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A fond farewell for Rick Farinelli

John Rieping/The Madera Tribune

Jan Farinelli walks up to her husband Rick Farinelli, Madera County supervisor for District 3, during a farewell in his honor Tuesday in the county government center. They have been married for more than 45 years.


North Fork tribe to appeal casino ruling

Madera County government staff bid farewell to District 3 Supervisor Rick Farinelli, chairman of the board of supervisors, after Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

“We’ve done all kinds of amazing things in four years … There’s a lot of things that we did fix,” said Farinelli to those who gathered in the Madera County Government Center for a farewell reception. He then listed accomplishments such as the county avoiding bankruptcy, which seemed a real possibility when he took office. “We put our heads together and now we’re a Standard & Poor’s A+ rating, one of the highest ratings of any of the counties in all of California.”

Farinelli pointed to a newly amended Memorandum of Understanding with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians that the board approved and signed Tuesday as “something that should have been done in 2007.” The agreement between the county and the tribe was changed Tuesday because the tribe’s plans for a casino on 305 acres north of Madera have been downsized for now with hopes of developing it in stages rather than all at once.

Farinelli also praised the Riverstone housing development in southern Madera County. “It will be a third city in Madera that’s for darn sure. We have planned it that way,” he said. He likewise highlighted the “outstanding” work of county staff, including the departments of planning, probation, correction and health.

“I’m so proud of my four years that I served the public,” he said. “It’s just been an honor and it’s been a blast. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Fellow supervisors Tom Wheeler, Brett Frazier and Max Rodriguez lauded the hard work of their chairman and presented him with a plaque featuring a wooden gavel. Supervisor David Rogers was unable to attend due to a family trip to Phoenix.

A delegation from North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians also gave Farinelli a plaque honoring him for his service to Madera County.

Farinelli is a lifelong Madera resident, a Vietnam veteran with the U.S. Navy, and finishes his term as a member of 40 different boards, commissions and agencies, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central California and the Gang Intervention Task Force.

Madera Mayor Robert Poythress won the District 3 seat in this summer’s primary election. His first regular meeting of the board of supervisors will be Jan. 3.

Tribe to appeal ruling Attorney John Mayer, representing the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, told supervisors Tuesday that the tribe will appeal a Fifth District Court of Appeal decision made late last week. The court’s three-judge panel in Fresno sent a case contesting the casino back to Madera County Superior Court, overruling a prior judgment supporting the project.

The lawsuit involved was originally filed in 2013 by Stand Up for California, which objected to the state allowing Class III gaming on what it considered “off-reservation” property. The group hopes to remove the land from its federal trust for gaming.

The tribe can make its appeal to the state’s supreme court.

“Like Rick (Farinelli) said, we have the casino that’s going to be built here,” said Rodriguez during the after-meeting reception. “It’s been delayed, but it’s going to get built and they’re going to hire from 1,500 to 2,000 jobs. I say this, I represent the east side and unemployment is very high in that side of town. Can you imagine having a husband and wife working together at $15 an hour 30 hours?”


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