While the city of Fresno celebrated its relationship with Armenia by raising the country’s flag at a City Hall ceremony Wednesday, not everyone is happy.

Photo of GV Wire's David Taub

David Taub

Politics 101

The government of Azerbaijan is criticizing the Fresno City Council for considering a resolution supporting Armenia and condemning recent attacks over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, also known as Artsakh.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other world leaders have called for a cease fire.

“Has Fresno City Council solved all of Fresno’s problems to have time now to engage in foreign policy? I am sure they would have a hard time even finding Azerbaijan on the map let alone fully understand the nuances of the conflict,” Los Angeles-based Azerbaijan Consul General Nasimi Aghayev said in a written response to Politics 101.

While many have framed the recent skirmish in Artsakh as Azerbaijani aggression backed by Turkey, Aghayev has a different view.

“Here are some facts: Fresno City Council’s beloved Armenia has murdered Azerbaijani children, women and elderly, 30 of them, just within the last two weeks of aggression and wounded 150 civilians, destroying Azerbaijani cities and towns with missiles, including cluster bombs, and artillery fires. Their beloved Armenia has invaded, occupied and ethnically cleansed 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory, expelling 800,000 Azerbaijanis from their homes and lands, who remain displaced due to the ongoing occupation. This occupation was condemned by US, UN and all international community,” Aghayve said.

(Google Maps)

Also in Politics 101: 

  • Arias responds to Armenian bias charges.
  • Fresno city budget hearings resume on Monday.
  • $1.6 billion budget details.
  • Virtual ribbon cutting for Fresno police substation
  • Fresno County recruiting COO

Azerbaijan Says Fresno Leaders are Biased

“Has Fresno City Council solved all of Fresno’s problems to have time now to engage in foreign policy? I am sure they would have a hard time even finding Azerbaijan on the map.” — Azerbaijan Consul General Nasimi Aghayev

Aghayev has his theories why Fresno is pro-Armenia.

“Would Fresno City Councilmembers care about all these,” he wrote, “about the ongoing plight of 800,000 Azerbaijani civilians, their basic human rights, international law? Apparently, NO Because it’s the Armenian lobby in Fresno who make large campaign contributions to Fresno politicians, not Azerbaijanis. So the politicians can afford to turn a blind eye to the suffering of Azerbaijani people. Shame!”

Aghayev offered no evidence to support his claim that the resolution, sponsored by council president Miguel Arias, was influenced by campaign donations.

“Leaders that are charged with military weapons are responsible for not killing innocent civilians,” Arias said in response to the charge. “Those who choose to ignore their responsibility and distract from their role in killing the innocent can eat my shorts.”

Revised Fresno Budget Sees 6.9% Increase

In addition to the Armenian resolution, the council will resume budget hearings on Monday. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Lee Brand requested the council extend last year’s budget through the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2021. The council agreed.

Brand publicly released budget numbers this week. Because of more than $90 million in federal CARES Act funds, the city’s spending is $1.6 billion, a 6.9% increase — $103 million — over last year’s FY 2020 amended budget.

“The doom and gloom projections for this fiscal year of $11 million dollars in a deficit didn’t realize. We are actually going to be in the black, which means that we’ll have more money than we expected and that we don’t have to consider any layoffs or major cuts for this fiscal year, which puts us in a great position for next year,” Arias said.

Brand, through his communications office, declined to comment.

$1.6 Billion Budget Details

The revised budget document projects a 5% increase in property tax revenues per year for the next four years.

Sales tax revenues through the second quarter of this year held steady, thanks to consumer spending at major retail chains like Wal Mart, Target and Costco. The budget said the $600 unemployment weekly benefit supplement helped maintain consumer spending.

The budget projects a 4.5% drop in sales tax revenue for FY 2021, but will eventually rebound by the second half of the year, eventually growing 5% in 2025.

General fund spending is projected to be at $404 million, a $41 million increase from last year, mainly because of the CARES Act.

Public safety, as usual, will consume the majority of general fund spending. Police will account for 51.9% ($196 million) and fire at 19.4% ($73 million). That represents an increase of $11 million and $4.7 million respectively.

A Virtual PD Station Ribbon Cutting

Only in the pandemic era — a ribbon-cutting ceremony with no ribbon or sparkling new business in the background.

While community and elected leaders have kept up the tradition of either shoveling dirt or utilizing novelty golden scissors during COVID-19, the ribbon cutting for the new southeast police station was done virtually. The participants videoed in from their respective offices.

Area commander Anthony Martinez provided a video tour of the facilities located at 244 South Argyle Avenue. The new building provides plenty of space for briefings, offices and even a gym. It is three times the size of the office it replaces off of Cedar and Butler avenues. It just can’t be fully used yet because of COVID.

As for the literal ribbon cutting, a video played of officers slicing the traditional oversized ribbon in front of the building. Other participants in the smaller Zoom windows had their mini-ribbons and regularly sized scissors.

The new police station in southeast Fresno. (GV Wire/David Taub)

County Seeking New COO

Fresno County posted a social media video to recruit a new chief operating officer. The newly-created position would be second-in-command to County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau.

The video shows the five county supervisors pitching Fresno County as a great place to work. They even say the COO could be elevated to CAO. Rousseau is scheduled to retire next year.

5 Responses

  1. BILL

    Shouldn’t that city hall council members apologize for destroying independent businesses? Many are owned by Armenians, seems like a hypocritical gesture on the part of Lee Brand and the rest.
    Looks good for PR.

  2. Bill

    Wait a minute you have a new police station in the SE, very cool but this council president Arias is the one that has been mouthy about defunding the police and makes it very clear he doesn’t care for them or for Jerry Dyer.
    He must have been sitting there watching this puckering up especially with the huge rise in crime.

  3. Lusine Karabian

    Ah MIguel Arias all the sudden is a big defender of Armenians after OSHA and EPA are contacted about his neglect of his district and 2 fires in Historical Armenian Town in 1 year. Hey Miguel you can eat your own shorts , Armenians don’t need anything from you. We have been around a lot longer than you and will be around long after you are out of office, which I hear won’t be much longer.
    The pandering won’t work Armenians aren’t stupid to your tricks, we know you are only interested in government money for your special interest beneficiaries . Nothing that comes out of your mouth is the truth.
    You and Karbassi are both politicizing this, and it was evident neither of you knew what you were talking about., Although Karbassi THINKS he knows what he is talking about, he doesn’t . Chavez is the only one that didn’t politicize it .
    You both know re-election is coming up and that the businesses you destroyed in Fresno, many owned by Armenians are working hard to get you both unseated. No theatrics from the 2 of you will every change our opinion.
    Arias all we want from you is your resignation from City Hall, should you decide to run for 2022, its going to be messy.
    lets see how you do with Dyer as Mayor everyone knows you hate him.
    You don’t belong in City Hall your image doesn’t represent the good people of Fresno.
    and Karbassi? He is just pathetic.

  4. Anna Garrison

    If Erdoğan is supporting Azerbaijan then so should we! The Greatest President in the history of these United States supports him and that’s good enough for me. God Bless Donald Trump who is infallible.

  5. Matthew Jendian

    This reporting on the conflict between Azerbaijan and Artzahk is very narrow, ahistorical, and extremely one-sided.

    The author quotes Azerbaijan Consul General Nasimi Aghayev who proceeds to state “the facts” and includes no response from any person representing Armenia or Artzahk (at least 9 US states recognize Artzahk as sits own independent country). You even say the Azeri Consul General has “no evidence” to support his claim about Fresno’s resolution but you print his claim anyway. Is this responsible journalism?

    Do you know that all of the disputed land in question was once Armenia? “Artsakh (Karabakh) is an integral part of historic Armenia. During the Urartian era (9-6th cc. B.C.) Artsakh was known as Urtekhe-Urtekhini. As a part of Armenia Artsakh is mentioned in the works of Strabo, Pliny the Elder, Claudius Ptolemy, Plutarch, Dio Cassius, and other ancient authors.”

    Azerbaijan is a relative recent state in the region and “in 1921, Joseph Stalin formally transferred the Armenian-populated highlands of Karabakh to Soviet Azerbaijan to try to placate Turkey.” (This arrangement was formalized in 1923.)

    After the fall of the Soviet Union the people of Artzahk voted for independence and this was rejected by the newly independent Azerbaijan, leading to the Nagorno-Karabakh War from February 20, 1988 to May 12, 1994, resulting in a ceasefire in May 1994.

    It must also be pointed out that there were two pogroms against Armenians in the eastern part of Azerbaijan who were not part of the disputed region.

    The first pogrom occurred in Sumgait (beginning on February 27, 1988), during which mobs of ethnic Azerbaijanis attacked and killed Armenians on the streets and in their apartments and widespread looting lasted for three days.

    The second pogrom broke out against the Armenian civilian population in Baku on began on January 12, 1990 and lasted 7 days, during which Armenians were beaten, murdered, and expelled from the city.

    I expect more complete reporting from any respectable journalist.


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