Breaking down Fresno's Bonusgate

George Hostetter dives into City Hall amid Mayor Swearengin’s Bonusgate crisis, providing the backstory & questions from the fallout.

The City Attorney’s duty may come under fire, too

If this does careen into City Hall’s version of a “constitutional crisis,” what’s the role of the City Attorney’s Office?


The city attorney to a degree acts as a Supreme Court, interpreting the City Charter for the executive (Mayor’s Office) and legislative (City Council) branches.

There’s no need for subtle interpretation of one part of the Charter: The city attorney is hired and fired by the council.

That Sloan and his crew of legal eagles might face a conflict of interest in a fight between the two branches is an understatement.

In fact, Brand and then-Council Member Andreas Borgeas recognized the possibility of just such a dilemma in 2010 when they pushed for creation of a Charter Review Committee. No. 18 on their list of possible charter amendments was giving the mayor authority to “maintain separate legal counsel … for matters of policy and due diligence.”

Nothing ever came of the suggestion.

But keep in mind it was Sloan who started the current rhubarb. Chances are Swearengin is now quietly seeking advice from someone who is unmistakably her legal advocate.

  1. The point is that these payoffs have been “dark money,” dark taxpayers’ money lavished on favorites furtively, well out of taxpayers’ eyes and knowledge. AKA personal slush fund

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