Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

Do You Still Believe There’s No War On Women?

By Gaetana Drake

Here is a list of what the Republican party has done or is trying to do nation-wide and/or in Republican-led states:

Requiring a trans-vaginal probe (unpaid by insurance because it’s not medically required) prior to an abortion.  One male politician had the audacity to say if a woman didn’t want to watch, she could “just close her eyes.”

Passing “Personhood Amendments” which would effectively ban the pill and IUDs (the most effective and commonly used forms of birth control.)

Refusing to let women testify to the all-male congressional panel on birth control.

Wanting to change the Affordable Care Act to allow any employer to suddenly decide he has a “moral” objection to birth control and deny coverage.

Requiring three visits to a doctor prior to an abortion.

Failing to renew the Violence Against Women Act, because it now includes protections for lesbians, illegal immigrants and mail-order brides.

Censoring elected female representatives for daring to say “vagina” while men are passing legislation that controls our vaginas.

Making comments that there’s no need for insurance to cover birth control because it isn’t expensive.  To use the pill for 30 years (the amount of time the average American woman spends trying to prevent pregnancy) can cost $67,000.

Requiring physicians to lie to their pregnant patients about the effects of abortion, saying that it causes a higher rate of suicide (no study has ever shown that) and that having an abortion can cause cancer.  The truth is that carrying a pregnancy to term while you’re still a young woman tends to prevent cancer, but that does not equate to “having an abortion may cause cancer.”

Re-defining “rape” to “forcible” rape in a proposed bill that would deny any federal funding of abortions for rape victims.  Date rape, statutory rape, rape in a case where a woman is under the influence and unable to give consent….no longer considered rape in their minds.

And now, one of the most outrageous of all statements a politician has ever made – Congressman Todd Akin (R-Missouri) said, while discussion abortions in the case of rape – “what I understand from doctors I’ve talked to is that it’s rare for a woman to get pregnant as a result of rape – because the female body has a way of shutting down that process to avoid getting pregnant”. 

RAINN (Rape, abuse, incest national network) reports that 1 in 15 rape victims will become pregnant.)  There are an estimated 400,000 rapes (including the 54% that go unreported) annually.  That would mean that approximately 27,000 pregnancies as a result of rape every year.

I guess those 27,000 women and girls forgot to “shut down” that function.

So, I ask again….do you still believe there’s no war on women?

A Little Salida Now Background: California Planning and Development Report

Pro-Growth Salida Initiative Wins Without Going To Voters


By William Fulton on 29 August 2007 – 11:00am


Stanislaus County supervisors and developers have beaten farmland preservation advocates to the punch. Supervisors adopted a developer-written growth plan for the unincorporated community of Salida six months before voters are scheduled to decide on a slow growth/farmland protection initiative that actually was written first.

In response to the “Stamp Out Sprawl” (SOS) initiative, scheduled for the February 2008 ballot, developers drafted the “Salida Now” initiative and appeared to qualify it for the November 2007 ballot. However, the Board of Supervisors in August voted 3-2 simply to adopt the initiative. Supporters say the plan is very similar to a community plan update that has been in the works for years, provides infrastructure funding for industrial and commercial development, and moves Salida toward financial self-sufficiency.

Detractors say the quick drafting and adoption of the Salida Now initiative was a brazen political move that could backfire. “It’s such an obvious, in-your-face flaunting of power,” said Denny Jackman an (SOS) organizer and former Modesto councilman.

County Supervisor Jeff Grover conceded that the SOS initiative created a “feeling of real urgency.” By adopting the Salida initiative, supervisors simply speeded up what had already been a long process. The Salida Now plan “is exactly what we’ve been working on and exactly what we’ve been planning in Salida,” Grover said.

With a population of about 14,000, Salida is by far the largest town in unincorporated Stanislaus County. Salida’s location along Highway 99 at the far northern end of the county puts it within long-distance commuting range of the Bay Area. County officials, however, have long wanted to see Salida grow as an employment center (see CP&DR Local Watch, May 2000). That has not happened and county officials say Salida is an approximately $3 million-a-year drain on the county.

Since 2000, advocates of farmland protection in Stanislaus County have been trying to get something on the ballot that resembles Ventura County’s SOAR initiatives (see CP&DR Insight, May 2002; CP&DR, December 1998). Previous efforts failed, but in June 2006, farmland advocates presented the county with signed petitions on the SOS initiative. If approved, it would require voters to decide on the rezoning of unincorporated agricultural land. Supporters wanted to place the initiative on the November 2006 ballot. However, county supervisors ordered an analysis as allowed under the Election Code. By the time the analysis was completed two months later, the deadline for getting an initiative on the ballot had passed. Therefore, supervisors scheduled the SOS initiative for the next general election — February 2008.

The move bought Salida growth proponents time. Within months, the Salida Now initiative was on the streets, and in June supporters submitted an extraordinary number of signed petitions — enough to force a special election. The $400,000 signature-gathering campaign was financed almost entirely by developers, primarily Pacific Union Homes, Bates Properties and The Stringer Co., all of which have substantial interests in Salida. (An interesting twist in the initiative calls for development fees to reimburse the cost of preparing the initiative.)

Again, supervisors ordered an analysis. But when that analysis was presented to the board in August, supervisors somewhat unexpectedly adopted the initiative, a decision permitted by state law.

The decision studded some people. In an editorial under the headline “Maybe The Developers Really Do Run The County,” the Modesto Bee opined: “In a single vote, three supervisors amended the county general plan, adopted the Salida Community Plan as firm for the next 25 years, and OK’d a development agreement with developers. And the three supervisors did all of this without giving the public any time to comprehend it all and to comment.”

From a political standpoint, Jackman said, the supervisors’ actions have been great for SOS supporters. First, supervisors delayed an election on the grass-roots SOS initiative, then they adopted the developer-funded Salida initiative with virtually no warning. SOS supporters could not have asked for better campaign material, Jackman said.

But Supervisor Grover, who represents Salida, makes no apologies. State demographers predict Stanislaus County will add 350,000 people and need at least 100,000 new jobs by 2030, Grover pointed out.

“We need areas to provide jobs all over the county,” Grover said. The SOS initiative would “block everything in the unincorporated areas.”

The lack of infrastructure in Salida is often cited as one reason for the lack of economic development. According to an analysis by county staff members of the initiative, “The proponents envision … the residential component subsidizing the initial infrastructure of the industrial and commercial areas and in later years the industrial/commercial area generating adequate revenue to maintain the infrastructure of both the residential and industrial/commercial area.”

Grover said the initiative is very similar to a community plan update — in process for years — that was presented to supervisors in April. Adopting the plan simply keeps the decision-making in the hands of elected officials, he said.

In the Turlock-based Farmland Working Group’s most recent newsletter, President Jeani Ferrari expressed doubt. “The supervisors’ action gives the project to the developers, with no right to say ‘no’ to the project as a whole, no matter what the environmental impact report and financial feasibility studies show,” Ferrari wrote.

The initiative covers 3,383 acres, of which about 60% is designated for industrial, business park or commercial uses. Proponents say as many as 27,000 jobs could be created there. In addition, the plan permits up to 5,000 housing units in varying densities and sets aside 100 acres for a riverfront park.

The initiative contains no entitlements, said Stanislaus County Planning and Community Development Director Ron Freitas. The next step is for developers to prepare “development plans” that would be similar to specific plans. While the initiative did not undergo California Environmental Quality Act review, all development plans are subject to CEQA, Freitas said.

“We’re stepping back and saying, ‘It’s your development plan, you prepare it.’ We will still retain the EIR consultant,” Freitas said.

Loss of farmland is a significant issue. About 3,000 acres in the plan area are in agricultural production, and most of the territory is prime farmland. The initiative calls for housing developers to offset loss of farmland by buying acre-for-acre preservation easements on similar farmland elsewhere in the county. However, the mitigation requirement does not apply to non-residential development.

The initiative also calls for developers to contribute $150,000 to a Salida incorporation feasibility study.

Stanislaus County Supervisor Jeff Grover, (209) 525-6560.
Ron Freitas, Stanislaus County Planning and Community Development Department, (209) 525-6330.
Farmland Working Group, (209) 247-2503.



And a Comment  by the Farmland Working Group

Correspondence A

Teach Your Boys Well…

By Gaetana Drake

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed in 1994 and seeks to improve criminal justice and community based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the United States.  Federal funds are used to educate the public about sexual assault and provide support programs for victims. Since its passage it has been re-authorized and re-approved in 2000 and 2005.  However, Congress has failed to re-authorize it in 2012.  Consider the following statistics:

1 in 3 women in America will be the victim of a completed or attempted rape.

Every 2 minutes someone is sexually assaulted in America.

It is estimated that only 46% of rapes are reported (207,754 reported last year, actual rapes probably around 400,000.)

44% of rape victimes are under age 18.

97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail!

2/3rd of assaults are by someone known to the victim (a friend of a friend).

38% of rapists are actual friends or casual acquaintances of the victim.

6 of 10 rapes occur at the home of the victim or the home of a friend, relative or neighbor of the victim.

1 in 15 rape victims will become pregnant as a result of the rape.

1 in 15 rape victims will contract a sexually transmitted disease as a result of the rape.

The United States has the highest incidence of rape of any country that reports such data.  The rate of rapes in the U.S. is thirteen times higher than in Great Britain and twenty times higher than Japan.

A woman in the United States is more likely to be raped than to die in a car accident.

For the past several years we have been teaching girls and women how to protect themselves from rape.  We have all learned the following:

*Bring a friend if you are going to a party or event at a strange place.  If you can’t bring a friend, tell one where you will be and to expect periodic calls from you to let them know you are okay.

*Keep an eye on your drink.  Never go back to a drink that has been left unattended.  Don’t accept drinks from strangers unless you see them being made.

*Walk or jog with a friend, especially after dark.  If you must go alone, stay in populated and well-lit areas.

*Stay alert.  Wearing headphones will prevent you from hearing someone approach you from behind.  Hats with brims may prevent you from seeing someone approach you from the side.

*Carry a key between your fingers when walking through a parking lot and be ready to gouge the eyes of an attacker.

*Move with confidence.  When walking through a parking lot (or anywhere else), walk briskly and keep looking around you.  Be aware of what’s going on around you.  Assailants want targets who are vulnerable, not someone who is paying attention.

*Always check the back seat of your car before getting in.

*If someone car-jacks you, drive into the nearest vehicle.  It’s better to have a car accident than be kidnapped, raped or murdered.

*Learn basic self-defense.  Go for the eyes, stomp on the feet, kick back at their knees, pull hair and scratch, and always aim for the sensitive area, and kick and hit as hard as possible.

*Make as much noise as possible.

*Never, ever open your door to a stranger.

*Realize that you don’t have to win in a fight.  You just need to break their hold on you for a second so you can get away.

Yes, it’s good that girls and women have been taught these strategies to stay safe and protect themselves.  But I look forward to a time when we don’t have to teach women how not to be victims, because we’ve taught men and boys not to be assailants.

Young boys should all be taught the following:

*Respect for females of all ages.

*If you see a woman being bullied or harassed, get involved, even if it’s only to make it clear to the attacker that someone is watching.  Use your cell phone to take pictures and call 911.

*It is NOT okay to put drugs into someone’s drink.

*It is NOT okay to have sex with someone who is unconscious.

*It is NOT okay to take advantage of a woman who has had too much to drink.

*A woman’s clothing is not an invitation to rape.

*If you have friends who bully or harass women, tell them it’s wrong.  Going along with it is wrong.

Rape victims are still held responsible for what happens to them.  You will still hear people say “she was asking for it”.  I grew up being told that “good girls don’t get raped”.  None of that is true, but we have a long way to go before victims are no long stigmatized.

You may wonder after reading these statistics, why Congress has failed to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act.  It’s for a very simple reason.  The act has been expanded to provide protection to lesbians, illegal immigrants and mail-order brides.  Re-authorization was approved overwhelmingly by the Democrats, but voted down by the Republicans.  You would think they don’t have mothers, sisters, wives or daughters, wouldn’t you?

Someday women might not be afraid to go out after dark or to walk to their cars in a dark parking lot after work.  Someday…if we teach our boys well.


Reed Smith Takes the Bee’s Judy Sly to Task

Here is a copy of the email.
I am troubled by your characterization of citizens expressing their First Amendment right to free speech in your article referenced below.
“Some of the opponents of the proposed water sale have taken over recent MID board meetings, throwing out verbal bombshells and making rude and reckless accusations against some board members. We understand that they sometimes feel like they’re under attack.”
Just between you and me, hey, please give me the names of the persons who have “taken over the MID Board meetings”?  I have been to every one except April 3, 2012, since October 2011.  All I know is that Tom Van Groningen has limited citizens comment time from a bare five (5) minutes to the minuscule 3 minutes (3) per person to discuss complex issues.  It is hard to imagine a “3-MINUTE TAKE OVER” with two and sometimes three (3) heavily-armed guards.  Refresh my memory, have the Modesto Police been called yet?  You were there . . .  I can’t remember.
I would also be interested in which of their statements you consider “verbal bombshells”, “rude and reckless accusations”.  I am sure you have copies of all the Board meeting videos since last October, as do I, and it would not take much to provide proof of your assertions.    I am trying to understand your criteria for your claims.  I find it a little irrational that you criticize the very persons you need to stay in business, or maybe Joe does not need,  . . .  you know the residents of Modesto.  Actually, I am trying to determine if your assertions in this article are “reckless accusations”.  So, let’s get to it.  Show me your cards.  Who, When, and What did they say.  Then we can compare that to the words of the “most civil” MID Board Chairman Tom Van Groningen, personally civility-trained by the almighty Carol Whiteside.
Also, I would be interested in your characterization of any citizen who goes to the microphone and speaks to a position, for or against, that is paid to promote that position, and does not declare to the Board, or the rest of the public, that they are being paid to promote and sell us, and how much?  Does that sound OK to you?  You know, there might be an article there, not sure.  You might want to look into that.  I have lots of leads for you if you are interested.  Lots of leads.
I eagerly look forward to your reply.
Civilly,  Reed Smith

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

Topics will include  behind the scenes insight of the recent MID meeting vote, MID  attny Tim O’Laughlin’s lies, Salida’s concerns regarding the possible annexation, the 7 question PIR regarding Salida, Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s astoundingly unbelieveable  denials regarding George Patrulakis, and of course national issues effecting all of us from the latest crusader in tights, Romneyhood, to the War on Women and much more Wednesday night at 7:00 PM Pacific .

You can always call in and talk to the host at 1-347-215-9414



Did MID Attny. Tim O’Laughlin Intentionally Mis-state the Truth? The Martino Contract and Payments

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.



Is Robert Bork Right For America?

By Gaetana Drake

It’s good to understand one of the most important reasons we should all vote and that is because the President of the United States nominates Supreme Court Justices.  The Supreme Court makes decisions that effect our everyday lives.

Mitt Romney has chosen Robert Bork as co-chair of his Judicial Advisory Committee.  This means Mr. Bork will be suggesting to Mr. Romney names of possible future Supreme Court Justices and federally appointed judges throughout the country.   Mr. Bork was nominated by President Reagan to be a member of the Supreme Court, but the nomination was not approved. 

Here are some of his beliefs:

In 1963 he wrote an article for The New Republic called “Civil Rights – A Challenge”.  He claimed that laws requiring desegregation were a violation of the freedom of business owners to associate only with the people they chose.  His argument was “the natural right not to associate with others in commerce should not be overridden in the interests of civil rights, social justice, or most significantly, the interests of the moral order.”   

Republican led states are trying to impose severe voter restriction laws. Mr. Bork has a record of defending the constitutionality of poll taxes and literacy tests in state elections.  Obviously, the right-wing believes he is the man they need to help restrict voters’ rights in America.

Mr. Bork also believes that Roe v. Wade should be over-turned.  He would also give individual states the power to prosecute women and doctors who violate abortion laws.   By using Mr. Bork as “judicial advisor”, it is obvious that any future Supreme Court nominee would have to pass the anti-choice litmus test.  Mr. Bork has denounced the Supreme Court’s protection of a constitutional right to privacy in decision-making, the basis of Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized a woman’s right to use birth control.

United States v. Virginia is the Supreme Court’s 7 – 1 decision which required the Virginia Military Institute to stop discriminating and to admit its first women cadets.  Thousands and thousands of female soldiers have since served bravely and honorably, but Mr. Bork has attacked that decision for producing the “feminization of the military.”  He wrote, “radical feminism, an increasingly powerful force across the full range of American institutions, overrode the Constitution in United States v. Virginia.  VMI is only one example of a feminized Court transforming the Constitution.”

In 1971 Mr. Bork argued that the First Amendment protects only political speech, not art or science or literature.  He continues to promote censorship to deal with what he calls the “rot and decadence” of American society.  In a 1997 interview with Michael Cromartie, he expressed such disgust with the state of American culture that he said he was in favor of a return to censorship boards in America.

Rather than allow states to make their own decisions on the issue of same-sex marriage, he has advocated a constitutional amendment that would permanently define marriage as between “one man and one woman”.  He would also prevent individual states from offering gay couples equal benefits of any kind.

In 2005 the Supreme Court decision in Roper v. Simmons, struck down the death penalty for juvenile offenders.  Bork called the decision a “new low” for the Court.  Between 1990 (when the Court last considered this issue) and 2005, there were only seven countries other than the United States that executed juvenile offenders.  They were Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and China.  Mr. Bork, however, found nothing cruel and unusual in executing minors.

And finally, Mr. Bork once ruled that an employer may require its female workers to be sterilized in order to reduce employer liability for harm to potential children, in cases where employers used toxic chemicals.  He also believes politicians should be able to ban birth control.

Poll taxes, literacy tests, forced sterilization in order to maintain employment, executing minors, censorship boards, corporate powers over individual rights, repealing civil rights and making criminals out of doctors and women…..is Robert Bork right for America?

Wisconsin Shooting Victims Memorialized

By  Emerson Drake

Last night at the Sikh Temple outside Turlock a cross-section from the community embraced those from the local Sikh Temple, reminding everyone all Americans hold Religious Freedom dear to our hearts along with Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness. 

People from all walks of life were in attendance. From County Supervisors, local Mayors , Police Chiefs to us regular citizens all partaking in the candlelight vigil.  Representatives of the Sikh Temple thanked both Wisconsin police officers for their efforts that fateful day, and local Police and Sheriff’s deputies  for their continued concern and support. While several community groups were mentioned, the Latino Community Roundtable was especially noted for providing extraordinary assistance in organizing the observance with Maggie Mejia and Rosealinda Vierra being singled out for special recognition.

Several hundred people attended and all were made welcome. Everyone was invited to partake in the evening meal.  It was heartwarming to see so many people  honoring the dead while celebrating life.

Reed Smith Questions Modesto Bee’s Editor and Senior VP/News Joe Kieta

Joe Kieta
Modesto Bee
Mr. Kieta:
It was nice to meet you on July 11, 2102 during the Editorial Board session when John Duarte and I were invited to discuss the MID water sale to the SFPUC.  Welcome to Modesto.
During the Editorial Board meeting, Judy Sly proposed that MID’s repeated false claims could be attributed to mere incompetence.  Incompetence would be justification to end negotiations to sell our water all by itself.  This was countered during the presentation as implausible because of the repeated re-use of documents that by MID’s own documents prove false, numerous times after the lie has been publicly exposed.  I would find the term “criminal” closer to the mode MID Board and staff are in, with incompetence removed from the excuse list many months ago.  
On one particular issue we discussed, John Holland followed-up in a phone call to me on July 13 asking me to validate a statement I made, that being my source of the California Water Resources Control Board staff’s statement in a meeting on May 3, wherein we were told that a 50-60 year water transfer was a “permanent” transfer of water rights.
I sent the e-mail below to Mr. Holland on the 13th as a reference document and cc’ed you.  I entered your e-mail address incorrectly, so it has been in my in box as undeliverable.  So, fast forward to my writing to you today.  On July 10, I had a very brief encounter with John Holland in the foyer of the MID Board Chambers during the morning MID Board Meeting break.  I inquire if he had contacted the references I provided.  He said he had not had time.
POINT:  One of MID Board’s key criteria for any water sale is to not interfere with the water right.

Question Key: General Questions Ag Related Questions November 2011

1. Will transferring the water for a long term deal endanger MID’s water rights?

The proposal is for selling water. Just water; MID’s water rights will be retained by MID; in fact by putting water to beneficial municipal and industrial uses, MID is protecting the water right.

I have provided John Holland with a statement witnessed by myself and John Duarte, who was in your conference room with John Holland on July 11, stating that experts in state government factually believe water rights are voided.  I have provided Mr. Holland with the citation of who, what, when, why, and where, on THE MOST IMPORTANT FACT IN THE WATER SALE NARRATIVE, and . . . Mr. Holland is too busy to validate and report it.  Hmm.
It begs the question of the Bee’s veracity on this issue.
I hope to see Mr. Holland’s reporting in a major article on MID’s attempt to sell our water rights.  Certainly it is newsworthy.
Reed Smith

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

Tonight we’ll discuss the Hammett Road Interchange and its relationship with the North County Corridor,  and the Salida Annexation. We’ll be discussing the six questions we asked the Board of Supervisors yesterday, and the questions we asked the Modesto City Council less than a few short hours ago. On the national scene we’ll discuss the fake Wheaton College outrage and Mitt Romney allegations, the Continuing War on Women, and the dangers of fracking.  All of these topics and more at 7:00 PM Pacific Time. 

The call in number is 1-347-215-9414 

A question for everyone: Do you want to be able to set your drinking water on fire as it comes out of the tap?


104.9 FM K-GIG Modesto   Our Flagship Station

Post Navigation