Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

The War Being Fought FOR Women

In 1994, the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development set goals to improve access to reproductive and sexual health services including family planning, and infant, child and maternal mortality.  They hope to meet their goals by 2015.

The conference participants envisioned rich countries helping poor countries to meet these goals, but no one was given a free ride.  Developing countries agreed to provide 2/3 of the money needed.  For every $1.00 spent in these countries to meet these goals, they save $1.40 in maternal and newborn health care costs.  It’s a win-win for the health of women and their babies, and a win-win for the financial well-being of the developing countries.

But as noted, this isn’t just about saving money.  This is about saving the lives of women and children.  The International Planned Parenthood Foundation works in 153 countries around the world.  Their Director-General, Tewondros Melesse reports that while maternal deaths have fallen by 47 percent since 1990, women in sub-saharan Africa still have a 1 in 39 lifetime risk of dying due to pregnancy related causes.  If the goals set in Cairo are met, it would result in global unintended pregnancies dropping from 75 million to 22 million.  There would be approximately 25 million fewer abortions (a goal we should all get behind), 22 million fewer unplanned pregnancies, and almost 1 million fewer deaths among women and newborns.  Right here in America, we have the highest maternal death rate of all industrialized countries due to lack of pre-natal care for low-income and uninsured women.

The world’s population hit 7 billion last year.  Half of the world’s citizens are under the age of 25.  It is imperative that these young people are educated about reproductive rights and have access to necessary reproductive health care.

While countries around the world are trying to provide better access to reproductive health care, right here in America we are trying to curb that access.  In 2011, states enacted 135 new reproductive healthcare laws ranging from personhood amendments, to trans-vaginal ultrasounds as a pre-requisite to receiving an abortion, to attacks on contraception, including allowing employers to decline to cover contraception, even when they hold no moral or religious objection to it.  In some states it is legal to charge a woman up to 80% more for insurance coverage than a man of the same age and health status.

But the truth is clear now.  Opponents of abortion have often said they simply want to end abortion.  We can see now that their ultimate goal is to end access to contraception.

We won that battle almost 50 years ago with a Supreme Court Decision (Griswold vs. Connecticut).  Yet here we are again, fighting once more to have control over our reproductive lives.

So there is a world wide war being fought FOR women.  It’s just not happening here in America.  Right here, we have a war AGAINST women.  If you don’t see that, you haven’t been paying attention.

The teen pregnancy rate in the US is at the lowest in four decades.  This is a direct result of two things:  sex education in public schools and access to birth control.  Many states are banning sex education and many more are trying to limit access to birth control.  This will only result in an increase in teen pregnancy.

Talk to your wives, your mothers, your sisters and daughters.  Ask them what they think about birth control.  Ask them what they think about the possibility of NOT having birth control.   And please register to vote.  This presidential election will be one of the most important elections for women in the last 50 years.

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Reed Smith’s Response to Tom Van Groningen and MID

When the FACTS fail MID Director Tom Van Groningen, all he has left is opinion.

 

Let me start by commenting that Tom Van Groningen (TVG) is only President of the MID Board, because heappointed himself President.  There was no vote for him to dominate the conversation at MID.  He claims to be the only one in the room in command of the “FAQ’s” (made-up false statements).  That is distinctly different than “FACTS.”

TVG states “the dialogue has generated some misinformation and I’d like to set the record straight.  The water transfer under discussion doesn’t include the sale of water rights”.  I guess TVG’s FAQs do not match up with the FACTS presented by the Chief of Water Rights for the CA State Water Board, who told us a 50-year water sale contract is absolutely a waiver of water rights.  MID will never get the water back.

TVG has been staging this SCAM since at least 2008, yet his ploy of the week is to scare you into the FAQ that the deal is NOW “urgent”.  The only thing that is urgent is the cash that will be skimmed off this deal.

TVG states: “The necessary infrastructure improvements are many, . . . These improvements will enhancewater use efficiency, increase the system’s flexibility and ensure reliablewater for our customers.”  This statement baffles me, as his staff and consultants were asked for the specific assessment reporting on the flume.  There are none.  No analysis has been done.  How can he state it is crumbling when he has not even looked?  Where is the X-Ray analysis of the structure?  His senior water engineer said in a MID Board meeting this year that if the flume started to leak because of an earthquake, it could be repaired within 5 days for approximately $55,000.  That made TVG furious (great video), and in the name of “civility” he called his own senior water engineer, with 35 years of MID experience, a LIAR during a MID Board meeting.  Wow.  I guess I missed the engineering degree on TVG’s resume.

I would like to point out that the Roman Empire’s first aqueduct was constructed in 312 BC, and much of these were constructed with concrete, the same as the Geer Road flume.  Many are still in use today.  Pretty scary being just 95 years old, when heritage aqueducts are over 2,000 years old.  Yes, certainly urgent, yup, yup, yup.

If the funds from the water sale are for infrastructure, why did MID General Manager, Allen Short, tell MID water users in October, no less than eight (8) times that the income from water sales would ONLY GO TO “CURRENT OBLIGATIONS, not infrastructure”. Why? Please read MID’s Proposed contract for this sale on their website foryourself.  That would be a FACT TVG.  Exhibit D says: “POTENTIAL USES OF REVENUE – Water sales revenue will be used for water related costs including BUT NOT LIMITED TO: • Debt retirement, • Rate stabilization, • Improvement district repairs/updates, • Enhanced canal security, • Pressurized systems, • Infrastructure improvements, • FERC relicensing and related obligations, • Water conservation programs.”  I do not read any commitment to infrastructure here.

The only honorable and truthful MID Director, Larry Byrd, set the stage to document what the otherfour have been up to: they already voted for this water sale once on January 10, 2012.

This only reminds me of the semantic concept of “to rationalize” when broken down onto its component parts is a “rational lie”.  When FAQS from the MID GM, MID Gen. Counsel, and the other four Directors are demonstrably all “rational lies”, who can doubt they WILL VOTE FOR THE SALE on June 26.

A Message To All of Modesto From Dave Thomas

Good afternoon, I hope you have time to read the attached.  It pretty clearly outlines my personal thinking and is generally supported by the STA.  Some of you might find some of my comments controversial.  Well, that is me, I am willing to step up and say what I believe is the truth.  I am far more interested in saying and writing what I believe is the truth, than sparing someone discomfort over their own actual public actions. 

        If you think something I say in the attached .pdf is wrong, please message or phone me and I will provide you the document(s) or other material that will tell you why I said it.  You might not want to believe some things that governments do to you, but there is plenty of documentation that is readily available in the BEE and on line.

        If you just do not like what I say, tell me why.

        If you think this information is worth sharing, please send it on to your friends.

        Thank you very much, Dave

My dear friends:

After reading this morning’s BEE, I am disheartened. Our

governments are no longer even remotely responsive nor responsible

to you and me. What is it that makes good friends and neighbors

mindless rubber stampers who grovel in front of a government staff.

Why do most elected officials become zombies after being elected?

Their peers vilify the ones who continue to think after being elected

when they try to inject common sense into an issue.

Today’s BEE challenges even the most cynical amounst us with

3 stories. The first page tells us that now, the City government is

going to regulate camping out. That is not restricted to illegal

camping out, or squatting, but even your children’s back yard fun. I

can understand vagrants who invade and ruin public property. But,

no, the City “leaders” had to make your children felons if they leave a

tent up in your back yard for more than 5 days. Apparently, your

kids cannot camp in your backyard unless the property owner goes to

the cops and gets a permit to erect a tent for no more than 5 days.

Councilman Dave Lopez told us that we desperately need a law

to “safeguard the public” against “illegal camping”. Well, Dave, if it is

already illegal, did what you voted for last night make it even MORE

ILLEGAL?

Councilman Joe Muratore told us, “We are not creating a police

state.” Really? When you support a new law that allows the cops to

come into your backyard and arrest your children for having a family

Tee-Pee in it?

Councilman Dave Geer promised us that he “…trusted police

officers to enforce the ordinance with common sense…” Really.

REALLY? If illegal camping is already illegal, and the cops are not

enforcing those laws, why would he trust the cops to enforce this law

with common sense? The BEE says, “These campsites are often

strewn with trash, are a health and safety nuisance, and are occupied

by parole violators and others with criminal records..” Well, do the

cops not have a reason to arrest parole violators, other criminals, and

address health and safety violations ALREADY??

You know, it just occurred to me; this deal may be just like

Kristin Olsen’s sophomoric demand for a dumpster diving law – which

I understand has never been charged against anyone. Could it be

just another payoff to some complaining friend of a Councilperson?

Could it be a way for a Council crony to get even with a neighbor for

noisy kids in a nearby back yard? Hummmmmmm.

Well then, if that does not make your day, read the story on

the first page of Section B, “Council votes to raise rates.” Now HERE

is a remarkable story about your neighbors spending $400,000 on

something that may never happen. The deal is to double or triple

your water rates so the City can fix the MID’s water treatment plant.

You read that right, the MID build a water treatment plant, owns the

water treatment plant and screwed up the water treatment plant. It

does not work; it is a pile of useless concrete and steel junk. It must

be torn down. The City has no rights to that plant, and absolutely no

authority to trespass on it or fix it. The City has no rights to do

invasive testing of materials, or any other diagnostic work.

Does it matter that no one alive today knows how much it will

cost to fix? Several people have told me that it will cost more than

$40 MILLION dollars and as much as $65 MILLION. It is not a

remodel; it is not wallboard and bathroom fixtures. It is CONCRETE

and STEEL that does not work!! MID engineers have already found

over 100 “deficiencies” in this plant, and they are not known for

being thorough. There could well be 300 deficiencies that will be

found only after the fix gets started. MID General Manager Allen

Short promised me with his very own lips that this plant would come

in for less than $30 MILLION dollars. It has cost us about $85

MILLION to build so far, and no one knows HOW to fix it, let alone

how much it will COST to fix it.

The final act of insanity is that the CITY has sent MID a

demand letter to give the City permission to fix the plant, take over

all the legal battles that will go on for 3 to 5 years, and when the

plant is fixed – at an unknown date or cost – they want MID to simply

“hand over” the property ownership to the City…for free. And this

Council (except for Council Woman Burnside, who actually gets the

insanity of this all) is charging over the cliff as if MID has already

agreed to the Mayor’s demand.

The catch is, MID has not even read the demand. The City told

me it is not a public document, and refuses to release it to the

Taxpayers Association. The MID will not even begin to discuss this

ridiculous demand for 2 weeks, if then. Please tell me, what would

make the MID want to give away profit-making assets for nothing?

They make a huge profit (relatively speaking – ask me for details)

selling water to the City. They support plant employees with HUGE

salaries and benefits. They control the water and they control the

price of water. MID is broke, wallowing in debt and it NEEDS those

profits. What are the odds that they are going to bend over and give

away these assets?

Finally, read the Op/Ed piece by Tom VanGronigan on page A-

13. Full disclosure requires me to tell you that Tom and I have

served on several Boards and committees since the early 1990’s. We

know each other. I rarely agree with Tom. His politics and ideas are

not similar to mine. Nonetheless, we have remained cordial if not

friendly for a long time.

The comments contained in Tom’s piece simply are not

germane to the discussion of selling our precious water. Remember,

there are reasons to do things, and there are ways to do things.

Tom, in my opinion, confuses the two issues. Tom’s comments all

relate to the fact that MID is broke. It needs money, and it needs it

ASAP. OK, MID really IS broke, and that is a REASON to fix the being

broke part. But the WAY to fix the broke part is NOT to sell the most

important, precious asset we have, our water and attendant rights.

The WAY to fix the being broke problem is to get real with the

unions. MID cannot continue to pay average employees $140,000,

with bloated benefits. MID overhead consumes most of its massive

profits from electricity, and its enormous debt service eats the rest.

MID must renegotiate with the unions, get salaries in line with

reality, get its huge law suit problem solved, raise irrigation rates

from $10 per Acre Foot to at least $25 per Acre Foot, fix the water

plant and sell the water it has already contracted with the City to the

City. Selling the water will not fix the real problem, which is very bad

management.

Thank you for your attention. If you think this is worthwhile

information, let me know, and send it on to your friends.

Dave Thomas

Modesto’s War on the Homeless Continues

By Emerson Drake

Last night by a vote of 6-1 one of the most poorly written ordinances in Modesto’s history was enacted (okay, it takes 30 days to be in effect).  Mayor Garrad Marsh was the only council member to support Personal and Private Property rights of individuals.  Councilman Gunderson almost stood to be counted.  He anguished over his vote for a few moments, then he bowed his head, acquiesced, and went along with the herd.

Councilman Lopez is the Chairman of the Safety and Communities Committee this poorly considered ordinance came from. NONE of the Council or Committee  members were aware of the home camping limitation of the  “one consecutive night” provision that would have made you and your children criminals if you allowed them to campout two nights in a row. It seems that the Modesto Police Department conveniently over looked that sentence in the provision during its Committee presentation.  This was exposed when I went to the agenda meeting Monday afternoon, which is in preparation for the Tuesday Council meeting.  Otherwise it is very likely the three alternate versions of the proposed ordinance would not have been made available.  This ordinance  also made a sleeping bag  illegal paraphernalia, which Chief Harden tried to deny until they ordinance was read to him from the podium. Unfortunately this portion was not changed. At least  now you are allowed to let your children camp out 5 nights in a row.

As bad as this unnecessary intrusion into your personal life and family decisions you might choose to make is, there is a larger cause, and that is Modesto’s War on the Homeless

A little Background is in order

 Councilman Joe Muratore’s main platform plank when he ran for office in Council District 4 was  to remove the scourge of the homeless.  He said the homeless needed to be “eliminated” in a campaign speech he made which was since removed from his campaign website. Notice Muratore wanted to eliminate the homeless not homelessness which in my opinion  provides some insight to the man. You can find a breakdown of the BRCH members in an earlier article here on EyeOnModesto.

Councilman Muratore went to this same Safety and communities Committee (pre Councilman Gunderson) for permission to create a  the so-called Blue Ribbon Commission on the Homeless. This commission was composed of, according to the words of Chairman J. David Wright, “people who had been effected by the homeless.”  This was true but he failed to mention effected in a negative way.

Councilman Muratore’s particular appointee was La Loma Neighborhood Association President Mike Moridian who, since his involvement in the “association, which is not officially recognized as a nonprofit because of its advocacy of Muratore for Councilman during the council race, has been an outspoken critic of the homeless and has publicly professed a desire to chase them out of Modesto.

Last Night’s Council Meeting and Criminalizing the Homeless

I met many extremely thoughtful and generous people last night who spoke out for the homeless who were not there to speak out for themselves.  From former Council candidate Jenny Kenoyer who is also an advocate for our mature citizens to Annette Mott from the Angels for the Homeless and many more who spoke passionately in defense of the homeless. All questioned the council’s desire to make the homeless criminals in these dire times.  Ed Brearden Modesto’s Poet Laureate Emeritus was strident in his concern.  I’ll thank them and provide more of the names of those good people when the council video is posted to help with accuracy.

Brian Du Bois spoke and questioned the Council’s sworn committment to the U.S.Constitution regarding our allegedly protected personal rights and freedoms. He also questioned why the Council overlooked the fact Council member, Joe Muratore, took $62,500 illegally on a NSP2 scheme with his business partner Ryan Swehla.  Councilman Muratore returned the money and some how avoided potential charges from the U.S. Department of Urban Housing (HUD).

Homeless advocate and Mayoral and Council candidate Robert Stanford took Councilman Muratore to task calling him ‘Nazi Joe Muratore’ as was noted in Ken Carlson’s story in the Bee. He reminded everyone of Muratore’s spoken desire to raze the airport district’s homes and level the ground with heavy machinery.  Hopefully, then candidate Muratore meant after the people had been thrown out of their homes and into the streets and not before.  Muratore never made a distinction of his preferences in that regard.

Modesto’s Reality

We have a serious homeless problem but criminalizing it won’t make it go away. We need effective programs to combat homelessness and several were proposed last night.  But unfortunately the council (lead in this instance by Muratore, Cogdill, and Lopez) has its own ideas on the subject and instead of offering a helping hand up,  their plans seem to involve a right cross to the jaw followed by a kick to the groin.

What we as a society do to the least of us we do to all of us.

And we need to do better if we want to improve Modesto’s  image around the County, the State, the Country, and around the World.

No Dancing Ordinance and No Camping Ordinance – Could There be a Connection?

By Emerson Drake

Just a few short years ago the Modesto Police Department (MPD) wrote an ordinance against dancing in public  without a permit and it was so poorly written that an Officer suggested if three patrons in an eating establishment were nodding their heads or tapping their feet in time to the music it could be called dancing and the establishment closed and the owner fined.  Now the MPD is proposing a no camping ordinance supported by the Council’s own Safety and Community’s Committee which is just as misguided.

I recognize this ordinance change is an attempt to provide another tool for law enforcement in Councilman Joe Muratore’s WAR AGAINST THE HOMELESS.”  Unfortunately, just like the original “anti-dancing” ordinance, it is poorly written.  It can’t be evenly enforced without making criminals out of every child who carries a sleeping bag to a friends house for a sleepover.

The Ordinance invades our personal rights and our private property by saying we can’t allow anyone, including our children, to camp or sleep outside on our private property for two consecutive nights without buying a permit from the city manager.  It even make criminals out of visiting relatives who might sleep in an RV either in our driveways or parked in front of our homes for two nights.

According to the ordinance if you take a blanket to a city park for a picnic you can be charged with a crime. The list they refer to as paraphernalia sounds like everything a boy scout might take on a camping trip. And he or she could be criminally charged if they walked down the street carrying any of the equipment necessary for a camping trip.

I’m not exaggerating, please read the ordinance for yourselves. It is scheduled for a vote on Tuesday June 5, 2012. Here is the link to the agenda, it’s item #20:   http://www.modestogov.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=449&doctype=AGENDA 

Please email our city councilpersons and tell them to either send it back to committee to be written better or vote it down!

GOVERNMENT INTRUDES IN OUR LIVES ENOUGH

Is there anyone who doesn’t think we have enough laws intruding on our right to privacy and invading our personal freedoms?

Is there anyone who thinks we’ve had enough of the “nanny state”  ?

Write your emails. Make those calls,  And consider coming down to the city council Tuesday night and tell them in person enough is enough.

Because when they come for you, it’ll be too late.

Why Won’t Florida Let Eligible Voters Vote?

By EOM Staff

In 1998, Florida felt the need to start purging its voter rolls of felons.  Felons are prohibited from voting in Florida.  A company named DBT was contracted for this service at a fee of $2,317,800, replacing a company that had previously done it for $5,700.

When the purge began, Florida specified exact matches on names, birth dates and gender to identify voters as felons.  However, Emmett (Bucky) Mitchell, a lawyer for the State Elections Office who was supervising the purge, requested that DBT loosen its criteria for acceptable matches.  DBT representatives warned Mitchell that this would yield a large proportion of false positives (mismatches).  Mitchell believed that it would be up to each county elections supervisor to deal with this problem, even though the State Elections Office would oversee the process.

In February 2000, DBT Vice-President James Lee said that the state “wanted there to be more names than were actually verified as being a convicted felon.”  In Apri 2000, he said that the state had given DBT the directive to “add to the purge list people who matched at least 90% of a last name.”  DBT objected, stating again that this would result in even higher numbers of false positives.  The state responded by ordering a shift to an even lower threshold of an 80% match, allowing names to be reversed (someone named Thomas Scott could be taken to be the same person as someone named Scott Thomas).  Additionally, middle initials were deleted, the suffixes Jr. and Sr. were dropped and some nicknames and aliases were added, all to increase the number of ineligible voters on the list.

Mr. Lee again told state officials that the rules for creating the purge list would mean a significant number of people who were not deceased, not registered in more than one county, or not a felon, would be included on this list.  He made suggestions to reduce the numbers of people on the list who were actually eligible to vote, but was told “forget about it”.

The first list provided to the Divsion of Elections in April 2000, contained the names of 181,157 persons (supposed felons).  Only half were later identified as actual felons.

Here are some of the errors:

Thomas Cooper, DOB 9/5/73, crime – unknown.  Conviction date January 30, 2007 (on a list developed in April, 2000)!

Johnny Jackson Jr., DOB 1970, crime – unknown.  Mistaken for John Fitzgerald Jackson who was in jail in Texas at the time.

Wallace McDonald, DOB 1928, crime – fell asleep on a bus stop bench in 1959 and prohibited from voting 41 years later!

Randall J. Higgenbotham, DOB 8/28/60, crime – none.  Mistaken for Sean David Higginbotham, DOB 6/16/71.  First and middle names don’t match and dates of birth don’t match.

According to research done by the Palm Beach Post, a major problem with the purge list is that blacks accounted for 88% of those removed from the voter rolls.  However, at the time, blacks made up only 11% of Florida registered voters.

Demographically, blacks tend to vote for Democrats.  Remember, this was a hotly contested state in the 2000 election.  And remember this – George W. Bush won that presidential election by just 537 votes.

I wonder how many votes Al Gore would have won by if people who were actually eligible to vote hadn’t been denied that opportunity.

The state of Florida stole the election from Al Gore.  And now they are trying to steal the election from President Obama.

Stay tuned – we’ll have more on Florida’s latest voter purge (against “non-citizens” who are actually citizens).

As a side note – DBT will no longer be involved in purging voter rolls!

Modesto Wants to Make Camping in Your Own Backyard Illegal

By Emerson Drake

I know it sounds crazy but that is what they intend to do Tuesday night at the City Council meeting.  It’s Item #20 on this weeks agenda.

http://www.modestogov.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=449&doctype=AGENDA

If the City Council has their way, if you want to campout in your backyard with your kids for two nights you’ll have to go to City Manager Gregg Nyhoff to get a permit.  And as we all know permits are a fund-raising mechanism and as a result cost money.  Does anyone possibly believe this makes sense?

Councilman Joe Muratore of NSP2 infamy has been leading this attack on the homeless since he was elected. But now he and his cohorts are willing to punish all of Modesto’s citizens in order to “put the hammer down” on a few.

Children have been camping out in their backyards for as long as I can remember and longer. My grandsons have been occasionally camping in the backyard for years .  A sleeping bag is considered illegal by the Council’s new ordinance.

This Crazy Ordinance makes relatives visiting in RV’s illegal

The following is taken directly from the City’s website…

4-12.701. DEFINITIONS.

Unless the particular provisions or the context otherwise requires, the definitions

contained in this section shall govern the construction, meaning, and application

of words and phrases used in this Article.

(a)

“Camp” means to place, pitch or occupy camp facilities; to live

temporarily in a camp facility or outdoors; to use camp paraphernalia.

(b)

“Camp facilities” include, but are not limited to, tents, huts, vehicles,

vehicle camping outfits or temporary shelter.

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S:\SHANNA\MUNICODE\TITLE-4\ORDINANC\Camping in the City.wpd

 

(c)

“Camp paraphernalia” includes, but is not limited to, bedrolls,

tarpaulins, cots, beds, sleeping bags, hammocks or cooking facilities and

similar equipment.

(d)

“City Manager” means the City Manager or designee.

(e)

“Establish” means setting up or moving equipment, supplies or materials

on to public or private property to “camp” or operate camp facilities.

(f)

“Maintain” means keeping or permitting equipment, supplies or materials

to remain on public or private property in order to camp or operate camp

facilities.

(g)

“Operate” means participating or assisting in establishing or maintaining

a camp or camp facility.

(h)

“Park” means the same as defined in Modesto Municipal Code Section

12-4.201(h).

(i)

“Private property” means all private property including, but not limited

to, streets, sidewalk, alleys, and improved or unimproved land.

(j)

“Public property” means all public property including, but not limited to,

streets, sidewalks, alleys, improved or unimproved land and parks.

(k)

“Store” means to put aside or accumulate for use when needed, to put for

safekeeping, to place or leave in a location.

4-12.703. UNLAWFUL CAMPING.

It is unlawful and a public nuisance for any person to camp, occupy camp

facilities, or use camp paraphernalia in the following areas:

(a) Any public property; or

(b) Any private property.

(1) It is not intended by this section to prohibit overnight camping on

private residential property by friends or family of the property

owner, so long as the owner consents and the overnight camping is

limited to not more than one consecutive night.

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S:\SHANNA\MUNICODE\TITLE-4\ORDINANC\Camping in the City.wpd

 

(2) Nothing in this Article is intended to prohibit or make unlawful,

activities of an owner of private property or other lawful user of

private property that are normally associated with and incidental to

the lawful and authorized use of private property for residential or

other purposes; and provided further, nothing is intended to

prohibit or make unlawful, activities of a property owner or other

lawful user if such activities are expressly authorized by the City’s

comprehensive zoning ordinance or other laws, ordinances and

regulations.

(3) The City Manager may, as provided in Section 4-12.705 of this

Article, issue a temporary permit to allow camping on public or

private property in connection with a special event.

A violation of this section is a misdemeanor. In addition to the remedies set forth

in Penal Code Section 370, the City Attorney may institute civil or administrative

actions to abate a public nuisance under this Article.

4-12.704. STORAGE OF PERSONAL PROPERTY ON PUBLIC AND

PRIVATE PROPERTY.

It is unlawful and a public nuisance for any person to store personal property,

including camp paraphernalia, in the following areas, except as otherwise

provided by resolution of the City Council:

(a) Any public property; or

(b) Any private property without the written consent of the owner.

A violation of this section is a misdemeanor. In addition to the remedies set forth

in Penal Code Section 370 the City Attorney may institute civil or administrative

actions to abate a public nuisance under this Article.

4-12.705. PERMIT FOR SPECIAL EVENTS REQUIRED.

The City Manager may, in his or her discretion, issue a permit to establish,

maintain and operate a camp or a camp facility in connection with a special event.

A special event is intended to include, but not be limited to, programs operated by

the City departments, youth or school events, marathons or other sporting events

and scouting activities. The City Manager may consult with various City

departments, the health officer and the public prior to issuing any temporary

permit. Each department or person consulted may provide comments regarding

any health, safety or public welfare concerns and provide recommendations

pertaining to the issuance, denial or conditioning of the permit. A reasonable fee,

to be set by the City Council shall be paid, in advance, by the applicant. The fee

shall be returned if the application is denied. In exercising his or her discretion to

issue a temporary permit, the City Manager may consider any facts or evidence

bearing on the sanitary, health, safety and welfare conditions on or surrounding

the area or tract of land upon which the proposed temporary camp or camp facility

is to be located. 

 Did you catch the reasonable fee line?

In Other Words It’s up to the City Manager if Relatives can Visit Legally..!

Modesto is out of control and it’s up to the citizens to take control back.

I understand we have a problem with some of our homeless population but if they intend on punishing all of us to place handcuffs on a few, well they have another think coming.

I’ll be at the city council meeting with a sleeping bag to protest this intrusive law which attempts to place unconstitutional limits on what we can do on our private property.

I hope to see you there.

“What they do to the least of us they do to all of us and this is a perfect example.”

An Interesting Email Exchange Between Garrad Marsh and Dave Thomas

This exchange was Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh and Dave Thomas President of the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association.

Garrad, et al. it is clear that inquiring minds want to know what is really going on with our water policy.  The message below was sent by an inquisitive person.  Please amend my PRA of this morning to include the questions below.
It should be obvious that any document which is used in negotiating with MID regarding an issue that involves a 218 expense is clearly in the public domain.  Again, I trust that you will send me the “Term Sheet” relating to your negotiations with MID immediately.
This proposed scheme by City to take over Surface Water Treatment Plants MUST be fully disclosed to the Public, and soon.
 


Dave, 
As you can see from item 19, copied below, on the just-released agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, the mayor has already discussed the Prop. 218 process to fix the water plant with the City Council. When did that discussion occur? 

When was the decision made to order staff to start the 218 process? Was this decision reported to the Public?  If this was discussed under potential litigation, a Prop. 218 vote has nothing to do with litigation. 


It’s clear to me they’re in the habit of discussing the public’s business in closed session, and that is a violation of the Brown Act.  Would you check on that?
 
19. 

Consider approving Amendments related to updating the Water Rates and Capacity Charge Study regarding the proposed repairs to correct the design and construction deficiencies of the Modesto Regional Water Treatment Plant Expansion:  (i) Financial Consulting Solutions Group, Inc. in an amount not to exceed $64,148, plus $6,147 for additional services (if needed), for a maximum amount of $313,508; (ii)  Horizon Water and Environmental to perform environmental review work in an amount not to exceed $14,951, plus $1,495 for additional services (if needed), for a maximum amount of $16,446; (iii) Harris & Associates related to the Proposition 218 Process for water rates, in an amount not to exceed $13,495, plus $4,580 for additional services (if needed), for a maximum amount of $64,065; and amending the Fiscal Year 2011-12 Operating Budget in the amount of $100,191 in order to fully fund these Amendments and Agreements necessary to update the Water Rates and Capacity Charges. (Funding Source: Water Fund)

 

 
Thank you very much, Dave
P S      I think it is shameful for the Council to hide a $394,019 dollar water expense in the 19th of 22 agenda items, which will be discussed after most people will be in bed.
  Moreover, we know that that $394,019 will be diverted out of the Water Enterprise fund.  It just never ends, does it?

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Public Information Request by Dave Thomas

Mayor, et al, as president of, and on behalf of the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association, we request under the tenets
of the California Public Records Act, Government Code sections 6253.1 through 6276 the document described to us by the Mayor as a “Term Sheet” which is being used as a tool to negotiate with MID on issues relating to Phase 2 Surface Water Treatment Plant.  
 
Frankly, we made our first request on May 24, in person.  That constitutes a request under the Act, and we beleive the 10 day requriement starts on the 24th.  Thus, we expect a response no later than close of business on June 4th.  ( I must mention an e-mail request and a telephonic request after the 24th.  As of this moment, I have not received a response, even though the Mayor promised to send us the Term Sheet twice during the meeting of the 24th.)
 
I have enclosed a discription and summary of these Code sections for the benefit of Council persons who may not have taken the time to read it.  I have included, below, part of these sections, starting with III. WHAT ARE PUBLIC RECORDS?
As you can see, the Act was created “…to cover every conceivable kind of record that is involved in the governmental process…”
The fact that the Mayor discussed this Term Sheet, including specific terms included in it, as well as the fact that the document is published in a BEE story, certainly makes this document a public document.  Finally, it simply cannot be denied that this document is used in conducting the Public’s business, as it involves a dramatic change in the City’s water policy, a huge potential fiscal and legal liability and will have a dramatic impact on every Citizen in Modesto and eight other cities and neighborhood.  The Public deserves to know what City officers are doing, especially considering the Mayor’s public policy of total transparency.
 
Mayor, unless you can site a specific exemption under the law, you must release this document as soon as humanly possible.
 
We respectfully request release of this document to us as soon as possible, by electronic means, at no cost to us.
 
Thank you very much, Dave Thomas, STA
 
 
 

“III. WHAT ARE PUBLIC RECORDS?

  1. Writing.
    1. Includes handwritings, photographs, films, sound recordings, maps, magnetic tape, computer disks-virtually any means of recording any form of communication.7
    2. Computer data is clearly within the definition of a public record.8
  2. Containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business.
    1. The requirement that a record relate to the conduct of the public’s business is broadly construed, and rarely contested.9
    2. According to the legislative history of the PRA:

      This definition is intended to cover every conceivable kind of record that is involved in the governmental process. . . . Only purely personal information unrelated to “the conduct of the public’s business” could be considered exempt from this definition, i.e., the shopping list phoned from home, the letter to a public officer from a friend which is totally void of reference to governmental activities.10

    3. Includes the names of public employees,11 although it may not include home addresses and phone numbers of state employees.12 Note, however, that access to names of public officials and employees is increasingly disputed. Seeking access to names of pubic employees who are the subjects of investigations or controversies may be justified.13 However, as a practical matter, you will probably get more information sooner if you agree that names of such employees can be withheld.
    4. Note that the names and contract information for private citizens may also be exempt from disclosure, particularly those who submit information or

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complaints to the government with an expectation of confidentiality. Agreeing to allow public agencies to withhold such information may also expedite a request.

C. Prepared, owned, used or retained by state or local agency.

The records do not necessarily have to be in the actual custody of the public agency, if they are prepared, owned, or used by the agency.

D. Regardless of physical form or characteristics.

Information retained in an electronic format must be made available in any electronic form in which the agency holds the information.14″ 

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