Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Modesto Chamber of Commerce”

Modesto Gives Itself a Black Eye in the New York Times

By Emerson Drake      NYtimes

Thanks to the Modesto City Council and the Chamber of Commerce Modesto has received more bad notoriety.  Every time we end up on another negative list, worst to retire to, worst places to live, worst places to breathe, and well, you remember them since they just keep coming.  To hear the Council and Chamber tell/spin it it’s never our fault but outsiders keep picking on us.

This time it’s well deserved, and maybe, just maybe, we came out looking better than we deserve.  We, Modesto citizens and voters,  brought this upon ourselves by not standing up to the City Council en masse and saying “enough is enough.”   The citizens of Modesto, on the large part, have been sitting back and allowing Salida and Wood Colony residents to fight our battles for us and it’s time we took over and straightened the Council and Chamber out. Here is the link to the article:http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/15/us/rural-spot-settled-by-religious-group-in-california-fears-a-citys-encroachment.html?_r=0

We should be ashamed of ourselves for not going down to the Council meeting in numbers that would dwarf our outlying neighbors, (Salida and Wood Colony).

Jenny Kenoyer was just speaking the unvarnished truth when she said referring  to Wood Colony that ” They can’t even vote for me”.  Cold sounding as it was it should have resonated in the hearts of Modesto voters as a plaintive cry for help for those who can’t help themselves. Jenny needed guidance and since the voters didn’t provide it the lackeys from the Chamber, including City manager Greg Nyhoff, stepped forward to label Wood Colony residents as anachronisms and being out of step with modern times.  The Chamber reps have been preaching from the rooftops that paving over Wood Colony is inevitable so we might as well get started.

Greg Nyhoff, Dave Cogdill, Bill Zoslocki and Cecil Russell have been reminding everyone who will listen that they don’t have to pay attention to Salida representatives and that the furor over Wood Colony will pass in time.   And why do they keep saying this?  Because the German Brethren will seldom speak in public let alone vote on any level and Salida’s residents, like those in Wood Colony, can’t vote in Modesto elections.  Mayor Marsh has gone so far as to gerrymander the proposed border to purposely exclude a major portion of Wood Colony’s voters.

A Modesto resident named John Walker has provided the most visible push-back to date. He has initiated a petition to recall Dave Cogdill and we wish him well.  Interestingly, when he announced his efforts at the last City Council meeting, Cogdill played the ‘hurt’ card.  He said he was willing to talk with Mr. Walker but wasn’t going to change his mind.  So basically he was going to talk at John and not to him.  From our point of view, when your elected representative feels different from his constituents, he/she needs to be replaced.

The Chambers Greedy Fingers are Everywhere, Watch MID Give them $2,730.00

By Emerson Drakechamberlogo

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s insidious influence is permeating Modesto like the bad smell of decay.  It’s everywhere you go and is contaminating good people and groups.  From the Latino Community Roundtable (LCR) to the Modesto Planning Commission to the Stanislaus Land Formation Commission (LAFCO) itself,  the Chamber’s  cold fingers of control  continue to insert themselves in every layer of our society, and their companion body the Alliance is right beside them every step of the way.

And unfortunately the good citizens of Stanislaus County are paying for it through their taxes and their utility fees.  As an example just Tuesday the MID decided to give the Chamber $2,730 in membership fees. Here is an impassioned plea to stop this insanity. Fast forward to 6:30 to see and listen to them give YOUR money to the Chamber. http://mid.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=24   This was the first time an MID meeting has been recorded and streamed live for public consumption. Noted in the conversation is the MID’s $10,000 donation to the Alliance.  And thanks to Larry Byrd it was reduced last year from $20,000 to $10,000 thousand dollars and for that we thank him.

But compare the Chamber to the Alliance and you get another look at how these private  lobbying groups manage to get public funds to spend anyway the see fit.  MID gave the Alliance $10,000 each of the last two years and $20,000 per year for four years before that, thanks to having Tom VanGroningen on its Board.  The City of Modesto gives the Alliance $63,000 every year and the County of Stanislaus gives the Alliance $93,000 every year.  Please don’t confuse the Work Force Alliance which substitutes as our unemployment office with the Alliance.  The Work Force Alliance is closely governed by state law and the County does a great job at monitoring the way our tax money is spent (the state gives the money to the County and the County gives it to the Work Force Alliance.)  The County was kind enough to provide me with a detailed tour of the books thanks to Kieth Boggs.  But the Alliance doesn’t share where they spend the money ($166,000) that I just pointed out.

So if you get your electricity from MID you pay a portion of your already high rates to the Alliance, along with your taxes that the city gets and then there’s the County tax contribution.  All because of the ‘Good Old Boys‘ playing  pass the tax money around.  And nobody has to tell you how they spent the money and I’ll take this opportunity to tell you they won’t.

Lets talk about the Chamber of Commerce for a minute.  Ever wonder how wide spread their influence is?  Lets name just a few starting with Brad Hawn on LAFCO, Patricia Gillium Chair of Modesto’s Planning Commission,  Bill Zoslocki and David Cogdill  on the Modesto City Council, John Mensinger on the MID Board, and a variety of members on Modesto’s Blue Ribbon Commission on the Homeless, along with other Committees.  Brad Hawn’s nomination to  LAFCO  was especially interesting.  Ron Fretas had been had been the alternate public member for four years and doing a find job by all standards and usually the alternate is seated as the public member.  But when it came time to name the new public member Mr. Fretas was cast aside and Brad Hawn,  who hadn’t been to a LAFCO meeting in years let alone know about how LAFCO works, came in out of the blue.

When the Chamber was $20,000 short on refurbishing the Modesto Arch they asked the Council for a ‘Gift’ of $20,000 to complete the payments but fortunately the Council said no after we exposed the ‘gift’ part.  It was written up in the Modesto Bee as a loan.  I don’t know about you but its been my experience there is a lot of difference between a gift and a loan when it comes to money.

Mayor Ridenour’s administration, with some help from the Chamber gave the Double Tree Hotel a sweetheart, long term deal for catering at the Modesto Civic Plaza.  As a result it isn’t feasible for someone else to come in and run it for Modesto and the Double Tree wants too much from Modesto to run it themselves.  When it appeared the Double Tree was going to get the contract, the Chamber gushed over the idea and promised to help with promotions and bringing in companies to rent the Plaza.  When the City was required to take over instead, the much promised help vanished in the wind like most of the Chamber’s promises do if one of its member isn’t making money and only the city is involved.

And needless to say the Chamber took the lead to provide land for their real estate members to sell known as the Pathway to SPRAWL.

The one place you can be sure to find the chamber being active, is in making your wallet a little lighter.

Mayor Marsh’s O.K.Corral at Hart Ransom in Wood Colony

By Emerson Drakeokcorral

It was just after high noon when Mayor Marsh tried to face down the crowd at Hart Ransom Elementary School in Wood Colony.  The Mayor started out on the wrong foot when he reminded the audience he once had a teaching credential and he was here to educate them in Modesto politics and how to count to four.   Unfortunately for Marsh he’s allowed his educational skills and debating skills to get rusty.  The Mayor has gotten used to a semi-controlled environment of the council chambers where he can threaten dissenters with expulsion if they disagree or interrupt him with the truth.  He has also forgotten that truth is his best weapon because he left it at home on Saturday.  And to top it all off, many of the audience members are much better informed than he and most are more knowledgeable than Council members John Gunderson and Jenny Kenoyer, who were also present but silent.  The two council members riding shotgun that day must have decided to keep silent and let people wonder instead of talking and removing all doubt as to their lack of understanding the basics of the issues.

Early on he was forced to say “I’ll take that back” three times in ninety seconds as a member of the audience (they all appeared to be residents of Wood Colony) would correct statements he made and these were just a few of many mis-statements he made and was corrected on. The ever polite and politically neutral  Marjorie Blom,  LAFCO’s (Local Agency Formation Commission) Executive Officer,  would speak later displaying her knowledge and understanding by explaining the process correctly  without pointing out the mistakes Marsh made.

And yes Mayor Marsh did blame Wood Colony residents for not coming out to Modesto’s meetings starting a year and a half ago.  Their absence wasn’t  surprising since Marsh had mentioned annexing  Salida in his Inaugural/State of the City Address but had failed to mention Wood Colony.  But politicians like to play the blame game and yes he had to take that back too.  The Mayor brought former councilman Denny Jackman into the conversation several times for support, especially for RUL (Residential Urban Limits).  For those followers of politics, the Mayor was careful when he chose to get Denny’s endorsements and Denny was just as careful as to what he agreed with.  But to the uninitiated it appeared to come off smoothly.

We’ve come to believe the compromise Denny struck trying to get a version the Council and Chamber could support, is too watered down to be effective.  To enlist the Chamber’s support they had to offer up the public’s last vestiges of control and that is Measure’s A and M, and allow them to be put on the ballot for repeal.  When that was discussed you could actually see Cogdill and Zoslocki become excited.

The Mayor wasn’t completely disingenuous, he stated although he is a farmland preservationist he isn’t one 100 percent of the time, not even ninety percent according to his own words.

The Mayor had kind words for Councilman Zoslocki calling him a likable and deeply religious man like himself.  Just that they disagreed on farmland preservation.  I admit at this point I did start laughing out loud for a moment.  Here’s the thing, most everyone agrees Marsh is an intelligent man, he just isn’t always politically savvy.   By the way, Mayor Marsh put the voting suggestions forward and by his unwillingness to lose a vote to keep Wood Colony out of Modesto’s General Plan, he allowed Zoslocki, Cogdill and Lopez to vote to keep it out while his block voted to keep Wood Colony in.  It is an upside down world when this happens, since Zoslocki had been traveling from one Planning Commission Workshop to another with the Chamber of Commerce all last year in an attempt to take Modesto’s General Plan all the way to the river for the western boundary.  Zoslocki, Cogdill and Lopez are the most Chamber/builder friendly people on the council with Madrigal coming right after them.

The Mayor addressed the recall talk towards Gunderson and Kenoyer by saying if they were recalled, Modesto/Wood Colony/Salida would only get someone worse.  In all fairness we’re not sure that’s possible considering the way they voted on Jan.28th.  The recall discussion regarding Jenny has been loud but the conversation regarding Gunderson had only begun to be strident when he started cutting himself off from his constituents who disagreed with his voting positions.  It was a childish move and left many shaking their heads in disillusioned astonishment, which is an action many of his council mates have done since he was elected.

It truly seems to me the problem originated with the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and I discussed this and pointed it out during the public comment period with the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors several times at January meetings.  The Chamber was allowed to frame the argument as jobs vs prime farmland but that just isn’t the case.  When I had my conversation with Jenny Kenoyer on Jan. 7th about saving Wood Colony, she responded by saying “give me an alternative.” So I immediately pointed out the North County Corridor and the County’s prediction that it would be completed many years before 132 goes all the way to Interstate 5 in an expanded form and that the soils east of Modesto were far poorer, unofficially referred to as  PPP (piss poor pasture) by farmers and that was where we should be building business parks and homes.  But Jenny had, to use the vernacular, drank the Chambers get rich quick kool-aid and ignored the suggestion and only wanted to consider Wood Colony.  And yes that was when she uttered the now famous words, “I have to worry about the 200,000 people living in Modesto and besides those people in Wood Colony can’t vote for me.”  She repeated those words three different times so I’m sure I wasn’t the first or the last person she had said them to.

It was great to see that the citizens of Wood Colony had thoroughly educated themselves about the issue and were defending themselves quite adequately.  They weren’t buying the half truths Marsh was selling and told him point blank he needed to bring the issue back to the council and take Wood Colony completely OUT of Modesto’s General Plan.

I fully admit I voted for Marsh and Gunderson believing then and now they were the lesser of two evils.  I guess it goes to show we need a better class of politicians in Modesto.

We hope to have the audio from the meeting up soon.

Here is a Counter to Marsh’s Letter: Don’t believe Marsh’s Ag-friendly ‘Smokescreen’

By Katherine Borges and Valerie Goldstein keepwoodcolonygreen

Reality is the state of things as they actually exist and not as they may appear or are imagined.

Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh’s Op-Ed in last Sunday’s Bee (“Mayor: Council acted to protect farmland,” Feb. 9, Page D1), attempts to justify the City Council’s “unprecedented” votes on the general plan update. The reality of the plan means annexation and development for Wood Colony and Salida behind Marsh’s “ag-friendly” smokescreen.

The first item addressed by Marsh is the “return” of the Beckwith Triangle from the general plan. The area was slated to become a ballpark along with commercial and industrial development, which Marsh now describes as an “unsound plan.” The Beckwith Triangle is still a part of Modesto’s new plan update, just with a different zoning mix. But more importantly, how can something be “returned” when it was never yours to begin with?

His next paragraph is an acknowledgment of just how much the Modesto Chamber of Commerce controls the council. Despite the massive and well documented public outcry against including Wood Colony in the general plan, the council conceded to a compromise with the chamber of “around 1,000 acres.” Marsh even refers to it as a “pristine agricultural treasure,” but zones it for both commercial and business park with a gerrymandered notch on Beckwith to try to prevent residents from voting down the annexation.

Marsh’s third point of ag mitigation is nothing more than a damage-control diversion for Jenny Kenoyer’s political gaffes. Stanislaus County already has an ag mitigation policy in place, yet Modesto’s has not yet been approved; which Marsh alludes to with, “If completed … ”

In his fourth attempted rationalization, Marsh cites “1,500 acres of land that was targeted for housing back to ag and out of the General Plan.” To remove LAFCO-approved land in exchange for land that LAFCO previously voted against being urbanized is not commendable but is, in reality, irresponsible planning. (LAFCO is the county commission which approves/denies land annexations.)

Most wouldn’t even know that Salida was included based on Marsh’s skillfully crafted wordsmithing. The land around Gregori High is part of the Salida Community Plan, an initiative passed by the Board of Supervisors for Salida in 2007. To put it another way, Marsh is saying, “ … the best and quickest way for Modesto to attract more jobs without taking any land that retained its agricultural zoning” is to steal it from Salida. The land currently around Gregori is zoned ag and the council has repeatedly admitted the jobs produced are 25-40 years out.

The last Trojan Horse that Marsh trots out is the Residential Urban Limits (RUL), which if approved by voters, would send to ballot any time a residential developer wants to build on farmland. As if the people of Wood Colony are going to respond, “It’s OK for you to bulldoze my house as long as you don’t build another house in its place.”

Like the aforementioned ag mitigation, Stanislaus County already has a rural urban limit in place, Measure E (co-authored by Denny Jackman and … wait for it … Garrad Marsh) passed by voters in 2007. Yet for Wood Colony and Salida, RULs will not apply since neither land-jacking by Modesto involves residential development plans.

Modesto neighbors, please help us! With Salida and Wood Colony united to protect our homes, our farms and our communities, every member of your City Council cast a vote against us. They aren’t listening to us and they aren’t listening to you. We cannot recall them, but you can. Join your district’s recall effort and help take your city back from the money interests. We just want to live our lives in peace without the threat of losing our homes and communities.

By Katherine Borges and Valerie Goldstein

 

Mayor’s Letter to the Modesto Bee and the Citizens of Modesto

Mayor Marsh’s Letter to the Modesto Bee

February 6, 2014 at 8:05pm gmarsh

Often there is perception and then there is reality. The City Council actions on the General Plan Update have, for most, been perceived differently from what is real.

The most far reaching recommendations to protect our agricultural economy ever in Modesto’s history were proposed by the Modesto City Council. At the January 28th Council meeting, the General Plan (of our land use) was recommended to be amended.  Unlike reports and some general concepts of the votes taken, these votes were unprecedented in the history of Modesto.

There were four votes to preserve ag that evening that were unlike any former votes ever made by a Modesto City Council.  This seemed to be missed in the reporting and in the general public’s understanding of the events of that long evening.

First, Modesto REVERSED an almost 20-year general plan policy by RETURNING over 800 acres of Wood Colony to agricultural zoning. In 1995 Modesto designated the “Beckwith Triangle” to become business, industrial, and commercial uses.  This council is abandoning the scope of that former unsound plan.

Second, your City Council rejected the Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s plan to convert almost another 1,000 acres of Wood Colony into industrial and business park uses.  The Chamber had actively lobbied your Council to target this pristine agricultural treasure for development. Modesto Chamber’s early plan was to take over 4,000 acres of Wood Colony, but Modesto staff lowered that to about a thousand.  I believe Modesto’s Council has never before been so agricultural friendly as to rebuff the developer packed Chamber’s proposal.

Third, based upon feisty Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer’s motion, Modesto moved forward the idea of farmland mitigation. Never in Modesto’s history has it taken steps to enact a policy to save farmland. On a narrow 4-3 vote this policy change moved forward. If completed it would require permanent protection of agricultural land equal to any land the City takes into its city limits.

And fourth, Modesto is returning 1,500 acres of land that was targeted for housing back to ag and out of the General Plan. It also is returning 320 acres of business-designated land to agricultural uses.  What especially makes these plans unparalleled is this land was already blessed by LAFCO (the countywide land authority on urbanization) to let Modesto develop. Think of that. Modesto is taking prime farmland that has for decades been planned to be paved over for housing and returning it to agricultural uses.

I am of the opinion that those who have had undue influence over the city’s council for far too long, were shocked by the results of Jan. 28th’s actions. There have even been whispers of recall.  Really?  A recall because the importance of ag was finally recognized by action.  This Council finally put our agricultural heritage ahead of money.

Besides those extraordinary votes, the Council took action to secure well-located business property for the future. I support the idea of moving forward on the business designated land around Gregori High.  The County Board of Supervisors had already given a 25 year right for developers to build on this land.  This is the best and quickest way for Modesto to attract more jobs without taking any land that retained its agricultural zoning.

One other vote from the week previous to the General Plan agenda also got no coverage. The City Council moved a residential urban limits (RUL) question to the next City ballot. If approved by the voters, this would build a wall between Modesto and prime farmland for building of homes.  Again, an historic move by this Council.

If anyone would like more information on these historic steps toward Modesto’s recognition of agriculture’s importance to our economy or the votes taken by your council, I would be pleased to meet with you. Email gmarsh@modestogov.com.

I will be presenting the State of the City address on Wednesday, February 26th at 5:30 p.m.  The address will be given in the City Council chambers, lower floor of the City-County building, 1010 10th street.  Questions will be taken at the end of the address.

Garrad Marsh, MayorCity of Modesto

3700 McHenry Ave.Modesto, CA 95356209-417-7991

mchbowl@aol.com

We’ve added Marsh’s letter to the Eye to future reference it.  It has been spread on facebook days before being printed in the Bee.  We will respond to its contents at a future date.

Vindictiveness Doesn’t Look Good on a City Councilwoman

By Emerson Drake jkenoyer

Ms, Kenoyer had stated during her campaign she would NOT support any attempt to annex Salida.  She repeated it several times on Jan 7th.  Over the weekend she received a flyer JennyKenoyer_flyer which upset her. Apparently she was offended at being reminded of the promises she broke and of course having flyers being passed out didn’t help.

Now Ms. Kenoyer is running around telling people she’s going to teach Salida a lesson.  Watch closely and you’ll see our ‘Jenny’ vote against the very people she promised to support.

Jenny’s promises and her word seem to be worthless.   And for someone like myself who has been a constant supporter of hers for many years this is heartbreaking.

We’ve only just begun. It’s time to hold politicians accountable to the people.  The copy machines are warmed up and the people are motivated.

JENNY KENOYER BREAKS HER CAMPAIGN PROMISE!

Dear Modesto Neighborsmodestoarch

Less than 2 months into office (and at her first city council meeting), your new Modesto City council member JENNY KENOYER 

is planning to break her campaign promise to preserve prime farmland!

During her campaign when asked how important farmland preservation is to Stanislaus County, Jenny Kenoyer replied, “Farmland preservation is probably one of the most important things that is so important to us.  Agriculture is the base of our economy” and “I’m really concerned our council that is there now is not really concerned with preservation of ag land”.

Yet at the January 7, 2014 Modesto City Council meeting, Jenny Kenoyer indicated that she supports annexing the prime farmland west of 99 known as Wood Colony for development.  She was quoted as saying,” I DON’T CARE WHAT THE PEOPLE OF WOOD COLONY THINK, THEY DON’T VOTE FOR ME.”

Your neighbors in Wood Colony need your help to protect their homes, their farms, and their families’ farm heritage!

Please e-mail or call your councilmember, Jenny Kenoyer and request she stick to her campaign pledge to preserve farmland and NOT VOTE TO PAVE OVER FAMILY FARMS IN WEST MODESTO!

E-mail: JKenoyer@modestogov.com and/or call (209) 571-5597.

CONTACT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! – URGENCY NEEDED!  THE VOTE IS TUESDAY!

Or attend the Modesto City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 5:30 pm at 1010 10th Street Place – Basement chambers.

*To locate the YouTube video, just google “Jenny Kenoyer Interview” and the date is August 16, 2013.

We’ve just added the pdf of the flyer being distributed in Modesto.

JennyKenoyer_flyer

Today in the Name of Freedom We Start Taking the Battle to Them

By Emerson Drake7539_644398712288462_663275294_n

Okay it’s a little dramatic, but it fits.  The Modesto City Council is preparing, through its General Plan Amendment update, to annex Wood Colony and possibly Salida and I say enough is enough.  Unlike the beleaguered citizens of Modesto, residents of Wood Colony and Salida have a means to fight back.  Marketplace Shopping Center is a prime example.  Modesto residents came out in droves to protest the building of the center at Sylvan and Oakdale roads but the city council, after pretending to listen and postponing the decision a few times, decided developers were more important to them than the voting citizens of the neighborhood.  They can’t protest the decision to a higher authority like Wood Colony and Salida will be able to ie: LAFCO.

The Modesto City Council has been drinking the Chamber of Commerce’s Kool aid.

After speaking with Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer on Jan.7th it became obvious, that despite her protestations of independent research, she was mouthing the exact platitudes of the Chamber’s Craig Lewis and lobbyist Cecil Russell.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, is the chant.  But all they are providing are empty promises of ‘core’ jobs which is deceiving few if any.  Core jobs don’t rely on freeway access, warehouse and distribution jobs at $10 to $12 an hour do.  And the Chamber says we should be grateful for that.  But Bill Lyons’ Wood Colony Business Park (WCBP) would provide the 5% commissions for Realtors like Councilman Bill Zoslocki and his boss at Prudential Realty, Craig Lewis.  Jenny likes to say she wants a research facility to be built at WCPB and challenged me to give her another option.  Very simple, if it’s going to be 10 to 20 years before build-out, which I doubt, lets use the second rate soil on land East of Modesto.   Just like the Chamber, Jenny dismissed this out of hand.   Why?  Because they know it’s out best option and it undermines their arguments in favor of Salida and Wood Colony.

Another talking point they, the Chamber and many members of the Council make is a business park would keep our children from leaving Modesto.  What a joke, but again false promises hold out hope to parents of children who might leave after college graduation.  I suppose if they had a child who wanted to be an oceanographer they’d promise to build an ocean in the proposed park too.

Their spiel isn’t about truth, it’s about taking advantage of the hard times and making as much money as possible for themselves and their friends just like developer and profiteer Bill Zoslocki did with Village I.

I supported Jenny Kenoyer when she ran for office the first time. I sat with her and fought the proposed water sale to San Francisco.  I heard her speak many times about preserving prime farmland.  And now because she mentions  farmland mitigation she believes it covers for her sins for making false campaign promises.  I understand some politicians lie to get in office but I truly never expected it of her, not to this extent.

And as for taking the fight to them…

There are people walking Modesto council districts explaining to the people just how badly the City Council is treating the German Baptist Brethren in Wood Colony.   But as Jenny admitted saying, they (the Brethren) can’t vote for her.

Food for thought about the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and those in the Modesto City Council who vote against the preservation of Wood Colony and Salida…To know where Evil grows and permit it to flourish is to accept responsibility for all that follows.

‘We The People’ Modesto Chapter

By Emerson Drake                    honorourheritage

I think it’s time for the people of Stanislaus County to have an organization  of their own representing them.  It wouldn’t be affiliated with any other groups, and is just out of concern for the issues faced by those of us in the Central Valley.  We’ve watched Modesto try to claim land belonging to the residents of Salida and now Wood Colony is being threatened with extinction.  It’s important to understand extinction is exactly what will happen if the majority of the Modesto City Council gets their way.  It’s the extinction of a way of life for the German Baptist Brethren, and everyone else who lives in the area.   Once industry invades Wood Colony it’s the beginning of the end.

Going to the Modesto Planning Commission meetings we heard the Modesto  Chamber of Commerce attempt to extend Modesto’s influence to the river on the West and North.  They were claiming ‘they’ would protect farmland but the reality is something completely different.  This massive land grab they attempted to bring into Modesto’s General Plan (37 square miles) was larger than Modesto proper (34 square miles.)

Individually they can ignore the will of the people but collectively they have to listen.  It’s important for everyone to come forward and speak your mind to the Modesto City Council.  Citizens of Modesto especially.  Why?  Because the Majority of the City Council is preparing to help you surrender your ability to vote on Modesto’s annexations.  We ALL need to protect Measures A and M because they help us to rein in the greed coming from the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and being funneled through the City Council.

The people of Wood Colony and Salida need and deserve our support. Only by standing together can we survive the onslaught being perpetuated by the Modesto City Council and Modesto Chamber of Commerce.

Think about it.

Special thanks to the Fly N Dutchman Graphics and Banners for the picture.

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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