Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the month “October, 2013”

What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake… Friday at Noon

Topics include the ethics of Modesto’s Politicians,  the evil cabal behind

Radio RED 104.9 FM

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

the Mensinger, Campbell, and Mortensen slate,  will the County’s water proposal really make a difference, Mike Hardin’s Measure X claims and the missing truth, these topics and more so tune in and find out what you need to know to make decisions important to you, your family and your community. Friday at Noon.

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To listen live or from our archive: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/11/01/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake


Board of Supervisors Meeting 10/29/13

Water drop

Water drop (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Vance Kennedy

There has been widespread discussion of groundwater problems in the foothills.  The question seems to be “what to do about it”?  Major damage to some smaller property owners is occurring right now and that can be a complete loss of value of home and property, simply because adjacent large plantings of almonds are taking their groundwater.  An estimate of that property loss would be highly appropriate in your investigation.  Legal costs to defend these small properties are simply too expensive to individuals and are prolonged.

You have the police power to stop abuses.  Please use that power as soon as possible.  An immediate moratorium, like that in San Louis Obispo County would be very appropriate…but then what?

A rapid estimate of the problem could be made with existing knowledge by county employees, hydrologists and farmers, using present orchard records and detailed data on approved wells, plus planned almond planting and wells.  That would be a guide.

Rainfall in the low foothills is on the order of 12 inches per year.  Half may reach the water table.  Minimum irrigation needs of almond trees is estimated at 30 inches per year.  Thus, at least 2 feet of water is needed, in addition to rain.  That must come from groundwater, since there is no other source.  Because the pore space in rocks holding available water is roughly 15% (plus or minus 5%), every foot of pumped groundwater should drop the water perhaps 8 feet.  That equals 16 feet per year.  If the water table drops significantly less than that, it means that groundwater is flowing laterally underground to the well from ones’ neighbors and depleting the overall groundwater supply.  That would not be surprising, since lateral movement of groundwater is well known to be much easier than vertical movement.

There is a legal term known as “prescriptive rights”, whereby, if water is taken wrongly, and no objections occur, then at some point in time the right to object is lost.  Since there is no groundwater law in California, the time for a prescriptive right is unknown, but could conceivably be quite short.  You can control that.

A rough estimate of the magnitude of the water problem in the foothills can be made in a week.  Not a year or two, if people use reasonable estimates, as described.  There is certainly enough understanding of the problem by employees of the local irrigation districts to make valid estimates of the problem.  I cannot overstate the need to act now on requiring environmental impacts on properties adjacent to wells.  Also, grand-fathering in of continuing harmful practices absolutely must be avoided.

While I am up here, I would like to put in a plug once again for an influential county/city committee to look at the truly long term needs by our local society for food and water.  Some members of this area seem determined to make the central valley another silicon valley.  that would truly be a local and national disaster.  I believe the average local citizen is concerned but does not know how to register that concern with the decision makers.  A prominent committee could help


I would like to put in a plea that you folks approve the proposed rules on export of groundwater today.  I understand from highly reliable sources that this sort of problem was recognized at least 10 years ago and ignored.  If it had been addressed then we would probably not have the present problems.  There is a phrase to “kick the can down the road” that has been applicable in the past.  Please do not do it in this case.  If there are major unexpected problems with the rules, there is no reason why they cannot be changed in the future.

The county does need a water expert on its staff, who has legal advice available.  Neither the city or county has a lawyer knowledgeable in water precedents….I have asked.  given the tremendous importance of water at present, and even more so in the future, it is imperative that the county have such advice readily available, the sooner the better.

Rumor has it that 40% of natural river flow will be kept for the fish in the future.  Meanwhile, the state requires major increases in housing by the city.  It seems obvious that truly great water challenges lie ahead and that does not even consider potential global warming.

Judy Sly and the Bee’s Cover-up of Jim Mortensen’s Lie

By Emerson Drake

When the Modesto Bee’s Editorial Staff brought the MID District 4 candidates in to visit they allowed the candidates to ask one  question of

Punch and Judy puppet show in Philadelphia

Punch and Judy puppet show in Philadelphia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

another candidate.  Jim Mortensen was asked if he had brought a lawsuit, made a financial claim or received any monetary payouts from MID in the past.  His response was that he’d received between $3 to $4 thousand dollars in remunerations.

In response to two Public record Requests MID turned over the claim Jim Mortensen and his attorney filed against MID for $90,000 dollars.  At first it was denied but after threatening  further legal action a settlement was reached in the amount of $20,000.

Ms. Sly has always claimed she believes it a greater offense when a candidate lies about his past instead of coming clean.  So to be fair we forwarded the Public Record Request responses to Ms. Sly so she could set the record straight since the Bee has already  endorsed Mortensen.  Ms. Sly has yet to respond to our information and queries.  It’s generally known Ms. Sly is finally retiring after this election, but to see her go out on such a dishonest note is sad.

An interesting side note is one of the Directors who voted for the payoff was the same man paying Mike Lynch to be Mortensen’s campaign adviser,  Bill Lyons.

This  pdf is the $90,000 claim Jim Mortensen ‘forgot’.


This pdf documents the $20,000 payout Jim Mortensen tried to obfuscate.

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Shame on Jim Mortensen for failing to come clean on a $90,000 claim and a $20,000 payout.  Those kind of numbers you would remember, especially if you’re running for the MID Board.

Shame on Judy Sly and the Modesto Bee for trying to cover-up Mortensen’s obvious lie.  It just goes to show you can’t trust the Modesto Bee’s Editorial staff, especially when they have an  agenda.

Pinocchio’s anyone?


Contributor Endorses Jake Winger

By Jim Bonetti

MID should have people who are committed to doing what’s right for rate payers AND farmers. Not just to do what farmers and/or MID

Modesto Marathon  7983

wants. Electric rate payers already pay 95% of the MID bills and water users pay 5% of these bills.
Jake Wenger dropped off a flyer while I was out. I called him Wednesday morning and asked him where he stands on a number of subjects at MID. First off he was glad I called and second he was forthright with his answers. When I asked about the “board governance policy” which gives the MID manager more power to make decisions (and less power to the Board), he explained that when he is elected, that will be the first thing he will addres,s to delete this “policy”! I agree wholeheartedly!
I spoke to Paul Warda a couple of months ago about this same “policy”. He told me that he didn’t know it was in the proposal at the time he voted on it and asked for a clarification from a MID executive who researched it and told him “yes, this “policy” was still in the proposal when the Board voted on it”, unfortunately. He apologized for his mistake and vowed that if he had known about it, he never would have voted for the proposal!
Maybe it was just Van Groningen leaning on Warda to push him to vote for the proposal…..
Jake is not just looking out for farmers, as some people may think (farmers are for farmers mentality). On the contrary, he says that the cost of water could be increased to about $30/acre foot and still be profitable for most farmers. Those that grow corn would have a tougher time of it as corn requires more water to mature. However, with water users paying more of the bills it would ease the expense paid by electric rate payers.
If the cost of water reaches $50/acre foot, farmers would drill their own wells and not buy MID water. But, if farmers keep drilling, the aquifer will diminish and may never be replenished and we have only so much water to spread around.
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS OR DOUBTS REGARDING JAKE or MID policies, CALL HIM! THE NUMBER IS IN THE FLYER (209-484-9343). He’ll answer you with good, honest information.

By Jim Bonetti

What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake at Noon Thursday 10/25

Today’s topics include, Jim Mortensen’s $20,000 lie, the Modesto Bee’s misinformation campaign,  the latest goings on at MID with the

Radio RED 104.9 FM

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

disastrous  Mensinger, Campbell, and Mortensen slate, MID’s Tom Van Groningen’s temper tantrum, the Modesto City Council and  the Measure X proposal, the Modesto Courthouse placement. these topics and more so tune into and find out what you need to know to make decisions important to you, your family and your community. Wednesday at 6:30  PM

104.9 FM our flagship station

To listen live or from our archives go to: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/10/25/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake

What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake Wed 10/16 at 6:30 PM

Radio RED 104.9 FM

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

Tonight’s topics include Rod Olsen’s special relationship with the police and DA Birgit Fladager in regard to the child endangerment charges, the school Board race including both Modesto and Hart Ransom districts, Olsen’s upcoming fundraiser for the Sheriff, the County’s take on mining water on our East side, the upcoming workshop on Don Pedro,  the Measure X proposal, the Modesto Courthouse placement. these topics and more so tune into tonight and find out what you need to know to make decisions important to you, your family and your community. Wednesday at 6:30  PM

104.9 FM our flagship station

To listen live or from our archive http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/10/17/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake-1


Ed Persike

Joan Rutchow

Edith James


Good evening,

There is a growing community concern over how out of touch Modesto City Hall is with the citizens of Modesto.

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...

You are conducting business and political deals in secret.  You are hiring consultants to sell real estate without the necessary license.  You pay over market for improvements to real estate.  You regularly are paying more for land than its fair market value to enrich land speculators while stiffing less sophisticated parties.  In one example, you paid private speculators over twice as much as you paid to a local church.  To a church!  In another case, you are continuing with plans to buy land for a courthouse where private investors sell you their land for more than it’s worth, but you will sell public land for less than it is worth, subsidizing the land speculators at the expense of the taxpayer.

Your expenses are out of control.  You set no priorities.  You ask no permanent sacrifices of your work force but expect taxpayers to foot the bill.

One of the most distressing trends is the love you seem to have of secret government.  As one of your community treasures, Marie Gallo, was quoted in Sunday’s Modesto Bee as saying regarding your courthouse antics, “Why is this being kept all hush-hush from the general public?  If things have to be hidden and secretive, there’s something wrong.”

While the list of what is wrong in City Hall is long, tonight I wish to address City Hall’s improper subsidy to the YES on X campaign committee working for a tax increase on Modesto citizens.

From May 6th through 8th of this year, a public opinion survey paid for by Modesto taxpayers ws coordinated by City Hall’s government affairs consultant, The Lew Edward Group, out of Oakland, California.  It appears the poll was actually conducted by the polling firm of Fairbank, Maslin,Maullin, Metz & Associates, also known as FM3, all under the direction of the city’s hired consultant.

The city had entered into a contract with The Lew Edwards Group on April 24th of this year for $35,000.  This city-Lew Edwards contract was constructed to circumvent the Public Records Act by not identifying the full results of the public opinion survey (the “Poll Results”) as a deliverable under the contract.

So, deliverables under the contract did not include the only information that really matters when you conduct a public opinion survey – the full results and cross calculations.

On June 5, 2013, the city received a request under on of California’s key open government laws, the Public Records Act, from the Modesto Bee for various documents involving the public opinion survey, including the Poll Results.  The Modesto Bee’s written request clearly requested “raw survey data, the number of people who agreed to and declined to take part in the survey, and other materials generated by processing survey data.”

On June 22nd, the city received another request under the Public Records Act from the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association by its President, Mr. Dave Thomas for various documents involving the public opinion survey, including the Poll Results.  Mr. Thomas’ written request clearly requested “all results of the city’s community Survey conducted during May 6th, 7th, and 8th, 2013.”

In both instances the city failed to follow the law under the Public Records Act by suppressing the Poll Results.  The stonewalling the city engaged in is more often expected by out of touch government officials in Washington, D. C., not our own City Hall.

On September 17, 2013, I (or Mr. Ed Persike) delivered a letter to Mayor Marsh and each City Councilmember requesting release of the full Poll Results that had been paid for by the taxpayers of Modesto.

After unnecessary delay, ie Stevens from your City Attorney’s office responded to the request and wrote to your Oakland government affairs consultant finally admitting that the Poll Results were indeed a public record.  He requested City Hall consultant Ms. Lew provide the Poll Results to the city.

This admission by City Hall that the Poll Results were a public record was months after the city had previously refused to release the results to the Modesto Bee and Stanislaus Taxpayers Association, when each made requests.

After Rollie Stevens’ letter was sent to your Oakland consultants, repeated requests were made by telephone, e-mail and letter, asking her to release the Poll Results immediately.

These repeated requests initially were denied by your consultant.  Ms. Lew, in her e-mail response, claimed the Poll Results were in archival storage.

Consequently, another letter to each of you, the consultants paid for by taxpayers, and the government employee unions funding the Yes on X campaign, was sent last Friday demanding release of the Poll Results.

Yesterday, the Poll Results were finally released by City Hall apparently after being retrieved from the “archives” of your consultant.

No taxpayer, no citizen, should have to go to the lengths and expense displayed here to obtain documents paid for by the taxpayers of Modesto.

Because of the delay in releasing the information, irreparable harm has been done to the efforts of the Stanislaus Taxpayer Association to provide information to Modesto citizens about your tax increase.

It appears that these delays and maneuvers have been designed by city officials and the city to consciously obstruct and circumvent the purposes of the Public Records Act.

This scheme has resulted in an improper City Hall taxpayer subsidy to the tax increase campaign committee.


1.  The city hires The Lew Edwards Group (for $35,000 headquarters in Oakland) to do poll paid for by Modesto taxpayers.

2.  The “YES ON X” campaign committee hires The Lew Edwards Group (for $11,750) as “campaign consultants”.

3.  Modesty City Employee Unions (police and fire) pour money into “YES on X”

After The Lew Edward Group arranged for the public opinion poll under its 435,000 city contract paid for by taxpayers, the same Lew Edwards Group was hired by the “YES on X” campaign committee for “campaign consultants” services.

As of the latest FPPC reporting period, $11,750 has been charged by The Lew Edwards Group for political consulting to the YES on X campaign committee.

This payment from the tax increase campaign committee to The Lew Edwards Group was financed by government employee unions since the vast majority of the contributions to the tax increase campaign come from these government unions.

Of the approximately $96,000 in campaign contributions to the tax increase committee, almost $94,000 came from two government employee unions.  These funds paid City Hall’s earlier consultant to run the campaign.

this connection that the same consultant was hired by the city and the “YES on X” campaign was revealed by the Modesto Bee’s Judy Sly in her September 29 Local Politics column.

As this scheme has been studied, we are left with two possibilities:

First the “YES on X” Campaign Committee and/or the government employee unions funding that campaign have had direct access to the taxpayer-funded Poll Results arranged for by The Lew Edwards Group.

Alternatively, the “YES on X” Committee for months has had the indirect benefit of the Poll Results by hiring The Lew Edwards Group for its campaign while the Poll Results were suppressed from public view by City Hall.

You simply cannot “unring the bell” on the improper use of the Poll Results.  Once the same consultant was hired by the tax increase campaign that previously had been paid by City Hall, only supporters of the tax increase had access to the Poll Results, since the results simultaneously were being improperly suppressed by City Hall.

In either case, a public benefit has been provided to some combination of the “YES on X” campaign committee, campaign consultants and government employee unions campaigning for the passage of the tax increase in the form of the taxpayer-funded poll.

To deliver this benefit, City Hall had to shred the Public Records Act and ensure that the Poll Results were only available to one side of the City Hall’s tax increase measure for months.

Your responses to requests under open-government laws cannot be used to delay or obstruct the purposes of the Public Records Act.  You have an overarching duty to “make the records “promptly available” to the public under Government Code Section 6253(b).

In addition, under Government Code Section 6253.1, City Hall has a duty “to assist the member of the public make a focused and effective request” for the public records.

You repeatedly violated this duty while handling the three different Public Records Act requests you received for the Poll Results.

In addition, nothing..let me repeat, nothing…in the Public Records Act allows you “to delay or obstruct the inspection or copying of public records” as stated in Government Code Section 6253(d).

City Hall’s repeated actions constitute obstruction and circumvention of the Public Records Act in violation of the above Government Code sections.

In addition, by denying access of the Poll Results to the public while allowing the benefits of it to be used in the “YES on X” campaign, you have likely violated numerous provisions of California law in allowing a gift of public funds, making unreported and/or impermissible in-kind campaign contributions to the tax increase campaign, and entering into an illegal contract that is void as against the strong public policies enunciated in the Public Records Act.

The citizens and taxpayers of Modesto are tired of the antics of City Hall, Oakland consultants, and government employee unions in subverting the election process and using tax dollars to provide a laundered financial subsidy from City Hall to the “YES on X” campaign in the form of the Poll Results.

This sophisticated scheme to circumvent and obstruct the Public Records Act must be fully addressed.

To that end, this week complaints will be filed with the Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury and the Fair Political Practices Commission exposing your scheme to these investigative bodies.  In addition, further investigation has been undertaken to understand the full scope of City Hall’s obstruction of the law.

Your tax increase measure is forever tainted by the conduct of City Hall officials.

All the taxpayers can say is that Measure X is appropriately named since the tactics of the Oakland consultants, Modesto City Hall and government employee unions are obscene.  Measure X is rated Triple XXX and should be defeated due to your obscene tactics.

What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake Wednesday at 6:30 PM

Tonight’s topics include our new expanded schedule,  the latest goings on at MID with the

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disastrous  Mensinger, Campbell, and Mortensen slate, MID’s Tom Van Groningen’s latest antics, the Modesto City Council and lobbyist Cecil Russell, behind the scenes of the Measure X proposal, the Modesto Courthouse placement. these topics and more so tune into tonight and find out what you need to know to make decisions important to you, your family and your community. Wednesday at 6:30  PM

104.9 FM our flagship station

To listen live or from our archives http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/10/10/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake-1

What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake Wednesday 10/2 8:00 PM

Tonight’s topics include Developer and candidate for city council Bill Zoslocki’s latest lie suggesting Village I was a model


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development, LCR’s question to city school candidates and their responses, LAFCO’s comments regarding the Woodglen subdivision and the Modesto City Council, water mining, these topics and more so tune into tonight and find out what you need to know to make decisions important to you, your family and your community. Wednesday at 8:00 PM


104.9 FM our flagship station


To listen or from our archives:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/10/03/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake-1


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