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Council preview: God and $70/hr. for Admin Assistant?



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While the question of whether God will be part of Fresno city council meetings is the main event, some interesting line items inside consultant contracts will also be voted on.

The 4 p.m. hearing Thursday (May 11) on placing “In God We Trust” on the wall behind the council is expected to draw an impassioned audience. The item, proposed by district six representative Garry Bredefeld, has been a key subject on local talk radio and in letters to the editor.

In an informal polling of city council, few are willing to commit to a position other than Bredefeld. Last week, Esmeralda Soria (District 1) said she doesn’t oppose the idea but wanted to hear what constituents say. District 2 councilman Steve Brandau says he will support.

Other councilmembers GV Wire talked to would not officially say how they plan to vote. Responses ranged from there are other issues to discuss that are more important, to gauging constituent’s responses.

In other actions, the council will vote whether to extend a consulting contract by another six months with Live Oak Associates of Oakhurst for $191,000. The work would include performing “biological resources monitoring” along the Friant-Kern Canal Pipeline project. Among the work is a plan to conduct surveys for species like the San Joaquin kit fox, burrowing owl and breeding Swainson’s hawks. According to company president Dave Hartesveldt, the extension was needed because of construction delays caused by weather. The initial one-year contract, started May 2016, was for $384,956.

The council will also decide whether to award a $57,000 (plus $2,000 in contingencies) to Stearns, Conrad and Schmidt Consulting Engineers Incorporated of  Long Beach for work on a pipeline at Jensen & Polk. In a line item breakdown of charges, Stearns lists “administrative assistant” with a pay rate of $70 per hour. The business also wants to invoice vehicle mileage at 70 cents for a company auto and $1 per mile for a company truck. By comparison, the standard IRS mileage reimbursement rate is 53.5 cents per mile (for both cars and pickup trucks). When asked about those items, company vice president Robert Viers offered GV Wire “no comment.”

Perhaps the cost of living is slightly less in Phoenix. That is the home of PaleoWest Archaeology, whose paleontological and cultural resources monitoring consultant contract worth $624,940 is up for approval on Thursday. According to staff reports, such services are required by law for a variety of pipeline and water projects happening in the city.

Within the contract, PaleoWest asks for only $55 for “administrative” (it does not specify if that is per hour). It also asks for $380 for daily travel-related expenses for non-locals and all other direct expenses at cost plus 10%.

GV Wire spoke with company vice president Clint Helton, who did not answer questions and referred us to talk to the city.

The contract is signed by Michael Carbajal, a planning manager in the Department of Public Utilities, on behalf of the city.


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Contact David Taub

Phone: 559-492-4037 / e-mail

This story was not subject to the approval of Granville Homes.

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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