Sometimes, Fresno councilmen Miguel Arias and Garry Bredefeld can’t help trolling each other live on the dais or on Twitter.
Whether it is battles over policy or personal potshots, the Miguel and Garry Show has been one of more entertaining parts of the council’s legislative year.
This week, the two went at each other twice during budget hearings.
You can watch an edited video of the interaction above.
On Monday, while asking airport director Kevin Meikle about advertising and marketing, Arias mentioned the trip to Washington, D.C., he and colleague Esmeralda Soria took last week.
“Yes, yes, we were (in Washington), according to Twitter and Facebook, and Garry’s, you know, complaints,” Arias said with a smirk.
Arias said he wanted more promotion of Fresno and the region at Fresno Yosemite International. He also wanted more for publicity for the zoo and for events like Grizzly Fest.
Additionally, with flights to and from Guadalajara now available at FYI, Arias wanted more celebration of Latino culture.
Meikle said more is coming, including a mural, updated display cases and a video board.
Bredefeld Reprises Criticism of AOC
A few minutes later, Bredefeld responded.
“Since you like to go back there and apologize unnecessarily for Grizzlies events, you might want to go back there for things we need for airports,” Bredefeld said, a reference to his colleagues’ meeting at the U.S. Capitol with New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Arias and Soria apologized to Ocasio-Cortez in person for a Memorial Day video the Fresno Grizzlies display on the Chukchansi Park scoreboard that linked Ocasio-Cortez to world dictators. The team has apologized on numerous occasions, saying the video wasn’t properly vetted after being lifted from a third-party YouTube account.
Arias said jokingly that he would invite Bredefeld along with him next time.
“I will not go on taxpayer money. That was a waste of money,” Bredefeld said.
Bredefeld momentarily walked away from the dais as council president Paul Caprioglio tried to get the meeting back on track.
The words at the meeting then spilled online.
Debating Immigrant Affairs Funding
The next day, the two battled over Arias’ idea to fund $500,000 for the recently created immigrant affairs committee.
Arias wants enough money to fund any recommendations the committee may make.
“Would part of that be what you are envisioning a defense fund for people here illegally?” Bredefeld asked.
A similar proposal for a defense fund for illegal immigrants went nowhere with the council last year.
“I’m not envisioning anything in particular,” Arias responded. “That’s the task of the committee.”
Despite the sniping in person and online, the two have been known to laugh, joke and occasionally shake hands away from the dais.
In fact, both men agreed on a budget motion to strip city spending for state and federal lobbyists.
Security at City Hall
Could metal detectors be coming to City Hall? Arias may have let that news slip during Monday’s city budget hearings.
While discussing how to release public records from a technological perspective with IT director Bryon Horn, Arias noted that people still may have to pick up records in person.
“We are also considering making people come through metal detectors, which is going to lengthen the line to get into the building. I would rather not get hassled by the media, the press or the general public when they are asking for something that can be easily downloaded off the webpage,” Arias said.
A City Hall spokesman said Arias spoke prematurely and that any new security measures would not be implemented until later this year.
The council met in closed session Monday to discuss security measures but did not take any action.
Arambula OK With Deal on Health Care for Illegal Immigrants
Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) is OK with a state budget deal that would provide Medi-Cal for illegal immigrants 25 and younger.
Arambula authored AB 4, which does not have an age restriction. His bill was approved by the Assembly in May and is now in a Senate committee.
“The budget announcement about Medi-Cal coverage for undocumented young adults complements Assembly Bill 4’s pursuit of health care for all Californians, regardless of immigration status,” he office said in a statement. It added that Arambula “has repeatedly stated he believes health care is a human right, and that making health care accessible to all people in California will lead to more affordable coverage and an improved quality of life. He believes the budget announcement is an important step toward that goal.”
PRA for PRA?
During Fresno budget hearings Tuesday, city attorney Douglas Sloan said that in the last fiscal year, his office handled 1,800 public records act requests. He expects that total to increase with new laws creating more access to police bodycam records.
“We’re getting killed for requests for documents,” Sloan told the council.
A PRA, as we call it in the newsroom, is a request to view city documents. By law, the city has to share them under most circumstances. Anybody can make the request, not just journalists. And it can be for any reason or no reason at all.
Sloan told the council that handling PRA requests is a high priority for his office. Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria agreed, proposing a motion to fund paralegals to handle such requests.
Of course, we here at Politics 101 have filed our fair share of these requests. So, to Mr. Sloan, thanks for fulfilling them.