Documenter: Hannah Galindo


  • The Board discussed, but did not approve, a plan for the County to acquire lands for groundwater recharge to meet both requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and use the state’s Sustainable Ag Conservation Lands program to do so.

  • The Board approved a letter of support for state legislation which would align sheepherder’s pay with federal weekly hours work standard.

  • The Board unanimously approved a letter of opposition to AB 559 (Arambula) which would change the composition and selection process for representatives on the San Joaquin River Conservancy board.

The Scene

This meeting of the Madera Board of Supervisors was called into order on April 13, 2021 at 10 a.m at the Council Chambers (200 W. 4th Street, 4th Floor, Madera, CA 93637) and was streamed live via their public website to allow a greater portion of the public to participate. Meetings of the Madera Board of Supervisors take place on the first, second, and third Tuesdays of each month at 9am, with the next meeting occurring on April 20, 2021. All Supervisors were in attendance — with the exclusion of Supervisor Frazier, who participated through an online video calling service — and largely observed pandemic-related social distancing requirements; the Board did, however, allow members of the audience to remove their masks for the sake of participation/public. Preceding the meeting’s opening, a prayer and pledge of allegiance was led by a spiritual leader by the name of Pastor Parcel.

County Officials

District #1 – Brett Frazier

District #2 – David Rogers

District #3 – Robert L. Poythress

District #4 – Leticia Gonzalez

District #5 – Tom Wheeler

County Clerk – Karen Pogue


Public Comment

  • Given the opportunity to speak, several members of the public chose to address the Board with various concerns and announcements including:

    • Sally Moreno, District Attorney for Madera County: As a large narcotics/gang/drugs investigation in Madera County has been drawn to a close, it is the job of Moreno’s team at the DA’s to oversee the final steps in the legal process. According to Moreno, this investigation involves 38 arrests, $400,000 worth of drugs, and 14 illegal guns — most of these coming from the city of Lavena, which has been “plagued by violence and an increase in drugs”. In addressing the Board with this update, Moreno made the case that these arrests are a critical part of restoring safety to Madera County; these drug dealers target “our sons and daughters”, Moreno contended, and as such should be held to the highest standard of the law. To ensure that such a goal is met, the DA’s office is attempting to 1) ensure that the dealers post higher bails than statutory bails based on the damage they pose to the community and 2) demonstrate that their bail funds are not ill-got from gang activity. “Doing this”, Moreno believes, “will help keep these defendants in custody and will facilitate rapid resolutions in these cases.”

    • Rusty Lanceberegr, AG commissioner for Madera County: As the AG Commissioner, Lanceberger chose to address the Board at this time to provide an update regarding the treatment of glasswing sharpshooter insect treatments. According to Lanceberger, in the attempt for the County to get the recent outbreak of the insects under control, a notice has been issued to Madera Ranchos citizens to begin participating in these treatments. In addition, a public meeting will also be held on April 20, 2021 form 6-7pm to answer any questions that residents may have about the treatment plan. After these steps have been taken, AG Commissioner staff will begin going out to communities to begin executing the treatment plan, which includes enforcing any relevant fines for those not participating.

Discussion Items

6A. 7261: Board of Supervisors Department — Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

  • Madera County Sheriff, Tyson Pogue, addresses the Board at this time in recognition of Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (April 2-19, 2021) to recognize and honor the people who work as first responders and dispatchers. According to Pogue, there are currently 11 individuals working as full-time dispatchers and two part-time individuals who collectively oversee the communications for all of Madera County, including the DA’s office, U.S. Wildlife association, Animal Control, and many others.

  • In expressing gratitude for the dedicated individuals who do this work, Pogue also recognized Alexis Blacios as the 2020 Dispatcher of the Year; an award given to a dispatcher who has demonstrated “superior performance” and done work that has gone “above and beyond” their regular job duties. According to Pogue, Blacios was not only a critical part of the teams that worked to handle the Dry Creek Fire as well as an officer-involved shooting in Madera County, but performed her duties with an “even temper and exceptional professionalism”. In conclusion of his presentation, Pogue joined the entire Board of Supervisors in honoring and thanking Blacios for their exceptional dedication to the job.

6B. 7179: Public Health Department — COVID-19 Update

  • As has been routine for the past year, a representative of the Public Health Department joined the Board of Supervisors meeting this week to deliver an update on the status of COVID-19 cases and, more recently, vaccinations in Madera County.

  • According to the Public Health Department representative, COVID-19 cases have slightly increased over the last week — a development that reportedly has not come as a shock to the Health department, as schools and businesses have slowly begun to re-open in Madera County. While positive COVID-19 cases have begun to increase, vaccination rates have also slightly begun to decrease: with 77% of residents having received at least one dose, only 17% of residents have fully completed their doses. With these rates of vaccination beginning to stagnate, the Public Health department has begun to turn to public outreach programs, which include outreach to public schools as well as to cities with low rates of vaccinations, such as Chowchilla. While all this comes at a time in which one of three methods of vaccination, Johnson & Johnson’s brand, have been paused, the Public Health department maintain hope that their outreach will be largely successful.“

  • While the Public Health department representative maintained that serious side-effects to any vaccines are at this time extremely rare, they cautioned citizens to keep an eye out for the following symptoms: severe headaches,; abdominal pain; and/or lack of feeling in the limbs. According to the representative, any person experiencing these symptoms is “severely ill” and should seek external medical attention right away.

6C. 7177: Auditor-Controller Department — Property Tax Administration

  • Item C brings the Board a presentation regarding the Property Tax Administration Costs for 2020-2021; as well as a hearing to consider the adoption of a resolution approving the Property Tax Administration Costs and Fees for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 and to set the Public Hearing for May 4, 2021 at 10am.

  • Catherine Ninoa with the Audit Controller office gave a brief overview of the Property Tax Administration Costs, confirming that the budget would range around $4.3 million. According to Ninoa, most of the money would be reimbursable with the exception of the funds that would include schools (who, in Madera County, generally do not participate in the program).

  • With this brief review, the Board voted unanimously (5-0) to approve the Property Tax Administration Costs and Fees for Fiscal year 2020-2021 and to set the Public Hearing for May 4, 2021 at 10:30am.

Public Hearing

7A: 7244: Board of Directors Groundwater Sustainability Agency/Water & Natural Resources Department 

  • Item 7A brings the Board a presentation and update on the Madera County Groundwater Sustainability Agencies by Director of Water and Natural Resources Department, Stephanie Agnagnesen. The following details include the extent of her report:

    • Beginning in January 2021, the Department of Water and Natural Resources has been increasing their attempts to conduct outreach to the public, with an average of 4-5 meetings each month to address the public’s questions and concerns. 

    • Such outreach programs are becoming increasingly necessary due to the planned changes the Department will be overseeing in the next year; namely, the Department plans to oversee “recharge” and “SALC” projects.

    • Both the “recharge” and “SALC” projects are all proposed with the intent to repurpose (sometimes retiring) available land in Madera County. There are currently three conceptual options for Recharge Projects that the Department are overseeing: Public; Private; and Mixed. The picture below is a model which explains 1) where each method would obtain the land, 2) The leave behind percentage (if applicable), and 3) who would benefit from the transaction.

  • Outside of the recharge projects, the SALC project specifically aims to measure how the Department in cooperation with the BOS would obtain sustainable yield and transitional water from existing lands. For these entities, the ideal resolution would look like a plan that gains that most yield and water from the most land at the lowest prices; however, not all land is irrigated land, incorporating both irrigated and unirrigated land can make the projects much pricier. The following images describe in-depth what the average price of each project would look like depending on how much land is incorporated: 25%, 50%, or 100% incorporation.

  • Following the presentation of the potential projects that the Department of Water and Natural resources is considering at this time, the Board showed a great deal of support for the Department in their attempts to do the most they can to preserve water and land while at the same time saving money for the community. As there were many different viable options, however, it was ultimately recommended that Agnosen and her team conduct a cost-benefit analysis with an outside source and return to the Board at a different time with an updated plan to execute these projects at the most reasonable price.

Pending Legislation

8A: 7242: Water and Natural Resources Department

  • Item 8A represents the discussion and consideration  to authorize a letter in Support of Assembly Bill (AB) 350 as introduced by Assembly Member Villapudua.

  • According to the item’s advocate, the bill generally concerns implementation of SGMA and “things that (Villapudua) would like to get in front of the legislature.”.

  • With these brief comments, the Board approved the authorization to send the letter of support for AB 350 in a vote of 5-0.

8B: 7269: Veteran’s Services Department 

  • Item B allows for the discussion and consideration by the public and the Board to authorize a letter in support of increasing local assistance funding — by a proposed $5.4 million — in the State Budget for County Veteran’s Services Officers (CVSO’s).

    • According to an advocate for the letter, the authorization of item 8B would allow for more CVSO money to be sent “out to the counties because that is where the contact is made with the veterans”. 

  • In consideration of the advocate’s comments, the Board agreed that such assistance was indeed “the most appropriate use of these funds” and voted unanimously to support this letter — but not before Supervisor Rogers took the opportunity to take a jab at the State with his peers, sarcastically remarking that he was “unsure” about supporting this bill when “the State seems to have much better ideas”. The comment was received with laughter and good spirits by Rogers’ fellow Supervisors, with more laughs coming from Supervisor Wheeler retort: “we ought to impeach you, son”.

8C. 7269: Board of Supervisors Department

  • Item 8C allows for the discussion and consideration by the public and the Board alike to authorize a letter of opposition to AB 559 San Joaquin River Conservancy; Governing Board, as introduced by State Assemblymember Arambula.

  • According to an opponent for the item, such a letter would support the notion to bring about changes to the makeup and selection of the Board for the San Joaquin River Conservancy that may not be “appropriate” nor “the best idea for Madera County” .

  • In response to these comments, Supervisor Frazier took the opportunity to clarify why, although he was originally in support of the assembly bill, he now supports item 8A in sending a letter of opposition for the assembly bill:

    • According to Supervisor Frazier, AB 559 first started off as an attempt to “fix a problem” with the SJRC Board by which representatives were consistently rotating between either Madera County representatives who met rigorous qualifications and representatives chosen by “an environmental agency”; a dilemma which presented a great level of difficulty for Madera County residents to gain adequate representation on the Board.

    • With the proposal of AB 559, the initial idea was to remedy this dilemma; and to a certain extent, Supervisor Frazier feels AB 559 has done just this. Indeed, AB 559 includes provisions that extend the amount of representation Madera County residents should receive by, for instance, requiring that Native American tribes be represented on the Board as constituents. 

    • In expanding the power of local governments, though, AB 559 also deals a greater power to the State by proposing that the Governor be allowed to appoint a Supervisor with what seems to Supervisor Frazier to be “little to no restrictions.”. What’s more, Supervisor Frazier claimed, this revision would come in addition to the “many state agencies that already sit on the Board”, ultimately making AB 559 an unfair “diminishing” of local government’s authority. It was in light of these perceived shortcomings that Supervisor Frazier confirmed he would be voting “no” on item 8C, and implored his colleagues to do the same.

    • Given the political mindset that the Madera County BOS has proved itself to favor, it may come as no surprise that Supervisor Frazier’s comments were met with support by his colleagues. Supervisor Wheeler, in particular, expressed such support in noting that the State seems to have “no idea about what’s going on” in local counties and, consequently, should not be given any more control in the affairs of the SJRC Board.

  • Following the discussion held by the Board, the Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of sending the letter of opposition to AB 559. 

8C. 7266: Board of Supervisors Department

  • Item 8D allows for the discussion and consideration by the public and the Board to authorize a letter of support be sent to Governor Gavin Newsom in regard to federal weekly hours work standard for herder’s in California.

  • According to the item’s advocate, the letter of support would largely be a response to the distaste held for AB 266 (2016), which currently sets the standard for how AG workers are compensated in CA. In consideration of the current standard, the advocate’s team feels that the federal standard is “more appropriate for herders both in actually paying them and making sure that whatever group they’re attached to as a herder maintains their financial viability, otherwise…(herding activities) may be moved out of state” to avoid the steep prices they are currently facing.

    • According to members of the Board, the threat of CA losing more sheep herders is at the moment very real: as Supervisor Poythress put it, CA currently only has “a fraction of the sheepherders that we use to have”, a sentiment echoed by Supervisor Wheeler’s comments that Madera County used to be full of sheep that he could either see, or was “told by Indians” that they could see, but no longer roam the region. In light of the regulations that AB 266 poses, Supervisor Wheeler contended that CA State legislators likely wish to “just drive the rest of (sheepherders) away”. Following comments made by the Board, Director of Water and Natural Resources, Stephanie Agnagnesen, also spoke to express support for this letter. 

  • In light of these comments, the Board voted unanimously to send a letter of support to Governor Newsom in regard to shifting to a federally regulated weekly hours work standard for herder’s in CA.

Supervisors and Staff Reports

  • Supervisor Gonzalez reported that she attended the First 5 meeting as well as the Madera Sea Board of Directors meeting. Additionally, she also wished to announce that her office is hosting a “Walk, Talk and Shop” event, in which the office encourages the community to get daily exercise while also supporting local businesses.

  • Supervisor Wheeler announced that he had participated in the Gateway Partners meeting with Yosemite National Park last week, in which he worked with Celia “Whatever Her Last Name Is”, the new District “Ranger There or Whatever the Title Is” Superintendent of Yosemite — actual name and title: Cicely Muldoon, Superintendent of Yosemite National Park — and announced that on May 21 Yosemite will re-open 3 days a week, with visitors requiring registration to enter. Among the new developments in Yosemite National Park includes a drastic increase in available parking, by which 5,000 bus/cars a day can now find parking, as well as available camping spots.

  • Supervisor Poythress 

  • Supervisors Frazier and Rogers did not have any content to report to the public at this time.

Adjournment:  Following the overview of the Supervisor and Staff reports, the meeting of the Board of Supervisors adjourned at 12pm.

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