Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Bill Zoslocki Profiteer Developer”

Public Record Request Uncovers 14,000 Emails Hidden From the Public

By Emerson Drake 

Many times Public Record Requests are the only way to find out what is going on behind the scenes especially when your topic is Modesto politicians and you’re discussing City business.  They aren’t a tell all, yet sometimes a glimpse of light slips through.  Recently we discovered that Cecil Russell and his Chateau Provence Home Owners Association, with the help of Rank Security, had illegally mounted cameras on city light poles and were stealing electricity from MID.

Now using the same method we’ve uncovered 6 private email accounts that the Mayor and members of the City Council are using to conduct city business. At first we were told that it was probably just a few emails and they were mostly about meetings.  But they didn’t realize  we already had in our possession emails to and from Modesto Mayor Ted Brandvold and land use attorney George Petrulakis.

So we did a Public Record Request on the six emails. The scope was from the time each had taken office until present. Never did I expect the response I received via email.

 

Hi Emerson,

Regarding your Public Record Request of March 8, 2017 for all emails since taking office, including attachments to and from: 3 from Ted Brandvold, 2 from Bill Zoslocki and 1 from Tony Madrigal.  (the actual email addresses have been redacted)

Our IT Department is working on this to pull all the emails, however they have gotten over 14,000 hits on this request. 

Is there any way we can narrow this request?  Are you looking for something specific that we can narrow with some keywords?  Perhaps we can narrow the time frame?

If you can let me know as soon as possible, I can let IT know how to proceed with your request.

Sincerely,

Dana Sanchez

Administrative Office Assistant III (Confidential)
City Clerk’s Office

Since then we’ve learned of even more email addresses being used.

Modesto seems to be admitting every single Public Record Request made by us  and others in the last several years is incomplete. And now we’re told the city will NOT be going back and supplementing the requests.  They are telling the very people that withheld the information by using private accounts to ‘police’ themselves.  Only one member of the Council, Kristi Ah You,  has stepped up to the plate and placed her emails up for review.

No guidance has been given other that the term ‘city business’. And as City Attorney’s staff has pointed out there is currently NO policy or requirement that Mayor, Council members or city staff use ONLY their government email accounts for city business.  And who had his hand in (wrote the majority) from the beginning when the Modesto City Charter was written? Why George Petrulakis of course.  If you want the rules to favor you, you write the rules.

We always need to keep in mind that the title of City Attorney is misleading.  His title should be Mayor and Council’s attorney because in my opinion he works against the public’s best interest.  He liberally uses Brown Acts exemption clauses and with his silence on other aspects advises them on how to avoid the Brown Act and the best way to mitigate the damage if they are caught.  He should be firmly suggesting to them they need to use ONLY City email accounts and City cell phones.

What or should I say how much are they trying to hide?

Maybe it’s time to go after their text messages too.

Informative article printed in the Bee today from the Orange County Register

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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.

The Modesto City Council and Chamber want to Hire This Man for City Manager?

By Emerson Drake   IQUIT

When Modesto City Councilman Bill Zoslocki is pushing something he saves Modesto Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Cecil Russell from having to support it.  Here is a story about Jim Holgersson, the man they (the Council and Chamber) want to hire as interim city manager.  Public record requests are a wonderful thing.

Ousted Arlington city manager’s scathing review, perks detailed in public records: Former Arlington City Manager Jim Holgersson resigned in September amidst a scathing review from his peers, which was made public under the state’s open records act by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram over the weekend.

The review, commissioned by the city of an outside firm, pointedly noted that “there are major gaps between the way Jim Holgersson perceives himself versus the way his employees and internal customers” do.Holgersson’s six-year tenure was ended by that evaluation, which notes that his response to the findings was “professional but defensive.”

Holgersson took the review to heart; he resigned and took the remaining eight months of his $214,152 salary on his couch.In a story by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram,  city council member Mel LeBlanc said ”the consultant thought he was irredeemable. The questions we had as a council were, ‘Could he be coached, could he be managed by us back into a leadership capacity?’ All answers came back, ‘No, this has gone too far. It was valid, empirical evidence that we had a leadership problem.”

press release by the city at the time of Holgersson’s hiring claims his starting salary would be $190,000 but said nothing of pension provisions, car or phone allowances and the other non-salary perks of a public executive’s pay package.

***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

And yet they want to hire this man.  The question we have is WHY? It goes to show just how low the City Council and Chamber of Commerce have stooped to.  It’s time to ask if the Council is being serious or do they think it’s still April 1st.?

Today in the Name of Freedom We Start Taking the Battle to Them

By Emerson Drake7539_644398712288462_663275294_n

Okay it’s a little dramatic, but it fits.  The Modesto City Council is preparing, through its General Plan Amendment update, to annex Wood Colony and possibly Salida and I say enough is enough.  Unlike the beleaguered citizens of Modesto, residents of Wood Colony and Salida have a means to fight back.  Marketplace Shopping Center is a prime example.  Modesto residents came out in droves to protest the building of the center at Sylvan and Oakdale roads but the city council, after pretending to listen and postponing the decision a few times, decided developers were more important to them than the voting citizens of the neighborhood.  They can’t protest the decision to a higher authority like Wood Colony and Salida will be able to ie: LAFCO.

The Modesto City Council has been drinking the Chamber of Commerce’s Kool aid.

After speaking with Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer on Jan.7th it became obvious, that despite her protestations of independent research, she was mouthing the exact platitudes of the Chamber’s Craig Lewis and lobbyist Cecil Russell.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, is the chant.  But all they are providing are empty promises of ‘core’ jobs which is deceiving few if any.  Core jobs don’t rely on freeway access, warehouse and distribution jobs at $10 to $12 an hour do.  And the Chamber says we should be grateful for that.  But Bill Lyons’ Wood Colony Business Park (WCBP) would provide the 5% commissions for Realtors like Councilman Bill Zoslocki and his boss at Prudential Realty, Craig Lewis.  Jenny likes to say she wants a research facility to be built at WCPB and challenged me to give her another option.  Very simple, if it’s going to be 10 to 20 years before build-out, which I doubt, lets use the second rate soil on land East of Modesto.   Just like the Chamber, Jenny dismissed this out of hand.   Why?  Because they know it’s out best option and it undermines their arguments in favor of Salida and Wood Colony.

Another talking point they, the Chamber and many members of the Council make is a business park would keep our children from leaving Modesto.  What a joke, but again false promises hold out hope to parents of children who might leave after college graduation.  I suppose if they had a child who wanted to be an oceanographer they’d promise to build an ocean in the proposed park too.

Their spiel isn’t about truth, it’s about taking advantage of the hard times and making as much money as possible for themselves and their friends just like developer and profiteer Bill Zoslocki did with Village I.

I supported Jenny Kenoyer when she ran for office the first time. I sat with her and fought the proposed water sale to San Francisco.  I heard her speak many times about preserving prime farmland.  And now because she mentions  farmland mitigation she believes it covers for her sins for making false campaign promises.  I understand some politicians lie to get in office but I truly never expected it of her, not to this extent.

And as for taking the fight to them…

There are people walking Modesto council districts explaining to the people just how badly the City Council is treating the German Baptist Brethren in Wood Colony.   But as Jenny admitted saying, they (the Brethren) can’t vote for her.

Food for thought about the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and those in the Modesto City Council who vote against the preservation of Wood Colony and Salida…To know where Evil grows and permit it to flourish is to accept responsibility for all that follows.

What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake Wednesday 10/2 8:00 PM

Tonight’s topics include Developer and candidate for city council Bill Zoslocki’s latest lie suggesting Village I was a model

 

Radio RED 104.9 FM

 

development, LCR’s question to city school candidates and their responses, LAFCO’s comments regarding the Woodglen subdivision and the Modesto City Council, water mining, these topics and more so tune into tonight and find out what you need to know to make decisions important to you, your family and your community. Wednesday at 8:00 PM

 

104.9 FM our flagship station

 

To listen or from our archives:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/10/03/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake-1

 

Are Voters Becoming Disenchanted with the Modesto City Council?

By Emerson Drake                    The Draper/Centerra Decision

 

Last night’s City Council meeting was true to form. The public was forgotten and ignored by most of those on the dias.  The

Modesto's Double Tree and Brenden Theater

Mayor was so distracted by his email that many times it appeared he wasn’t aware of his surroundings. But lets start at the public comment period.

 

Many members of this Council have conspired to keep information out of the public’s eye.  An example is the article written August 18th about a Finance Committee meeting where City Manager (C.M.) Gregg Nyhoff deliberately waited until it was too late to include his Summary of Reductions – Target $6 Million Report in the Finance Committee’s agenda packet.  His report, which highlighted recommendations for targeted budget reductions to the formal agenda, (where it would have been made available to the public ).  During the meeting Nyhoff passed the report out to the committee and members of the public attending the meeting. The Committee voted to accept the report without comment.  This was a decision made several weeks prior to the meeting. After all it would be difficult for Councilwoman Burnside to stand in front of the Modesto Police Officers Association (MPOA) after voting to eliminate 20 sworn positions if the sales tax doesn’t pass. With some members of our council one hand washes the other.

 

At a subsequent meeting of the Finance Committee on August 27 I requested the report to be included on the city’s website.  Unfortunately as of September 3rd they had failed to comply.  So at last night’s meeting I again pointed out it was a Brown Act meeting and as a result the City Manager’s Report should have been included in the minutes despite C.M. Nyhoff’s efforts to obfuscate it.  So when I protested again last night the now ‘clandestine’ reports absence, City Council Attorney Susanna Acala Wood weighed in stating since it was a Brown Act meeting the report should be included in the official record.  But Nyhoff and the council members had already achieved their goal of not having the Committee be forced to give their recommendations and to keep it out of the public’s eye. Bee reporter Kevin Valine was present at the meetings but has yet to write a word regarding the events at the meeting.

 

Brent Sinclair Supports Paul Draper Being Chosen (actually he was the one who chose Draper)

 

To hear Brent Sinclair make the case for Paul Draper to be chosen was ludicrous.  His main argument was since Draper was involved with his self named ‘Team Modesto’ and had spent hundreds of hours attempting to build his multi-use towers he deserved the council’s largess.  While I commend Draper for his attempt I don’t feel the need to grant him the ‘excess profits’ by allowing him to represent Modesto’s five properties in the sale to the state. From our point of view Draper was ‘given’ a bonus by allowing this to occur. Draper will receive $30,000 for every million dollars the city receives for its five properties.  And yes it comes from Modesto’s pocket.

 

Even a judge weighed in

 

The the Honorable Ricardo Cordova Superior Court judge, spoke for the need to use Draper.   Judge Cordova’s claim to fame in the ‘good old boy’ network was reducing the charges in former Stanislaus County Detective Kari Abbey’s case in the killing of Rita Elias.  His reasoning for using Draper was that time was of the essence.  This just didn’t ring true.  After all, these negotiations for the courthouse properties have been on going for quite some time  and as a result the need for haste seems very contrived.

 

Cordova’s fear tactics appear to have worked,

 

Talking with Councilman Geer after the meeting he said he had listened intently to both sides of the arguments being made but the Judge suggesting we could possibly lose the state money swayed his vote.  It could be suggested that was why Cordova was trotted out last night. I have to wonder if he was going to speak BEFORE Sunday’s article  exposing the Centerra / Draper / Archway Commons article came out or if he was recruited afterward…

 

Why are we waiting until the last minute to approve a consultant and why wasn’t it vetted by a Committee?

 

The Mayor and City Council were well aware of the history Paul Draper and his Centerra company have with Modesto’s Archway Commons project.  The outrageous profit unnecessarily paid to Centerra was just another example of behind the scene politics that seem to occur on a regular basis in Modesto.  Kudos to the Bee for finally discussing the seamy underbelly of Modesto politics. Unfortunately the Council has learned to rush forward at the last minute anything they hope to avoid much public discussion on.  Once again it was obvious if no committee vetted Draper being hired as a consultant/realtor no one could be held responsible in the future.  It’s all about the lack of accountability for Modesto’s politicians.  The exception to the rule would be Councilman John Gunderson who understood the concern for having a downtown court house,  voted against the ‘last minute’ consideration of Draper. Congratulations Councilman Gunderson for standing up for Modesto’s citizens and not falling for the contrived, last minute, rush job.

 

Mayor Marsh answering emails during the Council meeting

 

Mayor Marsh seemed to be trying to distance himself from all questions of Archway Commons and Draper’s Centerra.  Mayor Marsh had apparently decided if he ignored the speakers they would eventually just go away.  At one point he had to be called by name three times to get him to look up from his phone and respond to a question.  The City Attorney tried to cover for him by saying she was advising him not to answer the question of how much Draper would make for selling Modesto’s five properties along with those he already represented. But unfortunately for the Mayor, he didn’t have a clue his name was being called out loud.

 

Have the taxpayers given up?

 

It needs to be acknowledged only three people came to speak against using the Draper/Centerra  in connection with the downtown courthouse.  Yet five people, including a former Councilman took the time to write a letter to the editor protesting the possibility.  Why?  Maybe because they knew it would be a waste of time since the Mayor and Council have been steadfastly ignoring the wishes of the public and just have been listening to the ‘backroom’  denizens.

 

Will Modesto Voters Memory Improve?

 

I have to be honest I doubt it.  After all they (District 4 ) are considering electing a Village I developer/profiteer Bill Zoslocki to the Modesto City Council without laughing, spitting or reaching for the tar and feathers.  But we can always hope.

 

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