Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Jim Mortensen”

The Chamber Plotting the Take over of Wood Colony

By Emerson Drake                                         LTU_Team-225x145

In our opinion a small cabal of greedy people have taken over the Modesto Chamber of Commerce in the last eight to ten  years.  They run candidates who promote their agenda, many times to the detriment of Modesto citizens.  From Tom VanGroningen, Glen Wild, and Jim Mortensen on MID Board to Stephanie Burnside and Dave Cogdill Jr. on the City Council, we’ve helped in the attempt to fight off their influence and it’s one more time into the breach my friends.

Herein the picture are some on the people behind the land grab.   And this is the list of names of the Transportation Committee which comprises many of the other plotters.                                                                                                                                                                            Modesto Chamber of Commerce – Land Use & Transportation Committee 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 And of course the Chamber’s head lobbyist Cecil Russell.  If you know  any of these people feel free to contact them and register your disapproval.

It’s difficult to expect an open mind from Councilman Bill Zoslocki when he was part of the problem.  Little wonder he was being so condescending and speaking like a preschool teacher to their charges. But what is the connection you ask?  It goes back to the Village I debacle where developers and the Chamber used their considerable influence to lower building fees which allowed developers like Bill Zoslocki to receive excess profits (in other words become profiteers), but now Councilman Zoslocki is working for Craig Lewis at his branch of Prudential Real Estate.  Their constant lament during the Planning Commission presentations/workshops was there wasn’t enough commercial land for THEM to sell. Like we owe them a living and should take/steal land from others and make it available to them.  Just how self-entitled can you get?

Brad Hawn (on the lower right) is a former city councilman who the Chamber worked behind the scenes to get placed on LAFCO (Land Formation Commission) which will eventually get to decide if the annexation will go through.  Jim Mortensen, a failed MID candidate, was helping the Chamber promoting the water sale to San Francisco and is/was actively promoting the land grab.

George Petrulakis (second from the right) is a land use attorney who wrote most of the Modesto Charter and helped ensure clauses like the one Marsh misused to keep the public from speaking out at city council meetings as the Brown Act allows. Fortunately one of our contributors quoted the case on point (Friant Water Authority v. County of Madera) and eventually the Mayor relented and allowed those who spoke at the Dec.3rd meeting to speak again.  Unfortunately if was after many had already gone home.  George’s boss from Keystone Development spoke at the meeting to promote the land grab.  George’s claim to fame, along with writing the Modesto City Charter, was with Keystone where  he threatened to sue Patterson and then he was behind a petition to create a zoning czar in Patterson who would NOT be accountable to the city council just because of a zoning disagreement.  He’s one land use attorney we need to keep an eye on.

Of course we can’t overlook the Chambers head lobbyist Cecil Russell especially since Cecil was actively promoting the water sale to San Francisco along with Keating.  He and former Modesto Councilwoman Janice Keating, also from the Chamber, are basically speakers for hire and will say almost anything at any time for a payday.

In order to fight fire with fire we suggest a flyer be made and spread around town to businesses who are Modesto Chamber members.  The flyer would request support from Modesto shoppers with the goal of saving Wood Colony and while asking the store owners for permission to display the flyer ask the owners to call the Chamber and request they cease and desist.

And this is just the beginning…

Here are more of the denizens of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce

Craig-LewisRuben-VillalobosBrad-Hawncecil-russell Left to right: Craig Lewis, Ruben Villalobos, Brad Hawn, and of course the lobbyist Cecil Russell.

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What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake

Topics include Women’s voting issues from around the country, what political

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candidates should and shouldn’t put on their facebook pages, Jim Mortensen’s reasons he lost the MID race, Mike Hardin’s Measure X claims and the missing truth about Modesto’s budget, these topics and more so tune in and find out what you need to know to make decisions important to you, your family and your community. Fridays at Noon.

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To listen live or from our archives at your convenience:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/11/08/hats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake

What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake… Friday at Noon

Topics include the ethics of Modesto’s Politicians,  the evil cabal behind

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the Mensinger, Campbell, and Mortensen slate,  will the County’s water proposal really make a difference, Mike Hardin’s Measure X claims and the missing truth, these topics and more so tune in and find out what you need to know to make decisions important to you, your family and your community. Friday at Noon.

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To listen live or from our archive: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/11/01/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake

Judy Sly and the Bee’s Cover-up of Jim Mortensen’s Lie

By Emerson Drake

When the Modesto Bee’s Editorial Staff brought the MID District 4 candidates in to visit they allowed the candidates to ask one  question of

Punch and Judy puppet show in Philadelphia

Punch and Judy puppet show in Philadelphia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

another candidate.  Jim Mortensen was asked if he had brought a lawsuit, made a financial claim or received any monetary payouts from MID in the past.  His response was that he’d received between $3 to $4 thousand dollars in remunerations.

In response to two Public record Requests MID turned over the claim Jim Mortensen and his attorney filed against MID for $90,000 dollars.  At first it was denied but after threatening  further legal action a settlement was reached in the amount of $20,000.

Ms. Sly has always claimed she believes it a greater offense when a candidate lies about his past instead of coming clean.  So to be fair we forwarded the Public Record Request responses to Ms. Sly so she could set the record straight since the Bee has already  endorsed Mortensen.  Ms. Sly has yet to respond to our information and queries.  It’s generally known Ms. Sly is finally retiring after this election, but to see her go out on such a dishonest note is sad.

An interesting side note is one of the Directors who voted for the payoff was the same man paying Mike Lynch to be Mortensen’s campaign adviser,  Bill Lyons.

This  pdf is the $90,000 claim Jim Mortensen ‘forgot’.

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This pdf documents the $20,000 payout Jim Mortensen tried to obfuscate.

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Shame on Jim Mortensen for failing to come clean on a $90,000 claim and a $20,000 payout.  Those kind of numbers you would remember, especially if you’re running for the MID Board.

Shame on Judy Sly and the Modesto Bee for trying to cover-up Mortensen’s obvious lie.  It just goes to show you can’t trust the Modesto Bee’s Editorial staff, especially when they have an  agenda.

Pinocchio’s anyone?

Pinochios

What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake at Noon Thursday 10/25

Today’s topics include, Jim Mortensen’s $20,000 lie, the Modesto Bee’s misinformation campaign,  the latest goings on at MID with the

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disastrous  Mensinger, Campbell, and Mortensen slate, MID’s Tom Van Groningen’s temper tantrum, the Modesto City Council and  the Measure X proposal, the Modesto Courthouse placement. these topics and more so tune into and find out what you need to know to make decisions important to you, your family and your community. Wednesday at 6:30  PM

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To listen live or from our archives go to: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/10/25/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake

What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake Wednesday at 6:30 PM

Tonight’s topics include our new expanded schedule,  the latest goings on at MID with the

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disastrous  Mensinger, Campbell, and Mortensen slate, MID’s Tom Van Groningen’s latest antics, the Modesto City Council and lobbyist Cecil Russell, behind the scenes of the Measure X proposal, the Modesto Courthouse placement. these topics and more so tune into tonight and find out what you need to know to make decisions important to you, your family and your community. Wednesday at 6:30  PM

104.9 FM our flagship station

To listen live or from our archives http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/10/10/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake-1

Lessons Learned at LCR’s MID Candidate Forum

By Emerson Drake

The Latino Community Roundtable (LCR) conducted a flawless MID candidate  forum for the public Monday night. They

Lyons

adhered to their rules which include: only those with paid memberships can vote, those with both personal and business memberships can vote twice, and it’s allowable to come prior to the forum and place your votes and leave before the forum starts.  About 50 people were present if you include the eight candidates.  I was present as the votes were counted and the process went off without a hitch as has been my experience with LCR. The eight candidates all responded to the questions put to them to the best of their ability.  Quite honestly there was a wide discrepancy in their ability and afterward I wondered if those voting were at the same forum I was, but that is just my personal opinion.  All in all It was a fair democratic process.

And now the vote totals:

MID District 2           John Mensinger 23              Carmen Sabatino 3

MID District 3        Paul Campbell 18        Les Johnson 7

MID District 4        Jim Mortensen 15          Jake Wenger 9          Ted Donham 1       Brad Johnson 0

What I learned at the Forum

As an observer and participant of the political process I’ve been aware of a slate of candidates being run by Bill Lyons.  In recent MID elections Mr. Lyons has supported the majority of candidates to the tune of $5,000 each.  Unfortunately he supported the candidates who, in turn, supported former General Manager Allen Short.  Short consistently made some of the worst decisions possible costing MID ratepayers millions of dollars.  He was also behind the creation of the slush fund where the MID Board funneled $249,000  through Martino Graphics to a variety of lobbyists.  The man receiving the most money was a political consultant named Mike Lynch.  Would it surprise anyone  to learn Mr. Lynch is the major consultant behind Lyons candidate slate?  With Mike Lynch having the MID money pie all over his face it’s understandable for Bill Lyons to bring in someone unconnected with the Martino Graphics fiasco to be the slate’s (Mortensen, Mensinger, and Campbell) public consultant.

The high profile political consultant is Chip Langman of Langman Consulting.  In a conversation with Mr. Langman he stated he was representing and being paid by candidates Mensinger and Campbell and denied being part of the Mortensen campaign. I suppose when campaign consultants are talking with those who might write about the conversation it’s understandable that being forthcoming (honest) might not be first on their agenda and unfortunately this was the case with Mr. Langman.  Jim Mortensen had previously let it slip, that while he didn’t have a contract with Langman Consulting directly, his major benefactor, Bill Lyons did and it was on his behalf along with that of the other two candidates.

Both John Mensinger and Paul Campbell seem to be nice men in their own right.  This is part of the Bill Lyons technique (modus operandi seemed a little too fancy, but applicable). Lyons likes to bring in respectable businessmen that have little or no experience to run for MID like Glen Wild.  Their main value?  To vote as they are told.  They have little to no experience with MID’s water and electrical issues seeing that Mensinger just started coming to meetings recently and Campbell might not have even located the  the MID Board room more than once.  In the past both men have made public statements regarding the need to sell our water to San Francisco.

Jim Mortensen is a horse of a different color. He came to the podium during the water sale talks and was adamant about wanting MID to sell water on a long term basis to San Francisco.  And he stuck to his opinion when all of the details of the reprehensible contract came to light.  To make a mistake and be wrong and then change your mind is one thing, but to continue on the road to ruin is another.  He continues to say we need to monetize our water.  Just a week ago Mortensen came out publicly for the Board Governance policy which restricts the elected Directors access to the very information necessary to make informed decisions, thereby forcing them to rely solely on staff opinions without being able evaluate the facts for themselves.  This rule made it easier for Allen Short to bamboozle the Board into terrible costly decisions, decisions we ratepayers are still paying for (if you have any doubt check your electric bills).  Mortensen had pledged he would NOT use the Water Advisory Board as a jumping off point to run for office but he did.   Mortensen’s track record tell us he either lies to his advantage or makes terrible decisions and refuses to correct them.

Please understand Bill Lyons has been behind the proposed MID water sale to San Francisco all along. He doesn’t care if we run out of water since his property is along the river and he knows his 11 deep wells will bring him a fortune if the water runs out and everyone become desperate.  In my opinion he wants to assist in our destruction so he can make a fortune.  He can’t dam the water up so he wants to facilitate the sale of it out from underneath us. Even during droughts San Francisco was going to get their water first and MID, you and I, were going to get the leftovers.

Also know this isn’t Lyons first rodeo.  Four years ago Lyons personally supported Glen Wild’s and Paul Warda’s campaigns to the tune of $5,000 each and had his cronies do the same for Tom VanGroningen. Team Lyons has pledged to raise $60,000 for Mortensen’s campaign. In the past  he supported John Kidd and Cecil Hendsley’s campaigns too.   Lyons likes to play behind the scenes and stack the deck with jokers.  Please know several people who helped to recruit Mensinger, Campbell and Mortensen  were directly involved with MID in the last few years.  These include Janice Keating through the Martino Graphics slush fund and George Petrulakis who was paid $28,000 to facilitate ONE meeting between MID and the City of Modesto.  It isn’t a stretch to suggest this money, Keating’s and Petrulakis’,  were down payments for services ‘to be rendered.’

We have many good candidates to choose from running for the Modesto Irrigation District and no offense to anyone, but none will be endorsed by the Latino Community Roundtable.  Now you know the Bill Lyons and MID back story.  Tell your friends, co-workers, and neighbors.  The only way we can save our drinking water and keep our electric bills down is to make sure the Lyon’s slate of candidates doesn’t get into office.

What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake Wednesday at 8 PM

Tonight’s topics include MID candidates, the Serpa rule, where are our MID payments going,  water mining, the latest from the

 

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Planning Commission, Wood Colony and Salida,  these topics and more so tune into tonight and find out what you need to know to make decisions important to you, your family and your community. Wednesday at 8:00 PM

 

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To listen live or from the archive http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/09/19/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake-1

 

Is MID at it Again?

By Emerson Drake

During the discussion of the consent calendar we requested some information on several items.  Document #11389 in the

English: I Myke waddy took this photo. Canada....

amount of $37,946.87 and #11408 in the amount of $8,247.96 were detailed for manual checks.  No breakdown was given.  And Document #11404   in the amount of $18,229.63 –  #11430 in the amount of $12,590.11 – #11459 in the amount of $38,436.15, detailed for prepaid procurement cards and again no detail was given.

$115,450.72 in money for which no detail has been provided is a concern.  So we made a public records request for the details regarding these expenditures.  When the topic was broached all that was asked for was an explanation.  The example we received was “for example it would repay employees for bridge tolls.”  Now we don’t know how much of this money was spent on tolls,  but using bridge tolls as an example for over $115,000.00 spent between August 6 thru August 27 seems a little ludicrous.

We also questioned a $1,300 dollar charge labeled ‘monthly’ for progress magazine which is a publication by the Modesto Chamber of Commerce.  The same chamber which actively supported selling our water long term to San Francisco and which endorses political candidates including those for the Modesto Irrigation District. This presents an ethical dilemma for MID and the ratepayers. We have repeatedly requested this practice be halted to no avail.  It may be we’ll have to wait for new candidates to be elected to help support Directors Larry Byrd and Nick Blom.

Three MID candidates to avoid: Jim Mortensen, John Mensinger, and Paul Campbell

Jim Mortensen actually jumped up to be speak during the public comment period to support/endorse (he used both terms) last weeks adoption of the “Serpa” rule in the Board Governance policy specifically section BL-4 (b).  Quite honestly I was surprised but maybe I shouldn’t have been.  He was nominated by Tom Van Groningen to the Water Advisory Board.  He promised NOT to run for the MID Board and as soon as possible he pulled papers and signed up to run.  Jim Mortensen has also publicly spoken in favor of selling our water to San Francisco.  John Mensinger and Paul Campbell both failed to speak out against the proposed water sale. For Mortensen to support a policy that not only allows but insists the General Manager and Attorney NOT allow requests for information if it takes up too much staff time or is disruptive, is unconscionable. Please remember former GM Allen Short deemed 15 minutes of staff time as too much.

Trust is something you build

Already our new General Manager Roger ‘the Dodger’ VanHoy has demonstrated a desire to withhold information from the public and also a penchant for presenting misinformation unless his feet are held to the fire by the Board.  After remaining silent last week when asked if the ‘Serpa’ rule was part of the Governance policy we got a taste of things to come IF he’s allowed to go the way of his mentor Allen Short.

We are also following up with TID Board President Michael Frantz regarding Board of Control report concerns.  More on that subject after we’ve talked with Director Frantz.

If you get the chance, ask “the Dodger” why MID is spending over $6,000 a year on having bottled water delivered when MID own’s two water treatment plants. His answer would be funny until you consider the elderly and low income people barely scraping by so his people in Ripon, the Woodland generator(near MJC) and,  believe it or not, the MID legal Department, can drink bottled water.  Maybe he doesn’t like the taste of ours.

I know it gives me a sour taste in my mouth what about you?

MID Part 2 GM Roger ‘the Dodger’ VanHoy Has Some Explaining to Do

By Emerson Drake

When MID General Manager Roger VanHoy was asked during the last MID meeting if ‘the Serpa Rule’ was included in the Governance policy the Board

English: Flag of San Francisco Español: Bander...

was getting ready to vote on,  he looked down at the dais and acted as if he was going  to write something and made no comment.  And as I pointed out in the last article the Serpa Rule was indeed part of the Governance plan (BL-4 to be exact).

BL-4 states: (B) In the case of Board members or committees with MID employees or contractors requesting information or assistance without Board authorization, the General Manager or the General Council MUST refuse such requests that require, in their opinion, a material amount of staff time, or funds, or are disruptive.  

Previously GM Allen Short had declared that conducting a salary survey was disruptive to morale and that potentially (the project didn’t have to be started) using more than 15 minutes of staff time was cause for not supplying the requested information.

Well I wasn’t the only person he bamboozled.   Apparently he had assured more than one member of the Board the Serpa Rule wasn’t included there either.  Sadly he mislead several of the Directors who voted him his permanent position as General Manager just last week. The honeymoon is over for ‘the Dodger’ after he stepped on his own…tail.  Looks like the Board and the public are going to have a trust issues with Roger ‘the Dodger’ VanHoy in the future, and rightly so.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if the Serpa Rule gets removed from the Governance policy before the elections.

The two men who pushed hard to get the Governance policy in front of the Board as an action item (Tom Van Groningen and Glen Wild) are going around ‘campaigning’ for a few of the candidates saying, that like themselves the candidates believe our water should be sold to San Francisco on a long term basis and that we need to institute the Governance policy immediately.

The three candidates we should avoid like the plague are John Mensinger,  Jim Mortensen, and Paul Campbell.  We can NOT afford to for these men to get into office. Their irresponsible desire to send water out of our county to San Francisco on a first serve basis utilizing a long term (30 year) contract is shortsighted and foolish.

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