An impromptu survey of local community leaders revealed the following priorities for our county.
- Affordable housing
- Clean drinking water
- Clean air quality
- Climate change
- Economic development/career development
- Sheriff’s Office accountability re jail-related issues
- Spending state and federal money in accordance with priorities related to health, climate and transportation
Notice a common theme? These don’t seem to be the same priorities for the current Fresno County Board of Supervisors (BOS).
Take the May 3 meeting of the BOS. After the perfunctory recognitions and proclamations, the meeting lasted less than 20 minutes. Less than 20 minutes! And part of that time was spent praising former Raiders’ quarterback Daryl Lamonica.
And there was no mention of how the BOS plans to address the Attorney General’s concerns with the county’s General Plan.
“All of this continues because of supervisors’ lack of responsiveness to their constituents and the issues facing them,” said one of the survey respondents.
The supervisors’ work ethic improved somewhat at the May 17 meeting, largely driven by more than one hour of public comment, which forced adjournment to closed session past noon.
Supervisor Buddy Mendes pulled an item from the Consent Agenda relative to a housing initiative so that “we can at least talk about what we do.” Mendes referenced an event he had attended where someone told him the county did not do anything for housing.
Mendes then gave time to staff to discuss some housing units being provided through funding from No Place Like Home, a state program that eventually will create more than 500 units locally for permanent supportive housing for those in need of mental health services who are experiencing homelessness, chronic homelessness or are at risk of chronic homelessness.
Kudos to the BOS for letting staff move forward with this initiative, unlike the funding to study the effect of climate change on challenged communities that the BOS refused to accept.
Public comment at the May 17 meeting was particularly lively, lasting more than an hour. Three topics were prominent.
- Fresno County Public Safety Association Unit 2 workers, which includes juvenile correctional officers, adult correctional officers and county security guards, lobbied for a pay raise. The unit took a 9% cut during the Great Recession and has yet to get that compensation back. Many of these workers are referred to as “the forgotten” because they work behind walls and are not visible to the public.
- Several residents from Cantua Creek expressed concern about the cost and quality of their water; one resident said her bill is $225 per month. Also, the community has incurred debt relative to its water supply. Residents asked that the debt be waived by converting it to a loan with the County then forgiving the loan using ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds.
- “Election integrity” folks resurfaced (see sidebar). They demanded a “forensic audit” while making non-specific accusations of election fraud.
Overall, the supervisors seem to have some misconception about their role, that is, being elected officials in government office. For example, with no sense of irony, Mendes said that “when it comes to government there’s no such thing as common sense.” And in reference to a recycling mandate from the state, Supervisor Steve Brandau said sarcastically that “government’s going to pat itself on the back for another great job.” Uh, wake-up call. You are the government. And until you start bringing solutions to the table, yes, you are part of the problem.