Well it was as rowdy and contentious as any I’ve seen. The public’s distrust of the senior members of the Board, Tom Van Groningen, Paul Warda, and Glen Wild and especially General Manager Allen Short was not only palpable but jumped right out at all of those present.
No one trusted Allen Shorts benign comment “it’s just a sale of 2,200 acre feet to the City and County of San Francisco (CCSF) that could end up at over 25,000 acre feet per year for 60 or more years. But today we’re only discussing the sale of 2,000 acre feet.”
This was in the Board agenda report that was available at the door and on the website www.mid.org .
The first speaker was John Duarte, who laid it on the line regarding his belief the water was more important to the citizens and farmers of the valley than it was to the CCSF. John was a nonstop ball of fire or to better describe it he came out both guns blazing, loaded for bear and I hope he’ll send us his speech for publication here.
His finish was greeted by resounding applause from the audience, which irritated Board President Van Groningen to no end. Speaker after speaker got up and deplored the thought of selling our water to the bay area. The audience, many who attend on a regular basis, were obviously fed up with Van Groningen’s restrictive controlling ways and continued to applaud the speakers.
Several asked why the public meetings and the accompanying comments hadn’t been recorded. Due to schedule conflicts I only went to one of the four public meetings which were held and the sentiment there was overwhelmingly against any sale what so ever. According to comments made today the others were the same.
When Van Groningen claimed he had heard many comments for the sale at meetings he was laughed at. Another speaker suggested this was why they didn’t record the meetings so they could spin the responses and deny what really happened.
Dave Thomas, President of the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association, during his allotted five minutes, tried to delineate the mismanagement of MID since the arrival of Allen Short but even though he hurried he ran out of time for the obvious reason there are just so many to recount.
Among the ones he mentioned were the Mountain House debacle which is still losing us Millions each year, the under funded MID pension plan, the four cities fiasco where we still have approximately $3.5 Million worth of equipment just sitting around wasting away that will never be used, the $6 Million Don Pedro warrantee allowed to lapse on a roof there, a ‘new’ water treatment plant that could cost $80Million to replace or repair, and of course the Bio-mass plant which cost ratepayers 2 plus million to get out of the lawsuit that attorney O’Laughlin said we didn’t have to worry about.
MID attorney Tim O’Laughlin snarled at Dave Thomas within seconds of Thomas’ 5 minute signal sounding. Why he did that could be considered obvious.
O’Laughlin has been taking fire in recent months for dragging his feet and placing unnecessary obstacles in the way of Public Information Requests (see today’s editorial page, letters to the Editor of the Bee.) But apparently he felt the need to personally attack Dave Thomas for his remarks about Allen Short and Thomas wanting to finish a final sentence.
At the end of the meeting Director Larry Byrd made a motion to shelve the project, which died for lack of a second.
Nock Blom explained he wanted to get all of the information before he made a decision.
The outcome was 4-1 with Larry Byrd being the only dissenter.
I only wish I could do justice to all of the eloquent speeches given today but I can’t. So please everyone take a moment and comment to www.EyeOnModesto.com You all deserve to be heard and I’ll make sure everyone gets posted.