The Clovis City Council will hear results of a survey on what its citizens want Monday night. However, it is a familiar tune: public safety and street repairs.

Politics 101

David Taub

City staff will present the results of the mostly-online unscientific survey of budgeting priorities. But, a staff report says, “the response was valuable in gaining a large amount of feedback from the City’s residents.”

This is the fourth year of the survey. Every time, public safety and street repairs have finished 1-2. Residents ranked nine categories from essential to not important at all.

The 2018 Report

Priority % ranking essential or very important 2017 rank
1.       Public safety 97% 1
2.       Street repairs 93 2
3.       Parks/trails 74 5
4.       Economic development 74 3
5.       Land use planning 70 4
6.       Senior services 62 6
7.       Recreation 61 7
8.       Affordable housing 55 8
9.       Public transportation 31 9

When a Retirement Isn’t a Retirement

Fresno County Health Officer Dr. Ken Bird (photo: Fresno County)

Blake Gunderson (photo: Fresno County DA)

This is Blake Gunderson’s last week with the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office. Unless he is hired again.

Gunderson, the assistant DA, has served the department for more than 30 years and is retiring Friday.

But he’s not leaving. District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp wants Gunderson to stick around for the transition. But that will require action by the Board of Supervisors.

The board needs to officially hire Gunderson parttime to get around a state pension law that requires public employees to be retired 180s days before they re-enter public service. That law (AB 340) took effect in 2013.

The county health officer, Dr. Ken Bird, is in the same situation. Bird, who has worked for the county since 1986, is scheduled to retire at the end of March. The board will honor him by declaring Tuesday “Dr. Ken Bird Day.”

The Public Health Department wants to keep him around until his replacement his hired.

New DA Building Lease: On, Off, Now Back On?

Last year, the county entered into an agreement with the landlord of the Rowell Building at 2100 Tulare Street (at the corner of Van Ness in downtown Fresno), to lease and eventually purchase the building to house the DA’s office.

The landlord, River Park Properties III, sent the county a letter of termination of the deal Jan. 31 (one day before a deadline) because it was unable to obtain tax credits that would make the agreement economically viable. According to a staff report, that was in part due to recent congressional action on tax reform.

The county and River Park Properties III have reached a new deal. It allows the landlord to once again apply for New Market Tax Credits. But it also permits the landlord to opt out, this time by July 15.

Under the lease agreement, the county would pay more than $2 million annually for rent and upkeep.

River Park Properties III is affiliated with local developer Ed Kashian, who signed the new agreement.

The Board of Supervisors will vote on the new agreement Tuesday (March 20).

The Foxes are Born

The Fresno Football Club debuted Saturday night in front of 7,750 fans at Chukchansi Park and a festive atmosphere in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Fans packed the Tioga-Sequoia beer garden on Inyo Street, across the street from the stadium for pre-game festivities. Then, a tradition carried over from the amateur Fresno Fuego soccer club continued. A large gathering of fans, known as the Fresno Fire Squad, marched with drums banging, flags waving and smoke bombs waffling in the air into the stadium.

Politicos Turn Out for Foxes

A few blocks away, local entrepreneur Terance Frazier hosted his “Alley Wave” party, just west of Broadway Street.

While Frazier was working the event, GV Wire spotted his girlfriend, Fresno Council President Esmeralda Soria, enjoying the festivities. Also listening to the numerous bands: State Center Community College District trustees Eric Payne and Miguel Arias.

Mayor Lee Brand literally kicked off the team’s opening ceremonies. With his aide holding his jacket, Brand kicked the opening ball to team owner Ray Breshoff.

Soria and councilman Garry Bredefeld also participated in the on-field formalities.

As for the game itself: Fresno FC fell to the Las Vegas Lights, 3-2, in the United Soccer League match.

Will the crowd and atmosphere be the same next week, when Fresno hosts LA Galaxy II in the second home match? Stay tuned.

Supervisor Pacheco Witnesses History

As the Foxes and Lights warmed up, another Valley athlete made history.

ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna interviews Avenal’s Jose Ramirez after his unanimous decision victory Saturday night.

Avenal boxer Jose Ramirez pounded out a unanimous decision over Amir Imam to win the World Boxing Council junior welterweight championship in the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Fresno County Supervisor Brian Pacheco ventured to New York City to watch the 140-pound title bout, which was televised live by ESPN.

Pacheco sent GV Wire these pictures:

Fresno County Supervisor Brian Pacheco (left) and legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach (photo: Brian Pacheco)

The post-fight scene after Jose Ramirez’s victory (photo: Brian Pacheco)

Prior to the bout, Ramirez wore a Fresno Grizzlies jersey. After the victory, Ramirez donned a Foxes top, and later the hat of one of his local sponsors, Deli Delicious.

Ramirez, who was born in Avenal and is a former Fresno State student, is the third world champion boxer from the Fresno area. He joined Young Corbett III, who won the world welterweight title in 1933, and Hector Lizarraga, who claimed the IBF world featherweight title in 1997.

Traffic Wish List

The intersection of Browning Avenue and Fresno Street is first in line for a new traffic signal. That is the latest report the Fresno City Council will receive Thursday (March 22).

Public Works lists 65 traffic signals and 17 left-turn signals, ranked in order of importance. According to the report, the signal budget is $1.75 million for the year. That’s the most funding since 2007, or before the recession.

The approximate total price for everything on the wish list: $34 million.

Bidding Oopsie

Fresno’s transportation department said it slipped up when putting a motor oil contract out for bid. Instead of asking for one year’s worth, the city requested three years’ worth. Needless to say, all the bids came in high. The department is asking the council to reject all bids for a do-over at this week’s meeting.

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