Clovis City Councilmember Pearce doubles down on LGBT “BookGate”

August 8, 2023 – “At the last meeting there was some indication that there had been staff talking to other council members and such and that was relayed. And so I just want to say very clearly that I respect our city staff and I don’t need anyone being an intermediary for us. And so, I want to make it very clear that if any staff that has an interest or need to talk to me about any topic, I am 100% available to you.”

That was the quote from Councilwoman Diane Pearce at Monday night’s Clovis City Council meeting during the City Council comments section when council members are allowed to speak on any topic they please.

Pearce was presumably under the impression that City Staff had been speaking to her fellow council members rather than speak directly to her after comments she had made relating to LGBT books being presented at the Clovis Library.

Pearce then revisited her opposition to certain LGBT books in the library by suggesting that the Clovis City Council as an entity write a letter to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors in order to “acknowledge their jurisdiction” in the matter, as the Clovis Library is a Fresno County run organization, and “acknowledge our communities concern with graphic sexual content in children’s books.”

“I have continued to have Clovis parents and grandparents express that concern to me and want to know what can be done about that, and I do agree with them that I don’t think that is up to our Clovis city standards.”

Pearce also stated that her hope is for the Clovis City Council to “…express support for a solution at the County level for their ability to assist or be helpful in any way that would be meaningful for them.”

After a brief pause, Mayor Pro-Tem Vong Mouanoutoua stated, “I would be in support because there are constituents who have concerns but to allow the County to do their job and allow the residents to go to the County and [express] their concerns.”

Councilman Drew Bessinger questioned the concept of the entire situation, saying “This is such a slippery slope though because who is the person who’s gonna make that determination? Do I trust their determination? This becomes a very difficult area.” Bessinger indicated his support for a letter so long as the Council did not specifically give the Fresno County Board of Supervisors direction, but merely asked them to look at and identify the topic that falls under their jurisdiction.

Mayor Lynne Ashbeck and Councilman Matt Basgall expressed opposition to writing a letter to Fresno County saying, “I don’t really see the need to send a letter to the County. I think everyone has their own positions and agrees or disagrees with their own opinions, but it is the County Board of Supervisors’ position to take it up with the County or not.”

Basgall added, “I just think this delves into way too much as far as, now we’re asking people to interpret what books are safe and what books aren’t. We may feel one way about a certain book and other people may want other books taken off the shelves of libraries.”

Mayor Ashbeck suggested that if the three members, Councilmembers Pearce, Mouanoutoua, and Bessinger wanted to send a letter that they could but asked that she and Councilman Basgall’s names be left off.

“I’m not interested in my name on that letter at all. You think if they were gonna ask they would have asked a long time ago. This is not a new idea and it violates a principle that I’ve been operating with all these years.”

A letter will be drafted and sent to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors asking the board to look further into the topic of LGBT books inside the Clovis Library with only the signatures of Councilmembers Pearce, Mouanoutoua, and Bessinger.

JT is a recent college grad with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He is mainly interested in sports and entertainment but covers a wide array of subjects. He currently writes for the Fresno State Baseball Dugout Club. JT looks forward to continuing his career at the Clovis Roundup and is excited to be working closely with a community that is very proud of its people.