Not only are the city of Fresno and the county struggling to get along, but county leaders are now at odds over how to deal with the city.
Incoming Fresno County Supervisor Andreas Borgeas, the former city councilman, proposed this week the creation of a joint city-county task force to try to settle common issues that the two sides don’t agree on – building a new animal shelter or high-speed rail or regional growth. Pick a topic.
Sound simple? It wasn’t.
The plan garnered just one supporter at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting –- Judy Case — and perhaps more tellingly, the plan gave the new supervisor a preview of the pushback he’s apt to get from his veteran colleagues over the next four years.
Supervisors Phil Larson and Debbie Poochigian said they’d seen task-force ideas like this tried before without success: “We’ve kind of been there and done that,” said Poochigian.
And Supervisor Henry Perea had a plan of his own, which Larson was quick to support: demand the city drop its lawsuit against the county (over development) before any discussion begins. “We’ll start the conversation there,” Perea said.
If the city of Fresno can make $2.5 million a year by franchising its trash service, shouldn’t the county of Fresno be cashing in on its independent trash haulers?
Not necessarily, county leaders say.
County Administrative Officer John Navarrette said charging private companies for the right to pick up trash could result in rate hikes for the tens of thousands of households in unincorporated areas.
“In other words, instead of trying to get the revenue, let’s make sure we can keep the rates as reasonable as we can,” he said.
Navarrette wasn’t around when the county began contracting with private haulers for residential trash service seven years ago. But he suspects that the little bit of money that might be made off haulers wasn’t worth the hassle.
Plus, the situation for the county is slightly different from the city’s. Unlike the city, the county had no existing trash department when it began contracting for trash service in 2005, meaning there were no existing customers or business model to prove its worth.
The county, though, does charge a nominal fee to the 12 contractors that pick up trash – to cover administrative expenses.
The Fresno City Council just a week ago gave final approval to outsourcing residential trash collection, a move that Mayor Ashley Swearengin said can bring in an initial $1.5 million in signing fees and $2.5 million annually in franchise fees.
Fresno City Council members this morning honored the Rev. Sharon Stanley, giving her a plaque, reading a proclamation and naming the day in her honor.
Mayor Ashley Swearengin was present, stood with Stanley and gave her a hug. A standing ovation followed.
In the evening, however, the hugs and tears will turn to gritty determination for Stanley, who is a leading opponent of Swearengin’s controversial proposal to outsource the city’s residential trash service.
It will likely be Stanley’s final Fresno battle.
For the past 23 years, she’s been in Fresno. The past 18 as executive director of the Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministry, which helps refugees — many from Southeast Asia — transition to life in America.
But now she’s headed to Washington, D.C., for a new job.
That was the reason for today’s honors.
Stanley, however, is also a force in local progressive politics, and she isn’t a fan of Swearengin’s proposal, which has several supporters on the council — likely a majority.
Stanley said local residents need more information, more debate and more time before a decision is made.
The Fresno City Council this morning passed a resolution “declaring the results” of the election — not from three weeks ago, but from June.
County elections officials certified the June primary election five months ago.
“We’re moving at the speed of government,” Council President Clint Olivier said in an interview.
A resolution approved by the City Council says that Ashley Swearengin, “having received the majority of votes cast for the office of Mayor, is hereby declared elected to that office.”
It does the same for soon-to-be Council Member Paul Caprioglio in District 4 and incumbent Council Member Lee Brand in District 6.
For those with short memories, a background memo to the council from City Clerk Yvonne Spence says that Swearengin, Brand, and Caprioglio all received more than 50% of the vote.
Oh, and one more thing: the resolution also says “a general municipal election in November is required for Council District 2.”
That, of course, already happened, and Steve Brandau won the race over Pat Di Cicco.
Brandau and Di Cicco faced off because none of the five candidates in District 2 were able to win more than 50% of the vote in June. Di Cicco and Brandau advanced because they were the top two vote getters.
There’s no word on when Brandau’s win will be “declared” official.
A few tidbits and quick hits as Election Day closes in:
— The 5th Assembly District sprawls across all or parts of nine counties in the western Sierra foothills, across the highest peaks and over to the Nevada border.
There’s tons of square miles, and no real big cities.
So how does a candidate reach voters? Not by television, it seems, at least not during the general election.
Calaveras County businessman Rico Oller and Madera County Supervisor Frank Bigelow are passing up TV in favor of radio, lots of radio, as well as mailers, to get their message to voters.
“TV for that district is nearly impossible,” said said political analyst Tony Quinn, a former GOP legislative aide and co-editor of California Target Book, a nonpartisan analysis of legislative and congressional races.
The main TV markets are Fresno and Sacramento — or even Reno — but they only cover parts of the district. It’s not much bang for the buck, Quinn said.
Both Oller and Bigelow have purchased radio spots on stations in Bishop, Sonora, Fresno, Modesto, Merced, Jackson, Mammoth Lakes and Stateline and Reno in neighboring Nevada.
— It’s hard to get all seven Fresno City Council members to agree on much of anything, but it appears they’ve come together on State Center Community College District trustee Richard Caglia.
Lee Brand, Andreas Borgeas, Blong Xiong, Larry Westerlund, Sal Quintero, Oliver Baines and Clint Olivier have all endorsed Caglia for reelection over challenger Kevin Hall in District 7 on the State Center board.
— A few weeks ago Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian not only announced her endorsement of Jim Patterson over Bob Whalen in the 23rd Assembly District race, she also sent her constituents a letter urging them to support the former Fresno mayor as well.
Now, we know how much that cost.
Patterson’s latest campaign finance report shows Poochigian spent $3,635.52 on postage, envelopes and letters.
— Otto Lee, the Bay Area Democrat who is challenging incumbent Republican Devin Nunes in the 22nd Congressional District, is now a Clovis resident.
Lee, a lawyer and former City Council member and mayor of Sunnyvale, had lived in the Bay Area during the primary. But this week his campaign said he was a Clovis resident.
Fresno County elections officials confirmed Lee changed his voter registration from Sunnyvale to a Clovis apartment in June.