Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake

In our first segment we are going to discuss Family issues and women’s issues across the nation and how they effect our family


Radio RED 104.9 FM

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


life, then it’s onto the proposed Modesto sales tax and what its passing or failure means to you along with those behind the issue and why, the recent Salida MAC meeting both issues and comments plus well be playing some of the meeting and discussing it, those behind the issue, 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

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


To listen to the show live or in our archives at a later date: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/centralvalleyhornet/2013/08/01/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake



Tonight’s ‘On Watch’ Cable Channel 15 at 6:00 PM

On Watch with Athens Abell will feature Jon Rodriguez, candidate for District 2 for Modesto City Council,  Reed Smith and Donna Minighini  will bring news

English: Map of the San Joaquin River watershe...

English: Map of the San Joaquin River watershed, which drains most of central inland California into the Pacific (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

about the land use and water woes still facing the Central Valley.

Channel 15 on Comcast and Charter
6:00-7:00 pm
To watch live on your computer click here at 6:00 pm

Modesto’s Future is Being Decided Will Your Voice be Heard? Modesto’s General Plan Amendment

By Emerson Drake

On August 19 the Modesto Planning Commission will be meeting to formulate proposals to give to the Modesto City Council.

Stop Sign

Stop Sign (Photo credit: SP8254)

The discussion encompasses much more than just the Chamber of Commerce’s Pathway to SPRAWL.  It designates  areas inside the city where businesses will be allowed preferential treatment over homes, and Homes are already there.

The plan also designates the way they intend for people to live.  The transportation plan has a life of its own.  But rather than going on we think it’s more important for EVERYONE to look it over for themselves.  So here is the plan as it stands now with out including the Chamber of Commerce’s proposed changes.

071513_PC Agenda GP Workshop

Yours, Mine, Our futures are being plotted by this plan and to date very few of us have come out to the meeting to be heard.  No matter what your views are, if more people don’t show up to discuss the plan ALL of the suggestions made by average citizens (you and me, all of us) will be ignored.  The City Council does this regularly in order to support the SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS (like the Modesto Chamber of Commerce) that have controlled Modesto for the past thirty years.

It’s important for everyone to participate in the ongoing conversation.  Please be part of helping to decided our future.  Read the proposal, think it through, and come out and speak your mind.   Thanks

July Salida MAC Meeting Now Available for Viewing

Thanks to Brad Johnson and 104.9 K-GIG FM  the Salida MAC  July meeting is available on line.  Watch land use attorney George Petrulakis, lobbyist Cecil Russell, real estate salesman Craig Lewis, Village I profiteer Bill Zoslocki, and conflicted LAFCO member Brad Hawn try to convince the audience that SPRAWL is a good thing and that concrete is better than Prime Farmland.  Now if we could only get the Chamber representatives to respect women….

The following is the complete (all five parts) Salida MAC meeting.



Salida CA - Salida, CA

Modesto Chamber of Commerce Representatives Get Offensive with Salida MAC Attendees

By Emerson Drake

Despite the nice turnout of over 120 people the night had an ugly start when one of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s representatives, Craig Lewis, started making negative comments to a few of the people as they walked through the door.  (No, they weren’t directed at me)!  I believe he prefers to denigrate women as we heard several times as the night progressed.  I guess its the way he was raised, believing women belong at home, pregnant and if they want to have an opinion they should ask their husband for theirs, (heaven forbid they form an intelligent one of their own).

Unfortunately professionalism went right out of the window and the presentation continued going down hill from there.  Land use attorney, George Petrulakis, felt the need to call out several people in the audience during his part of the presentation, even before they had a chance to speak.  He made the mistake in attempting to suggest that a Del Rio resident, who in the past at a variety of meetings around the County, has been vocal in her attempt to save prime farmland,  had no real basis for her argument since she lived in Del Rio.  Several in the audience immediately stood up and requested Salida MAC Chairman Thomas Reeves to reign in  Mr. Petrulakis and insist he start using civility which he was obviously lacking.  George claimed he was only making a point, although at her expense.  Maybe in this case George should have stayed quiet since she stood up and pointed out he lived in Del Rio too and was attempting to convince others his opinion was the only correct one. Agriculture_Investment_Zones_Around_Modesto

The above is the first time the Chamber suggested all 25,300 acres of their plan for SPRAWL be brought into Modesto’s General Plan. The above picture is courtesy of Duane Spyksma.

It seems that according to Mr.Lewis and Mr. Petrulakis, the only people allowed an opinion are men since they were heard to  verbally abuse both females, an audience member and a member of the Salida MAC for having one.

During the meeting the Modesto Chamber’s CEO and head lobbyist Cecil Russell was overheard by several attendees to say “The problem with these people is they’re stupid, they aren’t smart enough to think outside of their small box.”  We freely admit this phrase was told to us by several people after the meeting.  And though their recollections varied slightly and the prior statement is paraphrased, we believe it is  extremely close to his original statement.

While the presentation was going on it appeared that several people who were first time attendees and lived in the Wood Colony area weren’t believing very much of what they heard.  Like most of us believe, the idea that the Chamber wanted to protect prime farmland by bringing it into Modesto’s General Plan was ludicrous. And when the Chamber reps started getting vicious and personal with the audience several couples  got up and left shaking their heads in disgust.

Very telling was hearing Cecil Russell trying to take the meeting over by attempting to not allow the comment time that Chairman Reeves had already scheduled immediately after the presentation for the listeners.  Now and in the past Cecil has refused to allow the general public to have a copy of his Pathway to Growth/SPRAWL plan and isn’t interested in any forum that allows debate.  He, and the Chamber, apparently intend on ramming it through the Modesto City Council where it’s believed he might already have the votes. The Modesto Council has ignored the public on every recent vote where preserving prime farmland is concerned.

Here is the most recent copy of the plan for greed and SPRAWL we’ve managed to obtain.  The is from the Modesto Planning Commission meeting July 15, 2013.  The Chamber refused to supply the Salida MAC with an electronic copy from their meeting.


The Chamber brought along most of their usual cadre of supporters, Brad Hawn, Dave Romano, Bill Zoslocki and a few others.  We found council candidate for District 4 Bill Zoslocki, a Village I profiteer, prefers to be called a “broker” rather than “developer.” From our view that like a highway man being offended by someone saying  he used a revolver  instead of an automatic during a hold-up, but if that’s what he prefers maybe he won’t jump up and melt down when his name hasn’t been used.  It seems like the Chamber’s buddies enjoy when members of the public are called out by name but take offense even when theirs isn’t used.  I have to think he recognized himself.

What the remaining listeners heard was the Chamber’s plan will bring 39 square miles into Modesto’s General Plan when Modesto proper is only 37 square miles. And the Chamber wonders why their plan is being called the Pathway to SPRAWL by those who see it for what it is. The largest bait and switch land grab in Modesto’s history.   After all, who could believe the Chamber was going to “protect” the farm study areas by bringing them into the General Plan?  From all of those I talked with there weren’t any believers that night.

And shame on the arrogance and lack of professionalism of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce for publicly going after these women by name.     Besides boys, these ladies will kick your butt at the ballot box!

A Salida Resident Talks about the Recent Salida MAC Meeting

By Jim Bonetti

I attended Tuesday nights Salida M.A.C. meeting and listened to the delivery and performance of Modesto Chamber’s
plan for expansion that will bring Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.  George does a pretty good job getting his point across. I did notice that a few items were left out of the delivery.  Namely that part about the property on Kiernan Road. I don’t know if that was intentional or not, but George does not make many mistakes.
Salida CA - Salida, CA
There were a few disparaging comments made during the meeting as well that will probably hurt the Modesto Chambers cause.
Cecil Russell was overheard saying that the people of Salida are too stupid to see out of their own box”.  Hey, we don’t want to see anything but ALL OF SALIDA BEING INCORPORATED! You don’t see us stepping on Modesto’s toes as they can do whatever they want…..with Modesto!
Craig Lewis said he doesn’t think Amanda Sorenson dresses well for a meeting. Hmm, does she need wear clothes according to Craig’s dress code. WHAT? He also says that Katherine Borges is OPINIONATED!! OMG! Really? Thank God she has opinions and thank God we have a dedicated group of Salidan’s who care about the future of this town to donate their time and talents to make this a better town as well as contribute to incorporation. Yes, Katherine is opinionated…..and, I confess, so am I. Its beyond me to allow outside organizations, without expressing myself, to take over our town or chip away at our land as they did with Kaiser Hospital, Costco, Lowes and Save Mart.
By Jim Bonetti


What’s on America’s Mind

Just back from tonight’s LAFCO meeting  our topics will include the Salida MAC meeting and the arrogance of the Modesto

Radio RED 104.9 FM

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

Chamber of Commerce, LAFCO and MID 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

To listen to our live and archive  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/centralvalleyhornet/2013/07/25/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake

Salida MAC Meets Tuesday Night at 7:00 PM At the Salida Library

Just a reminder to attend the Salida Municipal Advisory Council’s (Salida MAC) meeting tomorrow night (Tuesday) at 7 pm at the Salida Library Community Room. Featured topic will be “Pathways to Jobs & Prosperity” presentation presented by the Modesto Chamber of Commerce.  Their plan is an expansion upon the City of Modesto’s General Plan update and they’ve requested it be adopted by the Modesto City Council and Planning Commission.  Modesto’s General Plan has included Salida since the 1990’s.  A map of the plan can be viewed at the Salida MAC newsletter link below.


Salida CA - Salida, CA



PLEASE NOTE: The parking lot may fill up so volunteers will be on hand to direct parking. Please consider carpooling or being dropped off too.


It’s the Last Day for the Stanislaus County Fair and Noon to Three is Free Admission

This is your last chance to visit the Stanislaus County Fair for the year.  Admission is FREE  from Noon until Three so

Stanislaus County Fair 2010-73

Stanislaus County Fair 2010-73 (Photo credit: Inkyhack)

head on down to Turlock and enjoy the exhibits and rides.  And don’t forget to sample some of the tasty foods available.

The K9 Kings Flying Dog Show with JD Platt is a blast for all ages with shows at 12:30-3:00-5:00 along with the 4-H Farmyard Experience for the kids.  Better not miss the Model Train Exhibit and when you’re there say hi to exhibitor Ron Jeske for us.  For those a little older the carnival closes at Midnight.  Have Fun!

For more info http://www.StanCoFair.com

Numbers the Chamber Doesn’t Want you to Know

By Emerson Drake

After watching the Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s presentation to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday 7/9 and


Greed (Photo credit: Muffet)

again at the Planning Commission on Monday Night 7/15 the truly massive size of the Chamber’s Pathway to SPRAWL / LAND GRAB hit me like a ton of bricks.  Maybe if the Chamber had been willing to share the acreage numbers when I had asked in the past  it wouldn’t have come as such a surprise. But since they keep adding acreage hand over fist (like the 7,700 just added ) no wonder they have kept their silence. So we did some follow-up and research to lift the cone of silence the Chamber placed on the public.  Please remember Chamber lobbyist and CEO Cecil Russell REFUSED to supply the public with their presentation at a Planning Commission workshop at the King Kennedy Memorial Center last month. We received the two pdf documents we shared here from other sources.

All of the following acreage numbers come from Modesto City Staff,  the Modesto Chamber of Commerce  has steadfastly refused to admit the size of their massive land-grab in the past.

The original size of the Beckwith Dakota Triangle was 1040 acres according to the Modesto General Plan.   During the Chamber’s original presentations they added a study area of 5360 acres (this is the first time the number of acres  have been disclosed anywhere including ALL of the Chamber’s  presentations) for a combined total of 6400 acres according to City officials. Although now they no longer call this acreage “Ag study” it’s now job study, all 6,400 acres. The blue on the map is the BK Triangle and the reddish color in the “L” shape to the West and South is the added area.

See the map on page 28 of the provided link for a more accurate description of the following:


At the Board of Supervisors meeting they announced a new study area consisting of 7,700 acres.  This lies between Hammett on the East, to the river on the West, past 132 on the South, and the river on the North.

The area North of Kiernan is 2,400 acres and is designated “study” area. (Again, this is the first time this has ever been told to the public.)

The proposed land for homes on the East side of Modesto consists of 8,800 acres. (Yes, this is the first time for this acreage total to be known.)

The combined total is 6,400+7,700+2400+8,800= 25,300 acres.  The acreage total inside the Modesto City limits is 23,040 so the acreage the Chamber wants to bring under Modesto’s General plan is 109.80% of the land in the city limits.  And the Chamber claims this isn’t a land grab to potentially double Modesto’s size?  What’s next annexing Patterson?

The Chamber’s brag about Turlock’s Business Park that Blue Diamond bought into

The Chamber has consistently blamed the City of Modesto for Blue Diamond purchasing land down in Turlock because of the lack of “shovel ready”  land. Lets take a look at Turlocks accomplishments.  Blue Diamond purchased 88 acres of land and now has recently employed 50 people on the site.  Although, they do say more may be added in 10 or 20 years. Turlock city officials have been embarrassed by the lack of jobs actually generated instead of the glowing numbers originally told to the public.  If you use the Blue Diamond numbers,  every 1,000 acres of business park will produce 568 jobs.  Now we’re aware these numbers aren’t the best by far it does reflect what the Chamber might settle for. Yet they have consistently made the claim you can get 27,000 out of 1,000 acres of business park when they are pitching their plan. It doesn’t sound like Turlock made such a great business decision after all does it?  And this is the type of transaction the Modesto Chamber of Commerce holds up as an example of foresight and quality thinking.

The real money to be made by the Chamber’s friends is by building HOMES.

Consider the fact two of the members who are pushing this Pathway to SPRAWL plan (Bill Zoslocki (also a village I profiteer and city council candidate and Steve Madison) are former  Building Industry Association (BIA) PRESIDENTS) and developers in their own right. And it was BIA CEO John Beckman who said the people shouldn’t be given the opportunity to vote. He said it was a travesty of our representative republic to allow voting by the public.  I understand this point of view since it’s easier to persuade (purchase) enough city councilpersons to ignore the public’s wishes than it is to blind the public in the voting booth.  Also promoting this SPRAWL initiative is Brad Hawn.  Mr. Hawn is a former Modesto Councilman and thanks to the Chamber sits on LAFCO’s Board.  As an owner of an engineering company and an engineer himself he stands to make money if the proposed business park/ homes are built.  Land use attorney George Petrulakis is also a presenter. Mr. Petrulakis, in a moment of honesty, pointed out one of his employers, the Developer Keystone Property in Patterson used home building in one of its parks to finance a possible business park in the future (he made it sound like the homes have been built but not the business park).

The Chamber is well aware homes are where the money is for their members and since the Chamber is a 501(C)6 which is a lobbying organization why wouldn’t they be interested in (taking care) of their members.   After all it’s the Chambers members who are footing the bill for all of these proposals.

The Big Lie

The Chamber’s SPRAWL promoters are wanting to place ALL of their proposal inside Modesto’s General Plan (GP)  claiming they can protect the farmland by doing so.  Nothing could be further from the truth. The only way to protect this land from having homes built on it almost at will is to keep it OUTSIDE Modesto’s GP.  The voter’s have Measures A and M which stop the County from allowing homes to be built outside of city limits.  Bringing Prime Farmland inside the GP is the first step in the development of homes.   We’ll follow-up on the Chamber’s claim to support Denny Jackman’s Residential Urban Limits (RUL) another time.  But suffice it to say for them to support RUL they want to gut Measures A&M.   When it comes to veracity the Modesto Chamber of Commerce falls way short.  They truly count on people being uninformed and as such being willing to buy the lie and follow their carrot of jobs, jobs, jobs right over the cliff.

More of the same

At the recent Planning Commission meeting a commissioner was heard to say, “what we are doing isn’t working and we need to try something different.”   Apparently allowing the Chamber of Commerce to conduct yet another bait and switch (selling the idea of Business Parks and then switching to building homes) is doing something different.  Our thoughts are,  isn’t that what we’ve always done?   And just how gullible are we?

The Chamber’s next presentation will be at the Salida MAC meeting Tuesday night 7/23/13 at the Salida Library at 7:00 PM.

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