Feb. 7, 2023 — Fresno County Board of Supervisors

Documented by Rachel Youdelman

Apolonia Valencia spoke at the Feb. 7 Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting via a Spanish-to-English translator about the need for higher wages for IHSS workers. She is the caregiver for her husband, a stroke victim and former employee of the city of Clovis.

What happened: By now, most of us have seen that the Fresno County Board of Supervisors ended the local state of emergency due to the closure of Madera Community Hospital, at its Feb. 7 meeting.

But a few things you may have missed are that the supervisors also approved the county’s legislative platform, honored a religious group with anti-LGBTQ affiliations, and heard pleas for a living wage from In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers who care for 19,000 elderly, blind and disabled residents in the county.

Fresno County IHSS workers are currently paid $16.10 per hour to assist these individuals so that they can live safely in their homes.

Dillon Savory of the Fresno-Madera-Tulare-Kings Central Labor Council spoke on behalf of members of SEIU 2015, a labor union of long-term caregivers. He said IHSS workers are living in poverty, along with the clients they serve and called the salary structure at “25 cents above the minimum wage” a “Ponzi-scheme to the bottom.”

Savory asked the board to please support the workers by increasing the pay rate. Three caregivers and union members also spoke about the need for a wage increase.

Legislative platform: The board approved the recommendations of Fresno County Federal Lobbyists David Wetmore and Laura Morgan-Kessler of the firm Carpi and Clay in Washington D.C., for the Fresno County federal legislative platform and authorized the CAO to work with the county’s federal representatives to support or oppose legislation per the county’s platform.

Some examples of the legislative issues were included in the meeting agenda, such as: the board opposes the “decriminalization of marijuana crimes;” supports “federal reimbursement for county costs to incarcerate, prosecute, defend, and supervise criminal aliens;” supports “legislative efforts to strengthen locally-driven election and redistricting processes and oppose legislative efforts that usurp local control in these processes;” and opposes “mandates or orders that usurp local and state authority requiring health or vaccination status as a condition of employment or access to services.”

Supervisor Steve Brandau made a point of saying that he was glad to see that “support for local oil and gas industry” was added to the legislative platform, under “Energy/Air Quality.” He said that there was now a “political” attack on natural gas, “that wonderful product,” adding that “not all of California is against the wonderful products, oil and gas.”

Religious group: The board also approved a resolution introduced by Vice Chair Nathan Magsig to proclaim Feb. 7-14 “National Marriage Week.” He presented the proclamation to a group of people from a Fresno organization called “Healthy Marriage Coalition.”

The coalition’s Director of Marketing and Communications Ron McClain is a pastor at Clovis Christian Church and said he offers marriage counseling through the organization.

At least two of the churches listed as affiliates on Healthy Marriage Coalition’s website are signatories to an anti-LGBTQ statement made in response to Fresno Pride events in June 2022 and signed by about 50 Fresno and Clovis pastors and supporters.

Per the group’s website, the group is “male-friendly,” and all of the meetings and counseling sessions take place in affiliated evangelical churches. 

Up next: The Fresno County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to reconvene at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 28.

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The Fresno Documenters are a group of local residents who are trained and paid to attend and take notes at local public meetings where officials decide how to spend public money and make important decisions...