Feb. 23, 2023 — Fresno City Council

Documented by Andy Hansen-Smith

Councilmember Mike Karbassi told a person that “racism is not free speech,” after she questioned why Councilmember Chavez had a Mexican flag by his seat at the dais.

What happened: At the Feb. 23 Fresno City Council meeting, several members of the public spoke about the importance of the Eviction Protection Program and asked that it be extended past its expected end date in April.

Karla Martinez of Leadership Counsel stressed the importance of the program and that it can prevent homelessness.

While community member Shar Thompson asked that it be extended through the end of the year. She said that without this program many would have lost their homes.

Documenter Andy Hansen-Smith reported that during the Mid-Year Budget Workshop, City Staff Member Ruthie Quintero said that it may be hard to re-fund the program if recession worries play out as funding for it is not yet included in the budget, which projects a $2.3 million ending balance.

And also: A few members of the public spoke in opposition to the Fancher Creek Trail sponsored by Councilmember Luis Chavez.

Residents living in the Sunnyside County Island spoke of of the City paving over the Bridal Trail, but the Parks Department later clarified that that is not happening. They said they were concerned about water issues for their properties if the trail and canal are paved and a tunnel is built.

A separate item, but related to the Sunnyside area regarding Bakman Water Company led to one resident asking why Chavez had a Mexican flag by his seat on the dais.

To which, Councilmember Mike Karbassi told her that, “racism is not free speech.” And Chavez clarified that they had tabled the item she was referring to.

Up next: The Fresno City Council will meet again at 9 a.m. on March 9.

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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...