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Anti-Payne Website Is ‘Opening Act’ of Election Circus, Says Trustee



Graphic image of circus acts and the words "Welcome to Local Election Circus 2020"
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It’s political season, which means attacks come in all forms.

A new website has launched against State Center Community College District Trustee Eric Payne and his re-election bid.

Photo of GV Wire's David Taub

David Taub

Politics 101

Aside from the grammatical errors and ALL CAPS, the site mentions the negative aspects of Payne’s eight years on the board. It also accuses him of racial discrimination and having a “hatred towards law enforcement.”

That’s what it looked like yesterday, at least. Today’s version is a more generic “coming soon.”

The purveyor of the website is anonymous. Both of Payne’s election opponents, Sevag Tateosian and Nasreen Johnson, say they had nothing to do with it.

Also in Politics 101: 

  • Candidates react to anti-Payne website.
  • An update on the SCCCD Area 2 candidate’s fundraising.
  • Downtown development could obstruct popular mural.
  • City Council approves virtual rental inspections.
  • City sues over Fresno billboard.

Candidates React

“But to be clear, this piece of propaganda is just the opening act of the circus. Send in the clowns and bad actors next.”SCCCD trustee Eric Payne

Payne called the website “trash.”

“Since there is no story, I refuse to legitimize this nonsense, with any credibility. In this race, I know I’m expected to run faster and jump higher than any of my opponents in order for me to get to the finish line. Much like what my community has done, for generations I will rise to the occasion,” Payne said. “But to be clear, this piece of propaganda is just the opening act of the circus. Send in the clowns and bad actors next.”

Tateosian had no sympathy for Payne.

“When you build a reputation by plagiarizing, ducking basic transparency laws, and falsely attacking good, hardworking people, they fight back. Mr. Payne is getting a taste of his own medicine,” Tateosian said.

Johnson was more diplomatic.

“My focus remains on running a clean campaign and working to connect with voters about issues that impact our students and community,” Johnson said.

Race Update

According to campaign filings, Tateosian raised $5,000 each from Darius Assemi and the Associated Building Contractors of Northern California PAC. Assemi is the president and CEO of Granville Homes and publisher of GV Wire.

Only contributions of $1,000 or more need to reported at this point in the election.

Johnson lists a new employer. She is a communications strategist for ACLU Foundation of Northern California. She worked in a similar role previously at Fresno Economic Opportunity Commission. Johnson also picked up a $1,000 check from IBEW #100.

Payne has not reported any contributions.

Left-to-right: Eric Payne, Sevag Tatetosian, and Nasreen Johnson.

Tutelian Downtown Project Obscures Popular Mural

Cliff Tutelian filed a progress report with the Fresno City Council Thursday on his development company’s plan for retail and housing where the CVS pharmacy is located at Fulton and Tuolumne streets.

The project calls for 30,000 square feet of retail space and 160 apartment units, as well as a 510-space parking garage.

However, that garage would be built in front of the well-received Fresno “postage stamp” mural, according to artist renderings.

Tutelian responded to complaints related to the mural by designing an outside walkway next to the mural.

The council did not discuss the project, voting to accept the report as part of the consent agenda.

The San Joaquin Valley Sun has more details about what the project would look like.

An artist’s rendering of the Tutelian & Company project in downtown Fresno (City of Fresno)

Virtual Inspection Program Approved

The city’s rental home inspection program will switch to virtual inspections in the wake of COVID-10. The council approved virtual inspections Thursday.

Instead of a code enforcement agent coming into a rental property, the tenant or landlord can take videos during a teleconferencing call.

As a tradeoff, the $100 inspection fee will be waived for property owners.

City Sues Billboard Company

Last April, city negotiations with Outfront Media were failing. A billboard on Highway 99, north of Shaw Avenue, had to removed so the city could continue with the Veterans Boulevard project.

Neither the city and the company could agree on a price, the last offer being $344,000. The council voted to force the sale by eminent domain and followed through, filing suit in Fresno County Superior Court in June.

The council discussed the suit in closed session but took no action.

Fresno Dems Endorse Newcomers over Incumbents

The Fresno County County Democratic Party has endorsed newcomers over three incumbents for local school board races.

The party announced a slate of local picks for several school board seats.

For the State Center Community College District, the party chose Nasreen Johnson over sitting Area 2 trustee Eric Payne; and in Area 7, the party went with Dary Rezvani over incumbent John Leal.

In Fresno Unified, the party picked David Paredes over Carol Mills for the Area 5 seat.

Paredes and Rezvani are considered more progressive than the incumbents they are hoping to defeat.

According to Mills, Paredes won the endorsement by one vote. She has other Democratic-leaning endorsements including the Democratic Women in Action, Central Labor Council as well as Congressman Jim Costa.

“Mr. Paredes self identifies as a democratic socialist.  I can only surmise that a majority of Central Committee members voting that day agreed with Mr. Paredes’ political philosophy.  However, I do not believe his views represent the Democratic Party or a majority of Democrats and I believe my views are in alignment with the majority of Democrats and my community,” Mills told Politics 101 via email.

In the SCCCD Area 6 race, the party did not make an endorsement even though all three candidates are Democrats — incumbent Deborah Ikeda, and challengers Chris Milton and Sally Fowler.

In order to receive the party’s endorsement, a candidate needed 60% of the central committee— and be a Democrat, of course.

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