Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld found himself with an unusual ally against the council’s emergency conditions that allow council members to join the meetings online: Miguel Arias.
Bredefeld and Arias routinely find themselves at odds with one another on the dais, but Arias turned heads at City Hall during Thursday’s meeting with his request to lift the resolution that confirms the emergency conditions.
The backstory: California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, which allowed local government boards and commissions to hold meeting virtually over Zoom. Despite the fact that in-person meetings returned full-time to Fresno City Hall in November 2021, the council has monthly approved a resolution that allows council members to join virtually and still comply with the Brown Act.
The big picture: California’s long-running state of emergency is scheduled to expire at the end of February. Unless the City of Fresno declares another local emergency, the council will not be able to approve the same policy after February.
- The City Attorney’s Office explained that even once the emergency is over, Assembly Bill 2449 allows for remote participation in meetings in certain circumstances, meaning the council members could still appear at the meetings virtually but not with the free rein they’ve had.
- Despite objections from Arias and Bredefeld, the council passed the resolution by a 5-2 vote.
What they’re saying: Arias, who has long supported the policy, said his position has changed because the city needs to be consistent considering city employees are expected to work in-person.
- “I wanted to have a conversation amongst the council whether it’s time for us to move on from this exemption and have all of us back in person, and of course when circumstances don’t allow and you miss a meeting, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.”