Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Marsh, Zoslocki, Lewis, Russell, and Nyhoff were Collaborating All Along

By Emerson Drakechamberslargeplan

We’ve all listened to the Modesto Chamber of Commerce tell their story, some of us six or seven times,  of how their Transportation Committee met over a six month period (it gets longer every time they tell it) met to discuss Modesto’s land expansionist  planning needs for the next twenty years.  In previous articles we  chronicled how the Chamber went from needing 1,000 acres to over 25,300 of land during their series of presentations to various civic groups and  public entities. The above map is from their July 2013 presentation. This represents their goals and is an early view of what the comprehensive General Plan scheduled to begin two years from now will look like if they get their way.

As usual when it comes to people attempting to manipulate the public for their own selfish interests what they don’t tell us is just as, and sometimes more important, than the information they disseminate.

For example during these ‘planning meetings’ that Mayor Marsh and City Manager Nyhoff attended along with members of the Chamber’s Transportation Committee, they discussed how best to seize Wood Colony land for an industrial park and sneak Salida’s already zoned business park land from them to be placed under Modesto’s control.

I admit after hearing Mayor Marsh paint George Petrulakis and the Chamber as  ‘evil’ and a position we don’t totally disagree with, as the people we really had to worry about compared to himself and his friends,  I was surprised to learn of the initial collaborations. When his friends, Councilwoman Kenoyer of  (I don’t have to worry about Wood Colony because they can’t vote for me) fame,  and Councilman Gunderson who just can’t stop repeating “no one is talking about annexation”, while the Mayor keeps using the terms annexation and eminent domain, don’t make anyone feel they can be trusted.

Part of the ‘art of the deal’ was the watering down and delay of Denny Jackman’s Residential Urban Limits proposal.  An arrangement was made so the Chamber wouldn’t fight it when it came on the ballot but at the council meeting where it was proposed, a little ‘kicker’ was added.  Councilman Cogdill proposed that Modesto would repeal the Measures A and M  which deal with the public’s ability to control land acquisition and development(sewer expansion) by the city by requiring public advisory votes.

All of the General Plan Amendment discussion has been orchestrated from the beginning by just a few people. For example the rank and file of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce don’t get to vote on the Board of Directors, they’re appointed, the same is true of the Alliance.

The Modesto Planning Commission and Staff spent the better part of a year holding workshops for the public where Bill Zoslocki and Craig Lewis passionately advocated for a much larger footprint for Modesto.   People came forward and expressed themselves very succinctly.  And the Planning Commission’s meetings,  Brent Sinclair and the rest of Modesto’s planning staff listened to the public’s wishes and proposed a footprint which was in line with Denny’s original RUL proposal.

Then the politicians stepped in.  For a while you needed a score card to understand where each one of them stood.  From Nyhoff’s open mic fiasco where he dissed everyone who disagreed with the Chamber, we learned why Jenny turned her back on both her campaign promises, to protect prime farmland and keep Salida for Salida. The bumbling John Gunderson, so elated  the Mayor was finally talking to him as an equal, rubber stamped every proposal Marsh made whether he understood them or not.  For Cogdill and Zoslocki the mantra is “more is better.”  But Zoslocki added “but I can’t be caught voting/going on the record for it.”  Lopez, after being warned about people willing to energetically campaign against him in the Board of Supervisors race, disavowed any interest in Wood Colony. And Madrigal, well Tony is still out collecting prom dresses, rather than focusing on the larger tasks needed by the city.

But it all began with a few greedy real estate men (Zoslocki and Lewis), a small handpicked few from the Chamber,  a City Manager who spent more time working for the desires of a few in the Chamber of Commerce than he did the people of Modesto, and a Mayor who though he could write his own legacy by stealing the land from the residents of Salida, the farmers of Wood Colony and the German Baptist Brethren who, to take a page from Jenny Kenoyer’s book,  don’t vote anyway.

And We, the Citizens of Modesto are the only ones who can stop this.  And what have we been doing?  We’ve been  saying…. Sir, can I please have another?

It’s time to take back our City Government from the greedy special interests that are intent on ruining Modesto.

 

Comment at City Council Meeting 3/25/2014

By EOM Contributor honorourheritage

Good evening….tonight I’d like to talk about short-sightedness.  According to the dictionary if someone is short-sighted about something, or if their ideas are short-sighted, they do not make proper or careful judgments about the future.

A good example of this is the one child policy in China, started in the 1980s.  Chinese culture places a higher value on males than females, so this policy resulted in a much higher rate of female fetuses being aborted than males.  The results is that there is now a generation of young Chinese men who are ready to marry.  Unfortunately, there aren’t near enough young Chinese women for them to marry.  This is the result of short-sightedness.  It is the legacy of the one child policy.

I understand you want to bring more jobs to Modesto.  We need them now and as our population continues to grow, we will need them in the future.  But the flip side to that is that as our population continues to grow, we will need more food.  The prime farmland in Wood Colony can help provide that food with its wide variety of very productive crops, unlike the farmland in other areas around Modesto, that can only produce 2 or 3 different types of crops and are not near as productive.  The short-sightedness of your plan won’t be felt by my generation, but it will be felt by future generations.  This will be your legacy.

I don’t mean to be offensive with what I’m going to say next, but let’s talk about date rape.  We all know that rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power and control.  And we all know that date rape involves people who are friends or at the very, least acquainted with each other.  You are attempting to exert your power and control over our friends and neighbors.  They have repeatedly said “no” and yet you continue to force yourselves on them.  What you are doing to our friends, neighbors and acquaintances in Salida and Wood Colony is nothing less than political date rape.  This will also be your legacy.

I would like to urge the residents of Salida and Wood Colony to continue saying “no” to your attempts to exert your power and control over them.  As Gerald O’Hara said in Gone With The Wind….”land, it’s the only thing worth fighting for, worth dying for…for it’s the only thing that lasts”.  However, if you are successful in your attempts to pave over this wonderful farmland, it will not last.  It will be destroyed forever.  And that will be the final piece of your legacy.

Modesto Bee Sells and Shares YOUR Personal Information

By Emerson Drake  laptoppic

Most people think of giant national companies when they think of data mining.  On 3/23/14 the Bee revised its privacy policy.   Here is a list of companies the Modesto Bee sells and or shares your personal and browsing information with. You can opt out if you choose but not all of the companies they sell/share with will allow you to do so. WE tried to opt out on all and as you can see it didn’t work as advertised. The numbers may surprise you.

3 Interactive Ad Network opt-out fail
33 Across Ad Network opt-out fail
50onRed Ad Network
[x + 1] Demand Side Platform (DSP) opt-out fail
Accordant Media Demand Side Platform (DSP) opt-out fail
Acxiom Retargeting / Optimization opt-out fail
Ad Pepper Ad Network
Adacado AdNetwork opt-out fail
Adap.tv Ad Network opt-out fail
Adara Media Ad Network
opted-out

AdBrite Exchange
AdBuyer Demand Side Platform (DSP) opt-out fail
AdChemy Retargeting / Optimization opt-out fail
Adconion Ad Network
AddThis (XGraph) Ad Network
opted-out

Adgent Digital Ad Platform
Adgorithms Ad Network opt-out fail
Adition Tech. AG Ad Platform opt-out fail
AdJug Ad Platform opt-out fail
AdKnowledge Ad Network
Adlantic Online Advertising Ad Network opt-out fail
Admeld Ad Network opt-out fail
Admetrics Media Ad Platform opt-out fail
AdMob Ad Network
Adnologies Ad Platform opt-out fail
AdoTube Ad Platform
AdReady Ad Network opt-out fail
Adscale Ad Network
AdShark Retargeting / Optimization
Adsimilis Powered by AppNexus Demand Side Platform (DSP) opt-out fail
AdTech Ad Platform opt-out fail
AdTiger Ad Network
Advance Internet Ad Network
Advertising.com (AOL) Ad Network
AdzCentral Demand Side Platform (DSP) opt-out fail
Aerify Media Demand Side Platform (DSP) opt-out fail
Affilinet Ad Network
Affine System Ad Network opt-out fail
Agenda Media Ad Network
Akamai (aCerno) opt-out fail
Alliant Retargeting / Optimization
Amazon Ad Network opt-out fail
Ampush Ad Network
AOL Ad Network
AppNexus Ad Network opt-out fail
AT&T AdWorks Ad Network
Audience Science Ad Network opt-out fail
Audience2Media Ad Network opt-out fail
AudienceScience (Connect) Ad Network opt-out fail
Avazu Demand Side Platform (DSP)
Baynote Inc. Ad Platform
Bering Media Retargeting / Optimization
BidVertiser Ad Network
Billboard Ad Network
Blastro Networks Ad Network
Blue Kai, Inc. Data Provider / Aggregator opt-out fail
Blue Kai, Inc. AT&T Data Provider / Aggregator opt-out fail
Blue Lithium AdNetwork
Brainient Retargeting / Optimization
Brand Networks (Optimal Inc.) Ad Network opt-out fail
Brandscreen Demand Side Platform (DSP) opt-out fail
Brightcove Ad Platform
BrightRoll Ad Network opt-out fail
Business Journals Ad Network
Casale Media – MediaNet Ad Network opt-out fail
CBS Interactive Ad Network
opted-out

Centro Brand Exchange Ad Network opt-out fail
Chango Retargeting / Optimization opt-out fail
Channel intelligence by Google Ad Network opt-out fail
ClickMagic Ad Network
Clove Network Ad Network opt-out fail
Compete Ad Network
Conde Nast Digital Ad Platform
Conversant Enterprise Retargeting / Optimization opt-out fail
Conversant Media Ad Network opt-out fail
Conversant Tech Ad Platform
Core Audience (Red Aril) Data Provider / Aggregator opt-out fail
CPMStar Ad Network opt-out fail
Creafi Ad Network
Crimson Tangerine Ad Network opt-out fail
Criteo Retargeting / Optimization opt-out fail
Crowd Science Data Provider / Aggregator
Crunch Digital Marketing Company Ad Network
Dapper Retargeting / Optimization
Datapoint Media Retargeting / Optimization
opted-out

Datonics (formerly AlmondNet) Data Provider / Aggregator opt-out fail
Demand Media Studios Ad Network
Demdex Data Provider / Aggregator opt-out fail
DidIt Demand Side Platform (DSP)
Digital Reach Ad Platform
DoubleClick by Google Ad Platform opt-out fail
DSNR Media Group Ad Network
Dstillery (Media6Degrees) Ad Network opt-out fail
e-Viral Ad Network
Ebay Ad Network
Echo Ad Network
EDGAR Online Data Provider / Aggregator
Efficient Frontier by Adobe Demand Side Platform (DSP)
Eloqua (Oracle) Data Provider / Aggregator
Emediate Ad Platform
Every Day Health Ad Network
Exact Drive Ad Platform opt-out fail
eXelate Media Exchange opt-out fail
Experian Data Provider / Aggregator opt-out fail
Facebook (Atlas Solutions) Ad Platform
opted-out

Flite Ad Network
Frontline Media Data Provider / Aggregator
FullSixGroup Ad Network
Gannett Digital Media Network Ad Network
Glam Media Ad Network opt-out fail
Goodway Group Retargeting / Optimization
Google opt-out fail
Google Display Network Ad Network opt-out fail
Greystripe Ad Network
harrenmedia Ad Network
Harvest Digital Ad Network
HookLogic Ad Network
Horyzon Media Ad Network
Httpool Ad Network
iBillboard Ad Server
IBM TruEffect Ad Network
Impresiones Web, SL Ad Network
improve digital AdNetwork
Inadco Inc. Ad Network opt-out fail
InSkin Media Ad Network opt-out fail
Instore Audience Ad Network
Intent Media Ad Network opt-out fail
Intergi Ad Network
Invertise Ad Network
iPromote Ad Network opt-out fail
iProspect Retargeting / Optimization
Jemm Group Ad Network
Kitara Media Ad Network
Kontera Ad Platform opt-out fail
LeanMarket Demand Side Platform (DSP) opt-out fail
lifestreet media Ad Network
LiveRamp Retargeting / Optimization
opted-out

Lodestone Social Ad Platform
Longtail Video Ad Platform
Lotame Data Provider / Aggregator opt-out fail
Marimedia Ad Network
Martini Media Ad Network opt-out fail
MasterCard Advisors Data Provider / Aggregator
Matomy Media (Mediawhiz) Ad Platform opt-out fail
Media Networks, Inc. (MNI) Ad Network
Media Ocean Ad Platform
Media.Net Ad Platform
MediaFem Ad Network
MediaForce Ad Network
MediaForge Retargeting / Optimization
MediaMath Demand Side Platform (DSP) opt-out fail
MediaScale Ad Network
MediaShift (Travora Media Group) Ad Network opt-out fail
Medicx Retargeting / Optimization
Meta Network Ad Network
Microsoft Advertising Ad Network
opted-out

Microsoft Corporation (MSN) Ad Platform
opted-out

Mirando Ad Network
Mixpo Ad Platform opt-out fail
Monster Worldwide Ad Network opt-out fail
NAF Digital Ad Network
Nanigans Ad Platform opt-out fail
NetMining Ad Network opt-out fail
Netvibes Ad Network
Neustar Data Provider / Aggregator
New Relic Inc. Ad Platform
Next Audience (Newtention) Data Provider / Aggregator opt-out fail
nugg.ad Retargeting / Optimization
Ooyala Ad Platform
Operative Ad Platform
Optimizely Retargeting / Optimization
Ozone Media Ad Network opt-out fail
Peer39 Data Provider / Aggregator
Penton Ad Network
Perceptive Software (Twistage, Inc.) Ad Platform
Perfect Audience Retargeting / Optimization opt-out fail
Plista Ad Network
opted-out

Proclivity Systems Data Provider / Aggregator
Quigo Technologies – Adsonar AdNetwork
RadiumOne Ad Network opt-out fail
Reach Local Ad Network
ReTargeter Retargeting / Optimization opt-out fail
RevenueMax Retargeting / Optimization
RGM Ad Network
Rio SEO (Meteor Solutions) Data Provider / Aggregator
RMM Online Advertising Ad Network
Rocket Fuel Ad Network opt-out fail
Say Media Ad Network
Scripps Networks Ad Network
SearchForce Retargeting / Optimization
Serranetga Ad Network
Sharethrough Ad Platform
Shopzilla Ad Network
Simpli.fi Retargeting / Optimization
opted-out

Skimlinks Ad Network opt-out fail
Smart ad server Ad Platform
Sojern Ad Network
Solve Media Ad Network
SpotXchange Demand Side Platform (DSP) opt-out fail
Stack Exchange Inc Ad Network
SundaySky Ad Network opt-out fail
Switch Concepts Ad Platform
Tapjoy Ad Network
Targeting360 Retargeting / Optimization opt-out fail
TechClicks Ad Network
Technorati Media Ad Network
The Globe and Mail Ad Network opt-out fail
The Trade Desk Demand Side Platform (DSP) opt-out fail
Thomson Reuters Data Provider / Aggregator
TidalTV Ad Network opt-out fail
TradeDoubler Ad Network
Traffiq Ad Platform
Tremor Media Ad Network opt-out fail
Tribal Fusion Ad Network opt-out fail
TruSignal Retargeting / Optimization
Turn Media Demand Side Platform (DSP) opt-out fail
Tyroo Media Ad Network
uKnow Retargeting / Optimization
Unanimis Ad Network opt-out fail
V12 Group Data Provider / Aggregator opt-out fail
V2Media Ad Network
Varick Media Management AdNetwork opt-out fail
VideoHub Ad Network opt-out fail
Videoplaza Ad Platform
Visual DNA Data Provider / Aggregator
Vizury Ad Network
Vox Media Ad Network
Vzaar Ad Platform
Webads Ad Network opt-out fail
Webbula Public Data Provider / Aggregator
Webgains Data Provider / Aggregator
White-Pages Ad Network
Wired Ad Network
Wistia Ad Platform
Xaxis Ad Network
Yahoo! Ad Network Ad Network
YD Ad Network opt-out fail
Yellow Hammer Media Group Demand Side Platform (DSP) opt-out fail
Yieldlab Sell Side Platform (SSP)
YuMe Networks Ad Network opt-out fail
Zanox Ad Network
ZEDO Ad Network opt-out fail
Zvents Ad Network

Modesto Gives Itself a Black Eye in the New York Times

By Emerson Drake      NYtimes

Thanks to the Modesto City Council and the Chamber of Commerce Modesto has received more bad notoriety.  Every time we end up on another negative list, worst to retire to, worst places to live, worst places to breathe, and well, you remember them since they just keep coming.  To hear the Council and Chamber tell/spin it it’s never our fault but outsiders keep picking on us.

This time it’s well deserved, and maybe, just maybe, we came out looking better than we deserve.  We, Modesto citizens and voters,  brought this upon ourselves by not standing up to the City Council en masse and saying “enough is enough.”   The citizens of Modesto, on the large part, have been sitting back and allowing Salida and Wood Colony residents to fight our battles for us and it’s time we took over and straightened the Council and Chamber out. Here is the link to the article:http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/15/us/rural-spot-settled-by-religious-group-in-california-fears-a-citys-encroachment.html?_r=0

We should be ashamed of ourselves for not going down to the Council meeting in numbers that would dwarf our outlying neighbors, (Salida and Wood Colony).

Jenny Kenoyer was just speaking the unvarnished truth when she said referring  to Wood Colony that ” They can’t even vote for me”.  Cold sounding as it was it should have resonated in the hearts of Modesto voters as a plaintive cry for help for those who can’t help themselves. Jenny needed guidance and since the voters didn’t provide it the lackeys from the Chamber, including City manager Greg Nyhoff, stepped forward to label Wood Colony residents as anachronisms and being out of step with modern times.  The Chamber reps have been preaching from the rooftops that paving over Wood Colony is inevitable so we might as well get started.

Greg Nyhoff, Dave Cogdill, Bill Zoslocki and Cecil Russell have been reminding everyone who will listen that they don’t have to pay attention to Salida representatives and that the furor over Wood Colony will pass in time.   And why do they keep saying this?  Because the German Brethren will seldom speak in public let alone vote on any level and Salida’s residents, like those in Wood Colony, can’t vote in Modesto elections.  Mayor Marsh has gone so far as to gerrymander the proposed border to purposely exclude a major portion of Wood Colony’s voters.

A Modesto resident named John Walker has provided the most visible push-back to date. He has initiated a petition to recall Dave Cogdill and we wish him well.  Interestingly, when he announced his efforts at the last City Council meeting, Cogdill played the ‘hurt’ card.  He said he was willing to talk with Mr. Walker but wasn’t going to change his mind.  So basically he was going to talk at John and not to him.  From our point of view, when your elected representative feels different from his constituents, he/she needs to be replaced.

Going, Going, Gone, Our Water is Being Auctioned Off Thanks to the MID

By Emerson DrakeMIDpic

All farmers who irrigated their crops last year using MID are allotted a minimum 18 inches this year, not enough to bring a crop to the market place.  MID has set a bounty on the water of Four Hundred Dollars per acre for not using the water and returning the water to MID for distribution to all farmers that apply using a random drawing.  The reality is they set a base price for the upcoming private water auction for this year.

If the rate increase of 10% goes through the cost will be $32.50 for the base allocation of 18″  plus a ‘Drought Surcharge” of $11.91 which equals $44.14 per acre.  MID is offering to give irrigators  $400.00 per acre for their base of 18″ or $267 per acre foot if they don’t use the water and leave it with MID.  A nice incentive to return something they haven’t received or paid for.

It Gets Better:  Our self described city boys, yes John Mensinger used/coined the term referring to himself and Paul Campbell threw in a wild card.  He made his point by saying, “they mostly represented people living in Modesto.”  Their argument was that a farmer should be allowed to sell their water to anyone they wanted and not just to family as has been MID’s past practice for transferring water delivery rights.   And by pushing the $400 incentive they created a ‘base’ price for MID water.

But The Water Isn’t Theirs:  See the rub is the water is MID’s water and MID is owned by its ratepayers meaning you and me.   So the two city boys along with Nick Blom, who reversed his earlier position, voted to place MID’s water up for auction to the highest bidder.  Remember, this is water they haven’t paid for, don’t own, yet windfall profits are going to be allowed?  What did these three eat for breakfast?

Mensinger and Campbell have been complaining about subsidies by the electric side: With all of the preaching that has been going on about subsidies you would have thought they would have suggested that MID hold an auction for any surplus water and then use the profit to support its  budget instead of allowing a few special interest farmers to line their pockets using our water, which they won’t have to pay for until they receive their bill November.

We all understand the Modesto Chamber of Commerce donated $2,000 and Bill Lyons even more to each of the ‘city boys’ and that the Chamber is  famous for using public money to help their ‘friends’ and they do expect a return on their money, but I would have hoped they would have refrained from passing out the largess for a couple of months more.

The sellers are guaranteed a MINIMUM profit of $355.59 per acre.  And who knows where that will end up after the unofficial auction.

The bottom line is:  We’re fronting them the water for at least six months at no money down or interest fees to allow them to find the highest bidder on our water for them to make the profit on?   And this is  the business acumen the two city boys bring to the MID Board?   Just how did this help the 113,000 electric account holders?   How did this help the small farmer who is barely making it bring his crop to harvest.   How did this help us?

Are You Fed Up and Ready to Take Action?

EOM Contributor, boycott

I attended the January meetings and know that dozens of people spoke to you about Salida and Wood Colony. Many of these people are Modesto residents, who elected you and it is your job to listen o them and to represent them fairly. It’s obvious to all of us who you actually represent…yourselves and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce, which seems to have a great deal of influence over you. The fact that two of you voted against the land grab proposal just makes me feel that between all of you, you decided who could save face, and yet your proposal would still go forward.

 

Since you are the ones in a position of power in this situation, I would like to turn the tables and put the power back in the hands of the people. You seem to be controlled by financial interests, so lets talk about money. My suggestion to the audience is that we all boycott the businesses owned and/or operated by the members of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce. Here are some of those businesses:

 

Gianella & Associates

F & M Banks

Curtis Legal Group

Patricia Gillum, CPA

Fire 2 Wire

Ware Promotional Marketing Solutions

Franklin & Downs Funeral Home

Wells Fargo Mid-Valley Commercial banking

Tri-Counties Bank

TD Gingerich Insurance Solutions

American Chevrolet

CHG Structural

Real Juice Plus

Rank Investigations & Protection

Double Tree Hotel

The Villalobos Legal Group

Oak Crafts by Jeremiah Williams

Never Boring Associates

Prudential California Realty in Modesto (I will comment on this one in a moment).

 

Now I’d like to mention businesses owned and/or operated by City Council members and suggest that we boycott them:

 

McHenry Bowl, owned by Mayor Marsh (go to Yosemite Lanes)

Rico-Lopez Foods – Councilman Dave Lopez

Cogdill & Giomi Real Estate – Councilman Dave Cogdill

 

Now back to Prudential California Realty in Modesto. This is owned by Craig Lewis, of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce. Councilman Bill Zolocki is Mr. Lewis’ employee, so it seems that he will vote however Mr. Lewis wants him to, and that will be any way that could potentially provide financial benefits to Prudential California Realty.

 

Cogdill & Giomi Real Estate does property appraisals, so they stand to make a profit when and if property in Wood Colony starts being sold, just like Prudential Realty.

 

It’s my personal belief that Councilmen Zolocki and Cogdill should recuse themselves from voting on any issues that concern real estate, including the annexation of Salida and Wood Colony.

 

For the audience members, if you are interested, you can find this list of businesses on Eye on modesto.com. Please share this information with your friends, family and neighbors.

Shh That Sound You Heard was Strings Being Pulled at the MID

By Emerson DrakeMIDpic

For the second meeting in a row the Modesto Irrigation District Board had a spirited debate, completely without rancor, which included several diverse positions.   After the Boards of Tom VanGroningen and Allen Short it truly is like a breath of fresh air.  Now if only the actions and decisions were different.

Jumping right into it:  The conversation started regarding the DRAFT  Drought Operation Rules proposed by staff.The proposed Transfer Policy was a complete reversal of what was decided at the last meeting which took place on Feb. 11, 2014.  You can watch it here starting at 59 minutes,  in the agenda it’s the ‘Drought workshop. You can forward to 1:18 to listen to the public debate. At 1:36 you can hear the unusual banding together of Mensinger and myself.  At 2:11 you can listen to Nick Blom argue the exact opposite position he voted for at today’s meeting.  http://mid.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=24&meta_id=1689 you can advance through the short sound issues without missing anything.

The topic centered on deciding on how water transfers would be handled, and who would be allowed to transfer their water.  At the time I supported the idea of farmers being allowed to sell their water to anyone.  I was behind Director Mensinger in his opinion.  But we lost the argument convincingly. Yet today the DRAFT proposal supported this same position.  So why did staff bring a proposal that lost, forward as potential policy?  A look around the room and then listening to public comment gave us some clues.  The Chamber trotted out Chamber Board of Directors member Ruben Villalobos in support of the grower to grower transfers. What does Ruben know about water transfers?  Absolutely nothing.  But when Chamber of Commerce  lobbyist Cecil Russell calls Ruben,  Ruben  says yes Cecil, and trots on over. Bill Lyons Jr. was sitting in the audience making sure the actors in our little play performed as they were instructed otherwise he would tell daddy on them.  To cut to the chase they wanted to allow farmers to sell their MID allocated  water of 18″ inches per acre.

Larry Byrd and Jake Wenger wanted to limit the transfers to family and were encouraging an incentive to farmers to decide to return the allocated water to MID.  Jake wanted $400 per acre and Larry $100 per acre as an incentive, to be distributed to other interested farmers and encourage the sharing of water if a farmer had other supplies (pumping).  Unfortunately the establishment of the incentive plan came after the ‘Transfer’ issue was resolved and may have been a mute point.

Much to the dismay of many in the room, Nick Blom decided to go with the self- described ‘city boys’ and voted for growers to be able to sell to anyone. It’s a extremely intricate issue and not one lending itself to simple explanations.   It’s understandable for farmers to want to help each other and no one is really against that.  The overreaching concern is a few of the wealthier farmers will be able to out bid smaller farmers and the smaller farmers might go under, not that the Chamber of Commerce would mind.

An attorney from Ripon (Stacey Henderson) claimed to be representing several small farmers decided to insert the term lottery into the mix.  It seemed like she took the opportunity to unduly influence the issue since this word was no where to be seen in the staff’s proposal.  Later during a break and in private  conversation she upbraided me for characterizing her comments as spin. She said if I had any question I should ask her first.  So I did and she walked away without saying a word.  Someone from Ripon is getting paid to influence our decisions.  Just like a lawyer/lobbyist making suggestions they had no intention on following through on.  Just more paid for testimony from my point of view.  We see lots of that at the MID.

Were strings being pulled and Directors were dancing to the Chamber’s and Bill Lyons tune?  This time it’s the farmers not the ratepayers who will pay.

On another note, Modesto City Councilmen Bill Zoslocki and Dave Cogdill just authorized MID to spend up to $504,000 on a study of the rim fire area.  Consequently,  our rates will be going up at a time when the Council wants to forgive Seneca Foods an $8 Million fine they incurred by generating excessive waste water, causing Modesto to settle a lawsuit costing up to $1 Million.

I wonder when the City Council will get around to telling us?

 

The Chambers Greedy Fingers are Everywhere, Watch MID Give them $2,730.00

By Emerson Drakechamberlogo

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s insidious influence is permeating Modesto like the bad smell of decay.  It’s everywhere you go and is contaminating good people and groups.  From the Latino Community Roundtable (LCR) to the Modesto Planning Commission to the Stanislaus Land Formation Commission (LAFCO) itself,  the Chamber’s  cold fingers of control  continue to insert themselves in every layer of our society, and their companion body the Alliance is right beside them every step of the way.

And unfortunately the good citizens of Stanislaus County are paying for it through their taxes and their utility fees.  As an example just Tuesday the MID decided to give the Chamber $2,730 in membership fees. Here is an impassioned plea to stop this insanity. Fast forward to 6:30 to see and listen to them give YOUR money to the Chamber. http://mid.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=24   This was the first time an MID meeting has been recorded and streamed live for public consumption. Noted in the conversation is the MID’s $10,000 donation to the Alliance.  And thanks to Larry Byrd it was reduced last year from $20,000 to $10,000 thousand dollars and for that we thank him.

But compare the Chamber to the Alliance and you get another look at how these private  lobbying groups manage to get public funds to spend anyway the see fit.  MID gave the Alliance $10,000 each of the last two years and $20,000 per year for four years before that, thanks to having Tom VanGroningen on its Board.  The City of Modesto gives the Alliance $63,000 every year and the County of Stanislaus gives the Alliance $93,000 every year.  Please don’t confuse the Work Force Alliance which substitutes as our unemployment office with the Alliance.  The Work Force Alliance is closely governed by state law and the County does a great job at monitoring the way our tax money is spent (the state gives the money to the County and the County gives it to the Work Force Alliance.)  The County was kind enough to provide me with a detailed tour of the books thanks to Kieth Boggs.  But the Alliance doesn’t share where they spend the money ($166,000) that I just pointed out.

So if you get your electricity from MID you pay a portion of your already high rates to the Alliance, along with your taxes that the city gets and then there’s the County tax contribution.  All because of the ‘Good Old Boys‘ playing  pass the tax money around.  And nobody has to tell you how they spent the money and I’ll take this opportunity to tell you they won’t.

Lets talk about the Chamber of Commerce for a minute.  Ever wonder how wide spread their influence is?  Lets name just a few starting with Brad Hawn on LAFCO, Patricia Gillium Chair of Modesto’s Planning Commission,  Bill Zoslocki and David Cogdill  on the Modesto City Council, John Mensinger on the MID Board, and a variety of members on Modesto’s Blue Ribbon Commission on the Homeless, along with other Committees.  Brad Hawn’s nomination to  LAFCO  was especially interesting.  Ron Fretas had been had been the alternate public member for four years and doing a find job by all standards and usually the alternate is seated as the public member.  But when it came time to name the new public member Mr. Fretas was cast aside and Brad Hawn,  who hadn’t been to a LAFCO meeting in years let alone know about how LAFCO works, came in out of the blue.

When the Chamber was $20,000 short on refurbishing the Modesto Arch they asked the Council for a ‘Gift’ of $20,000 to complete the payments but fortunately the Council said no after we exposed the ‘gift’ part.  It was written up in the Modesto Bee as a loan.  I don’t know about you but its been my experience there is a lot of difference between a gift and a loan when it comes to money.

Mayor Ridenour’s administration, with some help from the Chamber gave the Double Tree Hotel a sweetheart, long term deal for catering at the Modesto Civic Plaza.  As a result it isn’t feasible for someone else to come in and run it for Modesto and the Double Tree wants too much from Modesto to run it themselves.  When it appeared the Double Tree was going to get the contract, the Chamber gushed over the idea and promised to help with promotions and bringing in companies to rent the Plaza.  When the City was required to take over instead, the much promised help vanished in the wind like most of the Chamber’s promises do if one of its member isn’t making money and only the city is involved.

And needless to say the Chamber took the lead to provide land for their real estate members to sell known as the Pathway to SPRAWL.

The one place you can be sure to find the chamber being active, is in making your wallet a little lighter.

What Is It They Fear?

By Emerson Drakemodestoarch (1)

It’s old school and it’s history but some of the same players were involved back then.  

Back in the late 1990′s the Village I debacle had not only come to a head but the public finally understood the financial windfall the developers received by talking the council into lowering building fees.  Zagaris was a major developer along with his political sidekick George Petrulakis.  Their partners in the scheme to bend the City Council to their way was the Building Industry Association (BIA) with Bill Zoslock, along with a helping hand from the Modesto Chamber of Commerce.  Zoslocki, looking to double down and not just receive thanks for his help with the BIA’s  arm twisting of the Council, became, at the time, a self-described developer and joined in reaping the lucrative rewards.

Helping with lowering the builders fees  on the Council was Dave Cogdill Sr.   Why is all of this important you ask?  It was when the citizens found out all of the promises made to them were lies and there was no money for parks, street lights and sidewalks that they revolted and basically elected an entirely new city council along with a new mayor.   Enter in Modesto Mello-roos.  Now people who had just purchased a home discovered they had a second mortgage to pay, some upwards of $400 dollars a month. called “Mello-Roos” fees.

And the Backlash began: The politicos at the time thought it would be business as normal.  Zagaris had been running multiple candidates to the city council for years using George Petrulakis to vet candidates and help them with their campaign financing (George likes this phrase better than political bag-man).  Then they were in the middle of another campaign and Zagaris’ candidates were having a rough time.  Outsiders, people outside the Zagaris camp, were running well in the polls and when the dust settled there was a new, unexpected Mayor in town.

Petrulakis and the Chamber remember history:  Marsh defeated Hawn fairly easily for Mayor the last time out and until Marsh stepped in it knee deep (Salida’s potential annexation and subsequently Wood Colony’s)  he appeared to be on cruise control as a two-termer.  During Marsh’s inaugural address he spoke in favor of annexing Salida and set off a fire storm of protest.   We have both Bill Zoslocki and Stephanie Burnside waiting in the wings to run against Marsh hoping to stretch this debacle out closer to the election in two years.

Thanks to Marsh’s political blundering the face most people see, including at least one editor, is Marsh is trying to scoop up Wood Colony, while Zoslocki,  Cogdill, Lopez, and Madrigal  are sneaking up on Salida.  And the switch-a-roo came immediately after the council took a break just before the last vote.  Now I’m not suggesting a conspiracy, but you have to wonder what made all of them switch sides.

What do they have planned for Salida? While everything is in flux most are guessing Marsh and his bunch are going for annexation of all of the prime farmland South of Kiernan and the proposed zoned business park in the Salida Now plan.  If Marsh is successful in stealing the land designated for Salida, it would make Salida’s incorporation much more difficult.  And if all he is really after is jobs, then let Salida create them and allow Modesto to supply the water and sewer.   Ah, but that’s the rub.  Marsh has already said he would refuse Salida the utility service.  But didn’t he just petition LAFCO to allow Beard Industrial access to these same services without risking annexation?  Special favors for special people.

So what’s the fear and what’s the real Question:  The fear for the Chamber is the people of Modesto will wake up and remember how the Council has been ignoring them while bending over backwards to accommodate the Chamber’s development interests.  If that were to happen maybe a unexpected wildcard candidate could emerge for Mayor.  Heck, a whole slate of candidates could emerge which is exactly what happened back in the late 90′s and early 2000′s.

It takes a lot to awaken Modesto voters.  Their memories are short but a recall could not only embolden them but remind them of the power of the ballot box.

So the answer to what is the  question,  will the sleepers awaken?

We can only hope.

Mayor Marsh’s O.K.Corral at Hart Ransom in Wood Colony

By Emerson Drakeokcorral

It was just after high noon when Mayor Marsh tried to face down the crowd at Hart Ransom Elementary School in Wood Colony.  The Mayor started out on the wrong foot when he reminded the audience he once had a teaching credential and he was here to educate them in Modesto politics and how to count to four.   Unfortunately for Marsh he’s allowed his educational skills and debating skills to get rusty.  The Mayor has gotten used to a semi-controlled environment of the council chambers where he can threaten dissenters with expulsion if they disagree or interrupt him with the truth.  He has also forgotten that truth is his best weapon because he left it at home on Saturday.  And to top it all off, many of the audience members are much better informed than he and most are more knowledgeable than Council members John Gunderson and Jenny Kenoyer, who were also present but silent.  The two council members riding shotgun that day must have decided to keep silent and let people wonder instead of talking and removing all doubt as to their lack of understanding the basics of the issues.

Early on he was forced to say “I’ll take that back” three times in ninety seconds as a member of the audience (they all appeared to be residents of Wood Colony) would correct statements he made and these were just a few of many mis-statements he made and was corrected on. The ever polite and politically neutral  Marjorie Blom,  LAFCO’s (Local Agency Formation Commission) Executive Officer,  would speak later displaying her knowledge and understanding by explaining the process correctly  without pointing out the mistakes Marsh made.

And yes Mayor Marsh did blame Wood Colony residents for not coming out to Modesto’s meetings starting a year and a half ago.  Their absence wasn’t  surprising since Marsh had mentioned annexing  Salida in his Inaugural/State of the City Address but had failed to mention Wood Colony.  But politicians like to play the blame game and yes he had to take that back too.  The Mayor brought former councilman Denny Jackman into the conversation several times for support, especially for RUL (Residential Urban Limits).  For those followers of politics, the Mayor was careful when he chose to get Denny’s endorsements and Denny was just as careful as to what he agreed with.  But to the uninitiated it appeared to come off smoothly.

We’ve come to believe the compromise Denny struck trying to get a version the Council and Chamber could support, is too watered down to be effective.  To enlist the Chamber’s support they had to offer up the public’s last vestiges of control and that is Measure’s A and M, and allow them to be put on the ballot for repeal.  When that was discussed you could actually see Cogdill and Zoslocki become excited.

The Mayor wasn’t completely disingenuous, he stated although he is a farmland preservationist he isn’t one 100 percent of the time, not even ninety percent according to his own words.

The Mayor had kind words for Councilman Zoslocki calling him a likable and deeply religious man like himself.  Just that they disagreed on farmland preservation.  I admit at this point I did start laughing out loud for a moment.  Here’s the thing, most everyone agrees Marsh is an intelligent man, he just isn’t always politically savvy.   By the way, Mayor Marsh put the voting suggestions forward and by his unwillingness to lose a vote to keep Wood Colony out of Modesto’s General Plan, he allowed Zoslocki, Cogdill and Lopez to vote to keep it out while his block voted to keep Wood Colony in.  It is an upside down world when this happens, since Zoslocki had been traveling from one Planning Commission Workshop to another with the Chamber of Commerce all last year in an attempt to take Modesto’s General Plan all the way to the river for the western boundary.  Zoslocki, Cogdill and Lopez are the most Chamber/builder friendly people on the council with Madrigal coming right after them.

The Mayor addressed the recall talk towards Gunderson and Kenoyer by saying if they were recalled, Modesto/Wood Colony/Salida would only get someone worse.  In all fairness we’re not sure that’s possible considering the way they voted on Jan.28th.  The recall discussion regarding Jenny has been loud but the conversation regarding Gunderson had only begun to be strident when he started cutting himself off from his constituents who disagreed with his voting positions.  It was a childish move and left many shaking their heads in disillusioned astonishment, which is an action many of his council mates have done since he was elected.

It truly seems to me the problem originated with the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and I discussed this and pointed it out during the public comment period with the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors several times at January meetings.  The Chamber was allowed to frame the argument as jobs vs prime farmland but that just isn’t the case.  When I had my conversation with Jenny Kenoyer on Jan. 7th about saving Wood Colony, she responded by saying “give me an alternative.” So I immediately pointed out the North County Corridor and the County’s prediction that it would be completed many years before 132 goes all the way to Interstate 5 in an expanded form and that the soils east of Modesto were far poorer, unofficially referred to as  PPP (piss poor pasture) by farmers and that was where we should be building business parks and homes.  But Jenny had, to use the vernacular, drank the Chambers get rich quick kool-aid and ignored the suggestion and only wanted to consider Wood Colony.  And yes that was when she uttered the now famous words, “I have to worry about the 200,000 people living in Modesto and besides those people in Wood Colony can’t vote for me.”  She repeated those words three different times so I’m sure I wasn’t the first or the last person she had said them to.

It was great to see that the citizens of Wood Colony had thoroughly educated themselves about the issue and were defending themselves quite adequately.  They weren’t buying the half truths Marsh was selling and told him point blank he needed to bring the issue back to the council and take Wood Colony completely OUT of Modesto’s General Plan.

I fully admit I voted for Marsh and Gunderson believing then and now they were the lesser of two evils.  I guess it goes to show we need a better class of politicians in Modesto.

We hope to have the audio from the meeting up soon.

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