The Fresno City Council rapidly backed away from a closed-door a discussion and vote to approve a $4.3 million settlement it struck with Granite Park operator Terance Frazier.
That decision came on the heels of a Wednesday evening letter from Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp which raised concerns that a majority of the councilmembers had violated the Brown Act in their discussions over the sports complex located at Cedar Ave. and Dakota Ave.
Bredefeld spoke out against his colleagues and their dealings with Frazier, calling them out for preemptively agreeing to a $4.3 million settlement that was supposed to be voted on Thursday.
Since the council pulled the vote off the agenda, Frazier’s lawsuit against the city – which is over a city audit into his operations that he claims was racist and defamatory – will continue on for the time being.
Bredefeld listed off a litany of impropriety by Frazier since he originally signed a deal with the city in 2015 to oversee Granite Park.
“He failed to pay taxes, utilities and his debts,” Bredefeld said. “He stopped paying his bills. He failed to demonstrate proper accounting. He had someone living on the site illegally. He failed to open to the public as required, and in essence, as I said, he stopped paying his bills.”
Bredefeld blasted the settlement deal, which he said was to pay off Fraizer’s debts. He noted that the city was under no obligation to do so.
The District 6 councilman outlined some of Frazier’s debts that the city would have covered in the settlement payment, including $109,000 in utility bills, $27,000 in state taxes, $33,000 in property taxes, $23,000 in PG&E payments, a $1.4 million business loan, a $56,000 personal loan and nearly $300,000 in COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program loans.
“That was on the agenda today to write a check to pay off all of those debts that we had no obligation to pay,” Bredefeld said. “None, absolutely none.”
In addition to the $2.3 million settlement payment, the city also agreed to front Frazier $2 million on advertising for a billboard at Granite Park. Frazier gets $80,000 from an advertising company where he gets at least $80,000 annually over the next 20 years.
“Instead of him just collecting that rent, the city – in its infinite stupidity – said we’re going to pay Mr. Frazier $2 million upfront, and the city will collect the revenue,” Bredefeld said. “And in that regard he will let go of his frivolous lawsuit against the city.”
Bredefeld also noted that the settlement called for the city to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in new expenses for Granite Park that it had not covered before, such as water bills, property taxes, maintenance and repairs.
“No other developer or operator has had any kind of similar deal,” Bredefeld said. “I’ve never seen such an egregious betrayal of the taxpayer than this deal. Never.”
Bredefeld noted that “the stench has continued” at City Hall, pointing out that Frazier is engaged to Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria.
“Today Mr. Frazier would have been awarded multi-millions of dollars, and the fact that he’s getting married to a council member who resides up here, she would have been getting multi-millions when they got married,” Bredefeld said.
He also called out Frazier for holding a fundraiser at his house Wednesday evening for Councilman Miguel Arias.
“The stench is disgusting,” Bredefeld said. “It was pulled because the district attorney is looking into this. I’m grateful to the district attorney. I appreciate it because she and her actions today saved the taxpayers from being ripped off for $4.3 million. What a disgrace.”
Thursday afternoon, Frazier fired back at Smittcamp for throwing a wrench into a planned settlement agreement, alleging that the two-term District Attorney was being guided by political calculations rather than the law.
“Unfortunately yesterday, in a purely political move, Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, jammed the spokes of the consideration of this agreement with an out-of-the-blue announcement – and without one shred of evidence – that she was investigating ‘potential’ Brown Act (illegal meeting) violations and that she ‘requests that any vote regarding Granite Park be postponed until our investigation is complete,’” Frazier said in a news release.