Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Bill Zoslocki”

Local Candidates Didn’t Want You to See What They Were About to Do

By Emerson Drake                       modestologo

On Wednesday March 25, 2015, the Modesto City Council held a special meeting away from video recording devices.  Ostensibly it was to decide if they should send a letter in support of five other cities in Stanislaus County regarding a decision the Local Agency Formation Commission better known as LAFCO, made.  The Commission isn’t sexy or well known but is vitally important when it comes to setting boundaries and settling disputes.

But let us begin the conversation  with a little ground work.  LAFCO was intending to set actual values to the in-lieu of fees part of the mitigation discussion.  Several cities proposed setting their own fees.  For example LAFCO research suggested for the fees to be meaningful the price needed to be around $7,000 per acre and Patterson for one, was proposing $2,000 per acre of prime farmland.

The Special Meeting with NO Video Recording

LAFCO’s intention of visiting the fees has been public knowledge for several weeks.  They notified the Modesto City Council by email two weeks prior to the meeting according to Mayor Marsh.  And of course they posted their agenda as required by law.   The special meeting was requested by Council members Kenoyer, Cogdill, Zoslocki, and Lopez.  The topic of the fees could have been dealt with at the last meeting of the city council but instead they choose to have a meeting not in their official chambers but in a small meeting room, 2001, on the second floor.

Six members of the public were present Craig Lewis, Brad Barker,  Cathy Zoslocki, Kevin Valine,  myself, and Tom Halan,  the Patterson City Attorney ( if I got that name wrong I’m sorry, who just happened to be in the building on other business).

When the Council members weighed in Jenny Kenoyer said she didn’t understand what LAFCO was intending to do  and she didn’t appreciate the last minute meetings with out prep time.  Dave Cogdill complained about  the cities losing control of their mitigation fees.  Bill  Zoslocki claimed it was an over reach by LAFCO.   Dave Lopez said LAFCO was over stepping their bounds and claimed Jenny Kenoyer agreed with him.  He also blamed Mayor Marsh for not writing a letter supporting the other cities. During the meeting Kenoyer never commented on Lopez’s remarks.  And John Gunderson said he needed more time to think about whatever it was LAFCO intended on doing.    Marsh tried to explain LAFCO was just setting a price so there would be a level playing field for all of the cities but Kenoyer and Gunderson just had a blank look on their faces.  The others just kept repeating their previous comments like mantras. Just saying the same thing over again.  The work of developer special interests was obvious.

Now I realize this sounds like just sound bites but it was the entire text of their statements at this point.   Each of them, talked twice and they just repeated their brief statements.

Members from the public

Brad Barker went first and was the most eloquent and informative.  He carefully explained to Kenoyer and Gunderson what LAFCO’s intent was and walked them through the chaos that would ensue if each city could set their own fee levels.  The Patterson City Attorney just restated the cities should be allowed to keep control of their own fees.  I reminded the Council of the Patterson building fees which were woefully short on being able to build the needed infrastructure for the tarffic which eventually come  and that the County had to step in to pay for the costs of rebuilding the roads.  Also having seen the blank faces of Gunderson and Kenoyer,  I tried once again to explain what was happening later on that night at the LAFCO meeting.  Craig Lewis read some of Ed Persike’s op ed piece from the Bee that day and also trotted out the book the Coming Jobs War which actually says to do the exact opposite of what he, the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and the developers are pushing for.  But unfortunately as we learned at a Modesto Planning Commission meeting, most of the commissions members who opened the book didn’t read past the first few pages (one to two pages) and unfortunately, the general public has read even less.  But pretending to relay information from a book gives the air of knowledge.  Unfortunately it just makes it easier to manipulate them.

At the end of the short meeting Kenoyer and Marsh voted against sending the letter and Cogdill,  Zoslocki, Gunderson, and Lopez voted for the City Manager to send a letter in support of the other cities.  In other words,  at this point in time in the City of Modesto,  special interests rule.  After the meeting they each stuck to their short sound bites.  Especially Gunderson. He had that feral, almost goofy look  he gets.  You know the one a child gets when they think they have fooled you and just kept saying he needed more time to consider everything over and over again as if that explained everything away.

The Four Who Were Shills for Developers Promoting SPRAWL

dcogdillbzoslockidlopezjgunderson

The Bottom Line

LAFCO, thanks to Terry Withrow,  Jim DeMartini,  and Matt Beekman made us all proud and went forward and set the price for land fee mitigation in the amount of $7,000 per acre.

The following are the letters sent by various groups both for and against LAFCO’s proposal.

commentstoLAFCO

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s Magic Elixir for Our Economic Woes

Emerson Drake

Jobs,,,Jobs…Jobs is the cry and we’re being told the magic elixir to our problem is shovel ready land.  If you build them they

An illustration by W. W. Denslow from The Wond...

will come is the Chambers mantra referring to Business Parks.  The quality jobs will flow into Modesto if we only had a park….

We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto

It sounds like a chant from L. Frank Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and it may be just as fanciful.  At the recent Planning Commission meeting we heard the Chamber’s lobbyist Cecil Russell and his faithful realtor side kick Craig Lewis repeat this claim as they have several times before, but this time with a twist.  The lobbyist had promised at prior meetings to supply us with the numbers of the prospective contacts they had received from companies looking to establish a business in Modesto.

They alleged the Stanislaus County Alliance had received over 70 inquires and the reason NONE of these came to to fruition was, you probably guessed it, lack of shovel ready land.  Bill Bassitt the Alliance’s former CEO admitted that during his tenure he had failed to bring in a single major manufacturing company despite Modesto giving the Alliance $65,000 this year alone (Modesto has funded them for years) to do just that.

 The Alliance is, by design and charter, supposed to represent ALL of Stanislaus County in an effort to obtain new business.

Lets take a look at this claim by asking ourselves a few questions:

Is the only reason we have had few companies move to Modesto because of lack of shovel ready land?  A more obvious answer would be since the current recession started in 2007 even if we had massive amounts of unused land available for immediate use here in Modesto it would have remained unused.  We’ve had land available on Pelendale (35 acres in a single plot alone) acreage in the Beard Industrial Park and Kiernan Business Park East but it has gone undeveloped.  In Beard the owners have played a waiting game looking for a particular type of tenant who would need rail access to support their private railroad company.  They’ve actually been thwarting some business possibilities playing a game with the public until the City Council made them a “special” deal by going to LAFCO and not requiring them to sign waivers to be able to access the utilities you and I paid for.

Isn’t the Stanislaus Alliance supposed to represent ALL of the County not just Modesto?

Yes, they are and Turlock, Patterson, Riverbank and Oakdale all have land available so why the flimsy excuses?  They feel the time is right and want to strike while the window of desperation is open. And what political leader is willing to speak out against the jobs, jobs, jobs mantra?   NONE.

The Chamber is running Village I Developer and Profiteer Bill Zoslocki for City Council

When the Chamber can’t come up with new ideas or faces they run retreads like Bill Zoslocki.  He has spoken out for the Chambers Pathway to SPRAWL several times in front of the Planning Commission but now that the elections are getting closer he has become the invisible man.  When we reminded people of Developer Bill Zoslocki’s past of manipulating prior councils and making millions of dollars at the expense of Modesto taxpayers his supporters whined, forgetting that once he pulled papers and then filed for office he opened himself up to public scrutiny. Something the Candidate workshops remind the prospective candidates that their supporters ignore.

Will we stand up to the Chamber’s pressure?

As we’ve written in recent articles the Chamber is playing both ends against the middle which seems to be their way.  In public pretending to lean one way and behind the scenes working in the opposite direction.  Will we, the voting/taxpaying public, see through the smoke screen or will we be like the scarecrow seeing the paved over farmland filled with houses wishing …if I only had a brain.

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