Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

On-Going Scandal in Modesto

By Emerson Drake

City Manager Gregg Nyhoff perpetuated the myth of “everything is fine” down at city hall at Wednesday night’s city council meeting.  The bobble heads were nodding in agreement that city workers overseeing the NSP2 funds are stretched too thin, rather than acknowledging pressure from local power brokers was responsible.  When you listen to members of the Commonwealth Group explain it away, it almost sounds plausible until you consider the web of intrigue that surrounds the scandal.

From city councilmen and their business partners scheming their way through the NSP2 maze of paperwork and guidelines, to newspaper publishers relatives being waist deep in the mire.

While the SCAP controversy abused everyone’s sense of reason, the NSP2 controversy exposed the raw naked greed of a city councilman who can’t use city attorney Susan Alcala Wood as a shield this time.

The premise that a city official can’t profit from NSP2 funds or HUD money isn’t obscure, not in the least.  It’s one of the first things you learn.

But when the money Ryan Swehla and Scott Monday funneled to Benchmark Realty (a company Swehla owns with Joe Muratore) first came to light, it was eclipsed by the SCAP scandal.

Needless to say, despite Mark Vasche’s claim of distancing himself from the reporting on this, it can’t be easy to be a reporter writing about Vasche’s son-in-law (Scott Monday).

Commonwealth members continue to support Councilman Muratore despite his being caught with his fingers in the till.  After all, his being on the council, adds unspoken pressure on city employees (unspoken by Muratore), while his partner doesn’t hesitate to play the “do you know who my partner is” card to anyone unaware of the affiliation.

Even most of the city council has remained silent on whether or not Muratore should resign his seat.

You can’t expect any pressure from his council district, considering that Mike Moradian has been inspecting all of the homes being “processed” by the conjoined triumvirate.

How can citizens ofModestoexpect to be treated with respect and honesty while the Bee management is shielding Muratore and his cohorts.

To be bluntly spoken, we can’t.  People need to express their dissatisfaction and outrage to the City Council and everyone they meet. 

We need to say the iconoclast, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 
― Margaret Mead

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