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Mayor to use veto pen for first time on Fresno City Council’s office space overreach

FRESNO, CA – Today, Mayor Lee Brand issued his first veto since he took office in January 2017. The Mayor signed the veto slip for 2019-086, entitled Assigning Office and Parking Space and passed by the Council on April 25, that displaces critical professional staff in order to make room for summer interns and storage space.

“I sincerely wish it had not come to this, but the Council has literally backed me and my Administration into a corner. I know of two meetings between the Councilmembers and my staff where the negotiation consisted of telling my staff that this was a take it or leave it offer,” said Mayor Brand. “That isn’t what I would call a negotiation. We offered them a number of alternatives and showed them other spaces where they could locate their interns and store whatever they need to store, but they said no, they have to have these spaces where two key members of the City Manager’s team currently work.”

Per the City Council resolution, Assistant City Manager Jane Sumpter, who holds the number two administrative position in the City of Fresno, and Deputy City Manager Laura Merrill will be forced to move their offices. Both offices are currently directly adjacent to the City Manager’s office, making for constant and consistent communications with the City Manager and her team. However, with the Council’s action, two staff members will be forced to move to the opposite side of the building or even on another floor of City Hall, making communication much more difficult and much less efficient.

The Council resolution will also force seven key staff members who currently park in the employee parking lot adjacent to City Hall to a parking lot much further away in order to accommodate Councilmembers’ Council Assistants. Councilmembers’ Chiefs of Staff already have assigned parking in the lot.

“I’m vetoing this resolution in the hope that the Council and I can work together to resolve this issue without the need for a public kerfuffle,” said Mayor Brand.

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