Documenter: Rachel Youdelman

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Annual officer rotation has designated Brian Pacheco as the new Chairman of the Board of Supervisors; he replaces Steve Brandau. Sal Quintero is Vice-Chairman.

  • The Board’s priorities for 2022, per Pacheco, will be addressing County-employee issues and making improvements to the foster care system.

Board (all present)

Steve Brandau, 2nd District, Chairman 

Brian Pacheco, 1st District, Vice Chairman 

Sal Quintero, 3rd District 

Buddy Mendes, 4th District 

Nathan Magsig, 5th District 

Also Present

Paul Nerland, County Administrative Officer (CAO)

Daniel C. Cederborg, County Counsel

Bernice E. Seidel, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors

The Scene

Chairman Brandau called the meeting to order at 9:30AM instead of his preferred time of 10:00AM. Roll call was followed by an invocation, given by Fresno County Assessor-Recorder, Paul Dictos, who recited a prayer in English and in Greek. “He loves the lord and is a CPA,” stated Brandau. Pledge of allegiance ensued. The meeting was open to the public and as usual also available to attend via live webcast. To virtual attendees, the room appeared to be emptier than usual. Despite the mask mandate currently in effect, none of the supervisors wore masks, nor did the Clerk—Counsel Cederborg was the only person on the dais observed to be wearing a face covering. This public portion of this initial meeting of 2022 was relatively short and concluded in less than an hour.

Agenda Item #1 Designation of 2022 officers and remarks by Board members. Brandau announced that next was “the part of the agenda that Bernice [Clerk Seidel] dreads,” referring to nominations for 2022 officers, and casually naming Supervisor Pacheco as his replacement. Declaring the matter done, Seidel interrupted to tell him he needed to make a formal announcement, at which he snapped, “Were you expecting a speech, Bernice?” But Brandau obliged, repeating Pacheco’s nomination and naming Supervisor Quintero as Vice-Chairman. “Let’s switch chairs, gentlemen,” he suggested, unwittingly drawing attention to the persistent absence of women on the Board. Seidel changed name plates accordingly. 

New Chairman Pacheco then opened comments from the Board, which were generally platitudinous: Supervisor Magsig hoped to see COVID-19 “in the rear-view mirror” this year and congratulated Brandau for “leading us through redistricting” with a “balanced approach,” not mentioning opposition to the results. Magsig remarked that Brandau “gave everyone an opportunity to speak,” presumably during time reserved for public comment at Board meetings, suggesting that he did so magnanimously, but permitting public comment is required by law.

Supervisor Quintero thanked his colleagues for working throughout a “tough year” and noted that the Board was able to “agree to disagree.” He especially thanked County employees and said that they were all “essential” workers.

Supervisor Mendes also thanked County employees for their work throughout the second COVID year. He congratulated Brandau and marveled that he didn’t realize Brandau has as much patience as he had shown in meetings, suggesting he was more familiar with Brandau’s incapacity for patience. “This is going to be a better year,” he concluded. 

Brandau said that 2022 was a chance for a “fresh start” and agreed with the “need to put COVID in the rear-view mirror,” though he did not suggest any means for doing so, nor did he mention the low County vaccination rate, which will likely prolong the crisis. He welcomed CAO Nerland, who had attended the last meeting of 2021 without fanfare. Brandau also joined the chorus and thanked “all employees” of Fresno County. Regular observers of Board meetings will recall the many County employees who appeared in person throughout 2021 to comment publicly about low wages and long hours.

Pacheco presented a plaque and a gift to outgoing chairman Brandau. The gift was a chef’s hat, a large apron emblazoned with the County logo, and a boxed set of barbeque implements resembling weapons (“I’m torn between using it and putting it on the wall,” remarked Brandau). Pacheco joked that despite having just been called “balanced” and “patient,” Brandau is the most “hard-right” person he knows, to which Brandau responded with surprised laughter. “He’s controversial, not easy-going and patient,’” added Pacheco jocularly, but by this point Brandau did not appear to be smiling.

Pacheco went on to note that this year marks his eighth year on the Board, along with Mendes. He said that “we respect each other” even if they all disagree. He added that he thought that by this time vaccinations would have wiped out COVID, not alluding to the low rate of vaccination rate or the Board’s refusal to endorse mandates, enforce mask-wearing, or even follow its own health department’s suggestions. His opinion was that COVID should be “tolerated” because it will “never go away.” He further remarked that in the past four years, several capital projects have been undertaken and that this year would be one of “ribbon-cutting.” Coming soon are a new jail, a new animal shelter, and upgrades to the foster-care system. “We set policy,” he said, “but we’re not in the trenches,” explaining that the Board relies on employees of the County to inform them of issues and concerns which may arise from day to day. He reiterated that his priorities were improving the foster-care system and making County employees feel appreciated and happy in their jobs—public service is better with happy employees, he noted. The previous CAO was a “numbers guy” and he hoped that Nerland would focus on the “human” element in County government.

Moving on, Pacheco described himself as “old school” regarding meeting format, hence he called upon Clerk Seidel to read the agenda items (Brandau had dispensed with this custom, minimizing the clerk’s role by insisting on announcing items himself). Pacheco also noted that meeting start time would be 9:30AM, rather than the 10:00AM time preferred by Brandau. Mendes preferred 9:00AM, so Pacheco chose 9:30AM as a compromise.

Agenda Item #2 Approve agenda. Approved 5-0.

Agenda Item #3 Consent calendar, Items #13-30. Approved 5-0.

Agenda Item #4 Proclamation declaring January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Amber Secundino of the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission appeared to speak about events and programs regarding prevention of trafficking in the County area. Group photo taken.

Agenda Item #5 Approve Chairman’s 2022 appointments of Board members to various boards, commissions and committees. Approved 5-0.

Agenda Item #6 Individual supervisor reports. 

  • Magsig commented, “Stressors in life put us in a mood we shouldn’t be in,” but it was unclear what he was referring to.

  • Quintero talked about his annual coat drive and said that 403 coats had been collected for distribution to several local charities. Since 2017, over 2,000 coats have been donated, he said.

  • Brandau offered a “personal note” and revealed that over the Xmas holiday,  his entire family had been ill with COVID, some seriously, some not. His 82-year-old father was hospitalized but improved as of that day, and Brandau “learned an awful lot” by taking his father to appointments: “across the board” doctors told him that “early treatment” was valuable, and he wanted to pass on the information to the “county family,” advising all to “get a game plan” for sick family members. Mendes mused in response: “That’s what it’s all about. We all need to stay positive. Getting stuff done is not political.”

  • Pacheco thanked Magsig for maintaining cheerfulness. He bluntly referred to Brandau’s “love-hate” relationship with Clerk Seidel while acknowledging how helpful she was in setting up Pacheco’s chairmanship.

  • CAO Nerland spoke about our “county family,” a phrase oft-repeated in the meeting, and said he was “excited” and “optimistic” but “not naïve.” Pacheco asserted that when the County changes its CAO, significant general changes are in store. He reiterated that the previous CAO was good with numbers, that Nerland would be good for people, and that the interests of County employees merit the Board’s special consideration. How we treat and pay “our people” will determine if Fresno will be the “dominant county in the Valley.”

Agenda Item #7 Appointments made by Board members. Several appointments were made by Magsig, Mendes, and Pacheco. Approved 5-0.

Agenda Item #8 Public comments regarding items not on the agenda. There were none.

Agenda Items #9-12.1 Closed session. Counsel Cederborg noted that there would be no announcements reported from the closed session. Adjournment after closed session announced at 10:17AM.

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

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