Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “John Gunderson”

Attn John Gunderson Please Try Being Informed and NOT just Opinionated

By Emerson Drake    jgunderson

On July 26th Modesto City Councilman John Gunderson wrote an article under Community Columns John Gunderson: Clear thinking needed on Salida annexation issue where he makes several dubious and completely wrong claims.  Now we can’t tell you if just can’t comprehend what he reads or is just being malicious.  What we can say is when he relayed his columns to fellow council members, staff and others (yes the result of a public record request) where he claims to have done the research himself. The above photo is the Councilman’s ‘official’ picture.  The below one is the one he posted of how he see’s himself on facebook.  jJohnGunderson

Unfortunately Councilman Gunderson  has been wrong on this issue for a long time but to make specious claims he says he researched? well here is Katherine Borges’  response in its entirety. Her original post 

Fun from Cat and Gundy -or- John Gunderson Salida Facebook post #4 and my reply

 
John Gunderson’s new profile pic of “me”. Which ironically
(and eerily) looks just like my cat.

Well folks, Modesto City Councilman John Gunderson is at it again. I must really crawl under that guy’s skin because he can’t seem to go a week without a Facebook post on Salida. This week, he regurgitated an e-mail I wrote to the council in June regarding a tip I received from a Salidan that Modesto had hired a consultant to help them annex Salida. 

 
My cat. Rescued as a kitten
from the intersection of
Woodland & Carpenter.

While both Mayor Marsh and city planner, Patrick Kelly replied that the city didn’t hire Keith Bergthold as an annexation consultant, there’s something still amiss here. Why would Bergthold tell his Fresnan friend that he had an eighteen month contract otherwise? Perhaps it was just being bandied about and was all verbal at that point? Either way, its DOA now because the city can’t very well go and hire him after denying that they hadn’t. And how effective would he be with any kind of collaboration building with Salida? (Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.)

 
Councilman Gunderson can’t help but crank up the old propaganda machine starting right in the second sentence with, “Think the Goodwin Study would have been enough, the annexation concept was proven to be a bad idea.” First of all, anyone want to wager that Councilman Gunderson has NOT read nor thoroughly examined the Goodwin Study? Because if he had, he would know it shows that Modesto would stand to rake in $22.8 million a year in revenue in annexing Salida at full build out of the Salida Community Plan. How does that prove the annexation concept is a bad idea? And if it were proven to be a bad idea, then why is Modesto keeping Salida in their general plan? Councilman Gunderson wrote in his community column just two weeks ago that, “…the majority of the Modesto City Council feels (annexation) is still a possibility“. And he says I have “nothing to worry about???”

And once again, the councilman nay says Salida incorporating, “Should stop worrying about incorporation for Salida as well because that can’t happen either.” I previously responded to his comment about whether or not Salida can be incorporated, but it apparently didn’t register in his brain so I’ll say it again, “Keep in mind that no one has ever applied to incorporate Salida as a city. If no one has ever tried, how does anyone know whether or not it can be done?

 
Available land in
Beard Industrial Park
What he also doesn’t seem to comprehend is only supplying water in exchange for land -IS- extortion when you supply water to other areas without forcing them to turn over their land! To put it into language he’ll understand, its known as an “out-of-boundary service agreement” and the council approves them all the time. And once again, I’m going to call him out on his double standard for trying to justify water extortion by saying “Modesto ratepayers deserve better” when Beard Industrial’s sweetheart deal costs ratepayers and the city millions upon millions each year. The city of Modesto supplies both water AND sewer to Beard without annexing the land. (Read more about Beard)
 
Lastly, Councilman Gunderson said, “Modesto’s water should be leveraged for the best possible outcome that helps pay for services for residents of Modesto proper, not the surrounds.” When the City of Modesto purchased the Del Este Water Company in the mid-1990’s, they took over the existing wells and infrastructure in Waterford, Grayson, Del Rio, part of Turlock and Salida. So technically, they bought Salida’s (et al) water so its not “Modesto’s water” he wants to “leverage” to begin with. Our water comes primarily from wells in Salida so he wants to leverage our own water against us! Additionally, development occurs in all of those other former Del Este served communities and yet, Modesto does not “leverage” the water by extorting land from them; except in Salida.

In case you were wondering why Councilman Gunderson is so fixated on Salida its because if Salida were annexed, we would be assimilated into his district. That’s right, we would be the constituents of a man who feels water extortion upon us is justified because the majority Modesto residents in his district “deserve better” than the Salidans.

“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” – Aldous Huxley

Stay tuned for more “fun” from Cat and Gundy…at some point in the next 7 days – -
________________________________________________________________

 
More fun from “Cat”. Think the Goodwin Study would have been enough, the annexation concept was proven to be a bad idea. Catherine has nothing to worry about on that. Should stop worrying about incorporation for Salida as well because that can’t happen either. Refusing City of Modesto water for new development within the Salida TPA… refusal is extortion? Modesto ratepayers deserve better than that. Modesto’s water should be leveraged for the best possible outcome that helps pay for services for residents of Modesto proper, not the surrounds. Development outside of a city’s limits is a losing proposition because of the State’s mandated property tax distribution scheme. 

salidakat@
Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2014 12:48 PM
To: COUNCIL; Brad Wall; Patrick Kelly; Terry Withrow; Vito Chiesa; Dick Monteith; Jim DeMartini; Bill O’Brien; Marjorie Blom; George Petrulakis
Subject: SALIDA ANNEXATION CONSULTANT
To the Modesto City Council:
I received the following from a Salidan today, “My father lives in Fresno and is friends with a man named Keith Bergthold. Keith told my dad he was hired by the city of Modesto to see what can be done about annexing Salida.”
I’ve met Mr. Bergthold at the Carpenter’s Church General Plan presentation in May and I also attended the April Stanislaus Community Foundation breakfast that was connected with Fresno Metro Ministries.
So you can fire Mr. Bergthold because HELL WILL FREEZE OVER before you ANNEX SALIDA or the Kiernan Corridor! Get that through your thick skulls!! How many different ways and from different people do you need to hear that before it sinks in?!? It doesn’t appear that turning out hundreds of people to voice that works since both Salida and Wood Colony have done that!!
I’ve told you once if I’ve told you a thousand times, we are willing to work with you if you want to develop the Kiernan Corridor (although I don’t know why since you are so IMPOSSIBLE, OBSTINATE and DYSFUNCTIONAL about our communities) BUT YOU’RE NOT GOING TO JUST TAKE SALIDA NO MATTER WHOM YOU HIRE!!! Your status quo land grab days are over!!! Get a clue!!!
Since you have a contract with Mr. Bergthold, why don’t you have him use his remaining time in educating you about “build up, not out”. Fresno has done well with that. Look around their Kaiser Hospital and then look around Modesto’s. And in the meantime, LEAVE SALIDA and WOOD COLONY ALONE you greed-driven sellouts!!!
Very sincerely,
Katherine Borges

On Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 1:53 PM, Garrad Marsh wrote:
Katherine,
You are wrong about Mr. Bergthold being hired by the city. Mr. Bergthold has not been hired (or to my knowledge even contacted) by any City of Modesto employee or elected.
Garrad

From: Katherine Borges [mailto:salidakat@
Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2014 2:02 PM
To: Garrad Marsh
Cc: COUNCIL; Brad Wall; Patrick Kelly; Terry Withrow; Vito Chiesa; Dick Monteith; Jim DeMartini; Bill O’Brien; Marjorie Blom; George Petrulakis
Subject: Re: SALIDA ANNEXATION CONSULTANT
Mr. Mayor,
WHO hired him then? I was told he has an 18-month contract. Emerson has filed a public information request with the city. Even if it turns out that you’re right and the city has nothing to do with it, then you need to find out who working to annex Salida on your behalf. I want nothing to do with this man and will not contact him. His e-mail is: Keith.Bergthold@
Katherine

On Jun 4, 2014, at 2:47 PM, “Patrick Kelly” wrote:
This is to confirm that the City did not hire Keith Bergthold. Keith represents Fresno Metro Ministries and has volunteered his time to work with Stanislaus Community Foundation to look at asset based community development. At Keith’s request, the City presented the General Plan Amendment proposal at a community workshop (hosted by Metro Ministries) held on May 8, 2014, intended to inform the public about Modesto’s General Plan Amendment currently underway. At Keith’s request, the workshop also included a presentation by Carlos Yamzon, Executive Director with StanCOG about the 2014 Regional Transportation Plan / Sustainable Communities Strategy. The intent of the presentation format was to share with the public Modesto’s General Plan Amendment proposal in context of StanCOG’s regional plan.
Patrick Kelly, AICP

From: Keith <Keith@
Date: June 4, 2014 at 3:37:17 PM PDT
To: Patrick Kelly < >
Cc: Katherine Borges <salidakat@ Garrad Marsh < >, COUNCIL < >, Brad Wall < >, Terry Withrow < >, Vito Chiesa” < >, Dick Monteith < >, Jim DeMartini < >, “Bill O’Brien” < >, Marjorie Blom < >, George Petrulakis < >, “Brent Sinclair” <>, “kberg@ <kberg@>
Subject: Re: SALIDA ANNEXATION CONSULTANT

Thank you Patrick. I have no idea where such false assertions mentioned below with respect to the City of Modesto and Salida or contracts with the City might originate. I have been volunteering with various groups in Modesto, Fresno, Madera, and Kern around community building for healthy people and healthy places – which is a regional initiative and goal of Fresno Metro Ministry. Please have people contact me directly to confirm my activities and intent. Thank you again for sharing this information. Regards, keith

 

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.

Here is a Counter to Marsh’s Letter: Don’t believe Marsh’s Ag-friendly ‘Smokescreen’

By Katherine Borges and Valerie Goldstein keepwoodcolonygreen

Reality is the state of things as they actually exist and not as they may appear or are imagined.

Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh’s Op-Ed in last Sunday’s Bee (“Mayor: Council acted to protect farmland,” Feb. 9, Page D1), attempts to justify the City Council’s “unprecedented” votes on the general plan update. The reality of the plan means annexation and development for Wood Colony and Salida behind Marsh’s “ag-friendly” smokescreen.

The first item addressed by Marsh is the “return” of the Beckwith Triangle from the general plan. The area was slated to become a ballpark along with commercial and industrial development, which Marsh now describes as an “unsound plan.” The Beckwith Triangle is still a part of Modesto’s new plan update, just with a different zoning mix. But more importantly, how can something be “returned” when it was never yours to begin with?

His next paragraph is an acknowledgment of just how much the Modesto Chamber of Commerce controls the council. Despite the massive and well documented public outcry against including Wood Colony in the general plan, the council conceded to a compromise with the chamber of “around 1,000 acres.” Marsh even refers to it as a “pristine agricultural treasure,” but zones it for both commercial and business park with a gerrymandered notch on Beckwith to try to prevent residents from voting down the annexation.

Marsh’s third point of ag mitigation is nothing more than a damage-control diversion for Jenny Kenoyer’s political gaffes. Stanislaus County already has an ag mitigation policy in place, yet Modesto’s has not yet been approved; which Marsh alludes to with, “If completed … ”

In his fourth attempted rationalization, Marsh cites “1,500 acres of land that was targeted for housing back to ag and out of the General Plan.” To remove LAFCO-approved land in exchange for land that LAFCO previously voted against being urbanized is not commendable but is, in reality, irresponsible planning. (LAFCO is the county commission which approves/denies land annexations.)

Most wouldn’t even know that Salida was included based on Marsh’s skillfully crafted wordsmithing. The land around Gregori High is part of the Salida Community Plan, an initiative passed by the Board of Supervisors for Salida in 2007. To put it another way, Marsh is saying, “ … the best and quickest way for Modesto to attract more jobs without taking any land that retained its agricultural zoning” is to steal it from Salida. The land currently around Gregori is zoned ag and the council has repeatedly admitted the jobs produced are 25-40 years out.

The last Trojan Horse that Marsh trots out is the Residential Urban Limits (RUL), which if approved by voters, would send to ballot any time a residential developer wants to build on farmland. As if the people of Wood Colony are going to respond, “It’s OK for you to bulldoze my house as long as you don’t build another house in its place.”

Like the aforementioned ag mitigation, Stanislaus County already has a rural urban limit in place, Measure E (co-authored by Denny Jackman and … wait for it … Garrad Marsh) passed by voters in 2007. Yet for Wood Colony and Salida, RULs will not apply since neither land-jacking by Modesto involves residential development plans.

Modesto neighbors, please help us! With Salida and Wood Colony united to protect our homes, our farms and our communities, every member of your City Council cast a vote against us. They aren’t listening to us and they aren’t listening to you. We cannot recall them, but you can. Join your district’s recall effort and help take your city back from the money interests. We just want to live our lives in peace without the threat of losing our homes and communities.

By Katherine Borges and Valerie Goldstein

 

Are Voters Becoming Disenchanted with the Modesto City Council?

By Emerson Drake                    The Draper/Centerra Decision

 

Last night’s City Council meeting was true to form. The public was forgotten and ignored by most of those on the dias.  The

Modesto's Double Tree and Brenden Theater

Mayor was so distracted by his email that many times it appeared he wasn’t aware of his surroundings. But lets start at the public comment period.

 

Many members of this Council have conspired to keep information out of the public’s eye.  An example is the article written August 18th about a Finance Committee meeting where City Manager (C.M.) Gregg Nyhoff deliberately waited until it was too late to include his Summary of Reductions – Target $6 Million Report in the Finance Committee’s agenda packet.  His report, which highlighted recommendations for targeted budget reductions to the formal agenda, (where it would have been made available to the public ).  During the meeting Nyhoff passed the report out to the committee and members of the public attending the meeting. The Committee voted to accept the report without comment.  This was a decision made several weeks prior to the meeting. After all it would be difficult for Councilwoman Burnside to stand in front of the Modesto Police Officers Association (MPOA) after voting to eliminate 20 sworn positions if the sales tax doesn’t pass. With some members of our council one hand washes the other.

 

At a subsequent meeting of the Finance Committee on August 27 I requested the report to be included on the city’s website.  Unfortunately as of September 3rd they had failed to comply.  So at last night’s meeting I again pointed out it was a Brown Act meeting and as a result the City Manager’s Report should have been included in the minutes despite C.M. Nyhoff’s efforts to obfuscate it.  So when I protested again last night the now ‘clandestine’ reports absence, City Council Attorney Susanna Acala Wood weighed in stating since it was a Brown Act meeting the report should be included in the official record.  But Nyhoff and the council members had already achieved their goal of not having the Committee be forced to give their recommendations and to keep it out of the public’s eye. Bee reporter Kevin Valine was present at the meetings but has yet to write a word regarding the events at the meeting.

 

Brent Sinclair Supports Paul Draper Being Chosen (actually he was the one who chose Draper)

 

To hear Brent Sinclair make the case for Paul Draper to be chosen was ludicrous.  His main argument was since Draper was involved with his self named ‘Team Modesto’ and had spent hundreds of hours attempting to build his multi-use towers he deserved the council’s largess.  While I commend Draper for his attempt I don’t feel the need to grant him the ‘excess profits’ by allowing him to represent Modesto’s five properties in the sale to the state. From our point of view Draper was ‘given’ a bonus by allowing this to occur. Draper will receive $30,000 for every million dollars the city receives for its five properties.  And yes it comes from Modesto’s pocket.

 

Even a judge weighed in

 

The the Honorable Ricardo Cordova Superior Court judge, spoke for the need to use Draper.   Judge Cordova’s claim to fame in the ‘good old boy’ network was reducing the charges in former Stanislaus County Detective Kari Abbey’s case in the killing of Rita Elias.  His reasoning for using Draper was that time was of the essence.  This just didn’t ring true.  After all, these negotiations for the courthouse properties have been on going for quite some time  and as a result the need for haste seems very contrived.

 

Cordova’s fear tactics appear to have worked,

 

Talking with Councilman Geer after the meeting he said he had listened intently to both sides of the arguments being made but the Judge suggesting we could possibly lose the state money swayed his vote.  It could be suggested that was why Cordova was trotted out last night. I have to wonder if he was going to speak BEFORE Sunday’s article  exposing the Centerra / Draper / Archway Commons article came out or if he was recruited afterward…

 

Why are we waiting until the last minute to approve a consultant and why wasn’t it vetted by a Committee?

 

The Mayor and City Council were well aware of the history Paul Draper and his Centerra company have with Modesto’s Archway Commons project.  The outrageous profit unnecessarily paid to Centerra was just another example of behind the scene politics that seem to occur on a regular basis in Modesto.  Kudos to the Bee for finally discussing the seamy underbelly of Modesto politics. Unfortunately the Council has learned to rush forward at the last minute anything they hope to avoid much public discussion on.  Once again it was obvious if no committee vetted Draper being hired as a consultant/realtor no one could be held responsible in the future.  It’s all about the lack of accountability for Modesto’s politicians.  The exception to the rule would be Councilman John Gunderson who understood the concern for having a downtown court house,  voted against the ‘last minute’ consideration of Draper. Congratulations Councilman Gunderson for standing up for Modesto’s citizens and not falling for the contrived, last minute, rush job.

 

Mayor Marsh answering emails during the Council meeting

 

Mayor Marsh seemed to be trying to distance himself from all questions of Archway Commons and Draper’s Centerra.  Mayor Marsh had apparently decided if he ignored the speakers they would eventually just go away.  At one point he had to be called by name three times to get him to look up from his phone and respond to a question.  The City Attorney tried to cover for him by saying she was advising him not to answer the question of how much Draper would make for selling Modesto’s five properties along with those he already represented. But unfortunately for the Mayor, he didn’t have a clue his name was being called out loud.

 

Have the taxpayers given up?

 

It needs to be acknowledged only three people came to speak against using the Draper/Centerra  in connection with the downtown courthouse.  Yet five people, including a former Councilman took the time to write a letter to the editor protesting the possibility.  Why?  Maybe because they knew it would be a waste of time since the Mayor and Council have been steadfastly ignoring the wishes of the public and just have been listening to the ‘backroom’  denizens.

 

Will Modesto Voters Memory Improve?

 

I have to be honest I doubt it.  After all they (District 4 ) are considering electing a Village I developer/profiteer Bill Zoslocki to the Modesto City Council without laughing, spitting or reaching for the tar and feathers.  But we can always hope.

 

Modesto’s Tin Cup Ordinance Goes to Committee Monday at 5:00

By Emerson Drake

Last adjusted in 2005, Modesto’s  Time Is Now To Clean Up Politics or TIN CUP ordinance is being voted on for the second

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was taken by me on January 14, 2010 in Modesto, California I hereby relinquish all rights to this photo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

time by Modesto’s Safety and Community Committee.  The last time the ordinance was changed the Modesto Chamber of Commerce was the petitioner.  They actually wanted to get rid of campaign limits altogether (no surprise) but a compromise was reached at the insistence of the Councilman Garrad Marsh(Marsh wanted to keep the limit at $1,000.  A donation can be made with a limit of $3,000 before a member of the city council including the Mayor, had to recuse themselves from voting on the contributor’s bill

We’ve been trying to get the TIN CUP total rolled back for several years and the requested

levels are a $1,000 contribution for council races and $2,000 for mayor with a 48 month window.  Since 2005 we instituted council districts, there by lowering campaign costs.  A council candidate has only one sixth of the city to “get the message out”  to.

In fact there is no limit,  and will be no  limit on how much anyone can donate. It just helps keep the old quid pro quo in check.  At least that’s the goal according to some, and levels the playing fields say others. It should come out of committee unscathed since it’s the wording agreed upon by the committee during their January  meeting.  The vote then was Councilmen Geer and Gunderson voting for and Councilman Lopez against.

Councilman Lopez like to say he believes someone running for Council should have the guts to ask for $3,000 yet he doesn’t. He asks for $2,999 so he can still vote for a donors project.

For the public there is NO downside to the change.  It helps to level the playing field between average citizens and deep pocketed special interest groups.

Here are the top ten contributors for the 2012 city elections.  Some of the totals would astound you, like the over $20,000 to Brad Hawn by Stephen Endsley over one year before the elections.

1  –  Dr. Steve Endsley
2  –  David Wright
3  –  George Petrulakis
4  –  Modesto Police Officers Association PAC**
5  –  City Signs
6  –  Modesto City Firefighters COPE (PAC)
7  –  Dr. Aruna Chopra including Chopra Development
8  –  Modesto Chamber of Commerce PAC (MOPAC)
9  –  Russ Newman including Newman Romano LLC
10 – Chris Tyler

After all what do a couple of City Unions, a developer under indictment, a developer not under indictment,  several lobbyists, a SCAP Director loving insurance salesman, a land use attorney,  and a Gallo In-Law have in common?

Could it be to make friends and influence people and their votes?    I heard a politician say, “Money doesn’t buy access to me or my vote.”  

My response is fine, then the limits won’t stop you from voting YES on lower TIN CUP limits.

Here is the pdf of the entire ordinance: 28221703032013111122796

Please don’t hesitate to call or email your Council representative and let them know how you feel.   Lets take the special interest money out of politics.

Tell them to Vote Yes for lower TIN CUP limits.

News Last Week in Modesto – What You Haven’t Read Anywhere Else

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...

By Emerson Drake

Former SCAP Director Appointment to Housing Committee Delayed but NOT Cancelled

On Tuesday the City Council came within moments of voting former Director of  SCAP Frank Ploof, onto Modesto’s Citizen Housing and Community Development Committee.  Mr. Ploof only served for two months as a Director on SCAP’s Board according to Julie Hannon.  Our concern is the ongoing relationship that developed between Daryl Fair, who was the President of the SCAP Board during the worst of the excesses, and who recruited Ploof for SCAP and  the Renaissance Center.  They continued to have an incestuous relationship with SCAP and the organization they billed as a nonprofit, the Renaissance Center.  Fair was the Executive Director and Ploof was a “case manager” and SCAP was paying the rent for the building on “D” street where the pseudo nonprofit was located.

Incredible as it sounds the Finance Committee met according to Julie Hannon, in November to interview eight candidates and choose Ploof. Interesting, since the City website shows the November and December meetings of the Finance Committee being cancelled.  Ms. Hannon told us Councilwoman Stephanie Burnside and Councilman David Cogdill Jr. were the ones interviewing the candidates.

While Mr. Ploof seems like a nice enough man, his relationship with Daryl Fair is a cause of major concern when it comes to Modesto’s Housing Committee.  And we have to wonder about the reasons J. David Wright is buzzing like a bee from councilperson to councilperson promoting Mr. Fair and his search for money to open a homeless drop in center.  It should also be noted J. David Wright was one of Modesto’s larger contributors to local Council races.  Why is Mr. Wright involved with people fronting for phony nonprofits?

After sitting in with the Finance Committee interviewing candidates for the planning Commission and the Board of Zoning adjustment and hearing the probing questioning, I’m surprised Ploof slipped through.  Though in all fairness it should be pointed out Ploof omitted disclosing the SCAP position from his questionnaire. And since City Manager Greg Nyhoff failed to document his investigation, or lack there of,  into the SCAP debacle, the Council members would have to be paying attention to the media to have known. Councilman Lopez asked for this appointment to be delayed and the rest of the council agreed and it was sent back to committee.

We have no doubt with seven others to choose from the Committee can find another capable candidate.

Mayor Marsh Wants Salida Ad Hock Committee to Meet Without the Public Being Present

The Mayor finally admitted having received the “Draft” of the Goodwin Study on the Salida annexation.  He had a meeting scheduled for this week and had staff relay to the public “Stay Home, you’re not invited.”  This is a major concern. Fortunately Supervisor Withrow had already given me an invitation.  When the Mayor was made aware of this he promptly cancelled the meeting.  Eventually it was rescheduled for Jan. 28,2013, but civilian member Thomas Reeves cancelled it, since the politicos were refusing to share the Goodwin report with the rest of the committee members.  I felt it was necessary and went to the Board of Supervisors and to the City Council to protest the Mayor’s actions.  Surprisingly the local print media failed to share this information with the citizens of Modesto or Salida.  Nothing like the third estate allowing games like these to be played. 

The bottom line is,  why the secrecy?

It’s only Money – OURS..!   $17,000 Extra for Soccer Fields

On December 4,2012, Item #16, with the consent of the council Staff pulled back the bids of the synthetic turf for the three soccer fields at Mary Grogen Park saying they had written the bid so poorly they only received a bid from one company which they said wasn’t competitive. On Tuesday they accepted a bid for $17,000 dollars more than the bid in December.  There were questions about the bidding process regarding the City not stating the way the bid was going to be judged. But this time staff didn’t care about the challenge made during the meeting, concerning the bid process, which was flawed or the fact it cost Modesto more money.  But what the heck it was only $17,000 out of Village One’s pocket-book right?    Huh?

Lower TIN CUP Limits Passes Committee and is Sent to Staff - Will Come Back in March

Something we’ve been trying to accomplish for several years is to lower the amount people can contribute to a candidate before  the now elected official has to step back or recuse themselves and not vote for an item brought forward by their contributor.  In Modesto this ordinance is called the TIN CUP or Time Is Now to Clean Up Politics.  The current amount is $3,000 dollars to all candidates and the new levels, if passed, will be $1,000 for council races and $2,000 for mayoral races.  Councilman David Geer and Councilman John Gunderson voted for the lowering of the limits and Councilman Dave Lopez voted against the proposal. Remember anyone one can continue to contribute any amount they choose but the candidate can’t vote for a proposal if the upper limit is passed.  This should help level the playing field for the average citizens. I hope people will call their council representatives and request they support the new levels. 

 After all,  does anyone think we need more money in politics?

To learn more about the Renaissance Center, “the nonprofit that wasn’t,”  go to our older archive location http://www.eyeonmodesto.blogspot.com/2011/11/renaissance-community-services-non.html

The Task Force for Public Art is Meeting 11/29/12

Public Art in Chicago

Public Art in Chicago (Photo credit: Pam_Broviak)

The Safety and Communities Committee Task Force for Public Art is meeting on Thursday 11/29/2012 at 3:30 in Room 2010 at 1010 10th Street.  The task force has been charged with developing a City Ordinance to assist in coordinating Public Art and developing a comprehensive strategy to promote art in public places.  The formal wording will follow todays meeting.

The public in not only invited but encouraged to attend.

Modesto Public Art Committee is Staging a Coup d`etat

Public Art in Chicago

Public Art in Chicago (Photo credit: Pam_Broviak)

By Emerson Drake

The Modesto Public Art Committee (PAC) is meeting Monday November 26,2012 to discuss an attempt to control the regulation of Public Art in Modesto. The PAC was formed years ago and despite creating a many page document they could never manage to get it authorized by the Modesto City Council.  I think there are probably many reasons for this and likely for good reason.

The potential regulation of art especially mural art in public places has come to the forefront since Modesto City Councilman John Gunderson brought it to the public eye.  Here is the latest information I could find regarding the Modesto Cultural Commission, its members and the end of their appointments.

Alice Ingham Richards 1/1/2013
Grace Lieberman 1/1/2010
Antony Little 1/1/2011
Henrietta Sparkman 1/1/2012
Kate Trompetter 1/1/2014

It would seem things are just a bit out of date.  The last time they tried to get the following rules implemented was in 2006 and it seems the City Council wasn’t interested. 

According to the City Callender : 3:30 PM – Public Art Committee Meeting  
McHenry Museum, 1402 I Street, Contact Ellen La Coste 577-5235

I encourage everyone interested to attend.  The following link will take you to the Public Art Master Plan.  Sounds almost ominous doesn’t it.

PACMasterPlan.doc2

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