Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

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.


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2 thoughts on “A Short but Contentious MID Meeting Today

  1. Time to start a campaign to sell M.I.D. to the mega power companies.

  2. Looks like they are retiring with a fat pension. Breaking News.

    Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011
    Two longtime Modesto Irrigation Board members to step down
    By John Holland
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    John Kidd joined the Modesto Irrigation District board in 1971, the year Don Pedro Reservoir was completed.

    Cecil Hensley first was elected to the board in 1991, but his work in irrigation in the area dates to 1955.

    Tuesday, the two men will attend their last meeting as directors. Kidd lost his Nov. 8 re-election bid to Nick C. Blom. Hensley did not run again and will be succeeded by Larry Byrd.
    JH Kidd
    Modesto Bee – (JOHN HOLLAND/jholland@modbee.com) – John Kidd reflects on his 36 years on the Modesto Irrigation District board in one of his walnut orchards off Paradise Road. Kidd lost his re-election bid to Nick C. Blom.

    The departing directors helped guide the district through times of drought and flood, through building booms and busts, and through debates over electricity rates and environmental laws.

    Kidd, a 75-year-old walnut farmer west of Modesto, said a key achievement was building power plants fueled by natural gas, which appears to be abundant for the next century.

    He likened this effort to the construction of Don Pedro by the MID, the Turlock Irrigation District and San Francisco. It holds seven times as much water as a previous dam with the same name.

    “Some people were worried that $100 million was a huge cost for New Don Pedro,” Kidd said. “It turned out that it was pretty reasonable.”

    Hensley, an 85-year-old almond grower near Waterford, said he takes pride in the mid-1990s construction of a plant that treats some of the Tuolumne River water for the city of Modesto and a few smaller communities. The plant, which is being expanded, reduced reliance on wells.

    “That’s going to help the citizens of the city of Modesto for years and years,” Hensley said. “As the land became urbanized and houses were built, we converted that water from irrigation to drinking water.”

    He and Kidd also noted the still-low cost of water for the MID’s farmers and efforts to conserve the supply.

    Both directors have hesitated to raise power rates in recent years because of the rough economy.

    “Some people just don’t have any resources to cover rate increases,” Kidd said.

    Hensley said he would rather trim the MID budget than boost the revenue side.

    “I still bend over and pick up a penny,” he said. “I think a vehicle should last more than 150,000 miles.”

    Kidd and Hensley also cite the high cost of meeting a state mandate for at least 33 percent renewable energy by 2020.

    “The people up in Sacramento aren’t as business-oriented as they could be,” Kidd said.

    He served on the board from 1971 to 1991 and again from 1995 to the present.

    Hensley went to work for the Waterford Irrigation District in 1955 and was its manager when it merged with the MID in 1978. He retired as the MID’s irrigation chief before serving on the board.

    Hensley noted recreation improvements at Don Pedro. For the past 20 years, he has been the MID’s representative on the board who oversees camping, fishing and other activities.

    Hensley said he is proud to have spent the past 56 years helping to supply farmers.

    “Seeing the water go on the land and seeing the crops — the water brings forth the life, so to speak,” he said.

    Kidd agreed that the MID has an enviable canal system, as well as a power grid run by employees who keep power disruptions short.

    After Tuesday, he will have more time to devote to farming, mule packing and other pursuits.

    “I’ve got some friends wanting to go fishing with me,” he said. “I told Cecil I would take him up to Don Pedro to go fishing.”

    Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at jholland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2385.

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