Two candidates for Fresno County supervisor have found a new wedge issue — maintenance of the county-run Veterans Liberty Cemetery — courtesy of a Fresno County Grand Jury report criticizing the conditions there.
Garry Bredefeld, the Fresno city councilman challenging incumbent Steve Brandau for the District 2 seat, pounced.
“Complete disgrace and disrespect to our veterans! The Board of Supervisors just spent $225,000 of Covid money for a Garlic Fest but ignore taking care of a County cemetery for veterans,” Bredefeld wrote on Facebook.
My colleague Bill McEwen did some digging on the issue of cemetery vandalism. Fresno cemeteries have been dealing with homeless encampments in recent years. The challenges posed by the transients include stealing everything of value and leaving messes behind. In the case of Fresno’s historic Chinese cemetery, some families became so concerned that they dug up the remains of their loved ones and re-buried them elsewhere.
Brandau clapped back at Bredefeld in a Facebook video. He blamed the deteriorating conditions on homeless people from the city of Fresno. The county is fixing the cemetery, Brandau said.
“It’s really tragic that our friends from down the street (Fresno City Council) are ranting about a problem in the county when they have so much of their own that they could be concerned about,” Brandau said.
He then pointed out the city’s problems with maintaining Fresno Memorial Auditorium.
“You would think that the councilmember would get to work on that instead of calling out Fresno County. My point is, look, if you live in a glass house, don’t throw rocks, bud,” Brandau said.
Brandau also took a shot at Bredefeld for using The Fresno Bee as his reference material.
“He’s usually griping and complaining about (The Bee). Now he’s using them as a resource,” Brandau said.
A Brandau spokesman said the video — filmed in Brandau’s county office — was his official supervisor’s response to the Bredefeld allegations.
However, Bredefeld maintains that filming in the office is “against the law, no matter how much he rationalizes it.” But, Bredefeld says he does not plan on filing a complaint.
Keep in mind: Brandau and Bredefeld are conservative Republicans and former friends.
The election is on March 5, 2024.
Also in Politics 101 …
- Fresno car wash approved, but will it be appealed again?
- River Board names interim leader
Car Wash Approved Despite Neighbors Objections
Despite objections from an adjacent adult day care facility, the Fresno Planning Commission approved a Surf Thru car wash on the northwest corner at McKinley and Fine avenues near the airport.
Ramirez Planning wants to build a car wash but met opposition from its potential backdoor neighbor.
Fresno City Councilman Tyler Maxwell appealed — on behalf of the Rivendell Community Adult Development Center — the planning department’s decision to approve. The commission initially heard the appeal on March 15, delaying a decision by six weeks to let the sides talk.
Noise, parking, traffic, and aesthetics were the main objections. The carwash would remove 45 parking spots.
“My autistic clients … function daily on a routine. And if their routine is changed, their whole behavior changes,” Xiamy Ly-Yang, Rivendell’s operator, told the commission.
The developer says the project is permitted “by right,” meaning the zoning code already allows the use of the car wash without additional approvals.
The developers said they are willing to make concessions to be good neighbors.
Planning Commissioner Haley Wagner wanted the parties to work together.
“Use it as an opportunity to get to know one another, use it as an opportunity to maybe educate and teach them how things work. I think access to, you know, seeing something built from the ground up will be really interesting and there may be even some excitement and you be a good neighbor,” Wagner said from the dais.
The planning board voted 4-2 to approve at its Wednesday night meeting — Wagner, Kathy Bray, Monica Diaz, and Jacqueline Lyday voted in favor; Peter Vang and D.J. Criner voted against. Brad Hardie was absent.
The approval could still be appealed to the city council, but only by the councilman for the area, Maxwell. He offered no comment on if he will file the appeal.
River Board Hires Interim Executive
The San Joaquin River Conservancy board hired Karen Buhr as interim executive officer.
She replaces John Shelton, who was fired by the board last month.
Buhr, a Bullard High School graduate, comes from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, where she was deputy executive officer since August 2022.
Previously, she was executive director of the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts from 2010-2022. She graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and obtained a Master of Science degree across the river at the University of Minnesota.
“We are confident that the experience and knowledge Ms. Buhr will bring to the Conservancy will further the goals set out to preserve the beauty and nature found in and around the river, while also increasing access for the residents of Fresno and Madera to enjoy all that can be found at the San Joaquin River,” board chair and Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi said in a news release.