Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

A Voice That Went Unheard at the ‘ Stewardship Council’

By Emerson Drake   dontbesilent

At Monday’s meeting of the Stewardship Council I ended up sitting next to John Kitchell.  John is a retired Physicians Assistant who has been working with the Homeless for many years.  After around the room introductions John, like the rest of the public,  was ignored.  Fortunately for us John had a list of ideas that resonated with myself and several other members of the public in attendance. Unfortunately due to the council’s exclusionary policies these suggestions might no be heard.  I wanted to share some of his ideas with you.

Here Are A Few Possible Solutions To The Homeless Problem

Recommendations for correcting the growing problem of homelessness in this nation include the following:

*Increase the range and improve the access of services available to homeless and other indigent people.

*Increase the supply of adequate, low-income housing and decent shelters.

*Develop programs for homeless alcoholic persons, drug abusers, and those at high risk of health care problems.

*Create community facilities in which homeless people can safely convalesce from diseases or temporary exacerbations of chronic illnesses.

*Encourage volunteers, especially students and professionals in medicine, nursing, allied health, social work, law and dentistry, to provide services for   homeless and indigent persons.

*Mitigate the larger problems of unemployment, lack of job training, lack of education, and lack of hope that perpetuate the problems of poverty and     homelessness.

In addition, the American Psychiatric Association’s Task Force on the Homeless Mentally Ill has recommended the following:

*Graded and supervised community housing.

*Adequate, comprehensive, and accessible psychiatric and rehabilitative services with outreach services when necessary, and

*Accessible crisis services.

County Committee Says Next Meeting will Be Public and Then We’ll Decide

By Emerson Drake  collectivewisdom

The County Committee called  ‘The Stewardship Council’  met this morning for about three and a half hours upstairs at Greens Market.  The meeting  was part infomercial,  part Joel Osteen “all you need is hope” sermon,  and part new wave transcendentalism.  The members were told to expect a member to invest sixteen hours a month on this project.

Stan Risen Takes Exception

Mr. Risen walked into the room came directly over to me and accused me of lying in my last piece.  His outrage hinged on the phrase ‘religious affiliation.’  I had checked my notes prior to writing so I wondered why his umbrage.  So I asked him…didn’t he say that for a group to be considered for a grant that the groups leadership would have to be multi faceted with a segment of the leadership from the faith based/religious sector?  He replied yes, but I never said religious aspect!

Now I understand, we were talking semantics

While it is necessary for a group to successfully  request a grant they have to have what they now refer to as  ‘all ten mountains’ which includes people from a variety of backgrounds, entertainment, business, and faith based or religious, there doesn’t have to be a religious affiliation.   To most of us it sounds like we’re arguing the meaning of the word “is”. Okay,  it’s a Clinton reference for those too young to remember.  The bottom line is organizations requesting grants don’t have to be religiously affiliated BUT they do have to have a religious or faith based segment in their hierarchy and action plan.  From my point of view he’s playing politician and parsing words and to my way of thinking in the end you get the same result.  Since there wasn’t an audio recording of the meeting this will have to suffice since there are people on both sides that remember the wording differently.  But you do get to decide if there is really any meaningful difference in their intent.

Three separate times during the meeting John Ott a County paid facilitator from the Center of Collective Wisdom, used the phrase “every proposal will include” then a variety of ways to say someone from  faith based communities.

Delay on decision to include the public

I imagine the reason for postponing a decision on whether or not  to include or exclude the public, is to hope the indignation over the Stan Risen’s and John Ott’s insistence for for secrecy subsides. They like to point out the Board of Supervisors gets the ultimate decision on who gets the  money.  The real truth is the Board would be hard put to deny Terry Withrow and Stan Risen their “Focus on Prevention” at that late date.  In for a penny in for a pound, or should I say $1 Million Dollars.

The next meeting is July 31st.  Believe it or not they went through the entire month of July, except for the Fourth, and this was the day that they fewest would be absent.

 

County Wants to Spend $1 Million of Taxpayers Money in Secret

By Emerson Drake   stanislauslogo

County CEO Stan Risen has hand picked a committee to oversee spending $ 1 Million dollars of taxpayer money and he claims the best way to do it is in secret.  This committee is comprised of Gallo Center for the Arts director Lynn Dickerson; Modesto Nuts general manager Mike Gorrasi;  CEO of the Economic Development and Workforce Alliance Dave White; Stanislaus Surgical Hospital CEO Doug Johnson; county Superintendent of Schools Tom Changnon; Modesto City Schools Superintendent Pam Able along with Rev. Marvin Jacobo of City Ministry Network; Jeff Pishney of Love Our Cities; Cle Moore-Bell of Christ Unity Baptist Church; and Mark Vasché of Pinnacle Forum of Northern California among others.

No offense to any of the people on the Committee, but if you placed these people in the old fable “The Emperor’s New Suit”, they would be admiring the cloth and the tailoring.  Most of these people have no experience or expertise in homelessness other than to say we need to get rid of it.

The Reason For The Secrecy

According to Stan Risen in an interview with Ken Carlson and from his article in the Bee,  “we don’t need someone looking for every quote to make us look bad.”   So basically he’s saying we don’t want any accountability for what we say and do.   You’re trying to justify spending Taxpayer money in secret and you’re worrying about someone else making you look bad?  Stan Risen, CEO of Stanislaus County, paid with County funds, hand picks a group and demands total secrecy? Risen is his and their, own worst enemy.

Maybe Another Reason

We had the opportunity to listen to CEO Risen make his pitch to the City County Liaison Committee which meets monthly.  While his plan is interesting what concerned us at the time was the mandate, “any group that wants to apply for money MUST have a religious affiliation.”   Risen refuses to consider anything else.  Taxpayer money tied to a religious mandate doesn’t seem right or legal.  Should a religious connection preclude a group, no, but requiring one reeks of foul play especially considering the affiliations of four of the members.

What needs to Happen

Meeting in public  isn’t something you leave to an appointed board.  The County Board of Supervisors needs to insist that ALL meetings be held in public and in a  room that accommodates everyone interested in attending.  Hiding behind closed doors , whispering in secret, and spending taxpayer money isn’t what the people of Stanislaus County expect or will tolerate.

Don’t be shy, they like to hear from their constituents.   Feel free to contact the Supervisors and tell them how you feel about spending $1 Million dollars of Taxpayer money in secret.

Here are their email addresses.

William.Obrien@stancounty.com   vito.chiesa@stancounty.com   withrowt@StanCounty.com   MonteithD@StanCounty.com   DemartiniJ@StanCounty.com

The meeting will be held Monday from 8:30 a.m. to noon in a conference room at Greens on Tenth, at 953 10th St. in Modesto.

Mayor “Bully” O’Brien

Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien says, “It’s not the American way, to go against the majority”.  richardobrien  If that were true, America would still be a British colony. But what Mayor O’Brien is referring to is Hughson Mayor, Matthew Beekman’s vote on LAFCO. On March 25, 2015, Matthew Beekman, who serves on the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), cast one of three votes supporting an equal farmland mitigation formula which applies to the nine cities in Stanislaus County. LAFCO policy requires that one acre of farmland be set aside and preserved for each acre that is lost to residential housing development. The formula was discussed and implemented because the City of Patterson was requiring too little in mitigation fees from developers to preserve equal quality farmland. Read the Modesto Bee’s April 11, 2015 “Our View: Trying to overturn LAFCO vote is wrong” on the reverse side of this flyer for more on the issue. Matthew Beekman followed LAFCO rules which state pursuant to Government Code Section 56325.1:

“While serving on the Commission, all commission members shall exercise their independent judgment on behalf of the residents, property owners, and the public as a whole in furthering the purposes of this division. Any member appointed on behalf of local governments shall represent the interests of the public as a whole and not solely the interests of the appointing authority.” The mayors of six of the nine cities in Stanislaus County are caving to pressure from developers and are holding a hearing to remove Matthew Beekman from LAFCO. Riverbank resident, David Tucker is embarrassed by the mayor’s words and actions. He wrote the following letter to the editor of the Modesto Bee on April 6, 2015:
Re “Mayors move against ag vote” (Page A1, April 5): I am ashamed to be a citizen of Riverbank. Our mayor, Richard O’Brien, implies that fellow mayor Matt Beekman of Hughson is unAmerican communist for supporting ag-land preservation by his LAFCO vote.
DAVID TUCKER, RIVERBANK

Matthew Beekman followed the rules. He voted his independent judgment. He voted for fairness in preserving ag land. And now our mayor wants to make him pay for his vote.

If you disagree with the mayor’s words and actions as David Tucker does, let Mayor O’Brien know. Write him an e-mail at: robrien@riverbank.org and/or write a letter to the editor of the Modesto Bee before May 13. On this day, the hearing will be held to remove Beekman from the LAFCO board. You are welcome to attend and voice your opinion. Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at 6 pm Turlock City Hall Chamber 156 S. Broadway Ave., Turlock

Local Candidates Didn’t Want You to See What They Were About to Do

By Emerson Drake                       modestologo

On Wednesday March 25, 2015, the Modesto City Council held a special meeting away from video recording devices.  Ostensibly it was to decide if they should send a letter in support of five other cities in Stanislaus County regarding a decision the Local Agency Formation Commission better known as LAFCO, made.  The Commission isn’t sexy or well known but is vitally important when it comes to setting boundaries and settling disputes.

But let us begin the conversation  with a little ground work.  LAFCO was intending to set actual values to the in-lieu of fees part of the mitigation discussion.  Several cities proposed setting their own fees.  For example LAFCO research suggested for the fees to be meaningful the price needed to be around $7,000 per acre and Patterson for one, was proposing $2,000 per acre of prime farmland.

The Special Meeting with NO Video Recording

LAFCO’s intention of visiting the fees has been public knowledge for several weeks.  They notified the Modesto City Council by email two weeks prior to the meeting according to Mayor Marsh.  And of course they posted their agenda as required by law.   The special meeting was requested by Council members Kenoyer, Cogdill, Zoslocki, and Lopez.  The topic of the fees could have been dealt with at the last meeting of the city council but instead they choose to have a meeting not in their official chambers but in a small meeting room, 2001, on the second floor.

Six members of the public were present Craig Lewis, Brad Barker,  Cathy Zoslocki, Kevin Valine,  myself, and Tom Halan,  the Patterson City Attorney ( if I got that name wrong I’m sorry, who just happened to be in the building on other business).

When the Council members weighed in Jenny Kenoyer said she didn’t understand what LAFCO was intending to do  and she didn’t appreciate the last minute meetings with out prep time.  Dave Cogdill complained about  the cities losing control of their mitigation fees.  Bill  Zoslocki claimed it was an over reach by LAFCO.   Dave Lopez said LAFCO was over stepping their bounds and claimed Jenny Kenoyer agreed with him.  He also blamed Mayor Marsh for not writing a letter supporting the other cities. During the meeting Kenoyer never commented on Lopez’s remarks.  And John Gunderson said he needed more time to think about whatever it was LAFCO intended on doing.    Marsh tried to explain LAFCO was just setting a price so there would be a level playing field for all of the cities but Kenoyer and Gunderson just had a blank look on their faces.  The others just kept repeating their previous comments like mantras. Just saying the same thing over again.  The work of developer special interests was obvious.

Now I realize this sounds like just sound bites but it was the entire text of their statements at this point.   Each of them, talked twice and they just repeated their brief statements.

Members from the public

Brad Barker went first and was the most eloquent and informative.  He carefully explained to Kenoyer and Gunderson what LAFCO’s intent was and walked them through the chaos that would ensue if each city could set their own fee levels.  The Patterson City Attorney just restated the cities should be allowed to keep control of their own fees.  I reminded the Council of the Patterson building fees which were woefully short on being able to build the needed infrastructure for the tarffic which eventually come  and that the County had to step in to pay for the costs of rebuilding the roads.  Also having seen the blank faces of Gunderson and Kenoyer,  I tried once again to explain what was happening later on that night at the LAFCO meeting.  Craig Lewis read some of Ed Persike’s op ed piece from the Bee that day and also trotted out the book the Coming Jobs War which actually says to do the exact opposite of what he, the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and the developers are pushing for.  But unfortunately as we learned at a Modesto Planning Commission meeting, most of the commissions members who opened the book didn’t read past the first few pages (one to two pages) and unfortunately, the general public has read even less.  But pretending to relay information from a book gives the air of knowledge.  Unfortunately it just makes it easier to manipulate them.

At the end of the short meeting Kenoyer and Marsh voted against sending the letter and Cogdill,  Zoslocki, Gunderson, and Lopez voted for the City Manager to send a letter in support of the other cities.  In other words,  at this point in time in the City of Modesto,  special interests rule.  After the meeting they each stuck to their short sound bites.  Especially Gunderson. He had that feral, almost goofy look  he gets.  You know the one a child gets when they think they have fooled you and just kept saying he needed more time to consider everything over and over again as if that explained everything away.

The Four Who Were Shills for Developers Promoting SPRAWL

dcogdillbzoslockidlopezjgunderson

The Bottom Line

LAFCO, thanks to Terry Withrow,  Jim DeMartini,  and Matt Beekman made us all proud and went forward and set the price for land fee mitigation in the amount of $7,000 per acre.

The following are the letters sent by various groups both for and against LAFCO’s proposal.

commentstoLAFCO

Modesto Workforce Alliance Falls Down on the Job

By Emerson Drake     workforceallchamber

So a local hotel is looking for breakfast attendants, housekeeping staff, maintenance personnel, and front desk clerks but can’t find an easy way to post on the Modesto Workforce Alliance website. These people are getting state money to run the unemployment office here in Modesto. The County is giving the Alliance $94,000 in taxpayer money to help develop business and bring jobs.  While at the same time the Alliance is receiving $64,000 from Modesto taxpayers for the same alleged services. To create  job postings looking for workers should be a no-brainer but it isn’t an easy task, as a matter of fact you can’t. So I called the Alliance for a phone number and guess what?  They gave me a number but no one answered it. So I called the Board of Supervisors and asked for assistance. Supervisor Monteith was on hand and is looking into it as you read this.

We sure aren’t getting much for all that money.  Mr. White  (Alliance CEO) I’m told by your office that you are working on updating the site by next year.  I think you need to step up your time table.

 

MID Staffs’ Secret is Bill Lyons’ Cash Windfall

By Emerson Drake   MIDpic

Ahhh secrets, several years ago they were the meat and potatoes of MID’s existence. Why respond to public record requests if you don’t have to? Most recently we’ve been trying to get to the bottom of MID’s farmer to farmer water transfer program and the Return Allocation Program by requesting the names of those selling water and the amounts.  Unfortunately time and time again we’ve been refused access to these records of a public resource.  When MID’s staff announced they were going to hold private meetings with those same farmers who participated in last years programs we adamantly  argued against such secrecy.  Unfortunately the Board remained silent.  When we threatened to go public staff relented by saying they were going to contact all irrigators. But you and I know who they are going to listen to, all you have top do is follow the money.  When Directors John Mensinger and Paul Campbell originally started pushing hard for these programs you had to wonder why.  After all these two Directors, who publicly call themselves the “City Boys,”  were promoting a ‘farmer to farmer’  program which, of the actual farmers on the Board, two weren’t supporting and one was just willing to listen and eventually supported.  The self-proclaimed “city boys” seemed out of their bailiwick.   After all Campbell and Mensinger spend much of their time attacking the water irrigation price structure.  But maybe there was a reason.

Two $5,000 Campaign Donations

The two largest campaign donations by far came from Bill Lyons to these two men (Mensinger and Campbell).  But why would Bill Lyons decide it was to his benefit to have his political puppets push so hard to pass the Farmer to Farmer Transfer Program?  In a Garth Stapley article of 4/22/14,  Mr. Lyons claimed he was responsible for 54% of the 1,060 acre feet of water in the Return Allocation Program, which in the end delivered a check to Mr. Lyons of at least $ 302,400 and likely more. Unfortunately MID has decided to keep the actual amount and recipients a secret from the very public that own the company.  But his big killing, monetarily, was in the Farmer to Farmer  Transfers. Irrigation_Operations_Report

Lyons Sweetheart Deal

Unbeknownst to most of the public Bill Lyons and Mapes Ranch negotiated the rights to pump for FREE any water that comes down  MID’s canal that cuts through his property going to the river. His is the only entity with the ability to steal this public resource.  Maybe this was one of the reasons he and his then puppets, Tom VanGroningen and Glen Wild, were pushing the water sale to San Francisco.  Maybe Bill Lyons envisioned acting as a toll booth collector for any water MID might attempt to sell down the river.  At the January 22 meeting MID General Manager Roger Van Hoy characterized the MID meeting where the Lyons sweetheart deal was passed, as open and public. This meeting was before Roger’s employment with MID and according to Former MID Director and Board President when the deal was passed, John Kidd is asked about MID meetings back then he likes to say, if there were three members of the public at a meeting then word must have gotten out that someone was bringing donuts.

lyonsmapescomtract

The crux of the issue:  Stealing Water From the River

Bill Lyons has the ability to sell water allocated to his land and then replace it FREE from the canal or to use his many large industrial sized pumps located along the river to supplant his ‘sold’ water.  At least in OID’s proposed ‘fallowing’ program they don’t allow the farmer to replace the water by pumping ground water.  Most hydrologists agree that using large industrial pumps located close to a river reduces a river’s flow by increasing river bottom seepage.  And obviously taking water from MID’s canal before it gets to the river reduces flow to the fish and the delta thereby increasing salinity in farmland down stream.

Directors Mensinger and Campbell’s Decision Unethical and Immoral JohnMensinger PaulCampbell

In City of Modesto politics taking this kind of campaign donation would require the precipitant to recuse themselves or step back from the discussion and decision. MID has no campaign limits effecting this discussion. We’ve requested for MID to have this discussion several times but have been ignored, which of course sets up this dilemma.  As we’ve pointed out this has been an issue for years. VanGroningen, Wild and Warda received money ($5,000 – Lyons seems to find this to be the required amount to purchase MID Directors) from Lyons and were behind the attempted water sale.  Fortunately for all of Stanislaus County, Paul Warda changed his mind.  Don’t let anyone fool you. Director Warda’s change of heart was the one and only reason the water sale didn’t go through.  So Bill Lyons can be defeated, but not easily.  Remember he managed to get MID to spend $248,000 on convincing the public the water sale was a good thing and currently is one of the main movers and shakers behind Modesto’s attempt to annex Wood Colony and Salida.

Secrecy and Openness

In the ‘Farmer to Farmer’ program, 3,300 acre feet were passed, transferred at  unknown prices by unknown people, but handled by MID staff at a significant cost of staff (both office and field) time.  In the Return Allocation Program we cut checks of approx. $540,000 to people whose  names we aren’t allowed to know.  As a side note we/MID were stuck with $328,000 worth of unsold water costs. They want us to take it on trust that all was investigated and is on the up and up.  We, with what we believe is good reason, don’t trust staff.

To be fair Director Byrd did request staff to reconsider but the Board’s attorney response was “That is how we handled it in the past.”   There is no legal requirement and Public Record Requests show the Board didn’t vote for secrecy on this issue.   We’ve seen how MID staff’s past practices actually work against the ratepayers best interest.  Why would we expect things to be different/better if we keep following past procedures and dong them the same way?

Here is MID’s Public Record Response when asked for the people who participated in the buying and selling of our most public of resources, our water.   farmertofarmerPPRandredactedresponse

Trust MID’s Staff?  Not me, how about you?

 

Bruce “Dark Side” Frohman, Methinks Thou Doth Protest Too Much

By Emerson Drake    Darksidepic

Okay I know the title is a misquote of a line from Shakespeare that has entered the common  vernacular but seldom has it been more appropriate.  Public Record Requests (PRR) are a valuable tool in trying to peek behind the curtain  of deceit that sometimes appears when dealing with public entities and  public figures.  We use it here on the Eye on a regular basis, as do others .  In this instance a  PRR was made in an attempt to discover any ongoing correspondence between Modesto’s Mayor, Council, and Staff.

                                              Some Context 

Much to my surprise  an exchange of ‘curious’ emails between  Modesto’s Mayor Marsh and former one term  Modesto City Council Bruce “Dark Side” Frohman were among the several hundred that were turned over.  It’s common knowledge,  at one time prior to being elected Mayor,  Marsh was an advocate for the preservation of prime farmland.  Soon after the election it was revealed he (Marsh) not only attended the private Modesto  Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee meetings but publicly stood quietly on the sidelines while the Modesto Chamber and its members plotted to extend Modesto’s General Plan boundaries West and North to the river.  What was unknown  to the public at this time Marsh was a co-conspirator with his own plan.

In the past Dark Side had  been publicly siding with Denny Jackman and others for the preservation of prime farmland while pushing development onto less productive soils..but something changed recently.  After the Council withheld it’s previously promised support for a watered down version of RUL last spring and refused to place it on the ballot Denny was forced to seek signatures for his Stamp Out Sprawl initiative.

Mayor Marsh had been throwing the Board of Supervisors (BoS) under the bus at every opportunity.  He actually started using them as the boogie man and the reason for his land grab.  To “protect the farmers” he claimed.  And of course it came at a price, over 1,000 acres of prime farmland and the ability to place retail businesses inside the Beckwith Dakota Triangle.  This is akin to starting a small fire in a tinderbox forest and not expecting the Rim Fire which we experienced last year to develop. The Rim Fire eliminated hundreds of thousands of acres of forest and Marsh’s big-box retail would eventually eliminate the family farms in and around Wood Colony.  But he doesn’t care.

So when I wrote three sentences to my private facebook friends I didn’t expect the hoopla that ensued. Here is what I wrote.

“Stamp Out Sprawl has new opposition. Bruce Frohman has gone over to the dark side and has contacted Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh to co-author the con or opposition to SOS on the ballot. More to come. Watch EyeOnModesto.com for more information including the damning emails to be released soon.” 

These sentences spawned five articles from both Dark Side and the sites owner.  Each one funnier  than the prior one from my perspective since they flail out at anyone who commented  either on the sites’s stories or on my facebook follow-up.

Dark Side made the usual protestations, the statements were taken out of context, that his privacy was violated and I should have asked for permission, that Marsh’s emails were being monitored and  maybe my favorite was that it was  Orwellian. My response was: Your email wasn’t between private citizens, it was sent to the Mayor of Modesto at his ‘official’ city email so there was no expectation of privacy. It was obtained by a public record request which focused on developers in the Salida area, so asking for permission to publish it would seem to be a moot point.

Instead of me listing some of the phrases he used, here are Dark Side’s own words:    “Regarding Mr. Drake’s comment, I have no expectation of privacy when I write an email. However, I was quite surprised that the Mayor of Modesto’s email is being monitored so that those who may disagree with Mr. Drake’s viewpoint can be attacked without opportunity to respond. To have emails monitored in such a fashion seems Orwellian. Characterizing me, a private citizen, as having gone to the dark side for wanting to participate in the discussion is insulting and unreasonable. It is regrettable that some folks cannot engage in a discussion without name calling and personal attacks.”

Now compare my three sentences to what Dark Side wrote.  Kind of funny isn’t it?

After using over six hundred words in response to my three sentences, the one thing he didn’t supply is the email exchange:  From Frohman to Marshl: Subject: Denny Jackman Urban Limit Line Initiative  Bruce ‘Dark Side‘ Frohman’s exact words to the mayor on August 27, 2014 were: I would like my name to appear on the ballot argument opposing the initiative.  “Would you consider co-authoring a ballot argument, including me as a signatory?”

Is ambiguity involved?  Could there be a misunderstanding?  Is he undecided?  Were his words twisted out of context?  At least now you know why he was blustering and making all kinds of claims and  accusations.

               Lets get to the Heart of the matter…the Emails

Click on the link and you see the entire email exchange. Frohman_emails

Its almost understandable that the Mayor put further contact off for several months.  The purpose here isn’t to demonize anyone but with so many futures at stake in Wood Colony,  Salida, and Modesto knowing who REALLY supports you and who is drilling a hole in the bottom of your life boat IS important.

Bruce, your own words tell us you HAVE gone over to the Dark Side.

 

 

 

 

City of Modesto Knowingly Violates State Labor Code

By Emerson Drake   modestoarch (1)

On September 23, 2014 a citizen of Modesto stood up during the public comment period of the Modesto City Council and asked if applicants for jobs with the city were going to be required to provide passwords or sign-on to their social media accounts. The concern is that there are questions prospective employers are not allowed to ask applicants such as their religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, race,  sex, and disability status.  Some of this protected information is easily obtained when looking at someone’s social media accounts.

Modesto Police Chief Galen Carrol was asked to respond.  He replied that it was important to see what an applicant is posting and gave as examples, excessive drinking, nude photos of themselves and others, illegal drug use among others.  While we shared some of the Chief’s concerns, it is illegal to ask an applicant to sign into their social media accounts in the presence of a background investigator or hiring supervisor.

California Labor Code 980 section 3-a & b  Passed 9-27-12 effective 1-1-13

LABOR CODE, SECTION 980

980. (a)  As used in this chapter, “social media” means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet web site profiles or locations.

(b)  An employer shall not require or request an employee or applicant for employment to do any of the following:

(1) Disclose a username or password for the purpose of accessing personal social media.

(2)  Access personal social media in the presence of the employer.

 

Oops….so the Chief is blatantly violating state labor code and he dmitted, no flaunted it, in front of his boss, Interim City Manager Jim Holgersson, and the City Attorney Adam Lindgren.  The City Attorney has been found wanting in several decisions he has made and actions he failed to stop….from violation of free speech rights (signs in the council chamber ato not allowing a second public comment after a proposal has been changed), and now he’s either clueless or complacent…we’ll let the reader decide.

On Monday the Council will interview Jim Holgersson for the permanent job of City Manager.  It’s our point of view that he isn’t up to the task due to failing to protect the rights of Modesto’s citizens from intrusive and illegal questioning by the city staff he currently oversees and the companies he’s outsourced the background checks to.

On April 16, 2013, a legislative review committee considered the potential need for a law enforcement exemption to Labor Code 980, but decided it would probably be unconstitutional and chose not to make such an exception.

The Stanislaus Sheriff’s Dept Doesn’t have a StingRay but is Missing Military Equipment

By Emerson Drake  sheriffsbadgelogo

After hearing and reading how the Sacramento Sheriff’s Dept. had purchased a “stingray device”  we decided to make a Public Records Request to discover if the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Dept. had made a similar purchase. News 10 broke the story about a device that mimics a cell tower and can take information from your cell phone and tablet without your knowledge.  The scary thing is the police haven’t applied for warrants or told judges or defense attorneys about information they might have obtained. According to the News 10 report the deputies have been trained to lie in court as to how the information was obtained. These devices have been proven to have been purchased by Sacramento, Oakland and San Jose Police Departments.

“The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department may be keeping judges, prosecutors and the public in the dark about the use of a controversial electronic surveillance tool known as the StingRay, according to new information obtained by News 10.

Despite evidence showing the sheriff’s department is utilizing the device, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office and Sacramento Superior Court judges said they have no knowledge of StingRays or similar tools being used in Sacramento.”

Here are the results from our two requests:

Mr. Drake,

Your email dated August 1st, 2014 requesting documents related to a “stingray device” was forwarded to the Office of County Counsel for response. You specifically asked, “…if the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Dept. or the District Attorney owns and or operates a ‘stingray” or like device.”

Neither the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Dept. nor the District Attorney’s Office own such a device, and therefore there are no public records in that regard.

Additionally, pursuant to California Government Code 6254(f) and California Evidence Code 1040 the County deems any records related to investigatory files, or records of investigations, exempt from disclosure by express provisions of law.

Sincerely,

Robert J. Taro

Deputy County Counsel

Office of Stanislaus County Counsel

 

We had concerns since the Sacramento Sheriff’s Dept. felt it was within their rights to lie to the public regarding this device we wanted to ensure the information was void of deception so we made the second request.

Dear Mr. Drake,

Your recent request at the Board of Supervisor’s Meeting on August 12th, 2014 requesting documents related to “records and grant applications with the Harris Corporation since 2005″ was forwarded to the Office of County Counsel for a response.

Pursuant to Government Code section 6253, this email is to inform you that we have determined that your request seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of the County, and that the County intends to provide records responsive to your request.

You will find those records attached to this email in two separate attachments. The first attachment contains several documents that include a “Supplier Payment History Report” as well as several invoices. Please note that the “Supplier Payment History Report” is a summary of the purchases made from “Harris Corporation” during the time frame you requested. The invoices are titled “Oracle Account Coding Strip”. You will see that these invoices are all from the “Emergency Dispatch” aka “Stanislaus Regional 9-1-1″ department from 2010 and 2011.

Even though the “Supplier Payment History Report” reflects purchases made in 2005 and 2007, I have been advised that we do not keep invoices from that long ago, therefore there is no other “record” of invoice.

In addition to those documents, you will also find a spreadsheet of purchases from the Harris Corporation during the time frame you requested.  Please note that there is a description of the purchased items on this spreadsheet. Perhaps the most noteworthy of these is a item that cost $24,605.04. That item is described as a “Crash Kit for Microwave” and was purchased in 2005. I have been advised that it was purchased for “Stanislaus Regional 9-1-1″.

It does not appear as if any of these items are for a “Stingray or like device” that was the basis of your original request.

I would also note that a “Grant Application” is usually made to a State or Federal agency. An award of a grant generally results in the receipt of funds used to purchase equipment, labor, or other services which would be reflected in these attachments I have provided.

We feel that the attached records comply fully with your request.

If you have any further questions or concerns based upon the above, please feel free to call.

I can be reached at the Office of Stanislaus County Counsel – (209) 525-6376.

Sincerely,

Robert J. Taro

Deputy County Counsel

Harris_Corporation_4  Harris_Corporation_Spreadsheet

AllGov reports 

10 California Police Agencies Suspended from Pentagon Program for Losing Weapons and Gear,  Stanislaus Sheriff’s Dept is Among Them

Most of the California suspensions occurred last year. NBC Bay Area reported last week that the Napa County Sheriff’s Office lost an M-16 assault rifle and was suspended on May 6. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department didn’t know where two M16A1 rifles were and was suspended in October 2013.

Suspended agencies don’t have to return all their military equipment, but can’t order any new stuff. If an agency screws up bad enough, its status is downgraded to “terminated,” but that has only happened to seven of them.

Other suspended agencies listed were: California Highway Patrol-Sacramento, Arcadia Police Department, Huntington Beach Police Department, Maricopa Police Department, Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department, Stockton Police Department, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and Sutter County Sheriff’s Department.

So almost needless to say we filed a Public Record Request to find out what had gone missing at the  Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Dept.   We’ll keep you informed  when they make their response.

A hearty thank you to one of our readers for bringing this issue to our attention.

 

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