A Fresno City Council audit subcommittee is amenable to taking an internal look at the city’s finances. But, members say they do not want it to turn into a witch hunt.
“Audits are not meant to be used as political weapons,” Councilman Miguel Arias said during Wednesday’s special public meeting of the finance and audit committee.
Last week, Councilman Garry Bredefeld accused four councilmembers of abusing city-issued credit cards and individual $700,000 budgets for district needs.
Committee member Tyler Maxwell is “not opposed to an audit,” but wants to expand it to look at the “entire city’s finances and efficiency.”
“There are many steps our city can take to increase that transparency, but what I do not agree with is a politically motivated audit led by a single council member that only focuses on the expenses of four City Councilmembers he disagrees with politically,” Maxwell said.
Also in Politics 101:
— Where the audit goes from here?
— Civil Rights icon compares Fresno County redistricting to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
— Out with the yellow, in with the green for one Fresno pot shop
Bredefeld Criticized for His Criticism
Last week, Maxwell and City Council President Nelson Esparza said that Bredefeld made “false claims” and labeled his efforts a “wasteful charade.” They also said the city attorney’s office “has not found any misuse of Council funds.”
Wednesday’s meeting included conversations about what is appropriate spending.
“Issues are raised when comments are made that indicate there may be a possibility that expenditures may not be consistent with that current business, conservative policy,” City Manager Georgeanne White said.
Mayor Jerry Dyer hopes to start a spending review within three weeks.
The discussion will continue at Thursday’s city council meeting. Bredefeld has two items on the agenda.
Huerta Compares Fresno County Redistricting to Ukraine
Civil rights activist Dolores Huerta likened the process of selecting voting maps in Fresno County to the war in Ukraine.
“We see what is happening in Ukraine, where people are being murdered, because Russia wants to take over their country and wants to represent them. What we have here is something very similar, of course, on a different scale,” Huerta testified over the phone at an Assembly election committee hearing Wednesday.
The committee heard AB 2030, authored by Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno. The bill would transfer map-drawing power away from the Fresno County Board of Supervisors and put it into the hands of an independent committee.
The bill passed 5-1 out of the elections committee. It next heads to the local government committee.
Arambula said community voices were not heard in the county’s recent redistricting.
“The practice of gerrymandering has disenfranchised underrepresented communities, including communities of color, and diluted their voting power,” Arambula told the committee.
Dora Rose of the state League of Women Voters also spoke on behalf of AB 2030. Neither Huerta (Bakersfield) nor Rose (San Francisco) are from Fresno County.
Sacramento-based lobbyist Paul Yoder spoke on behalf of Fresno County, which opposes the bill. He said the map passed last December met all legal requirements and includes three Latino-majority districts.
Both Chad Mayes, NPP-Yucaipa, and Kelly Seyarto, R-Murrieta, expressed concern about taking away local control. However, Mayes voted yes while Seyarto was the lone no vote.
Proposed Pot Shop Goes from Yellow to Green
Last year, the Lemonnade marijuana retail store in the Tower District survived an appeal of its license. But, the design of the building, name, and color scheme raised eyebrows.
Instead of the name Lemonnade and its proposed bright yellow building at the corner of Wishon and Fern avenues in an old bank building, the branding will now be Dr. Greenthumb’s, with a green motif.
“Due to feedback from the City Council and to differentiate this store from the District 4 Cookies store, we have changed our brand from Lemonnade to Dr. Greenthumb’s,” documents from the company said.
The ownership remains the same, locally controlled by Kacey Auston.
Dr. Greenthumb’s received unanimous approval for its conditional use permit from Tower District Design Review Committee on Tuesday.
If the logo looks familiar, it is an image of rapper B-Real from Cypress Hill, founder of the brand.