By Emerson Drake
Modesto Irrigation District has been generous in giving away ratepayers money for many years. Director Tom Van Groningen has voted to
give the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance $110,000 dollars. Starting suddenly in 2008, they donated $20,000 a year for five consecutive years, and only cut back this year (2013) after the community and Director’s Larry Byrd, Nick Blom and Paul Warda fought back. We spoke to the Board several times prior to the last donation, pointing out the Alliance is a 501 C (6) which means they’re allowed to lobby and give their investors an IRS business deduction. We also pointed out that the Alliance’s CEO Bill Bassett had blatantly lied to the Board to receive a larger donation. I always wondered why Director Tom Van Groningen fought so hard to give away MID’s money, well actually the ratepayer’s money, that’s right, your money and mine, to a private company who specializes in lobbying efforts. Maybe now we have the answer.
Here is the Public Records Request response which has the donations listed Slegal13051013420 (1)
It appears Director Tom Van Groningen is not only on the Alliance’s Board of Directors, http://stanalliance.com/index-abt-brd.php his company, TVG Consulting which he’s the sole owner of, according to his linkedin page, is a member of and an investor in the Alliance. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/tom-van-groningen/11/929/809 are investors http://stanalliance.com/index-abt-invest.php
The problem as I see it is Alliance CEO Bill Bassett has always said “the investors EXPECT a return on their investments” and the more investments the larger the return. So if Director Van Groningen donates MID’s Money he’s likely to see a larger return for HIMSELF and his company along with playing the big man to his buddies on the Alliance. Who knows, maybe that’s how he made the Board in the first place.
A conflict of interest…. It’s well know by now that Judy Sly protects, defends, and supports MID Director Tom Van Groningen and MID’s secret lobbyist Mike Lynch, but why is she keeping this conflict of interest from the public? Why did MID’s attorney Tim O’Laughlin allow the conflict to continue since 2008? Didn’t Tom file this investment (financial disclosure) in the Alliance with the state?
Are you as tired as we are of the Bee’s Editorial Staff hiding the facts from the public in order to protect their friends? Could one of the reasons be because the Modesto Bee has donated $100,000 to the Alliance too? Are you starting to understand why Judy Sly has kept her personal connection with MID’s secret lobbyists Mike Lynch, Mark Looker, Janice Keating, and Carol Whiteside on the down low? Remember these four lobbyists received $125,500 from MID ratepayer funds while only invoicing them for $1,500 in 2012 all thanks to Director Tom Van Groningen.