City of Fresno budget hearings started Monday, and the city anticipates feeling the pain just like its citizens — higher fuel costs.
Budget documents indicate the city will spend $900,000 more in fuel, but that is just an estimate. The budget also calls for the appropriation of $750,000 as a reserve for the ever-increasing gas prices.
One interesting passage from the 457-budget document:
“However, it was also understood that the fuel projection could become outdated in a short period of time due to market pressures that look to continue with the ongoing war in
Ukraine, sanctions levied on Russia, Europe’s effort to become less reliant on Russia as an energy provider, along with global supply chain disruptions.”
Also in Politics 101…
- What expert defamation attorney says about the Karbassi-Soria lawsuit.
- Councilman tweets his objections to Pride Flag invocation.
- The future of evictions in Fresno.
Soria Served Defamation Lawsuit
Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria was served a defamation lawsuit by fellow city councilman Mike Karbassi just before Thursday’s Fresno City Council meeting.
Karbassi is accusing Soria of knowingly and maliciously lying about him during a campaign mailer. Both Karbassi and Soria ran for Assembly District 27. Soria will advance to the November general election along with former Merced County sheriff Mark Pazin. Karbassi finished fourth among four candidates.
The mailer from Soria’s campaign during the final weekend of the primary implied that Karbassi assaulted a female college student. However, the man convicted in the attack was a consultant hired by Karbassi in 2019.
Will the lawsuit succeed? Attorney Jeff Lewis, an expert in defamation lawsuits, expects Soria to fight back.
“Absolutely this gives rise to an anti-SLAPP motion. The defendant will argue, correctly, that political speech in a campaign mailer is among the most protected by the First Amendment,” Lewis says.
That said, Lewis believes that Karbassi could have a case.
“But, then again, the First Amendment does not provide the absolute right to speak. If the plaintiff has evidence that the statements were false and the defendant acted with malice (knew the statements were false), the lawsuit will survive an anti-SLAPP motion,” Lewis said.
Bredefeld Offended by Pride Flag Invocation
Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld took offense to an invocation at last Friday’s Gay Pride Flag raising ceremony at City Hall.
Pastor Raygan Baker of The Big Red Church, offered an LGBT-friendly prayer.
“DISGRACEFUL ATTACK ON TRADITIONAL CHRISTIANITY THROUGH “PRAYER” AT GAY PRIDE FLAG RAISING AT CITY HALL. I’ll continue to speak out against these attacks on Christianity & never accept this kind of perversion of God and what God truly stands for as revealed in the Bible. Never,” Bredefeld tweeted.
Dozens on Twitter jumped on Bredefeld. When former city councilman Craig Scharton jumped in, Bredefeld retorted with his own bon mot.
“Hey Craig, you still have those tires you got while on the Council?” Bredefeld wrote. The reference was to Operation Rezone, the 1990s corruption scandal at City Hall. While Scharton was not indicted, others went to jail.
COVID Emergency Over in City. So is Eviction Moratorium.
The Fresno City Council voted to officially end the COVID emergency order, in place since March 2020. Most of the practical impacts were lifted long ago — shutting down businesses, parks, and even meetings of the government. Masks mandates ended a while ago.
The most direct effect of the order ending is the end to the eviction moratorium. That means going forward, protections for not paying rent because of verifiable COVID hardship ends.
Currently delinquent renters will have eight months to pay back missing rent before facing any jeopardy. That moratorium remains until Feb. 1, 2023, provided that the renter provides verifiable hardship documents.
The city says two programs remain to help renters — $24 million remain from federal funds to help with rent and utilities, and a program providing legal assistance in eviction cases.
Some of the more vocal housing advocacy groups such as Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, and Faith in the Valley, were quiet during the debate.
The vote last Thursday was 6-0, with Mike Karbassi absent.