Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s Magic Elixir for Our Economic Woes

Emerson Drake

Jobs,,,Jobs…Jobs is the cry and we’re being told the magic elixir to our problem is shovel ready land.  If you build them they

An illustration by W. W. Denslow from The Wond...

will come is the Chambers mantra referring to Business Parks.  The quality jobs will flow into Modesto if we only had a park….

We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto

It sounds like a chant from L. Frank Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and it may be just as fanciful.  At the recent Planning Commission meeting we heard the Chamber’s lobbyist Cecil Russell and his faithful realtor side kick Craig Lewis repeat this claim as they have several times before, but this time with a twist.  The lobbyist had promised at prior meetings to supply us with the numbers of the prospective contacts they had received from companies looking to establish a business in Modesto.

They alleged the Stanislaus County Alliance had received over 70 inquires and the reason NONE of these came to to fruition was, you probably guessed it, lack of shovel ready land.  Bill Bassitt the Alliance’s former CEO admitted that during his tenure he had failed to bring in a single major manufacturing company despite Modesto giving the Alliance $65,000 this year alone (Modesto has funded them for years) to do just that.

 The Alliance is, by design and charter, supposed to represent ALL of Stanislaus County in an effort to obtain new business.

Lets take a look at this claim by asking ourselves a few questions:

Is the only reason we have had few companies move to Modesto because of lack of shovel ready land?  A more obvious answer would be since the current recession started in 2007 even if we had massive amounts of unused land available for immediate use here in Modesto it would have remained unused.  We’ve had land available on Pelendale (35 acres in a single plot alone) acreage in the Beard Industrial Park and Kiernan Business Park East but it has gone undeveloped.  In Beard the owners have played a waiting game looking for a particular type of tenant who would need rail access to support their private railroad company.  They’ve actually been thwarting some business possibilities playing a game with the public until the City Council made them a “special” deal by going to LAFCO and not requiring them to sign waivers to be able to access the utilities you and I paid for.

Isn’t the Stanislaus Alliance supposed to represent ALL of the County not just Modesto?

Yes, they are and Turlock, Patterson, Riverbank and Oakdale all have land available so why the flimsy excuses?  They feel the time is right and want to strike while the window of desperation is open. And what political leader is willing to speak out against the jobs, jobs, jobs mantra?   NONE.

The Chamber is running Village I Developer and Profiteer Bill Zoslocki for City Council

When the Chamber can’t come up with new ideas or faces they run retreads like Bill Zoslocki.  He has spoken out for the Chambers Pathway to SPRAWL several times in front of the Planning Commission but now that the elections are getting closer he has become the invisible man.  When we reminded people of Developer Bill Zoslocki’s past of manipulating prior councils and making millions of dollars at the expense of Modesto taxpayers his supporters whined, forgetting that once he pulled papers and then filed for office he opened himself up to public scrutiny. Something the Candidate workshops remind the prospective candidates that their supporters ignore.

Will we stand up to the Chamber’s pressure?

As we’ve written in recent articles the Chamber is playing both ends against the middle which seems to be their way.  In public pretending to lean one way and behind the scenes working in the opposite direction.  Will we, the voting/taxpaying public, see through the smoke screen or will we be like the scarecrow seeing the paved over farmland filled with houses wishing …if I only had a brain.

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