Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the day “October 17, 2011”


By EyeOnModesto Staff

I would like to encourage everyone to support the “Occupy Wall Street” protestors. They are fighting for us, the middle and lower class Americans who live from paycheck to paycheck.

99% of this nations’ wealth is controlled by 1% of its citizens. Those very wealthy Americans and corporations can afford to make million dollar donations to political campaigns, expecting and receiving in return, continued tax breaks, while the rest of us pay a higher and higher percentage of our income in taxes.

Warren Buffett has publicly said that the super wealthy can and should pay more taxes. Following is a quote from an interview he did with the New York Times:

“Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

Doesn’t it seem unreasonable that someone who makes $50,000 a year pays a higher percentage of income tax than someone who makes millions? Mr. Buffett’s secretary actually paid a higher tax rate than he did.

Many of us struggle with minimum wage jobs that provide absolutely no benefits. No health insurance. No sick time. No vacation time. No retirement plan. It’s not that we are unskilled, there just aren’t any jobs available that pay a living wage and offer benefits. The idea that giving tax breaks to the very wealthy will create jobs has been proven wrong. President Bush gave those tax breaks to his wealthy friends and they did not create jobs.

And now there is a new problem for the unemployed. Many potential employers have taken the stance that if an applicant has been unemployed for six months or more, they are considered “unemployable”. If you have 30 years of experience, and the company you work for closes, do you believe you’ve lost the skills you developed over a lifetime in just six months? Regardless of what you may think of President Obama’s jobs bill, a portion of it stated that “an employer cannot disregard an applicant due to his/her current unemployment status”. Who needs a job more than an unemployed person?

Who needs tax breaks more, someone earning $20,000 or someone earning $250,000?

Our political leaders need to stop coddling the super wealthy. They need to listen to the Wall Street protestors. They need to listen to us.


Modesto’s Future vs the Mayoral Candidates

By Emerson Drake

After watching both the first and last mayoral candidate debates I was struck by the sameness of the questions and responses. At the first of the forums there were six candidates and only four the last time but unfortunately that was the major difference.

So what have we learned after four months and over $150,000 having been spent?

Armando Areola, while a nice man, likes running for public office and hasn’t a clue what the problems are or what he might do if elected.

Brad Hawn has accepted the largest single donation in Modesto campaign history.  Stephen Endsley, a greedy and misguided developer, with more money to spend than a tree has almonds,  jump started Hawn’s campaign with $14,000 and followed it up with even more. In for a penny, in for a pound I suppose.

But our larger concern is what the money is trying to buy. Endsley has financial ties to Councilman Joe Muratore that amount to between $100,000 and $1,000,000 dollars, according to Muratore’s financial disclosure forms.

Why is that a concern? Because Hawn continues to deny a financial relationship between himself and the solar company he was involved in with Endsley, Muratore, and Ryan Swehla.

If he’ll deny this connection, how many others will he deny in the future? Endsleys donations have obviously purchased Hawns’ ear and potentially his vote, considering the former ties.

After Muratore was caught making personal money from the NSP2 funds, all he had to do was return the money (he still sits on the council and votes for his friends) and considering his close relationship with Hawn we don’t feel the need to have a member of this evil cabal as Mayor.

Bill Zoslocki, a former President of the Building Industry Association of Modesto, has sued the county (they lost) over farmland mitigation rights. Mr. Zoslocki has been a long time home builder in Stanislaus County and takes prime farmland and plants driveways and homes, neither of which are very good to eat, nor worth very much right now.

Zoslocki has come right out and said he will refuse to follow any advisory vote of the citizens if he disagrees with it. His idea of city government by the people, would seem to be more of a monarchy than democracy. To his words, “I know better than the voters what is best for them.”

That is a very scary prospect.

Another concern is Mr. Zoslocki’s negative comments on the extension of the library tax. He would prefer a new tax to be spent on roads rather than an extension of the library tax. While our roads do need repair it shouldn’t be at the expense of our children. When questioned about this after the forum he stuck to his decision, while acknowledging 85% of the library’s budget comes from the tax and that the library would be in dire straights up to and including closing all but the main branch and curtailing its hours by more than 50%.  Many fore-closed and low-income families don’t have computer access for their children to work on school projects or do research.  Libraries provide this access. 

This suggests he and his supporters are more concerned about building roads for developers to exploit than the literacy rate in Modesto.

Many politicians and business people have said it’s difficult to bring new business to Modesto because we have an uneducated work force.  Reducing hours and closing library branches will contribute to the unpreparedness of the next generation work force.

Garrad Marsh, a small business owner and eight year councilman, has a more thought out viewpoint. He believes the decisions of the public should be honored by public servants in office.

He prefers building up rather than out, believes in in-fill, and has refuted Bill Zoslocki’s claims of not enough shovel ready land around Modesto.

While we would rather see someone from outside the local political movers and shakers run for Mayor, and we are not recommending anyone for political office, Garrad Marsh would probably cause the least damage.

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