We’d call it a Hail Mary, but the desperation is far beyond that.
For the fourth time in nearly two months, Fresno Unified board president Cal Johnson is scheduling a vote to approve contracts for taxpayer-funded criminal defense attorneys to personally represent Superintendent Michael Hanson, CFO Ruth Quinto and COO Karin Temple.
Of the three previous times this issue has been added to the agenda by Johnson, the board has voted on it twice. Both times resulted in embarrassing defeat for Hanson, et al. Despite some scheduling trickery (by having the Board vote on the contracts one day before a regular board meeting), the first attempt ended in a 3-3 tie (thus providing no approval) due to Chris De La Cerda’s defiant absence from the special meeting.
Last week marked the latest (and second) vote, a 2-4-1 defeat with De La Cerda joining Carol Mills, Luis Chavez, and Brooke Ashjian in voting against the deal.
The second vote only focused on providing a criminal defense attorney for Quinto, rather than the three-person package deal.
The second vote was preceded by a major lobbying push directed at De La Cerda by administration officials, multiple sources told CVObserver.
That Johnson, who faces a potential recall over his blocking of an independent investigation into the Insider Building scandal, continues to schedule the vote to spend taxpayer funds to personally defend three individuals cumulatively earning close to $900,000 annually demonstrates Johnson willingness to go down with the ship come deposition time.
Fresno Unified’s first Federal grand jury date over Insider Building is November 19.