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Will Council Override Brand Veto? Would be First in 12 Years.



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After five years of a mayor not executing a veto, Lee Brand in 2019 issued three. And, he may suffer his first veto override at Thursday’s council meeting.
If the council is successful, it would be the first veto override since 2007. The council reversed then-mayor Alan Autry’s plan to save his downtown riverwalk proposal. That same year, the council overrode a veto to protect workers’ compensation rights for public safety employees, and also restored funding for Storyland and Playland.

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David Taub
Politics 101
Last week, Brand vetoed the council’s decision to ban retroactive raises for employees on the way out of City Hall. That passed with a 6-0 vote.
The council needs five votes to override the mayor.
In his Aug. 5 veto message, Brand said the council’s action went too far.
“I do not believe this new amendment complies with the spirit of the City Charter and I do not believe this amendment has been thoroughly discussed with the city manager and other members of my administration to fully understand and address its long-term implications,” Brand wrote.
Support for the original bill is unlikely to change. The override measure is sponsored by Miguel Arias and Garry Bredefeld. Esmeralda Soria said she still supports the original bill as well. So does Nelson Esparza.
Luis Chavez offered a more nuanced tone, saying he is open to all options.
Brand issued two other vetoes this year that were sustained: a May veto on the allocation of office space — which was eventually worked out between the administration and council, and a July veto on the budget involving the “Advance Peace” initiative.

Costs of Soria and Arias’ D.C. Trip

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, center, poses with Fresno Councilmembers Esmeralda Soria, left, and Miguel Arias, along with Fresno Grizzlies merchandise they gave to the New York congresswoman, on Wednesday, June 5, 2019, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

In June, Fresno councilmembers Miguel Arias and Esmeralda Soria booked a last-minute trip to Washington, D.C. They said it was to lobby congressional leaders on issues important to the Valley such as water and immigration.
The trip became best known for a photo op with New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, replete with Fresno Grizzlies swag. That followed the Memorial Day mishap where the team inadvertently disparaged AOC via a video attempting to inspire patriotism.
The total charged to taxpayers for the D.C. jaunt: $2,616.71.
According to documents provided by the city in response to a Public Records Act request, Arias and Soria charged $882.16 each for the flight, purchased just a day before their two-day trip in early June.
The taxpayer cost for two rooms at the Washington Court Hotel: $413 apiece.
Perhaps others bought their meals for them. The only other expense was a charge from the hotel for $26.38, listed as “facility fees.”
So, the total charged to taxpayers for the D.C. jaunt: $2,616.71.

Downtown Project Needs More City Help

For five years, developer Noyan Frazier Capital planned a mixed-use building with retail on the first floor and housing above it in downtown Fresno. Known as the South Stadium Project, it is an empty lot at the western intersection of Fulton and Inyo streets, adjacent to Chukchansi Park.
Now, the developer is asking the city to fill a shortfall, to the tune of $659,298. The request goes to the Fresno City Council on Thursday.
Developer Mehmet Noyan says rising construction costs and flattening rental rates have created the shortfall.
“It goes back to getting an acceptable rate of return. We’re putting equity out of our own pockets into this project,” Noyan said. The project would also utilize funding from a number of state funds and tax credits.
Of the 54 housing units, 20% would set aside as affordable housing.
Technically, the council will act as the Housing Successor to the former Redevelopment Agency, the legal entity that disperses money from the former RDA (that Gov. Jerry Brown shut down in 2011).
This particular request for money will come from the RDA successor agency’s affordable housing funds, executive director Marlene Murphey said.
Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria said she will recuse herself from voting based on her relationship with the other namesake developer, Terance Frazier.
Noyan said the project remains on track to meet its timeline, with groundbreaking anticipated for spring 2020.

Redistricting Meeting

In California, citizens draw the political boundaries for the state Legislature and Congress.
The deadline to apply for the Citizens Redistricting Commission has been extended to Aug. 19.
Power California, an organization focused on engaging young voters of color, will hold a meeting about how to apply to join the commission.
The meeting is Wednesday (Aug. 15), 6 p.m., at the Bitwise Hive (2600 Ventura in downtown Fresno).

David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email