Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Brad Hawn”

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.

Last Night’s Local Agency Formation Commission Meeting (LAFCO)

By Emerson Drake

Last night’s LAFCO was sparsely attended, short and bitter sweet.  All of the  Commission Members were in attendance.

English: This map shows the incorporated and u...

English: This map shows the incorporated and unincorporated areas in Stanislaus County, California, highlighting Modesto in red. It was created with a custom script with US Census Bureau data and modified with Inkscape. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They started out by discussing the letter from the Modesto Chamber of Commerce where the Chamber “mistakenly” used the official Modesto logo.  The letter had blasted LAFCO for conducting interviews out of the public’s eye. The letter’s last paragraph complained about the direction LAFCO has been going in favor (Ag Mitigation) hence my  concern about the possible confusion of using Modesto’s official logo.  It’s the way LAFCO has been doing business for a long time and it’s similar to the way the City and County interview potential Committee members.  The Board as a whole Chairman O’Brien and Supervisor Jim DeMartini took exception to the Chambers expressed opinions.

Chairman Bill O’Brien and Vice Chair Amy Bublak met and interviewed the four finalists before the meeting started (okay technically they interviewed Brad Hawn by phone) and they were Ron Freitas, John Mier, Annabel Gammon, and Brad Hawn.  Commissioner Mayor Charlie Goeken made the nominations for both Public member and Alternate public member.  Successful candidates were required to receive a vote from both a city and a county member.

After each nomination a vote was taken.  Brad Hawn, former Modesto City Councilman and a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors was chosen for public member and Annabel Gammon was chose as the alternate. Ms. Gammon’s vote was unanimous and  Commissioner DeMartini voted against Brad Hawn.

It was somewhat interesting to see Steve Madison builder, former BIA Director, and Chamber of Commerce member not only attending but speaking in support of the Chamber.  Sitting directly  behind me was  land use attorney and who is also sometimes portrayed as political kingmaker and Chamber campaign fund facilitator  George Petrulakis.  While George  and Steve were sitting separately,  they  left huddled in conversation together very soon after Brad Hawn who is also on the Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors nomination.

Did the letter have the desired effect and help Hawn get the position?  I couldn’t say.  But I do know the past practice with LAFCO is to take the alternate public member who has been observing and participating as necessary and bringing them onto the Board as the Public member. Ron Freitas would have been my first choice for the position of Public member but the public doesn’t get to vote and since he had already served a term as Alternate he wasn’t eligible for the position. The public and the candidates were given the opportunity to speak in behalf of themselves or any of the candidates but since Commissioner Goeken wasn’t part of the interviewing process and was the one making the nominations I don’t believe any input at that point would make a difference.

So does Brad Hawn being chosen place Ag Mitigation in jeopardy? I spoke to several of the Commission members after the meeting and they assured me changing their Ag mitigation policy was a long and arduous process and that particular conversation wasn’t even on the distant horizon.

Now the flip side.

We all know the Modesto Chamber of Commerce has been actively planning and has started using Modesto’s General Plan Amendment process to campaign to completely destroy not only Ag land preservation but also Ag Mitigation utilizing the current election cycle as a tool and that Steve Madison and George Petrulakis were there for a reason last night.

.Lobbyists, real estate agents, and home builders fill their action committees and with no direct concerted opposition mounted by the citizens of Modesto I’m afraid there are dark times ahead.

I’m looking forward to next Monday’s “On Watch With Athens Abell”  on local cable television KBSV 6:00 PM Comcast 15 also on streaming video.  I’ll be the guest hosting  and  talking with  Stanislaus County Board member and LAFCO Commissioner Jim DeMartini.

Now that’s one conversation  you won’t want to miss.

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