Fresno City Council hopeful Mike Karbassi wants District 2 to know he is the law and order candidate.
At a fundraiser Tuesday night at the Sierra Sport and Racquet Club, having police chief Jerry Dyer and district attorney Lisa Smittcamp in attendance was a good start.
Dyer himself is running for mayor. But, on this occasion, he showed support for Karbassi. So did former mayor Alan Autry.
Karbassi said he wouldn’t support the proposed city budget because it does not include funding for new officers.
“That is a non-starter for me, and it should be a non-starter for any councilman,” Karbassi said.
He pledged to vote against any budget that doesn’t include additional officers until a staffing level of 1,000 is reached.
Karbassi’s vow earned applause from some of the 50 or so in the room.
Of a possible successor to Measure P — the proposed 3/8ths of a cent sales tax for Fresno parks that failed last November — Karbassi said he could support a new measure. However, he wants it to fund both parks and public safety and be no bigger than a quarter cent with a sunset of 15 years.
The former occupant of the seat, Steve Brandau, attended. This is the second candidate’s fundraiser he’s attended, the other being Lawrence Garcia a few weeks ago.
However, Brandau says he’s not ready to make an endorsement.
Karbassi and Garcia are just two of the five active challengers in the Aug. 13 special election for the northwest Fresno seat. The others include Jared Gordon, George Herman, and Oscar Sandoval. While Phil Arballo’s name will be on the ballot, he says he’s dropped his campaign.
City Budget Update
The city council continues its budget hearings Thursday.
On Monday, members heard presentations from the parks department.
Many residents advocated for a senior center. The council pledged $1 million for that.
Meanwhile, councilman Miguel Arias blasted the parks operations.
“Our parks in disarray. The restrooms are awful. It doesn’t seem to me that we have a viable plan to make any improvements,” he said from the dais.
Councilman Luis Chavez motioned to add $1 million to the parks department budget.
After the Monday lunch break, the council heard from police and fire. Council president Paul Caprioglio wasn’t there. Instead, he attended the televised town hall for presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg at Fresno State.
Chief Jerry Dyer told the council he has 835 sworn officers, but would like 80 more. He hopes to utilize more bike patrols for downtown, the Tower, and along the river in north Fresno.
Dyer also wants 16 more police dispatchers.
Thursday’s budget hearings will cover the convention center, finance, public works, planning, and public utilities.
State Center Approves Private Book Store Deal
State Center Community College District trustees have approved a deal to allow the privatization of its bookstores.
By a 5-2 vote, Follett Higher Education Group will take over operations of the stores at Fresno City College and other district campuses.
Last month, the board split 3-3 on whether to approve the contract and subsequently lay off bookstore employees.
At Tuesday’s meeting, trustee Richard Caglia, who was not present for the May meeting, voted yes. Trustee Eric Payne also changed his vote in favor of the deal.
School district representatives said in May that displaced workers would be offered the first right of employment at the Follett-controlled stores. The new group takes over July 1.
The deal calls for Follett to pay $900,000 plus commission on sales. Additionally, it would invest $470,000 in capital improvements.
Follett also runs the bookstores at Fresno State and Fresno Pacific University.
Court Says Ashjian is the Real Watchdog
Former Fresno Unified trustee Brooke Ashjian prevailed in defending a lawsuit against him over the name “Fresno Watchdogs for Ethical Bidding.”
Attorney Ken Mackie filed suit on behalf of a group claiming the name against Ashjian, who also set up a group with the same name.
Judge Kimberly Gaab ruled that the plaintiff could not prove any actual damages and was not entitled to punitive damages. She made a summary judgment (a ruling before trial) in favor of Ashjian’s group Tuesday.
Mackie has been a constant critic of Ashjian. However, who exactly the Merced-based attorney represents remains a mystery. Ashjian said that particular information didn’t come out during depositions.
This case also dealt with constitutional right to confront your accusers. The plaintiffs lawyer, however, never revealed the identities of his secret clients. I’m glad @BrookeAshjian didn’t cave in to secret society controlling Fresno. https://t.co/SOquKal8pl
— pablo lopez (@USCX1954) June 5, 2019
The Fair Political Practices Commission still has an open investigation into Ashjian, stemming from his four years he served as a Fresno Unified school board trustee (from 2014-2018). Mackie filed the initial complaint with FPPC.
Ashjian said no one from FPPC has spoken to him.
Fresno congressman TJ Cox (D-Fresno) does not plan to sign a discharge petition asking for the House of Representatives to take up a motion prohibiting companies doing business with the U.S. government from boycotting Israel.
Known as the anti-BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement, the discharge petition would bypass the normal methods it takes to get a vote on the House floor. Thus far, Democrats have blocked the bill from being heard despite its passage in the Senate.
The Valley’s Republican delegation — Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), Tom McClintock (R-Roseville) and minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) — signed on.
Through June 4, 196 congressman have signed on, all Republicans. It needs a majority of the House, or 218 signatures.
“The Congressman is a strong supporter of a two-state solution,” Cox’s spokeswoman Fabiola Rodriguez told GV Wire.
Cox cosponsored a Democratic resolution (H.Res. 246), which Rodriguez said, “opposes efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the BDS movement” and H.Res. 326 which “reasserts the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution. The Congressman believes that the discharge petition would further a one-state agenda, at a time when the U.S. must reassert its commitment to a two-state solution.”
(An earlier version of this story said Cox supported HR 246 and 326. It is actually H.Res. 246 and 326.)