Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “MID Water sales”

Bill Bassitt Stretches the Truth for a Larger MID Contribution

[CALIFORNIA-A-0021] Don Pedro Dam

[CALIFORNIA-A-0021] Don Pedro Dam (Photo credit: waterarchives)

By Emerson Drake

The newly appointed members of the Water Advisory Committee were introduced at yesterday’s MID meeting.  But you have to wonder if TomVanGroningen is starting to slip just a bit.  He introduced Richard Ulm, the City of Modesto’s choice, but “forgot” to offer him an opportunity to speak.  He made a point of allowing everyone else an opportunity.  Well, maybe except his own appointee who he failed to introduce for several minutes. He eventually went back and allowed his man the opportunity to be heard but never allowed the City appointees an opportunity.  We’re seeing slips like these more often in recent months along with his occasional volcanic outbursts of temper.

During public input for the good of the District, I suggested to the Board  they needed to investigate the way Allen Short, Tom VanGroningen, Glen Wild and apparently willing accomplice Joy Warren (Ms. Warren with Short signed authorizations for $90,000 plus  on expired Martino Graphics payments) laundered money through Martino Graphics.  I also asked that they please  explain “exactly” what the money was used for.  I also reminded them of the $28,800 they paid George Petrulakis for facilitating the only meeting between the City and MID regarding the potential water sale.  There has to be more to the story but the Board, to this point, has refused to authorize an investigation into this apparent misappropriation of funds.

If MID continues to stonewall inquiries in these regards it appears it’s time to attempt to get either the  District Attorney (which at this point isn’t likely) or the Civil Grand Jury to investigate where the ratepayer’s money has gone. Although I believe our local Civil Grand Jury politically protects a chosen few, it would seem to be our only recourse.  In the future when Tom Van Groningen and Glen Wild are gone, maybe we can discover who was behind the cover-up.

In a prior article I wrote about the $210,000 for the 2nd floor’s carpet which comes to  $61.76 per yard and the $30,000 for two desks and a counter for outside Short’s office along with an ice machine which for $8,000, you would think has a flat screen and Internet access! https://eyeonmodesto.com/2012/09/24/people-1-mid-0-in-best-of-7/.  This was straight from a MID Budget workshop meeting. Director Byrd questioned the carpet and desks but didn’t include the ice machine which, according to professionals I contacted, is extremely overpriced.  And while I agree with Director Byrd about the GM’s car I didn’t write about it at the time.

                        How the Dust Up / Van Groningen’s Meltdown  Began

At the beginning of the budget discussion Director Van Groningen used his authority to bump Bill Bassitt from the Workforce Alliance to the front of the discussion.  Mr. Bassitt was there to request a donation of ratepayer money (although he didn’t describe it that way) for his organization. During his talk, which wasn’t timed like the rest of the public, and in the response to a question, he made the claim that the Oakdale Irrigation District was donating $10,000 to the Alliance this year.  Having been to the OID meeting last week, I knew they hadn’t donated $10,000 in several years, but I wasn’t allowed to ask a follow-up question of Mr. Bassitt who left the proceedings 5-10 minutes later.

What I don’t understand is the way, especially at MID, the public is treated like children who don’t know anything. When I had the opportunity to speak 20 minutes or so later I took the opportunity to point out the obvious discrepancy in donation figures and mentioned the Alliance’s budget isn’t completely available on their website.  After I sat down Tom Van Groningen pulled one of his favorite CHEAP SHOT  TACTICS.  Tom waits for you to sit down so he can launch a diatribe against you when you can’t respond without being gaveled down for being out of order.  Tom’s blood pressure jumped and he started raising his voice claiming I was wrong and he wasn’t going to stand for it.  Well he didn’t stand for it because he remained seated.

So yesterday afternoon I talked with someone from the Alliance and arranged to speak with someone more informed from there this morning.  Not surprisingly after a few questions Bill Bassitt came on the line.  First we talked about the Alliance’s Budget.  It is actually at least three budgets.  Of course, like asking questions at MID, you need to ask the question exactly the right way or you won’t get the real answer.  it took several follow-up questions to find out about each of the two additional budgets.  One is available on-line at their website http://www.stanalliance.com/. He says another is with the County and that he would make it available to me.  I offered to make a Public Information Request with the County but he said it wasn’t necessary.  At first he said the third budget they have is quarterly. but then he said they change it monthly and that it wasn’t available on-line but that he would make it available to me too.

Then we discussed the OID donation.  At first he stuck with the $10,000 claim. When I explained that wasn’t accurate he then claimed they donated $10,000 last year.  That, I told him wasn’t accurate either. Then he said he thought about mentioning the Kaiser donation (where that came from I have no idea) and thought better of it.  Kaiser hasn’t made up its mind for this year he finally acknowledged.  I reminded him it had been several years since OID donated the claimed $10,000 and they had cut the number to $5,000 then to $2,000 last year.  This year he  requested a four year commitment but they declined. One year at $2,000 doesn’t add up to $10,000 any way you try to spin it.

So Director Van Groningen you owe me an apology for the claims you made against me.  But I don’t expect one since we both know the kind of man you are.  And if you want to donate $20,000 to the Alliance please do it from your personal account and not that of the ratepayers.

  One thing I do want to clear up is that I misspoke when I addressed the Board when I said they had all voted to pay the Martino  Graphics invoices.  Director Byrd was the lone hold out and I didn’t get the opportunity to correct my mistake.  So Director Byrd I apologize and will do so again at the next MID meeting I attend, when on the record, I can correct my mistake.

Some Suggestions to the MID the Bee Finally Got Around to Liking

Two hangman's nooses and gallows behind the co...

By Emerson Drake

I’ve been going to MID meetings for more than six years, writing about them for just short of five and been talking on the radio about them for four years in February.  During that time I’ve consistently made some suggestions hoping they would be implemented. But honestly, they haven’t gained any traction until recently.  Others have joined me in making these requests from time to time, and I’m not trying to claim the ideas were all mine.  During Mike Serpa’s time on the MID Board we had someone who cared, but one person on the Board couldn’t  get anything on the agenda (unless your name was Tom Van Groningen or Allen Short) let alone manage to create real change in the way things were done, no matter how hard they tried.

Even with the addition of Directors Larry Byrd and Nick Blom it took ten months to get to the point of generating and possibly passing some out of the box ideas (for MID) that other public entities have been utilizing for years. MID does place their agendas on-line but they remove them before the next meeting, never to be seen again without a Public Information Request and most of those are drawn out to the legally  mandated limit of 10 working days at best even when the information is readily available. They also seldom place supporting material on-line linked to the agendas like other public agencies do.  See the City of Modesto’s website as an example of doing things the correct way.

The Board’s policy is to destroy the electronic records of the meetings 100 days after the meeting. I’ve never understood this policy especially since they wait until AFTER the records are destroyed to approve the minutes. The October 21, 2012 agenda shows them approving the minutes from 6/23/12, a delay of 120 days.

We’ve asked the Board repeatedly to preserve the records and place them on-line along with streaming the video live. They’ve consistently refused to seriously consider any of these suggestions.

As recently as last week I once again repeated the request for separate email addresses for the Board members that the General Manager wouldn’t be privy to. Why should he or his replacement be monitoring a Board member’s communications?

The MID’s Purchase Orders process needs to be better defined. Here is the part of the resolution staff has been willing to share. Director Van Groningen brought the above to me for one of our private meetings and I don’t know if he shared it with the rest of the Board or not.  A complete copy will be handed out  to the Board on Tuesday at the scheduled meeting.   This is what he/staff  provided, a partial of Resolution 2010-35.

3.Contract Purchase Order 54981 issued July 2010 states that it is effective through December 31, 2011.

This PO is for services to “Refocus and Enhance Public Education and Information Services per Board Resolution 2010-35.”  These services included a variety of consulting activities through subcontractors retained by Martino Graphic Design with MID’s approval.

This Project was undertaken at the direction of the Board in accordance with the referenced resolution, stating as follows:

The Board of Directors of the Modesto Irrigation District does hereby authorize and direct the General Manager to continue implementing legislative and regulatory activities to further the goals and interest of the District in State and Federal jurisdictions, including…7.  Implementing a program to improve the image and credibility of the District with is ratepayers.

As an example Staff currently believes after reading the above  Board Resolution 2010-35

  • Based on the foregoing resolution, the General Manager clearly would have had the authority to make expenditures under this PO, and to extend the time and not-to-exceed value of the PO;

In other words they (Short’s staff)  support the idea the GM can not only indefinitely extend a purchase order time limit but that the not-to-exceed value is meaningless and the GM is given Carte Blanche or an open checkbook, if you will.

 I don’t believe that’s what the true meaning of the resolution is and  I haven’t been able to read the entire resolution due to their foot-dragging response to Public Information Requests. But that is the portion the quote as applicable.  These aren’t the General Manager’s private monies, they are ratepayer supplied funds. We deserve a staff who believes in responsible controls, a staff who won’t create verbage to support the GM’s desires and lacking that,  the Board needs to provide unquestionable guidance and  a promise of a dire consequence when its instructions are flaunted. An area in the past where they’ve fallen woefully short.

GM  Short’s staff may be trying to create an “out” but in my opinion it’s  an inappropriate use of money  that cannot be overlooked or swept under the rug.  How many other occurrences of this type of malfeasance in office have taken place?

The phrase “Not to exceed” on purchase orders means what it says. It doesn’t mean spend however much you want.

We want to thank Directors Byrd, Blom, and Warda for pushing these ideas to the forefront.  Now lets bring them home.

In Sunday’s Bee, Judy Sly finally gets around to agreeing with many of the items we’ve been suggesting for years.  Thanks for getting on the “Band Wagon” Modesto Bee, now help us follow through with the rest of the many, much-needed changes.

MID’s Tim O’Laughlin Withholds Information on Public Information Request

By Emerson Drake

Apparently MID’s attorney feels he can get paid for doing half a job, okay maybe a third of his job.  In my opinion he’s bilking his employer by not completing his assignment properly.  He’s apparently churning for a second pay-day for doing the same work.

I made a Public Records Request at a recent Board meeting for the amounts of the falling water charges that are on our bills in the last 10 to 15 years.

Here is the request and the response.

October 26, 2012


WesternPalms@aol.com (via Email Only)

Emerson Drake

Re: California Public Records Act Request

Dear Mr. Drake:

On October 16, 2012, Modesto Irrigation District received your Public Records Act

Request which was made verbally during the Board meeting, requesting the following


“With regard to the falling water charge that’s on the bill, I would like to request

information regarding the amounts that we’ve been charged for the last 10 or 15 years and the

legality of it.”

In accordance with Government Code section 6253, MID will comply with your request

to the extent that the writings you have requested are not privileged or otherwise exempt from

production under the California Public Records Act, or other applicable law.


Below are the falling water charges for the last five years:

Falling Water  Charge

2008                                     2009                                2010                        2011

$5,681,470                   $7,063,695             $8,165,250          $10,158,720  



Should you have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to

contact this office at (209) 526-7388.


Tim O’Laughlin

Interim General Counsel

The following link is the pdf response  from Tim O’Laughlin.


MID Board Split on Public Comment Time and Everything Else

By Emerson Drake

With the temporary stoppage of the proposed water sale things have definitely quieted down at recent MID meetings. We’re back to fewer people attending and just a smattering of people actively commenting on current issues. At the latest meeting only four people stood up to comment during ” public input for the good of the district.”  Since the Board reduced the alloted amount of time from five minutes to three several months ago on the pretext of shortening waiting  lines and with only four people speaking (that is becoming the average post water sale) it seemed like an appropriate time for the rules to return back to normal.

Director Larry Byrd presented the board with a request to move the alloted time back to five minutes. But that was not to be. Since Director Warda was absent the board was down to just four members. Director Wild spoke against the idea saying he would like to discuss it more but then stayed quiet. After all, like his mentor Van Groningen, Wild prefers to violate Brown Act laws and discuss things with other board members away from public scrutiny. Please understand they like to talk not in “closed session” but in the backroom without witnesses. If they were to repeat anything from closed session they would be in violation of Board policy and could be censured.  But if a Director relates something that took place “behind the wall”,  ie: illegally, there isn’t anything Van Groningen and Wild can do.  Director Blom was willing to second the motion.  But seeing Directors Van Groningen and Warda were against a revision of the relatively new rule, no second was made.  That’s the way the MID works.  Rather than expose a rift and discuss their differences they choose to remain silent in front of the public. 

I later spoke to Director Wild regarding his comments. Concerning five-minute allotments he said “I’ve been keeping track of people who speak and during their first three minutes they are succinct and present themselves well. But during their last two minutes they berate the Board and I don’t like it.”  Personally, I always thought elected boards were supposed to reflect the will of the people, but when elected officials ignore the public’s input it only stands to reason some frustration might surface.

A current example might be a request for the 2013 budget PN# U00018 for $500,000 to replace the Board room’s audio and video equipment. All of this money for a fancy system and they still refuse create an archive for recordings of meetings or even save for more than 100 days the recorded discs of proceedings, let alone  broadcast their meetings on streaming video.   To this day they continue to destroy ALL electronic recordings of their meetings and refuse to consider approving the minutes of their meetings until AFTER the recordings have been destroyed.

In the next two years they want to spend $1.75 Million on a smart grid security system PN#U00513. These people are spending us into the poorhouse.  The IT department wants to spend over $4.1 Million in just the next two years. CAP-40 CAP is their designation for this.

I could go on about this but my point is their “wish list” was created when they thought they were going to be able to spend Millions of Dollars from the water sale  money they were telling the public was going to irrigation infrastructure.

Another ongoing concern is the money being funneled through Martino Graphics. Year to date Directors Tom Van Groningen and Glen Wild have apparently signed what are called expense approvals in the amount of $21,000.  There is no purchase order assigned for these expenditures.  The account number they use is 312500 00.0 401 and the payment explanation is Board Development and Internal Communications.  These are NOT pre approved by the Board members.  Directors Van Groningen and Wild along with General Manager Allen Short have personally made these arrangements with Martino Graphics and Carol Whiteside.

Ms.Whiteside confirmed in an email to me on 10/10/12 she’s been the recipient of a total of $9,000 as partial fulfilment of her contract with Martino Graphics which she suspended in July.  Her work has never been brought to the Board and Tom Van Groningen says he has a copy of her work but no presentation has ever been made.  As a point of interest Ms. Whiteside was paid $1,500 directly to her for an earlier presentation to the Board and public.  Questions abound as to why Van Groningen and Wild have made these obviously deceptive arrangements and why was the ante upped and how do they account for the remaining $12,000?

In addition, we know $6,000 of these billings ($3,000 each ) have been pulled at successive meetings from the consent portion of the agenda. The question remains unanswered as to whether or not  the checks have been sent.

When I asked Director Van Groningen if the Board pre approved the expenses, his response was “they approved them when they voted in the consent Calender.”  In other words NO they didn’t. So what we are hearing is two members of the Board, outside the scope of the public, and their fellow Board members, can approve expenditures which would advance their positions on future votes.

It appears we won’t have any relief from this type of underhanded dealings until after the 2013 elections when Van Groningen and Wild have to stand in front of the public asking for their votes.

The Bee Editors Get it Right

Black & Veatch Corporation logo

Black & Veatch Corporation logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Dave Thomas

Good afternoon.  If you have not read today’s BEE Editorial page, be prepared for a rare surprise.

The BEE’s editorial opinion is right-on correct, and actually shows regard for the Citizens of our community.
You are thinking that I have lost my mind, right.  But no, the BEE pretty much gets it right.  They
printed a story yesterday which told us that our mayor, city staff and MID management were making
a deal with the fools who screwed up the Phase 2 water plant debacle.  But, they were doing the People’s
business, behind closed doors, and were not intending to tell us anything about the deal.  
Of course, we are quite used to these back door deals, done secretly, and we know that they will make a deal
that satisfies THEM, because they can raise our water, electricity and sewer rates any time they want, for as 
much as they want.  They make the deal, YOU and I PAY FOR IT.  
The BEE quotes the mayor as saying it will cost the ratepayers nothing.  That is the normal signal to us
that it is going to cost us A LOT!!  So, the opinion explains that the sophisticated editors understand that the city,
the MID and the people who can not build a water plant do not want anyone to know who gets zoomed on the
deal, because it is always US.  
BUT, the BEE opines that, “...the MID and city have a bigger responsibility to their constituents than to 
Black & Veatch.”  I know this is totally out of character from a paper whose primary goal
is to defend and protect government.  But you know that I always say, “Come to the table.  Come early or late,
but come to the table.”  We shall see if the BEE is serious about this concern for the People on this or other 
I recommend, however, that we give the editors our kudos, and encourage them to continue with this attitude.
As ever, Dave

MID Board Votes 5-0 to Kill Water Sale With San Francisco

Seal of the City of San Francisco for fair use...

Seal of the City of San Francisco for fair use to illustrate the article about San Francisco, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Emerson Drake

After emerging from closed session Board President Tom Van Groningen made the following announcement.

Based on information received from the City and County of San Francisco, the MID Board of Directors directed staff and General Counsel to discontinue further negotiations regarding the proposed sale of water to the City and County of San Francisco.

We’ve filed a Public Information Request for SFPUC’s letter to MID but apparently they refused MID’s request to change the contract’s language regarding the right of first refusal and being first to receive the contracted amount during a drought.

I’ll write in more detail regarding today’s meeting later. 

Congratulations for all of those who stood their ground and fought against the proposed sale.  Well Done.

Does the Public Have the Right to Know? MAYBE Says the Bee

By Emerson Drake

On July 31, 2012 the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau (SCFB) sent a letter to each member of the Modesto Irrigation District Board of Directors and a copy to the Modesto Bee.  In the letter they outline their concerns regarding the potential water sale to the San Francisco Public Utility District. The letter was extremely detailed, citing multiple California Environmental Quality Act (CEQUA) concerns, using exact numbers from MID reports and was cross referenced with the corresponding dates the numbers were published by the district.

Many of these concerns have been voiced by the public but never have they been documented to the extent of the letter.  The Bee has refused to acknowledge even the receipt of the letter in print let alone publish it.

The media, or fourth estate, is important to an informed electorate but unfortunately sometimes some people feel it’s in their best interest to limit or shape public opinion by withholding important facts from the ongoing discourse.  By limiting access to all sides of an argument they strive to control opposition to what ever view they are trying to propagate. 

This isn’t about just disagreeing with their point of view,  it’s about  listening to all sides of a discussion and THEN deciding what is the best course of action.

Editors, especially Opinion Page Editors, like to be invited to the best soirees and have their “opinion” sought out by local movers and shakers. After all, how could their friends possibly be wrong?  We just emerged from an extended period of being under the overbearing Mark Vasche, where politicians he didn’t like were attacked in print regardless of the good they were trying to accomplish.  When it comes to MID, Mike Serpa comes to mind. Or like reporter John Holland has found,  it’s easier to write stories when you can receive phone calls from those involved and their PR people and not even have to attend meetings.

The Bee’s refusal to publicize the letters from the Farm Bureau was first broken by Eric Caine at www.Thevalleycitizen.com and since this time several attempts have been made by many of us to get the Bee to discuss the letters for the record.  Unfortunately, to this point our efforts have failed.

The original cover letter is here. This is followed by a short  overview  here and the entire  SCFB critique is here.

Fortunately, here in Modesto we have several alternatives to enlighten readers who are concerned about the whole picture and not just what the Bee and a few of their friends think is good for you to know.

Reed Smith’s Thoughts about the Sen. Feinstein Letter

English: Dianne Feinstein http://bioguide.cong...

English: Dianne Feinstein http://bioguide.congress.gov/bioguide/photo/F/F000062.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

November 28, 2011

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein

United States Senate

Re: Water Transfer Discussions

Thank you for taking the time to meet with the group from Modesto Irrigation District and City and County of San Francisco. It was a pleasure to talk with you and we appreciate the opportunity to brief you on our discussions regarding a potential water transfer. I especially enjoyed viewing your wonderful painting of the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Thank you for that treat and for the signed photograph to commemorate our visit.

[ CODE for we will help tear down Hetch Hetchy and return it to a granite valley. ]

As we discussed, MID and San Francisco have developed some key points for a potential sale of Tuolumne River water that San Francisco could take through its existing Hetch Hetchy pipeline facilities, . . .

 [ NOT conserved water, Water not controlled by the CA WRCB ]

with the revenue for MID being used to finance necessary irrigation distribution infrastructure improvements . . .

[ NOT True.  Short told everybody, including YOU that it would be used for current obligations.  Now we know that his proposed 34% salary and retirement SPIKE are to be paid out if the water sale.]

 . . . that also would achieve system and water use efficiencies to produce sufficient water to serve San Francisco.

[ Here is the most disgusting statement in the document.  Allen Short works for the SFPUC, but MID rate payers foot the bill. ]

MID conducted a series of public outreach meetings . . .


[ These were not designed to inform the public, they were to get the public to disclose their objections to what a stupid irrational idea this was and have the public tell Short what he needs to tell the rest of the public to con them. ]

. . . to provide information about the discussions with San Francisco, and to solicit as wide a variety of opinions and comments as possible.

[ What we find is the Allen Short has spent $640,000 paid by MID to Martino Associates, who pays Mike Lynch, who pays Rubin Villalobos, who pays other people to write OpEd’s for the Bee, or come to the microphone to promote this water sale.  The ONLY farmers who have supported this sale are Bill Lyons, Jr., Billy Lyons, Bob Ott, and his son, and one poor destitute share-crop farmer that farms 1,000 acres of Bill Lyons Jr.’s Mapes Ranch with free water. This is a mater of public record. ]

Attached are the final presentation materials used in those meetings.

[ I do not find the materials where Short claims he has bribed Senator Feinstein to personally interfere in the FERC relicensing of Don Pedro.  We intend to find out what specific contractual activities she agreed to do for 30,000 Acre Feet of out pre-1914 water rights? ]

The meetings were very well attended. The key issues raised, as anticipated, were protecting MID water rights, making certain its customers, including the City of Modesto, are served during dry periods, and ensuring there would be no significant impact to the River or the environment.

[ MID has completely failed to account for where the water to accomplish the needs.  There are NO ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP allocations in any of the pie charts.  What we do find is 40,000 AF given to Bill Lyons, Jr. FOR FREE. ]

We have developed a set of “frequently asked questions” and responses, which is also attached for your information.

[ Why were these FAQs full if fraudulent statements?  The MID Board has done nothing to provide truthful facts. ]

The next steps would be to complete negotiations with San Francisco and present the deal points to MID’s Board of Directors to consider initiating a small 2,200 acre foot transfer as well as a new environmental review process for a subsequent larger water transfer up to 25,000 acre-feet. We will certainly keep you apprised of any developments.

[These amounts are co-joined.  This is one deal, because the SFPUC has first right of refusal on ALL THE REST. ]

As always, if you have any questions or if we can provide additional background, please contact my office.

Allen Short General Manager

Copy: Michael Carlin

Here’s the Letter from Allen Short to Sen. Dianne Feinstein

MID’s general manager Allen Short wrote this back in November 2011. Is he negotiating or solidifying an agreement.  Either way, remember this as you listen to the Senator speak on Wednesday.


Reed Smith Takes the Bee’s Judy Sly to Task

Here is a copy of the email.
I am troubled by your characterization of citizens expressing their First Amendment right to free speech in your article referenced below.
“Some of the opponents of the proposed water sale have taken over recent MID board meetings, throwing out verbal bombshells and making rude and reckless accusations against some board members. We understand that they sometimes feel like they’re under attack.”
Just between you and me, hey, please give me the names of the persons who have “taken over the MID Board meetings”?  I have been to every one except April 3, 2012, since October 2011.  All I know is that Tom Van Groningen has limited citizens comment time from a bare five (5) minutes to the minuscule 3 minutes (3) per person to discuss complex issues.  It is hard to imagine a “3-MINUTE TAKE OVER” with two and sometimes three (3) heavily-armed guards.  Refresh my memory, have the Modesto Police been called yet?  You were there . . .  I can’t remember.
I would also be interested in which of their statements you consider “verbal bombshells”, “rude and reckless accusations”.  I am sure you have copies of all the Board meeting videos since last October, as do I, and it would not take much to provide proof of your assertions.    I am trying to understand your criteria for your claims.  I find it a little irrational that you criticize the very persons you need to stay in business, or maybe Joe does not need,  . . .  you know the residents of Modesto.  Actually, I am trying to determine if your assertions in this article are “reckless accusations”.  So, let’s get to it.  Show me your cards.  Who, When, and What did they say.  Then we can compare that to the words of the “most civil” MID Board Chairman Tom Van Groningen, personally civility-trained by the almighty Carol Whiteside.
Also, I would be interested in your characterization of any citizen who goes to the microphone and speaks to a position, for or against, that is paid to promote that position, and does not declare to the Board, or the rest of the public, that they are being paid to promote and sell us, and how much?  Does that sound OK to you?  You know, there might be an article there, not sure.  You might want to look into that.  I have lots of leads for you if you are interested.  Lots of leads.
I eagerly look forward to your reply.
Civilly,  Reed Smith

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