By Emerson Drake
When MID’s General Manager Allen Short and attorney Tim O’Laughlin made their water presentation to the Modesto City Council, they deliberately misled them regarding the reliability of Modesto’s water supply from MID. This was acknowledged by the Council when they finally had the opportunity to read the proposed contract with the San Francisco Public Utility Commission , also know as the SFPUC. O’laughlin had the audacity to stand in front of the Council and claim the contract would protect Modesto and keep Modesto first when it came time to divvy up available water.
Obviously that was just a lie.
When the council first voted in closed session it was 5-2 for exploring a lawsuit against MID for violating a 2005 contract. But before it became public the Council took another vote which made it a unanimous 7-0 vote. Councilman Lopez spoke about this in open session. The two votes against were Mayor Marsh and Councilman Lopez.
Councilman Muratore Betrays Modesto and Changes His Mind
Unfortunately MID Director Tom Van Groningen has since somehow “persuaded” Muratore to change his mind and suddenly Muratore loves the proposed water sale. What arguments did Van Groningen use? Did he magically make more water appear in Don Pedro? No. Was he able to convince the SFPUC to take a back seat to Modesto and the farmers? No. So what did he dangle in front of Muratore to change his mind?
Well we do know from past experience with Councilman Muratore that money talks. Maybe VanGroningen apologized for not passing a special exemption when Muratore, Swehla, Endsley and Hawn brought a solar project to the MID board. Unfortunately that time Swehla screwed the pooch and failed to meet a paperwork cut-off and the project wasn’t eligible for the increased financial inducement which would have made the project viable, costing their fledgling company any chance of remaining in business. And of course we remember Van Groningen supported Endsley’s biomass/garbage burner plant which cost ratepayers $1.292Million dollars. The $92,000 went to MID attorney O’Laughlin’s firm, but hey, who’s counting?
Maybe a Forensic Auditor should be brought in to examine MID’s books given the revelation MID’s General Manager made when he admitted he had funneled money to political consultant Mike Lynch through Martino Graphic Design,INC. Has he done this before? Have they paid a political consultant through a graphic design company or another company unrelated to political consulting to disguise their intent? Couldn’t this sleight of hand be considered illegal, especially if there is evidence of this not being the first time? Lynch has been making the rounds whispering in the ear of political wannabes like Councilman Lopez’s stepson Josh Vanderveen, who has been speaking out for the sale regularly since this issue came to light. Up to this point there hasn’t been enough known inducement for Lynch to be making promises to so many political candidates. And of course it can’t hurt that Councilman Lopez has been making discrete inquiries about running for Supervisor Dick Monteith’s job when the supervisors term expires.
Whatever VanGroningen whispered into Muratore’s ear worked and as a result the potential vote is now 4-3 regardless of anything you’ve heard. Now all eyes are on Councilman Cogdill to see if he’s as honorable as we hope.
Above all we need Council members to watch out for the Citizens of Modesto’s best interests and not their political careers or their wallets.