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.
They say the truth is stranger than fiction and that has never been more obvious than in this election cycle. The Modesto Chamber of Commerce, or at least three of their members, have been pulling out all stops in an attempt to steal Measure I from the public. Their two campaign flyers are filled with falsehoods, innuendos,, and blatant lies (that’s as kind as I can be at this point) and now their obfuscating the source of their money.
It’s bad enough they don’t list the FPPC number on either of their flyers. And yes it is required but they have also managed through a series of ‘mishaps’ to make it almost impossible to follow the money.
Where Did the Documentation Go?
So we contacted the County Clerk’s office to try to follow the money trail. Here is the official version: The Modesto Chamber of Commerce faxed to the County Clerk’s office their 497’s which is the document required when a contribution of $1,000 or more is received and it is supposed to be filed within 24 hours of receipt.. But since this is a city Measure it is supposed to go to the City Clerk’s office. ‘Unfortunately’ it was misfiled in the manila folder (no matter how many times people and the BoS have requested, the County Clerk’s office refuses to place these documents on line) of another Political Action Committee or PAC account of the Chambers. This is extremely strange considering 497 documents weren’t supposed to be accepted at the County Clerk’s office period.
For another unknown reason a clerk was rummaging through the outdated PAC file and discovered the document (how lucky for us was that?). It was then forwarded to the City Clerk’s office 11 days late.
Some interesting Coincidences
There is a history between someone who now works at the County Clerk’s office in the election division with access to campaign statements and the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber and the Bee’s former opinion page editor, who for the last 10 years supported three candidates to the Modesto Irrigation Board, all of whom were sponsored by Bill Lyons (who wanted to sell the free water he gets from his special arrangement with MID). The cabal of three at MID that was in place three years ago, Tom VanGronigan, Glen Wild and Paul Warda, who were supported by the Bee and the Chamber during their election campaigns) were pushing to sell our water to San Francisco. The Bee, Chamber, and Bill Lyons supported the sale which after much intense public discussion was turned down despite the Bee’s endorsement.
Now we see the most current aligning of stars with Bill Lyons pushing against Measure I (he has property in the Beckwith Dakota Triangle – read Wood Colony, that he wants to develop) along with the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and (at this writing the Bee hasn’t made a public comment) with a friend possibly in position to obfuscate the public knowledge of the money trail.
While we will say without any qualms and with many thanks from us that County Clerk Lee Lundrigan looked into events and has been most helpful in explaining the much traveled documentation: an unknown someone in her office ‘accidentally’ accepted wrongly submitted faxes and misfiled these important documents and then someone in her office fortunately discovered the mistake nine days later and then forwarded the documentation the the City Clerks office where it was placed online for the public on Monday afternoon.
When checking for updates on the Campaign documents, yesterday, Oct. 22nd was a mandatory reporting day, the former online 497’s were missing. According to the city Clerk’s office the missing documents along with any updates will be online by day’s end.
Why does this matter?
There are several reasons, actually violating FPPC campaign laws would be one. But during an election season opponents and the public have a right to know how much money is involved and where it’s coming from. Since the Chamber and their three donor amigos and their friends like George Petrulakis are very familiar with election laws and rules it’s our opinion this has been willful and orchestrated.
When it comes to misleading the public, the Modesto Chamber of Commerce is second to none. We’ve watched while the Chamber pulls strings behind the scenes and gets City Council members to say and do the strangest things but for today lets focus on their No on Measure I campaign.
The Campaign started out by breaking the Fair Political Practice Commission (FPPC) rules. When the Chamber mailed their pack of lies to voters they didn’t include the FPPC number which is required. Wondering why? Well the Chamber filed their original paperwork with the City Clerk’s office without the FPPC number and without stating where their money came from. Days later the Chamber filed their required 497 forms (for donations over $1,000 dollars) with the County Clerk’s office. But that isn’t where city candidates are supposed to file. Since they advise political newcomers on procedure you’d think there had to be a reason. There was, it took eleven days for the forms to travel the two blocks between the County Clerks and the City Clerk’s office.
Maybe this was because Judy Sly, the Bee’s former Opinions Editor, was seen working behind the counter at the County Clerk’s office in the immediate area where the filed campaign forms are kept. Maybe it was a coincidence, maybe not, but it is interesting. Remember Ms. Sly and the Chamber’s lobbyist and CEO Cecil Russell were some of the few people to be in favor of selling our water to San Francisco and the result would have been Bill Lyons making even more money. You ask what does the No on I campaign have to do with selling our water? Bill Lyons is the answer. This is always an informational litmus test but I digress.
The Money Behind No on I
The money behind the No on I campaign came from Craig Lewis, ($3,000) Chamber expansion committee chairman and Board Director, David Ginelli ($1,000) Chamber Chairman of the Board), Cecil Russell head lobbyist and CEO of the Chamber, and last but not least the Chamber of Commerce themselves to the tune of $3,000. Anyone noticing a theme here? No wonder they were trying to keep this information away from the public. You just have to love lobbyists and their organizations. Well not really but you get the drift.
Ahh the Unions
The Modesto Police Officers Union (MPOA) didn’t provide funds but allows the Chamber to use their name in the flyer and yes, for a group that claims to be concerned about public safety there is an unusual history here. Now most officers are good people but their union is a lobbying organization with their prime purpose is supposed to be for the officers and the public, but is it? Back in 2008 the City opened its books for the MPOA and explained there was only so much money but the union demanded a raise. So the city offered the MPOA a choice. You can have your raises but we’ll be forced to lay-off our youngest officers with families. The Union said in no uncertain terms lay them off. They weren’t concerned about having fewer officer on the street which, according to the No on I campaign’s propagand,a will make us less safe. It was all about the money then like it is now.
Claims by Current Politicians
Mayor Marsh and Councilman Gunderson like to say the county will do something similar like they did with Beard Industrial Park back in 1963. In August of 2011 the city requested an out of boundary service application. LAFCO required the land owners to sign a waiver preventing them from protesting being annexed by the city. But Marsh, Gunderson, Zoslocki and the City of Modesto actually have petitioned Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to rescind their waiver policy and on Jan. 22, 2013 LAFCO gave Marsh, Gunderson and the rest of the City Council their wish and voted to allow the change. So it really doesn’t matter what the County did back in 1963 if Modesto is going top continue to bend over backward to SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS like the Chamber, Beard Industrial, realtors, and other developers and then mislead us. We’re just in for more of the same lies we’ve been fed for a long long time.
It isn’t About Jobs, It’s All About Developers and Their Greed
The local developers own land and want to develop it no matter what the cost. Here in Modesto we watched as the family farm across from Big Valley Grace was forced out of business because of encroaching developments. They were promised by the city the “right to farm” but when complaints started coming in the were forced to give up land they’d farmed for years. Sprawl advocates say farmers can always buy more land but that really isn’t true. Prime farmland like in Wood Colony and North of Kiernan is irreplaceable. Not only is it the best water recharge land there is, but more crops can be grown on this land than almost anywhere in the world.
Despite what candidates like Doug Ridenour say (Doug doesn’t really say it he just repeats it but the people being paid to run his facebook page do) California law pushes homes to be built near jobs not highways. So if the Chamber’s preferred candidates, Kristi Ah You, Doug Ridenour Sr. and Mani Grewal will be honest for a moment, don’t hold your breath, they’ll be forced to acknowledge if business parks are built in Wood Colony then homes and SPRAWL will soon follow.
Don’t Buy the Lies, Vote YES on Measure I
On Wednesday March 25, 2015, the Modesto City Council held a special meeting away from video recording devices. Ostensibly it was to decide if they should send a letter in support of five other cities in Stanislaus County regarding a decision the Local Agency Formation Commission better known as LAFCO, made. The Commission isn’t sexy or well known but is vitally important when it comes to setting boundaries and settling disputes.
But let us begin the conversation with a little ground work. LAFCO was intending to set actual values to the in-lieu of fees part of the mitigation discussion. Several cities proposed setting their own fees. For example LAFCO research suggested for the fees to be meaningful the price needed to be around $7,000 per acre and Patterson for one, was proposing $2,000 per acre of prime farmland.
The Special Meeting with NO Video Recording
LAFCO’s intention of visiting the fees has been public knowledge for several weeks. They notified the Modesto City Council by email two weeks prior to the meeting according to Mayor Marsh. And of course they posted their agenda as required by law. The special meeting was requested by Council members Kenoyer, Cogdill, Zoslocki, and Lopez. The topic of the fees could have been dealt with at the last meeting of the city council but instead they choose to have a meeting not in their official chambers but in a small meeting room, 2001, on the second floor.
Six members of the public were present Craig Lewis, Brad Barker, Cathy Zoslocki, Kevin Valine, myself, and Tom Halan, the Patterson City Attorney ( if I got that name wrong I’m sorry, who just happened to be in the building on other business).
When the Council members weighed in Jenny Kenoyer said she didn’t understand what LAFCO was intending to do and she didn’t appreciate the last minute meetings with out prep time. Dave Cogdill complained about the cities losing control of their mitigation fees. Bill Zoslocki claimed it was an over reach by LAFCO. Dave Lopez said LAFCO was over stepping their bounds and claimed Jenny Kenoyer agreed with him. He also blamed Mayor Marsh for not writing a letter supporting the other cities. During the meeting Kenoyer never commented on Lopez’s remarks. And John Gunderson said he needed more time to think about whatever it was LAFCO intended on doing. Marsh tried to explain LAFCO was just setting a price so there would be a level playing field for all of the cities but Kenoyer and Gunderson just had a blank look on their faces. The others just kept repeating their previous comments like mantras. Just saying the same thing over again. The work of developer special interests was obvious.
Now I realize this sounds like just sound bites but it was the entire text of their statements at this point. Each of them, talked twice and they just repeated their brief statements.
Members from the public
Brad Barker went first and was the most eloquent and informative. He carefully explained to Kenoyer and Gunderson what LAFCO’s intent was and walked them through the chaos that would ensue if each city could set their own fee levels. The Patterson City Attorney just restated the cities should be allowed to keep control of their own fees. I reminded the Council of the Patterson building fees which were woefully short on being able to build the needed infrastructure for the tarffic which eventually come and that the County had to step in to pay for the costs of rebuilding the roads. Also having seen the blank faces of Gunderson and Kenoyer, I tried once again to explain what was happening later on that night at the LAFCO meeting. Craig Lewis read some of Ed Persike’s op ed piece from the Bee that day and also trotted out the book the Coming Jobs War which actually says to do the exact opposite of what he, the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and the developers are pushing for. But unfortunately as we learned at a Modesto Planning Commission meeting, most of the commissions members who opened the book didn’t read past the first few pages (one to two pages) and unfortunately, the general public has read even less. But pretending to relay information from a book gives the air of knowledge. Unfortunately it just makes it easier to manipulate them.
At the end of the short meeting Kenoyer and Marsh voted against sending the letter and Cogdill, Zoslocki, Gunderson, and Lopez voted for the City Manager to send a letter in support of the other cities. In other words, at this point in time in the City of Modesto, special interests rule. After the meeting they each stuck to their short sound bites. Especially Gunderson. He had that feral, almost goofy look he gets. You know the one a child gets when they think they have fooled you and just kept saying he needed more time to consider everything over and over again as if that explained everything away.
The Four Who Were Shills for Developers Promoting SPRAWL
The Bottom Line
LAFCO, thanks to Terry Withrow, Jim DeMartini, and Matt Beekman made us all proud and went forward and set the price for land fee mitigation in the amount of $7,000 per acre.
The following are the letters sent by various groups both for and against LAFCO’s proposal.
So a local hotel is looking for breakfast attendants, housekeeping staff, maintenance personnel, and front desk clerks but can’t find an easy way to post on the Modesto Workforce Alliance website. These people are getting state money to run the unemployment office here in Modesto. The County is giving the Alliance $94,000 in taxpayer money to help develop business and bring jobs. While at the same time the Alliance is receiving $64,000 from Modesto taxpayers for the same alleged services. To create job postings looking for workers should be a no-brainer but it isn’t an easy task, as a matter of fact you can’t. So I called the Alliance for a phone number and guess what? They gave me a number but no one answered it. So I called the Board of Supervisors and asked for assistance. Supervisor Monteith was on hand and is looking into it as you read this.
We sure aren’t getting much for all that money. Mr. White (Alliance CEO) I’m told by your office that you are working on updating the site by next year. I think you need to step up your time table.
We’ve all read the fairy-tale version Mayor Marsh, city staff, Cecil Russell (lobbyist from the Chamber), Ryan Swehla, and David White from the Alliance, staged for the public and the Modesto Bee, but is it the truth? One thing we can assure you of and that is that it’s NOT the whole story.
Thanks to a public records request we discovered Mayor Marsh and Josh Bridegroom from the city and Ryan (NSP2 funds debacle) Swehla had been having conversations behind the scenes regarding the purchase of the old JC Penny building at 11th and J streets. As you may recall Swelha is wired into city staff because of his business relationship with former Councilman Joe Muratore. Muratore was forced to return a $58,000 real estate commission payment from the sale of an apartment complex to avoid felony charges. On top of this it seems city staff had set aside $1.2 Million for his and Swehla’s apartment project while several other developer’s projects languished due to a lack of NSP2 funds.
Is this all about sales commissions?
In order for Swelhla and Muratore’s company NIA Benchmark to make the sale to Valley First Credit, Modesto would have to make concessions of approximately $445,000 in parking revenue to Valley First Credit. These proposals/demands are listed in the email suggesting they have already been discussed and acquiesced to by the Mayor and staff. It would leave a sour taste in citizen’s mouths if they thought it was all being done for realtors, especially these two ,considering their histories. It would be a hard sell if not impossible. So they decided to reinvent the story.
Is David White more familiar with downtown businesses than Swehla and Muratore?
It belies credulity that a newcomer to Modesto is more aware of business conditions than those who control more than 2 Million square feet of office space and represent many of the lots ready for development, yet that is what we are supposed to believe. Benchmark is always out in front of the crowd. Remember, they were cornering the Salida market when all hell broke loose regarding the backroom talks taking place over Modesto’s annexation desires. Of course Muratore was in on the initial discussions behind the scenes before Marsh and Cogdill Jr. took his place.
White makes the perfect Frontman
David White, being new to Modesto needed a feather in his cap to get a little credibility/gravitas but this might not have been the way to get it. He has been going around telling his different audiences what they want to hear. When he talks to the City and County he promotes business parks and bringing new businesses to Modesto. But when he was thanking the MID Board (3 of the 5 are farmers) for their $10,000 contribution, in advance he denies looking at farmland for business parks and stresses local business. Heck, speaking out of both sides of his mouth the way he does, you’d think he was running for office. Getting credit for allegedly bringing 70-100 jobs, after five years can’t hurt. What falls by the wayside is these jobs were already in Modesto located at Orangeburg and College.
To Balance the Parking Fund, Parking Meters Will be Installed.
Timing is everything and this is no different. The Council and their committees will be entertaining a proposal from the Downtown Improvement Association to re-install the parking meters they recommended be removed years ago. There is little doubt they will be suggesting a PRIVATE company administer/own these meters. To understand better try reading Griftopia by Matt Taibbi. Our council has a history of wanting to privatize city jobs not always for the better…. well, except for those who get our money.
The sale hasn’t gone through
Yes the sale hasn’t gone through. What was lost in the stage play was the air in the basement of the Penny building isn’t of the best quality. The county used to rent space there but had to give it up because of environmental concerns. To sum it up, this whole dog and pony show was staged this way so a realtor could get his commission, a newcomer could get his spurs, the council could claim a victory of sorts and get some of the annexation stink off of themselves (it didn’t work regardless of whether or not this sale goes through) and the parking concessions are being done at the taxpayers/store customer’s expense. After all the street parking is free now so why should we pay for it?
Here is one of the emails we drew information from Swehla and Marsh
On July 26th Modesto City Councilman John Gunderson wrote an article under Community Columns John Gunderson: Clear thinking needed on Salida annexation issue where he makes several dubious and completely wrong claims. Now we can’t tell you if just can’t comprehend what he reads or is just being malicious. What we can say is when he relayed his columns to fellow council members, staff and others (yes the result of a public record request) where he claims to have done the research himself. The above photo is the Councilman’s ‘official’ picture. The below one is the one he posted of how he see’s himself on facebook.
Unfortunately Councilman Gunderson has been wrong on this issue for a long time but to make specious claims he says he researched? well here is Katherine Borges’ response in its entirety. Her original post
|John Gunderson’s new profile pic of “me”. Which ironically
(and eerily) looks just like my cat.
Well folks, Modesto City Councilman John Gunderson is at it again. I must really crawl under that guy’s skin because he can’t seem to go a week without a Facebook post on Salida. This week, he regurgitated an e-mail I wrote to the council in June regarding a tip I received from a Salidan that Modesto had hired a consultant to help them annex Salida.
|My cat. Rescued as a kitten
from the intersection of
Woodland & Carpenter.
While both Mayor Marsh and city planner, Patrick Kelly replied that the city didn’t hire Keith Bergthold as an annexation consultant, there’s something still amiss here. Why would Bergthold tell his Fresnan friend that he had an eighteen month contract otherwise? Perhaps it was just being bandied about and was all verbal at that point? Either way, its DOA now because the city can’t very well go and hire him after denying that they hadn’t. And how effective would he be with any kind of collaboration building with Salida? (Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.)
And once again, the councilman nay says Salida incorporating, “Should stop worrying about incorporation for Salida as well because that can’t happen either.” I previously responded to his comment about whether or not Salida can be incorporated, but it apparently didn’t register in his brain so I’ll say it again, “Keep in mind that no one has ever applied to incorporate Salida as a city. If no one has ever tried, how does anyone know whether or not it can be done?“
|Available land in
Beard Industrial Park
“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” – Aldous Huxley
Stay tuned for more “fun” from Cat and Gundy…at some point in the next 7 days – –
On Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 1:53 PM, Garrad Marsh wrote:
You are wrong about Mr. Bergthold being hired by the city. Mr. Bergthold has not been hired (or to my knowledge even contacted) by any City of Modesto employee or elected.
From: Katherine Borges [mailto:salidakat@
Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2014 2:02 PM
To: Garrad Marsh
Cc: COUNCIL; Brad Wall; Patrick Kelly; Terry Withrow; Vito Chiesa; Dick Monteith; Jim DeMartini; Bill O’Brien; Marjorie Blom; George Petrulakis
Subject: Re: SALIDA ANNEXATION CONSULTANT
WHO hired him then? I was told he has an 18-month contract. Emerson has filed a public information request with the city. Even if it turns out that you’re right and the city has nothing to do with it, then you need to find out who working to annex Salida on your behalf. I want nothing to do with this man and will not contact him. His e-mail is: Keith.Bergthold@
On Jun 4, 2014, at 2:47 PM, “Patrick Kelly” wrote:
This is to confirm that the City did not hire Keith Bergthold. Keith represents Fresno Metro Ministries and has volunteered his time to work with Stanislaus Community Foundation to look at asset based community development. At Keith’s request, the City presented the General Plan Amendment proposal at a community workshop (hosted by Metro Ministries) held on May 8, 2014, intended to inform the public about Modesto’s General Plan Amendment currently underway. At Keith’s request, the workshop also included a presentation by Carlos Yamzon, Executive Director with StanCOG about the 2014 Regional Transportation Plan / Sustainable Communities Strategy. The intent of the presentation format was to share with the public Modesto’s General Plan Amendment proposal in context of StanCOG’s regional plan.
Patrick Kelly, AICP
From: Keith <Keith@
Date: June 4, 2014 at 3:37:17 PM PDT
To: Patrick Kelly < >
Cc: Katherine Borges <salidakat@ Garrad Marsh < >, COUNCIL < >, Brad Wall < >, Terry Withrow < >, Vito Chiesa” < >, Dick Monteith < >, Jim DeMartini < >, “Bill O’Brien” < >, Marjorie Blom < >, George Petrulakis < >, “Brent Sinclair” <>, “kberg@ <kberg@>
Subject: Re: SALIDA ANNEXATION CONSULTANT
Thank you Patrick. I have no idea where such false assertions mentioned below with respect to the City of Modesto and Salida or contracts with the City might originate. I have been volunteering with various groups in Modesto, Fresno, Madera, and Kern around community building for healthy people and healthy places – which is a regional initiative and goal of Fresno Metro Ministry. Please have people contact me directly to confirm my activities and intent. Thank you again for sharing this information. Regards, keith
When Modesto City Councilman Bill Zoslocki is pushing something he saves Modesto Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Cecil Russell from having to support it. Here is a story about Jim Holgersson, the man they (the Council and Chamber) want to hire as interim city manager. Public record requests are a wonderful thing.
Ousted Arlington city manager’s scathing review, perks detailed in public records: Former Arlington City Manager Jim Holgersson resigned in September amidst a scathing review from his peers, which was made public under the state’s open records act by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram over the weekend.
A press release by the city at the time of Holgersson’s hiring claims his starting salary would be $190,000 but said nothing of pension provisions, car or phone allowances and the other non-salary perks of a public executive’s pay package.
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or email@example.com.
We’ve all listened to the Modesto Chamber of Commerce tell their story, some of us six or seven times, of how their Transportation Committee met over a six month period (it gets longer every time they tell it) met to discuss Modesto’s land expansionist planning needs for the next twenty years. In previous articles we chronicled how the Chamber went from needing 1,000 acres to over 25,300 of land during their series of presentations to various civic groups and public entities. The above map is from their July 2013 presentation. This represents their goals and is an early view of what the comprehensive General Plan scheduled to begin two years from now will look like if they get their way.
As usual when it comes to people attempting to manipulate the public for their own selfish interests what they don’t tell us is just as, and sometimes more important, than the information they disseminate.
For example during these ‘planning meetings’ that Mayor Marsh and City Manager Nyhoff attended along with members of the Chamber’s Transportation Committee, they discussed how best to seize Wood Colony land for an industrial park and sneak Salida’s already zoned business park land from them to be placed under Modesto’s control.
I admit after hearing Mayor Marsh paint George Petrulakis and the Chamber as ‘evil’ and a position we don’t totally disagree with, as the people we really had to worry about compared to himself and his friends, I was surprised to learn of the initial collaborations. When his friends, Councilwoman Kenoyer of (I don’t have to worry about Wood Colony because they can’t vote for me) fame, and Councilman Gunderson who just can’t stop repeating “no one is talking about annexation”, while the Mayor keeps using the terms annexation and eminent domain, don’t make anyone feel they can be trusted.
Part of the ‘art of the deal’ was the watering down and delay of Denny Jackman’s Residential Urban Limits proposal. An arrangement was made so the Chamber wouldn’t fight it when it came on the ballot but at the council meeting where it was proposed, a little ‘kicker’ was added. Councilman Cogdill proposed that Modesto would repeal the Measures A and M which deal with the public’s ability to control land acquisition and development(sewer expansion) by the city by requiring public advisory votes.
All of the General Plan Amendment discussion has been orchestrated from the beginning by just a few people. For example the rank and file of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce don’t get to vote on the Board of Directors, they’re appointed, the same is true of the Alliance.
The Modesto Planning Commission and Staff spent the better part of a year holding workshops for the public where Bill Zoslocki and Craig Lewis passionately advocated for a much larger footprint for Modesto. People came forward and expressed themselves very succinctly. And the Planning Commission’s meetings, Brent Sinclair and the rest of Modesto’s planning staff listened to the public’s wishes and proposed a footprint which was in line with Denny’s original RUL proposal.
Then the politicians stepped in. For a while you needed a score card to understand where each one of them stood. From Nyhoff’s open mic fiasco where he dissed everyone who disagreed with the Chamber, we learned why Jenny turned her back on both her campaign promises, to protect prime farmland and keep Salida for Salida. The bumbling John Gunderson, so elated the Mayor was finally talking to him as an equal, rubber stamped every proposal Marsh made whether he understood them or not. For Cogdill and Zoslocki the mantra is “more is better.” But Zoslocki added “but I can’t be caught voting/going on the record for it.” Lopez, after being warned about people willing to energetically campaign against him in the Board of Supervisors race, disavowed any interest in Wood Colony. And Madrigal, well Tony is still out collecting prom dresses, rather than focusing on the larger tasks needed by the city.
But it all began with a few greedy real estate men (Zoslocki and Lewis), a small handpicked few from the Chamber, a City Manager who spent more time working for the desires of a few in the Chamber of Commerce than he did the people of Modesto, and a Mayor who though he could write his own legacy by stealing the land from the residents of Salida, the farmers of Wood Colony and the German Baptist Brethren who, to take a page from Jenny Kenoyer’s book, don’t vote anyway.
And We, the Citizens of Modesto are the only ones who can stop this. And what have we been doing? We’ve been saying…. Sir, can I please have another?
It’s time to take back our City Government from the greedy special interests that are intent on ruining Modesto.