Old Arguments Echo in Latest Fresno Road Repair Debate
Old arguments reemerged when Mayor Jerry Dyer’s administration proposed how to spend $10.3 million in state funds on local road repairs. The issue came up again at Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting.
Echoing the arguments made in 2019, Councilman Garry Bredefeld said his northeast Fresno district wasn’t receiving its equal share. Councilman Nelson Esparza made a similar, but inverse argument — his central Fresno district is in the most need.
The result: Tabling the spending plan and instructing the mayor’s team to try again. The council has until June 30 to approve a spending plan to use the money from SB 1 funds.
Public Works Director Scott Mozier told the council that projects were chosen on a city-wide basis.
If the money was equally divided, it would average $1.47 million per district. Both Bredefeld and Esparza’s districts are well under that. However, three multi-district projects all include Esparza’s District 7.
Also in Politics 101:
- City Hall reopens. What about masks?
- While the city clerk was fired, the city attorney gets a new contract.
- Fresno EOC receives millions to save Head Start.
Fresno City Hall Reopening, but What About Masks?
The council voted to alter its COVID emergency order as post-pandemic life begins to take shape.
By repealing mandatory masking, Fresno businesses — including City Hall itself — now have the option of requiring masks or not. City Manager Thomas Esqueda announced that City Hall will reopen to the public on June 28.
With masking requirements optional, Esqueda established a policy that employees and the public can enter City Hall maskless, as long as they show proof of vaccine. If not, masks are required.
The council voted 6-1 to alter Section 2-514(l), with Esparza providing the no vote. The section also eliminates a reporting hotline, dubbed the “snitch line” by Bredefeld.
Other aspects of the city’s emergency order — in effect since March 2020 — remain.
Esqueda initially called for a June 23 opening, but the council wanted to wait until after the budgeting process before people return.
No Pay Hike for City Attorney
At its regular meeting this week, the council approved a contract renewal for City Attorney Douglas Sloan. He will not receive a salary increase but was granted an additional 75 hours of leave time.
Sloan, the city attorney since 2013, received a 3% raise in January, taking his base salary to $227,000.
On Monday morning, the council dismissed long-time City Clerk Yvonne Spence on a 4-3 vote.
Spence received a new contract earlier this year, with a salary increase. She has not offered further comment on her dismissal. But, during budget hearings, Viana Neal, with the African American Leadership Roundtable, defended Spence’s performance.
Fresno EOC Receives $42 million for Head Start
Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission received $42 million in federal funds to maintain its Head Start program. The group made the announcement today, along with Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno).
Fresno EOC said the children-focused program was in jeopardy without its funding renewal.
“The money will go towards preventing the elimination of their largest children’s program, which provides early education services to more than 3,000 children, as well as preventing hundreds of employee layoffs,” Costa’s office said in a news release.
The money comes from a grant from federal Health and Human Services.