Documenter: Loren Friesen
The meeting started at 10 AM.
Attending the meeting through the link provided on Fresno County’s website, the live stream started promptly as Chairman Brandau called the meeting to order. 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.
The user interface of the website included the livestream video, the agenda, and information on the current item being discussed:.
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)
Most speakers addressing the board at the podium unmasked before speaking. All board members were unmasked for the entirety of the session.
There were about 20-25 audience members at the start of the meeting, although that number dropped as the meeting went on (assuming, then, that most were speakers during the meeting that then left after their item). There was a masked cameraman operating one of the cameras. Chairs in the audience had papers marked with an “X”. Audience members were scattered across the chairs.
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.“
The board approved the agenda, all in favor.
The board approved, all in favor, the consent agenda with the exception of items 18.1, 19, 21, and 37, which were pulled by chairman Brandau, a public member, a public member, and board member Magsig respectively.
The board approved, all in favor, item 21 of the consent agenda, approving a resolution that granted the payment of a Sanger Fence Company the $116,000 he was owed from a business deal that occurred in 2011.
The board approved, all in favor, item 37 of the consent agenda, which board member Magsig pulled because the person doing business in this item is someone he may be doing business with in the near future.
The board approved, all in favor, item 19 of the consent agenda, which was pulled to give extra time and attention to the memory of Robert Lyle Huey.
The board approved, all in favor, item 18.1 of the consent agenda, which was pulled to give extra time and attention to the memory of Bob Smittcamp.
The board approved, all in favor, proclaiming March as American Red Cross Month.
The board approved, all in favor, a resolution that added two senior district attorney investigators and one investigative techinciation with the intent of intercepting fraud more quickly.
The board approved, all in favor, the authorization of the execution and delivery of the West Annex Jail sublease.
The board approved, with all in favor, having James Kus fill the vacancy of the Fresno County Clerk Registrar of Voters.
The board approved, with all in favor, the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Grant Program, a 3 year grant that can’t exceed $280,500.
The board approved, with all in favor, an amendment to an ordinance regarding public health emergencies to have the county code be more in alignment with an updated state code and give the board more flexibility in its review process.
The board approved, with all in favor, the public hearings and resolutions for annual water conservation reports.
Regarding item 21 of the consent agenda, Manjit Dhaliwal, a County of Fresno Treasurer-Tax Collector, introduced the item and recommended approval of the claim. The claimant, the owner of a Sanger fence company, explained that he was owed (including tax and interest) about $116,00 from a deal in 2011. He said “we depend on you supervisors to help us small people. That’s why I’m here 12 years later.” Board member Mendes clarified with legal counsel the legality of the situation. After approving, Chairman Brandau made sure the claimant understood his claim was approved.
Regarding item 19 of the consent agenda, the daughter of Robert Huey gave an emotional tribute, backed by her brother and step mother, for her father, an almond farmer for 40 years who died in a recent farming accident. She spoke of his passion for Fresno State and veterans as well. All board members gave their condolences. The step mother also spoke, noting that Huey would see board members Mendes and Pacheco at farm bureau coffee talks.
Regarding item 18.1, all board members except Quintero gave a short comment on the memory of Bob Smittcamp, talking about his work for the community, his “rough exterior but beautiful interior”, his blunt nature, and the depth of his character.
Regarding item 3, after the introduction and appreciation of local American Red Cross members Chairman Brandau expressed his appreciation for the organization’s assistance during large-scale emergencies as well as smaller day-to-day items. The 5 Red Cross members took a picture with the board after the item was approved.
Regarding item 4, board member Magsig noted his appreciation for this proposal. Chairman Brandau noted that the DA has been getting frustrated and that she felt the previous format has been ineffective. Board member Mendes said he was glad to see this item, that the state and federal government “invite fraud” and “discourage investigating fraud”, and so he was glad to see efforts to combat that locally.
Regarding item 5, the Sheriff Coroner introduced the item in a very prepared, legalistic manner. She noted the West Annex Jail is meant for a reentry, mental health, and treatment space, and that the county will own the jail after bonds are paid off. Chairman Brandau asked when the jail would be completed, hoping for the end of summer. The sheriff said she couldn’t specifically forecast its completion but was hoping for it to be completed this year. Board member Magsig said he knew this item was procedural but is looking forward to supporting it.
Regarding item 6, Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau introduced that James Kus is up for filling the vacancy of the Fresno County Clerk Registrar of Voters position, and that he has a clean background check and big shoes to fill.
Kus introduced himself, talking about a very smooth election in Clovis and Orange Cove already. Clovis had the highest turnout in a decade, with 97% return vote by mail. He highlighted how his office had a year to prepare because of the Voters Choice Act process, and they were prepared for the change in the California voting requirements.
Chairman Brandau noted that many people in the public had concerns about voter fraud and those concerns should be addressed. Kus responded that they will have a public meeting next month to both educate and get feedback from the public. Board member Magsig noted the Dominion Voting system has garnered a lot of mistrust about fraud, despite, as Magsig noted, that it’s not connected to the internet. Kus said information like this would be part of educational material his office would give at the meeting.
**Marlow Jenkins from Clovis gave comment to this item in the public comment section of the meeting.
Regarding Item item 7, Carolyn Evens, the past chair of the annual report for behavioral health, noted that her department has done an outstanding job in difficult situations. She also introduced the new board chair for 2021, 24 year old Kyline Hashimoto. Hashimoto listed her accolades (“street cred”), which included being a board member on several other health-related state boards, and asked the board of supervisors to make mental health a priority when making policy decisions.
Board member Magsig asked how many vacancies are on the Fresno County behavioral health board, to which Evens replied 9 (out of 15 total). Magsig wants to have those vacancies filled.
Brandau asked what are the next steps in implementing Laura’s Law in Fresno County, to which an unidentified board member replied that there is a plan and the department is working hard to implement it in the next few months.
Brandau again expressed hope that the vacancies can be filled.
Regarding item 8, Chairman Brandau asked for clarification on the grant’s length and if someone will be hired right away (yes).
Regarding item 9, Ken Austin of the Department of Public Health Emergencies introduced the item, highlighting the change of review days from 30 days to 60 days to give the board more flexibility. Chairman Brandau asked if that was an improvement, to which Austin replied yes because the 30 days limit required the department to sometimes go into special sessions. Board member Mendes noted his distaste for bureaucracy.
Regarding item 10, board member Magsig asked to clarify that the county has to follow what the City of Fresno directs because the water systems are tied together.
Regarding board reports and comments, board member Magsig heaped praise on the public works department for its swiftness in identifying a bridge that needed repairs, redirected traffic right, and issued a contract to get it fixed. The contractor finished 30 days ahead of schedule. He said it was the fastest he’s ever seen an emergency bridge project get completed, to which the head of the public works department confirmed. After hearing it was a crane that crashed the bridge, Chairman Brandau said, jokingly, that he heard it wasn’t a crane but two Clovis cyclists that broke the bridge.
Board member Quintero publicly thanked public works and code enforcement for completing a project at Chestnut and Shields, which had been an eye sore for the community.
Chairman Brandau noted that he sees quite a line of the public that needs help, and that he wants the Assessors Recorder’s office to open back up as soon as possible.
There were no new board appointments (for the first time this year).
Regarding public comments, **Marlow Jenkins from Clovis read a letter that she sent to the board, and that she never received a reply to. In the letter, she sharply criticized the decision to appoint James Kus as the county clerk of registered voters. She said the previous head clerk is in litigation for voter disenfranchisement, and that Kus, who worked under her, probably witnessed or participated in the alleged fraud. Jenkins said until the lawsuit is done in the courts Kus shouldn’t be eligible, and that voters demand faint and integrity in the election process. She said it appears that the previous clerk stepped down for appearance, just to be replaced with someone else who would do the same thing. Jenkins went over the 3 minute allotted to her time.
An unidentified public member, who has attended past meetings, dropped off a packet of information for each board member regarding his issue, which he did not identify in this meeting.
It should be noted that throughout the meeting after many of the items Chairman Brandau directly asked board member Quintero if he had any concerns or questions for the item (to which he never did). Brandau’s action seemed to be in a gesture of trying to include Quintero, who was attending via phone.
Chairman Brandau commented that there may be something to report from the closed session. The recording of the livestream showed no return to open session or report of any kind.
This board meeting involved a few procedural items, the appointment of a new Fresno County Clerk/Registrar of Voters (which has attracted a lot of attention) an introduction of a 24 year old chair of the county’s behavioral health department, an approval of a grant for the national sexual assault kit initiative, and the adjournment in memory of 2 recently deceased members of the community. The board had little to say regarding their own comments, other than notes of appreciation, and appointments.