Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Joe Gibbs”

Local Politics, It’s an Insiders Game

By Emerson Drake

Imagine, if you will, a hit and run driver who killed a man is sentenced.  The local Sheriff has the ability to decide if he spends his sentence of a year actually in jail or allowed to spend his time at home with an ankle bracelet.  The Sheriff gets calls and visits from people he refers to as Rotarians who ask him to allow this man to stay out of jail because in his words “he’s written grants that have brought lots of money to Stanislaus County.” The Sheriff’s policy was no home detention for crimes of violence and a fatal hit-and-run fits that description.  The perpetrator not only received this “special treatment” he  even received lax follow-up on his home detention and was seen several times out and about town, from the Gallo Center, to the Brenden movie theater in the evenings when he should have been at home.

The Sheriff’s name was Adam Christianson and the Rotarians he referred to were members of the Stanislaus County Workforce Alliance, Chamber of Commerce, and the Rotary. The man’s name was Joe Gibbs.  The group he worked for was called Stanislaus Community Assistance Program or SCAP.  What most people remember of the SCAP debacle is Mr. Gibbs wanted to be paid over $600,000 dollars for his grant writing ability. 

Official seal of County of Stanislaus

Well, that and the fact he and his wife placed her parents in one of the fanciest remodeled homes while using SCAP staff to rent out the two homes her parents owned.

Less remembered is the joke of an investigation Modesto City Manager Greg Nyhoff performed. The total paper trail was an email to SCAP warning them about the Bee’s investigative article.

What many people aren’t aware of is the continuing SCAP connection at city hall. Not only have former SCAP board members been placed on multiple city committees, they still promote on the city website some of the companies involved. From the company that attempted to channel $62,500 to Benchmark Realty (then owned by Councilman Joe Muratore and his business partner Ryan Swehla), to Joe Gibbs and SCAP.

Joe Gibbs

Stanislaus Community Assistance Project (SCAP)

2209 Coffee Rd. Suite A

Modesto, CA 95355

(209) 572-2437


Ryan Swhela

Trinity Ventures

1120 13th Street. Suite I

Modesto, CA 95354

(209) 380-4425


You can see for yourself here  NSP2 Developers straight from the city website.

Recently J.David Wright, Modesto’s third largest political contributor in the last local election helped, Frank Ploof  get placed on the Citizens Housing and Community Development Commission.  It is bad enough that Ploof is a former member of  SCAP’s Board of Directors, he spent 10 months helping Daryl Fair, the former SCAP Board Chairman with a nonprofit that hadn’t filed their papers with the IRS for several years and had lost their nonprofit status.  Now Mr. Wright is also promoting Mr. Fair to run a day drop-in-center for the homeless.  All he needs is a grant. That’s correct,  he wants to stick his hand back in the honey jar, your pocket and mine.   Watching Wright show up at the last city council for the expressed reason of making sure Ploof received the necessary votes sure took the cake. By the way, despite all of the SCAP connections and the fake nonprofit, the vote was 5-1. Councilman Lopez voted against with Councilman Muratore recusing himself from the discussion and vote.

Watching the city representative make sure their “insider friends”, the Beard Industrial Trust, receive special treatment from the LAFCO Board, which cost Modesto millions of dollars between property taxes and utility fees, was enough to turn a citizens stomach. But quite honestly it was just business as usual for Modesto and the County we live in.

Since the Alliance and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce are 501 (c) (6)’s,  they can lobby to their heart’s content and allow donors to receive “business deductions”.  The donors can EXPECT some return on their investment according to Bill Bassett, and receive special favors  from the City and County.

Our Mayor likes to say “Politics just happens to most people.”  Maybe he’s correct, but between the back door, and behind the scenes  dealings that go on every day how is a citizen supposed to have a chance?


Gregg Nyhoff’s SCAP Investigation ?

By Emerson Drake

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)

In April 2011, Councilman Dave Lopez  went to see Modesto’s City Manager (C.M.) Gregg Nyhoff with concerns about the Stanislaus Community Assistance Project (SCAP) and excessive compensation to Joe Gibbs, the Development Director for SCAP.  Joe received $195,860 and was in line to receive $431,471 more. 

But we aren’t trying to rehash SCAP or the NSP2 problem, but are here to discuss Mr. Nyhoff’s investigation or lack thereof.  We presented Modesto with a Public Information Request to see all of the documents relating to the city manager’s investigation.  The extremely sad part is their response contained only one page after four plus weeks of the City Managers investigation.  It’s almost as if he were avoiding leaving a paper trail.

I  had occasion to discuss this with C.M. Nyhoff and his response was “well I did make some phone calls.”  Further inquiries suggested the calls were to city staffers.  Can you imagine Councilman Lopez comes to him with a major concern about potential fraud or malfeasance and Mr. Nyhoff, at the very least, sits on his hands?  Little wonder the Councilman felt the need to go to the Bee.

The lone page from the email we received is dated May 26, 2011, just two days before the Bee broke the story and more than one month AFTER Councilman Lopez spoke to Mr Nyhoff.  So despite the City Manager’s protestations, NOTHING was written down until the city was aware the Bee was going to publish SCAP’s short comings and then only to enlighten  SCAP.  Modesto City employee Judith Ray is warning SCAP employee Marcia Bradshaw that the Bee reporter has been a “consistent antagonist toward recovery act programs in general and NSP in particular and we can  be assured of a negative bias when it comes out.”

So just how thorough do you believe Nyhoff’s investigation was?  To my way of thinking all he did from the beginning was circle the wagons to protect himself and his staffers.  After all he is the city manager and the buck stops there.  At least for a few minutes before the Council gets involved.

Knowing all this and reading  the way the City responded to the Grand Jury report was just too much to stay quiet about.  If Councilman Lopez hadn’t gone to the Bee none of the malfeasance would have been uncovered.  Joe Muratore might have been able to keep the $62,500 he was willing to risk his position on the council for, and indeed his freedom. Profiting from HUD money as a Councilman is a felony and Joe Gibbs would be $431,471 dollars richer and he and his wife would still be in charge of SAP despite their questionable tenants.

Here is Nyhoff’s written  investigation.


The city’s response to the Grand Jury


The Grand Jury’s findings


After reading all of the information it’s reasonable to come to the opinion that Councilman Lopez stood up against those who would participate in a cover-up and spoke out to shed the light of day on a serious problem and uncovering a potential  misuse of public funds.

The discussion can be heard about 1:10 minutes into the Council meeting.  The following link will take you there.


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