Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

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The Bee’s Jeff ‘the slimeball’ Jardine, First He Creates the News and Then He Writes about It

By Emerson Drake   recallbirgit

While this is far from the first time the Modesto Bee has allowed one of their employees to attack people in print it should be the last.  Some have questioned  if this was ‘slime ball’s’ idea or if it was spawned by one of his editors, I suggest either way it needs to stop and stop NOW.  Papers caught creating news can’t be trusted.  Public Record Requests are a wonderful tool when attempting to seek out the smoking gun of Hypocrisy. Jardine’s story  isn’t a case of the misuse of public money or the public’s trust.  No he’s made it personal and vindictive in our opinion.

 

Former Mayor Carmen Sabatino has been trying to point out that Stanislaus County D.A. Birgit Fladager through her minions has withheld exculpatory evidence (and yes the AJ Pontillo was subsequently  found innocent) and was more recently caught withholding discovery from the Carson defense team.  A  District Attorney withholds evidence that clears a mans name is in the minds of most people despicable and now to be caught for the second, or is it the third time, hiding evidence form the defense means Stanislaus County Court rooms can hardly be called a bastion of justice.

 

Jardine has use an informative sign as an excuse to attack our former Mayor at his place of business.   Jeff creates the story, he writes the story, and pronounces guilt in the story.  But Jeff, you’re the one that’s guilty here.

 

By Mayor Carmen Sabatino

Below is an official public records transcript between a Modesto Bee reporter, Jeff Jardine and a Caltrans employee, Rick Estrada.      The press is supposed to REPORT the news, not act in desperate protagonist measures to CREATE news, and then innocently report on their creation.

Jeff Jardine, the National Enquirer is calling – they need a gumshoe to report on alien abductions and bat-faced vampires lurking about.

January 10, 2017 at 11:19am FROM Rick Estrada TO Jeff Jardine

Jeff, you noted you were going to be out of the office for some time, so I felt an e-mail would serve best.

Regarding the Changeable Message Sign we were discussing on McHenry Avenue/State Route 108 in

Modesto:

** I have spoken to maintenance unit confirmed it is not a Caltrans sign

** I have spoken to maintenance unit and confirmed the sign is in the public right of way

** I have spoken to our permits unit and confirmed there is no permit issued for this sign

As a result, one of managers from the maintenance unit will visit this location and advise the owner of the sign that it must be removed immediately from the public right of way. If the sign is not moved following our visit, the next step is we will contact CHP and ask for law enforcement to get involved in resolving this situation.

Safety is always a priority for Caltrans. Our goal is to keep the state’s highways in the best, and safest, condition for motorists.

Regarding the use of a CMS sign when it is not in the public right of way? I would ask that you please call Caltrans’ Outdoor Advertising Unit, specifically Michele Day who oversees Stanislaus and other counties.  Her number is (916) 651-1254 and this is her realm of expertise. If she does not respond, her supervisor is James Arbis (oversees NorCal) and he is at (916) 654-6413.

 

January 10, 2017 at 12:52pm FROM Jeff Jardine TO Rick Estrada

It was not there when I drove by a few minutes ago. Maybe the rental company wanted it out of the rain.

 

January 10, 2017 at 12:57 FROM Rick Estrada TO Jeff Jardine

J=happyface

 

January 10, 2017 at 1:21PM FROM Jeff Jardine TO Rick Estrada

What about, as you mentioned, putting out a sign that looks like a CalTrans sign but bears a political message?

A violation of any sort?

January 10, 2017 at 1:23PM FROM Rick Estrada to Jeff Jardine

That’s where Outdoor Advertising comes in. We have a unit stationed at our HQ that deals with ‘advertising’ signs of this sort … I included a name and 2 phone numbers of potential contacts who can give you more concise information.

If they don’t get back to you, let me know and I’ll pull the chain. Hope everything’s going well Glad to see the sign is gone

J=happyface

 

January 11th, 2017 at 11:16AM FROM Jeff Jardine to Rick Estrada

OK, so Michelle said that if an unauthorized sign is reported, a maintenance crew would go out and seize it, informing whomever that they have 30 days to come pick it up at the yard. So can you tell me if that sign was seized or direct me to someone locally who can answer that question.

Mr. Sabatino claimed I was disrespecting him by even calling him.

 

January 11th, 2017 at 11:22AM FROM Rick Estrada to Jeff Jardine

I spoke with our Modesto Maintenance manager, who visited the location yesterday afternoon. When he got there, the

CMS sign was already gone – having been moved by someone other than Caltrans.

City might have stepped in? Or perhaps owner was told by someone else to move it … I had checked with our guys this morning

 

January 11th, 2017 at 11:25AM FROM Jeff Jardine to Rick Estrada

Thanks. Some folks posted pics of it on FB, and his PI buddy wrote about it on Carmen’s blog…..

When Thursday is the New Friday

By Emerson Drake  ladyjustice

When politicians and public relations consultants have bad news that has to be delivered for public consumption they try to do it on Friday afternoons. It’s referred to as the Friday news dump.  It’s used to avoid the media scrutiny that would accompany any release during the rest of the week.

 

You see newspaper people like to have weekends off just like the rest of us.  So the majority of the Saturday and Sunday editions of the paper are pre-written and much of it already printed.  They leave a small space for sports but that’s about it.  And with their staffing cuts many times reaching someone on the weekend  in the newsroom is impossible.

 

For the most part for courts in the  judicial system Friday is a day to sort out legal and side issues with the attorneys so juries get to stay home.  So any news will come out on Thursday and what better day to release a bombshell like the Frank Carson revelations of forgotten files than the day before Christmas Eve.  The Chief Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira, after delivering the bombshell of newly found files, had her car brought around to the back of the building and snuck out the back door, all of the time refusing to questions.  And of course where was District Attorney Birgit Fladager?  Conveniently out of town traveling with family, incommunicado. Couldn’t plan that any better.

 

The District Attorney’s conduct in this case, in our opinion, was reprehensible at best and vindictive, personal and almost criminal at worst.

 

One of the important questions remaining is will local mainstream media Public Relations Powerhouse, the Modesto Bee, call her out on her heinous behavior and run a series of articles ON A TIMELY BASIS (soon and often) or will they support this petty vindictive politician that is apparently using her office for personal payback.  Another example is if they backed a politician for office than you won’t see many follow-up negative stories.  But if you ran against one of their ‘favorites,’  and that’s a lengthy list,  then God help you because the Bee’s version of ‘scorched earth’ would make General Sherman jealous.

 

Bee history suggests they will run a positive article after they run a negative one for politicians and organizations they supported to gain ofice.  If they run an article showing the dark side of a few Sheriff’s deputies they’ll run a feel good article showing deputies interacting with children (not picking on deputies just using an example you’ll recognize.

 

So expect the Bee to allow the behavior of Birgit Fladager and her office to fall by the wayside.  They want to shape the narrative and decide which stories you’ll remember and which you’ll forget.  There goes that institutional memory thing I talk about again.

 

 

 

 

Birgit Fladager – Guilty of Malfeasance?

By Emerson Drake  birgitfladager
December isn’t a good month for District Attorney. Birgit Fladager. On December 10, 2014, A.J. Pontillo was found innocent of all charges. During the trial Birgit was caught withholding exculpatory evidence that showed he was innocent.  Yes she KNEW he was innocent but hid the evidence from the court.
Now in the Frank Carson case one of her Deputy D.A.’s had to admit they hadn’t delivered all of the discovery evidence they should have. First Birgit is papering judges (punitive judge shopping) that don’t give her the rulings she wants, then her trumped up charges against A.J. go by the wayside and now she’s been caught again with her hand in the cookie jar.  Where is she now? She’s hiding out of town with family, unwilling to face the camera’s and explain why her office is incompetent and vindictive.
Here is his quote: Deputy District Attorney John Goold, spokesman for the DA’s Office, issued a statement Thursday afternoon that read in part: “While auditing discovery in this case, one of our investigators located some audio recordings that may or may not have been provided within the previous 1,000 disks discovered to the defense. There was no time to confirm whether these recordings had been previously disclosed or not. Out of an abundance of caution, we raised that concern with the court this morning and copies were provided to defense counsel.
Yesterday the judge released Frank on his own recognizance.
It’s becoming more readily apparent that Birgit Fladager is out of control and is using her office to punish her “enemies”. After all Frank ran against her for office. We think we elected the wrong person to be D.A.

Ask Yourselves, Why Doesn’t the Modesto Bee Want US to Remember?

By Emerson Drake  threeheadsupbottoms
In a story today the Bee talks about a tribute planned for Supervisor Bill O’Brien next Tuesday night at 6:30.. He’s stepping down after serving twelve years on the Board of Supervisors. As an aside, throughout the years even when Supervisor O’Brien and I didn’t see eye to eye he would always be available to discuss his decision making process and our differences.  The Supervisor will continue to serve until the swearing in ceremony on January, 10th when he’ll be replaced by Kristin ‘the coach’s wife’ Olsen.
People always talk about ‘institutional memory‘ but how is it formed?  It’s formed by an ongoing sharing of facts and memories with the group or in this case the public.  But the Bee has already started the fogging of these memories.  How did they do it?  Simply by not repeating the facts.  It’s diabolically simple when placed into action.
The memories or facts in this case are that at the last minute Supervisor O’Brien decided to make public his decision not to run after previously informing Olsen.  So at the last minute O’Brien, by choosing not to run again, steps down and Olsen magically shows up at the County Clerk’s office, paperwork prepared with the necessary number of signatures and effectively becomes our de facto ‘new’ Supervisor without the voters having a say in the process.
Backroom politics at its worst?  Hell Yes, but for the Bee to start the obfuscation process so quickly is not only almost unbelievable it shows the Bee’s willingness to be an integral part of changing the narrative there by altering the institutional memory.
One thing that will be hard to ascertain is whether it was the reporter or his editor that chose to omit the complete story.  History would suggest the editor made the political decision stay close to the powers behind the throne.  Once again the public was left uninformed and out in the cold.
But as always, in order to better inform the public, we’ll be keeping a close Eye On Modesto.

Brandvold’s Talking Out of Both Sides of His Mouth Again

By Emerson Drake  brandvold

Without any facts or figures to back him up Mayor Brandvold wants to spend another $1.8 Million passing our raises to city workers.
Since 2008 we’ve placed more of the costs of their retirement and health plan  back in the hands where it belonged in the first place just like in private business, the city workers. But now instead continuing the cost reductions he wants to hand out $1.8 Million without saying here it’s coming from.
But here is the little secret Brandvold doesn’t want us to catch on to. Some of the money that is supposed to pay for the new 22 officers for the MPD is going to pay for the raises for City staff.
The key is that if you factor in the current officers that will be retiring and those that will move on to other employment and those that will be asked to leave the MPD,  the numbers will be just about the same as they are now. So we aren’t really going to increase the boots on the street. We’re just being duped by a Mayor whose only concern is making those that funded his candidacy, the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and a few unscrupulous developers along with powerful city unions happy.
The bottom line is the 22 additional officers are nothing but a figment of his imagination.  It’s meant to make us think he’s keeping his campaign promises while he’s really paying off his campaign debts to the city and  police and fire unions.  Undoubtedly some the money will be found again at the end of the fiscal year and spent somewhere else (like expanding Modesto’s sphere of influence through the General Plan after the building fees are reduced.)
So the question is:  Is Modesto shedding it’s ‘Business and Usual’ approach (straight out of the 100 day committee’s report)?  We thinks it’s just more same old same old  Business as Usual.  When the Chamber of Commerce is pulling the strings the more things change the more they remain the same.
File Brandvold’s proposal under …The Emperor’s New Clothes.
 

Are Modestans prepared for the flashbacks to the late 80’s and early 90’s?

By Emerson Drake   modestologo

Mayor Ted Brandvold and those who funded his campaign in the developer community are ready to place their grand plan for expansion in motion. They’ve already announced their intentions to lower building impact fees to developers which won’t lower prices to consumers but will pad the pockets of developers. Then in their minds the next logical step is to try to steal land that Wood Colony and Salida have been trying to protect.  Developers have been placed on the Alliance Board of Directors and the Modesto City Council to assure us this is the best course, but since these same developers own properties in these areas, Bill Lyons and Modesto Councilman Mani Grewal in Wood Colony and Dr.Stephen Endsley in Salida, how can we expect them to do anything other than to provide support to their own cause.

Obviously they can’t be trusted but who will stop them?  The money behind Brandvold’s election campaign owns and or controls property outside of Modesto so infill is just given lip service.  Endsley, who when heard of last was intent on building a garbage burner on Modesto’s south side,  has been itching to develop his property north of Kiernan inside the Salida plan.  And Mani Grewal and Bill Lyons own property in the Dakota triangle and so Brandvold and his supporters want to ignore the many people that spoke to the Modesto Planning Commission and go back to the good old days where developers rule. just like they did during the Village 1 debacle.  It will be no surprise to see City Staff finding reasons to support the developers cause because, after all, they want to keep their jobs.

Expect the same people that wanted to sell our water to San Francisco like the Chamber’s Janice Keating and Chamber lobbyist Cecil Russell, to tell the public how this will save Modesto and bring quality jobs. Except Lyons wants to build retail, which provides minimum wage jobs, Cecil waxes almost poetically about warehouse jobs in the Chamber’s monthly magazine and Endsley just craves action. After the good doctor received his check from MID’s ratepayers for $1.2 Million for not building his garbage burner, he’s been after Salida’s zoned business park which curiously enough surrounds Gregori High School.  We’ve even documented where Union Bank is fronting for Ryan Swehla and Benchmark in the sale of property north of Kiernan.

Recognize any of these names? Craig Lewis, Brad Hawn, Chris Murphy, George Petrulakis, Tom Nielsen, Ron Jackson, Dennis Wilson, Chris Esther, Kole Seifkin, Ron Ehrke, Mark Buckley, Warren Kirk, Steve Madison, Jim Mortensen, Jeff Burda, Randy Clark, Linda Sadler, Becky Meredith, Bill Zoslocki, Joan Clendenin, Steve Rank. They’re all members of the Chamber land use and Transportation Committee.  Expect to see any and all of these people coming out in the near future in favor of not only reverting back to old land use plans but for a massive,  expansive,  land grab.  Many of these same people already spoke in front of the Planning Commission in favor of extending Modesto’s sphere of influence all the way to the river to our West and North.  Nothing like building homes on some of the worlds richest and best soil for farming.

Developers even managed to place Brad Hawn on LAFCO so don’t expect organizations that are supposed to protect against SPRAWL to protect us from the developer’s greed.  The voters, understandably,  were frustrated by former Mayor Marsh’s policies but as we’ve already warned, we’ve jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.  Mayor Marsh and those who supported him are responsible for lighting the fuse and will now act surprised that the developers’s power keg of GREED and SPRAWL goes off.

And what will the rest of Modesto’s City Council do?  Our guess is hey’ll admire the Emperor’s new clothes.

Did the Bee Engage in Voter Suppression?

By Emerson Drake  dontbesilent

On Election Day morning, the Bee’s headline read: Clinton has Clinched, AP Delegate survey says. Now on election day, using the reasoning (defective reasoning in our view), that this was ‘real news’, I was told by a high ranking editor at the Bee, that they felt it was important to report.  I was even told they questioned the AP’s timing of the release of the poll, but they felt the need to report it anyway.   How can this headline be construed as anything but a blatant attempt to convince voters that going to vote for a Presidential nominee was an exercise in futility.

Quite honestly, reporting a ‘poll’ released by another news organization (Associated Press) on election day smacks of irresponsible behavior and extremely poor judgement to us. It doesn’t matter which candidate you supported, having our local paper suggesting they were doing the ‘right thing’ especially at a time when we all should be doing everything we can to get voters involved, is ludicrous

Adding even more shame to their actions they didn’t make the story available on Modbee.com or on their Facebook page making commenting on their actions impossible. Agree or disagree with what you read on the Bee’s Editorial Page, to place this story on the front page above the fold was a deliberate act that should have negative consequences to whomever made the decision.

When a newspaper uses its power and manipulates the public to create news instead of reporting it, it becomes just a piece of paper, a piece of paper suitable for the bottom of birdcages, wrapping fish and designating a place for the dog to go.

Does a Local Candidate’s Support of a National Candidate Effect June’s Outcome

By Emerson Drake  stanislauslogo

We avoid national politics here but this has a potential local twist that might prove interesting.
 
In Sacramento, Teamsters Joint Council 7  is reversing itself and taking back their endorsement of Republican candidate Scott Jones for Sacramento’s 7th Congressional District. Up until now the union’s support is self interest.  Jones’ opponent Rep. Ali Bera supported giving President Obama fast track trade authority.  The problem the Teamsters have is the candidate’s support of Donald Trump. They feel Trumps’ campaign  decisions don’t align with their views.
 
Be that as it may, the question here is, will County Board Supervisor Jim DeMartini, who is up for re-election and is the head of the Republican Party here in Stanislaus County, be effected by his inevitable support of the eventual candidate for President, Donald Trump?   After all Patterson’s Latino Mayor Luis Molina is running against DeMartini, as is Eileen Wyatt Stokman.
 
Nobody including the Modesto Bee, seems to want to broach this topic. Maybe because DeMartini might get elected in June BEFORE the Trump issue is front and center? We think we need to take a look at people’s thinking now before the June elections.

The City of Modesto Treats Businesses Better Than it does Its Residents.

By Emerson Drake  modestoarch (1)

Can you imagine being behind more than 30 days in your water/sewer bill what Modesto’s reaction would be?   Yep, it would cut off your service. And before the speculation begins I’ve never had my water cut off. As anyone knows that has owed the city money they can be pretty cold hearted.
Now imagine you have collected money that you owe to Modesto but refuse to pay them.  What would the city do? Well if you are a business absolutely nothing. Budgetel Inn on McHenry operated by United Resorts LLC has owed Modesto lodging taxes (transient occupancy tax) since August of 2008. That’s right 2008 and they finally got around to trying to collect in earnest  and started proceedings October 29, 2014.   Modesto Tax Administrator, Gloriette Genereux ruled in January of 2015 UR LLC owed $106,623.50 in outstanding TOT and penalties.
Since then the Motel has played the lawyer game and stretched out the proceedings by mailing challenges to the wrong party and agreeing to pay, then failing to honor its promises.  All of this comes from tonight’s Council agenda Item 14. agendaitem145316  and agendaitem1425316
Budgetel has been bargaining in bad faith from the beginning in our opinion.  They’ve held on to the City’s ‘OUR’ money since 2008 and it’s time for it to come to an end.  Unless of course they’ll let residents wait 8 years to pay their bills like they do businesses.

Political Gamesmanship By Olsen and O’Brien

By Emerson Drake  krolsen

We’ve watched Supervisor Bill O’Brien for years on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors (BoS) and most of the time his decisions (if you overlook the waste of time with Gerry Kamilos’ West Park illusion/fantasy) were in the public’s interest.  But his decision to hide his not running for Supervisor again must have a hidden payoff for him ( maybe her support such as it is when he runs for state office).  Kristin Olsen who has done little except cash  state pay checks and find a job for her unemployed wannabe soccer coach husband has scurried sideways for another taste of the public’s teat,  is running unopposed for O’Brien’s position on the BoS.

Olsen, who despite her claims of wanting to campaign, knew she didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning against Cathleen Galgiani.  Just two months ago she was talking about spending some quality family time. Well if Olsen isn’t lying she isn’t talking. 

Local campaign donors have to be excited regarding this about face.  Olsen’s secret to getting elected has been, since her Modesto City Council days,  to be an energetic advocate for those who crossed her palm with money ( campaign contributions of course).  Watching her on the floor of the City Council defending the Chopra’s slight of hand in a local development (screwing a family farm out of usable land by shifting a designated water catch basin onto their land from  Chopra’s) was a sight to behold. The only right or wrong in her eyes is who donated to her campaign and who didn’t.  I’ll give her this, once she’s bought she stays bought.  Local developers will rejoice at her decision to run for the BoS.

Who orchestrated this slight of hand we could speculate but don’t know for sure (if we can find out you’ll hear it here) but since Olsen accomplished almost nothing of consequence at the state level we don’t hold out much hope for her accomplishing anything  worthwhile on the Board of Supervisors, well except for those dreams of avarice of her contributors.

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