By Emerson Drake
The meeting’s first skirmish centered around the Martino Graphics contract. This contract ran from July 19,2010, thru December 31, 2011, according to documents released by MID through a Public Information Request. The response letter with the contract and amounts payable will be in the pdf at the bottom of the article.
When Director Byrd asked several questions about the contract, attorney Tim O’Laughlin claimed he wasn’t familiar with the dates or the amounts paid. But as we have come to learn O’Laughlin reads and approves all Public Information requests (PIR) or Public Record Act requests (PRA) as they are known. So O’Laughlin’s claim not to be familiar with the information is disingenuous at best.
MID General Manager Allen Short made a similar claim of denying knowledge of any details of the contract despite having been copied, according to the information we were given.
When it was suggested the Board should receive copies of all PRI responses, Director Van Groningen said he and the rest had been copied. So either they didn’t read the information or were stone-walling Director Byrd’s questions regarding the Martino Graphics contract. The contract termination date 12/31/2011 is disconcerting since Martino Graphics has been paid by MID $108,000.00 since February of 2012.
The reason this contract is attracting so much attention is this is the company GM Allen Short says they have been using to convey money to lobbyist and political opinion maker Mike Lynch.When I asked Marian Martino co-owner of Martino Graphics if she would discuss the contract she declined. Ms. Martino made a failed attempt to be appointed to the vacancy created by Kristin Olsen’s departure from Modesto’s City Council. Interesting how these failed politicos come crawling out of the woodwork, isn’t it?
A PRI was made for the contracts and payouts including the dates for any and all lobbyists, opinion makers or any other titles or euphemisms MID chooses to confuse the ratepayers with.
The other action of note, was consent item #10 pertaining to the potential agreement with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Confidential employees. Director Larry Byrd decided to recuse himself on the IBEW since he has an adult son working for MID in the union and despite attorney O’Laughlin saying it wasn’t necessary.
The unusual thing was, despite Director Van Groningen thanking Mr. Batchelder’s hard work in achieving the agreement, the Board refused to bring forward a vote to be considered. Gamesmanship at its finest. And yes a PIR was made to the Board to discover how much money was spent in this “staged” effort.