By Emerson Drake
We’ve attended some very strange MID meetings but the wrangling of today’s meeting ranks right at the top. The discussion topic was the water rate increase of 10% max. and the farmers’ water allotment of 36 inches for this year. Extensive discussion had taken place in prior meetings and most MID watchers believed this vote was a no-brainer slam dunk.
But as usual just when you think you have a hand on the issue, reality smack you in the face. First Glen Wild mistakenly put forth the idea the Citizens Water Committee, which has been looking into potential system upgrades believed necessary to our canal system, was going to make rate recommendations too. Board President Nick Blom pointed out the Committee wasn’t there to make current rate increase suggestions. Director Paul Warda, a walnut grower, made a motion to support both staff recommendations as is. But surprisingly, this was met with silence. The recalcitrant coalition of Directors Tom Van Groningen and Glen Wild, who have been consistent in their opposition to anything the majority of the directors try to accomplish, were doing a silent version of whistling and looking around while the President was waiting for a second. Another example of their ongoing attitude came later when Paul Warda made a motion to pass the small consent calender. He was again met with silence prompting him to ask if he had “pissed someone off.”
The dynamic duo of Van Groningen and Wild, who had been in control of the MID Board for all of all of 2012, lost control in January, when Nick Blom became President and Larry Byrd became Vice President with the support of Paul Warda. But recently they’ve become like a teenagers sulking when they don’t get their way and making mischief.
Because of behind the scene maneuvering, Director Byrd remained silent instead of seconding Warda’s motion 0n the water rate increase and allotments. So NOTHING happened. Unbelievable but true. After the meeting none of the Directors wanted to address the issue.
Could Tom Van Groningen and Glen Wild be attempting to create an issue for anyone running for these two lame duck’s seats? A straw argument since they refused to even vote for the 10% increase.
Another question that came up was why MID spends ratepayer money to fund publications which run fluff pieces on politicians in Modesto. Can it be the $1,000 contributions given to Van Groningen and Wild are being repaid to the Chamber of Commerce by buying ads in magazines that support candidates of the Chamber’s choice? In Modesto politics one hand often washes the other. We have consistently made inquires to find out how MID decides to spend our money but so far we are being met with silence.