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A heated debate about a Chinatown cleanup contract led to yelling, arguments, and a need for a break to cool things down at Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting.

The council approved an agreement with Olympic Property Services in a no-bid contract by a 6-1 vote. But not before Councilman Garry Bredefeld leveled charges of corruption, among others, toward his council colleagues.

This is a corrupt process … I know you think it’s funny, Paul (Caprioglio). You’re part of this swamp. There’s nothing but a swamp going on here,” Bredefeld said.

Arias Didn’t Want to Wait Any Longer

Council President Miguel Arias said he was tired of waiting for piles of trash from illegal dumping to be cleaned up in the Chinatown area of his district. He brought forward a measure to hire a local company to move forward with the effort immediately.

“The city manager has had two years to clean up Chinatown, and thus far nothing’s been done,” Arias said. “The council approved the funding to clean up Chinatown in June, and yet nothing has been done,” Arias said.

Arias was concerned about the fire hazard that piled-up garbage and illegal dumping may cause. He also said homeless people have moved to Chinatown after a cleanup on nearby Santa Clara Street.

The contract with Olympic, operated by Jim Verros (who also serves as a political commentator with KSEE-24) was initially set to not exceed $250,000. Olympic would provide waste removal and pressure washing. Funding for the cleanup was approved during June’s budget hearings.

During the council debate, Arias amended the value of the agreement to $143,000.

Bredefeld called out the process for not going to a formal bidding process as corrupt. He said “corrupt” at least nine times during the debate.

Heated Discussion Leads to Break

When Councilman Paul Caprioglio called to end debate and move to a vote, Bredefeld unleashed his verbal diatribe.

“No, no, no. I’m going to speak,” Bredefeld said. “You gave me the mic, now you’ve let it go back. This is a corrupt process – you all ought to care.”

After describing the process as “a swamp,” Councilmember Mike Karbassi jumped in.

“That is totally inappropriate,” Karbassi said, talking over both Bredefeld and Arias. “And you’ve joined the swamp, Mr. Karbassi,” Bredefeld responded as the arguing continued.

“I’m sorry to the public, by the way,” said Karbassi. “This whole exchange is shameful.”

Bredefeld responded, “Yes it is shameful, Mr. Karbassi. You should be ashamed too.”

Caprioglio suggested Bredefeld should resign.

Arias then called for a five minute break.

City Says They Can Provide Service For Less

The city said they can provide the cleanup for $78,358 in the first year, and $65,490 in the second year.

“This is a service that we are able to provide internally at a much cheaper cost,” City manager Wilma Quan said.

Bredefeld railed on how Olympic’s estimates dropped in half over the last few days.

“This is a good example of why we would do a competitive process,” assistant city manager Jim Schaad responded.

Bredefeld ran with the potential savings in his remarks.

“This is a corrupt process. The taxpayers are being ripped off. This isn’t about Chinatown. This is about a corrupt process,” Bredefeld said. “This is about giving lucrative and overpriced contracts to friends. Anybody supporting this is engaging and supporting this kind of corruption.”

Arias rebutted that the city’s proposal would only be two hours a week of pressure washing. A formal bidding process would take months, which Quan briefly objected to.

Karbassi didn’t accept that line of reasoning.

“This whole either/or thing, the comment if you if support this, you’re engaging in corruption. You know, people aren’t stupid. They’re not going to fall for that. It’s that kind of politics hurting this country,” Karbassi said.

Karbassi supported Arias’ view that Chinatown needs help right away, and that city staff is already swamped with COVID and other cleanup projects.

At a news conference after the vote, Bredefeld echoed many of the points he made from the dais, calling the Chinatown contract corrupt.

Public Not Impressed

After the five-minute break, two members of the public called out the council for their behavior.

Lisa Flores, a frequent council participant, said she was embarrassed. D’Aungillique Jackson, president of the Fresno State NAACP chapter, told the council to “be better.”

9 Responses

  1. Bill

    Karbassi and Caprioglio are both shameful . They can’t crank out bids and lame ordinances fast enough. Caprioglio has low interest he is due to term out of office in 10 weeks, he mentally resigned months ago along with Lee Brand the do nothing spineless salamander. The last ribbon cutting Caprioglio did was at the end of September the $ 35 million garage construction at Fresno Air Terminal awarded to a contractor in Richmond, CA.
    Karbassi is merely the shameful lap dog of his sugar daddy Granville Developer Assemi. Assemi the same person financing GV Wire. Mike Karbassi is shameful he has no allegiance to the businesses in his district that are not only struggling with the anti-business climate of the city council but have had increase in crime and shameful homeless encampments along West Shaw Avenue. Karbassi has no loyalty to his constituents or co council members he will throw any of them under the bus watch for him trying to push through Assemi low income building contract bids. He is up for re-election in 24 short months, as is Arias . Its going to be a brutal election for both having lost support of their constituents.
    Neither Arias nor Karbassi have a future in politics. Technically Arias should have been vetted better as he was not a resident of District 3, he merely took a lease out on an apartment downtown to satisfy election requirements. No one looked into the scandal and FBI investigations he was fleeing from Fresno Unified School District.

    Reply
  2. Sharon Foster

    Unbelievable. Corrupt Arias pushing through no bid contracts?I knew this kind of corruption worked when he was Hansen’s boy (the Fixer) at Fresno Unified, so I shouldn’t be surprised to see he hasn’t changed. How did he ever get elected to the City Council? Oh yeah, this Keeper of FUSD Secrets Guy, had financial backing from Hansen’s Corrupt Cronies, Hansen’s School Board, and those in the business community who might benefit from Arias’ corrupt dealings. No bid contracts help keep our politicians honest. These corrupt politicians will continue to do as they please until they are voted out of office.

    Reply
    • Bill

      Sharon;

      “He” got elected because voters were not awake paying attention and also the process for running as a qualified candidate lacks controls, and vetting.
      Now his district is paying attention and for the wrong reasons.

      “He” is up for re-election in 24 months which means he will start hitting the campaigning hard within 12-14 months. It won’t be easily sailing this time.

      Reply
  3. Dushan Spadier

    The City Public Works department has a program for non-formal bids to award these type of contracts. I believe the limit for a non-formal contract is approximately $50,000. Anything over that needs to go out to bid. Why is this even an argument? This is corruption at it’s finest!

    Reply
  4. Mark

    If you wish to view how the “swamp” works in Fresno County check out the “no-bid” contracts issued to RH Community Builders by The Fresno County Behavioral Health Department… (RH Community Builders has “partnered” with Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health to provide full-service property management services to 75 “master” leased units across the Fresno area.)
    The owners of RH Community Builders work on the Planning Commission and Land Use Commission.
    Additionally, this same “no-bid” contractor RH Community Builders just received a $13.5 million dollar Home Key Grant to purchase the Sumggelers Inn for temporary homeless housing, without community support. Remember the word “Grant”, as it does not have to be paid back, and has little oversight.

    Business as usual in Fresno.

    Reply
    • Bill

      Mark I remember this being debated around and hearing the pros and cons. Unfortunately it was the County of Fresno that applied for the grant and from the zoom meetings RH Community Builders had a great presentation.
      Now I grant you that many presentations can look much better on paper than they actually are. There was also a fair amount of people speaking for it including homeless advocates, the only people speaking against it was the local business coalition on Blackstone and their District councilman Nelson Esparza . I must admit me and the wife were confused why Esparza was so against the facility when we have been at several of his events and read his comments that we need more homeless housing ASAP.

      Reply
      • Mark

        Bill,
        Only county’s, cities or non-profits could apply for the Home Key Grants, in partnership with “private” partners.
        The problem is that the “partner” is always RH Community Builders, and as was asked in the community forum, why are other “developers” not bidding on these projects?
        It is hard to “bid” when everything is known by insiders like RH Community Builders and their links to the “Behavioral Health Department, planning commision, land use ect…) and these grants are not known publicly until after the award decisions or partnerships are established.
        Lastly, as “private” developers, RH Community Builders is responsible for notifying the surrounding community of their intentions, and not blaming it on Fresno County. Additionally this project is located in The City of Fresno and should require a “change of use” process, which requires CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) oversight and possibly an EIR (Environmental Impact Report). All of the governing rules of sound developmental process are being ignored and sidestepped to force this project on an unwelcoming neighborhood. recovering business district, and unprepared schools.

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