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By Toni DeRosa
Wasco Tribune 

Motion to raise Pride flag at Wasco City Hall fails

 


The City Council spent over an hour on a presentation on raising a Pride flag in front of City Hall during the month of June each year, which is known as Pride Month, during its meeting Tuesday. The motion ultimately failed 3-1.

Over 20 people addressed the council about their feelings on this issue.

The majority of the speakers were against the raising of a flag commemorating Pride Month and several questioned “Where will it stop?”

Mayor Alex Garcia presented arguments in favor of raising the flag for the population that feels unrepresented and expressed it would give that particular group of residents a feeling of belonging and acceptance. A couple of speakers from Delano addressed the issue and were in favor of raising the flag. Wasco would be the first city in the area to do so.

“I am in support of Garcia,” Mayor of Delano Brian Osorio said. “It shows solidarity to a community that needs support.”

Those who spoke against the raising of the Pride flag felt that it gave the wrong message to other communities. Garcia was also accused of placing the item on the agenda, which several felt was self-serving.

“If Alex had come out as gay before the election, the results might have been different,” Marcela Escobedo stated. She stated that Garcia didn’t become outspoken until after he was elected and chosen as mayor.

Yolanda Harrison said, “When you raise the flag to certain groups of people, you are excluding other groups.”

Julian Sanchez Ochoa also said that he was opposed to raising the flag in front of City Hall. He asked members of the council to remember they are voting for the people of Wasco.

“This will divide the city and people will move out of the city,” Ochoa said. “We should be looking into the real issues such as horrible gang violence. Your priorities need to be right.”

Council member Vince Martinez stated this was not a political issue but a symbolic issue.

“The city has provided proclamations to other groups and that has worked well in the past,” Martinez said. “It will distract from important issues within the city.”

However, Garcia replied that raising the Pride Flag is not just symbolic.

The motion failed 3-1.

Kern County Sheriff’s Office agreement renewed

The City of Wasco unanimously approved an agreement between the city and the County of Kern to provide law enforcement services within the city.

Several changes were made to the contract. The base cost for the contract represents an increase of 8.96% or $352.79 over the prior year’s base contract cost. The cost for fiscal year 2021-22 will be $4,290,052 compared to $3,937,263 for the current year that ends June 30.

Overtime has been increase from 9% of deputies’ salaries to a new rate of 15%.

Under the new agreement, KCSO will not replace a deputy; however, the KCSO will cover the deputy’s shift if possible with existing resources at the Wasco substation through schedule adjustments. The minimum requirement of two deputies on duty at any given time remains the same.

SWAT, detectives and bomb squad callouts were previously sent out at no additional costs, but under the new agreement, the city will bear the cost of these units when used.

City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez said this was his last City Council meeting prior to his leaving. Council members all wished him well and complimented him on his commitment to the city.

 

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