Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the month “February, 2013”

“What’s on America’s Mind” Wed. at 6:30 PM

Radio RED 104.9 FM

Radio RED 104.9 FM (Photo credit: Mahdi Ayat.)

Topics include Modesto’s Cover-up of the Contaminated well in Salida, last night’s Salida MAC meeting, a discussion regarding  “All Politics are Local,” MID Games,  the animal cruelty ordinance, LAFCO vs Salida vs Beard Industrial Park, this and more so tune in at ourNEW starting time Broadcast LIVE on 140.9 at 6:30 PM Wednesday and find out the things you really  need to know.

Our call in number is 1-347-215-9414

104.9 FM Modesto our Flag Ship station

Our blogtalk radio address: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/centralvalleyhornet/2013/02/28/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake

To watch last night’s MAC Meeting http://vimeo.com/60657680


Dave Thomas’ Response to Saturday’s Bee Editorial

Best Wishes Scoopy

Best Wishes Scoopy (Photo credit: RussellReno)

First a Reminder of the Bee Editorial with just a taste and the link:

Modesto makes two more worst cities lists (sigh)

We try to be chipper on Saturday mornings, but sometimes it’s hard.

Bad numbers can haunt a person and a place. In the case of Modesto — and Stanislaus County — our high unemployment, foreclosure and poverty rates continue to put us on dubious distinction lists.

Two rankings published in recent weeks by 24/7 Wall St., a website produced out of New York and aimed at U.S. and global investors, give Modesto a sixth worst ranking in two areas: The Top 10 Cities where people can’t find work and the 20 Worst Run large cities in the country.

 Now the Response By Dave Thomas

Good morning.  Saturday’s Modesto BEE used the following words in describing the City of Modesto:


                Poverty, 2 times

                High unemployment,  4 times

                High foreclosure rates,  2 times

                Lack of job growth,  2 times

                Lack of economic diversity

                Lack of skills      

                Downturn in home values  

                Falling gross metropolitan GDP

                Violent crime rate

                Bad economy


Granted, it was an editorial (Pg A9) which highlighted two recent ratings by objective media.  The lists were, “The Top 10 Cities where people can’t find work”, and the “20 Worst Run large cities in the country”.  These descriptive comments from respected third party observers kinda make you think the choices are valid.


I came away from reading this Opinion unsure about what it was trying to convey.  But, I must suggest that the editors’ attitude seemed to be the same thing we have heard for over 25 years.  After listing the obvious major failures of our City and its government, the attitude is, 

“Well, we are not THAT bad.”


Yes folks, no elected leader, no City Manager, Mayor, County officer, Chamber boss, and no civic leader has accomplished fixing the obvious problems.


I want you to consider this; the reason we continue to be badly run, poverty stricken, no jobs crime ridden, etc, is precisely because no one cares to make Modesto better.  


When I moved here by my choice, almost 40 years ago, Modesto had almost no street signs.  I had to shame the Mayor into putting some up, both in my neighborhood and downtown!  That is the extent of the lame attitude, lazy complacency, and lack of pride.  The Mayor told me that I should not need street signs, I should know where I was………


So, I predict that after all the kafuffle dies down, there will be no one who gets off their dead backside and starts fixing things.   

Nope.  Apathy, acceptance of status quo and simple lazy thinking, lazy acting bureaucrats and elected officials will say,

“Well, we are not THAT bad.”




Oh, one last point.  Our brand new (0ne month on the job) police chief wrote a piece in Sunday’s Bee, page D1.  He said, “People of this community should not be dealing with that every day.”  He was referring to “…aggressive panhandlers who are addicted to methamphetamine.”  His last sentence ends like this, “…and many have indicated there is nothing that can be done.”

Well, Chief, as long as you talk to only those responsible for this mess, nothing will change.


Thank you, Dave

Salida MAC Officially Votes Against Annexation by Modesto

A montage I (Valente Q.C.) made with pictures ...

A montage I (Valente Q.C.) made with pictures that I took for the Infobox in the Modesto, California Article. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Emerson Drake

Tonight in front of one hundred Salidans, twenty-five being admitted first time attendees, the  Salida Municipal Advisory Council or Salida MAC officially voted against being annexed by Modesto.  County Supervisor Withrow took notice of, what was once again, an overwhelming majority of the crowd (none for, two had questions, and the balance against annexation) and so did the Salida MAC.

The MAC’s Chairman Thomas Reeves spoke, saying  he, the MAC and the Ad Hoc Committee had read both versions of the Goodwin Report and found nothing to persuade him or others to be in favor of annexation. The public had an opportunity to voice their opinion and once again no one spoke for annexation. 

The Salida MAC vote was unanimous.  MAC member Brad Johnson pointed out it was democracy at its finest.

Modesto Councilman David Geer and City Manager Greg Nyhoff were in attendance as were Stanislaus County CEO Monica Nino and  Sheriff Christianson. The Sheriff received a long round of applause for his departments efforts in keeping Salida’s crime level much lower than Modesto’s. Will having Modesto officials watching the meeting and seeing the result  have an effect on Modesto’s Mayor’s drive for annexation?  Only time will tell.

MAC Chairman Thomas Reeves accepted the responsibility to write Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh a letter detailing Salida’s decision.

Salida MAC Meeting Tuesday the 26th at 7:00 PM at the Salida Library

Location in the state of California

Location in the state of California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just a reminder to attend the Salida Municipal Advisory Council’s (Salida MAC) meeting tomorrow night at 7 pm at the Salida Library Community Room.  The topic will be the Salida Annexation and Goodwin Consulting Study.

Salida MAC’s online newsletter at:

To Watch the Last Salida MAC Meeting

Location in the state of California

Location in the state of California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Emerson Drake

This is for anyone who missed the January Salida MAC meeting or those who want to see it again here is a link that will take you straight there.


If any Modesto City Council members, Board of Supervisors’, LAFCO members, Modesto Planning Commission members, Modesto Chamber of Commerce members, Stanislaus Alliance members, or members of the public would like to see a committed group of people who are unwilling to be hijacked by Modesto just check out the above link.

Salida Town meeting..Salida MAC meeting
NEXT Tuesday !
AGENDA DRAFT Tuesday, February 26, 2013 – 7:00 PM
Stanislaus Regional Library – 4835 Sisk Road, Salida, 
1. Pledge of Allegiance
2. Approval of Minutes for Past MAC Meeting
3. Public Comment
4. Monthly Community Reports
4.1. Salida Fire District , Stanislaus County Sheriff, California Highway Patrol
4.4. Salida Sanitary District 
Special Reports and Presentations
Other County Departments , Other City of Modesto Departments
6. Unfinished Business
6.1. Modesto Annexation (Johnson)
7. New Business
8. District #3 County Supervisor Report
9. Council Concerns/Comments/Suggestions for Future Agenda Items
10. Adjournment
Next Meeting: Tuesday, March 26, 2013

 — at Salida Regional Library.

I’ll be looking forward to seeing everyone there.

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

Radio RED 104.9 FM

Radio RED 104.9 FM (Photo credit: Mahdi Ayat.)

Topics include Salida annexation and the sneaky SoB’s, does government just happen to people or is it government by ambush, the animal cruelty ordinance, MID, Valley Vision Stanislaus,and more so tune in at 7:00PM Wednesday and find out the things you really  need to know.

104.9 FM Modesto our Flag Ship station



Deceiving the Public MID Style

[CALIFORNIA-A-0023] Don Pedro Dam

[CALIFORNIA-A-0023] Don Pedro Dam (Photo credit: waterarchives)

By Emerson Drake

MID has come through some very turbulent times. They had an iron fisted General Manager in Allen Short and until last year MID’s Board of Directors was a rubber stamp for his misguided dictatorial policies. Unfortunately it is the public that has been required to foot the bill. Here is an example of what has gone on during the last year of Allen Short’s reign.

Some Background

Back in 2010 the Board allowed GM Short to create a policy know as  Resolution No. 2010-35. This resolution, when combined with Purchase Order 54981 to Martino Graphic Design (MGD) for a total of $450,000, effectively created a slush fund using Joy Warren as Regulatory Administrator for control.  The original purpose for this fund included concerns about regulation concerning the delta, greenhouse gas, state regulations, and a euphemistic “improve the image and credibility of the district.”

But through a series of phone calls leaving no paper trail, the Resolution was bastardized and at least $148,000 went, utilizing “creative descriptions,” to a series of players/vendors to be used to create a false image of the potential water sale to the general public.  It’s my opinion this was done by nefarious design to make tracking the money and proving where it went  difficult, if not almost impossible. At least one recipient of the slush fund (Janice Keating) spoke before the Board claiming to be a private citizen while others  recruited “politicos”, both politicians and wannabee’s to speak in favor the sale thus attempting to create a false impression using testimony for hire to fool the media and the unsuspecting public.

The Key to the Code

Throughout the year I submitted multiple formal Public Information Requests and queried the MID Board in a variety of ways during meetings, trying to get to the bottom of where the money was going .  But MID’s staff, management, and attorney, refused to provide any real answers other than the veiled documents themselves.  Finally on December 18, 2012 after a tumultuous MID Board meeting, Modesto Bee Reporter Garth Stapley was given the key to the code by a MID staff member to decipher the Martino Graphic design invoices. His story is here with the relevant information on page two.  http://www.modbee.com/2012/12/18/2500794_p2/raises-okd-for-modesto-irrigation.html 

Unfortunately, Garth only broke down the current invoice totalling $48,500, instead of the entire amount of $148,000 billed in 2012, despite being in possession of the earlier invoices MID already paid to MGD.  We know he had the earlier invoices because I sent them to both Garth Stapley and to Judy Sly many weeks earlier in an attempt to get them to write a story about what was going on.

Money was laundered using Martino Graphic Design as a middle man. The plan was designed to allow MID to make the claim, which they did, of having no contracts with those receiving the money and as such did not know where it was going.

Here is the Breakdown as we Know it Today

During the year 2012 under the guise labeled Outreach and Transparency, Janice Keating took $28,000.  Under Communications Services Mark Looker took $28,500 and under Consulting,  Mike Lynch took a whopping $52,500.   For their part in this ruse Martino Graphics Design pocketed $29,000.

In a recent Public Information Request response MID stated “NO money has been given to Janice Keating or Mike Lynch  for the last THREE years.”  The same PIR showed Carol Whiteside had only received $1,500 dollars to her or her company, California Strategy, in the last three years when the actual total to Ms. Whiteside  is almost $30,000.  In a follow-up conversation with Asst. General Manager Lou Hempel,  he stated “after checking I show no money other than the $1,500 to Carol Whiteside’s California Strategy’s has been paid to any of the three in the last six years.”

MID used ratepayer’s money deceptively to create a false impression in the public’s mind in order to sell water we don’t have in order to hide the financial mismanagement that has been going on for many years. It would be my suggestion this type of paid testimony has been going on for years. Unfortunately only an in-depth investigation by knowledgable persons would discover what has been occurring.  Several members of staff including Joy Warren, took an active role in this, what can be described at best as a legally questionable  tactic. No effort was made by staff including the General Manager to inform the Board members,  yet by their own admissions during public meetings, Directors Tom VanGroningen and Glen Wild were willing participants to the deception.

MGD did create a few flyers, stickers, and handouts but these were billed separately and at much smaller costs  to the same PO number. MID  Board Agenda Report from their December 18, 2012 meeting was filled with deception and what can only be described as political spin trying desperately to paint a false impression to anyone who hadn’t been following their exploits for the past year.

Did you know MID is still paying former General Manager Allen Short his regular pay through October of this year despite him having left back in December?   You do now.   Are you wondering why there was a $60,000  investigation conducted by the personnel department at the end of last year?  Maybe you should be.

Why Are Men So Silent?

EOM Contributor

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was first passed in 1994.  Since then it has reduced the rate of domestic violence by 58%.  This has saved countless lives.  It is up for re-authorization now and has been revised to provide protection for Native America women, gays and lesbians (yes, the act actually protects men against domestic violence, too), mail order brides and illegal immigrants.  The Republicans are refusing to approve re-authorization of the act.  Apparently, the four groups of people mentioned above aren’t worth protecting.

The Republicans are also fighting any discussion of reasonable gun control.  They, along with the NRA, are trying to make you believe that all guns will be removed from your possession.  President Obama has outlined 24 proposals to reduce gun violence.  None of them involve taking away your guns.  Many people believe we need even more guns to prevent a tyrannical take-over by our military, pushed by our own government.  There are 330 million Americans.  There are approximately 310 firearms in this country.  Do you really believe we don’t already have the firepower to stand-up and defend ourselves?

Yesterday we learned that a hero of last year’s London Olympics has been charged with premeditated murder in his hometown of Pretoria, South Africa.   Oscar Pistorius, also known as “Blade Runner”, was the winner of a silver medal.  Oscar shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steemkamp, four times.  He claimed he believed she was an intruder.  Police report that there had been a history of domestic violence between Oscar and Reeva.   Statistics show that a victim of domestic violence is eight times more likely to die if there is a gun in the home.   64% of the women who are murdered each year, die at the hands of a family member or intimate partner.  In most of these murders there is a history of police reports and trips to the ER, yet even then guns are not removed from the home.  Having a gun in your home significantly increases your risk of death and that of your spouse and children.  If you have a gun, everybody in your home is more likely than your non-gun-owing neighbors and their families to die in a gun related accident, suicide or homicide.

In the two months since the Sandy Hook shooting, there have been over 1000 deaths by gunshot in America.  When will we stop the madness?

With all the news media discussing gun control, violence and other issues that concern women (reproductive rights), I find little discussion locally.  I work in the hospitality field and have the opportunity to talk to many people.  The women I’ve spoken to are vocal in their support for reasonable gun control and reproductive rights, the need to reduce violence in this country and particularly violence against women.  The men are strangely silent, other than to say they refuse to give up their guns.  Do they not have mothers, wives, sisters or daughters?  Do they not care that 1 of 3 American women will be the victim of a violent attack at some point in her life?  Are the men in your life talking about these issues, or are they just “women’s issues?”

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

Radio RED 104.9 FM

Topics include a conversation regarding the Modesto Council meeting, another Modesto Economic Development  Committee meeting, MID the water hike and the hidden costs, the City County Liaison meeting,  LAFCO vs Salida vs Beard Industrial Tract,  these and more so tune in at 7:00PM Wednesday and find out the things you really  need to know.

104.9 FM Modesto our Flag Ship station

Live and in our archives at the following link.


Modesto’s Economic Development Committee Feb.11,2013

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

By Emerson Drake

Monday’s 5:00 meeting of Modesto’s Economic Development Committee was almost uneventful but not quite. First it was an opportunity to address those who had supposedly approved Modesto’s request to LAFCO to change LAFCO’s written rules or policy and allow a “special arrangement” to be made with the owner of Beard Industrial Park, the Beard Trust. 

We’ve asked this question of Mayor Marsh, several LAFCO Board members, and  Brent Sinclair (Modesto’s Community Economic Development Director) and no one has an answer.  Waterford Mayor and LAFCO Board member Charlie Goeken says since Modesto and Beard Industrial requested it and the County was okay with it, LAFCO had no reason not to go along with it.

After a conversation with Councilwoman Burnside, who was nice enough to give me a general direction to look in (but unfortunately the quest didn’t bear fruit), I decided to submit a Public Information Request to Modesto to help in finding out when the Committee  first voted and then the  Council voted on the LAFCO request.

Salida was mentioned in passing during the status report of the development projects processed by the committee.  The list wasn’t mentioned in detail and wasn’t passed out to onlookers.  It can be found as a supplement to the committee’s agenda on-line at Modesto city’s website. http://ci.modesto.ca.us/council/committees/econ.asp 

The second item on the agenda was Brent Sinclair’s recommendation to postpone the 2013 Urban Growth Review. It was felt by staff that so little had changed it wasn’t necessary to update the plan. It is reasonable to presume since little had changed and his department has a computerized list of all changes, an update would be relatively easy and reasonable with the potential looming Salida annexation.  Since $60,000 dollars had just been spent to obtain accurate numbers (the Goodwin Report) it makes logical sense to be using new up to date numbers in the Urban Growth plan.

But Brent Sinclair said it was too hard for staff to update the plan and delaying it for two years seemed reasonable to him. The committee agreed with him.  I brought this matter up to the council the next night but the Mayor seemed to agree with Brent “It’s too Hard” Sinclair.

Could there be a reason Mayor Marsh and Councilman Cogdill, both on the Modesto Ad Hoc Committee, and pushing the annexation of Salida, don’t want or desire an update?  Is an agenda involved? You tell me.

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