Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

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WHY WON’T OUR CITY COUNCIL ANSWER A QUESTION?

By Gaetana Rohrer-Drake

On November 2nd, I sent an e-mail to our mayor and city council members. I asked why they are not enforcing the Stanislaus County mask mandate, which says masks should be worn indoors at all places of business regardless of vaccination status.

I received one answer, that was actually a non-answer. Mayor Sue Zwahlen responded, stating that she wears her mask everywhere (however her own social media pages have plenty of pics of her without a mask), and that the mask mandate is enforced at city council meetings (which very few people attend in person). That does nothing to protect us when we are out and about in this community. Since she is a former registered nurse, I truly don’t understand her lack of concern. Yes, she has publicly promoted vaccinations but she and the council remain silent on masks. Stanislaus County had 167 new cases of covid the week I sent this e-mail. The same week I sent my e-mail, Doctor’s Medical Center published a letter noting the uptick in cases and encouraging people to get vaccinated and wear masks. I don’t understand the city council’s inability to do the same. Businesses are spreading disease by allowing customers to shop without a mask. Schools are spreading diseases by not enforcing the mask mandate. People refusing to be vaccinated and/or wear a simple mask are spreading disease. I understand that some businesses are concerned about the danger an employee may face by asking a customer to wear a mask. However, if we had the backing of our city council and an enforcement policy in place, some businesses may be prompted to do the right thing. Sadly, here in Modesto, we have no such leadership.

The city council has the authority to require the police chief to enforce the mandate. Are you willing to quietly risk a potentially deadly disease due to the lack of backbone in our elected leaders? Willing to risk the health and/or life of your children? Your grandparents? Those among our community who have weakened immune systems? Because that’s what is happening to all of us right now, due to the apathy of our city council. It’s amazing how rapidly some of them went from being enthusiastic about doing what’s right for Modesto (during their campaigns) and now suddenly they don’t want to rock the boat if it will mean they risk not being re-elected.

As an example of how little they want to hear from the people they represent, at the last city council meeting, Mayor Zwahlen said “to avoid discussion, let’s just vote.”

So here are the names and e-mail addresses of all our city leaders. Please feel free to e-mail them and voice your opinion. E-mail all of them, not just the one who represents you. Or better yet, make your opinion known in person at a city council meeting. At least there the mask mandate is enforced and you will be safe! And even better than that? VOTE THEM ALL OUT!

Mayor Sue Zwahlen – Szwahlen@modestogov.com

Rosa Escutia-Braaton – Rescutiabraaton@modestogov.com – District 1

Tony Madrigal – Tmadrigal@modestogov.com – District 2

Chris Ricci – Cricci@modestogov.com – District 3

Bill Zoslocki – Bzoslocki@modestogov.com – District 4

Jenny Kenoyer – Jkenoyer@modestogov.com – District 5

Jay David Wright – Dwright@modestogov.com – District 6

Or you can reach them all with one e-mail addressed to Council@modestogov.com

Again, I have received only one response to my e-mails. It shows just how much our representatives care about communicating with us.

To the city council members…y’all need to grow a pair and be concerned for the people you represent and not your future re-election bid.

MID: The Water Wars Continue

By Emerson Drake

We thought the water wars were over but in fact we’re in the middle of another one. As always in an organization as large and important as the MID or Modesto Irrigation District is, there is lots of room for shenanigans. And if you throw the OID or Oakdale Irrigation District in, well then things get much more interesting.

In both organizations we have three Directors that want to sell water outside of the Stanislaus Basin and two that don’t. In MID and OID memories of the water wars of 10 or so years ago are still fresh. The public uproar to the attempted sales burned them so in their opinion it’s vital that everything go smoothly. Remember how the drought brought the Dom Pedro Reservoir down to the size of a creek? Last year our rainfall was half of normal. And the water levels have been falling throughout the OID and farmers have needed to drill deeper to ensure their water supply.

OID wants to sell water to Brisbane instead of re-charging the aquifer and they need MID’s canals to do it. Everybody sees the Merced Irrigation District ready to sell water for $300 per acre foot and the salivating starts. OID’s past Brisbane water conversations have been centering around a 50 year agreement followed by a 25 year agreement at $500 an acre foot. OID attorney Tim O’laughlin was MID’s attorney for the attempted water sales to San Francisco, and is now the OID attorney and also represents Mahi Pono in Hawaii. Most will remember them as Trinitas before they were sold and expanded. O’Laughlin has a history of promoting water sales for Districts where the resident owners (both MID and OID are publicly owned utilities) haven’t always agreed with the sales. Hence the obvious need to control the Boards majorities.

OID has subsidized its farmers by selling water in the past but the falling water tables from 55 to 90 feet have opened many eyes. Some of the farmers we’ve talked with within the OID service area are willing to pay more to keep the water local. The water underground is like a savings account for everyone but OID seems to be willing to gamble everyone’s future for what could end up being pocket change today. It makes it easier to get reelected.

MID uses the electric side to subsidize their water to farmers but they also use residential electric customers to subsidize the cost of electricity for big companies like Gallo and those south of Yosemite. But they have a power broker/farmer/developer in Bill Lyons, who for years called the tune for MID’s Directors to dance to. After Directors Blom and Byrd and later Jake Winger were elected, that stopped. After Stu Gilman was elected and then turned his back on his constituents everything started to go back in the power broker/developer Bill Lyons favor. To my knowledge Bill Lyons is the only one who pays for two lobbyist/lawyers Stacy Henderson and Bob Fores to sit in the gallery meeting after meeting, or more recently on zoom to manipulate the outcomes, many for his advantage.

At the September 22nd meeting John Mensinger, Stu Gilman, and Paul Campbell were waiting to attack Larry Byrd with the help of Lyons lobbyist/lawyers hired minions, Stacy Henderson and Bob Fores.

The Board’s attorney, Wes Miliband and Interim General Manager Ed Franciosa, needed to get together to put on the last minute addition so the Brown Act presentation wasn’t officially on the agenda. The attorney said it was the first time he’d made a public Brown Act presentation in the 10 years he’s been with the MID. They were setting the table for the plotted ambush.

As soon as the non-agendized Brown Act presentation was completed Director Byrd made a short statement and then Stu Gilman jumped in. Then John Mensinger interrupted Board President Campbell to sic Stacy Henderson, followed immediately by Bob Fores, on Director Byrd.

Now the Brown Act says one Director may talk with another but the majority, in this case three, Directors can’t discuss the same topic in private. I encourage everyone to watch the video of this session and decide for themselves if these three were, well let’s be nice, and call it on the same page. Of course the outside lawyer for MID and the General Manager needed to know what was going on especially with this the presentation not originally act being on the agenda. Public Record Requests have been made but MID’s lawyer insisted on an extension which will have the requested documents arriving after the next scheduled meeting. Surprised?

The strange thing is these, should we say possible conspirators, were preparing to say that Director Byrd might have allowed someone to be present in his truck during closed session, in itself a potential Brown Act violation. Director Byrd completely denied the allegation.

At about 2:12 into the meeting Director Mensinger starts raising his voice demanding that this be brought to the next open meeting. When Director Mensinger said “we want to agendize this for discussion and action“, who is we? Was it John Mensinger, Stu Gilman, and Paul Campbell? Were the three Board members acting in collusion?

Wouldn’t that act itself be a Brown Act violation?

Candidate Reminds us of an ‘Excusable Homicide’ From 20 Yeas ago Today

By Emerson Drake 

While listening to the Modesto City Council District 3 candidates forum I was surprised when Janice Keating reminded viewers of the Alberto Sepulveda case from 20 years ago today.   I suppose it was to remind listeners of her experience on the City Council. But it reminded me of the parallels of two stories about police officers having family on the council when they made, shall we just call them mistakes.

1.  It was about 6:15 am on 9/13/2000 when the Modesto Police Department (MPD) executed a Federal search warrant for Meth trafficking (no drugs were found) but that didn’t stop veteran swat team member David Hawn from pointing his gun at the boy’s back even after the 11 year old had complied and was laying face down on the floor.  The Benelli 12 gauge shotgun is used by law enforcement around the world because of it’s reliability and the fact it doesn’t accidentally discharge, is the gun that Hawn was holding when it went off and killed young Alberto.

At first the MPD officers tried to blame Alberto’s 14 year old brother Moises for causing a disturbance but that was ruled out.  Then they talked about how big Alberto was for his age (11) then they decided to go with the idea that the Benelli misfired causing the death.  But during three subsequent investigations no matter how many times they tried they couldn’t make the shotgun misfire. MPD’s Chief Wasden and a variety of officers mostly unnamed, attempted to manufacture excuses, but after the three investigations the best they could come up with was a farce about the radio and or his knife some how snagging the trigger. The simplest explanation was that Hawn had pulled the trigger but the officials stayed as far away from that as we would expect.

Influence is sometimes helpful and this time it worked in Officer David Hawn’s favor. Now we would expect a circling of the wagons for another MPOA member but David Hawn’s brother Brad Hawn was also a Councilman on the Modesto City Council.  So despite the public outcry the killing was declared an accident or excusable homicide. Modesto paid $2.55 M to the family and the Feds paid out $450,000.

We were in attendance during many of the Modesto City Council meetings back then and the first thing we learned was that when it comes to the MPD if you don’t make a complaint in writing it didn’t happen. Many people came forward saying they went to the Police station and talked to someone there who listened to their story and told them they’d get to the bottom of the issue and that there was no reason to fill out a complaint form. When questioned Chief Wasden would say time and time again I have no written complaint of that problem.

2.  Sometime around August 16th Mike Warda an attorney for the Phenos, a dispensary on McHenry Ave. attempted to contact Councilpersons Kristi Ah You, Mani Grewal, Tony Madrigal and Mayor Ted Brandvold in an attempt to get some assistance.  Only Ah You responded. It’s understandable why Warda didn’t try to contact former MPD officer and now Councilman Doug Ridenour Sr. since the complaint was regarding Ridenour’s son, MPD officer Doug Ridenour Jr.

The owners and landlord of Phenos complained of harassment threats and the rudeness of Doug Ridenour Jr, along with several other MPD officers.  MPD Chief Carroll said it was a misunderstanding and that his officers did not engage in any misconduct, including harassment and retaliation.

Here’s the rub… if you’re a business and you make a complaint against an officer you have a potential problem.  If you make a complaint against a former Modesto Police Officers Association President you might have a much bigger problem.  If your dad’s a City Council member and a former police officer that is running for Mayor you might have a major issue both now and into the future.

What does it matter if your company has brought in over $250,000 in tax revenue so far this year (we have a PRR checking this) compared to having police officers chasing away your clientele both now and into the future.  Now Chief Carroll knows this and is keeping his cards close to his vest forcing the dispensary to make the first move.  So lets flip the narrative by introducing a wildcard.

We made a Public Record Request for Ridenour Jr’s body camera along with the body cameras of his buddies that were visiting the dispensary that day. Store surveillance won’t have the sound that the body cameras could provide.

As noted above, it was and maybe still is an ongoing problem with MPD.  They discourage citizens from filing complaints, so then the Chief can deny knowledge of a problem that a citizen has complained about.  Or you file a complaint and you or your business might pay the price.  In Modesto justice can be expensive.

 

 

Shouldn’t We Expect Better From the Modesto City Council

By Emerson Drake

The following is a letter written to the Modesto City Council by a citizen of Modesto concerned about the direction the Council has taken.  It’s an important read so please do so.

2020 01 27 letter City Council address redacted

The letter says it all so we’ll add nothing to it.

 

 

 

Is the Modesto City Council Stonewalling the Public for Personal Profit?

By Emerson Drake 

In the spring of 2015 the Modesto City Council and Staff made a commitment to the citizens of Modesto to create an Effective, Responsive, and Transparent Government.  Unfortunately, the reality the majority of the Council has created is completely different.  Modesto isn’t being run by the entire Council, it’s being dictated to by a group with the smallest of majorities.  Council members Bill Zoslocki, Mani Grewal, Doug Ridenour, and Jenny Kenoyer also know as the ‘Gang of Four’ flex their muscles with great regularity and have the voting block to ram their policies through the Council at will.  To solidify their power grab they’ve become linked arm in arm with Modesto City Manager Joe Lopez and City Attorney Adam Lindgren.

 

For us, the people of Modesto, to try and find out what’s going on behind the scenes an effective tool is supposed to be making Public Record Requests (PRR) supported by the Brown Act.  City Attorney Adam Lindgren doesn’t think much of the public’s right to know. His actions suggest he believes we should be treated like mushrooms (keep us in the dark and feed us ****, well you get the drift.)  The Brown Act suggests we should get a response to a PRR in 10 working days. There is at least one PRR dating back to June of 2019.  A partial but non responsive response was received in September 2019, but nothing since despite having it brought up in several Council meetings. The Gang of Four believes it’s in their best interest to keep us in the dark.

 

That’s not overly surprising since a complete email disclosure from the PPR would show how the Gang of Four, along with the City Manager and City Attorney, conspired to force City Auditor Monica Houston out of office and caused them to decide to pay to pay $225,000 in tax payer money as hush money. For them, buying Monica’s silence was better than the truth coming out. The truth could bring sanctions from the State Bar Association, which along with the exposure could potentially cause Adam Lindgren and his firm (Meyers Nave) to lose the very lucrative, multi million dollar Modesto City contract.

 

We’ve come to understand these elitists (the Gang of Four, the City Manager and the City Attorney) believe they can get away with anything they choose and quite honestly so far they have.  Imagine, the City Auditor has the temerity to do her job of ensuring the rules in place are being followed, even if it might cost the City Attorney and Meyers Nave windfall profits. It becomes easy to see why they felt the need to get rid of the Auditor. After all what better way to send a message to the rest of City Staff, that it’s our way or the highway.

 

Is there any better way to garner political support during an election year than to borrow an outdated quote for business from the County known as a request for proposal or (RFP) that was over 16 months old. The security company involved in that RFP didn’t fulfill the basic standards of the request set by County rules and was disqualified.  Then the City awarded them a $3.7 Million contract based on the outdated and unqualified county RFP. That the company head just happens to be the President of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and a player in Doug Ridenour’s and Joe Lopez’s regular poker game couldn’t hurt when three of the Gang of Four, Grewal, Zoslocki, and Ridenour are running for office this year.  Heck, that sure buys a lot of good will, they might even get the Chambers’ endorsement.

 

Just to point out how they like to give money to their friends, we can’t leave out how the City Manager, Joe Lopez, who is allowed to approve contracts without Council approval up to $50,000, recently came back with an increase to what we think of as ‘City Manager Specials’ when he upped the contract to Management Partners from $42,900 to $152,900 on 12/10/19.  Before we go any further, we need to mention that it’s recognized by many that the City Manager despite his, lets be polite, less than exemplary performance record in each of the multiple positions he has held with the city, had been brought up through the ranks because of his “go along to get along” business demeanor (yes man). It was former City Manager John Holgersson who was personally responsible for bringing Mr. Lopez up through the ranks.  When the current City Manager was questioned by Councilwoman Kristi Ah You during a recent council meeting about Holgersson’s relationship with Management Partners, Mr. Lopez looked surprised and stumbled around looking for a plausible answer that didn’t let the cat out of the bag.  When she made her question more specific Mr. Lopez again acted surprised, without much success when she  pointed out his picture was on Management Partners website and was designated as a  Partner.  For those who don’t remember Holgersson was a Consultant with Management Partners who recommended himself and was hired as Modesto’s City Manager then was ultimately fired.  And yes, the Gang of Four made sure this $110,000 addition to the original contract went through.  After all, City Manager Joe Lopez helped them down play the $700,000 we continue to lose every year and will do so into 2022, thanks  to the Gang of Four kicking the can down the road over Modesto’s Centre Plaza. We’ve been losing $700,000 a year since 2012 while waiting for the catering contract to expire in the spring of 2019.

 

There’s no end to their hubris.  The self serving hiding of emails prevents exposure and helps ‘associates’ save their lucrative contracts.  They also play fast and loose with the procedures and pass out millions of dollars in contracts to their friends, and have distributed over $100,000 of taxpayer money to old allies.  The Gang of Four provides political cover by using their votes on the Council and ensuring the City Manager can continue to dispense money as they see fit to his and their friends.  Possibly the greatest concern is the cornerstone, if you will, the Gate Keeper of the secrets, the sphincter of information, the City Attorney Adam Lindgren.

 

Don’t go away thinking this is the entire list because it isn’t, not by a long shot.  These are just a few of the most recent trials and tribulations we’ve been forced to endure.  One of the more insidious ways they silence their opposition on the Council is to bring up topics during closed session that aren’t on the agenda.  In closed session, the only things they are supposed to talk about are the items on the agenda.  Once the item is discussed (even though it’s not on the agenda), they cannot discuss it outside closed session.  If asked,  they can tell you they talked about items not on the closed session agenda but can’t say what they were.  The purpose of doing that is to hide information/discussions from the public.  So if a city council member feels something that was discussed should be shared with the public, they are prevented from doing so. And, you guessed it, the City Attorney threatens them with legal troubles if they do.

 

We’ve watched from the sidelines as these people attacked one female department head and ran her out of town.  The big question now is who will be the next target of their witch hunts?

 

We can no long stand silently on the sidelines while the Gang of Four and their two henchmen steal democracy from Modesto.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endorse Bill ‘The Profiteer’ Zoslocki for Supervisor? I Don’t Think So.

By Emerson Drake 

In today’s Editorial the Modesto Bee’s Editorial Board endorsed Bill Zoslocki for the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.They made statements that I will only refer to as cringe worthy. Here are a few if our thoughts regarding their decisions.

It’s interesting that the Bee refers to Bill ‘The Profiteer’ Zoslocki as a builder and yet fails to mention his roll as a major architect in the Village I debacle. It was the biggest bait and switch in Modesto’s history ever perpetrated.

WE shouldn’t overlook the loss of taxpayer funds in the lowering of builders fees which instead of going to the city ended up in the builder/developers pockets.

As far as Zoslocki being levelheaded during council meetings we’ve seen him come unglued and personally attack a member of the public who dared to file for a spot on a public committee. When it comes to integrity we’ve witnessed Zoslocki support a witch hunt of Modesto City staff. He eventually supported the paying of $225,000 in hush money to keep the truth of his involvement from coming out

Here’s a quote from Bill Zoslocki from 2002 where he’s scrambling to blame the city officials for the Village One debacle instead of those like him who were pulling their strings. Bill Zoslocki, a Village I developer, said “the city made several decisions in 1997 that helped spur construction. The city eliminated some parks from the plan and shifted the cost for some planned roads to adjacent property owners. Both moves reduced the fees, and the different approach to roads made developers feel more comfortable.”

Yet The Bee gives the edge to Bill ‘The Profiteer’ Zoskocki. I’m wondering why. Aren’t you?

The Modesto City Council and How They Spend Our Money.

By Emerson Drake 

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.

Why Won’t They Listen to Us and Here Is What We Suggested

By Emerson Drake     

The Modesto City Charter is the set of rules that governs the way Modesto operates.  And since ‘special interest groups’ via George Petrulakis wrote more than two thirds of the Charter it’s almost understandable that these same interests don’t want the public being alerted let alone involved in significant changes for the benefit of those who live, work, and raise our families here.

Recently we discussed some of our concerns in a recent  Bee op-ed piece but here we’re focusing in on the first of a series of suggestions to improve our charter and the plight of our fellow citizens. Getting some of the council members to listen seems to be a major obstacle so lets start at the beginning.  We read the above in its entirety to the Council during the public comment period on 10/8/19.

In an earlier story we documented a least one member of the council nodding off, spacing out (spinning aimlessly in their chairs if you prefer) and another using their phone (texting and emailing) during meetings.  From back on the 4/29/19 when we first (but not the only time) recorded Councilman Doug Ridenour  nodding off during a council meeting to documenting Councilman Grewal who has what some might call an addiction to texting.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a small meeting or in the middle of council meetings he just can’t seem to set his phone down for more than a few minutes.

Maybe they’re too busy to listen and this might help. Stockton had a problem with this a few years ago and they wrote the ordinance to address the issue. It’s at the bottom of the page that accompanies the introduction.  Our suggestion is to add this to the Modesto Charter.

Will it help?  Who can say but I can voice without hesitation that if they aren’t on their phones they would have a better chance of listening to the public. Then again just minutes after this was read into the record Mani was back texting.  And yes we have pictures of that too. 

 

Every meeting we’ve attended that Mani has been at he spends much of his time texting. Apparently his eyes are on the bigger prize, the California State Senate.  But how could we count on him to pay attention there?

They Promised Effective, Responsive, and Transparent Government and This Is What They Gave Us

By Emerson Drake 

 

It’s a strange world we live in.

We made two Public Record Requests (PRR).  The object of the first one was to get information from the City of Modesto regarding how the City Attorney obfuscates the amounts Modesto pays for legal fees in general,  including those we have to pay to his firm, Meyers Nave. City Attorney Adam Lindgren had his para legal respond (see accompanying picture) by scrambling their response.  Adam took exception to my characterizing his response as ‘scrambled’ at the 8/13/19 Council meeting. We can only presume he prefers the term ‘randomizing.’

Each of these entries is him cannibalizing parts of budgets of other departments  to use for legal expenses. In other words he gets to spend other departments’ money for his legal costs without it being reflected against his office. He likes to say this has been an ongoing practice but this basically was initiated  soon after his firm took over as City Attorney.   So lets review…stealing from other department’s budgets for legal fees is a “past practice” that he started when he and his firm took over being City Attorney in 2013. He justifies it by simply calling it past practice.

Another interesting observation is that his department received the files in chronological order but as you can tell he made analyzing the costs more difficult by his, and we’ll use the term Adam apparently prefers here, ‘randomizing’ their response.  This picture is shown as an example of the technique he employed and not the information inside the files themselves.

His response to the he second PRR is more of his modus operandi (read method or technique). It was a simple request designed to discover when he knew Monica Houston brought the problem of purchasing property around Rt. 132 to light and when he recused himself from the discussion like an ethical attorney would.

Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 4:10 PM
To: Stephanie Lopez; Dana Sanchez
Subject: Public Record Request
Ms. Lopez,
I would like all emails sent and received by Monica Houston during her time as Modesto’s City Auditor in chronological order (starting with the first through to the last). I would also like any schedule or meeting calendar of hers that might still be on your servers.
Thank you,
Emerson Drake
A straight forward, no guile,  just a simple request for information the public is entitled to by law.  His response should be seen to be appreciated.  In order to read the files you first have to download them.  The file itself is from Modesto City servers and is ‘untouched’ by human hands.  In other words the city is completely responsible for the contents and they can’t been altered by anyone else.
https://cityofmodesto.box.com/s/h4vf2kej05oty0wy4r64ef6pj4xrov1g   Their response of 2,470 pages has not one email that Ms. Houston generated.  The responses provided were agendas and conference invitations. This is what the City refers to as a rolling release and we can expect more releases in the future.
So that the Council members can’t deny they have either seen or ignored this response, I asked Kathy Espinsoza from the City of Modesto to forward the email response I received so the Council members wouldn’t have an excuse not to open the file.  The Gang of Four (Bill Zoslocki, Mani Grewal, Doug Ridenour, Jenny Kenoyer) controls the city right now.  Maybe they’ll approve of the response from the City Attorney and if they do, they’ll allow the cover-up to continue.  After all, he’s not only covering up for himself, he’s covering up for them, too.   We’ll find out Tuesday 9/3 at the city council meeting.
The following is the entire series of emails pertaining to the PRR. The latest is at the top and the original is at the bottom.  Read them and decide for yourselves if Adam Lindgren is being responsive to a citizen’s legal request or if he’s doing his best to delay things to keep himself and his cohorts out of trouble.

 

—–Original Message—–
From: Dana Sanchez <dasanchez@modestogov.com>

To: westernpalms@aol.com <westernpalms@aol.com>
Sent: Fri, Aug 9, 2019 3:24 pm
Subject: Public Records Request of July 16, 2019 Ref: 3194

Dear Mr. Drake,
This email is in response to your written request for public records received by the City on July 16, 2019.  We are treating your request as a request for public records in accordance with California Government Code Section 6250 and following (the California Public Records Act, or “the Act”).  The Act requires that public agencies make reasonably identified, non-exempt public records available for inspection or provide copies upon payment of the direct costs of duplication.
The City is required to notify you within ten (10) days whether the requested records will be disclosed.  (Gov. Code section 6253 (c)).  On July 26, 2019, the City notified you that we would need an additional 14 days to respond pursuant to Government Code section 6253(c). This response fulfills the City’s obligations under the Act.  Responsive, non-exempt public records have been recovered.  The City anticipates it will complete its review of these documents within the next few weeks, and will disclose these records to you in batches in a rolling release.
When the City makes the responsive records available to you, it will redact all information determined to be privileged or exempt from disclosure under the CPRA or other applicable law. These redactions will include, but not be limited to: (i) Government Code section 6254(c) (incorporating privacy exemptions found in the United States Constitution and Article 1, section 1 of the California Constitution), which exempts certain private information from disclosure where the release of such records would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy(ii) Government code section 6254(a), which allows for “preliminary drafts, notes, or interagency or intra-agency memoranda that are not retained…in the ordinary course of business” to be withheld when the public interest in withholding the records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure; (iii) Government Code Section 6255 “deliberative process privilege,” implied by California courts from the “public interest exception.” Under this exemption, records containing information which could expose the public agency’s decision making process in such a way as to discourage candid discussion within the agency and undermine its ability to perform its functions are exempt from disclosure; (iv) provisions of the Evidence Code related to privilege.”  (Gov. Code § 6254(k).)  This provision incorporates records subject to Evidence Code section 954, which exempts lawyer-client communications from disclosure.  Government Code section 6254(k) also incorporates records subject to Code of Civil Procedure sections 2018.010 through 2018.030, which exempt attorney work product from disclosure. Records responsive to your request are being withheld according to these exemptions. Additionally, records responsive to your request are being withheld according to Government Code section 6254(b), which exempts from disclosure records pertaining to pending litigation or to claims made under the Government Claims Act until the pending litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or settled; (v) Government Code section 6255 or “catch-all exemption”, which exempts records from disclosure where the public interest in nondisclosure clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
Below is the link to the first batch of your rolling release.  You will need to download the documents before you can view them.  Please note, this link will expire in 30 days.
If you have any questions about this matter, please contact me at dasanchez@modestogov.com, or by phone at (209) 577-5487.
Sincerely,
Dana Sanchez
Administrative Office Assistant III (Confidential)
City Clerk’s Office
1010 10th Street.  Suite 6600
Modesto, CA.  95354
(209) 577-5487
FINAL_LOGO_1a_S
Ref: 3194
From: westernpalms@aol.com [mailto:westernpalms@aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 4:10 PM
To: Stephanie Lopez; Dana Sanchez
Subject: Public Record Request
Ms. Lopez,
I would like all emails sent and received by Monica Houston during her time as Modesto’s City Auditor in chronological order (starting with the first through to the last). I would also like any schedule or meeting calendar of hers that might still be on your servers.
Thank you,
Emerson Drake

Another Attempt to Transfer Our Money to Their Pockets

By Emerson Drake 

A response to the Bee’s Editorial Board’s “The timing is right for Modesto to dramatically improve downtown“.

Once the Unicorn Glitter and Fairy Dust settles to the ground and stops blinding us we’re reminded of why Modesto can’t dream about having nice things like a vibrant downtown. The short simple answer is our business community and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce.

We witnessed what happened when they decided where to build the new courthouse. Greedy businessmen using backroom deals and the Chamber who has controlled the Council for years decided it was more important to over pay for the land to make a few people richer than to pick a more logical location like the former Modesto Bee building.

What we were left with was land we overpaid for and will have a concrete edifice (courthouse) that will always be empty at night and on weekends. That isn’t much of a draw or overly appealing for the tourists and visitors they claim they want to attract.

That different larger funding source that was mentioned by the Bee Editorial staff was, YOUR Tax Dollar$ and mine, since 34% of DoMo’s budget is comes from the public trough.

Now bringing more people downtown would be considered a good thing especially by the high priced restaurants that pay minimum wage to the vast majority of their staffs. Now these workers can’t afford to live downtown or in Modesto for that matter but hey the ruling class needs serfs to feed and comfort them. Please read their Published opinion in the Bee titled Timing is right for Modesto to dramatically improve downtown

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