Fresno

Fresno DA opens probe into Fresno City Council over Granite Park dealings

One day before the Fresno City Council is set to weigh-in on a settlement of legal claims regarding the woe-begotten Granite Park, it faces allegations and a probe into alleged violations of state law. 

Wednesday afternoon, Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp sent a letter to Fresno City Attorney Doug Sloan saying the district attorney’s office has received complaints that Fresno City Council members have violated the Brown Act in their discussions surrounding the east-central Fresno sports park complex.

Smittcamp said the allegations involve recent discussions among a majority of the council members.

Per the Brown Act, all meetings of a majority of the council must be open to the public.

“This is not the first allegation this office has received pertaining to a potential violation of the Brown Act that has involved Granite Park,” Smittcamp wrote. 

“We will continue to address these allegations. It is respectively requested that any vote regarding Granite Park be postponed until our investigation is complete.” 

Smittcamp’s letter arrives just as the City Council is set to discuss Granite Park and potentially settle a lawsuit filed by Central Valley Community Sports Foundation President Terance Frazier, who runs the sports park.

Frazier sued the city over an audit that the city conducted into CVCSF, then led by him and former Rep. TJ Cox (D–Fresno). He claimed the audit has damaged future business opportunities for him within Fresno.

The audit claimed a lack of internal accounting controls on the part of him and Cox, and highlighted questionable financial transactions by Cox.

Frazier in his suit claimed the city of Fresno — which owns the Granite Park facility — failed to live up to its obligations when he leased the property to operate it as a recreational sports venue.

When he complained and asked for a doubling of a subsidy included in the lease terms, the city retaliated with a damaging audit, the suit alleged.

According to the 65-page complaint, the city’s audit was faulty, as well as “defamatory” and “discriminatory” and should have never been publicly released.

Frazier, the fiancée of Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria, nearly reached a settlement with the City of Fresno in late 2020, only for the potential litigation to continue without resolution.

A closed-door discussion of Frazier’s lawsuit regarding Granite Park was set for Thursday during a specially-called meeting separate from the Council’s regularly-scheduled legislative activities.

The closed-door confab is set to be followed by a public vote on a $2.33 million settlement payment to Frazier over his legal claims against the city related to operation of the park and alleged defamation.

As part of the settlement, a new, for-profit entity led by Frazier will assume management control of the city-owned park from CVCSF.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.