Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the month “June, 2013”

‘What’s on America’s Mind’ Wed. 6/26 at 6:30 PM

Topics include what is happening behind the scenes at Modesto Finance committee meetings, MID’s latest decisions and

Radio RED 104.9 FM

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

the game playing going on, Safety tax or not, useless endorsements, political posturing by Councilwoman Burnside, the retirement of Fire Chief Gary Hinshaw, these and more so tune in at 6:30 PM Wednesday and find out the things you really  need to know.

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Our live and archive link



Chamber’s Pathway to SPRAWL Plan Garners Meaningless Endorsements

By Emerson Drake

It would be funny if it wan’t so pathetic, watching the Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Cecil Russell  scurry from group

Chamber pot

Chamber pot (Photo credit: Pete Reed)

to group presenting their Pathways to SPRAWL plan. Several weeks ago at the Planning Commission’s meeting regarding the General Plan Amendments,  Russell tried in vain to fend off questions from the public despite not being on the agenda.

During the meeting Maggie Mejia, President of the Latino Community Roundtable (LCR),  spoke to the public saying she was going to bring a Proclamation to her group endorsing the Pathways to Sprawl plan of the Chamber’s.  But a few minutes later when she heard she would receive opposition to the Proclamation she must have silently changed her mind.  For just a few days later and without consulting LCR members, Ms. Mejia  signed the so called Proclamation.

Last Tuesday when the Chamber’s representatives met at the King Kennedy Memorial Center, the presentation was given to five members of the public (two of whom were from Salida) in an effort to receive the Boards endorsement. They received the endorsement of the five members of the King Kennedy Board, along with that of the NAACP since Frank Johnson was there.

My point is we have three Boards, The King Kennedy Memorial Center’s Board, the NAACP, and the LCR,  all of whom are desperate for a seat at the power table, and are willing to endorse this GREEDY DEVELOPER’S LAND GRAB to obtain one.  None of these Boards discussed this with their memberships, if in deed they represent voters at all,  let alone sought out debate on the subject.  So now the Chamber has three meaningless endorsements to brag about.


Auctioning Off helicopter Rides..Losing $1.8M Lawsuit..Sheriff Christianson is at it Again

By Emerson Drake

Stanislaus County ‘s very own Sheriff Adam Christianson is at it again.  Last week Stanislaus County agreed to pay $1.8

Coroner's Bureau, Plate 3

Coroner’s Bureau, Plate 3 (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

Million dollars for hiring a pathologist  away from the company Stanislaus County had contracted to supply us with until we could hire one of our own.  Instead of seeking a pathologist on his own, the Sheriff broke our contract and pirated one away. So lets review this for just a minute.  The Sheriff signs a contract that states we CAN NOT hire the pathologist away from the contracted company. But he does so anyway?  What was he thinking?   The result is yet another black mark against the Sheriff known for doing things his own way despite the cost.

Speaking of doing things his own way, our beloved Sheriff Christianson decided to auction off  helicopter rides for charity, unfortunately it’s illegal.  Now usually he saves his “specially arranged” rides for cases of wine used for campaign functions but this time it was for a fund-raiser of a nonprofit.  Maybe the paperwork for the ride will disappear this time too.

Once again the  Modesto Bee is showing their cards while protecting their friends  and is trying to cover this up.  They’ve had ALL of this information for days but for some reason haven’t bothered to let the public know.


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you won’t read in the Bee,

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spelled EYE.

What Do You Want Your Elected Representatives To Be Working On?

By EOM Contributor

We have so many important issues facing this country right now…what do you believe your politicians should be concentrating on?

What comes to my mind first is access to health care, including birth control.  Access to affordable birth control reduces the number of abortions performed and we can all agree that is a good thing.  The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has many important parts.  First of all, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition!  The ACA prevents insurers from charging women more for insurance than men.  In some states, women were actually paying up to 70% more for insurance coverage than men.  The ACA prevents insurers from denying coverage for a pre-existing condition (diabetes, high blood pressure…).  The ACA also prevents insurers from dropping your coverage if you are diagnosed with a condition such as diabetes or cancer.  These are all good things.  There may be some kinks to work out, but the ACA is a valiant attempt to provide millions of Americans with access to health care.

English: President Barack Obama's signature on...

What has Congress done since President Obama was re-elected?  They have voted 37 TIMES TO REPEAL OBAMACARE!  37 times at a cost of $50 million dollars!  Money well-spent, wouldn’t you agree?  Remember Einstein’s definition of insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting a different result.  Yes, our elected representatives are officially insane!

Other issues that need our attention are job creation, tax parity,  immigration reform, equal pay for equal work,  the on-going violence against women in our society (and our military where our female soldiers need not fear being raped by the enemy, but do need to fear being raped by their fellow soldiers and commanding officers), and discrimination in housing and the workplace (women can be fired and evicted for being victims of domestic violence, and gays can be fired for being gay),  and investment in our infrastructure (repairs of bridges and roads which would make travel safer and create jobs), just to name a few.

But what have they actually done?  Well, I’ve mentioned the 37 failed votes to repeal the ACA.  In addition to that, state by state women are losing their rights to determine what will happen with their own bodies (male politicians believing they know more about our health than women and physicians do).   The House just approved a bill that would eliminate overtime pay.  Republicans want to raise the student loan interest rate to 8.5%, more than Wall Street Banks pay.  Now what would be the effect of these things?  Students graduating from college will be saddled with even greater debt.  I don’t see how that helps us.  Women facing an unplanned pregnancy will be forced to have children they can’t afford to care for.  Employees working more than 40 hours a week will get compensatory time, but at a rate of one hour to one hour, instead of pay at a rate of time and one half.  Most people work overtime for the pay, not for more time off.  I’m not seeing how that will help low-income families or anyone, for that matter.

Contact your elected representatives.  Tell them to stop passing bills that only harm us and do something that actually helps us!  And stop focusing on the reproductive lives of women!  

And The War Goes On…and on…and on

By EOM Contributor

The War Against Women continues unabated as shown by on-going comments made by male politicians. First there are

English: Incomplete spontaneous abortion with ...

the “GYNOTICIANS”…those elected male representatives who believe they know more about women’s health than women and their doctors know. You know, the men in North Dakota who passed a bill requiring physicians to lie to their pregnant patients who are considering an abortion by telling them they will become sterile, will suffer life-long depression and may attempt suicide. None of which are true.

Now the House has approved a bill (which will likely not be approved by the Senate) which would institute a nation-wide ban on abortion after 20 weeks. Very few abortions occur that late and when they do it’s generally because of a serious threat to the mother’s health or discovery that the fetus will not survive due to a genetic flaw. Most genetic testing cannot be done until the 24th or 25th week, so this bill would force a woman to risk her life to continue the pregnancy or force her to give birth to a child she know will die within minutes. The reason they have chosen 20 weeks as their cut-off date is due to disputed scientific evidence that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. According to Texas Representative Michael Burgess (who was actually an obstetrician), fetuses have “purposeful movements with their hands, even at 15 weeks, especially if it is a male fetus and his hands are between his legs”. Yes, he actually said that. He apparently believes male fetuses are masturbating at 15 weeks and if they can feel pleasure, surely they can feel pain. While I understand not wanting a fetus to feel pain, can we justify forcing the birth of babies who will die (and quite possibly die in pain) by denying the right to end the pregnancy?

We have all heard about Todd Akins who claimed that women don’t get pregnant when they are raped because “the female body has a way of shutting that down.” Sorry, Todd…statistics show that approximately 25,000 women a year get pregnant as a result of rape.

Several states actually allow a rapist to sue his victim to prevent them from having an abortion. They can even sue for visitation rights and custody. A rapist…getting custody of his victim’s child! How offensive is that?

The FBI definition of rape is “insertion or penetration of the vagina (no matter how slight) with any object, without consent.” Governor Scott Walker has said he will sign a bill that would require a woman wanting to terminate a pregnancy to have a 10″ metal probe inserted into her vagina (medically unnecessary) prior to termination. Watch out, ladies….the state will force you to be raped before you can end your pregnancy! By the way, this medically unnecessary procedure won’t be covered by insurance, adding to the financial burden of low-income women faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

In all but six states, it is legal to fire a woman for being a victim of domestic violence! It’s true…based on the assumption that the woman’s husband or partner who is violent may appear at her workplace. Yes, that has happened, but perhaps the solution is to lock up the violent man instead of firing the victim. There have even been cases where landlords evicted women who were victims of domestic violence based on the opinion that multiple calls to police constitute “nuisances” to the property.

And here is the most recent ridiculous statement, although at least this one was made by a journalist and not an elected official…Wall Street Journal editorial writer James Taranto wrote about the sexual assaults occurring in the military. He said that these reports are “fakes” and constitute an “assault on male sexuality.” Apparently, men are born to rape. If I were a man, I would be highly offended by this. Even as a woman, I’m highly offended by this.

But there are still people all around us that are not paying attention to what is happening to women in this country. Poverty (we still earn .77 to every 1.00 for doing the same work), lack of health care (including access to birth control), violence (1 in 3 women will be the victim of violence during her lifetime) and many other issues. There is one bright spot, though. More girls are graduating from high school than boys. More girls are going on to college than boys. More girls are getting advanced degrees than boys. Education is the key to better lives. Maybe, for the next generation, the pendulum will swing in our favor. Don’t worry, guys….we will treat you much better than you have treated us.

What’s on America’s Mind

The latest on the up coming Salida MAC meeting, how easy it is to get endorsements from local groups and just how

Radio RED 104.9 FM

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

effective they are, the Chambers Pathways to SPRAWL, how little real news we get from the local print media and the slant they give what we read, these and more so tune in at 6:30 PM Wednesday and find out the things you really  need to know.

104.9 FM Modesto our Flag Ship station

Our live and archived link to this episode:


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

The man who flaunted his promises to MID ratepayers not to run for office Jim Mortnesen, the Modesto Chamber of

Radio RED 104.9 FM

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

Commerce’s land grab and what it means to Salida, Safety/ General/ Road, which of these taxes appeal to you? these and more so tune in at 7:00 PM Wednesday and find out the things you really  need to know.


104.9 FM Modesto our Flag Ship station


The link to the live and archive show




The Planning Commission 6/3 and the Only Public Copy of the Land grabbing Proposal

By Emerson Drake

The meeting was sparingly attended with only about thirty members of the public present. Unfortunately for a Planning

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)

Commission Workshop this was a lot of people.  I say unfortunately because it makes the phrase “Politics just happens to most people” ring true.  With the exception of Cecil Russell even the Chamber’s usual attendees  stayed home.  The secondary problem is that it gives our local politicians an excuse to ignore the suggestions made by those in attendance.

Salida was well represented

There were at least six Salida residents attending, most of whom reminded the Planning Commission that Salida shouldn’t be in Modesto’s General Plan. Brent Sinclair reminded the Salida contingent (and everyone else) that it was the city council who requested Salida continue to be included and only the council could take them out.

So why bother going?

The Public had heard the Chamber was going to give a presentation called “Pathways to Growth” but that didn’t come to pass.  Since the presentation has been delayed until July several present challenged why the Chamber didn’t make their presentation that night after making a huge deal out of Denny Jackman supposedly waiting until the last minute to bring RUL forward. But as we’ve come to expect of of lobbyist Cecil Russell, that was all show and no substance. When Cecil finally approached the podium he didn’t bother to tell the truth.  He made the claim he was called by city staff late Friday afternoon cancelling their presentation. But after exchanging several calls during the week with city staff we learned he had actually been called Thursday.  Apparently the Chamber was insisting to talk for 60-90 minutes and there wouldn’t be enough time for the scheduled workshop.

So why did Cecil mislead the public?

Apparently he’s used to saying anything that comes to mind and most don’t fact check him.  But we do. We’ve found the need cut through the haze of his non ordinary reality time and time again.  When he was asked by several of those in attendance for a copy of the draft proposal,  he REFUSED.  Fortunately some were so shocked they offered to supply copies.  Thanks to Katherine Borges with a assist by Duane Spyksma (scanning) with a major hand-off from Councilman Dave Geer we can present you a draft copy of the Chamber’s presentation.  After seeing the presentation twice I can tell you other than the presentation getting as slick as a late night infomercial nothing has changed.   The massive land grab they propose is still includes somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 acres of prime farmland west of 99. The proposed western border of an extended Hammett Road is just the starting point.  They have spoken behind closed doors about using Gates Road on the West and want to extend South of Kansas  to the proposed 132 on the lower end.

Here is the Chamber’s draft proposal


We truly have concerns that city staff is working too closely with the Chamber of Commerce to the detriment of the citizens. Will we get a fair shake in the end result?  I believe the finished product will be as rewarding as standing next to a long haired dog that just came of of the river.

How Much is a Woman’s Life Worth In Texas?

By EOM Contributor

On Christmas Eve, Ezekial Gilbert shot Lenora Frago in the neck after he hired her as an escort and at the end of the evening she refused to have sex with him.  He paid her $150 at the beginning of the night.  She was critically injured and died several months later.

English: Seal of Texas

English: Seal of Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Under Texas law, an individual can use deadly force “to retrieve stolen property at night”.  However, during the police interview which was played for jurors, Mr. Gilbert never mentions theft of property.  Texas law also allows individuals to use deadly force in cases of  “criminal mischief in the nighttime”.  Remember, there are three registered guns for every man, woman and child in Texas (not to mention how many unregistered guns there may be).  Texas has quite a love affair with guns and deadly force.  This poorly written law allows anyone to take prosecution and enforcement of a death penalty into their own hands without ever using the criminal justice system.  If this woman had stolen his billfold with $150 dollars in it, she certainly would not have been eligible for the death penalty if convicted by a court of law.

Mr. Gilbert was just acquitted by a jury who apparently believed killing a 21 year old woman over $150 was okay.  On the flip side, prostitution and solicitation are illegal in Texas, but Mr. Gilbert has not been charged with either of those crimes.

So, ladies, if you live in Texas, beware….Governor Rick Perry believes a single egg and single sperm are more valuable than you are.  And so do Texas juries.

This is the man who got away with murder.

What’s on America’s Mind Wednesday at 7:30 PM

Topics include fresh take straight from the Economic Development Committee meeting,  the conniving Modesto Chamber of Commerce

Radio RED 104.9 FM

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

land grab and proposed Pathways to Jobs, The Planning Commissions latest meeting, and the Modesto City Council meeting, these and more so tune in at 7:30 PM Wednesday and find out the things you really  need to know.

104.9 FM Modesto our Flag Ship station

Our live and archive link:


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