By Emerson Drake
Watching a Modesto City Council Finance Committee meeting can sometimes be illuminating. Occasionally it even helps you understand why as a governing council they keep tripping over themselves. I jumped in a (zoom) today a little late for the start of the meeting and heard Councilman J. David Wright expounding about the County library tax. This uninformed councilman believed the Library tax went on forever or in other words didn’t have a sunset clause. He said he wished the County would share some of the funds with the city. No big deal right? (pun intended)
But it was the silence from Mayor Sue Zwahlen sitting next to him that disturbed me. The City Manager was sitting on Wright’s other side and almost needless to say he remained mute. What does it matter?
Well the City is going to be placing a .01 cent sales tax, one dollar on the hundred, without a sunset on the fall ballot that will generate $39 Million dollars a year. That’s correct, a never ending tax. Now our library tax is only .125 (one-eighth) of a cent and expires every twelve years. If the public doesn’t renew the tax by vote it expires.
So what’s the big deal? It’s the prevailing mind set at Modesto City Hall to not worry about truth or fiction, but at all costs, don’t correct your superiors. Staff members and department heads never correct City Manager Joe Lopez and will almost fall on their sword before even considering to correct the Mayor or Councilmembers. There is an exception to this rule and that’s if a member of the council dares to go against something the Mayor or City Manager want to promote. Then our Mayor lets her fangs show.
Mayor Zwahlen doesn’t like dissent or even conversation. The Mayor believes no one has good ideas other than her cronies. She’s said several times during meetings, “we don’t need to talk about, it just vote.” When mistakes are pointed out the response is “there are people tearing down our efforts.” How can we ever be sure of having the best plan if all conversation that has a different view is eliminated?
Some people are concerned at the idea of giving this council $39 Million dollars to play with without restrictions other than it is to be dispersed or spent by them. We’ve funded the good old boys and their playhouses to the tune of millions, when is enough enough?