Political Notebook

Olivier tweet insults student as ‘uneducated,’ ‘ungrateful’

Fresno City Councilman Clint Olivier
Fresno City Councilman Clint Olivier jwalker@fresnobee.com

An 18-year-old Fresno student took Fresno City Councilman Clint Olivier to task Thursday, demanding – but not getting – an apology from him for a July 19 Twitter post in which he ridiculed her as “uneducated,” “ungrateful” and an “idiot.”

Morgan Kristine Chiles was the first of about seven people who addressed the City Council on Thursday afternoon to encourage the city to develop stronger policies to reduce shootings by police officers and increase police accountability. Nine days earlier, Chiles – whose Twitter handle is @mvrgana – tweaked Olivier with a tweet that read, “Vote @ClintOlivier for parks under every overpass in Fresno!” The barb was in apparent reference to the development of Martin Ray Reilly Park, near the onramp from Chestnut Avenue to eastbound Highway 180 in Olivier’s council district.

Olivier expressed his disdain for Chiles’ remark by retweeting her post, describing her as “an example of the kind of uneducated and ungrateful idiots I deal with every day.” At some point in the following days, Olivier deleted the tweet, but not before Chiles and others captured screenshots of his response.

After Chiles concluded her three-minute remarks to the City Council, Olivier thanked her for coming to City Hall and making her presentation. “I thought it was very good,” he told her. “If you would like to sit down and meet, I’d be happy to meet with you.”

“I’d love to as long as you don’t call me uneducated and an idiot this time,” she said. But, she added, “I don’t want to sit down and speak with you about your poor treatment of me. I want to sit down and speak about policy and ways to fix the issues that I’m worried about in my community and have it be respected.”

Olivier told Chiles he wanted to offer an opportunity to sit down and asked if that sounded like an attractive thing to her. She rejected the notion, telling Olivier, “You owe me an apology.”

After the exchange, Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria said she appreciated Chiles and her peers for being “thoughtful about what you want to see in the city.” Soria offered to meet with the group because “there is value having a discussion to what are some policies we need to look for to address some of the issues and opportunities where we can come together.”

Chiles said Friday she is looking forward to meeting with Soria next week to discuss her concerns about the police department. But, she added, she has not received an apology from Olivier.

Chiles said her post was intended as “a facetious, lightedhearted political joke” and “not a personal attack on (Olivier) in any way at all.” But when she saw Olivier’s response, “I laughed, but I was shocked because it seemed like the perfect embodiment of his lack of poise and professionalism.”

“He did take it to an aggressive level,” Chiles added. “It was not only insulting to me but to everyone he has to speak to in the community.”

Olivier did not respond to requests Friday from The Bee by email, text message or Facebook to discuss Chiles’ tweet, the propriety of his response to it, or if he planned to offer Chiles an apology.

It’s not the first time that Olivier has used personal insults to disparage residents with whom he has disagreed. Earlier this year, during the council’s March 31 meeting, a live microphone caught Olivier leaning over to City Manager Bruce Rudd and describing medical marijuana advocate Rick Morse as “certifiably nuts.” Olivier, apparently unaware that the mic was on and his comments were going out live on community-access television, went on to add that Morse “fried his brains with dope and now he’s (expletive) nuts.”