Councilman Garry Bredefeld used strong language Tuesday to convey his desire for all businesses to open now.

During his hour-long news conference outside the council chambers at Fresno City Hall, Bredefeld used terms like “draconian,” “heavy-handed,” and “authoritarian” to describe state and local government’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.

And he mocked Fresno’s mayor as “Dr. Brand” while describing Lee Brand’s handling of which stores are open and which stores are closed.

At times, the event seemed like a town hall meeting. Nearly two dozen business owners attended, including “Crazy Bernie” of TV furniture-selling fame.

“We as a community and society can no longer be silent,” Bredefeld said. “These politicians are not doctors. They’re not economists. Many are drunk with newfound power and they’ve imposed the heavy hand of government and an authoritarian rather than a commonsense approach to dealing with the serious health crisis.”

Nearly two dozen business owners and the media attend councilman Garry Bredefeld’s news conference. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Mayor’s Response

Brand’s office responded to GV Wire’s request for comment on Bredefeld’s news conference with this statement:

“The Mayor’s very precious time and attention are focused entirely on the collaborative process protecting the health and safety of our residents and planning for a phased process of economic recovery to get people back to work and businesses thriving. Anything else is a distraction he doesn’t have time for right now.”

No Local Lawsuit Yet

“These politicians are not doctors. They’re not economists. Many are drunk with newfound power and they’ve imposed the heavy hand of government and an authoritarian rather than a commonsense approach to dealing with the serious health crisis.”Councilman Garry Bredefeld

Bredefeld said he is in “negotiations” to file a lawsuit to overturn the city of Fresno’s shelter-in-place orders that categorized essential and non-essential businesses.

“I’m in conversations with lots of lawyers. The fight just begun. I will be involved. …  And, we’re gonna win eventually,” Bredefeld said.

In the meantime, he is hoping that a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles last week against the state and local governments in that region will provide relief.

“This lawsuit reflects hope. It reflects the opportunity to get civil liberties, freedoms and our constitutional rights back,” Bredefeld said, holding up the lawsuit filed by attorneys Harmeet Dhillon and Mark Geragos.

That suit challenges the constitutionality of state government defining what is and isn’t an essential business.

‘We Just Want to Go Back to Work’

“We’re doers. We’re workers. If we weren’t doers and workers, people of Fresno wouldn’t come to us. Hair is essential because it’s hygienic.”Anna Avenell of Glitz Beauty Studio

Crystal Childers runs her own licensed cosmetology business, Crystal Cosmo. She held a sign in the plaza in front of City Hall before attending Bredefeld’s news conference.

We just want to go back to work. Many of us haven’t even received any federal funding, not even the stimulus checks. We are all mothers that need to support our families and we just want to go back to work so that we can do that.”

Childers says she plans to reopen May 7, when the city’s shelter-in-place ordinance is scheduled to end.

Anna Avenell opened up her salon, Glitz Beauty Studio, on March 16. She had to close down two days later. She believes her business is essential.

We’re doers. We’re workers. If we weren’t doers and workers, people of Fresno wouldn’t come to us. Hair is essential because it’s hygienic,” Avenell said.

Other business owners spoke during Bredefeld’s news conference, talking about the hardships of being forced to close.

Used-Clothing Store Owner Is ‘Frustrated’

Amy Ratliff owns Fairy Godmother’s Closet, which sells “children’s gently used clothing, gear, and accessories.”

I’m flabbergasted,” she said. “What’s frustrating is all of the time and energy and love that we have put into our businesses and it’s literally being stripped. We can’t even sell the items from our store.”

Ratliff also said that the city told her she couldn’t sell items online.

“That is not OK for any of us. It’s taken our ability to make money for our families and it’s taken away our ability to survive with our employees,” Ratliff said.

GV Wire reached out to the city and awaits a response to Ratliff’s statement that she isn’t allowed to operate online.

Bredefeld Says Councilmembers Should Donate Salaries to Charity

Bredefeld called for his city council colleagues to donate their $80,000 salaries to charity, so they know what it’s like to go without a paycheck.

“Every one of these people that are supporting the unconstitutional mandates that are destroying people’s lives should donate their salaries until these policies they support are ended,” Bredefeld said.

Bredefeld exempted himself from donating his salary because “I want to open up businesses. … There’s a difference.”

Non-essential businesses have been shuttered by city and state orders since March 19. Bredefeld said they can open safely using social distancing guidelines.

Those businesses, Bredefeld said, “can do the very same thing that the big box stores are doing.”

6 Responses

  1. Dan

    Stores like Platos and Repeat Performance are selling items online because I’ve made several purchases. They have to ship them to the buyers because the city’s order does not allow in-store pickup.

  2. Gene Roza

    Bredefield is no different than Bully Mendes (BOS), Devin (cow) Nunes, who yell and scream attacking others with descriptive adverbs & adjectives instead of having a balanced dialogue to settle needed problems. Some refer to those types as little napoleons; just one step from wanta be dictators; self appointed leaders who only real goal is promoting what they visualize in their polished mirrors.

    • Brian

      “The Mayor’s very precious time and attention are focused entirely on the collaborative process”
      What collaborative process? The community businesses are revolting against his spitting in their face and having 50 Code Enforcement Officers hassle private local businesses for conducting business with same products & services that Corporate box retailers & food places have yet they are immune to the City Attorney’s secret gestapo police.
      Fresno is turning into an embarrassment bankrupting itself and harassing good American taxpayers while they allow 438 criminals roam our streets, allow street meth vagrancy to pollute our freeways, and side streets, 14 fatality car crashes caused by DUI and repeat criminals 3 of which killed other innocent people including a 17 year old high school valedictorian. Domestic & child abuse is up, violent crimes are up and suicide is up ….yet Brand is just to busy harassing law abiding tax payers to be bothered. He is a huge disappointment ruining the lives of many families and that own businesses and their employees who were furloughed. Some people will never recover they will have to close down.
      I suppose the Progressives will like that then everyone will live dependent on government checks and Darius Assemi will never have another buyer for his homes or apartment leases.
      Progessives have an agenda, and the likes of Miguel Arias are trying to accomplish this with obtaining grant money which will end up in developers pockets and a few non-profits but never to the people he made big promises to.
      Its becoming apparent why he took $250,000 of taxpayers money to build a private entrance into city hall. He has a hard job to do and that is dismantle Fresno into bankruptcy. Things are going to get interesting when Dyer takes office.
      Everyone knows that Arias hates Dyer and can’t stand to not be the Alpha Male. Arias has no solutions to Fresno, he has no connections to anyone that matters. Business leaders don’t listen to Arias. He laundered $20,000 out of his old campaign fund to use against Dyer for Mayor instead of giving it to the homeless he is always promising housing for.
      Fresno City Hall is $40 million in debt, yet instead of trimming the fat and laying off they added on more Code Enforcement Officers to hassle working class Taxpayers. No one will trust Fresno City Hall .

  3. Bernard Rieux

    I wish GV Wire would consider including a fuller range of perspectives in its reporting on this contentious issue, rather than all the quotes coming exclusively from the owner class. What do local labor unions think about reopening? What about frontline healthcare workers? Before the pandemic, FAX’s daily ridership was 42,000. What do bus drivers and people who require the bus to get to work think about reopening before adequate testing or contact tracing measures are in place?

    Bredefeld says (before handing the mic over to Crazy Bernie) that city leaders aren’t qualified to make these decisions because they’re not medical doctors or economists. Do medical doctors and economists agree with him that all businesses should reopen immediately?

    Also, doesn’t the state shutdown ordinance supersede the local ordinance anyway? What’s the point in Bredefeld suing his own city, other than to take a page from the Devin Nunes performative lawsuit fundraising playbook?

  4. Robert Oliver

    The City has done a rational job , with good explanations by Mayor Lee, of putting difficult sheltering in place rules- until now .

    There is no rationale explanation why on line ordering /curbside pickup “ of a recliner from a furniture store warrants a penalty, but purchasing, online, a high price sound system from Best Buy and picking up in front of their store with the bright blue canopy is OK .
    It is seemingly a small issue that turns public opinion and support – so needed now and days to come.

  5. Andyfab

    I believe this outbreak is giving people the opportunity to lash out at failures within our system. Small businesses who are having difficulty competing against large companies now have the opportunity to apply for loans under the guise of covid-19 and use the money to save their already failing businesses. School districts are using this as an opportunity to explain away academic failures because schools were closed early. Schools don’t talk about how they recoup the student’s time lost but rather how they’ll find a way to have graduation at a later date. Colleges don’t talk about how they’ll meet the needs of freshmen students who had an abridged high school education. I wonder how the state will be able to support its payments with a shortfall of state tax revenue. Covid-19 is now the last of our worries. We had an outbreak of measles in this state and we didn’t have to close down. We only had to use common sense and quarantine those who were afflicted. Think about it.


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