Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the month “November, 2011”

MID says Their Digital Records aren’t Really Public Records in Response to a Public Records Request

By Emerson Drake

The meanderings of the MID’s attorney are curious. 

The question seemed simple enough when I asked,  “since MID throws the DVD recording of their meetings away after 100 days, would it be okay if I took them off of their hands instead.”

The answer I received was three pages long and about as straight forward as the Gordian knot

Why don’t they want to keep the records?  Are they afraid their words will come back to haunt them? MID makes the claim they only use the tapes “for facilitating the preparation of the minutes.” They actually include the phrase “MID does not use, intend,  keep,  or preserve the DVDs for any additional purpose  such as the preservation of quotes or exact words used in a meeting.”

Why wouldn’t they want quotes or exact words?  Isn’t that what the minutes are supposed to be?

Please take a few minutes to read their response (below) and see if you don’t have a few questions of your own.



Modesto Developers…Are you Listening U.N. Says 25% of Globes Farmland Highly Degraded

By Nicole Wimfield

ROME (AP) — The United Nations has completed the first-ever global assessment of the state of the planet’s land resources, finding in a report Monday that a quarter of all land is highly degraded and warning the trend must be reversed if the world’s growing population is to be fed.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that farmers will have to produce 70 percent more food by 2050 to meet the needs of the world’s expected 9 billion-strong population. That amounts to 1 billion tons more wheat, rice and other cereals and 200 million more tons of beef and other livestock.

To read more http://www.salon.com/writer/nicole_winfield/

Will “reciprocity” be required on other issues?

By EOM Staff

It will be interesting to see if H.R. 822 passes through the Senate.  This bill would allow people with concealed carry permits from one state to legally travel to other states with their concealed weapons, regardless of the other states’ laws.
My interest in this bill is how it may affect other issues.  Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., now issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Maryland recognizes same-sex marriages but does not grant marriage licenses.
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington allow medicinal marijuana use. 
Oregon, Washington and Montana allow assisted suicide.
By passing H.R. 822, requiring “reciprocity” among states, the door is potentially open to requiring states to recognize and allow adherence to laws passed in other states.
If a same-sex couple married in Iowa moves to California, would California be required to grant all rights to that couple as they do to heterosexual couples?
If someone from Alaska has a card authorizing medicinal use of marijuana, can they use their marijuana while they are in Illinois?
If someone in Oregon has the necessary physician documentation required for an assisted suicide, but wants to be with their loved ones in Colorado when they pass away, does Colorado have to allow that?
Personally, I think that assisted suicide, medicinal marijuana and gay marriage should be allowed throughout the United States.  But I do recognize the right of individual states to determine what will be allowed within their borders.
Interestingly, most of the GOP candidates have in the past stated their belief in states’ rights.  However, H.R. 822 is a Republican sponsored bill and if it passes, it may begin the erosion of the states’ rights they proclaim to support.
What’s your opinion?

A Few Thoughts on the Republican Nominee

By Kathleen Parker

Herman Cain is a one-man clown car. God bless and peace be upon him.

If he doesn’t have a contract (as a television host) by the end of January, he needs a new agent.

Newt Gingrich is universally known as a man of ideas. He is also known as a man of mostly bad ideas. 

As for the rest you need to take the link..


Will Concealed Carry Permits be Recognized by All States

Different states have different requirements for gun ownership.  Some states require a thorough background check and a waiting period to purchase a gun.  Some require proof of good mental health.  Unlike the requirements for a drivers’ license, the requirements for gun ownership vary greatly.  That is why H.R. 822 is disturbing.  It is intended to allow persons who hold a concealed carry permit from one state to also be allowed to carry anywhere in the country, with the exception of Illinois* and Washington, D.C.*
My biggest concern is that states that have a more restrictive “may issue” permit process, will be forced to allow non-residents to carry concealed when many of their own citizens may not.  And those non-residents who carry concealed may have gotten their gun permit from a state that doesn’t have background checks.  Background checks are important in determining who should be allowed to own a gun.  People with a history of violence should not have weapons.  People with lengthy criminal records should not have weapons.  People who have had restraining orders filed against them should not have weapons.  But in all those cases, states that have little or no restrictions on gun ownership can allow someone to purchase a weapon, carry concealed, and travel to another state with that weapon.
The House passed the bill on November 17, and it is now headed to the Senate.
Many of the politicians running for the Republican nomination will say that they believe in states’ rights.  But the NRA is a powerful association that contributes millions of dollars to politicians.  In turn, those politicians due the NRA’s bidding.  By passing this bill, they are eroding the rights of states to determine what will and what will not be allowed in their state. 
*Illinois does not allow anyone to carry concealed.
*Washington D.C. does not issue carry concealed permits, although they are currently being sued over this.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

From all of us to you and yours have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving

A Short but Contentious MID Meeting Today

By Emerson Drake

There was an early announcement saying agenda Item 8 was removed and postponed due to Glen Wild’s absence.  Item 8 being the one Allen Short is pushing to cast in stone what he calls past practices of the Board.  Unfortunately, at the end of the meeting the Board decided to insert a “special” meeting now scheduled for next week, which is before the two new Board members take their seats.


Board member elect Larry Byrd quietly asked the Board to consider delaying this particular decision until after the two new members take their seats in December.  The Board did not officially respond to his request.  After all Allen Short couldn’t tell them what to think, at least not in public.


The Board has been playing fast and loose with their past policy regarding the public comment period.  This is from their Agenda and is present on all of their agendas.


Public Comment Time: Because these are non-agenda matters, generally no discussion or comment by the Board should be expected, except to properly refer the matter for review as appropriate.  But no action will be taken at this meeting.


Yet for two weeks in a row the Board has waited until a member of the public has been seated before responding caustically.  While it’s nice to see the Board do something other than sit there stone faced, waiting until the audience member sits down to respond and then said audience member isn’t allowed to refute the Board member, General Manager or Board Council, doesn’t allow reasonable discourse.  If anyone on the dais decided to respond to input from the public, the public should be allowed to follow-up if they so desire. After all, this is the public’s meeting, isn’t it?  When I tried to follow-up on an issue, Paul Warda, MID Board President, warned me to remain silent or be removed from the meeting by an armed guard if any further outbursts were made.


Despite the claims of MID Board Attorney Tim O’Laughlin that a slur (suggesting that responses weren’t made on a timely basis) was made against his office regarding timely Public Information Request responses, a Public Information Request made four weeks ago during a meeting remains unanswered.


When it came to the matter of MID Board members not having their own email addresses, Cecil Hensley proudly told everyone he doesn’t even own a computer.  Thank you for your service, Mr. Hensley but personally I prefer someone I can get in touch with on a timely basis.  The only email address available to the public on MID’s website for the Board is board@mid.org  and it’s under the Board Secretary’s designation.


It’s obvious that citizens who wish to communicate with the MID Board are being inhibited and their concerns to the office holders that they elected, are being screened by Allen Short.


Board –Staff Linkage Policy BL-3 The Board Secretary shall: c) Receive and disseminate Board Communications.  This includes emails from the public which she gives to G.M. Allen Short just before the meetings and he passes out as meeting goers have witnesses time and time again.  Allen Short begged to differ regarding the email statement by the public but this item would seem to address the comment in its entirety.


For a long time now the Board, especially Director Tom Van Groningen has been misleading the public regarding the “special lower rate schedules” or discounts. These   discounts give lower rates to companies using off peak electricity they don’t offer to the public. And yet in turn the residential user foots the bill when an industrial user doesn’t cut back during peak periods. These discounts aren’t available to the residential electricity user, so in essence residential ratepayers have been subsidizing some of the businesses in the MID electric territory for some time now.


It looks like we’ll have to wait for the agenda to come out on Friday to find out if the Resolution regarding Board Governance Process and Board Staff-Linkage will be voted on.


But since approving the two resolutions are the main reason for the meeting, it appears the old Board will put its rubber stamp on Allen Shorts request.

MID’s Allen Short Wants to Sell Our Life’s Blood…Our Water

In Southern California the states largest lake is drying up.  The Salton Sea is in danger of becoming a dust bowl further emphasizing the long-term concern Stanislaus County has over its water rights that MID is looking to sell off for the next 60 years.  The following story is from the Sacramento Bee.

Courts weighs scrapping huge California water pact

Courts weighs scrapping huge California water pact

 SAN Diego  — A vanishing lake figures large in a court battle over how Southern California gets it water, a high-stakes dispute with consequences that could ripple throughout the western United States.

A California appeals court is considering whether to overturn a landmark 2003 agreement that created the nation’s largest farm-to-city water transfer and set new rules for dividing the state’s share of the Colorado River.  A three-judge panel of the 3rd Appellate District in Sacramento will hear arguments Monday and is expected to rule within three months.

Farmers and environmentalists involved in the lawsuit argue the pact is deeply flawed, while California water agencies say it is critical to keeping an uneasy peace on the river. The court has given each side 45 minutes to make its case and asked lawyers to focus on whether the state of California violated its constitution by essentially writing a blank check to restore the shrinking Salton Sea.

California long used more of the Colorado River than it was granted under agreements with Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and Mexico. Its overindulgence was never a big problem until Sunbelt cities like Phoenix witnessed explosive growth and other states clamored for their full share. Drought only exacerbated tensions.

The 2003 accord between California’s warring water agencies reins the state to its limit established 80 years earlier of 4.4 million acre-feet of water a year – enough to supply about 9 million homes. The centerpiece called for California’s Imperial Valley – a farming region of 175,000 residents that gets nearly 20 percent of the entire river – to sell water to San Diego.

In January 2010, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Roland Candee gutted the pact in a sweeping, 52-page decision that faulted the state for its open-ended commitment to the Salton Sea. California’s largest lake is more than 200 feet below sea level and relies on water that seeps down from nearby farms. The sale of water to San Diego,  further threatens the lake’s future.

The judge ruled that a state law committing California to save the lake no matter the cost set an unacceptable precedent for the government to pledge money to other projects it couldn’t afford. The administration of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pegged the cost of saving the Salton Sea at a whopping $9 billion.

The state’s dire fiscal straits offer little hope for the lake, whose rapidly receding shores are layered with dead fish. Its waters – about one-third saltier

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/11/20/4068398/courts-put-huge-california-water.html#ixzz1eNNxtH13

MID G.M. Allen Short Seeks to Reinforce His Authority

By Emerson Drake

Tuesday’s meeting will be the crowning of a Dictator.  Allen Short, nervous over new MID Board members, is reminding everyone just where the power lies, and that’s with HIM.

With two new members read in the wings to be granted membership into Short’s kingdom he is determined to remind them just how little power they have.  Tom Van Groningen and Paul Warda already surrendered their manhood years ago.  And in the minds of many Glen Wild never had any, manhood that is.  He was a designated  usurper of former Board member Mike Serpa.

Since Serpa’s orchestrated demise a relative calm has prevailed.  Cecil Hendsley managed to remember what  freedom of decision was like but could seldom sway other members to join him in splitting from Allen Short’s reign of terror.

Many find it difficult to believe but MID Board members have no individual email address they can be reached at.  There’s a generic address for members which goes to Board Secretary Pat Mills and she relays them to Allen Short who distributes them just before meetings if he feels like it.

Yes in other words, he screens them.

To see just how devious Short is you need to go towards the bottom of the agenda and read the Board resolution:


Also read all of the Governing Process #’s 1-12 and the Board linkage #’s 1-11

In these, the MID Board handcuffs themselves and anoints General Manager Allen Short as KING.

But don’t take my word for it.  Read it for yourself and prepare to be amazed. 


If they approve this it’s as if they are walking in to a vets office and say “snip’em off Doc.  I’m on the MID Board and I don’t need them any more.”

Stories We Found Interesting, You Might Too

From time to time we run across stories of interest and plan to bring them to your attention.  Let us know what you think.

The headline on Democratic strategist Paul Begala’s recent Newsweek essay dodged subtlety: The Stupid Party.

“Republicans used to admire intelligence. But now they’re dumbing themselves down,” was the subhead.

Democrats couldn’t agree more. And quietly, many Republicans share the sentiment. They just can’t seem to stop themselves.

Republicans aren’t really stupid, of course, and Begala acknowledges this. But, as he also pointed out, the conservative brain trust once led by William F. Buckley has been supplanted by talk radio hosts who love to quote Buckley (and boast of his friendship) but who do not share the man’s pedigree or his nimble mind. Moreover, where Buckley tried to rid the GOP of fringe elements, notably the John Birch Society, today’s conservatives have let them back in. The 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference was co-sponsored by the Birchers.

Meanwhile, the big tent fashioned by Ronald Reagan has become bilious with the hot air of religious fervor. No one was more devout than the very-Catholic Buckley, but you didn’t see him convening revivals in the public square. Nor is it likely he would have embraced fundamentalist views that increasingly have forced the party into a corner where science and religion can’t coexist.

Scientific skepticism, the engine that propels intellectual inquiry, has morphed into skepticism of science fueled by religious certitude. In this strange world, it is heresy to express concern about, for example, climate change — or even to suggest that human behavior may be a contributing factor. Jon Huntsman committed blasphemy when he told ABC’s Jake Tapper that he trusts scientists on global warming.

What Huntsman next said, though refreshing and true, ensured that his poll numbers would remain in the basement: “When we take a position that isn’t willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man’s contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science and, therefore, in a losing position.”

Of course, plenty of Republicans agree with this appraisal, including other presidential candidates. They understand that the challenge is to figure out to what extent humans contribute and what humans can reasonably do without bankrupting the planet.

Nevertheless, the Republican base requires that candidates tack away from science toward the theistic position — only God controls climate. More to the point, Rush Limbaugh says that climate change is a hoax and so it must be. Huntsman may as well be a Democrat.

It takes courage to swim against the tide of know-nothingness that has become de rigueur among the anti-elite, anti-intellectual Republican base. Call it the Palinization of the GOP, in which the least informed earns the loudest applause. The latest to this spectacle is Herman Cain, who has figured out how to turn his liabilities into assets. After fumbling for an answer during an editorial board meeting to a simple question about his position on Lybia, a lead news item since February, Cain blamed — who else? — the media.

The problem wasn’t that he had no idea. The problem, he said, was that he likes to think before he speaks. Besides, there are so many countries out there.

“Who knows every detail of every country on the planet?” he asked a crowd in Nashua, N.H., a few days later. “The people that get on the Cain train, they don’t get off because of that crap.”

It’s safe to say that nobody knows every detail of every country, but Libya isn’t just any country and the United States did not play a minor role in helping Libyans liberate themselves from the 40-year tyranny of Moammar Gaddafi. But Cain is banking on the hope that GOP contempt for smarty-pants, gotcha journalists will outweigh concerns that he may be out of his league.

He may be right. Despite his difficulties, Cain is still polling in the top tier, just behind Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Even so, there are signs that the GOP is recognizing its weaknesses and is ready to play smarter. To wit: The sudden surge of Gingrich, who, whatever his flaws and despite the weight of his considerable baggage, is no intellectual slouch. Whether he can pull off a victory in Iowa remains to be seen, but a populist professor — a bombastic smarty-pants Republicans can call their own — may be just the ticket.

This story can be found in the Washington Post by Kathleen Parker

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