When Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld put the NFL on blast over National Anthem protests, Councilman Oliver Baines was absent. He was part of a delegation to Spain to scout potential High-Speed Rail opportunities. But, when he returned, he let his feelings known on Facebook:

“I am just returning to the country, and am deeply offended by the words and actions of my colleague Garry Bredefeld on last Thursday. I will be meeting with him personally, and plan on expressing to him the grave offensiveness of his comments. I also will be making comments of my own in response to him.”

On Tuesday, Baines reported on Facebook that his meeting with Bredefeld went well:

“I want to take a moment and acknowledge the dialogue that Garry and I had today. I appreciate that fact that he and I had a civil discourse regarding one of the most sensitive topics of our day, and in American history. While Garry and I did not agree on everything, what I do believe is true, is that a dialogue began. This is and will be the great conundrum of our society; can we see each other’s point of view, without demonizing the other? Although I disagree strongly with some of the points expressed by Garry, I certainly acknowledge the fact that he has those points of view, and I truly believe that he understood the deep offense that his words had on me. Garry and I agreed to continue this discussion with the hopes of creating fruitful dialogue that can heal some (wounds), and understand others. I look forward to the challenge, and would hope others would join.”

Bredefeld agreed the conversation went well, reporting in this post:

“Had a very productive, direct, and straight-forward meeting with my colleague, Oliver Baines today. Discussed his concerns and feelings regarding my speech last week where I strongly criticized the NFL players/owners for kneeling during the National Anthem. My position on that has not changed at all but the First Amendment gives them that right to protest and I support the First Amendment.

“It was my intent in the speech to highlight my belief that our country has made significant progress in terms of race relations and prejudice. It is clear, however, that people in the community felt hurt by some of my words and for that, I apologize. It was never my intent, nor would it ever be, to cause people pain.

“It is clear from my meeting with Councilmember Baines that often because of our different experiences and backgrounds, we can and often do misinterpret each other’s intentions and motivations. I have no doubt that all of us as Americans, no matter what race we are, love this country and want it to thrive and progress. While much progress has been made towards eradicating racism, it is clear there is still much more to be done.

“Councilmember Baines and I will continue to dialogue regarding these important issues and hopefully, our efforts along with the efforts of others, will really make a positive and significant difference in terms of uniting our very special and diverse community. I will soon be meeting with Pastor Criner and others in an effort to begin this process.”

Impact of California’s March 2020 Presidential Primary

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation last week to move up California’s Presidential Primary by three months starting in 2020. Instead of a June date, the primary will be held March 3, 2020. The motivation is to make California more relevant in picking the president. However, the effects will also trickle down to the local level.

According to the city of Fresno’s charter (Article XIV, Sec. 1400), primary elections for council and mayor “shall be held in the City on (the) same date as the statewide direct primary election as provided in the Elections Code of the State of California.”

That also means that the date candidates can officially start accepting donations moves up as well.

Fresno City Council Candidates for 2018

Just three candidates — all in District 7, where Clint Olivier will term out  — have filed paperwork with the city clerk announcing their intention to run.

Nelson Esparza is a Fresno City College economics instructor and currently an elected member of the Fresno County Board of Education (District 3). According to campaign finance data, he has transferred $4,950 from his old campaign account (but also has $6,580 in debts, including a $2,000 loan to himself).

Genoveva Islas is the program director of Cultiva La Salud, a health advocacy group in Fresno. Her bio lists her as a member of a number of civic and health organizations.

The city clerk also lists Theresa Orantes, but there are no public documents posted about her campaign.

Brian Whelan, an attorney, is also expected run.

Unofficially, in District 3 (currently held by to-be-termed-out Oliver Baines), businessman Tate Hill, county employee Barigye McCoy and school administrator Darren Miller have floated ideas of running.

Esmeralda Soria, the District 1 representative, is expected to run for re-election.

Billionaire Targets Two Valley GOP Congressmen

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer may not be running for office in 2018 (or will he?), but he is keeping active through his NextGen America political advocacy group. His group announced they will be targeting seven California congressional districts held by Republicans, including seats held by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) and Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford).

“Californians deserve better than the dangerous agenda that Trump and the GOP are pushing forward in Washington, D.C.,” Steyer said in a news release. “We’re going to get every eligible voter we can reach to cast their ballot, so we can send representatives to Congress who will fight for a California that works for us all.”

NextGen’s concept is to fund grassroots campaign (is that a contradiction of terms?) to engage in “face-to-face conversations and direct contact with California voters, targeting primarily split-ticket voters and low-propensity Democratic voters who typically vote in presidential elections, but not in midterm elections.”

Trip to Spain Educates Leaders on HSR

A delegation led by Lee Ann Eager, president of the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation, recently returned from a weeklong scouting mission of High-Speed Rail in Spain. Also on the trip were Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, councilmen Oliver Baines and Paul Caprioglio, State Center Community College District Trustee Richard Caglia and engineer Paul Quiring, president of his eponymously named construction company.

Eager tells Politics 101 that Renfe, the state-owned firm that runs HSR in Spain, hosted the group. They visited heavy maintenance yards, which Fresno is hoping to land for the California project. Renfe is in the running for a six-year contract to be the initial operator of California HSR.

The group visited cities such as Ciudad Real and Malaga, both south of Madrid. She noted the similarities of Malaga’s demographics to Fresno and saw the impact the system had on cities there. Eager said a similar relationship could apply to Fresno and the Silicon Valley.

“You can’t expand your business in the Silicon Valley, even if you wanted to. If you expand in Fresno, you can be back and forth in 45 minutes,” Eager said.

According to Eager, each member of the delegation was responsible for paying trip expenses.

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