By Emerson Drake
Over the last several months we’ve been regaled with several tales lauding the Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s CEO/lobbyist Cecil Russell and side kick Mike Moradian for raising money to restore Modesto’s Arch. While I acknowledge it’s a fine project, and will be somewhat appreciated, does the City of Modesto really have $40,000 in the General Fund with nowhere else to go? We’re even being asked to throw in $15,807 from the Mann Grant Donation into the project for a total of $55.807.00.
At a recent City Council meeting lobbyist Cecil Russell was given a round of applause as was Mike Moradian for selling the $3.00 “Golden” candy bars. There were several stories in the Modesto Bee ( Aug.18, Sept.7 & 11 and Oct.1) about what a great job the Chamber has done raising money. But now they come, hat in hand, begging for tax money that could have gone toward another police officer on the street.
It’s Item #11 under new business http://www.modestogov.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=460&doctype=AGENDA on this weeks agenda. What? You say you haven’t read about it anywhere? Not even in the Modesto Bee? Apparently City manager Greg Nyhoff requested this item be added. But how did he hear about the need?
There is little doubt that when he blew off last weeks agenda meeting and missed half of the Safety and Communities meeting, he was being apprised of the situation as the city liaison with the Chamber. He failed to mention it upon his return from the meeting, but since he likes to keep city business on a need to know basis or as strictly required by law, we don’t wonder why, as it would keep his secret as long as possible. At least several City Council members were surprised to see this item on the agenda when it was published on Friday afternoon.
The Chamber of Commerce has already planned a celebration for October 26, 2012. But they FAILED to raise the necessary money to pay for it. Unfortunately it says more about Mr. Russell’s leadership than it does about Modesto businessmen. I don’t believe this would never have happened under someone who was as fiscally responsible as former Chamber CEO Joy Madison.
Lobbyist Cecil Russell has done a lot of bad-mouthing against the Modesto City Council over his client/benefactor the Double Tree turning down the Modesto Centre Plaza deal. You would think he would have run into some resistance for being a grandstander who failed in his responsibility to come through with the promised funding.
Next time the Chamber of Commerce or its CEO have grandiose plans (for the public’s good) I hope they can pay for it themselves and leave Modesto’s general fund out of the equation.