The Staffer Incident
We need at this point to address an incident – we’ll call it the Staffer Incident – that occurred moments after the March 23 meeting ended. I heard several accounts, from people on the scene and others who got their information second-hand. All accounts agreed on the essentials.
Caprioglio met one of Bredefeld’s staffers. The AB 199 resolution had gone down in flames less than an hour earlier. Caprioglio pointed to the staffer’s ear and delivered a short comment.
The staffer told his boss. Bredefeld last week gave me this written comment:
“AB 199 is a job-killing bill that will make it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for many people to purchase homes. This bill would price many people out of being able to buy a home. It would likely raise the price of homes anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000. Affordable housing, including apartments, would become even less affordable and the exodus out of California will continue. This will have a dramatically negative impact on citizens throughout our city, in particular those who struggle financially and live paycheck to paycheck.
“Mayor Brand publicly opposed this bill. Council Member Brandau and I brought forward a resolution before the City Council opposing this bill. All five Council Members abstained from the vote. What was most troubling was that Councilman Paul Caprioglio came to my young, inexperienced staff assistant after the vote and told him, ‘You know we’re trying to send a message and some people aren’t hearing it.’
“What message he was referring to, I do not know, nor do I care. What I do know is that rather than Caprioglio having the courage to directly tell me the message he was trying to send, he went after a young staffer. This is something most officials would never do. What Councilman Caprioglio does not understand is that I will never be intimidated nor back down from standing up for my constituents and speaking out against bad legislation or legislation that hurts our citizens or city.
“Rather than trying to send some message to me and Councilman Brandau by abstaining, Mr. Caprioglio should be looking out for his constituents and being their voice against terrible laws that will hurt them economically. I encourage him to stand with the hard-working men and women of Fresno and let Sacramento know that there are real adverse consequences to the terrible legislation they are enacting.”
As I noted earlier, Caprioglio (District 4, East-Central Fresno) and I had a good half-hour talk last week on a variety of City Hall topics. But in the end, he declined to go on the record. So, I won’t quote his thoughts on Bredefeld’s outrage over the Staffer Incident.
But I can make two good guesses about the significance of the Staffer Incident. First, Caprioglio, like Bredefeld, is tough as nails. Both men are peas from the same Machiavellian pod. I’d be stunned if Caprioglio has lost a bit of sleep over Bredefeld’s criticism. Second, if I were the fellow at the heart of the Staffer Incident, I’d tactfully suggest to my boss that he let the matter rest. I’ve met my share of legendary council staffers over the years. There’s Claudia Ruiz, Terry Cox, Greg Barfield, Ann Kloose, Ginger Barrett, Mike Dages (for Quintero) and Quintero (for Dages), to name just a few. They could handle the rough-and-tumble of politics without a parental figure running to the rescue. This young man better be tough enough to do the same, or he needs to find another job.
In other words, the Staffer Incident is a skirmish, not a turning point, in the council’s civil war.