Oliver Baines

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Oliver Baines was the only African American serving on the Fresno City Council during his two terms in office starting in 2010. Prior to that, he spent nearly 12 years as a Fresno police officer. Yesterday it was announced that he will lead a new commission for police reform in Fresno, tasked with making a recommendation to the council in 90 days. FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke with Baines about his experience with police brutality as a young man, and his vision for Fresno’s future. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: Former Fresno City Councilmember Oliver Baines is heading a new police reform commission. He shares his vision for the department, and talks about why previous efforts have fallen short. 

We also speak with men who survived a disease outbreak at Avenal State Prison, not COVID-19, but valley fever. It was almost a decade ago, and they’re still seeking justice today. 

Plus, parents discuss what it’s like to raise black children in the San Joaquin Valley. 

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The Fresno City Council announced Thursday it’s creating a police reform commission. Council President Miguel Arias said the commission will be headed by former council member and police officer Oliver Baines.  

The news came after the council sat through a workshop about social and economic justice led by the Fresno State NAACP. 

A new chapter in the history of a long-neglected Fresno neighborhood could be just around the corner. Some residents in southwest Fresno say they are seeing a critical mass of plans falling into place to unlock the neighborhood's long trapped potential. The approval of the Southwest Fresno Specific Plan, moving the Darling meat rendering plant, and the expected influx of tens of millions of dollars in state development funds have all been approved this year. And some believe this confluence of events will be the tipping point toward growth and revitalization.

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A Fresno City Councilmember is apologizing for remarks he made two weeks ago that some community members have interpreted as racially insensitive. Councilmember Garry Bredefeld found himself in hot water after wading into the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Oliver Baines has a unique perspective on the issue of Black Lives Matter and law enforcement. Currently the only African-American on the Fresno City Council, Baines also served around 12 years as an officer with the Fresno Police Department.  Speaking on Valley Public Radio’s Valley Edition Tuesday, Baines recalled his own experiences with racially biased policing, while pleading for calm and understanding in the wake of recent shootings and protests.  Baines said the often heated rhetoric from people on both sides of the issue serves to distract from the goal of racial reconciliation.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition Reporter Jeffrey Hess explores why certain police shootings - like the shooting death of Dylan Noble - receive more attention than others. We also hear from Fresno City Councilmember Oliver Baines about his time as a police officer, his response to police involved shootings and more. Later FM89 Reporter Kerry Klein reports on the success of Fresno's needle exchange program. We also hear from NPR's Dan Charles about his latest article focusing on the five things he's learned while reporting on farmworkers.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Two Fresno City Council members are taking a stand against what they consider to be secretive bonuses to top administration officials.

Several high-ranking city leaders were given more than $200,000 in bonuses and deferred compensation over the past two years. The issue raised the ire of the City Council because they say Mayor Ashley Swearengin did not follow city law and disclose their total compensation. Disclosure of public employee pay is required by the city’s 2010 Transparency Act.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

 

Around 40 activists, health advocates and bus riders rallied in Central Fresno Thursday urging the Fresno City Council to support an improved bus system.

Bus Rapid Transit would be a network of busses that would reduce travel time on major corridors like Blackstone Avenue by having fewer stops, pre-boarding fare collection and priority traffic signals. Fifty million dollars in federal and state funding has already been allocated which will pay for construction and the first three years of operation.