Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the day “January 13, 2013”

News Last Week in Modesto – What You Haven’t Read Anywhere Else

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...

By Emerson Drake

Former SCAP Director Appointment to Housing Committee Delayed but NOT Cancelled

On Tuesday the City Council came within moments of voting former Director of  SCAP Frank Ploof, onto Modesto’s Citizen Housing and Community Development Committee.  Mr. Ploof only served for two months as a Director on SCAP’s Board according to Julie Hannon.  Our concern is the ongoing relationship that developed between Daryl Fair, who was the President of the SCAP Board during the worst of the excesses, and who recruited Ploof for SCAP and  the Renaissance Center.  They continued to have an incestuous relationship with SCAP and the organization they billed as a nonprofit, the Renaissance Center.  Fair was the Executive Director and Ploof was a “case manager” and SCAP was paying the rent for the building on “D” street where the pseudo nonprofit was located.

Incredible as it sounds the Finance Committee met according to Julie Hannon, in November to interview eight candidates and choose Ploof. Interesting, since the City website shows the November and December meetings of the Finance Committee being cancelled.  Ms. Hannon told us Councilwoman Stephanie Burnside and Councilman David Cogdill Jr. were the ones interviewing the candidates.

While Mr. Ploof seems like a nice enough man, his relationship with Daryl Fair is a cause of major concern when it comes to Modesto’s Housing Committee.  And we have to wonder about the reasons J. David Wright is buzzing like a bee from councilperson to councilperson promoting Mr. Fair and his search for money to open a homeless drop in center.  It should also be noted J. David Wright was one of Modesto’s larger contributors to local Council races.  Why is Mr. Wright involved with people fronting for phony nonprofits?

After sitting in with the Finance Committee interviewing candidates for the planning Commission and the Board of Zoning adjustment and hearing the probing questioning, I’m surprised Ploof slipped through.  Though in all fairness it should be pointed out Ploof omitted disclosing the SCAP position from his questionnaire. And since City Manager Greg Nyhoff failed to document his investigation, or lack there of,  into the SCAP debacle, the Council members would have to be paying attention to the media to have known. Councilman Lopez asked for this appointment to be delayed and the rest of the council agreed and it was sent back to committee.

We have no doubt with seven others to choose from the Committee can find another capable candidate.

Mayor Marsh Wants Salida Ad Hock Committee to Meet Without the Public Being Present

The Mayor finally admitted having received the “Draft” of the Goodwin Study on the Salida annexation.  He had a meeting scheduled for this week and had staff relay to the public “Stay Home, you’re not invited.”  This is a major concern. Fortunately Supervisor Withrow had already given me an invitation.  When the Mayor was made aware of this he promptly cancelled the meeting.  Eventually it was rescheduled for Jan. 28,2013, but civilian member Thomas Reeves cancelled it, since the politicos were refusing to share the Goodwin report with the rest of the committee members.  I felt it was necessary and went to the Board of Supervisors and to the City Council to protest the Mayor’s actions.  Surprisingly the local print media failed to share this information with the citizens of Modesto or Salida.  Nothing like the third estate allowing games like these to be played. 

The bottom line is,  why the secrecy?

It’s only Money – OURS..!   $17,000 Extra for Soccer Fields

On December 4,2012, Item #16, with the consent of the council Staff pulled back the bids of the synthetic turf for the three soccer fields at Mary Grogen Park saying they had written the bid so poorly they only received a bid from one company which they said wasn’t competitive. On Tuesday they accepted a bid for $17,000 dollars more than the bid in December.  There were questions about the bidding process regarding the City not stating the way the bid was going to be judged. But this time staff didn’t care about the challenge made during the meeting, concerning the bid process, which was flawed or the fact it cost Modesto more money.  But what the heck it was only $17,000 out of Village One’s pocket-book right?    Huh?

Lower TIN CUP Limits Passes Committee and is Sent to Staff – Will Come Back in March

Something we’ve been trying to accomplish for several years is to lower the amount people can contribute to a candidate before  the now elected official has to step back or recuse themselves and not vote for an item brought forward by their contributor.  In Modesto this ordinance is called the TIN CUP or Time Is Now to Clean Up Politics.  The current amount is $3,000 dollars to all candidates and the new levels, if passed, will be $1,000 for council races and $2,000 for mayoral races.  Councilman David Geer and Councilman John Gunderson voted for the lowering of the limits and Councilman Dave Lopez voted against the proposal. Remember anyone one can continue to contribute any amount they choose but the candidate can’t vote for a proposal if the upper limit is passed.  This should help level the playing field for the average citizens. I hope people will call their council representatives and request they support the new levels. 

 After all,  does anyone think we need more money in politics?

To learn more about the Renaissance Center, “the nonprofit that wasn’t,”  go to our older archive location http://www.eyeonmodesto.blogspot.com/2011/11/renaissance-community-services-non.html

Getting D.A. Fladager Up Off Her Chair to do Her Job

Scale of justice

By Emerson Drake

On Tuesday Jan. 8, 2013, I appeared before the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors in the morning and the Modesto City Council at night and each time I talked about the animal abuse happening in Modesto. I recited District Attorney Birgit Fladager’s  office number (525-5550 ) and requested for people to call and ask for her to get up off of her chair and do her job. These weren’t the first times nor will they be the last.  I’ll keep appearing until she does something towards defending the pets/animals and families  in Stanislaus County.

This originated when several women appeared in front of both of the official bodies, City and County , to plead their case and ask  for justice. Phillip Sumner and Jeff Reed have been baiting, capturing and disposing of people’s pet cats for years.  Sumner actually claims to have been doing this for more than ten years.  These women have filed complaints and have a case number, 12-32208, which has been presented to the District Attorney by the Modesto Police Department whose hands are tied until the D.A. decides to prosecute.  There is an existing California state law, 597-S which D.A.’s around the state have been using successfully.  Our D.A,. Ms. Birgit Fladager, doesn’t feel it’s adequate and says the District Attorney’s office has more important things to do and just doesn’t have the time.

I first wrote about this story in November after being at the City Council meeting on Oct. 23,2012, when several women came and spoke.  I still find it hard to believe Ms. Fladager, who claims to be a cat fancier, is ignoring these families’ pain.  Luring, trapping, and disposing of a neighbors family pet is despicable.  And when you consider it was done by a neighbor to a  four-year-old autistic boy’s pet it becomes even worse.

Obviously some Customer Service Skills are Lacking

When I called and requested the D.A. take action I was met with a hostile attitude by the person that answered the phone.  The woman seemed more interested in deterring any request for action by asking many questions designed to dishearten callers. She actually suggested people who weren’t principals in the case had no business in calling.  I take  exception to that.  D.A. Birgit Fladager’s representatives had been very explicit in saying “Go away and don’t bother us any more: and it’s time for them to be informed that wasn’t going to happen.

Finally, on Friday afternoon at 4:45  former Modesto Police Captain and now Chief D.A. Investigator Dan Interbitzen called wanting to talk and left a voicemail.  I returned his call about twenty minutes later but his weekend had already started. I left a message and will try again on Monday.  I’ll be happy to talk with him. I’ll even give him the number of the case file he already has in a file cabinet.  We’ll do anything we can to assist D.A. Birgit Fladager and Chief  Investigator Dan Interbitzen in acquiring some motivation to proceed with charges in the case.

It’s nice to see Modesto is progressing with an ordinance of its own while at the same time hoping to get all of the cities in Stanislaus County to do the same through the Joint Powers Authority(animal services).  Unfortunately the Safety and Communities Committee won’t be able to hear the ordinance until February as Councilman Lopez isn’t fond of committee meetings lasting more than an hour despite the fact that prior to last week they met only two times in the last six months.

Please feel free to call Ms. Fladager’s office at 209-525-5550 and request she get up off of her chair and help stop animal abuse in Stanislaus County.  When they ask you can tell them the case, # 12-32208 and you that have a friend who told you about the four-year-old autistic boy and the rest of the families who have lost beloved pets to these men.

And a big heart-felt thank you to those who have already called from all the families involved and a special thank you from the little boy who continues to leave his bedroom window open so his friend can come back to be with him.

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