Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Chamber of commerce”

What’s on America’s Mind

The latest on the up coming Salida MAC meeting, how easy it is to get endorsements from local groups and just how

Radio RED 104.9 FM

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

effective they are, the Chambers Pathways to SPRAWL, how little real news we get from the local print media and the slant they give what we read, these and more so tune in at 6:30 PM Wednesday and find out the things you really  need to know.

104.9 FM Modesto our Flag Ship station

Our live and archived link to this episode:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/centralvalleyhornet/2013/06/20/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake

The Planning Commission, the Chamber, and You Monday 6/3

The Planning Commission is meeting

Luke on Modesto, Tatooine

Luke on Modesto, Tatooine (Photo credit: Rubink1)

CITY OF MODESTO
PLANNING COMMISSION WORKSHOP AGENDA
MONDAY, JUNE 3, 2013 – 6:00 PM
KING-KENNEDY MEMORIAL CENTER
601 S MARTIN LUTHER KING DR (MELLIS PARK) – MODESTO, CA

The Chamber of Commerce will be presenting their Pathways to Jobs.  We have been informed the Planning Commission will meet again on Monday July 15.  Tomorrow is another opportunity for people to speak out and tell the Commission what YOU want for Modesto and not just what greedy developers want. They keep saying jobs but what their actually selling is homes.

We suggest you read Bruce Frohman’s article at : http://thevalleycitizen.com/?p=2136 The Valley Citizen is full of articles of importance to Modesto and all of Stanislaus County.

The Planning Commission agenda can be found at http://ci.modesto.ca.us/ced/pc/pdf/agendas/2013/060313_PC%20Agenda%20GPA%20Workshop.pdf

The picture represents what our prime farmland will look like when the Modesto Chamber of Commerce is through.

 

Things You Need to Know and Won’t Read Anywhere Else

By Emerson Drake

MID Has a New Back Door Man

Lyons

Lyons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Modesto Irrigation District was discussing creating their Water Advisory Committee there were only a few major requirements. Being knowledgeable regarding water issues, understanding a successful business model, and most importantly, and without exception, not running for the MID Board in the fall. Most of the people nominated and approved fall into that category. But it seems we have one MAJOR exception. The Water Advisory Committee Chairman Jim Mortensen has been seeking financial supporters in an apparent run for office for District 4.  And he has apparently found one in Bill Lyons. Lyons, who supported Glen Wild, Tom Van Groningen, and Paul Warda to name the ones still on the Board  through his Beckwith-Dakota LLC,  has pledged his support. Bill Lyons has been milking MID for every penny he can, and has found a new shill to put into office. Unfortunately the people Lyons’ supported in the past are responsible for many of the terrible decisions made by MID.  And since  Jim Mortensen won’t or refuses (you choose) to honor his pledge NOT to run for the MID Board then how can anyone in good conscience vote for him?  The public should DEMAND his removal at the next MID Board meeting.  The meeting  scheduled for May 28 has been cancelled. Maybe now we know why.

Along those same lines we keep hearing Carol Whiteside (of Martino Graphic Designs funneled money fame) is considering a run for the MID Board. Ms. Whiteside who collected a minimum of $15,000 (not invoiced by her company, California Strategies) from MID through Martino Graphics ,has been contacting Board members to arrange meetings.  The last time she pulled this stunt she was being directed by Tom Van Groningen and Glen Wild (they were the only Board members aware of the surreptitious arrangement with Martino Graphics.  Neither the rest  of the MID Board nor the public are clear on what she did to earn the money (except to study MID records according to Tom VanGroningen). Apparently for the friends of a chosen few, MID is the gift that keeps on giving. With her record of receiving funds under the table from MID, I don’t understand how she could consider running but then maybe she’s talking with Billy Lyons too.

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s new Bible vs Their Plan,  Pathways to Growth

The book is “The Coming Jobs War” by Jim Clifton (Chairman of Google) and is quite interesting.  I’ve heard several members of the Chamber tout this book as a must read for planning Modesto’s future.  The funny thing about people pushing books allegedly supporting their actions is that most people never get around to reading them.  Come on, it’s no indictment against anyone but most people aren’t readers.  It’s just a fact of life and the Chamber knows it.  So all they feel they have to do is wave a book by Google’s Chairman and people will accept anything they say as Gospel. Unfortunately for the Chamber some of us are readers.  I finished it last week.  Would it surprise you to learn that most of the Chamber’s proposals run contrary to what the book espouses?  It shouldn’t because that’s how the Modesto Chamber of Commerce rolls.  These are the same people when they ran short of money to finish paying for refurbishing Modesto’s Arch were saying they were asking the city for a loan but had  City Manager Gregg Nyhoff place on the agenda a request for a one time gift.  Now that’s hardly the same thing.  I pointed this out during the City Council agenda meeting and when it came to the Council meeting, Councilman Cogdill expressed concern at using public money and the Chamber’s head lobbyist, Cecil Russell, ask for it to be pulled from the agenda.  It’s in the record so feel free to check it out. The print media never mentioned that to you did they?

I’ll be placing an annotated list of quotes taken word for word from the book so YOU can compare the two divergent philosophy’s (the Chamber’s and the book’s author).

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.

Presented to at the Modesto Irrigation District April 9,2013

By Joan Rutschow

The over regulation of farmers by the State Water Resources Control Board will have a devasting effect on farmlands, agriculture income, and jobs.

The recent proposal by the WRCB to release 35% of the unimpaired flow on the Stanislaus, Merced, and Tuolumne Rivers

The department logo.

The department logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

will have the following estimated and unacceptable outcomes:

1. Fallowing as many as 220,000 acres of farmland.

2. Loss of $187 Million in ag income and using a 7x economic multiplier according to the Modesto Chamber of Commerce equates in their estimate to $1.3 Billion.  But it is MUCH WORSE:  220,000 acres of permanent  crops which is what will have to be abandoned.  An average 5,000 lbs. at $2.50  per lb. equals gross farm-gate value times the economic multiplier of 7x equals $87,000 of economic benefit to those ag communities.  Apply this to 220,000 acres and it is a very big economic hit of $19.2 Billion that we currently HAVE and will LOSE.

3. Unfortunately, the WRCB is willing to sacrifice our agricultural livelihood and destroy our entire community.  All for the purpose of providing striped bass with exorbitantly priced salmon for every meal.

I personally attended the Don Pedro re-licensing meeting at Modesto Irrigation Headquarters on January 30 and 31st, 2013.  We were told by the meeting attendees that 93% of the young salmon in the rivers were killed by PREDATORS – mainly large mouth bass!  HUMAN NEEDS MUST COME FIRST!  Farmers MUST be allowed adequate water to provide food and fiber as needed by our growing population.  With our present drier water pattern, water is more important than ever!  There is NO GUARANTEE that the proposed release of 35% of the unimpaired flow of the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced Rivers would significantly save the salmon population, but would definitely GREATLY HARM FARMLANDS (FOOD PRODUCTION!), agriculture income and jobs!

Respectfully,

Joan Rutschow

Modesto Ca.

 

 

Take the Special Interest Money out of Politics Lower Campaign Donation Limits

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

By Emerson Drake

A change in Modesto’s TIN CUP  Ordinance (Time Is Now To Clean Up Politics) is coming up before the Modesto City Council and we need YOUR help.  In 2005 the Modesto Chamber of Commerce asked the council to eliminate the donation limits candidates can receive before they are forced to recuse themselves or step back from discussion and voting on a subject a contributor brought before the council.  It other words the Chamber wanted to make it so they could give many thousands of dollars to council members and they could vote for whatever the donor wanted.

Imagine where we would be if that had passed.

Instead the council decided to raise the limits from $1,000 to $3,000 before the cutoff limit was reached.  Since then we have divided the city up into six districts lowering the cost of running for office. Unfortunately this has brought forth excessive amounts of special interest money into the campaigns of some.

There is another argument being made by Councilman Lopez in which he suggests to be a good council member you must have the intestinal fortitude to ask for $3,000 or you won’t be worth your salt on the council.  But that isn’t how he plays the game.  For insistence, he asked the Modesto Fire Fighters Union for $2,962 just under the limit before he would have to recuse himself. He also asked the Modesto Police Officers Union, the MPOA, for $2,750  again just under the donation limit.

The argument is being made you need $6,000 to mail a flyer but in checking Lopez’s campaign reports ( called 460,s) the costs of running a mailer are around $3,000.

After checking the 460’s of the most recent council races I discovered very few donations were made OVER $1,000 in fact, with only a couple of small exceptions (over by a couple of hundred dollars) all of the candidate’s contributions were below the $1,000 threshold EXCEPT for those of special interests.   The special interest money came from unions, developers, and Lobbyists.

When comparing the money spent on council races a few other things became apparent.  When developer money (especially Salida area developers “surprise surprise”) piled in on a candidate like Dave Cogdill Jr., he spent it like it was on fire.  Councilman Cogdill spent $37,747 to get elected, took in at least 15 donations of $1,000 and his opponent spent about $2,000. Talk about a case of ego and overkill.

As a comparison Councilwoman Stephanie Burnside’s spent $23,000 and took six donations of $1,000 or more (two from Burnside Auto Body) and the rest were basically $500 and under.  Her opponent Jenny Kenoyer collected one contribution of $500 and the rest were smaller.  She raised and spent $13,000 on her campaign showing it can be done.

What the Bee didn’t mention in their recent article is the Modesto Fire Fighter’s Union made two independent campaign expenditures to Councilman Lopez’s campaign.  They spent $2,000 in telephone calls in July and they spent  another $6,000 in the final weeks of the race for mailers supporting Lopez. Todd Aaronson, Lopez’s major opponent, took in only six donations of $1,000 or more.

In other words Councilman Lopez out spent Aaronson by over 2-1 NOT counting the eight thousand dollars spent by the Fire Fighters Union.  If special interests are going to weigh in so heavily we need to know about it.  That will be my  next attempt to update the TIN CUP Ordinance.

So if you can take a moment, please email this to your friends to make them aware of  OUR opportunity to take Modesto out of the hands of the special interest groups be they Union, Lobbyist, OR Developer. Here is the list of Council emails I welcome you to write to:

mayor@modestogov.com               jgunderson@modestogov.com                 dgeer@modestogov.com

dlopez@modestogov.com               jmuratore@modestogov.com                    sburnside@modestogov.com

dcogdill@modestogov.com

You can call them at (209)571-5169

Be an Engaged Citizen…!

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

The Goodwin Report in Full

By Emerson Drake

So now it’s finally out for public consumption.  No more being passed just from one back room buddy to another.  No more just having the Alliance or the Modesto Chamber of Commerce being privy to the information YOUR tax dollars bought.

Take the time to review it and let it all soak in. We’ll be discussing the report in the near future in detail. But first, we, like you, have some questions that need answered. Feel free to add  your questions and  comments to this article. The questions we don’t know the answers to we’ll add to our own list and find out for you.

Salida_FIA_Report_(02.06.13_Final) (1)

Workforce Alliance Violates Brown Act, Holds an Illegal Meeting

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)

By Emerson Drake

The Alliance held their monthly meeting January 28th at noon and everyone but the public was invited.  As an organization subject to the Brown Act the Alliance  must post their agenda 72 hours ahead of time, and the official places they choose to use are their website and on the door to their offices at 1010 10th Street.  Unfortunately for the public, the time on the website was 3:30 PM and the two pages attached to their door had NO MENTION of the meetings start time.

So understandably when five interested members of the public arrived early at 3:15 for the meeting and discovered the meeting was already over, there was some consternation.  During his convoluted explanation, Bill Bassett pointed out it was mentioned just before the meeting by attendees, that the starting time listed on-line was incorrect, but they went ahead with the meeting anyway.  What was strange was they adjusted the time on their site to 12:00 AFTER the meeting was over.  How that helped I’m not really sure, though their admission came after I explained the incorrect listing had been downloaded over the weekend.

You haven’t read about this in the Bee

You really have to wonder why this Brown Act violation has been overlooked by the Modesto Bee since one of their reporters, Ken Carlson, was one of the five left hanging by the incorrect/false time posting. But even Ken has to get it past his editors before it gets printed in the Bee. And as we have seen, the Bee editors have an agenda they adhere to when it comes to backing the powers that be.  They consider that it’s in their best interest not to ruffle the feathers of those in power so they can continue to receive the behind the scene phone calls (or as in the case of MID, confidential Legal Memos) giving them advance notice of political deals. Unfortunately this practice ends up taking their readers down the rabbit hole with them.  The Bee keeps their secrets for weeks as in the case of the memos, until Eric Cain published them on his site, www.TheValleyCitizen.COM .  Blog sites like his and this one are where you can find out what they don’t want you to know.

It was interesting to read the two different versions of Ken Carlson’s article on the Goodwin report. The first one mentions the Bee obtaining the Goodwin Report and the second one, the one published doesn’t.  Makes you wonder doesn’t it?  It’s those pesky editors.

The Leaking of the Goodwin Draft Report to the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and the Workforce Alliance

One of the reasons we wanted to attend the Alliance meeting was to hear Bill Bassett’s comments on expanding the Enterprise zones, shovel ready ground, and the need for Modesto to annex Salida to make it easier to divide up the pie known as Salida.  Both the Alliance and the Chamber have had the Goodwin consulting Group’s Fiscal Impact Analysis Draft Report for the better part of two weeks. Who in the City and County governments gave these reports away? Well no one will admit to it but it happened.  My thoughts are to look to those who are the liaisons from the City and County but who knows?  It appears the Chamber is getting ready to launch an “Annex Salida” campaign.  After all, one of the reasons for the Chambers existence, and that of the Alliance,  is to manage situations for the advantage of their members. Remember Bill Bassett has repeatedly said his “investors” expect a return on their investments.  And it usually comes out of your pocket and mine.

Is anyone censuring the Alliances Violation of the Brown Act?

We made sure both the City of Modesto and the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors were made aware of the Brown Act violation and have asked both organizations to issue the Alliance a letter of protest. Will anything come of this probably not.  When it comes to the potential annexation of Salida, our Mayor has turned a deaf ear to the vocal protests of over 240 Salida Residents.  So I ask the Mayor and Council, when was the last time 240 Modestan’s showed up to a council meeting and stayed past the presentations?  For that matter I ask the Board of Supervisors the same question.  At Tuesday’s meeting of the BoS there was only one member of the public present for the last hour of the meeting. 

Why should the City or County censure the Alliance?

Most people aren’t aware the County gives the Alliance about $92,000 and the City gives the Alliance about $60,00 of the taxpayers money so I feel they have a responsibility to speak out. 

Not only should the Alliance receive a letter of censure from both of the Board of Supervisors and the Modesto City Council. these two government entities should stop wasting taxpayer money on the proposed annexation.

What’s on America’s Mind Wednesday at 7:00 PM

Radio RED 104.9 FM

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

Topics include the Salida MAC meeting last night and some of Mayor Marsh’s comments, Councilman Cogdill throwing a snit, The illegal meeting held by the Work Force Alliance,  The passing around of confidential documents to the Alliance and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce, Janice Keating being in denial about her pay for performance during the water sale, ta councilman deleting his annexation emails, the Don Pedro relicensing, and women in the military, these and more so tune in at 7:00PM Wednesday and find out the things you really  need to know.

104.9 FM Modesto our Flag Ship station

The call-in number is 1-347-215-9414

Here is the Email that Forced Supervisor Withrow to Recuse Himself from WestPark Discussions

By Emerson Drake

We’ve attempted to discover the actual sender but to this point were stymied. If anyone can pinpoint the exact sender for this information we’ll all be grateful.

Return-path: <billlyons82@hotmail.com>
Received: from snt0-omc2-s20.snt0.hotmail.com ([65.55.90.95])
 by mail.stancounty.com with ESMTP; Tue, 19 Jun 2012 08:49:57 -0700
X-CheckPoint: {4FE09FA4-2F-5264C83F-FFFF}
Received: from SNT136-W54 ([65.55.90.73]) by snt0-omc2-s20.snt0.hotmail.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.4675);
  Tue, 19 Jun 2012 08:49:56 -0700
Message-ID: <SNT136-W549F334BE6452C7901A66BA9FF0@phx.gbl>
Return-Path: billlyons82@hotmail.com
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
 boundary=”_4fe5a1d5-b6da-4d55-a837-b96e8e82a8eb_”
X-Originating-IP: [174.254.228.224]
From: bill lyons billlyons82@hotmail.com>
To: <gstapley@modbee.com>, <boggsk@stancounty.com>, <obrienw@stancounty.com>
Subject: West Park
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2012 08:49:56 -0700
Importance: Normal
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 19 Jun 2012 15:49:56.0849 (UTC) FILETIME=[2CF9F610:01CD4E33]
 
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