It’s old school and it’s history but some of the same players were involved back then.
Back in the late 1990’s the Village I debacle had not only come to a head but the public finally understood the financial windfall the developers received by talking the council into lowering building fees. Zagaris was a major developer along with his political sidekick George Petrulakis. Their partners in the scheme to bend the City Council to their way was the Building Industry Association (BIA) with Bill Zoslock, along with a helping hand from the Modesto Chamber of Commerce. Zoslocki, looking to double down and not just receive thanks for his help with the BIA’s arm twisting of the Council, became, at the time, a self-described developer and joined in reaping the lucrative rewards.
Helping with lowering the builders fees on the Council was Dave Cogdill Sr. Why is all of this important you ask? It was when the citizens found out all of the promises made to them were lies and there was no money for parks, street lights and sidewalks that they revolted and basically elected an entirely new city council along with a new mayor. Enter in Modesto Mello-roos. Now people who had just purchased a home discovered they had a second mortgage to pay, some upwards of $400 dollars a month. called “Mello-Roos” fees.
And the Backlash began: The politicos at the time thought it would be business as normal. Zagaris had been running multiple candidates to the city council for years using George Petrulakis to vet candidates and help them with their campaign financing (George likes this phrase better than political bag-man). Then they were in the middle of another campaign and Zagaris’ candidates were having a rough time. Outsiders, people outside the Zagaris camp, were running well in the polls and when the dust settled there was a new, unexpected Mayor in town.
Petrulakis and the Chamber remember history: Marsh defeated Hawn fairly easily for Mayor the last time out and until Marsh stepped in it knee deep (Salida’s potential annexation and subsequently Wood Colony’s) he appeared to be on cruise control as a two-termer. During Marsh’s inaugural address he spoke in favor of annexing Salida and set off a fire storm of protest. We have both Bill Zoslocki and Stephanie Burnside waiting in the wings to run against Marsh hoping to stretch this debacle out closer to the election in two years.
Thanks to Marsh’s political blundering the face most people see, including at least one editor, is Marsh is trying to scoop up Wood Colony, while Zoslocki, Cogdill, Lopez, and Madrigal are sneaking up on Salida. And the switch-a-roo came immediately after the council took a break just before the last vote. Now I’m not suggesting a conspiracy, but you have to wonder what made all of them switch sides.
What do they have planned for Salida? While everything is in flux most are guessing Marsh and his bunch are going for annexation of all of the prime farmland South of Kiernan and the proposed zoned business park in the Salida Now plan. If Marsh is successful in stealing the land designated for Salida, it would make Salida’s incorporation much more difficult. And if all he is really after is jobs, then let Salida create them and allow Modesto to supply the water and sewer. Ah, but that’s the rub. Marsh has already said he would refuse Salida the utility service. But didn’t he just petition LAFCO to allow Beard Industrial access to these same services without risking annexation? Special favors for special people.
So what’s the fear and what’s the real Question: The fear for the Chamber is the people of Modesto will wake up and remember how the Council has been ignoring them while bending over backwards to accommodate the Chamber’s development interests. If that were to happen maybe a unexpected wildcard candidate could emerge for Mayor. Heck, a whole slate of candidates could emerge which is exactly what happened back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
It takes a lot to awaken Modesto voters. Their memories are short but a recall could not only embolden them but remind them of the power of the ballot box.
So the answer to what is the question, will the sleepers awaken?
We can only hope.