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Brand Still Can Be a Political Kingmaker



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What does Mayor Lee Brand plan to do with his $450,000 political war chest?

Brand amassed most of that amount in 2018, taking contributions from the who’s who of Fresno business and politics — public safety unions, developers, and attorneys.

GV Wire Reporter David Taub

David Taub

Politics 101

Since his announcement Monday (May 20) that he is not seeking reelection, Brand could play a kingmaker.

Some options for Brand include contributing to other candidates, for either mayor or council. He has already endorsed Nathan Alonzo for the District 4 election in March 2020. For now, he says he is neutral in the August District 2 special election and the mayor’s race for his successor.

The mayor could donate to a successor tax proposal to Measure P. Brand opposed the half-cent sales tax plan for parks last year, and voters failed to give it the two-thirds it needed to pass last November.

Brand says he doesn’t have specific plans yet of what to do with his contributions other than he prefers to donate to nonprofit efforts.

What would Brand tell his donors who gave for his re-election campaign?

He believes they want him to complete his mission.

Among his remaining goals: develop 5,000 more jobs to reach his 10,000 target; complete Business Friendly Fresno; implement his anti-human trafficking program; roll out the Streets to Home homeless initiative, and maintain a healthy city budget reserve.

“All those things (donors) support me for, I’ll continue to do in my remaining time,” Brand said. “A far as I’m concerned, it’s pedal to the metal until my last day in office,” Brand said.

Smittcamp Not Second-Guessing Decision

Lisa Smittcamp is sticking by her decision to prosecute Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula for child abuse.

A jury returned a not guilty verdict on May 16.

“I think most people I’ve talked to that have been upset don’t really know all the facts. People are upset by the portions of the story that they hear,” Smittcamp said. “Maybe, they don’t exactly understand how the system works. My job is not to be popular. My job is not to be anyone’s friend.”

She said her office told the story of a 7-year old girl who was allegedly hurt by her father, Arambula. However, the girl’s testimony on the stand didn’t match up to what she told investigators prior, namely that her dad slapped her.

“Seven-year olds are not the best historians. And sometimes, they tell stories in a way that doesn’t makes a jury feel that case can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The issue was to tell her truth,” Smittcamp said.

Smittcamp believes something happened, in spite of the not guilty verdict.

“It doesn’t mean she wasn’t injured. It doesn’t mean that something didn’t happen. In fact, if Dr. Arambula did not cause that injury, everything worked out for the best,” Smittcamp continued.

She added that it constitutional for the accused to face his accuser in court.

Would more evidence have helped the prosecution?

“If she had had medical attention, and we have the opportunity to have some doctors evaluate, maybe that would shed more light on that. You don’t get to write your own story when you’re a prosecutor. You get to take the evidence as it presents itself,” she said.

She has a message for Arambula and his family.

“Maybe the Arambulas will use it as a learning opportunity to maybe assess how they do things in their family. Or maybe not. If they are wonderful parents like they purport to be, then no one will really have anything to worry about … and the child will be safe,” Smittcamp said.

Council Residency Act

When Brand authored the council residency act back in 2010 when he was on council, it was an effort to ensure that candidates live where they say they do.

The resolution requires candidates to prove their home address through mortgage statements, driver’s licenses, and utility bills.

However, there is not a corresponding city law that applies to mayoral hopefuls.

Politics 101 hears that may change at an upcoming council meeting.  Soon, mayoral candidates will have to provide the same paperwork as council hopefuls do.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email