Supervisors Micari, Valero settle recent dispute

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors during one of their convenings on Jan. 9, 2024.(Karis Caddell)Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Tulare County supervisors Valero, Mircari seek to move past recent accusations by Micari of race-based policy decisions from Valero

TULARE COUNTY – Following a recent public accusation from Tulare County Chairman Larry Micari that Supervisor Eddie Valero sought to replace all county department leaders with people of Latino-heritage, the supervisors have buried the hatchet and opted to leave the situation behind them. However, community members were not so quick to forgive and forget the comments.

On Feb. 26, a video of Tulare County Chairman Micari was shared online, where he was speaking at Legacy Church on Sunday, Feb. 25. The video was spread on the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter) and consisted of Micari accusing Supervisor Valero of wanting to eliminate county department heads on the basis of race.

However, the situation was quickly remedied as of the Feb. 27 Board of Supervisors meeting, where Micari publicly apologized to Valero for his comments.

“I want to start off this morning by, first of all, saying I’m sorry to Supervisor Valero…I just want to hopefully put this behind us and move forward,” Micari said.

Micari then went on to note, “It’s come to my attention that Supervisor Valero has received some, let’s just say, mail that is not very nice and polite towards him. I personally ask everyone to stop, leave it alone…There’s no reason to take it out on him.”

In the video of Micari at Legacy Church that sparked the overall circumstance, the chairman made statements that Supervisor Valero was “running his mouth, saying that once he gets his Latino majority, they’re going to fire all the white department heads because the county’s too white,” Micari said.

He followed this up by saying, “And they are going to take $40 million from the sheriff (Tulare County Sheriff’s Office) for their programs.”

Micari said this after pointing out the county has a “four-fifths vote” process when it comes to changing department heads, meaning that at least four of the five Board of Supervisors members would have to vote to terminate someone from a department head position.

“So, thinking ahead, we changed the personnel rules to try to protect that and make sure that we’re doing the right thing for everybody,” Micari said.

Following his apology at the meeting, Micari affirmed he will no longer be speaking to the press about the issue and explained he wants to move on from the incident. He also asked any community members sending negativity to Valero to stop doing so.

Valero also expressed his desire to leave the incident in the past and accepted Micari’s apology.

“I truly appreciate your willingness to acknowledge harm caused by the situation…Your apology means a lot and I accept it wholeheartedly,” Valero said. “Moving forward, let’s ensure that open communication and mutual respect guide our interactions.”

Opposing perspectives

Prior to the Feb. 27 meeting, both supervisors released statements on their respective standpoints regarding the initial situation.

In response to the circumstance, Micari reiterated in emailed statements to The Sun-Gazette on Feb. 26 that the county updated personnel rules to include the four-fifths vote to appoint or terminate a department head. This update was made on Nov. 28, 2023, when the board approved the four-fifths vote rule to dismiss department heads and the county administrative officer.

He explained that clarification of these rules, as well as his intention, is to protect all employees. In the statements, Micari also stood by the allegations that Supervisor Valero has made negative comments based on race.

“On numerous occasions, Supervisor Valero has insinuated he prefers to work only with Latino staff,” Micari said. “I admit the sound bite sounds terrible. As always, there is more information to the story than a few minutes allotted on stage at a forum. I apologize if there are any misunderstandings.”

Supervisor Valero took to his social media page to present his perspective. From his standpoint, Valero said Micari’s statements are 100% false.

“Yesterday, at the Legacy Church Candidates Forum, I was disheartened to see a video with slanderous remarks made about me by a colleague,” Valero said in his statement. “My colleague is using race-baiting and fear-mongering as a cheap political tactic.”

Valero also assured the public that he remains devoted to all members of the community and has love for all Tulare County residents.

“Thank you to everyone who continues to stand by my side. Your unwavering support means the world to me,” he said. “Together, we will overcome these obstacles and continue to work towards a brighter future for all.”

Hearing from the public

Even though Valero, along with Miciari, expressed the desire to put the incident in the past and not discuss it further, many community members voiced their disappointment in Micari’s statements from the forum.

One community member, who identified himself as a friend of Valero, expressed his thoughts at the meeting both about Valero and the comments made about the county’s policies.

“What brings me here today is the appalling racism that was expressed and accounted for him (Valero) by Supervisor Micari,” he said. “What came forward in the supervisor’s comments was an apparent change in policy at the county that is designed to protect white people and their positions as supervisors or directors.”

He continued to state that he believes the Chairman should be responding to media inquiries about the situation.

“I fully expect the supervisor to answer the questions of journalists because of the deep, deep hurt,” he said.

One community member, who identified herself as Susanne, explained that even though Valero might want to leave the comments in the past, the community should still be able to discuss it given the message it sends the Latino community.

“I am very concerned,  although there was an apology made here at the Board of Supervisors meeting, I think that the general community needs to be aware of this,” she said. “I know, Eddie, that you don’t want (this to be) an issue concerning you, but it does concern the perception that having more representation on the board would somehow be negative to Tulare County.”

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