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Bredefeld v. The World: City Council devolves into high drama of chaos, crisis

The Battle Scars

I give you six other thoughts (there are many more) that give some context the council’s current woes:

1.) As Brandau mentioned in our interview, Bredefeld is new to the current council but he’s not a first-time legislator. He represented District 6 from 1997 to 2001. Those were the first four years of the strong-mayor government in Fresno.

Bredefeld in the last two years of that term was probably the pivotal figure at City Hall in cutting a Downtown stadium deal with the Fresno Diamond Group (the Grizzlies owner at the time).

Mayor Jim Patterson and Council Members Chris Mathys and Ken Steitz were on one side of the stadium issue. Bredefeld along with Henry R. Perea, Quintero, Dan Ronquillo and Tom Boyajian were on the other side.

Neither side showed the other any mercy. Bredefeld’s side won.

2.) Fast forward to late fall 2016. The District 6 voters have returned Bredefeld to the Council Chamber after a 16-year absence.

The council would get a new president come January. The one-year job is rotated according to district number. The one exception is for council newcomers. A first-year council member can’t step right in and become president.

District 4’s Caprioglio was president in 2016. Because of the seniority rule, District 7’s Olivier was all set to be president in 2017.

Bredefeld soon after the November election made the case to the council that he should replace Caprioglio in the president’s chair. After all, Bredefeld said, he’s got more than enough council experience.

The council quickly changed the rule to require that the minimum one year of council experience be in the council member’s current term.

3.) Bredefeld and the other council members also clashed over seating arrangements on the dais and the assignment of offices on City Hall’s second floor. CVObserver Publisher Alex Tavlian chronicled these misadventures in mid-February.

4.) There’s considerable talk at City Hall about who might run for the state Senate seat that becomes vacant at the end of 2018. The seat is currently held by Republican Tom Berryhill, who has reached his term limit.

Olivier has already announced his candidacy. Brandau is a potential candidate. Such a campaign requires lots of money.

5.) District 6 is unique among Fresno’s seven council districts. Northeast Fresno is the city’s richest area. It doesn’t have the land-use challenges that plague Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. It’s doesn’t have the inner-city challenges that plague District 7 and many of the other districts.

That’s why City Hall veterans describe the District 6 council member as possessing the “leadership position.” The District 6 council member has the time and opportunity to pursue “Big Picture” policies and ideas.

Brand is the perfect example. He wrote (and got passed) more than 20 pieces of complex legislation during his eight years as a council member.

6.) Dovetailing with item No. 5, the role of Fresno City Council member in 2017 is changing. It’s different than it was 10 years ago, let alone 30 years ago.

For starters, Fresno and its chief executive have 20 years of experience with the strong-mayor form of government. Alan Autry and Ashley Swearengin very much dominated their councils. Brand, for all his Mr. Nice Guy persona, is headed down the same path.

Perhaps more importantly, technology is slicing into the council member’s domain.

A good example is constituent services. In the old days, Mrs. Fresno called her council member to get a pothole filled or a tree on a public right-of-way trimmed. Today, she more than likely sends in a service request on the popular (and effective) FresnoGo app.

Don’t get me wrong – today’s council members work hard and earn their paychecks. I’m simply saying they have time to do other things at City Hall. That includes look for new issues to tackle.

George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.


  1. The article has a number of flaws, not least of which a lack of editing. The amount of factual and grammatical errors makes me wonder if anyone bothers to do their homework. Another point of contention is the gross mischaracterzations, no one in their right mind would confuse Paul Caprioglio with Garry Bredefeld, one is a craven, lazy, dirty old man, while the other is an articulate, hard charging person of principle. It’s even less believable reading how Caorioglio is “tough as nails.” If ever there was a chicken-hearted councilmember it’s Paul Caprioglio, how he was confused as being tough as nails is laughable. If he were as tough as Mr. Hostetter says he is, then instead of making a living as a gutless fraud he would stand for something. Caprioglio wants to think of himself as a Machiavellian type when in reality he behaves contrary to the great strategist. By trying to “send a message” to Bredefeld’s staffer, Caprioglio’s betrays himself by overplaying his hand. It’s clear from reading this article Bredefeld hired staffers that serve him well, as they used one of the great laws of power: Play a Sucker to Catch a Sucker.

  2. Our council people are the problem. I’m closer politically to Bredefield and Brandau. So far not impressed with my freshman Councilman Chavez nor our Freshman Mayor who I voted. Chavez and Olivier reek of political opportunism from a voters perspective.

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