In 2020, the Fresno City Council voted to vet any naming or renaming of a city facility through the Historic Preservation Commission. But, time and time again, the city council has ignored the law, granting an exemption.
On a 6-1 vote on Thursday, the council did so again by renaming the training center at Central and Hayes avenues for Dyer. Councilmember Miguel Arias voted no.
Also in Politics 101 …
- Another clue on the Fresno garbage rate hikes;
- Fancher Creek water issue settled.
Supporters Say Dyer Deserves Honor. Arias Counters It’s Premature
Supporters, including councilmen Tyler Maxwell and Garry Bredefeld, said the honor was for Dyer’s 40 years in the Fresno Police Department — including the last 18 as chief before his 2019 retirement.
“It’s a great way to honor his service,” Bredefeld said.
Maxwell said HPC vetting was more for historical figures that the council may not have knowledge about.
“When it comes to a contemporary figure that we have all known and work with for many, many years and that served this community, I think we know that person’s legacy pretty well,” Maxwell said.
Arias pleaded with his colleagues not to go through with the renaming. He said it is premature because Dyer is only in his third of what could be eight years as mayor.
“That’s a very incomplete legacy as the mayor of Fresno, and that’s why there tends to be a good practice of not naming buildings after individuals who are still actively doing their roles,” Arias said.
Arias also said there are still several lawsuits against the police department remaining from Dyer’s time as chief.
Voting to honor a sitting mayor, Arias said, “poses a significant ethical conflict.”
“It could be suggested that for those of us who may not vote to approve this name recognition and we see our projects delayed, our projects defunded, our project should be prioritized,” he said.
Last week, the city council approved a resolution recommending the naming of a new fire training center to honor retired chief Kerri Donis. Authored by Arias and Annalisa Perea, that will go through the HPC for vetting.
A ‘Grateful’ Dyer ‘Humbly’ Accepts the Honor
“I am very grateful to have the police training facility named after me and humbly accept this honor,” Dyer said.
“During my 40-year career, especially the last 18 years as the police chief, my wife and kids sacrificed much which is why this recognition means so much to me and my family.
“My No. 1 one goal as a police chief was to never lose a police officer in the line of duty. In order to accomplish that goal, we needed a state-of-the-art training facility, which is what we built.
“The training conducted at this facility not only increased the safety of officers but citizens as well.”
Accusations of Hypocrisy
While the arguments were impassioned, they also turned into accusations of hypocrisy.
Since the vetting law took effect, the city council ignored it to rename a police substation for late officer Phia Vang; a senior center for outgoing city councilman Paul Caprioglio in 2020; and a park for labor leader Dolores Huerta.
“You’ve actually been on record voting for the change of name of four public facilities. You mentioned one was the Paul Caprioglio Center. Paul Caprioglio was still a councilmember at that time,” Maxwell responded.
Several speakers spoke in support of the Dyer renaming, including Pastor B.T. Lewis of Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church. Lewis also works in the Dyer administration as a community liaison.
Arias called Lewis out, for supporting Dyer without community meetings, but opposing a street renaming for late labor leader Cesar Chavez because of the lack of public input.
Some opponents spoke, making wild allegations about Dyer’s past. Arias said the accusations were fair game because they were during the time period of Dyer’s police and chief career.
Maxwell and Bredefeld acknowledged that Dyer, like all people, has flaws.
“Nobody lives a perfect life,” Bredefeld said. “I don’t believe in cancel culture and I believe that people do good things. They do bad things. We’re all sinners in God’s eyes.”
Asked two weeks ago about what the point of the vetting is if the council continues to bypass, Mike Karbassi said: “We have vetting. It’s called the City Council of Fresno, the elected representatives of the people.”
“It’s good to go back and look at ordinances and policies and clarify them. Maybe that’s something that’s going to be up pretty soon,” Karbassi said.
The HPC did review the naming of a park in east-central Fresno for homebuilder Jerry De Young in 2021.
Marketing Firm Hired in Advance of Rate Hike
The city council awarded an $800,000 contract with publicist Two Q, Inc. to market the public utilities department. This is a step in anticipation of possible rate hikes for city trash service.
The marketing firm would handle mailers for the Proposition 218 process — a mail-in ballot that ratepayers can use to object to any increase.
Public Utilities Director Brock Buche told the city council the Dyer administration plans to present its rate hike plan in August.
The motion passed 4-2, with the unusual alliance of Arias and Bredefeld voting no. Luis Chavez was absent.
Fancher Creek Water Deal Approved
Without discussion on Thursday, the council unanimously approved a deal for an affordable and senior housing project in southeast Fresno to receive water.
Months in the making, the city wrestled with how to provide the Fancher Creek Town Center — on Tulare Avenue, east of Clovis Avenue — with water. That area, by contract, is serviced by the Bakman Water Company, not the city. Working through those issues delayed water rights and occupancy of the apartments for months.
The council’s action granted Bakman $2.7 million from federal ARPA funds to provide the water infrastructure, mainly for fire suppression needs.
With the water issue settled, Fancher Creek can move forward with occupancy permits for its already-built 180-unit affordable senior complex.