Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Clovis City Council approved creating a citizens advisory committee to evaluate police officer staffing after Clovis Police Chief Curt Fleming gave a presentation on a staffing shortage last week. More details will be discussed at the Dec. 6 meeting, but it was determined that each council member will appoint five committee members each who will focus on evaluating the staffing study results and what it will take to be “the safest city in the Valley.” It was noted that per the Brown Act, committee meetings will be posted and open to the public. 

  • They also approved four items on the consent calendar, including the rejection of a general liability claim alleging Clovis Police Department used excessive force during a traffic stop resulting in bodily harm and surgeries. Later, they moved into closed session to discuss another excessive force claim, Bryon Espinosa vs. City of Clovis, et al.

The Scene

The Clovis City Council meeting took place on Nov. 15, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. The meeting was made available via Webex and YouTube Live. The agenda no longer states that face masks are required for those who attend in person due to COVID-19 and none of the council members wore face masks. 

Names of officials:

Jose Flores, Mayor (also Chief of Police, State Center Community College District Police Department)

Lynne Ashbeck, Mayor Pro Tem (also Senior Vice President Community Engagement and Population Wellness, Valley Children’s Healthcare)

Vong Mouanoutoua, Council Member (also External Relations and Project Development Director, Community Medical Foundation)

Bob Whalen, Council Member (also Fresno County Deputy District Attorney)

Drew Bessinger, Council Member (also Chief of Police, Fresno Yosemite International Airport)

Whalen led the council in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

From there, the meeting was open for public comments and no comments were made in council chambers or online. 


  • Approved minutes from Nov. 8 meeting

  • Pulled from consent calendar-a proposal submitted by Nations Roof for $132,282.00 to repair and reroof buildings at the Corporation Yard. 

    • This item has been pulled from the consent calendar and will come back at a later date. 

  • Approved rejection of a general liability claim on behalf of Jamal Jones. Jones alleged that on May 3, 2021, the Clovis Police Department detained him while on a traffic enforcement stop and used excessive force, which caused bodily injuries and surgery. 

    • Jones seeks damages in an excess of $25,000. 

  • Approved an agreement with Pinnacle Training Systems for COVID testing for city employees and staff. 

  • Approved final acceptance of Wilson Homes tract map in the southeast area of Ashlan and Leonard Avenues. 

  • Approved a general plan amendment, rezone to public facilities for .34 acres and site layout for fire station 2 at 2300 Minnewawa Avenue. 

    • Associate Planner Lily Cha presented the item. 

    • Anticipated completion of construction in 2024. Fire station operations temporarily moved. 

    • Ashbeck commented that they gave neighbors disposable cameras back before the Helm Ranch area was named. 

      • She also asked if they did neighborhood meetings. Cha said they did conduct two meetings, but did not note them in the staff report because no neighbors came. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked if it will be solar ready and if it will be capable of charging electric vehicles. 

      • Cha said she wasn’t familiar, but deferred to a fire department representative. 

    • Whalen said they set a “high bar” for those that want to develop in Clovis and that they are spending a little bit more. 

      • He said he has a feeling they’ll be getting some more phone calls like they got for pump station E where people would call interested in buying the house. 

  • Approved a 0.50 per month increase in street sweeping charges, as well as an annual maximum 4% increase in subsequent years. To offset the impact, staff is recommending a 1.5% reduction in refuse rates.

    • Assistant Public Utilities Director Glenn Eastes presented the item. 

    • Eastes said they received nine letters against the increase. He said as long as they don’t receive 17,000 more, the council will be able to approve the increase. 

    • Ashbeck asked about the 4% annual increase. Eastes said that it’s built in that there will be an increase, but each year when they review the budget it can be adjusted down. 

    • Resident Susan Bailey said the street sweeper leaves marks along the street and is disappointed with that. She said she also noticed them brushing up debris. 

      • Whalen asked if it was wet and she said it was today. 

      • Flores asked her to leave her address so staff can follow up with her. 

    • Resident Maryann Hill said she is the president of a homeowner’s association that doesn’t get street sweeping. She was wondering if the charge for them would cover that. She was told that it only covers public streets, but not private streets. 

    • Resident James Deauval asked what training is given to the street sweepers. He was told they do receive training and all have commercial licenses. The resident said he lives on a corner and the truck typically swings too wide and misses the debris along the curb. 

      • He also said sometimes the street doesn’t get swept on the day it’s supposed to. 

    • Eastes said the trucks meet all air board emissions requirements. 

  • Approved authorizing the city manager to execute a consultant services agreement with Krazen & Associates, Inc. for the amount of $436,830 for the Landmark Square Soil Vapor Barrier System, the location of the new senior center, transit center and library. 

    • According to the agenda, during grading of the site, contaminated soil was found:

      • “Even though the City staff has good documentation and a professional conclusion that the risk is low based on the consultant analysis and that there is not a need for building protection based on accepted risk protocol, staff is recommending proceeding with the investment in a vapor barrier system as an extra measure of safety.”

      • City Engineer Mike Harrison presented the item. 

        • He said in Spring during the demolition on the property, a tarry substance was found on the site. 

        • Since then, they have been working with Krazen & Associates to identify it and remediate it. 

        • Some of the contaminated soil has been removed and disposed of. 

        • A risk assessment by a toxicologist has been completed. The consultant has shown that the risk is “low enough that no remediation is required.” 

          • Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has not concurred with that assessment. 

        • Remediation includes install of a polypropylene barrier and inspection. 

      • Bessinger asked if they were doing this because they anticipate DTSC coming back and saying it is a requirement. Harrison said it “would be prudent” for them to install it even if there is a small risk because of it. 

      • Whalen asked about the removal of soil. He asked if they removed all of it or just some of it. Harrison said they “dug a lot of soil out” and “reached the bottom of the discolored soil” but, laterally they haven’t reached the “end of it.”

      • Flores asked if they were “going far and beyond” past what DTSC will say is required. 

      • Serpa said it is a very prudent measure and he thinks it is very safe and they won’t be at risk of finding something else is required. 

  • Approved a request from former chief of police Matt Basgall to create a citizens advisory committee for the purpose of evaluating police officer staffing. Each council member will appoint five committee members and will not serve on the committee themselves. 

    • Serpa is presenting the item. 

    • Basgall said when he wrote the letter it was for the purpose of identifying what they can do to move forward. 

      • “We don’t know what the next crisis is going to be,” he said. 

      • “It’s no secret that public safety is one of the major reasons why people live in Clovis, schools and safety, we’ve said that for years,” Basgall said. “We have the best schools and the best cops that there are.” 

    • Bessinger asked how big the committee was previously. Serpa said each council member appointed three members for a total of 15 committee members. 

      • He asked what the general consensus was. Serpa said there is no one left that remembers and they laughed. 

      • Ashbeck said sometimes they have done five per council member, but it seemed like a doable amount. 

      • Flores said he remembers the people being dedicated to the task. 

    • Whalen said in 2006 or 2007, 57% of the police department’s budget went to salaries and now it is only 40%. He said if they still had that same 57%, there would be a “satisfactory amount of police officers on patrol.” 

      • “At some point did we stop prioritizing patrol officers and start prioritizing something else?” Whalen said. 

      • Basgall said they were always focused on getting more officers on the street, but at one point they did start hiring community service officers because they could hire two for the cost of every single officer. 

      • He said there is a “difference in philosophy among city managers” when Serpa was hired. 

      • He said the costs of the pet adoption center and officer’s retirements with PERS costs factored in. 

      • Whalen said he thinks there does need to be an in-depth analysis to figure out what exactly happened with the public safety budget. 

        • “We need to make sure we have our accounting, and perhaps our auditing, in good shape,” he said. 

      • Mouanoutoua said that he thinks deciding whether they want to study the budget, is the second question. But if they want to move forward with the committee, is the other question. 

        • “Can citizens do it without council approval and move something,” he said. 

        • He said he wants citizens to move forward, regardless of what they say. 

        • Serpa said a citizens committee could be formed as a grassroots effort away from the council, but they would be limited to a “public records request.” He said if council directs the committee, the council would be able to hire and do an in-house analysis. 

        • Mouanoutoua said he is leaning toward the “quicker and easier” for the committee to access documents, which he said is the council moving forward with a committee. 

        • Serpa said the first question is if the council wants to move forward the committee and what its structure should be. Then they have to come up with three names and contact them. “The timeline would play out depending on where council goes with the first question,” he said. 

      • Ashbeck said a citizens advisory committee “makes a lot of sense.” She said she thinks they have enough data from which they can operate now. She said the question for the citizens is, “what is the role of public safety in the City of Clovis?” 

        • She said she saw comments on social media, which made it clear that citizens don’t understand how public safety is funded. 

        • She said she remembers there was a committee and they recommended a quarter cent increase in sales tax. They went “much higher” than what was recommended and it was voted down. 

        • She thinks five per person would be fine because not everyone is going to come. 

        • The question is “What kind of city do you want to live in and what do you want to pay for it?” 

      • Bessinger said one option they have now is social media, like Facebook live and Twitter. 

        • He said committee members must live in the City of Clovis and own property here. 

        • “I think the sooner the better because we’re going to have an election in November 2022,” he said. 

      • Ashbeck said in the staff report they asked if the council should be part of the committee and she doesn’t think so. 

      • Whalen said he thought Ashbeck brought up a good point about what the scope of the committee will be. He said they need to talk about what they want to see happen and how they want to fund it. 

        • “Perhaps this needs to be a broader discussion about ‘what do you want to see in the City of Clovis?” 

        • “Citizens of the City of Clovis have thrown 80% more into the public safety budget than they did 10 years ago,” he said. 

        • He doesn’t think it’s necessarily a funding issue. 

        • “If we don’t do this right, people are going to think that we’re all politicians, they don’t recognize that we all have day jobs,” he said. 

        • He said reflecting back on Measure A, they spent a lot of money on a consultant who made a lot of money. “I think that we were taken for a ride…and those polling numbers were absolutely wrong,” he said. 

        • He recommends that they go beyond just a public safety question and ask what they want the City of Clovis to look like. 

      • Mouanoutoua said this might be an excuse to have the broader conversation, but what they’ve been tasked with is urgent enough to move forward. 

        • “How do we keep Clovis, the safest city in the Valley?” he said. 

        • “I want it to be that narrow,” he said. 

      • Bessinger said that his concern with making it overly broad, is that they’ll get into the “minutia” and it will take much longer. 

        • “We need to get the apartment dwellers on Alamos and people that live up in the Deauvilles,” he said. “It’s easy for someone to say they’re comfortable with this level of service when they have an alarm and a gate.” 

      • Flores echoed what Bessinger said. He said he thinks they should own this and choose “a diverse group, an inclusive group” to serve on the committee. 

        • He said he’s been in public service for 40 years and a lot of officers live in Clovis “for a reason.” 

        • “The great majority of the people that make Clovis their home or the place they work, do support law enforcement and they don’t believe in the abolishment of law enforcement,” he said.

        • “We shouldn’t steal from Peter to pay Paul,” he said. “And there isn’t much to steal.”  

      • Basgall said the education part of this is important and having city staff members involved can play a role in explaining the budget and how it works. 

        • “I think it would be really good to have someone like…in this meetings,” he said. 

      • Serpa noted one written comment was received. No other public comments were made. 

      • Whalen continued to prefer that the financial aspect be looked into further before the committee is established. 

      • In discussing the number of committee members: 

        • “I’m concerned about the group dynamics of 25 people,” Whalen said. “At some point, we need to make sure that we have a manageable group and I’m suggesting that 25 is too much.” 

        • Ashbeck suggested Basgall as chair or someone else, but it “has to be a strong chair.” 

        • Flores expressed concerns that they would be “accused of not being inclusive or diverse enough.” 

        • “With a good facilitator it can work,” Flores said. 

        • Confirmed they will each select five members, Serpa said.

      • In what the committee will evaluate: 

        • Bessinger said it should look at the patrol police officers specifically. 

          • “If we fail, it’s because we didn’t have enough patrols,” he said.  

        • Whalen said there will be other questions that come up in the meetings, but if they can focus on patrol that would be consistent with the request. 

        • Mouanoutoua said he wants to focus on “police staffing in the City of Clovis,” which may lead to other discussions. 

        • Flores said that it has to be a “holistic audit of the whole agency.” “We are not that small of a town PD anymore, we are a metropolitan police department and that’s a conversation that our citizens have to have,” he said. 

        • Ashbeck said she doesn’t think citizens can answer the staffing question, but they can determine the aspirations for the city and what role they want police to play. 

          • Additionally, she said Basgall may not be leading the group since he’s “not really neutral” but they need to elect a chair that helps guide the committee. 

        • Flores added that they will identify the gaps then they can come up with a plan to fill those gaps. 

        • Whalen said he wants to know how they went from 57% to 40% of the public safety budget going to salaries. He said he also wants to know how they remain the safest city in the Valley with these staffing shortages. 

        • In conclusion, Serpa said the committee’s scope will be to look at the police department using the staffing study that was presented by Fleming to determine what it’s going to take to be the “safest city in the Valley” as far as police goes. And also a “hard look at the spending” and spending patterns. 

          • They will have a committee of 25 with five committee members appointed per council member. 

      • The council will be looking at if they need to put something on the ballot for November 2022 or if they will be bumping it to November 2024, or calling a special election prior to that. 

        • Whalen said it seems like some folks do want a sales tax increase so if they are doing that they should work on a timeline. He said a transient occupancy tax. 

        • Ashbeck said she thinks it’s important that the committee isn’t told they are deciding on a sales tax, “that’s the conclusion is that’s where people get.” “I think that a sales tax is not the only solution,” she said. 

      • Flores then brought up their participation again saying that he would want to be involved. 

        • Whalen said the concern is that they would be leading the committee down a path. “I think it’s wise for us not to participate, but…if you want to participate, participate,” he said. 

        • Serpa pointed out that if they have three council members show up, then they would have to public notice it. 

        • Whalen said he is ok posting it and making it a public and transparent process. 

        • The city attorney said it is going to be a “Brown Act committee” anyway and “I would suggest we treat it as such.” 

      • Serpa will move forward with the process for the next meeting on Dec. 6, which will also be a Christmas tree lighting. 

Flores opened the meeting for comments by City Manager Luke Serpa. Serpa gave an update on COVID cases and shared a chart showing trends. Serpa said they received a request for Clovis specific data and shared a chart showing that trending down. 

Flores then opened the meeting for council comments:

  • Whalen said that he appreciates how Flores lets them all speak and then talks. He thinks it’s a sign that he is running a fair meeting. 

  • Mouanoutoua reported back from a Measure C meeting. He said they didn’t get invitations to a Community Heritage Center ribbon-cutting event. Serpa said they did get invitations for the night before. He also asked if they received invitations for the Fresno Veterans Day Parade, which they did not. 

  • Ashbeck said she appreciates the conversation. 

  • Bessinger said the redistricting boundaries have changed, but they are “still kind of wonky.” He said it still goes out into Bakersfield and Oildale. He said he will tune in for the meeting and would suggest that members of the public do the same. He said they will have three congresspeople in Fresno County. 

  • Flores said they have submitted a letter to the redistricting commission telling them “it’s not who we are.” “We have more in common with the people here in the Clovis metropolitan area,” he said. 

The council went into closed session at 8:39 p.m. to conference with legal counsel on existing excessive force litigation, Bryon Espinosa vs. City of Clovis, et al. They said they won’t have any action to report. 

The next meeting will be Dec. 6. 

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at with “Correction Request” in the subject line.

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