I was stunned to see the conduct of Fresno County Board of Supervisors Chairman Buddy Mendes during the “public protest hearing” at the board’s April 12 meeting. I have never before seen such inappropriate, bullying conduct from a public official in a public meeting.
Janaki Jagannath was addressing the board to oppose a water-rate increase that would dramatically affect poor communities such as El Porvenir, where residents already pay water rates 10 times higher than those in Fresno for unsafe water they cannot drink. That water is provided by Westlands Water District through a contract with the county.
As soon as there was criticism of Westlands, Mendes shut the woman down, raised his voice, called her a liar, blamed the high rates on “your lefty buddies up in Northern California,” and refused to allow the woman to finish talking. He disagreed with her, so he shut her up. It was stunning. As Mendes continued ranting, the woman remained calm and respectful, even when he told her to “sit down.”
Even in the insult era of Donald Trump, we deserve better from our public leaders.
Douglas L. Gordon, Fresno