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.