Politics

Squabble over First 5 California's children center in Fresno

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

First 5 wants to turn the parking lot next to Fresno's downtown library into an early childhood education center, pre- school, day care, and administrative offices.

Supervisor Debbie Poochigian lead the attack on First 5's plans on a testy debate with First 5 Director Kendra Rogers, Board Chairman Henry Perea had to referee.

Poochigian charged the building was too "fancy."

Poochigian: Somebody is going to have a balcony and someone will have a private bathroom and someone is going to have fancy buildings and there are questions."

Rogers: "I have offered several times to meet with you to answer your questions and you have been unwilling to meet."

Poochigain: "It's not about me and meeting with me Mrs. Rogers."

Rogers: "But you say you have questions. I'm just saying I do care."

As the tone grew angry, Perea interrupted.

Perea: "I'm gonna stop it right here."

Poochigian: "No, wait a minute."

Perea: "Hold on hold on."

Poochigian: "Am I not being respectful."

Rogers told Action News she felt ambushed by Poochigian, along with Supervisors Phil Larson and Judy Case. She said this building has been planned for years, the property has been purchased and the final contract is supposed to be signed on Friday.

Complicating the issue is the fact that Rogers has indicated she is considering running against Poochigian for her supervisor's seat.

Poochigian maintained her dialogue was not personal.

Poochigian: "This is not aimed at you I want I want you to know that."

We asked Rogers if she thought her possible candidacy was part of the issue.

Rogers: "I would leave that up to you, to decide. It's been interesting, the timing."

Regarding the project, timing is everything. Rogers says a delay risks the $3 million already spent in land acquisition and planning.

The board of First 5 commission meets Friday, while independent of the county, the supervisors control some of the First 5 board members, and the vote and whether to build or not, could be close.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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