Fresno Police Chief, Critic Continue Public Battle of Words
Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama addressed one of his top critics on Sunday, calling her a liar.
On KSEE’s “Sunday Morning Matters,” Balderrama responded to criticism of his department from Sandra Celedon, CEO of local nonprofit Fresno Building Healthy Communities.
Celedon has challenged Balderrama over the implementation of policing reforms, after an appointed committee submitted 70-plus recommendations. Her criticism continued following two recent fatal shootings of suspects by Fresno Police officers.
Celedon retweeted a post from Fresno BHC claiming that Fresno has more police shootings per arrest than two-thirds of departments nationwide. There is no attribution for the statistic in the tweet.
Balderrama told KSEE host Alexan Balekian that Celedon’s criticism doesn’t bother him and he wouldn’t address it.
He then proceeded to address the tweets.
“Those numbers are nothing but lies. Those numbers are nothing but misinformation,” Balderrama said. “What are they doing? Nothing but tweeting and talking.”
“People like Celedon are going to criticize everything (police officers) do. Yet, people like her don’t have any courage to put on the same uniform, the same badge, and to go out there, perform the job,” Balderram said.
Celedon did not respond to a Politics 101 interview request. She did not appear on “Sunday Morning Matters,” but Balekian said she would at a later date.
The state Department of Justice said it will conduct its own investigation into the March 4 Fresno PD shooting death of Robert Corchado. Balderrama said the suspect evaded police, and shot an officer. Critics have questioned whether Corchado was actually armed at the time police shot and killed him.
Also in Politics 101 …
- New appointment to women’s commission.
- Who else earns stipends in Fresno government?
- Is a bike commissioner legal?
New Appointment to Women’s Commission
The Fresno Women’s Commission could add a new member. The Fresno City Council will vote on the nomination of Amy Fuentes to represent District 2 (northwest Fresno).
Fuentes, nominated by District 2 Councilman Mike Karbassi, is the chief operating officer at the Fresno Chamber of Commerce. She would replace Kacey Auston-Tibbetts, who had to resign when it was determined she did not live in District 2.
One vacancy on the seven-member board remains. Elisa Rivera resigned her District 4 appointment when she moved to the Tower District.
The main focus of the women’s commission is awarding 17 $500 scholarships.
What Other City Boards Receive Stipends?
In a prior Politics 101, I reported that members of the women’s commission receive a $50 stipend — funded through a state grant — per meeting.
Three other city boards and commissions receive stipends, City Clerk Todd Stermer said.
Planning commissioners earn $100 a meeting (maximum of $3,600 per fiscal year); and retirement board members earn $100 per meeting (maximum of $300 per month).
Also on the books are $25 meeting stipends for the city’s housing and community development board and human relations board members. Neither board is currently active.
Is Bike Committee Member Legal?
A reader wanted to know if a city of Fresno employee can serve on a city board or commission.
At first glance, the City Charter says no.
Section 902 reads in part: “members of each of such boards or commissions shall be appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the Council from the qualified electors of the City, none of whom shall hold any paid office or employment in the City government.”
There are some exceptions. The city’s finance director serves on a finance board and personnel staff serve on a personnel board.
Gabriel Lozano is a member of the Fresno Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission, appointed by City Councilman Luis Chavez and approved by the city council last August. He also started working in Chavez’s office around the same time. On his board application, Lozano noted that he works for the city council.
Chavez clarified that Lozano is an intern, paid through a stipend, thus he is not a city employee and allowed to serve.