Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Bill Zoslocki Profiteer”

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.

 

 

 

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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.

Lazy? Inept? Corrupt? and that’s Just the Investigation

By Emerson Drake  

To bring everyone up to speed Modesto Staff spent more than was authorized on City contracts 45 times and counting.  One contract alone was over spent by $2.5 Million Dollars.   Interim City Manager Joe Lopez says don’t worry because he found no evidence of fraud and that the city received the services they paid for.  It’s like you or me authorizing  up to $670 dollars for an auto repair and then without contacting you they find ‘other things wrong” and spent $930 dollars of your money and of course charged you for it except for the fact we’re talking $6.7 Million vs $9.3 Million  If that happened to you you’d feel like you’d been low balled and lied to wouldn’t you?

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and the third time is enemy action. But we’re talking 45 times..!  To be fair we borrowed the once is happenstance line from author Ian Fleming but we think it puts the issue/excuses into perspective.  And if you ask any investigator or detective they’ll say they don’t believe in coincidences.

On 12/13/17, Joe Lopez made a presentation to the Finance Committee.  He lists five initial findings.   Here they are in order: 1. Historical and cultural practices which created inconsistencies.  2. Lack of clarity relating to contract administration/procurement process. 3. Lack of communication between Purchasing and managing Departments. 4. Loss of key positions vs. workload. 5. Inappropriate actions taken by staff who increased contract amounts, created contracts, and modified termination dates of contracts without Council approval.

They kind of buried the lead and saved the best/worst for last.  City Staff are very aware that any contracts over $50,000 have to be approved by the City Council. One of their favorite ways to get around this was to let out a contract for less than the $50,000 limit then increase it later.  Some were let out without competitive bidding.  Many were increased with out the bidding process.  And on others they just changed the dates when the contracts expired.

If you’re asking why staff would take inappropriate actions, you’re asking the right question.  Are favors  being exchanged?  Free tickets to the Gallo,  free restaurant gift certificates, golf passes to Pebble Beach, or maybe just some gratis backyard improvements?  Too much business is being conducted outside of 1010 10th Street and in downtown cafes and restaurants(on the cuff of course).

So far the City has refused to name all but a few of the businesses involved and even fewer names of city employees.  Joe Lopez says the City is still reviewing the accounts and amounts.  He does suggest he’ll be more forthcoming at the Jan. 23rd Council meeting.

But can we trust his supposed candor?  Probably not since he’s desperate to keep the stench of impropriety off of him.  And since he was in charge, or at the very least the deputy in charge, and most believe promises were made to him by the Bill Zoslocki trio, it’s important to name no one until the damn breaks and then throw anyone under the bus as long as Joe stays squeaky clean.  Does he care to explain his belonging to the ‘new expensive car of the month club’?

After all, when the fox is guarding the hen house no one has anything to worry about, right?

 

 

Marsh, Zoslocki, Lewis, Russell, and Nyhoff were Collaborating All Along

By Emerson Drakechamberslargeplan

We’ve all listened to the Modesto Chamber of Commerce tell their story, some of us six or seven times,  of how their Transportation Committee met over a six month period (it gets longer every time they tell it) met to discuss Modesto’s land expansionist  planning needs for the next twenty years.  In previous articles we  chronicled how the Chamber went from needing 1,000 acres to over 25,300 of land during their series of presentations to various civic groups and  public entities. The above map is from their July 2013 presentation. This represents their goals and is an early view of what the comprehensive General Plan scheduled to begin two years from now will look like if they get their way.

As usual when it comes to people attempting to manipulate the public for their own selfish interests what they don’t tell us is just as, and sometimes more important, than the information they disseminate.

For example during these ‘planning meetings’ that Mayor Marsh and City Manager Nyhoff attended along with members of the Chamber’s Transportation Committee, they discussed how best to seize Wood Colony land for an industrial park and sneak Salida’s already zoned business park land from them to be placed under Modesto’s control.

I admit after hearing Mayor Marsh paint George Petrulakis and the Chamber as  ‘evil’ and a position we don’t totally disagree with, as the people we really had to worry about compared to himself and his friends,  I was surprised to learn of the initial collaborations. When his friends, Councilwoman Kenoyer of  (I don’t have to worry about Wood Colony because they can’t vote for me) fame,  and Councilman Gunderson who just can’t stop repeating “no one is talking about annexation”, while the Mayor keeps using the terms annexation and eminent domain, don’t make anyone feel they can be trusted.

Part of the ‘art of the deal’ was the watering down and delay of Denny Jackman’s Residential Urban Limits proposal.  An arrangement was made so the Chamber wouldn’t fight it when it came on the ballot but at the council meeting where it was proposed, a little ‘kicker’ was added.  Councilman Cogdill proposed that Modesto would repeal the Measures A and M  which deal with the public’s ability to control land acquisition and development(sewer expansion) by the city by requiring public advisory votes.

All of the General Plan Amendment discussion has been orchestrated from the beginning by just a few people. For example the rank and file of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce don’t get to vote on the Board of Directors, they’re appointed, the same is true of the Alliance.

The Modesto Planning Commission and Staff spent the better part of a year holding workshops for the public where Bill Zoslocki and Craig Lewis passionately advocated for a much larger footprint for Modesto.   People came forward and expressed themselves very succinctly.  And the Planning Commission’s meetings,  Brent Sinclair and the rest of Modesto’s planning staff listened to the public’s wishes and proposed a footprint which was in line with Denny’s original RUL proposal.

Then the politicians stepped in.  For a while you needed a score card to understand where each one of them stood.  From Nyhoff’s open mic fiasco where he dissed everyone who disagreed with the Chamber, we learned why Jenny turned her back on both her campaign promises, to protect prime farmland and keep Salida for Salida. The bumbling John Gunderson, so elated  the Mayor was finally talking to him as an equal, rubber stamped every proposal Marsh made whether he understood them or not.  For Cogdill and Zoslocki the mantra is “more is better.”  But Zoslocki added “but I can’t be caught voting/going on the record for it.”  Lopez, after being warned about people willing to energetically campaign against him in the Board of Supervisors race, disavowed any interest in Wood Colony. And Madrigal, well Tony is still out collecting prom dresses, rather than focusing on the larger tasks needed by the city.

But it all began with a few greedy real estate men (Zoslocki and Lewis), a small handpicked few from the Chamber,  a City Manager who spent more time working for the desires of a few in the Chamber of Commerce than he did the people of Modesto, and a Mayor who though he could write his own legacy by stealing the land from the residents of Salida, the farmers of Wood Colony and the German Baptist Brethren who, to take a page from Jenny Kenoyer’s book,  don’t vote anyway.

And We, the Citizens of Modesto are the only ones who can stop this.  And what have we been doing?  We’ve been  saying…. Sir, can I please have another?

It’s time to take back our City Government from the greedy special interests that are intent on ruining Modesto.

 

LCR’s Modesto City Council Candidates forum is Monday, August 26, 2013 at 6:00 PM

The Latino Community Roundtable (LCR) would like to invite Modesto residents and LCR members to the first candidates forum scheduled for Monday, August 26,

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was taken by me on January 14, 2010 in Modesto, California I hereby relinquish all rights to this photo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2013 at 6:00 PM at the Alliance. The address is 1020 10th Street place (one door down from Fuzio’s). It will start right at 6 pm.
The forum is open to the public and free of charge. See you there..

What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake Wednesday 8/14 at 8PM

Tonight’s topics include women’s issues around the country,  Profiteering developers in Modesto running for office, opening

Radio RED 104.9 FM

Radio RED 104.9 FM (Photo credit: Mahdi Ayat.)

Modesto Plaza, 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.

104.9 FM our flagship station

To listen live or in our archive : http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/08/15/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake-1

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