An Open Letter to Fresno City Council Member Oliver Baines







City Council member Oliver Baines
Fresno City Hall
2600 Fresno Street
Fresno Ca 93721

Dear Mr. Baines:

Members of this organization are profoundly disappointed in your support of the Homeless No Camping ordinance. Your vote for this new effort to criminalize the homeless continues Fresno down the wrong path in addressing this important community issue.

Your yes vote came after council member Steve Brandau made it clear that his ordinance was not put forward to help the homeless, after the ACLU warned that it is unconstitutional to criminalize homelessness, and after council member Soria pointed out that passing it might jeopardize federal funding. Our members are outraged that you are supporting this right wing sponsored “tough love” approach to the homeless issue. Do you really believe that by making homeless people’s lives more difficult and miserable you are helping them?

For less money you could have provided the homeless with a safe and legal place to rest, provided them with something cool to drink on a hot day, set up trash bins to keep Fresno clean and portable toilets to give the homeless the dignity and respect they deserve. Instead, you passed yet another punitive law to imprison and humiliate the homeless.

The CVPPAC is committed to an approach that provides homeless people with housing, the social services they need to live a healthier and happier life and building a community that is responsive to the needs of its most vulnerable citizens. We know that it is possible to spend less money and end homelessness.

Why you want to continue down that dark road of harassment and criminalization of the homeless, led by Tea Party member Brandau and which is clearly not working, is a mystery to us. We would have appreciated an opportunity to talk to you about this issue before the vote, but you did not reach out to us. Now, we have numerous CVPPAC members demanding to know why we endorsed you when you first ran to be on the City Council.

We thought it important to let you know CVPPAC members’ deep concern with this vote.  We ask you to reconsider your support of this ordinance and to consider what being a councilman who sought a progressive organization’s support means now that you are in office.

CVPPAC leadership will be in contact to invite you to speak further with CVPPAC members about this important issue.


The Central Valley Progressive CVPPAC executive board
Pam Whalen, President
Loretta Kensinger, Vice President
Simone Cranston-Rhodes, Secretary
Carole Laval, Treasurer
Michael Evans, At Large
Howard Watkins, Immediate Past President

P.O. Box 5845, Fresno Ca 93755 (559) 994-9390