A well-known Fresno conservative was about to join a committee that would advise the city council on immigrant issues.

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David Taub

Politics 101

Also in Politics 101:

  • Immigrant committee searching for its purpose.
  • City protection for immigrants proposed.
  • Police commission’s deadline unlikely to change.
  • City budget tidbits.

Michael Der Manouel Jr. — an insurance broker by day — sat in on the city’s Immigrant Affairs Committee meeting last night as an appointee of councilman Garry Bredefeld, who represents northeast Fresno.

Less than 15 hours later, Der Manouel changed his mind.

“I contacted @GarryBredefeld this morning to withdraw my appointment to #Fresno Immigrant Affairs Committee. After attending Zoom meeting, thought everyone very well intentioned, but given plethora of immigrant rights groups in our area, I don’t believe this committee necessary,” Der Manouel wrote on his Twitter feed.

Bredefeld nominated Der Manouel to replace another conservative voice, Elizabeth Heng, who left the committee. No reason was given for Heng’s departure.

“(Der Manouel) expressed since many organizations already exist in Fresno advocating for immigrants, doesn’t feel (immigration committee) necessary at this time. Appreciate his input. Will make new appointment,” Bredefeld wrote on Twitter.

The new pick doesn’t necessarily have to live in District 6 where Bredefeld serves.

There is also a second vacancy which would be selected by District 2 councilman Mike Karbassi to replace Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League.

Committee Searching for Its Purpose

“I guess we still don’t know why we’re here.” —  Member Guillermo Moreno

The Immigrant Affairs Committee, which met for the first time in five months because of the coronavirus pandemic, is trying to find its purpose.

The committee did not vote on any recommendations for the council but did form a subcommittee to articulate the 15-member committee’s vision.

Conservative radio talk show host Guillermo Moreno — Bredefeld’s other pick — questioned the committee’s purpose.

I guess we still don’t know why we’re here,” Moreno said.

The committee asked Fresno Unified school board member Veva Islas her thoughts on goals. Although not a committee member, Islas made a guest presentation on how the immigrant community is dealing with COVID-19.

She talked about immigrant contributions to the agriculture economy.

“It seems fair to me that as a result of that abundance and wealth that is created due to their labor, that we should have an equal investment back into them, into their well being and their health,” Islas said. “So I hope that conversations like that are being explored. We do need to break cycles of poverty.”

Things got slightly heated when Moreno expressed frustration with not receiving statistics on the number of immigrants in Fresno. Other members told him to Google it.

“Why do we have to spend time on this? If you don’t want to be a part of this committee thing, drop out,” member America Hernandez said.

Eventually, a staffer for councilman Luis Chavez — who is tasked with organizing the committee — told Moreno the information he was seeking for would be provided.

Legal Help for Immigrants?

During the approximately 90-minute meeting, Hernandez proposed funding a “Department of Accountability” to look into violations of employment and housing laws.

I think that we need to have as a simple place where people can go report any violations or discrimination,” Hernandez said.

Before a full discussion could take place, chairman Sam Molina tabled it because of the state’s open meeting laws. Items must be placed on the agenda before action is taken.

The committee is scheduled to meet again on Aug. 12.

Police Commission Deadline Unlikely to Change

Several members of the Fresno Commission on Police Reform publicly expressed a desire for more time to complete the group’s work. The committee has until Aug. 31 to make recommendations to the Fresno City Council.

Politics 101 is hearing that an extension beyond the original 90-day mandate is unlikely to be granted.

According to the commission’s bylaws, members are supposed to file a financial conflict of interest form. As of today, the city clerk has not published the required Form 700s, other than for those members who have already filed because they serve on other committees.

Budget Tidbits

During last month’s budget hearing process, council members asked city staff a variety of questions about how departments are run. Here are some selected interesting tidbits:

— Last year, the city collected 1,074 tons of trash from homeless encampments. For 2020, through mid-June, it was 253 tons.

— The city’s police department no longer watches surveillance video in real time. The part-time employees who used to monitor the videos were let go in 2019. Thus, the Real Time Crime Center has not been in operation this year. Video is still being stored and can be viewed later by detectives, council members were told.

— The largest deferred maintenance parks project on the city’s critical improvements list is Lions Skate Park — on Marks Avenue south of Shaw Avenue — at $7 million. That includes the repair and lifecycle replacement of its facilities.

— The FresGO 311 call center has doubled its calls from last year already. In 2019, the center received 70,000 calls; as of mid-June, that number increased to 139,000.

4 Responses

  1. Bill Thacker

    During the approximately 90-minute meeting, Hernandez proposed funding a “Department of Accountability” to look into violations of employment and housing laws.

    “I think that we need to have as a simple place where people can go report any violations or discrimination,” Hernandez said.

    Is America Hernandez uninformed about the EEOC and Department of Fair housing? I think asking for the definition of what the group is about is not out of line, this is just more of what is already offered with state and federal overseeing. Furthermore, this is making government too big. The City of Fresno is forgetting their purpose and that is to oversee the BUSINESS of the city, our developments, budget (which has a $40 million deficit) millions are being pumped into SE and SW Fresno for development hopefully the district council representatives will understand how to bring people together instead of attacking other groups that ask simple questions “what are you doing and what is your purpose” to say leave is an unprofessional harsh remark. Have we lost the right to answer questions?

    City of Fresno should stick with running business and the city councilmen should concentrate on having representatives in each district that know how to access those resources for immigrants, why double up on resources when those are already in place? Ultimately you would have to file with EEOC or fair housing.

    Furthermore, isn’t America Hernandez a DACA status? Shouldn’t we be concentrating on helping immigrants and undocumented people to become American citizens so they are not living in the shadows but rather living as “stakeholders” in a country they are actually a legal citizen of. After all don’t we want everyone to be good stewards of tax money and have buy in by being good taxpayers, pay taxes on wages, purchases and property taxes.

    Most of the new immigrants I know dream of being an American citizen and the day the green card gains approval. Just another committee for a committee that is a waste of time. Follow immigration laws and there should be no issues, we have immigration laws for a reason and they apply to everyone. DACA dreamers must think that only their dreams matter and the dreams of my children are unimportant. This lack of disrespect and civility toward Fresnans is uncalled for and counterproductive.

    Mr. Der Manouel is from a long line of immigrants to Fresno, he above all understands the struggles and persecution. Mr. Moreno was merely asking important questions what is the groups purpose and vision? The answer Ms. Hernandez gave was no answer but an attack and obviously uninformed where labor and housing complaints ultimately go.

    Employers have to provide I9 form to show proof of citizenship unless it’s a work visa like H1B Visa, or seasonal workers, they are bound by the employment laws. Housing is the same while they cannot deny someone housing based on race, ethnicity, religion ….they can turn down a rental application if the person has no income or source of money for housing. That is why landlords have renter applications, they don’t care about your immigration status they care whether you can pay the rent or not.

    I think Ms. Hernandez needs to get a grip and stop being ethnocentric, there is hundreds of immigrants from over 40 countries that are proud to get their citizenship papers at the Fresno Convention center every 6 weeks- some of their stories of struggling to get to that point and wave the flag make me proud to be an American to hear about their challenges, successes and victories. These countries represent: Ukraine, Phillipines, Honduras, Mexico, India, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Cambodia and more .

  2. john roybal


    • Bill Thacker

      Why cross over the duties of USCIS? That is not the city of Fresno’ s job nor their jurisdiction. We have a city to run and oversee services for health and safety ( fire, police, building permits, business licenses garbage and water services, street and park maintenance etc), lets not create more issues and overstep the federal and state agencies in place for fair housing & employment. Tons of non profits for immigrant support, free legal aid, free health care etc.
      By all means the city and county should have those phone numbers and websites to refer to.. My wife’s friend just had a horrible job abuse happen at her company. She filed online at EEOC, they made an appointment to interview her and within 3 weeks have a grievance filed with this employer and a mediation hearing coming up asking for back pay a nd bonuses to be paid.
      Its not the City of Fresnos place to get involved, and cross over into another jurisdiction . We pay property taxes and business tax to manage and operate city services.
      America Hernandez sounds like she wants to create a fight and is rather combative. I noticed a few people on this committee are immigration attorneys what does America want taxpayers money to pay the legal fees for immigrants? Seriously the vision and goals of this group are confusing and lack merit. I think she is confused and frustrated
      The last time I helped someone with their immigration paperwork I called .my congress members office they had a immigration point oerson expedite the issue at USCIS and got a hearing date for this person who had been qued in for 2 years.
      The CIty halls across America don’t get involved with immigrant issues nor do they have any experience or training .
      America Hernandez should understand what capabilities CIty Governments have . Taking up city resources and time is circular logic like running on a hamster wheel to nowhere.
      To John Roybol above its improper to post IN CAPS that indicates you are yelling.

    • Bill Thacker

      John your argument is moot, we all know the benefits of educated hard working immigrants to the United States . Its what makes Fresno a great town over 120 languages are spoken in Fresno. But no immigrant groups have had such bizarre so called committees they all know where to go for employment or housing grievances and believe me its not city hall.
      If you contend that Ms. Hernandez is merely trying to start another immigrant advocacy group why don’t you create it by establish another non-profit. Your argument is lame and doesn’t answer the question ” What is t h e goals and vision of your group?” telling someone to ” leave” or commenting in CAPS with a statement how important immigrants are is not answering the question.
      City of Fresno again has no jurisdiction in fair employment or housing . Get off the hamster wheel and get on the road strait to the proper authoritive agencies. City Hall is $40 million in the rears .


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