According to John Borboa, it was the proverbial ‘final straw.’

On Tuesday, May 2, following a regularly scheduled Firebaugh City Council meeting the previous night, Borboa abruptly resigned as the city’s fire chief, ending more than 40 years of protecting the city and leading the department. His resignation letter to Firebaugh City Manager Ben Gallegos skewered three city council members, believed to be Brady Jenkins, Felipe Perez, and Fred Valdez, whom he claims are micro-managing the city.

“I find with the ‘Manny, Moe and Jack’ political majority leading the current council and subsequently all actions of the city through micromanaging every department from city manager on down completely unsupportable and unacceptable on every level,” Borboa stated in his letter, which was also posted on some social media sites, garnering heavy response from residents.

The drama started at the May 1 council meeting, according to Borboa.

During the ‘staff reports’ part of the meeting, he told the council that the Volunteer Fire Department had purchased a new security system for the new fire station being built in town, noting that the purchase was made with their association funds.

He said that when he finished his presentation, there were no comments about the purchase from the council. They went into a closed session to discuss “Labor Negotiations and City Manager Evaluation.” According to city clerk Rita Lozano, there was “no action taken” when the four council members, Jenkins, Valdez, current mayor Perez, and Sylvia Renteria, emerged (council member Elsa Lopez was absent}.

The following day, Borboa said he was chatting casually with Gallegos and finance director Pio Martin at city hall when Gallegos told Borboa that the council turned down the security system, leading to an irate Borboa submitting his resignation.

The alleged action taken by the council concerning the security system, apparently in closed session, appears to violate California’s Brown Act Open Meeting Law, which is very specific on what can be discussed in closed session. The Fresno County District Attorney’s office has yet to respond to queries about the issue.

Also, city manager Gallegos has responded with ‘no comment’ to several emails sent to him. Jenkins also did not respond to an email about the issue.

The Firebaugh Volunteer Fire Department has about 24 members and not only protects the city with medical aid and fire service, but they also aid Madera County, Fresno County, and the city of Mendota.

The group held a special meeting on May 3 at the fire station. Michael Molina was selected as the interim Fire Chief, and Hector Marin will be the Battalion Chief.

But because they will be paid, those appointments are subject to council approval. According to one department member, there is a strong distrust of the council, its agenda, and what will occur. 

“The council has created a mess, and some of us plan to be at the next city council meeting to see what kind of shenanigans they have planned,” said one volunteer firefighter.

The next city council meeting will be this Monday, May 15, at 6 pm.

Editor’s note David Borboa is related to John Borboa and Brady Jenkins.

David Borboa