Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the day “January 6, 2012”

Even the City of Modesto Punishes the Residential Electricity User

By Emerson Drake

When people pay their utility bill I think everyone probably notices the 6% Utility tax added to the bottom.  And maybe you think everyone has to pay it, but you’d be wrong.

On November 29, 2011 the City of Modesto Finance Department sent a letter to businesses reminding them of the $1,500 annual maximum user tax ceiling. This is a combined tax ceiling encompassing electric, gas, telephone, cable and cellular.

So Modesto may need money to pay its police and fire but it doesn’t believe in equal taxation.

The city’s finance department even goes a step further, if you prepay your tax they’ll notify the providers of these services to stop charging you the 6% user tax.  If you don’t prepay and fail take advantage of the city’s “offer” it is your responsibility to request a refund of any overpayment you might have made.

Now let me see if I have this correct.  The tax money all goes into the same pot to pay the bills and we’re all required to pay the 6% utility user tax, except for those that hit the ceiling.

Now the Supreme Court says Corporations are people too.  But Modesto says they’re ‘special people’ who don’t have to pay the same taxes as you and I.

And just for curiosity’s sake we’ll be asking the city how many and who took advantage of this prepayment if any.

Don’t worry; we’ll let you know too.

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MID is Ignoring and Delaying Public Information Requests

By Enerson Drake

In order to obtain information from  public agencies  they otherwise would prefer to keep removed from the public eye, we sometimes find it necessary to make Public Information Requests.  Officially it’s known as California Code 6250-6270.

It requires public agencies to respond to the request within 10 working days and has an emergency extension of two weeks if invoked.

But MID Attorney Tim O’Laughlin reads the code differently than any other attorney we’ve encountered.  He seems to believe MID can ignore, purposefully misunderstand and  delay indefinately answering questions put to it, and basically flaunts the regulations with complete disregard to the law.

We’ve had Public Record Requests in since October that the MID legal staff refuses to acknowledge.  When a request was made on November 16, 2011  for three pieces of information, we received only one on December 19, and that was after we prompted them yet again.  The second was pushed off indefinitely ( Tim O’Laughlin  basically said you’ll get it when we feel like giving it to you),  the third piece requested at the same time was dutifully ignored.

When we reminded MID of the second and third items, attorney Tim O’Laughlin then has attempted to restart the clock.

Is he working in conjuction with MID General Manager Allen Short and the three members of the old guard, Tom Van Groningen, Paul Warda, and Glenn Wild?  These are the men responsible for MID’s continuing mismanagement and have all voted for the last rate hikes of 7.5% (last year) and the recent 2% increase.

MID is owned by the ratepayers but these men have run it into the ground and need to be stopped.

This delay of information should not and will not be tolerated by the public.

Here is a link to the  California  Code: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=gov&group=06001-07000&file=6250-6270

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