The Modesto City Council and How They Spend Our Money.
It’s always interesting to see what the Council is trying to slide by us on the Consent Calendar. This week we have nine items that if they get their wish will not be discussed and if all goes as usual will be voted on and more than likely passed unanimously and moved on without some much as a ripple in their wake. So if it’s business as usual with the Council they’ll spend $4,237,168.00 without explanation or comment. In order to have any conversation on any of the consent items a member of the Council has to “Pull” an item off consent. A member of the public, by filling out a simple form, is allowed to pull an item too.
Generally speaking the public seldom pulls anything off of the consent calendar. That’s where we step in. We have a tendency to speak up, ask questions, and pull items from consent. Often asking the questions they would prefer not to answer. We keep requesting the department heads bring the necessary information to the Council meetings but until recently they have claimed to be unable to produce it for the public at the Council meetings, and the Council, on the advice of the attorney, has refused to allow the public to present the information during the council meetings. If you haven’t read the on line agenda packet before attending the meeting you’ll never know the what, why, or especially the how because you won’t find it at a meeting.
In the past they had the department heads along with all of the relevant information available at Council meetings. Now they’re only sure to be available at the agenda review meetings which are held on the Monday at 4:00 PM, before the routinely scheduled Council meetings on Tuesday. Unfortunately the ‘Gang of Four’ have a tendency to be too busy to attend. So if you hear them ask for more information during a Tuesday night meeting you’ll know they were too busy running their business empires or running for another office other than the one they were elected to (Mani Grewal for state senate, Bill Zoslocki for the Board of Supervisors, and Doug Ridenour for Mayor).
Recently they were awarding Rank Security a contract expanding their roll in Modesto. They went from a $168,560 contract to a $3,699,756.00 all on consent. After we pulled the item we asked the question if there was an RFP or a request for proposal. It means the same thing as putting out a bid for services. The Deputy City Manager answered that yes we had. But the truth later delivered by staff was they had piggybacked on a Stanislaus County bid for county wide security services. What wasn’t mentioned that night was that the bid was 18 months old and that Rank hadn’t made the list of qualifiers for the contract. That’s right. Rank wasn’t ranked by the County. We had to do a public Record Request to discover this. But our Council members were determined to give the contract to Rank. After all Steve Rank, the companies owner, is the President of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and three of the for members of the Gang of Four are running for office and they need his and the Chambers support.
All of this went down on the Consent Calendar item #6 on Sept. 25, 2019. Councilman Bill Zoslocki didn’t have a clue if any RFP had been done. No one on the Council said one word . They didn’t know. They were going to vote for this contract no matter what. $3.6 Million and they weren’t going to ask any questions.
The Consent Calendar is where they try to slip things through that they would prefer to keep quiet. We will continue to pull these questionable items. We’ll continue to ask the hard questions. And when they take our tax money and give it to their backroom buddies we’ll continue to call them out.