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What Happens to Parks Tax if it Competes with Public Safety?



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If a public safety sales tax initiative qualifies for the November ballot, promoters of a separate parks tax initiative may think twice.

Politics 101

David Taub

Nearly 100 people attended an informational meeting organized by Fresno for Parks. The group wants to add 3/8 of a percent to the sales tax rate to go to parks, arts and job training programs in the city.

But the Fresno Police Officers’ Association is also considering a quarter-cent tax for the November ballot.

“We are not looking to make this a choice for voters. If they are successful on getting on the ballot, we will evaluate whether we move forward,” said Danielle Bergstrom with Fresno for Parks.

Fresno for Parks is hoping to gather more than 23,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify the initiative.

“This is a quality of life measure,” Bergstrom said. “We are looking to invest in improvements, especially related to parks that improve our quality of life, improve our property values, make Fresno an attractive place to live and raise a family.”

One Homeschool Bill Pulled, One Remains

Amid hundreds of phone calls from homeschool supporters, Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) pulled AB 2926. In its original form, the bill would have created a committee to look into whether homeschools would require health and safety inspections, curriculum standards and credentialed teachers (i.e. parents).

Eggman released a watered-down version this week that removed the inspections and weakened the examination into classroom content and teacher qualifications.

Another homeschool-related bill that has been watered down over time, AB 2756, remains. Authored by Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside), it would classify what type of private schools (traditional, satellite programs, online, homeschool, nonsectarian) would register with the state.

Medina’s original bill would have also placed homeschools under the jurisdiction of local fire inspectors. Homeschools are considered the same as private schools. That aspect was scrapped after the same outcry by the homeschool community.

The Assembly Committee on Education hears Medina’s bill on Wednesday (April 20) at 1:30 p.m. at the Capitol in Sacramento.

Brand Starts 2020 Campaign

After a change in the local campaign fundraising law, Mayor Lee Brand held his first fundraiser for his 2020 re-election on Wednesday (April 18). An estimated 400 people gathered for a breakfast at Pardini’s. Campaign officials said Brand raised $400,000 in that one sitting.

Brand drew a cross-section of the political community: home developers and building trade unions; Republicans and Democrats.

The primary is March 3, 2020. While the city council eliminated any time restrictions when a campaign can raise funds, cash limits remain. That means those who donated the maximum ($4,400) can’t donate again until the 2020 general election.

Soria Bristles Over Fresno Housing Authority Appointment

No one cast a “no” vote against Terra Brusseau, Mayor Lee Brand’s appointment to the Fresno Housing Authority. That didn’t mean everyone voted for her.

Fresno City Council President Esmeralda Soria expressed her dismay that the mayor did not re-appoint Virna Santos to the four-year position.

The authority board is made up of 14 members, seven appointed by the city and seven from Fresno County. Brusseau is a well-known fundraiser. Brand is one of her clients.

“I don’t think it compares to the great experience that this woman (Santos) brings to the Fresno Housing Authority,” Soria said. Santos’ background includes a Harvard law degree, and time as a federal prosecutor.

“Our boards are reflective of the community that we serve and represent. When we look at the Fresno Housing Authority, it serves a number of disadvantaged members of our community. Virna does an extremely (good) job of the advocacy for our community. It is sad to see that she wasn’t reconsidered to be reappointed for a new term.”

Soria said she hoped the mayor considers diversity in future appointments. She abstained on Brusseau’s appointment.

The Fresno Housing Authority and its director Preston Prince commented on Twitter, “(we) thank Virna Santos for her commitment as a City Commissioner. We also want to thank @Esmeralda_Soria and @MayorLeeBrand for their ongoing commitment to leadership on the board that will govern us and continue to contribute to our mission.”

More Support for Keeping California Safe

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors became the latest government agency to support an initiative to keep more criminals in jail.

By a 5-0 vote on Tuesday (April 17), the board endorsed the Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act. Proponents of the proposition hope to collect enough signatures to place it on the November ballot.

The Fresno and Clovis city councils previously supported the plan which would reclassify some misdemeanors to felonies.

Bredefeld Running for Re-Election

Councilman Garry Bredefeld filed paperwork to run for re-election in 2020. His wife, Susan, is listed as campaign treasurer.

His campaign’s bank account is at Wells Fargo. Bredefeld killed the city’s banking contract with Bank of America over its racial discrimination history. Wells Fargo has a similar history. The bank was also just hit with a $1 billion fine.

“When I opened that account several years ago, it was before I was aware of any problems. I have no intentions of changing accounts,” Bredefeld told GV Wire.

Bredefeld noted that the council awaits city staff’s final recommendation on the future of the city’s banking contract. One provision is that the banks have to state what remediation they are taking to fix past discriminatory practices.

Follow the Money

Here is a list of $1,000 donors to city/county campaigns, as reported on Form 497 from 4/13-4/19/2018. Donations under $1,000 are included if the cumulative giving is greater than $1,000 for the primary cycle:

Candidate Race Contributor Amount
Lee Brand Fresno Mayor (2020) California Conference Board Amalgamated Transit Union $7,000
Esmeralda Soria Fresno City Council, District 1 Peace Officers Research Association of California PAC $1,000
State Building and Construction Trades Council of California PAC $,8,800
Tate Hill Fresno City Council, District 3 Himself $175
Daren Miller Fresno City Council, District 3 Dr. Joe Lee $1,000 (two $500 donations)
Craig Scharton Fresno City Council, District 3 Mega-Prints $500
Stacy Pacheco, owner of Mega-Prints $500
Mark Holland, PG&E supervisor $1,000
Luis Chavez Fresno City Council, District 5 Harris Real Estate Group, LP $1,000
Paula Yang Fresno City Council, District 5 WA Funding Inc. DBA Regency Prop. Mgmt. $1,000
Veva Islas Fresno City Council, District 7 Paul Pierce, facilitator/trainer $1,000
Brian Whelan Fresno City Council, District 7 CFPEA-PAC $4,400
Early California Financial Center $2,500
Peter Weber $1,000
Farid Assemi $2,000
Oscar Garcia Fresno County Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector Fresno Sheriff Deputy Association $3,160

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