Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

MID’s Peyton Place

By Emerson Drake

Lately we’ve been entertained with several stories  regarding MID’s  recent  “sexcapades” without being let in on what has

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really transpired behind the scenes by the main stream media.  First we travel back to late last year when the MID Board decided to hire an outside law firm (recommended by  the Human Resources Director) to investigate the General Manager regarding potential misconduct charges.

After talking with a few insiders who have chosen to remain nameless for fear of retribution, the alleged story continues to unfold as follows.  Most of the occurrences related here are/were common knowledge among office  staff members.

Members of the MID Board were informed in closed confidential  session the results of the personnel investigation. Unfortunately word leaked  from a Board member to the subject of the investigation regarding the investigation’s  findings. It’s also supposedly presumed this same Board member gave the Bee a copy of their lawyers confidential report a few months ago.  When challenged during a regularly scheduled MID meeting regarding the leaked report the, Director Van Gronigen remained silent.  Judy Sly, Opinion Page Editor of the Modesto Bee, was at this same meeting and was asked if Director Tom Van Groningen had passed her the law firms privileged memo.  Her response was a curt “NO comment.”   This same Opinion Page Editor had written several articles using details from the report without acknowledging possession of  the surreptitious copy.  While the copy was passed to them illegally, supposedly by a Board Member,  it wasn’t illegal for the Bee to possess.   It wasn’t until Eric Caine obtained a copy and published it on his website http://www.thevalleycitizen.com did all of the details of the memo see the  light of day.

Now the harassment  investigation’s subject decided discretion being the better part of valor, made the decision to “get out while the getting was good.”  He retired without a “golden parachute” or severance pay.  All he received was his vacation pay and his sick pay and of course his retirement pay. So deals were made for the Board and the retiree  to remain silent in public.  Fortunately for us, there are people who work at MID that are  concerned about the story not getting out and being covered up.

Now the story goes the investigative firm spoke out of turn to their friend who had assisted them in receiving the lucrative $60,000 commission.  And this individual chose to retaliate against those who had spoken the truth to the investigators.  Payback for perceived slight (letting the cat out of the bag) if you will.  In the past at MID, speaking the truth to authority was foolhardy and shortened ones career path to advancement (written tongue in cheek).

It should  be pointed out the story does have a good ending.  Two of the recently promoted individuals came down squarely on the individual seeking revenge and stopped their retaliatory actions.  This signals a change for the better in the culture at the MID.  Hopefully they’ll continue to keep an eye on the situation, because I know we will.

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