Documenter: Rachel Youdelman
Here’s what you need to know:
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Madera County and the Chukchansi tribe was signed on July 30. Many years in the making, the MOU expands sheriff and fire services to the tribal land, stipulates that the Chukchansi will increase funding to Fire Station 8 for staffing, and acknowledges new federal and state regulations regarding the Chukchansi tribe’s authority to manage cannabis farming within its land.
Agreement with Vulcan Materials Co. approved for Austin Quarry traffic mitigation.
The Madera High School Baseball Team was honored for their Division II Central Section Championship.
Board of Supervisors
Brett Frazier, District 1
David Rogers, District 2 (ABSENT)
Robert L. Poythress, District 3 (Chairman)
Leticia Gonzalez, District 4
Tom Wheeler, District 5
Karen Pogue, Chief Clerk
Jay Varney, Chief Administrative Officer
Scott Cross, Acting County Counsel (Regina Garza, County Counsel was ABSENT)
Meeting convened at 9:01 a.m. by Chairman Poythress. On the wall behind Tom Wheeler, a “Happy Birthday” sign was posted, and before him on the dais was a vase of flowers with a red, white & blue ribbon around it. Notably, Wheeler was among the few in the room, and the only Supervisor wearing a mask, a concern in light of the current surge in Delta-variant infections. Poythress remarked on the number of visitors in the chamber, referring to members of the high-school baseball team and their family members who were for the board’s recognition for their recent championship win. The Board went into closed session at 9:03 a.m. and reconvened at 10:03 a.m. to begin the regular meeting. There was no reporting out of the closed session. All Supervisors except for Rogers were present, and Scott Cross substituted for Attorney Garza.
Agenda Item #1 Poythress asked if there are additions to the agenda—this question is always the first item on the agenda. No additions were suggested.
Agenda Item #2 Attorney Scott Cross (substituting for Regina Garza, who was absent) read a summary of items to be discussed in closed session (labor negotiations, anticipated litigation, and employee performance evaluation). Poythress invited public comment on any of these items; there was none. An attendance roll-call followed, and at 9:03AM, the Board went into closed session, returning to conduct the regular meeting at 10:03AM. There was no report from the closed session.
The meeting was opened in memory of several people—friends, colleagues or acquaintances of Poythress, Gonzalez, and Wheeler; the names of the deceased were cited.
Agenda Item # 3 Invocation was given by Father John Warburton, St. Joachim Church in Madera. He asked for “special blessings upon the supervisors’ decisions” and prayed for the Board’s attention to “those most in need.” The invocation was quickly followed by the flag salute.
Agenda Item #4 Public comments called for by Poythress; there were none in person from the public, but Todd Miller, staff Auditor-Controller for the County introduced David Ridgestone, a new staff CPA, to the Board. Next, Supervisor Wheeler used the public-comment time to express his relief about the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Madera County and the Chukchansi tribe, representing, he said, 25 years of work. For emphasis, he brandished a fat folder of papers associated with this project.
The MOU will expand sheriff and fire services to the tribal land. Per the terms of the new MOU, the Chukchansi will also increase funding to Fire Station 8 for staffing and for the purchase of a fire truck. The MOU also acknowledges new federal and state regulations re the Chukchansi tribe’s authority to manage cannabis farming within its land.
Next, also in the time allotted for public comment, Poythress wished Wheeler a happy birthday and led the room in singing “Happy Birthday to You.” Wheeler stood up and took several bows.
Then Poythress cited a comment from a member of the public, which was received as an email. The name of the commenter, Madeline Harris, was mentioned aloud, though the subject or content of the comment was not. Madeline Harris has appeared before the Board on behalf of Madera County residents previously and is a member of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability (https://leadershipcounsel.org/team/madeline-harris/ ), an advocacy group.
Agenda Item #6a Poythress skipped ahead in the agenda to accommodate the many in-person attendees for this item, the presentation of a certificate to the Madera High School Baseball Team for their Division II Central Section Championship. Frazier appeared to spring to life and did the talking, donning a Madera High School baseball cap and praising the team, seeming to be in his element. In his remarks he unaccountably expressed the idea to the young men who had just won the championship that “baseball is a game of failures.” He presided over the presentation of a certificate to each member of the team, one by one. The coach and other associated individuals were also present, and fans (possibly parents) were in the room as well to witness the ceremony. The large, unmasked group pressed together to pose for a photograph.
Agenda Item #6b Presentation of a Proclamation proclaiming August 2021 as Child Support Awareness Month. Kerry Valle and five of her staff members (three of whom were masked) from Child Support Services gave a presentation, citing their “Be Your Child’s Hero” campaign, its “court diversion” program (designed to keep non-paying parents out of jail), its partnership with the Workforce program, and helping parents with GED completion and job training. The department has collected almost $9 million for Madera families, it was noted. Poythress made the proclamation and a group photo was taken.
Agenda Item #6c August was also declared National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Sara Bosse, Public Health Dept director, spoke about the importance and benefits of breastfeeding, citing statistics on the numbers of exclusively breast-fed babies in Madera County. Sylvia Stratford, a nurse on staff in the Public Health department, and a member of the breastfeeding task force, also spoke, clarifying some of the data regarding breastfeeding rates in Madera County and described its many benefits, such as the promotion of interpersonal attachment. Through a partnership with Madera Community Hospital, it was also noted, lactation spaces in six workplaces (hospitals and public-health facilities) have recently been built. The staff was thanked by Supervisors Gonzalez and Poythress, and Frazier took the opportunity to quip that “this is reason #5,575 why women are stronger than men.” He mentioned that his wife is a labor and delivery nurse, so he is not unfamiliar with the subject. He also asked the staff about education for fathers and asked how fathers could help. Strathmore replied that Frazier’s comments were “beautiful” and she recommended the 2011 Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK52682/ . Wheeler was uncharacteristically silent throughout until the concluding remarks made by Strathmore, who said there would be “more” information to share; at that point Wheeler joked “More?” and laughed but it was unclear what was funny. A group photo was taken.
Agenda Item #7a Public Works Deputy Director Andrea Saldate spoke briefly about amending assessments for certain districts in Oakhurst. The property owner of a parcel affected did not submit the application to proceed with the apportionment process; hence, the apportionment was submitted to the Board of Supervisors for authorization. Wheeler asked if the property owner had contacted the County, but Saldate said they had not. Item passed 4-0.
Agenda Item #5, Consent Calendar Poythress announced the meeting would “circle back” to the items on the Consent Calendar, and Wheeler took the opportunity to free-associate loudly, “Circle the wagons!” to which Poythress replied with an indulgent chuckle. Wheeler then requested that items Y, Z, and AA be pulled. Gonzalez asked to pull item J., which concerns community outreach regarding the State Rental Assistance Program.
Gonzalez explained that she wanted a presentation on the rental assistance program, including statistics on how many people in Madera have been helped. Poythress stated that he believed administrative staff has direction to obtain the numbers. Regarding Y, a resolution concerning management of under- or overpayment of taxes, Wheeler asked Madera County Treasurer-Tax Collector Tracy Kennedy (in attendance) why he (Wheeler) did not receive a notice from her office about an inaccurate payment. Kennedy replied that she needed more details to answer his question. Wheeler expected to have his check returned (“Coulda sworn you said you always send ‘em back). It was not clear if Wheeler intended to resolve a personal issue or if he hoped to relate his concern to a County policy. Kennedy asked the Board to remove the item from the agenda, which they did by 4-0 vote. About Z, which concerns management of funding for the Flood Maintenance Assistance Program (FMAP), Wheeler inquired about the areas of coverage and wondered if it extended into the foothills. A staff person from the Department of Water and Natural Resources explained that it would not cover as far as what Wheeler described. Regarding AA, Wheeler asked what the acronym “DEGS” stood for. Andrea Saldate from Public Works replied that it stood for “Department of Engineering and General Services,” a now-defunct department. The resolution concerns a cash-flow loan from abandoned funds still connected with DEGS. Soldate reported that she has consulted with Counsel about the matter, and that the burden of proof regarding claims for the money held rest with depositors. Frazier asked Soldate to confirm that the funds could be used legally, which she did. Gonzalez suggested changing the name of the fund, for transparency. Matt Treber of Public Works said the department would work with the Administrative Officer to change the name, but Frazier cautioned that the matter be noticed publicly first.
Agenda Item #6d Discussion re entering into Austin Quarry Traffic Mitigation Agreement with Vulcan Materials Company, regarding compliance with the certified Environmental Impact Report. Matt Treber from Public Works spoke briefly about this item, which dates from 2016 when the quarry site was established by its owner, the Vulcan Materials Company, based in Birmingham AL; the agreement accounts for road maintenance, addition of road segments, and mitigation of road damage caused by constant use of large trucks going to and from the mine, as well as for compliance with the Environmental Impact Report. Funding for the entire process of building a new road, including acquisition of land for it, is to be provided by Vulcan. The cost will be about $30 million. Vote passed 4-0. (Background: https://www.sierrastar.com/news/article87816032.html )
Agenda Item #6e Set salary range for Building Permit Services Manager. Approved as suggested, 4-0.
Agenda Item #6f A minor change in the language of Chapter 2.04 of Title 2 of the Madera County Code re the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors. CAO Varney explained that language added will state that the Clerk will receive general direction from the CAO, in addition to that from the Board. Vote passed 4-0.
Agenda Item #6g Adopt an ordinance repealing certain fees found in Section 3.33.020A of Chapter 3.33 of the Madera County Code. Chris Childers appeared to speak and/or answer questions, but the vote was taken without his input; passed 4-0. “Great presentation, Chris,” Frazier joked.
Agenda Item #8 Pending legislation. There was none, so there was no discussion.
Agenda Item #9 Supervisor and staff reports.
Frazier: Attended the Madera County-Chukchansi MOU signing in Oakhurst on 30 July.
Gonzalez: Acknowledged her chief of staff Carla for managing an ice-cream social, attended by many children. Attended a Habitat for Humanity dedication for a family house. Attended the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) Latino Caucus meeting. Will attend the New Supervisors Institute in person, next week.
Wheeler: On 30 July attended aforementioned MOU signing. His town-hall meeting is scheduled for Thursday 5 August.
Poythress: Attended the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) meeting, of which Wheeler is Chair, at Bass Lake.
Varney: Noted that he will soon announce minor changes to Covid guidelines.
Scott Cross: Stated he was happy to be there, filling in for Regina.
Pogue: Wished a happy birthday to Wheeler.
At 11:30AM Poythress then announced a two-hour recess and scheduled return at 1:30PM to resume the closed session. After returning from closed session, Poythress adjourned the meeting.
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