representative that this determines if the issue is a public or private nuisance.
Proposed a free spring and fall dump day for residents, saying that the trash revenue lost for one day can be made up by the labor cost of people taking their own trash to the site.
Emphasized that the Clovis Rodeo needs to happen. “If they can have the Superbowl with people, we can have a rodeo with people outside”, which was met with applause (the camera didn’t show who).
Emphasized that the board needs to direct Public Health to open our schools
Said the board needs an update on vaccinations, that the board needs to take the lead on getting mobile clinics out to rural areas. Mendes and Magsig said they totally agree.
Thanked Department of Public works for saving tens of thousands of dollars for working quickly to prevent damage from last week’s storm. Mendes sent weather reports to Pacheo before the storm.
Said the vaccination deal is an “unnecessary circus”. We’ve been pleading for more vaccines, but we’re getting a quarter of what we should be getting… it’s sickening all these politicians want to do is claim they did something when in all reality we just need vaccines. This is a supply problem not a logistical problem.”
Quintero had no comments.
Agreed about previous comments about the Clovis Rodeo, saying, “we need to have these public events opened up” which was met with (applause). “It gives me great pride that the board of supervisors will take charge of the county again.”
Said he wouldn’t support the Save Mart Center operation if it doesn’t conclude geting more vaccines to the county. “If there’s no vaccines it’s a boondoggle, and it takes away from all the hard work public health has done. I’m interested in the deal if it brings more vaccines, [but] if not I’ll tell the governor to go pound sand. In all reality I’ve lost all confidence in Sacramento regarding vaccines. Mendes commented that he talked to a reporter at the LA Times, asking the reporter to tell him one thing that the State of California does right.
Recognized Jordan Scott, a Public Information Officer, saying that he’s done a great job, often overnight, during a pandemic.
The Board made various appointments to open seats.
Ralph Hatlan of District 1, expressed support for Mark Johnson, wants to instill integrity back into the democratic system, and said there should be an exterior audit of the county’s voting systems.
Connie Brooks of District 4 said she was a poll watcher for 8 years and felt that this year was definitely different at the polls, saying that she was told to go to the back of the room, that signature verifications happened too quickly, and also expressed support for Mark Johnson, who studied election law for 40 yeras. She also said the Dominion Voting machines need to be checked. She also said it would mean a lot to restaurant owners to open the county back up.
Eric Garlands of Clovis said we need to fix our backyard concerning free and fair elections, and also pledged support to Mark Johnson
Burce Aldrich, a nurse since 1977, said that the worst thing we’ve done is pay more for unmarried women than married women, and that the lack of family unit is cause of lots of social and mental issues. He said “it’s the most criminal thing that we discharge pregnant psychotic women to the streets; it’s a revolving door”. He said a good step would be to pay doctors by the government.
Kay Roddaberry gave a dramatic speech starting with the fall of the timber industry due to people caring about the spotted owl, continuing with the fall of the mountain community and its lack of jobs, schools, and thriving businesses, and linking that with the “covid-19 flu”, saying “it’s ridiculous and everybody knows it. Masks don’t work and they’re actually very dangerous”, citing a page of research she waved in the air. She quoted Ronald Ragen, saying that government is not the solution, it’s the problem.
Balance Media-Pores said as an immigrant from Mexico she found 2 things weird in the U.S.: you pay taxes after you die and you don’t have a voting ID. She claimed to know undocumented people who voted. She said “if there is no free and fair elections there is no justice, it’s just an illusion.” She asked the board to do something about this.
Cherry Rish, who has 7 grandchildren, thanked the board for serving the citizens of Fresno County, and asked for an audit of voter registration so we can have honest and fair elections for the sake of our children and grandchildren.
An unidentified person from Squaw Valley, who Magsig seemed to know, complained about the lack of effort and presence from animal control and the deputy sheriff. He also complained about a neighbor, to which Magsig said that his staff had issued a citation to the neighbor and that his staff will make sure to follow up as much as they legally can.
Forest Trish of Fresno, a Fresno School Chaplin, said that if our leaders don’t follow biblical standards then we are going to continue to go downhill. He expressed concern about all the documented evidence of voter fraud across the nation.
Two retiring staff members were given lengthy statements of appreciation. Staff from Social Service gave a verbal update on efforts to combat homelessness and covid-19 relief efforts, saying that they have one time funds but will need a more permanent and sustainable solution (perhaps hotel housing), but many public commenters, including those close with the homeless community, issued lengthy complaints about the efforts from the department. An appeal regarding a zoning proposal that was denied by the Planning Commission and two amendments to ordinances were approved. Major themes of Board Members’ comments included disgust and frustration with state and federal officials especially in regards to the vaccine rollout, opening up the county, and demand for vaccine mobile clinics in rural areas. 9 people in the public gave comments, mostly about voter fraud and re-strengthening trust in the voting system, as well as some comments on opening up the county.