Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig stood toe to toe with Assembly member Joaquin Arambula Friday and didn’t mince words.

The topic was COVID-19 — including Arambula’s concerns over the county’s plans for spending pandemic funds and what he considers a lack of transparency.

“Go back to Sacramento,” Magsig said. “Empower us at the local level. We know how to handle the issues of Fresno County better than the governor.”

The exchange was caught on video and posted to Magsig’s Facebook page.

Arambula Requesting Emergency Meeting

The issue came to a head after Arambula hand delivered a letter Wednesday to supervisors requesting an emergency meeting about the county’s response to COVID-19.

“I have met with concerned leaders and community members, including essential workers who pick our crops, toil in our packing houses, and undertake other jobs needed to keep our economy going during this pandemic,” Arambula’s letter said.

The letter goes on to question the ways in which Fresno County is spending its share of federal CARES Act money.

“It would be helpful to understand how the balance of the $81.5 million in CARES funds are being allocated. Testing? Contact tracing? Safety equipment for essential workers? I am particularly worried about those who work high-risk indoor jobs and cannot physically distance themselves from their co-workers,” wrote Arambula.

Read Arambula’s Letter

Arambula Emergency Meeting Request (Text)

Magsig: Confrontation Could Have Been Avoided

Magsig told Arambula their tense hallway encounter could have been avoided.

“You could have called me to talk about this. I’ve been completely transparent,” says Magsig. “You’re making claims that we’re not transparent. I’m releasing all kinds of information.”

Magsig also expressed frustration with emergency orders Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued during the pandemic. He said Arambula and the Legislature should “take back power” from the governor for making laws in the state.

Arambula responds, “Sir, I am willing to do my job,” to which Magsig says, “Good! So do that!”

Portrait of Fresno Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula

— Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula

Arambula Charges ‘Lack of Urgency’ from Supervisors

In an email to GV Wire following the video exchange, Arambula said he gone been to the Fresno County Hall of Records to get a response to his letter.

“I am not the only one who is concerned about the lack of urgency coming from the supervisors about vigorously combating the COVID-19 pandemic in our county,” Arambula said.

He said he met with members of the board and County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau earlier Friday, but said the answers he received were insufficient.

“I felt they provided superficial information, and I am not satisfied with their responses,” Arambula said. “We are hearing from the community, and they are demanding an emergency public meeting that will allow real input from them so that we can all work together to determine the best measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”

Top County Administrator Defends Response

Rousseau took issue with Arambula’s characterization of the county’s COVID-19 response.

“I didn’t appreciate the tone of his letter that he wrote us,” Rousseau said late Friday during the county health department’s online media update.

Fresno County Chief Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau

“I’m protective and proud of the job our Department of Public Health has done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For him to use the term that there’s no sense of urgency on the county’s part is unfortunate, especially from an individual who has never attempted to, or asked for information,” Rousseau said.

“So to say that we’re not transparent, to me, was ridiculous.”

Rousseau said he disagreed with Arambula about the need for an emergency meeting. He said the information Arambula is seeking has been discussed at a recent board meeting.

“I immediately offered to, and I provided him the information that we received today on how we spent the CARES act dollars and how we plan on spending them going forward.,” Rousseau noted. “He said some of our categories are ‘squishy’ because we aren’t sure where these dollars will be spent on upcoming pandemic items.”

Added Rousseau: “I also took him to task — for again — if you want to help us and be a part of the solution, don’t throw stones and sticks before you’ve actually asked for information and asked to be a part of the process.”

9 Responses

  1. mgomez

    That’s what I’m talking about.

    “Showboat” Arambula tried to score points by confronting the Supervisors, and pandering to the “hardworking” people picking crops.

    Guess what, Joaquin? Workers in the fields and packinghouses are not the only ones that work hard. Lots of professionals and blue-collar people also work hard.

    Stop looking for votes and good public relations. Go back to Sacramento. Now.

    Kudos to our County Supervisors who stared this bully down and sent him “packing”.

    • William Clark

      EXACTLY!——He’s not a sliver of a man his father was as a legislator. We used to have “valleycrats” that put our valley above the SF and LA party bosses. Not anymore. Now we have a fraction of a man grandstanding!

  2. John

    It’s interesting how local businesses, especially restaurants, are being shut down or severly limited in their capacity to earn a living. Yet, all over Fresno county, we see street corner vendors selling fruit, tacos, cotton candy, etc., without any requirements for masks, social distancing, inspections, etc. What the hell? If they get a free pass – operating without a license in most cases, why should legitimate businesses, like restaurants and bars, comply with the edicts from the governor or the county?

  3. Kylee

    Glad our assemblyman is standing up for us at least!!! Fresno has AMPLE, AMPLE, EXPLAINING TO DO!

  4. Cynthia L Quintana

    The letter above is not agressive or threatening. It is professionally written and offering a hand to discuss the issues that Arambula’s constituents shared with him. The letter is offering assistance and is asking for a discussion in order to make things better. The video clip shows Magsig as unwilling to have a discussion. He doesn’t allow Arambula to talk so how is Arumbula “showboating” when he is not allowed to speak. Magsig should learn how to have a conversation because in this situation, he is the bully.

  5. Paul

    I applaud Arrambula’s stance for a fair and transperant oversight of tax payer dollars. Masig’s feeble outburst are totally reactionary and biased. The good ole boy network within the Supervisors table is pathetic and clearly show their colors when it comes to equitable considerations for all Fresno county citizens. I will be paying closer attention to your voting on future issues.

  6. Reuben

    I find it highly hypocritical that our supervisor is so critical by accusing our assemblyman of politicizing the issue when as noted in the video he’s not wearing his mandated mask. The mask is mandatory for a good reason. To avoid the spread. It seems that he, like many of his republican voters, refuse to wear a mask only because they disagree and not even considering the possible effect on others.

  7. Barry Fisher

    To say that Sacramento is operating in Fresno County’s, or the state’s, best interest is laughable. They are rubber-stamping anything Gov. Newsom wants to enact, without even the pretense of putting up a fight about yielding their lawmaking mandate. Talk about a lack of backbone. Arambula typifies this attitude that we get from the state government. Newsom is an autocrat with national aspirations, and lawmakers like Arambula are happy to hitch their wagon to his liberal agenda.

  8. William

    Arambula has another agenda and should be forthcoming about just who these so-called community leaders are tgat are concerned about farm workers aka illegals. Is this what we are really talking about? Never fear Arambulas poorly written bill on California taxpayers extending benefits to non-citizens was approved by Newsom in January 2020 just in time for Covid-19 instead of costing California taxpayers $19 b for their healthcare, with suspect diagnostic/billing codes not requiring a test the bill will double that. MediCAL loves doctors like Arambula. Arambula should be forthright exactly who these community leaders are that are concerned. No his BFF Arias doesn’t qualify as a “community leader”


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