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