Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

MID Violates Brown Act and Public Records Act in the Same Week



By Emerson Drake

During the Modesto Irrigation District Board Meeting on July 24,2012,  Board President Tom Van Groningen refused to allow the public to speak in response to several agendized items.  This is a direct violation and should not be allowed but this Board President likes making up rules as he goes along.

Just a point of reference, but Bee reporter John Holland was sitting just a few rows away from me, but somehow neglected to report this Brown Act Violation in his story about the meeting.

The Public Records Act limits the time a public agency has to respond to inquiries and since no emergency delay has been requested, by the time MID responds they will be in violation.  MID has delayed many Public Records Act requests, and this is just another example.


To: Emerson Drake Via email only

Re: California Public Records Act Request

Dear Mr. Drake:

On July 16, 2012 Modesto Irrigation District received your Public Records Request via

email, requesting  copies of any contracts regarding George Petrulakis or his law firm and

copies of any pay outs to him or his firm.

In accordance with Government Code section 6253, MID will comply with your request

to the extent that the writings you have requested are not privileged or otherwise exempt from

production under the California Public Records Act, or other applicable law.

We are currently gathering the information and will notify you when the information is


Should you have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact this

office at (209) 526-7388.


Tim O’Laughlin

General Counsel

Copy: Allen Short



Saving Money and a River

English: Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River, Yose...

English: Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park, California, July 2008; photo by self, GFDL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Peter Drekmeier

Do you know where your water comes from? If you’re reading this, chances are most of it originates in the “wild and scenic” Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park. That’s where the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir stores snowmelt from the High Sierra for use throughout much of the Bay Area. San Mateo County receives about 85 percent of its water from the Tuolumne.

Paying $1.5 million per year for water we no longer need makes no sense and would further outrage ratepayers. Fortunately, there’s still time for our elected representatives to choose a different path. Do you know where your city councilmembers stand on this issue? Are they even aware it’s being considered?

Please contact your elected representatives and encourage them to stand up for you as a ratepayer. You can express your concerns to the SFPUC by visiting http://tinyurl.com/StopTheTransfer

For the entire article go to  http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?id=1751322&title=OP-ED: Saving Money and a River

Peter Drekmeier
Bay Area Program Director
Tuolumne River Trust
111 New Montgomery, #205
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 882-7252 x 302

“What’s on America’s Mind” Tonight at 7:00PM Pacific

Tonight we’ll be discussing the Bee’s inability and John Holland’s unwillingness to convey what is happening at local meetings,  Our County Supervisors view on the Water sales, what’s happening in New Hampshire regarding freedom of Speech and local authorities trying to stifle it, and last but not least how Women’s Issues are playing out on the national stage.  It’s starts Wednesday night at 7:00PM Pacific time.

You can call in and just listen to the show or join in the conversation by calling 1-347-215-9414

You can always catch any of the shows in the archives.

And of course a big Thank You to Brad over at  104.9 FM K-GIG who broadcasts Central Valley Hornet Shows.


Is Michele Bachmann a “Dangerous American?”

By Gaetana Drake

Political commentator Joan Walsh has said “Michele Bachmann is Joe McCarthy in lipstick, and he was a dangerous American.”

As you all know by now, Michele Bachmann has requested an investigation into Huma Abedin, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff.  Because Ms. Abedin is a practicing Muslim, Ms. Bachmann seems to believe she is trying to destroy America from within.  Ms. Bachmann suggests that Huma’s late father, her mother and her brother are connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.

Ms. Abedin was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  As a toddler her parents took her to Saudi Arabia to live.  Her father and her mother both received a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and Huma graduated from George Washington University.  Her father founded an institute to promote religious understanding between East and West.

In 2010 Ms. Abedin was listed in Time’s “40 Under 40”, a list of a “new generation of civic leaders” and “rising stars of American politics.”

Politicians of both parties have come to the defense of Ms. Abedin.  John McCain stated “these allegations about Huma and the report from which they are drawn are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant.  The letter and the report offer not one instance of an action, a decision or a public position that Huma has taken while at the State Department that would lend credence to the charge that she is promoting anti-American activities within our government.  These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis and no merit.  And they need to stop now.”   He also said, “Put simply, Huma represents what is best about America: the daughter of immigrants, who has risen to the highest levels of our government on the basis of her substantial personal merit and her abiding commitment to the American ideals that she embodies so fully.  I am proud to know Huma and to call her my friend.”  Speaker of the House John Boehner said, “I don’t know Huma, but from everything that I do know of her, she has a sterling character and I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous.”

This isn’t the first time Michele Bachmann has attacked a female politician.  Every first lady supports a “cause”.  Michelle Obama’s cause is childhood obesity.  She has promoted healthy eating and exercise.  She has campaigned to get more mothers to breast-feed their infants, since studies show that children who are breast-fed for the first four to six months have less chance of becoming obese than those who were fed formula.  She has also tried to break down barriers to nursing in the workplace.  Michele Bachmann (who, by the way breast-fed all five of her children), said “to think that government has to go out and buy my breast pump for my babies?  You want to talk about the nanny state, I think you just got a new definition.”  She also suggested that Michelle Obama may one day run for office and her breast-feeding and healthy eating campaign was just a preview of the nanny state that she would try to push through if elected. 

I’m not sure why Ms. Bachmann believes that promoting healthy eating, exercise and breast-feeding equates to a nanny state.  Is there a government employee in your home watching what you eat?  Monitoring how often you exercise?  Making sure you breast-feed your baby?  Laura Bush chose the cause of literacy while she was first lady.  She went to schools and read to children.  She encouraged parents to read to their children on a daily basis.  Was that a “nanny state”?  A more literate and healthier population can only be good for all of us.

Ms. Bachmann once said that Nancy Pelosi was “sticking the taxpayer” with her $100,000 bar tab for alcohol on the military jets that she had been flying on.  Politifact took a close look at this and rated Bachmann’s interpretation of Pelosi’s expenses as “pants on fire”.  We all know what that means – liar, liar, liar!

Someone once told me, “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”  I mentioned that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols (the Oklahoma City bombers) were white Americans and not Muslims (the person I was talking to got a little flustered over that!)

So to answer my question at the beginning , is Michele Bachmann a dangerous American?  I believe she is.  She would have us believe that anyone of a different religion or different culture is anti-American and a threat to us all.  She forgets that we are all descendants of immigrants.  She forgets that America is the great melting pot and it’s our diversity that makes us so unique.  It’s people like Michele Bachmann who are out to destroy America.


Where is Assistant City Attorney Rollie Stevens?

By Emerson Drake

While it doesn’t have the same connotations as asking “Who’s John Galt?” , “Where is Rollie Stevens?” should make people stop and think.  Rollie Stevens was Modesto’s  Attorney negotiating the water contract between the City of Modesto and the Modesto Irrigation District back in 2005.  This contract spells out the fact that Modesto and the Farmers stand first in line for OUR/MID water.  MID has demanded and Mayor Marsh has acquiesced to, Rollie Stevens absence at any talks between MID and Modesto.  Why?  Because MID knows Mr. Stevens is the most knowledgable  individual on the city staff regarding this contract which is vital to Modesto’s long-term BEST interests.

MID is supposed to be owned by the ratepayers but over the years, we ignored the MID Board and allowed the Board to spend/waste Millions of dollars unchecked, and at an ever-increasing rate.  In recent years the public exposed several of their ill-fated ventures.  One was the TANC project that the MID General Manager led, and despite public outcry against it, the proposal was curtailed only when (SMUD), Sacramento Municipal Utilities District came to their senses and pulled out of the monstrosity of overspending  that General Manager Short had helped to create. The cost to MID was approximately $5 million dollars.  The second was the Bio-Mass/ Garbage burner Project of Stephen Endsley.  After discovering how badly they were being duped by Endsley and MID, the MID ratepayers rebelled and finally MID pulled out of the garbage burner business.  The cost to ratepayers was $1.2 Million plus MID Attorney Tim O’Laughlin pocketed a cool $92,000.00 for this project alone.  This was despite being assured by attorney O’Laughlin that MID had no exposure to litigation. It seems it’s all a mater of perspective with O’Laughlin, who lives in Chico,  and doesn’t buy water or electricity from MID.

Now MID is pretending the small sale of 2,240 acre feet isn’t important, but as always the devil is in the details.  And the details here which bear importance are;  if the contract is signed, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will be first in line for any MID water for the next fifty years, yes before Modesto and the Farmers, and has first right of refusal over any potential water sales MID might care to make.  The contract also sets a price for future water sales which includes an extremely small price escalator.

Just as important and maybe even more so because of its size is the looming 25,000 acre foot sale.  MID intends on pursuing it immediately after the 2,240 sale, so both sales should be considered at the same time by ratepayers trying to make a decision.  We also need to consider the small sale doesn’t pay for anything. The 2,240 acre feet times the $700.00 per acre foot comes to $1,568,000. yearly.  At this rate it will take 70.79 tears to pay for the $110 Million in infrastructure the MID Board claims we need.  And yes, the much larger sale triggers an EIR or Environmental Impact Report but with the SFPUC  footing the cost and being the lead agency, stopping it at that point is a much harder task than most realize.

Now back to the initial question of  “Where is Rollie Stevens.”  To use a sports metaphor,  it’s like playing a Superbowl and having our coach decide to bench our all-pro quarterback or 2,000 yard running back because the other team doesn’t want to play against him.  Why would we concede to those conditions?

This is the $64,000 question we need to ask Mayor Marsh. 

So Mayor, why are you keeping Rollie Stevens on the sidelines? 

Modesto and the farmers need to stand shoulder to shoulder on the water sale issue.  Agriculture is the economic driving force in the Central Valley and we need to nurture it.  And as we all  know,  if you want to keep something alive in the Central Valley, you need to water it.

We have NO extra water for sale to San Francisco.

Rollie Stevens, we need you.

Here are the Letters Between MID and the City of Modesto

By Emerson Drake

You’ve heard about them and here they are the written  exchanges between Modesto and MID.


Also, here is a little teaser.  You know the MID has been using Martino Graphic Design INC to funnel money to political consultant and lobbyist  Mike Lynch.  But were you aware of the potential amount in their contract?  Under purchase order 54981 from July 23, 2010 thru December 31, 2011:

This contract is issued to provide professional services to Refocus and Enhance Public Education and Information per Board Resolution No. 2010-35.

Not-to-exceed $450,000.00 plus cost and expenses.

$450,000.00 for Lobbying?  Now you know why your rates are so high.  They been giving contracts like these to friends to stay in power.

“On Watch” Cable TV Comcast 15, Streaming Video and 89.5FM

Emerson Drake
I’m guest hosting Athens Abell’s cable TV show “On Watch” at 6PM tonight Monday July 16th. Supervisor Terry Withrow will be there to discuss farmland mitigation. I’m doing a segment on Modesto’s negotiating with MID and Modesto City Councilman Dave Geer will be my guest. And if time permits a segment on the County Fair. It’s all on Comcast channel 15 the Assyrian Channel and online via streaming video and KBSV-89.5 FM 


More Corruption at MID

From Dave Thomas,

In  one of the most egregious in-your-face deals imaginable, Allen Short has made a deal with MID union employees to increase their already bloated salaries by 4%.  That is correct, “The contract was drafted with the help of an outside negotiator.  Two of the three bargainin  units have accepted it, MID General Manager Allen Short said.” (The Modesto BEE, page A-1, July 16y, 2012)

        If we did not understand how out of control MID management is, this should be the final teachable moment.  Remember, that $100,000 a year meter reader gets another $40,000 in benefits, partly because he pays NOTHING into his pension.  Short’s pay will likely be increased by a lame Board of Directors, meaning a monthly increase of about $10,000.

        This pay raise will also be used to justify the next electricity rate increase. 

        If there was ever evidence that Short must go, this is it.  Also, Glen Wild and Tom VanGronigan will be up for re-election next year.  Remember this when you vote.

        Thank you, Dave

The Most Dangerous Place To Give Birth

By Gaetana Drake

Here in the United States we have the highest infant/maternal mortality rate of any industrialized country.  But listen to the stories of two women who live in Gabu, Guinea-Bissau, located in Africa.

Gabu is considered the most dangerous place in the world for a woman to give birth.  A woman here has a 1 in 19 chance of dying as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a 1 in 2,100 chance in the U.S.

Most births still take place in villages, and if something goes wrong the woman can be hours away from medical help.  Cell phones (if someone in the village has one) work sporadically, travel by boat depends on the tides and automobiles are rare and expensive.  A journey of just a few miles can take hours.

When a woman arrives at a hospital or clinic, she is not treated until her family pays up front for any necessary medication.  The clinics do not have pharmacies and a family member will be told what medication the woman needs and be sent to purchase it before treatment can begin.

Generators are used only for storage.  Mid-wives work by flashlight or candlelight.  There is no power for refrigeration to store blood donations or to run incubators for premature babies.

Cultural practices make it even more difficult for women.  It is common for girls to marry as young as 13.  Unicef estimates that 7% of girls under the age of 15 are already married and mothers.  Most of the women of the region have undergone female mutilation.

Aissato Sanha is spending the last few weeks of her high risk pregnancy in a bed near the surgery room.  Her room is filled with women in labor.  She tells the nurse she is 18, but the nurse believes she is probably 15.  Her water breaks early in the morning and she goes into labor.  By the next day her baby is no closer to being born and the hospital director determines that she needs a Cesarean section for her and the baby to survive.  But first her mother must go to the pharmacy to buy the necessary medications.  When Aissato’s son is finally born he is missing part of a leg and his fingers are webbed.  One eye socket is completely obscured by a cleft palate and his head is abnormally large.  The massive deformaties were not discovered during the pregnancy because ultrasounds are not part of pre-natal care in this region.  The baby will go home with the family, but in many cases, severely deformed babies are neglected and die.

Fatumata Djau stayed home to give birth to her fourth child.  The placenta does not deliver normally and hours later she is at a maternity ward, losing a lot of blood.  Her brother is sent to buy medicine to stop the bleeding, but comes back with the wrong one.  He goes off to the pharmacy again, while his sister continues to hemorrhage.  Fatumata goes into convulsions and cardiac arrest.  CPR fails.  She leaves behind 4 daughters and a 75 year old husband.

Outreach teams operated by Catholic Relief Services have helped cut the mortality rate in the past two decades by going into remote villages and determining which women have high risk pregnancies and providing training for mid-wives.  However, the one thing they won’t do is provide birth control education.  Women in remote villages don’t know there is such a thing as birth control.  They grow up knowing they will probably have many more children than they can care for and will more than likely die in childbirth.  Remember, young girls are given to older men in arranged marriages.  They do not have legal, political or financial power.  They are subjugated to men.

For some reason many people equate “population control” or even birth control with “extermination”.  The world is over-populated.  Thousands of people die every day from starvation and lack of clean drinking water.  Is it humane to allow this to continue?  Isn’t it more humane to help women control their reproductive lives so they don’t die?  So they don’t have to watch their children die?

We should all support the effort to bring birth control to third world countries.  Lives depend on it. 



Tonight at 6:00 PM Athens Abell’s “On Watch” MID Water Sales and More

Tonight at 6:00  PM Pacific I will be guest hosting Athens Abell’s cable TV program “On Watch” with guests John Duarte and Troy McComak.

It can be found on the Assyrian Channel KBSV-15 on comcast, KBES 89.5 FM, and http://www.betnahrain.org/KBSV/kbsv.htm streaming video.  Just click on DSL at the top of the page.

First off we’ll be discussing with John Duarte  MID’s proposed water sale and the propaganda and misinformation  that the Modesto Bee and others have  been spreading.

The we’ll bring you some interesting thoughts of Troy McComak a former California 10th District Congressional candidate.

I hope you can take the time to visit with us.

Post Navigation