Fresno Council majority upholds code enforcement layoffs

FRESNO, California

Fresno City Council Member Sal Quintero argued that Code Enforcement Officers, who were recently re-named Community Revitalization Specialists, the folks who deal with public nuisances and abandoned properties are too important to lose.

"That's our job," said Quintero. "That's what we promised the people of this city. Provide the basic public services and this is one of them."

But City Manager Bruce Rudd said cutting 8 workers was the fiscally responsible thing to do.

Rudd said, "We were going to pay off our debt establish a cash reserve and then try to restore services and council I would urge you to stay on that course."

Citizens complained about the cuts.

"It seems whenever we have budget problems the first things to go are those things the community really feels are necessary."

But Jennifer Clark, the brand new director of the department that oversees code enforcement and works for Rudd, assured the council the eight workers were not needed.

"Obviously more people that means more people on the street, that's lovely if we don't have that we will still be able to address all the priority calls all of the needs of this community we will just have to go about it in a different way."

Clark has been on the job just two weeks, and City Council Member Oliver Baines questioned her ability to make that call.

Baines said, "I'm not exactly sure that you know enough about Fresno yet to make that type of assessment."

Clark told the council cuts leave about thirty officers in the field. But two of those who are being laid off told us that's counting administrators and said the actual number of officers in the field to do inspections is about 18.

Code enforcement officer Teri McCada sees the layoffs as retaliation for their union's opposition to Measure G.

McCada explained, "I think the Mayor wants what she wants, I think she's really upset she didn't get Measure G and she's after these positions no matter what."

Code enforcement Officer Kiki Wilson says cuts should come from some of the 85 city administrators who make between 100 and 200 thousand dollars a year.

Wilson said, "Where the change needs to start is with the administration level."

The usual four member council majority of Lee Brand, Clint Olivier, Paul Caprioglio and Steve Brandau voted to support the layoffs. Quintero, along with Baines and Council President Blong Xiong were in the minority voting against the layoffs.

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