Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

Modesto Plans a General Amendment 2040 Update

BY Emerson Drake  

Modesto is planning a public study session for Councilmembers and Commissioners, and is allowing the public to attend.  In a recent public records request, the city denied that Councilmembers had had any input into the General Plan Amendment. Unsurprisingly,  the City Attorney Adam Lindgren’s response was a point blank denial that ANYONE from the Council had sent any emails or texts to city staff regarding the GPA.  Do we believe that?  No!

I would suggest anyone interested in learning the city’s plans should try to attend or at least send a representative to be in the loop. The date is Monday, December 17, 2018, 6:PM Modesto Centre Plaza basement level.  The main entrance at 10th and K Street is recommended.

Advertisements

MID-Gary Soiseth-Gualco Group, Shades of Martino Graphics – It’s Deja vu All Over Again!

By Emerson Drake  

Listening to a Turlock Mayoral forum and Amy Bublak making allegations that Gary Soieseth had started a consulting firm and intended to do business with the potential Turlock water treatment plant, set us on an interesting journey.  Trying to get to the bottom of charges that Gary was intending on doing business with a plant that was still on the drawing board is an uphill battle to say the least, but we did file a (PRR) Public Record Request on October 24th to discover any MID connections to Gary’s new company. We later learned the company’s name in a Bee article,it’s called Central California Advisors.

 

According to documents obtained Gary’s contract negotiations had advanced to the closing stage back in July.  Only his potential contract was with The Gaulco Group as Senior Adviser and not his own company.  As you can see on the first page Gary was expected to start on 10/01/18.  Yet he told the Bee he had already done some work for MID on the Federal licensing of the hydro-electric generator at Dom Pedro Dam.  Strange since the federal lobbying/advisers are another company and that company doesn’t show up in the PRR. 

And now is where it gets interesting.  It the Bee article General Manager Scott Furgerson says “Soiseth had done minimal work on behalf of the MID in his new role.” Yet there is no contract with Gary’s new company or any mention of Gary being added to the Gualco Group and no money trail to date.  MID Public Affairs Spokesperson Melissa Williams spoke with us and verified Gary Soiseth had indeed done some work for MID but is being paid by Gualco, not MID, but she did not have any information regarding the amount of work or money involved.  She also stressed that Gaulco was paying Gary and not MID.  Yet, despite her assertions, if Gualco is using Gary to work for MID then MID meaning WE are footing the bill.

 

For those who don’t remember Martino Graphics, Tom VanGroningen, and MID’s attempted water sale, let me provide a little background.  During the time leading up to the water sale MID kept saying they didn’t have contracts with individuals to support their attempts at selling our water to San Francisco.  They kept denying knowing to whom the money was going even after multiple PRR’s were filed.  Finally they admitted that they had a contract with Martino Graphics for over $234,000 and Martino Graphics had contracts with a variety of local politicos, some of whom came to MID to publicly support the sale.   And now we have MID first denying any contract with Turlock’s Mayor and former MID employee Gary Soiseth, either with his company Central California Advisors or Gualco Group, and yet MID is paying Soiseth through Gualco Group.

 

Remember Nick and Larry fought the underhanded Allen Short and Tom VanGroningen for our water their first year on the Board.  It’s no wonder Directors Nick Blom and Larry Byrd called for an investigation.  First Gary gives his notice and then he changes his mind and delays his departure date. Was it to ensure he gets vested for his five years of service or to give  MID’s General Manager Scott Furgerson time to negotiate his severance package, ie: his new job?  And why is his former boss feathering his future nest?  And now the kicker…employing Gary through Gualco will cost MID an extra $36,135 per year if he gets his raise.  But since it became public his first “special” arrangement goes away but a second one, almost a secret one, delivers the goods.

 

The only way we can see General Manager Scott Furgerson originally supporting  this or pushing forward with this semi-clandestine arrangement is if MID Directors John Mensinger, Paul Campbell, and Stu Gilman are on board.  Which opens the door to another question…what other secrets or surprises are we in store for?

Modesto’s Cover-up To Start By Firing the Auditor

By Emerson Drake

We’ve learned Modesto’s auditor apprised members of the Modesto City Council’s Audit Committee in a memo on July 19th of her concerns that the City Attorney and the company Meyers Nave had overstepped their bounds by misrepresenting themselves in SR 132 eminent domain legal services.  The memo was sent to Mayor Ted Brandvold and Councilmen Mani Grewal and Douglas Ridenour.

 

That’s when the scheme was created to implement a cover-up of the alleged malfeasance by Meyers Nave, the company Modesto has contracted for legal services, which supplies Adam Lindgren as Modesto’s City Attorney.  Less than two months after Modesto hired Monica Houston as the City’s Auditor and just weeks after the memo was sent to the City staff;  City Manager Joe Lopez and Attorney Adam Lindgren implemented a series of job performance evaluations in secret (closed sessions) supported by Council members Bill Zoslocki, Doug Ridenour, Mani Grewal, and Jenny Kenoyer  The City Attorney demanded they go into closed sessions for the evaluations.    For those unaware Council members can’t reveal to the public what is said during closed sessions.  It’s our understanding that four and possibly more closed sessions were scheduled.  But obviously and according to their plan, we don’t know what transpired but we doubt it was hugs and smiles.  Probably just the opposite (acrimonious with hostile overtones) since they are trying to silence Monica.

 

In an article in the Bee dated Oct 10th by Rosalio Ahumada, the City Council meeting was detailed quite well except at the time he and the rest of us weren’t aware of the memo behind some of Ted Brandvold’s and Kristi Ah You’s comments.  During the Council meeting, about 1 hour and 19 minutes, Mayor Brandvold suggested documents were being falsified  by city staff.  If the documents that the Auditor has don’t match the documents the city now has or any falsification is present then heads should roll starting with the City Attorney and City manager for suborning the falsification or alteration of city documents.  If you listen to the council meeting when Mani comes back in you hear lots of static. We’ve been told before the interference is caused by someone’s phone being on.  Mani was the only one that left the dais.  You have to wonder who he felt the need to call for instructions. But there’s more…

In the memo Houston includes actions by Meyer Nave of supplier favoritism including no bid contracts. Also included are suggestions of fraud, waste and abuse in the assigning of contracts.  These charges could expose Modesto to financial loss.

There have long been questions about the large sums of money Modesto is spending for legal fees.  We are aware lawyers are expensive but having a real City Attorney is cost effective compared to outside council/firm is extremely expensive. We and others have submitted Public Record Requests truing to find out just how much Modesto pays in legal fees but to this point the items provided by the city are so redacted it makes them almost useless.  They black out so much information it’s almost impossible to tell what services the invoices are paying for.  Also coming into question is the assigning of legal contracts.  Is Meyers Nave receiving quid pro quo for their assigning lucrative contracts for city business?  What are they hiding?

 

All things considered it would seem we have a Sacramento legal firm adding to their bottom line using questionable legal means at our expense and they, with the help of the inept City Manager and a few members of the City Council,  are willing to orchestrate a the firing of anyone who stands in their way.  Why is it when someone steps forward to warn the City Council of problems they get shown the door?  When will Modesto start working for ALL of the people who live here and not just special interest groups that quite often don’t ?

 

More food for thought:  Meyers Nave is council for four other cities in Stanislaus County which would give them a large power block on StanCog and  Stanislaus LAFCO or Local Agency Formation Commission.  Before your eyes glaze over LAFCO has the final say on cities wanting to expand and develop.  In Modesto they enabled a new  area of Beard Industrial to avoid paying Modesto user fees which was against their policy until Modesto special interests intervened.  So we not only provide below cost subsidized  electricity we don’t charge them the extra six percent user tax that you and I pay for electricity, sewer and water.

 

 

 

For Honesty, Integrity, Service, It’s Terry Withrow

By Emerson Drake  

 

When we’re evaluating candidates for local office many times it comes down to the lesser of two evils.  When it comes to the Stanislaus Board of Supervisors District 3 it’s an easy call because we have an extremely qualified candidate, Terry Withrow.   Sometimes candidates come to the position with preconceived notions.  Other times their notions/ideas have been pushed on them by special interest groups.  One of things that make Terry Withrow exceptional is he listens to his constituents.  I know that sounds easy but in this day and age that requires fundraising to get your message out, special interest groups (the Chamber of Commerce and developers) and those who collect politicians for money and personal power (George Petrulakis) will supply the money, but at a price.  Terry doesn’t take money from the deep pocketed developers.

 

When neighborhood residents come to Terry with concerns he hears them out and helps to find solutions.   He doesn’t pretend to have a magic wand (like his opponent does) and that all he has to do is wave it and everyone is instantly happy.  He understands how the County works and assists in not only explaining the correct path but he helps to get the ball rolling. And he doesn’t take his eyes off the ball, he stays focused through to the end.

 

He supported Modesto, Salida, and Wood Colony residents in their unified goal to preserve our way of life, our neighborhoods and our precious (some of the best in the World)  farmland.  When Salida became concerned about Cannabis shops being placed in Salida, Terry made sure their wishes were respected.

 

During the recent drought Terry was in the forefront in establishing and working with the Stanislaus County Water Advisory Committee bringing farmers, businesses and residents together to help resolve water issues and drought concerns going back to its formation in February 2014.

 

Terry has always remained open to people having questions or concerns.  Whether it’s during or after a Board meeting, a chance meeting in public or or public media, he is always willing to hear anyone’s ideas, problems, or concerns.  I’ve watched him give his cellphone number out to anyone who wanted to talk and especially to those trying to pick an argument.

 

When it comes to local politics it’s not the party that’s important.  Power brokers like George Petrulakis purchase Democrats, Republicans, or supposed Independents as often as they can.  Case in point…George even ran two candidates (one Republican and one Democrat)  against Terry  in the primary this year.

 

We’ve followed our political scene for many years and without a doubt Terry Withrow is one of the best people ever to be elected to office in Stanislaus County.   He deserves our continued support.  Vote for Terry Withrow for Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors District 3.

The Rubber Stamp Council Wants a Rubber Stamp,Too

By Emerson Drake   

On Tuesday night 9/4 the Modesto City Council is suspending the Citizens Oversight Committee created to persuade Modesto’s residents to vote for a half-cent sales tax back in November of 2016.  The Committee which is officially referred to as the  ‘Citizens’ Transportation Sales Tax Commission’  was supposed to ensure that the money would be spent as promised.  But since the money has been flowing in special interest groups have been claiming the money for themselves.

From Jaylen French, Director of Community & Economic Development Department

Measure L creates an “Oversight Committee to review
and monitor use of all tax revenue and to insure that all funds are spent in accordance
with the Expenditure Plan.” The ballot materials that were before the voters stated that
the functions of the Oversight Committee were to “review and monitor use of all tax
revenue and to insure that all funds are spent in accordance with [StanCOG’s]
Expenditure Plan.”

But according to the Council instead of an oversight committee what they really want is someone to come along after the money has been spent and rubber-stamp their decisions.  Not surprising is that the same night they plan on pulling the Committee’s teeth they plan on officially setting aside $1,658,925 for a future downtown Measure ‘L’ eligible project that will be spent as Cecil Russell and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce sees fit.

The crux of the problem lies in where the money is going to be spent.  Citizen Committee members we’ve talked with are saying special interest groups behind the scene are insisting that a large chunk of the money be spent providing Beard Industrial Park with direct access to 132.  For those unaware, Beard Industrial Park lies in the County not the City.  Modesto City Council has already made special arrangements to keep the Park in the County despite LAFCO’s rules.  They receive city services but don’t pay the user tax Modesto residents do.  As a matter of fact, for the majority of the businesses in the Beard Park their electricity is subsidized by the residential ratepayer.

I should also mention that this same night the City Council is going forward with the acquisition of real property directing the commencement of eminent domain proceedings for the State Route 132 West Freeway/Expressway Phase 1

Back to the neutering of promises made by the City Council.  At the Council meeting of 8/14, Bill Zoslocki regaled the attendees of how Measure L passed by more than 70%.  But he skimmed over what helped to induce the voters to support adding to their already overburdened load of taxes.  Yes the much ballyhooed Citizens Oversight Committee.  But now the majority are determined to reduce it to a  a rubber-stamp functionary.  How can they effectively act as an oversight protecting the public’s best interests when the Council wants them to sit down and shut up until AFTER the money has been long spent.  Watching the last meeting it was clear the only people on the Council worrying about the voters were Mayor Ted Brandvold and somewhat surprisingly, Tony Madrigal.

At this point we’re stuck paying that half-percent for the next 25 years and it’s become extremely obvious we won’t have any input as to what its to be spent on.  It’s the classic bait and switch.  No one ever said this Council was original in their thinking.  But they follow their master’s orders very well.

Congratulations Cecil, on a job well done.  Once again you and the Chamber have managed to get the residents of Modesto to pay for your special interest group’s projects and facilitated transferring money out of our pockets and into theirs..

Last Chance to Be Heard About Rental Inspections

By Emerson Drake   

You could say it started last August when the remaining tenants at 624 9th street were given 72 hours to vacate the 27 apartments that were water damaged ceilings, rat and cockroach infestations, holes in walls and floors, faulty plumbing and electrical, mold and mildew. Some landlords in Modesto are just in it for every penny they can squeeze out of their tenants that often have few if any other options.

The City had offered up enough money to easy their conscience but not enough to get the tenants into better housing.  During a City Council meeting Councilman Bill Zoslocki said most of these people couldn’t qualify for the 240 plus rentals  where  he’s a partner/owner.

At the Council meeting last year They called for City Staff to formulate a plan that would include cost effective inspections to help maintain  health and living standards. But when staff laid out a quality proposal at the City Council Safety and Communities Committee meeting in May to inspect the rentals suddenly there were a couple of dozen of property owners and managers protesting that it wasn’t necessary.  Apparently they didn’t look at the pictures from 624 9th or just want to encourage a caveat emptor or buyer be ware marketplace.  You have to wonder if Bill Zoslocki’s apartment managers were present.

The outcome was almost preordained  when you consider the clout of the rental insiders.  The City Council decided to ask Modesto residents if they wanted to BUT they only allowed two meeting both on Monday afternoons at 5:00 PM.  Now it’s hard to understand the timing if you really want community input.  We wondered why email comments were not allowed or some variance of timing.  After all if you aren’t available to attend on one Monday night at 5 is it very likely you’d be able to attend the following Monday?

We tried to contact Tom Trimberger with the city for comment and to update us regarding the amount of comments but we we haven’t heard back yet.

We understand why people who are renting, which in many neighborhoods are 60% and higher,  would be reluctant to come forward fearing retaliation but many of us that are homeowners should be stepping forward to speak out in favor of inspections.  We residents need to look out for each other in Modesto because you can bet your bottom dollar the rental owners and managers will be looking out for themselves.

The last meeting starts at 5 p.m. in room B300 in the basement of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St. Monday, July 16.

Duplicitousness of Modesto Politics

By Emerson Drake

Duplicitousness-Given to or marked by deliberate deceptiveness in behavior or speech.

Mayor Brandvold speaks out of both sides of his mouth and the uninformed Modesto electorate doesn’t know the difference.  In today’s paper (Monday 5/28)  Modesto’s Mayor Ted Brandvold endorses Janice Keating for the Board of Supervisors for District 5.  He talks about Janice’s top priority being the homeless and specifically about her ‘mobilizing the community’ to establish a homeless shelter.

Now the funniest thing about this is Brandvold is the Chamber of Commerce’s/DoMo’s (downtown Modesto organization) mouthpiece in stopping the shelter from being placed on Stanislaus Foods property.  He constantly suggests that Stan Foods is the wrong place for a shelter.  He suggests that somewhere out on Hackett Road, presumably around the Sheriff’s office  would be better.  But why spend the money for a shelter no one will use?  There isn’t ready transportation to and from Hackett Rd.  There are no facilities, no anything, but that is exactly why the Mayor and Chamber want to ship these people out of town.  Out of sight out of mind.

The sad part is the 60 bed low barrier shelter was to be for families, people with pets and people needing a place to temporarily store their belongings while they have the opportunity to shower.  It wasn’t meant for the mentally ill or addicts but the elitist segments of our business community don’t care about anything except getting rid of what they see as disposable people.

It comes as no surprise that Brandvold would support Keating since both politicians have the same political strategist/money man – George Petrulakis.  The spokesman for the Chamber/DoMo could just as easily been Councilmen Bill Zoslocki, Doug Ridenour, or Mani Grewal.  But none of these except for Mani have the strong George Petrulakis connection.  But Mani is busy masquerading as a Democrat so he stepped aside.  Bill is maneuvering for his next position with the County and Doug wants to be Mayor like his brother was but George is intent on making sure Ted gets another election cycle.

But back to the beginning.  Brandvold is allegedly supporting Keating, because of her accomplishments with the homeless community but she has  has accomplished nothing because of his attacking the homeless shelter over and over. But hey, that’s the duplicitousness of Modesto politics.

Janice isn’t saving our city.  She’s just an empty hollow promise from another Modesto politician designed to make you think something is being accomplished when in actuality it’s nothing more than a mirage designed to make us take another bite of sand. 

The House Breaks Covenant Again

By Emerson Drake  

When you decide to start a church you have many choices.  You don’t have to do anything.  You don’t have to involve anyone or any entity, you can go about your own business preaching and praying anyway you choose.  When starting a church many people choose to enter into a covenant with the government to gain a special status.  The status of being a non-profit, which in this case a 501(c)3, means you can raise money and not pay taxes on it and you can give your donors a tax break on their donations which allows them to deduct the donations from their taxable income.  It also means you can start profitable businesses and not pay taxes (like we said a special status.)  But if you choose to enter into this covenant with the government there are rules you must abide by.  These rules allow churches to promote issues BUT these same rules forbid these nonprofits from championing candidates for political office.

It’s really very simple to follow the rules, and the overwhelming majority of churches across the country do it all the time, but The House has repeatedly and deliberately violated the rules of the very covenant they sought out.  Yes churches can allow candidates to speak with the congregation but the operative word here is candidates with an “s.”  The House was aware they broke the rules when they allowed Stu Gilman, a church board member to speak and have tables at the back of the sanctuary for people to sign up to help with his campaign. They made a point of excluding Jake Wenger.  And now they’ve done it again with the two Sheriff’s candidates.

When Jeff Dirkse was introduced to the congregation it was obvious he was the, if you’ll pardon the expression, chosen candidate.  Here is Pastor Glen’s opening comment for a man he admits to just meeting.

Pastor Glen Bertreau, speaking to congregation: “Let me do this before I get started. Jeff Dirske is here – good friend – he is running for sheriff of Stanislaus County, and I met him the other day and what a great brother, meeting him.”  The entire transcript will be posted towards the end of the article.

What’s most important here is that according to Juan Alanis, well lets hear it in his own words…From the Juan Alanis for Sheriff 2018 facebook page answering if he had been asked to speak,  Juan Alanis for Sheriff 2018 responding to Gaetana Rohrer-Drake, “I have reached out to Glen Berteau months ago when I first started campaigning and never received a call back.”

So after watching the video and reading the transcript we decided to go and try to meet with Pastor Glen Berteau in person to ask him a few simple questions regarding his and by extension his church’s actions.

We arrived at 10:30 between 9 and 11 o’clock services.  As we entered the Church we couldn’t help but notice the large ‘We Love Our Pastors’ signs being passed out to all church members.   We had arranged to meet with someone from The House to assist with meeting with Pastor Glen but unfortunately that didn’t happen so instead we worked our way over to the information desk only to be turned back around and go back past their version of ‘Starbucks’  to go to ‘the room’ where you meet with Pastors.  There we met with ‘Pastor Mike’ and his wife.  After explaining the reason for our visit he didn’t know if we would be able to meet with Pastor Glen but would do his best to check.  We went back out to see if we could see anyone one we knew. That is where the picture was taken.  

Fortunately MID Board member and a member of The House’s Board,  Stu Gilman, came to meet with us.  I had met Stu before at an MID meeting.  Stu pointed out that this was a 25th anniversary and Love Our Pastor’s Day.  Pastor Glen leaves the Briggsmore and Coffee address to go to The Church Downtown after the 9 AM service and is back before he takes the stage during the 11 AM service (he isn’t present at the start of the services or necessarily at their ends).  Stu was kind enough to inform us the Pastor was also leaving for Sweden on Tuesday and wouldn’t be back until June, so there probably wouldn’t be time for a conversation before then.

When I walked through the reasons for my trying to get a visit with the Pastor and my concerns about Juan Alanis trying to speak to the congregation Stu said while he couldn’t speak for Pastor Glen, but he himself wasn’t aware of any attempts by Juan or his campaign to contact Pastor Glen or The House in general.  He suggested that if the Alanis campaign had called that maybe the message was lost between the church secretary and the Pastor. “You know how messages can get lost” was his follow-up response.  One thing I can say for sure is that we’ve been trying to contact Pastor Glen since the MID campaign and he has yet to return our calls. It isn’t a requirement that he respond to our call, not by a long shot, but ours aren’t the only calls he’s been dodging.  The multiple complaints against The House by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and private citizens to the I.R.S., hopefully will eventually take their toll.  The list of people calling and getting no response from Pastor Glen and or The House keeps getting longer and longer.

We can’t prove that the Alanis campaign did or didn’t contact The House, but after seeing the effect of Pastor Glen’s support of Stu Gilman (a candidate with no knowledge or expertise in electrical or water issues), in the MID race, it’s hard to believe that the Alanis campaign didn’t reach out to them. One thing for sure is that after the controversy over Stu Gilman’s MID race, The House and Pastor Glen didn’t make his actions (recommending political candidates) blindly and without forethought.

It’s obvious that The House broke its Covenant with its church members and with the People of the United States.  The only way to get them to stop is to repudiate their actions and vote against any candidate they illegally  promote.

The following is a complete transcript of one of the three services at The House where Jeff Dirkse was introduced to the congregation:

Pastor Glen Bertreau, speaking to congregation: Let me do this before I get started. Jeff Dirske is here – good friend – he is running for sheriff of Stanislaus County, and I met him the other day and what a great brother, meeting him. This man here, he graduated from West Point. We don’t have many people from our area from West Point. And got out of West Point. You’ve got to be pretty sharp to even get in, plus graduate, and you come out an officer. Then he went to Iraq, fought in Iraq for us and probably had near-death ex – let me just introduce him. Welcome Jeff, right here. Come on. Give him a big hand. Let’s honor one of our former – one of our soldiers here.

Bertreau to Dirske: Hi, Jeff. God bless you, buddy. Good to have you here. Sandy’s in the back – his wife is back there – they’ve been here all three services. All three services they’ve been here and this is the first time they’ve been over here. Aren’t you glad you came? Wasn’t it fun?

Jeff Dirske: Very much so, thank you.

Bertreau to congregation: And Jeff is – as you know, Adam Christianson, we we know, is retiring, he’s just gonna retire. And so they’re gonna have a new race here, new sheriff’s race and Jeff – I’m gonna let him tell it. I could tell it, but Jeff why don’t you greet our people here, there’s a lot of people that are here at our service. He was here at our 9:00, he went over with me to the Downtown, and now he’s here at this. I said these are all different people here, you don’t know who they are, and so I want you to greet all our people.

Bertreau to Dirske: They all love you.

Dirske to congregation: Well good morning, everyone and thanks for having me – I appreciate the opportunity to be here. And before I talk a little bit I actually want to say thank you – I want to say thank you to the House and this congregation and the church. You have been very supporting of law enforcement over the years and and unfortunately before even the 9:00 service this is not the first time I’ve had to stand in front of you. I’ve had to speak at the death of one of our employees, and on behalf of law enforcement, thank you for that. (applause) So – yeah, please give yourself a hand. So I grew up here in Stanislaus County. My family is in farming, and quite frankly, I thought that that’s what I would do when I grew up. And then in high school I kind of felt a different pull, and I fell the pull towards the military, and I ended up at West Point, as Pastor Glen has already talked about. Graduated from there in 1994 and served 5 ½ years in the U.S. Army the first time. And then some things changed, some family dynamics, my father had cancer, and we felt the pull to come home. And there was kind of a circuitous route, I’m not going to go into the details of that, but we made a couple of stops along the way and we ended up back here farming, all of which we thought is exactly what God wanted us to do, and then September 11th happened. And by 9:00 that morning I knew that I would be back in service somehow. And so then that circuitous route that God took us on became apparent, and the why became apparent, and I ended up commanding a company in Iraq in 2005. (applause) And that was one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced in my life.

Bertreau to Dirske: And you’ve had – was it four near – didn’t you have four almost near death – you could have died about four times in Iraq, right?

Dirske to Bertreau: Yes, my vehicle was hit four times by IEDs. The closest one was about 65 pounds going off from me to you. And 65 pounds of explosives is an awful lot. And other than a concussion, I came out unscathed (applause). Thank you.

Bertreau: It’s really a miracle.

Dirske: Thank you. But I bring up Iraq because it was definitely a call, it was God’s call that took us there. I did not have to do that. I had a wife and three kids at home and I was really completely out of the military. And before I went my dad said do you really want to go to war? And I said no, I don’t, but I have to. And that – it was a rough year. But it was also the most rewarding year that I think I’ve ever experienced, because I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do. Now I’m back here, obviously I’ve been in law enforcement now for several years since then, and looking to take this next step. And this, again, is I think exactly where God wants me. And public safety, protecting people is just a calling that I have. It defines who I am. And I know that even though politics is not always the most fun, but my family knows that this is exactly what God wants us to do. So thank you.

Bertreau: So you feel a call. There is a calling. As I would have a calling or you (gesturing to audience) have a calling to do what God wants you to do. There is a calling that is there. There’s really a closeness with law enforcement, that’s just what I feel, because we’re both in an area of helping people, we just help in two different ways. And it is a calling to do what you want to do, to even lay your life on the line every day. But I thank God we have people – and you know what, we talk about this that we need Christian people in areas of influence in our city, right? (applause) So would you just thank Jeff for hearing from God, running for Sheriff, God’s will will be done. Amen. Thanks Jeff, for being here. Appreciate you. Sandy, God bless you.

 

 

 

Borges’ Supervisor Campaign Loses Credibility

By Emerson Drake   

Taking a page out of Georgethe developer’s land use attorneyPetrulakis that says if you don’t have an issue manufacture or invent  one, Ms. Borges is using the 132 bypass issue with mixed results.  It didn’t matter to her that the issue has been settled for years or that the County has held multiple workshops over years (that Ms. Borges failed to attend) or that the State has much more influence in the final outcome than the County.   She’s been waving it like a flag with limited results.  But on this topic  what we question is highlighted by her map of alleged cancer clusters.

At the Bee forum during her introductory two minutes, instead of introducing herself she took the opportunity to throw down her display cards in dramatic fashion.  Between that and the Bee’s video issues it was somewhat hard to pick out.  But later in a conversation with a friend it was pointed out to me her map was either incomplete or was skewed for effect.  Well there is another option and that is no one gets cancer on the other side of Highway 99.  Upon further review her map looked like someone had taken a glass, turned it upside down and drawn a circle around it with a pencil creating the area in question, recorded the cancer cases, and then stopped marking the cancer cases on the rest of the map.

Maybe they thought it to be unimportant.  Maybe they thought no one would notice.  But her campaign would be wrong on both counts.  Changing the route at this late date would be impossible and hauling the contaminated soil away has been discussed and scientifically researched and set aside mostly because of the research and partially because of the exorbitant cost.

As for the alleged clusters, if you take a map of part of Modesto, including the rural western area that Modesto’s developers have their eyes on, draw a circle around the area (in a moderately populated area) in question then compare it to the lightly populated rest of Wood Colony you can’t help but get certain areas to stand out. If her campaign would have bothered to include more of Modesto then maybe the area in question would not have stood out.  But anything to win an election I guess.

During her performance in front of the Bee’s Editorial Board Ms. Borges repeatedly says she isn’t a politician and to check her 460’s.   When people run for office they are required to list the donations they’ve taken in and the expenditures they have made.  Candidate Borges was very aware it would be several days before she would file her 460’s let alone for them to be made available to the public.

But since she so enthusiastically invited us lets take a minute to consider what we discovered with a trip online.   From 1/1/18 to 4/21/18 her campaign has raised $22,589 in cash.  But apparently Stanislaus County voters haven’t been readily opening their wallets. Of the $22,589 only $3,589 came from Stanislaus County.  The remaining $19,000 came from two benefactors living in Texas.  $9,500 came from a man in Houston and $9,500 came from a woman in Bellaire.  For a Board of Supervisors race it’s strange to see so much out of state money.

Creating issues out of thin air, at best a dubious map, and out of state money, her future as a serious political candidate is being called into question.

 

Creating the Perfect Storm, Developer Style

By Emerson Drake  

It’s getting close to that time again when we get to vote for the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.  But how do we separate the wheat from the chaff,  the good from the bad,  the place holders from the players.  We could do a breakdown of the political parties they represent. Or we could try to decide by their opinions on topics of importance.  But as most of us are aware, with a few of the candidates,  their opinions are like underwear that’s to say they get changed daily depending on the nature of their audience.

Unfortunately in local politics the latter is mostly true, unless, or maybe especially if their opinions are manufactured by those power brokers behind the scenes.  We have some that believe in paving paradise and putting up parking lots.  And some who don’t know what to believe and are just being used as pawns in a larger game.  Lets back up a few years for a moment and remember when Bill Zoslocki, Craig Lewis, Cecil Russell and yes George Petrulakis  were attending every meeting imaginable saying they needed to extend Modesto’s sphere of influence to the river on Modesto’s north and west sides.  That would have doubled the size of Modesto’s footprint.  And it was to be done in their words.. to protect our farmland.  And that of course was just a lie.

But many people stepped up to the plate among them were Terry Withrow and Jake Wenger, two of the higher profile politicians willing to take a stand against the Chamber’s Transportation Committee which at the time included Zoslocki, Lewis, Russell, and Petrulakis along with the then Mayor of Modesto, Garrad Marsh.  When the massive land grab was temporarily defeated, well at least a stand-off, the Chamber, led by Cecil Russell, George Petrulakis and others let it be know they were coming after Withrow and Wenger.  Let us not forget that soon after the upcoming election in June, Modesto will be taking another look at the General Plan Amendment that will put expansionism back in play again.  Refer  back to the article’s title.

A few short years later (last fall) George Petrulakis masterminded an ambush of Jake Wenger by Stu Gilman for MID  Director Division 4.  They used Janice Keating, the congregation of The House, a church in Modesto, a pocket full of money and a naive dilettante (or maybe I should say cunning) named  Katherine Borges to do their dirty work.  Keating probably made out the best since Gilman actually paid the political consulting  company she runs from her home, Fundamental,  $1,500.  Petrulakis is still owed $17,000 by Gilman for his expertise or was it actually a loan in disguise used for advertising?   Borges swallowed a completely improbable story, or at least did publicly, about Salida getting water from MID, which is contractually impossible, and let Gilman/Petrulakis use her endorsement (she eventually endorsed both candidates).  Now Borges is being encouraged by George Petrulakis (was this part of an earlier promise to get her to support Gilman?) and is running against Terry Withrow for Board of Supervisors District 3.   Could things get any curiouser?  Ahh, yes we can’t forget the chameleon  Tony Madrigal.

One interesting thing to know about George Petrulakis is that he’s an equal opportunity employer.  We learned out in Patterson when land use issues weren’t going his way he’d just as soon buy a Democrat as a Republican. In the past George swayed Modesto City Councilman Tony Madrigal several times… first he’s for saving Wood Colony from developers, then against, and now for again.  With Borges, he managed to find a reason that would allow her to support Gilman (imaginary available water) against Wenger. That along with playing to her desire for the attention.  So now he has two candidates running against Withrow.

In the other race Tom Berryhill a termed out retread who seems to be relying on name recognition, (after all it worked for Dick Monteith,)  Janice Keating who has lost her last two political races and was supported by George Petrulakis and Zagaris,  and Frank Damrell who has been an assistant for a Congressman working on Social Security issues.  Berryhill doesn’t even bother to campaign.  He expects people to remember his family name and vote for him.  He has no viable ideas just the desire for another paycheck from taxpayer’s money.  With Keating it’s pretty simple.  She took $28,000 from a MID slush fund and spoke publicly for the sale of our water to San Francisco.   Imagine if MID had had less water during the recent drought for both Modesto and the farmers to share all so a local businessman (can you say Bill Lyons) could make a windfall profit on selling water to the state.

Watching a recent Modesto Bee forum a few observations jumped out.  Tony Madrigal reminded us of Armando Arreola, a perennial Mayoral candidate in Modesto, who applies one of the three answers he has in his repertoire to every question he’s asked whether they address the question or not.  Katherine Borges the… I was a Democrat, then I turned Republican, now I’m pretending to be nonpartisan, now that even though I keep going to their meetings, the Republican Party chose not to back me… used former candidate for Supervisor Scott Calkins’  ideas from four years ago, which she loudly disdained then as she was actively campaigning for Withrow.   I know it’s hard to follow the changes ( remember the underwear analogy) but you can’t, and don’t have to,  make these things up.   Terry Withrow has stayed the course amid the stormy seas.  He defended Wood Colony and Salida from the aggressive aspirations of the Chamber of Commerce’s land grab developers.  He’s been a consistent voice for promoting our homeless issues despite the Modesto Mayor’s along with the Modesto’s business community’s (DoMo) foot dragging.  And he was one of the prominent voices on County water issues during the drought. The fact that land use attorney George Petrulakis has two candidates in the District 3 race, Madrigal and Borges, brings super clarity to the issue. Terry Withrow is the only real choice if we want insure the public has an independent voice on the Board of Supervisors in District 3.

District 4 is even less complicated.  Tom Berryhill has no vision, no ideas, and like Keating is running from political decisions made in the past. Berryhill and his ‘funneling money’ questions that he seems to be dodging every step of the way.  And Keating with her close ties to the paving paradise development community including selling her “opinions ” to the highest bidder.  Of the three running Frank Damrell  stands out compared to  the two tired political hacks he’s facing.

 

 

Post Navigation