‘Zoombombing’ Derails Fresno Roads Tax Discussion - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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‘Zoombombing’ Derails Fresno Roads Tax Discussion



More than 100 people showed up, asking for Measure C to be delayed. (GV Wire/David Taub)
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Technology problems canceled a discussion to renew a countywide transportation tax at Fresno COG headquarters.

 “We had people drawing pornographic drawings on the agenda … and making lewd noises … Then we had to mute everybody and that created the problems with the translation.” — Tony Boren, executive director, Fresno COG

Instead of taking the next step to get Measure C — the half-cent Fresno County sales tax for transportation projects — on the November ballot, the Fresno Council of Governments spent most of its Thursday evening in an awkward meeting that left most attendees frustrated.

Holding the meeting in-person and on Zoom, the legally required Spanish translation for the online service failed. The Measure C discussion was shut down and rescheduled for next week — July 7, 5:30 p.m., at Fresno City Hall.

It appeared Fresno COG was using a version of Zoom that allowed everyone to participate all at once. Other agencies, such as the city of Fresno, use a version that allows control for more orderly meetings.

“We had a situation where we had technical difficulties. Part of that was tied to the public Zooming in, doing what they call Zoombombing,” Tony Boren, Fresno COG executive director said. “We had people drawing pornographic drawings on the agenda … and making lewd noises … Then we had to mute everybody and that created the problems with the translation.”

Social Justice Group Frustrated

“The English part is always prioritized and it feels sometimes like people who don’t speak English get pushed to the side.”Aracelia Sanabria

The Measure C renewal would yield $6.8 billion over 30 years.

More than 100 social justice advocates packed the downtown Fresno meeting room and two overflow rooms. They are asking for a delay in the vote — Measure C expires in 2027 — until more public outreach happens.

Sandra Celedon, president and CEO of Fresno Building Healthy Communities, said that Thursday night’s events demonstrated why Fresno COG and other agencies need to wait before putting the renewal proposal on the ballot.

“I think they’re a perfect example of how this body doesn’t have any experience actually talking to everyday Fresnans,” Celedon said.

Celedon was critical of the technology issues.

“I think it’s a disaster and an embarrassment that elected officials, some of them who actually just voted to give themselves a raise, don’t know how to do something that I’m sure a 16-year-old in the room could have probably done easily,” Celedon told GV Wire.

The reference was to the Fresno City Council voting to raise members’ salaries earlier in the day. However, no members of the Fresno City Council are actually on the Fresno COG board. Councilmen Miguel Arias and Tyler Maxwell were present to speak on Measure C. They both support a delay.

The technology issue presented hardships for people like Aracelia Sanabria of Fresno. She said Fresno COG should have been prepared. Transportation to and from the meeting is a challenge. So were the translation issues.

“The English part is always prioritized and it feels sometimes like people who don’t speak English get pushed to the side,” Sanabria said through a translator.

Fresno Mayor Frustrated

The fifteen incorporated Fresno County cities and the county comprise the membership of Fresno COG. Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer represents his city on the 16-member board.

Instead of relaxing after securing a budget victory just hours earlier, Dyer walked into a meeting, knowing of its contentious nature.

“It was frustrating in the sense that the technology’s not working. The people are here — 150 plus people that are here can’t have their voices heard. People on the board can’t have their voices heard,” Dyer said.

When the technology failed, Dyer told the meeting attendees that parking would be relaxed for the evening. He then offered City Hall — with its larger meeting space and access to technology and translators — as an alternate.

At one point, Dyer stepped into the hallway outside the meeting room, talking with constituents about the recently passed city budget.

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer speaks to members of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Next Steps

For Measure C to make the November ballot as boosters wish, Fresno COG — which deals with transportation issues — must vote on the spending plan.

If approved on July 7, it would go to the board of the Fresno County Transportation Authority. It is scheduled to vote on July 20.

Finally, it will be eventually up to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to place the measure on the ballot. The supervisors have until Aug. 12.

Fresno COG chairwoman Michelle Roman (middle) and executive director Tony Boren at Thursday’s meeting that was supposed to have a vote on Measure C. (GV Wire/David Taub)

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email