By Emerson Drake
In recent weeks the Modesto Chamber of Commerce has been going around to a variety of civic organizations
attempting to drum up support for its dubious Pathways to Jobs plan which should be more accurately named Pathway to SPRAWL because of the housing the Chamber plans on building houses instead of business parks. The Chamber has visited the Latino Community Roundtable (LCR), the King Kennedy Community Center Board, and even had a discussion with Frank Johnson, President of the local NAACP. Now while I might and will question how wide spread the support is in these various organizations, the Chamber uses their endorsements when speaking to the Modesto City Council and the Stanislaus Board of Supervisors to claim some in the community support their plan.
After talking with many members of these organizations one topic reverberates consistently, and that’s the unrelenting belief of a need for more police officers in their respective neighborhoods. I’ve also talked with and interviewed many of the council candidates and they too expressed the over arching concern of the people they’ve talked with for the need for more police officers.
Now that the Modesto Chamber has their endorsements for the carrot on a stick, “JOBS” , and their Pathway to SPRAWL, the Chamber has pulled the old switcheroo.
On Tuesday night at the Modesto City Council meeting the Chamber’s head lobbyist, Cecil Russell, announced very
plainly the Chamber would not be supporting the proposed “sales tax” initiative which according to Modesto City Manager could add 60 to 80 more police officers. No real surprise there considering the Chamber is afraid if Modesto’s sales tax gets approved this year the voters won’t approve the County road tax in November of 2014 and they feel the road tax is a necessary link for their proposal.
The Modesto Chamber says NO to more Police Officers for Modesto
BUT now the Chambers representatives, George Petrulakis and Janice Keating and others are actively seeking groups and individuals to undercut community support to DEFEAT the sales tax proposal. Now that the Chamber has the endorsements of LCR, NAACP and the King Kennedy Board they are seeking to remove, what these groups feel is the number one concern, SAFETY in their neighborhoods. How many more drive-bys shootings and children being stabbed and killed over cell phones are we going to endure just to support the greed of the members of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce?
Why should lobbyist Cecil Russell care, he lives in a gated community safe and far away from much of Modesto’s crime. Will these organizations rethink their endorsements? Or will they continue to follow along like lemmings to the slaughter?