By Ed Martin, Editor
Councilmember Holly Blair
Councilmember Holly Blair

At Tuesday’s Lemoore City Council meeting, councilmembers tackled several important issues, among them, changes to the city’s utility billing practices, heard a presentation about Lemoore’s Volunteer Fire Department, acted on a massage parlor ordinance, supported an effort to improve water storage capabilities in California, and heard important investment and financial reports.

But the topic generating the most discussion, as well as a bit of rancor, had to do with a bug – not the kind of insect that likes to take a swim in your soup – but the kind of bug on a business card that signifies that the card was printed at a union shop. The bug is a tiny symbol printed on the card denoting the shop’s union status.

Mayor Ray Madrigal
Mayor Ray Madrigal

The issue was brought to the attention of council at the Jan. 17 meeting where new councilmember, Holly Blair, requested that she be allowed to use the city’s logo and purchase her own business cards – at a union shop, rather than utilize the city’s cards, which aren’t printed at a union shop, but at a shop in Hanford.

At the last council meeting, staff was directed to gather information relating to other cities’ use of the logo.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the verdict was in. City Clerk Janie Venegas told councilmembers that despite an “exhaustive search,” she could not find a rumored business card policy, and instead presented councilmembers with sample policies, generated from contacts with other cities.

“As we don’t have a written policy in place, staff is looking for direction. We’re looking for direction as to what clearly defines the direction of council on this item,” said the city clerk.

 “I wanted to go to a union press because I felt it was important to represent the constituents who voted for me, who represent the working class. I’m not asking to alter the logo, I’m asking to go to a different press, and I will be willing to pay completely out of pocket, not costing the city or the taxpayers any additional funds,” said Blair. “The only different is the evidence that it was printed at a union shop.”

Council's Blair wants her business cards printed at union shop

Several speakers, supporting Blair’s effort, spoke up in favor of her union support. “She understands labor rights,” said Dillon Savory, political director for the Central Labor Council. “She understands our rights. She is a supporter for workplace equality.”

Savory was followed by other union representatives, all of whom supported Blair.

 “I totally respect everything you speakers who came up here said,” said Mayor Ray Madrigal who told them he too has benefitted from collective bargaining while a member of the California Highway Patrol.

“I am probably one of the biggest benefactors of collective bargaining,” he said. “I spent 30 years with the Highway Patrol. Fifteen years of that time I was in the union, and I continued to pay union dues even when I didn’t have to. So, don’t say that I don’t respect the union. I totally respect our unions and always bargain in good faith with all of our bargaining units.”

But he also said the logo in question belongs to the people of Lemoore. “That logo does not belong to me, it does not belong to Ms. Blair, it doesn’t belong to anybody here. It belongs to the people of the city, and if we allow this to happen, where does it stop? It has nothing to do with respecting a living wage.”

He also said that cities have policies making it a trademark, and they’re very restrictive on how their logos can be used.

Blair told councilmembers she refused to have a City of Lemoore business card that was not printed in a union shop. “I refuse to have a business card that does not have a union bug.”

Councilmember Jeff Chedester made a motion to “establish guidelines for the city of Lemoore to have consistent business cards representing the city only and its logo…”

Blair received support from councilmembers Neal and Dave Brown, who hesitated before casting his vote, causing Chedester’s motion to fail.

Blair offered a motion to create a policy spelling out the propriety rights of the city logo, a policy that doesn’t preclude union bids, and that because the city currently does not have a policy, allow her to purchase her own cards – with the city’s logo.

The motion passed with Blair, Brown and Neal voting for the motion and Madrigal and Chedester voting against.