Last October, many in the Fresno community celebrated. A rendering plant that had long been a subject of scorn in southwest Fresno would move to a new location. The city had an agreement with Darling Ingredients to relocate.

Politics 101

David Taub

Neighbors of the plant, who put up with foul odors and air quality impacts for years, rejoiced after the council voted unanimously Oct. 26 to approve the agreement. Under the deal, the plant would move six miles west to city property located far from most residents.

But, not everyone was happy.

Jim and Lisa Quist don’t want the plant in their part of town either. They farm nuts on West Jensen Avenue, across the street from the proposed location.

The Quists filed a lawsuit against the city and Darling to prevent the move, based mainly on allegations that the city did not conduct an adequate environmental review.

The Fresno City Council will discuss the suit for the first time in closed session Thursday (April 19).

“We have a strong case based on the merits. We are moving forward,” said C. William Brewer, attorney for the Quists. He added that a settlement is possible.

Anthony Taylor, an Irvine-based attorney with Aleshire & Wynder, LLP represents the city and Darling. Taylor did not offer a comment when contacted by GV Wire.

Filed in November, the case is working its way through the civil division of Fresno Superior Court. A hearing on the case’s merits could be heard May 30.

Attorney-Client Privilege Weighed

Does the city need to extend attorney-client privilege to its Office of Independent Review? That is a question the council will answer Thursday.

The OIR examines police-related issues, including officer-involved shootings. A requirement of John Gliatta’s job is to attend Officer-Involved Shooting Review Committee meetings.

City Manager Wilma Quan-Schecter points out in a staff report that Gliatta could not attend because the right to hear sensitive legal matters is not extended to his office.

This resolution hopes to solve that.

One attorney GV Wire spoke with is suspicious of the suggested move.

Stuart Chandler represents the mother of Dylan Noble in a lawsuit versus the city. Fresno police shot and killed Noble in 2016. Chandler continues to battle in court over access to the OIR’s full and unredacted reports related to the shooting.

“On the one hand, I would like to believe that the city would do what it reasonably can to provide the OIR with more independence and greater ability to acquire information relevant to its role in reviewing actions of the FPD,” Chandler said. “However, my suspicion is that this proposed amendment is an attempt by the city to further hide the work of the OIR.”

Chandler reasons that if the attorney-client privilege is granted, the city could not be compelled to turn over the OIR’s full reports because they contain protected material.

“The city touts on its website that the OIR is to ensure accountability and transparency.  Those are nice words,” Chandler said in an email to GV Wire. “But they are only words that mean nothing when, in reality, the city does everything it can (including paying huge sums to Los Angeles defense lawyers) to keep information away from public scrutiny.”

Roger Wilson, a defense attorney who represents law enforcement, sees no problem with the resolution.

“It is important to know what is said in the committee room, stays in the committee room. I hope it fosters a free flow of discussion,” said Wilson, who is a candidate for Fresno County Superior Court judge.

Gliatta and Quan-Schecter did not respond to requests for comment.

Police Review Board Report

The Citizens’ Public Safety Advisory Board will deliver its first quarterly report to the council since its formation last year.

The report details the training board members received — namely experience at the firing range and driving the police department’s training course — during three eight-hour sessions.

The report includes member testimony (albeit anonymous) recounting their experiences, mostly positive.

“Member #3” appreciated the bias training officers receive but expressed concern about another aspect of training.

“We also learned there may need to be more physical conditioning required for officers,” the board member is quoted as saying. “There is reason to be concerned some may not be able to physically perform to the minimal standards required for their initial hiring.”

“Member #4” said that “the physical criteria for the job can be studied, and a revised hiring standard could be developed that would result in a better balance between control of the situation and personal safety of police personnel.”

Council Tidbits

 

Terra Brusseau (photo: Central Valley Group)

Fresno air travelers will have another option to fly to Denver. The city council is set to approve an agreement with Frontier Airlines that would see three flights weekly using a 185-passenger A320. If approved, service is scheduled to start May 22.

— The council will vote on approving the appointment of Terra Brusseau to the Fresno Housing Authority. Brusseau, owner of consulting firm The Central Valley Group, is well-known in local political circles as a fundraiser. One of her clients — Mayor Lee Brand — is making the appointment.

— The council will vote on easing the permitting process for mobile truck vendors. Some proposed changes: pushcart vendors would no longer need a city permit; only ice cream vendors would need to be fingerprinted; vendors would no longer pay a $500 security bond, and some insurance requirements would be revised.

— Approve a plan by Councilman Luis Chavez to provide incentives for businesses to create jobs along the Ventura/Kings Canyon corridor, east of First Street.

District 3 City Council Forum is Thursday

Four candidates vying for the District 3 seat being vacated by termed-out councilman Oliver Baines will face off Thursday. GV Wire is sponsoring a candidate forum, starting at 6 p.m, at Westside Church of God (1422 W California Ave.). Questions for the candidates can be submitted to GV Wire using this form.

The public is invited to attend the forum, which will be live streamed on gvwire.com and cmac.tv

The forum is co-sponsored by Fresno’s Leading Young Professionals and Community Media Access Collaborative.

More on Cox Recall Papers

Terry Cox says she wasn’t served papers notifying her of an attempt to recall her from the Central Unified school board. The woman who served her the papers says she did, in fact, serve those papers.

Araceli Santillano told GV Wire she served Cox on April 5 as her signed proof of service states. She said it was possible she wrote the wrong time. On the form, it lists 2:27 p.m. but Santillano said it could have been the noon hour. The location is listed as 2600 Fresno Street — City Hall, where Cox works as Council President Esmeralda Soria’s Chief of staff. Santillano said she served Cox in the first-floor lobby.

Santillano is an in-home health care provider by profession. She would not identify who hired her to serve, but the introduction was made by a friend of a friend. The party paid her in cash for the work.

As a note, a person serving such paperwork doesn’t have to be a registered process server. Santillano said this was the first time she served legal paperwork.

Cox has filed a complaint with the district attorney’s office, which the office confirmed. Cox said she has multiple pieces of evidence that would show she could not have been served at the time and place claimed or even earlier in the day as Santillano now says.

Bredefeld Endorses Cox

Via Twitter, Fresno Councilman Garry Bredefeld is supporting fellow Republican John Cox for governor.

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