LOOKING FOR PEREA’S END GAME
Two things stood out for me.
First, I was surprised at the timidity of some supes. The RFP process isn’t perfect. But make no mistake, it’s a powerful tool for elected officials when the public purse is involved. The audience was full of haulers. Some of the supes were almost apologetic when they had to say “RFP” in the same sentence as “haulers.” I’m not saying the supes needed to be unnecessarily confrontational with business interests. I am saying I’m glad this board wasn’t staring across the table at the Russians during the Cold War.
Second, I sent a text to Perea on Tuesday evening: “Well done today, Henry. Statesmanship when the odds were against you. One question: Are you running for mayor?”
Perea never responded. I didn’t expect it.
What I meant by “statesmanship” is that Perea was focused and restrained during the debate.
He spoke only when he had to. For example, he said making trash service mandatory at each house in Mayfair “is a health and safety issue.” About 500 of the 2,500 or so housing units in Mayfair have opted out for Republic’s service. Perea said the trash from those 500 units goes somewhere. All too often, he said, it gets dumped illegally in the alleys and on the roadways of Fresno.
And Perea wasted no words when he summed up the supes’ vote.
“Ratepayers lose and haulers win,” he said.
But Perea didn’t belabor his issue. He didn’t raise his voice. He didn’t ramble. His comments were concise. They addressed easily grasped points. It was almost as if he was practicing for future speeches on complex subjects to a much larger audience.
And so we return to where I began.
Perea had to have known his Mayfair proposal was dead on arrival. The Hall of Records isn’t that big or quiet. So, why did he do it? He’s not one to pursue the martyr role.
I’ve heard some of the post-meeting quarterbacking. Much of it centers on a long-running fight with local political consultant Mark Scozzari and his stable of clients (some of their names already mentioned in this story) on one side and Perea and his allies on the other.
As we said at The Bee, that’s “inside baseballish” stuff. Fascinating to political obsessives, but beyond my ken.
And, I’m guessing, to most of Fresno’s voters.
But the question of whether Supervisor Henry R. Perea throws his hat into a mayoral ring that already holds the hats of Lee Brand and H. Spees is a big deal locally.
Perhaps Perea on Tuesday was 1.) showcasing his consumerist convictions, 2.) demonstrating his discipline in the face of verbose enemies, 3.) further muddying the water of a decades-old trash issue that he might like to see shunted to the campaign sidelines, 4.) sending the message that he’s ready to play mayoral hardball.
But I do know this.
I covered for The Bee every inch of the journey that was the Measure G campaign. Each side had enough facts and statistics and estimations and promises to fill a thick book.
I never found an average voter who dug into it all.
June 4, 2013 – special election day – came. The pro-privatization forces met that evening at an office complex on Shaw Avenue in north Fresno. The anti-privatization forces met at Democratic Party headquarters on U Street near downtown.
Spirits were high. Confidence reigned. I’m talking about both sides. It was exciting just to watch from a distance.
Things were settled by the slimmest of margins. None of it had to do with “price per ton” or “franchise fees” or “service schedules.”
It all came down to getting out the vote. South Fresno beat North Fresno.
Fresno’s three “strong government” mayors have come from North Fresno.
Perea on Tuesday was in South Fresno. If he thinks his Tuesday message resonates with a decent portion of North Fresno, then I’m guessing he’ll run for mayor.