By Emerson Drake
On Tuesday Bill Lyons used lobbyist/attorney Stacey Henderson from Terpstra Henderson Law Office located in Ripon to disrupt questioning of the MID General Manager regarding invoices from Gualco, a lobbying firm MID uses for state issues. Ms. Henderson is paid to appear at MID meetings by several close business associates of Bill Lyons. People who regularly attend MID meetings are aware of her close ties to Lyons and their continual attempts to keep MID electric ratepayers subsidizing farmers’ irrigation rates. William Lyons, 68, of Modesto, has been appointed Agriculture Liaison in the Office of the Governor, a cabinet position for $175,008 per year. You have to give him credit, he knows how to cash checks paid for by taxpayers.
While a member of the public was engaged in an informative exchange with GM Scott Furgerson, Ms. Henderson leaped to her feet and began to speak over the conversation. At the beginning of every MID meeting the Board Secretary reads a short spiel stating that any persons causing a disruption will be asked to leave. Apparently that doesn’t apply to Bill Lyon’s lobbyists.
To make everything more clear and easier to follow, Bill Lyons has been CEO of Lyons investments (read Mapes ranch) since 1976, and that is around the time Bill began treating MID as his personal fiefdom. Bill and or his family and business associates controlled three of the five votes on MID’s Board as long as most can remember (until Jim Mortensen bungled it). For years they funded any challenge to his votes/puppets by cutting a campaign donation check for $5,000 anytime they were opposed during an election(in most elections they ran unopposed due to lack of interest). For perspective a $5,000 check in past MID terms was more like a $50,000, check today.
Just to introduce all of the Lyon’s entourage, because we wouldn’t want to leave anyone out, another Bill Lyons lobbyist Bob Fores (who is also a lobbyist/attorney), chimed in later but at least he didn’t disrupt the proceedings. It’s humorous to onlookers when attorneys take umbrage to being called lobbyists but if your clients don’t have any official business in front of MID and you’re being PAID to shape opinion, then you are by definition a lobbyist. Now personally I can understand why a lobbyist wouldn’t like being called an attorney but…Oh well you get my drift.
Stacy Henderson has lobbied MID to allow farmers to sell water to each other and insisted on keeping MID’s nose out of the prices farmers charge each other, all the while insisting MID deliver the water to her clients at approximately $40 dollars per acre foot below MID’s delivery cost.
Bill Lyons tentacles reach all over the sate but especially Stanislaus County. He was behind the attempted MID water sale to San Francisco and was able to get the Modesto Chamber of Commerce including Cecil Russell, to publicly support the sale (Lyons keeps pulling those strings). His elected MID puppets even created a slush fund of $250,000 to support the sale. Think about that for a minute they used ratepayer funds to ram an unpopular water sale down out throats.
Can we afford to have lobbyists paid for by Bill Lyons disrupting public meetings and getting away with it? Watching the GM schmoozing Ms. Henderson during the following break provided us with another clue and a chuckle. But not to be outdone Stu Gilman conferred with Chamber of Commerce’s CEO Cecil Russell’s female executive assistant behind the dais during a break. I can’t say that I or anyone else there had ever seen that happen before. When it comes to weird twisted politics, MID takes the cake.
We can count on one thing, that there’s more to come from Lyons and his band of marionettes.
About the EyeOnModesto: We’re not paid to attend meetings and our opinion’s aren’t for sale. You can’t say the same for lobbyists or attorneys or for lobbyists that are attorneys who go to these meetings