Documenter: Ramiro Merino
Purpose of Agency
Parlier is a general law City governed by a five-member City Council and operates under the City Council-City Manager form of government. Four council members are elected by their respective district and the Mayor is elected at large. The City Manager is appointed by the City Council.
Parlier City Council Board Member Duties
Council members are the leaders and policy makers elected to represent various segments of the community and to concentrate on policy issues that are responsive to citizens’ needs and wishes. The City Manager is appointed by the City Council to carry out policy and ensure that the entire community is being served. Parlier City Administrator, Sonia Hall, handles the City’s day-to-day business with an “open-door policy” to community residents and businesses, where comments, concerns and suggestions are always welcome.
Parlier City Council Board Members
Alma Beltran, Mayor
Sabrina Rodriguez, Council Member District 1
Trinidad Pimentel, Mayor Pro Tem and Council Member District 2
Cathryn “Kathy” Solorio, Council Member District 3
Diane Maldonado, Council Member District 4
The Parlier City Council meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18 by Mayor Alma Beltran. The meeting was streamed live virtually through Facebook and Zoom, where a total of 10 participants showed up throughout the night on Zoom. The viewers for Facebook are unknown. The in-person meeting consisted of the five council members, including the Mayor Alma Beltran, Mayor Pro Tem and Council Member for District 2 Trinidad Pimental, Council Members Sabrina Rodriguez, Cathryn “Kathy” Solorio, and Diane Maldonado for Districts 1, 3 and 4. City Clerk Dorothy Garza, Treasurer Michelle Lopez, Police Chief Jose Garza, City Attorney Neal Constanzo, Finance Director Ellie Velicescu and approximately five community members were also present. The camera was directed towards the podium, where a TV monitor displayed those on Zoom. Everyone shown at the meeting wore a mask and practiced social distancing as best as they could given the room layout of the meeting.
There were technical difficulties with the meeting in the beginning, where the Council were not able to hear the participants but the participants can hear the Council. After a couple of minutes, the audio on both sides worked.
The meeting began with a presentation on the Traffic Calming and Safety Enhancement Plan by Sara Allinder. The funding of the project came from the Caltrans Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Award. There are four goals targeted with the project funding. The are four goals are to (1) evaluate existing conditions, identify accident “hot spots” and study specific areas of concern with a focus on school routes and Manning Avenue, (2) identify potential countermeasures to address safety concerns, (3) recommend amendments to policies, regulations, and standards to support safety improvements and achieve more sustainable development, (4) and coordinate with the Fresno Council of Governments (COG) on their Eastside Corridor Transportation Improvements.
According to the U.S. Transportation, “the Institute of Transportation Engineers defines traffic calmness as the combination of measures that reduce the negative effects of motor vehicles use, alter driver behavior, and improve conditions for non-motorized street users. Traffic calming consists of physical design and other measures put in place on existing roads to reduce vehicle speeds and improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.” Through the research process, these following documents informed the recommendation for the Traffic Calming and Safety Enhancement Plan: Recommendations to Improve Pedestrian Safety in the City of Parlier (2014), Fresno County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (2016), Parlier Active Transportation Plan (2018), Regional Transportation Plan (2018), and the Parlier General Plan (2010). The data collection activities and resources that inform this plan include the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWTRS), observational information interviews, qualitative assessments, existing conditions survey (walking survey), existing conditions survey (aerial map review), and community and council input. With a 5-0 motion, the recommendation that the City Council adopt the Resolution accepting the Palier Traffic Calming and Safety Enhancement Plan was approved.
Police Chief Jose Garza presented on the Crime Statistics on the City. Overall, there have been a total of 28 crimes committed, including one rape, one robbery, nine aggravated assaults, two burgalries, eight larceny reports, and seven auto thefts. The Chief also expressed his support for the Comprehensive Behavioral Services. He reported that on February 16, Officer Chavez was flagged down by a civilian who advised two young males responsible for vandalizing the fence at 5th and Whitner. A 16 year old was arrested on felony vandalism. The cleanup and repair cost was $2,500. The Chief also proposed that the Council and community organizations identify ways to make an Easter event happen on Saturday, April 3rd.
The Executive Director, Susan Bechara, spoke about the Comprehensive Behavioral Services and the recommendation to get support from the City. The program provides the following services: gang intervention, anger management, substance abuse, conflict resolution, family counseling, and truancy/dropout prevention. The goal of the program would be to offer an extension of these services to support the youth of the City of Parlier and provide hands-on activities and more positive ways to be involved. Bechara spoke passionately about the work she currently does and the vision she has for the program. “A lot of young people are not receiving the same type of services that larger cities offer. But we can help.” Fouad Yacoub, the Pastor of Church Without Walls, and Robert Miller, the Associate Pastor of Church Without Walls, also spoke about the youth activities for the City through the Parlier Civic Center. The mission statement of the program is “reaching broken families, homeless youth and adults, by providing the following services: spiritual guidance and discipleship, teach a trade (computer engineering, woodwork, welding, autobody, construction, art projects, sports activities, mentoring, food, and outdoor activities.” The purpose of the proposal is to collaborate with the Comprehensive Behavioral Services by providing services and in-door activities to reach out to the youth and family of Parlier. Eligibility for the program is for youth that have been referred and approved by their parents or guardians to partici[ate in the activities. The goals for the program are: to decrease violent behavior, to build a strong spiritual man and woman, to prepare them with trade experience, and encourage family time. The recommendation from the Council is for the three leaders to set up a meeting with Sonia, work on figuring out how exactly the services and program will function, and return at a future meeting to get the services approved.
Ellie Velicescu, the Finance Director, gave an update and presentation on the CARES Act, as requested by Humberto Gomez, Sr. from a previous City Council meeting. Velicescu reported that the budget for Measure Q for 2021 is $501,000. The budget for the Police Department in 2021 is $2.5 million, which Measure Q only covers about 20% or $50,000. The City looks into other grants, including general funds to cover the expenses. She stated, “The County of Fresno was responsible for allocating the funds to the City. As a City, we received $230,873.” Based on the chart she presented, the CARES Act covered the expenses of the Great Plates ($560,014.18), Public Safety (172,779.29), Compliance ($34,475.63), Public Health ($3,106.07), and Economic Support ($20,512.68). Humberto Gomez, Sr., asked a question from the audience but the Council proceeded to talk over him. Through frustration, he told one of the Councilwoman to “shut up”, at which Council Members began speaking over one another, including the Mayor. Gomez expressed his gratitude for the presentation since “this was the first time he had heard of an update”, but also frustration for how the funds were allocated. Mayor Beltran stated that he will get an opportunity to speak but that he comes to the meetings in a rude manner and attacks the Council.
After a few remarks, the Mayor opened the discussion for the public, at which Humberto Gomez, Jr. (through Zoom) expressed his concern for the lack of promotion of the CARES Act flyers since he lives in Parlier. The Mayor then interrupted him and said he lives in Selma, therefore he would not have seen the flyers since only the residents of Parlier receive the information. After going back and forth, Gomez, Jr. stated, “If you interrupt me again, I will take you to court.” At this, the Mayor allowed him to speak, but then proceeded to interrupt him again by stating, “We can’t force anyone to apply. If they want assistance, then they will seek it.” The discussion was open to others in the audience to speak, at which Mrs. Tienda (also through Zoom), asked if any outdoor seating was covered by the CARES Act. One of the Council Women stated that a couple of businesses have applied, but again, “We are not going to give money to just anyone, there is a process and people have to apply.” Numerous Council Members spoke at the same time, discussing which exact businesses had applied for the grant.
One of the Council Members stated “I don’t know why we are being attacked, we are doing our job. We have been working very hard to bring the City forward”. Humberto Gomez, Sr., then stated he asked a lot of questions not because he didn’t trust the Council Members, but because he wanted to get more information about the agenda items. The Mayor then tried interrupting him again stating, “It’s very hard to believe that you care and that I don’t care, it’s a personal attack. Yes you can attend any meeting because the meetings are public records. You come to these meetings and are rude and attack me because I am a woman.” Both the Mayor and Gomez, Sr., spoke over each other again, until she decided to end the discussion and move on with the meeting.
Humberto Gomez, Jr., said he hopes that the City can do better with vaccine distribution. He said he would “not discuss his residence because the Mayor is clueless about where he lives.” He said that she insulted him and was upset about the election results. A Council Member asked if he had a “question or comment because it sounded like he was displeased about being attacked.” Gomez, Jr., said he “felt attacked and slandered.” Gomez, Sr., asked about the CARES Act, but the Mayor cut him off and said, “Humberto, you already asked about that and we are not talking about that anymore.” The City Attorney Neal Constanzo cut off the Mayor and explained to Gomez, Sr., that “the City cannot disclose private personnel information who used the assistance.” He went on to say that “the City does not have the resources to create documents that do not exist because they do not have the time to create them based on the needs of every single individual that requests for public records.” The Council Members spoke over each other, discussing over what is considered a public record and what isn’t. The Mayor then stated that “the problem is that people want specific documents created for them but do not want to do it because the documents do not exist.” She then argued with one of the Council Members over if what is on a City computer is considered a public record or not. At this time, the Zoom chat box had comments stating “It can be done better but the Mayor is scared of accountability”, “Why is the city being sued by Transparent California then?”, “It’s unprofessional and ridiculous that someone can’t create a word document”, “The Mayor always interrupts and insults”.
The Staff recommended that the City Council consider the approval of Hayden Construction Inc., to work on the Patch Paving of Potholes and cracks in the existing AC from Whitener to Academy Avenue. Motion passed to approve this recommendation with 5 to 0 votes.
The Staff recommended that the City Council consider the Parlier Home Solar Program as presented on reducing solar costs by 20%-30% and reducing solar fraud by having city oversight. City Attorney Neal Constanzo stated that “There are people who do not have the budget to buy solar or have the appropriate credit. There is a power purchaser agreement, where solar panels are installed on the homes and the frequency is lower than that of PG&E. It is not the best way to buy solar but a good alternative if you do not have the appropriate funds.” Motion passed to approve this recommendation with 5 to 0 votes.
The Council discussed waiving the first reading of Ordinance No. 01-2021 to be Approved by the Voters Repealing Section 3.25.070 of the Parlier Municipal Code, the Sunset Clause of the Ordinance Approved by the Voters as Measure Q, imposing a Special Parcel Tax for Police Protection Services. Gomez, Sr., expressed his support for Measure Q. Motion passed to approve this recommendation with 5 to 0 votes.
Closed Session began at 9:05 p.m. After the City Council went to Closed Session, the connection to the last part of the meeting was lost.
The Police Department is proactive about decreasing the crimes rates in the Parlier community.
The collaboration between the Comprehensive Behavioral Services and the Church Without Walls seems promising. Additional review and function of the program needs to be addressed before approved by the City Council.
The Finance Director received praise for putting together the CARES Act presentation as there was a lack of information in the past. The chart described the breakdown of Measure Q and how the CARES Act funds were distributed.