Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the day “February 27, 2012”

Modesto Irrigation District Continues to Deceive the Public

By Emerson Drake

There can be no doubt MID General Manager Allen Short and his staff honed their skills at deception.  They’ve progressed from telling out right lies in the past, to passing off partial truths as to be factual.

After MID held their four public meetings they were aghast to find out several people had attended all of them and had taken notes.  These notes displayed the ever changing story that Mr. Short used in an attempt to promote his water “give away” program.   Like some politicians, Mr. Short “adjusts” his rhetoric to his audience. The reason I use the term give away is Mr. Short never publicly takes into account the other uses for the water which would bring in more money to the valley than the selling of water toSan Francisco.  Developers in the Bay area are planning to use the water for a home development to be built on a salt marsh. 

In his letter to Senator Feinstein he makes clear his desire to “make friends” with bay area politicians to secure their support for the central valley in the future. What wasn’t made clear until recently is over 100 of these same politicians have signed a petition against this development.  Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

As we’ve said before, MID meetings are never realistically portrayed by the Modesto Bee.  Speaker after speaker gets up and gives MID’s Board of Directors, .metaphorically speaking, “both barrels” against the proposed water sale.  The Farm Bureau has spoken out against the water sale as have many farmers who remind us the water table keeps getting lower and we need to recharge our aquifer if we expect it to last.  Our cities are pumping water out of the ground; the politicians and developers are paving over prime recharge land and now MID is selling the water to the bay area instead of “investing” the water locally.  We have land on the west side of the county that remains fallow because of the lack of water.

When appealing to MID’s ratepayers didn’t work, Mr. Short fell back, regrouped, and decided to go directly to the business community and arranged a discussion with Modesto’s Chamber of Commerce.  Nothing wrong with that except the Chamber decided they didn’t need to hear other points of view and they being men of industry could separate the wheat from the chafe. 

But I ask, how can anyone make an informed decision without hearing all of the facts?

Several truths are known, MID has a recent history of bungling everything it touches.  Take the water plant as an example, MID created a list of 100’s of construction design errors and construction defects.  Who is going to pay the potentially $100’s of Millions to redesign, tear out and rebuild this water plant expansion?  Probably the ratepayers and citizens ofModestowill. Yes there is an ongoing lawsuit against Black and Veatch but the blame could go either way or more likely be apportioned.  Again who cleans up the mess by picking up the bill?  Ratepayers!

Recently a ratepayer was asking questions at a MID Board Meeting Board. President Tom Van Groningen had a citizen escorted out by a hired badge and gun for disagreeing with him. 

We understand the lure Allen Short and staff are facing, a chance to play big wig, get lots of free lunches all paid for by someone else, You and Me.  Until they ”discovered” this new revenue stream no one had made a big deal about these suddenly needed improvements.  After all, paying down the $1.3 Billion in debt three of these Board members (four if you count their leader Allen Short) racked up they decided it wasn’t sexy enough so instead of making our selves financially sound lets spend it!

Did anyone from the Chamber of Commerce ask that question?  Not from what I heard.

Tonight on local cable there will be a discussion of MID’s proposed water sale on the Assyrian Channel (23 on Comcast). It will be available by streaming video at


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