Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Janice Keating”

Duplicitousness of Modesto Politics

By Emerson Drake

Duplicitousness-Given to or marked by deliberate deceptiveness in behavior or speech.

Mayor Brandvold speaks out of both sides of his mouth and the uninformed Modesto electorate doesn’t know the difference.  In today’s paper (Monday 5/28)  Modesto’s Mayor Ted Brandvold endorses Janice Keating for the Board of Supervisors for District 5.  He talks about Janice’s top priority being the homeless and specifically about her ‘mobilizing the community’ to establish a homeless shelter.

Now the funniest thing about this is Brandvold is the Chamber of Commerce’s/DoMo’s (downtown Modesto organization) mouthpiece in stopping the shelter from being placed on Stanislaus Foods property.  He constantly suggests that Stan Foods is the wrong place for a shelter.  He suggests that somewhere out on Hackett Road, presumably around the Sheriff’s office  would be better.  But why spend the money for a shelter no one will use?  There isn’t ready transportation to and from Hackett Rd.  There are no facilities, no anything, but that is exactly why the Mayor and Chamber want to ship these people out of town.  Out of sight out of mind.

The sad part is the 60 bed low barrier shelter was to be for families, people with pets and people needing a place to temporarily store their belongings while they have the opportunity to shower.  It wasn’t meant for the mentally ill or addicts but the elitist segments of our business community don’t care about anything except getting rid of what they see as disposable people.

It comes as no surprise that Brandvold would support Keating since both politicians have the same political strategist/money man – George Petrulakis.  The spokesman for the Chamber/DoMo could just as easily been Councilmen Bill Zoslocki, Doug Ridenour, or Mani Grewal.  But none of these except for Mani have the strong George Petrulakis connection.  But Mani is busy masquerading as a Democrat so he stepped aside.  Bill is maneuvering for his next position with the County and Doug wants to be Mayor like his brother was but George is intent on making sure Ted gets another election cycle.

But back to the beginning.  Brandvold is allegedly supporting Keating, because of her accomplishments with the homeless community but she has  has accomplished nothing because of his attacking the homeless shelter over and over. But hey, that’s the duplicitousness of Modesto politics.

Janice isn’t saving our city.  She’s just an empty hollow promise from another Modesto politician designed to make you think something is being accomplished when in actuality it’s nothing more than a mirage designed to make us take another bite of sand. 

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Creating the Perfect Storm, Developer Style

By Emerson Drake  

It’s getting close to that time again when we get to vote for the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.  But how do we separate the wheat from the chaff,  the good from the bad,  the place holders from the players.  We could do a breakdown of the political parties they represent. Or we could try to decide by their opinions on topics of importance.  But as most of us are aware, with a few of the candidates,  their opinions are like underwear that’s to say they get changed daily depending on the nature of their audience.

Unfortunately in local politics the latter is mostly true, unless, or maybe especially if their opinions are manufactured by those power brokers behind the scenes.  We have some that believe in paving paradise and putting up parking lots.  And some who don’t know what to believe and are just being used as pawns in a larger game.  Lets back up a few years for a moment and remember when Bill Zoslocki, Craig Lewis, Cecil Russell and yes George Petrulakis  were attending every meeting imaginable saying they needed to extend Modesto’s sphere of influence to the river on Modesto’s north and west sides.  That would have doubled the size of Modesto’s footprint.  And it was to be done in their words.. to protect our farmland.  And that of course was just a lie.

But many people stepped up to the plate among them were Terry Withrow and Jake Wenger, two of the higher profile politicians willing to take a stand against the Chamber’s Transportation Committee which at the time included Zoslocki, Lewis, Russell, and Petrulakis along with the then Mayor of Modesto, Garrad Marsh.  When the massive land grab was temporarily defeated, well at least a stand-off, the Chamber, led by Cecil Russell, George Petrulakis and others let it be know they were coming after Withrow and Wenger.  Let us not forget that soon after the upcoming election in June, Modesto will be taking another look at the General Plan Amendment that will put expansionism back in play again.  Refer  back to the article’s title.

A few short years later (last fall) George Petrulakis masterminded an ambush of Jake Wenger by Stu Gilman for MID  Director Division 4.  They used Janice Keating, the congregation of The House, a church in Modesto, a pocket full of money and a naive dilettante (or maybe I should say cunning) named  Katherine Borges to do their dirty work.  Keating probably made out the best since Gilman actually paid the political consulting  company she runs from her home, Fundamental,  $1,500.  Petrulakis is still owed $17,000 by Gilman for his expertise or was it actually a loan in disguise used for advertising?   Borges swallowed a completely improbable story, or at least did publicly, about Salida getting water from MID, which is contractually impossible, and let Gilman/Petrulakis use her endorsement (she eventually endorsed both candidates).  Now Borges is being encouraged by George Petrulakis (was this part of an earlier promise to get her to support Gilman?) and is running against Terry Withrow for Board of Supervisors District 3.   Could things get any curiouser?  Ahh, yes we can’t forget the chameleon  Tony Madrigal.

One interesting thing to know about George Petrulakis is that he’s an equal opportunity employer.  We learned out in Patterson when land use issues weren’t going his way he’d just as soon buy a Democrat as a Republican. In the past George swayed Modesto City Councilman Tony Madrigal several times… first he’s for saving Wood Colony from developers, then against, and now for again.  With Borges, he managed to find a reason that would allow her to support Gilman (imaginary available water) against Wenger. That along with playing to her desire for the attention.  So now he has two candidates running against Withrow.

In the other race Tom Berryhill a termed out retread who seems to be relying on name recognition, (after all it worked for Dick Monteith,)  Janice Keating who has lost her last two political races and was supported by George Petrulakis and Zagaris,  and Frank Damrell who has been an assistant for a Congressman working on Social Security issues.  Berryhill doesn’t even bother to campaign.  He expects people to remember his family name and vote for him.  He has no viable ideas just the desire for another paycheck from taxpayer’s money.  With Keating it’s pretty simple.  She took $28,000 from a MID slush fund and spoke publicly for the sale of our water to San Francisco.   Imagine if MID had had less water during the recent drought for both Modesto and the farmers to share all so a local businessman (can you say Bill Lyons) could make a windfall profit on selling water to the state.

Watching a recent Modesto Bee forum a few observations jumped out.  Tony Madrigal reminded us of Armando Arreola, a perennial Mayoral candidate in Modesto, who applies one of the three answers he has in his repertoire to every question he’s asked whether they address the question or not.  Katherine Borges the… I was a Democrat, then I turned Republican, now I’m pretending to be nonpartisan, now that even though I keep going to their meetings, the Republican Party chose not to back me… used former candidate for Supervisor Scott Calkins’  ideas from four years ago, which she loudly disdained then as she was actively campaigning for Withrow.   I know it’s hard to follow the changes ( remember the underwear analogy) but you can’t, and don’t have to,  make these things up.   Terry Withrow has stayed the course amid the stormy seas.  He defended Wood Colony and Salida from the aggressive aspirations of the Chamber of Commerce’s land grab developers.  He’s been a consistent voice for promoting our homeless issues despite the Modesto Mayor’s along with the Modesto’s business community’s (DoMo) foot dragging.  And he was one of the prominent voices on County water issues during the drought. The fact that land use attorney George Petrulakis has two candidates in the District 3 race, Madrigal and Borges, brings super clarity to the issue. Terry Withrow is the only real choice if we want insure the public has an independent voice on the Board of Supervisors in District 3.

District 4 is even less complicated.  Tom Berryhill has no vision, no ideas, and like Keating is running from political decisions made in the past. Berryhill and his ‘funneling money’ questions that he seems to be dodging every step of the way.  And Keating with her close ties to the paving paradise development community including selling her “opinions ” to the highest bidder.  Of the three running Frank Damrell  stands out compared to  the two tired political hacks he’s facing.

 

 

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.

Modesto Chamber Double-Crosses Pathway to SPRAWL Supporters

By Emerson Drake

In recent weeks the Modesto Chamber of Commerce has been going around to a variety of civic organizations

attempting to drum up support for its dubious  Pathways to Jobs plan which should be more accurately named  Pathway to SPRAWL because of the housing the Chamber plans on building houses instead of business parks.  The Chamber has visited the Latino Community Roundtable (LCR), the King Kennedy Community Center Board, and even had a discussion with Frank Johnson, President of the local NAACP.  Now while I might and will question how wide spread the support is in these various organizations, the Chamber uses their endorsements when speaking to the Modesto City Council and the Stanislaus Board of Supervisors to claim some in the community support their plan.

After talking with many members of these organizations one topic reverberates consistently, and that’s the unrelenting belief of a need for more police officers in their respective neighborhoods. I’ve also talked with and interviewed many of the council candidates and they too expressed the over arching concern of the people they’ve talked with for the need for more police officers.

Now that the Modesto Chamber has their endorsements for the carrot on a stick, “JOBS” , and their Pathway to SPRAWL, the Chamber has pulled the old switcheroo. 

On Tuesday night at the Modesto City Council meeting the Chamber’s head lobbyist, Cecil Russell, announced very

Hetaera urinating in a chamber pot. Tondo from...

Hetaera urinating in a chamber pot. Tondo from an Attic red-figure kylix. Antikensammlung Berlin, 3757. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

plainly the Chamber would not be supporting the proposed “sales tax” initiative which according to Modesto City Manager could add 60 to 80 more police officers.  No real surprise there considering the Chamber is afraid if Modesto’s sales tax gets approved this year the voters won’t approve the County road tax in November of 2014 and they feel the road tax is a necessary link for their proposal.

The Modesto Chamber says NO to more Police Officers for Modesto

BUT now the Chambers representatives, George Petrulakis and Janice Keating and others are  actively seeking  groups and individuals to undercut community support to DEFEAT the sales tax proposal.  Now that the Chamber has the endorsements of LCR, NAACP and the King Kennedy Board they are seeking to remove, what these groups feel is the  number one concern, SAFETY in their neighborhoods.  How many more drive-bys shootings and children being stabbed and killed over cell phones are we going to endure just to support the greed of the members of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce?

Why should lobbyist Cecil Russell care, he lives in a gated community safe and far away from much of Modesto’s crime.  Will these organizations rethink their endorsements?  Or will they continue to follow along like lemmings to the slaughter?

Deceiving the Public MID Style

[CALIFORNIA-A-0023] Don Pedro Dam

[CALIFORNIA-A-0023] Don Pedro Dam (Photo credit: waterarchives)

By Emerson Drake

MID has come through some very turbulent times. They had an iron fisted General Manager in Allen Short and until last year MID’s Board of Directors was a rubber stamp for his misguided dictatorial policies. Unfortunately it is the public that has been required to foot the bill. Here is an example of what has gone on during the last year of Allen Short’s reign.

Some Background

Back in 2010 the Board allowed GM Short to create a policy know as  Resolution No. 2010-35. This resolution, when combined with Purchase Order 54981 to Martino Graphic Design (MGD) for a total of $450,000, effectively created a slush fund using Joy Warren as Regulatory Administrator for control.  The original purpose for this fund included concerns about regulation concerning the delta, greenhouse gas, state regulations, and a euphemistic “improve the image and credibility of the district.”

But through a series of phone calls leaving no paper trail, the Resolution was bastardized and at least $148,000 went, utilizing “creative descriptions,” to a series of players/vendors to be used to create a false image of the potential water sale to the general public.  It’s my opinion this was done by nefarious design to make tracking the money and proving where it went  difficult, if not almost impossible. At least one recipient of the slush fund (Janice Keating) spoke before the Board claiming to be a private citizen while others  recruited “politicos”, both politicians and wannabee’s to speak in favor the sale thus attempting to create a false impression using testimony for hire to fool the media and the unsuspecting public.

The Key to the Code

Throughout the year I submitted multiple formal Public Information Requests and queried the MID Board in a variety of ways during meetings, trying to get to the bottom of where the money was going .  But MID’s staff, management, and attorney, refused to provide any real answers other than the veiled documents themselves.  Finally on December 18, 2012 after a tumultuous MID Board meeting, Modesto Bee Reporter Garth Stapley was given the key to the code by a MID staff member to decipher the Martino Graphic design invoices. His story is here with the relevant information on page two.  http://www.modbee.com/2012/12/18/2500794_p2/raises-okd-for-modesto-irrigation.html 

Unfortunately, Garth only broke down the current invoice totalling $48,500, instead of the entire amount of $148,000 billed in 2012, despite being in possession of the earlier invoices MID already paid to MGD.  We know he had the earlier invoices because I sent them to both Garth Stapley and to Judy Sly many weeks earlier in an attempt to get them to write a story about what was going on.

Money was laundered using Martino Graphic Design as a middle man. The plan was designed to allow MID to make the claim, which they did, of having no contracts with those receiving the money and as such did not know where it was going.

Here is the Breakdown as we Know it Today

During the year 2012 under the guise labeled Outreach and Transparency, Janice Keating took $28,000.  Under Communications Services Mark Looker took $28,500 and under Consulting,  Mike Lynch took a whopping $52,500.   For their part in this ruse Martino Graphics Design pocketed $29,000.

In a recent Public Information Request response MID stated “NO money has been given to Janice Keating or Mike Lynch  for the last THREE years.”  The same PIR showed Carol Whiteside had only received $1,500 dollars to her or her company, California Strategy, in the last three years when the actual total to Ms. Whiteside  is almost $30,000.  In a follow-up conversation with Asst. General Manager Lou Hempel,  he stated “after checking I show no money other than the $1,500 to Carol Whiteside’s California Strategy’s has been paid to any of the three in the last six years.”

MID used ratepayer’s money deceptively to create a false impression in the public’s mind in order to sell water we don’t have in order to hide the financial mismanagement that has been going on for many years. It would be my suggestion this type of paid testimony has been going on for years. Unfortunately only an in-depth investigation by knowledgable persons would discover what has been occurring.  Several members of staff including Joy Warren, took an active role in this, what can be described at best as a legally questionable  tactic. No effort was made by staff including the General Manager to inform the Board members,  yet by their own admissions during public meetings, Directors Tom VanGroningen and Glen Wild were willing participants to the deception.

MGD did create a few flyers, stickers, and handouts but these were billed separately and at much smaller costs  to the same PO number. MID  Board Agenda Report from their December 18, 2012 meeting was filled with deception and what can only be described as political spin trying desperately to paint a false impression to anyone who hadn’t been following their exploits for the past year.

Did you know MID is still paying former General Manager Allen Short his regular pay through October of this year despite him having left back in December?   You do now.   Are you wondering why there was a $60,000  investigation conducted by the personnel department at the end of last year?  Maybe you should be.

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