Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Modesto Irrigation District”

The Bee Endorsed an Election Denier and a Water Seller. Why?

By Emerson Drake

The Modesto Bee Editorial Board chose to endorse Stu Gilman, a known supporter of selling our water, and Janice Keating an outspoken election denier. Not only does Ms. Keating claim the 2020 nation wide election was fraudulent but she casts aspersions on our current local elections. And Nick Dokoozlian is a young political opportunist with no experience.

The overriding question should be, why is the Bee taking this course of action? None of their three endorsements for the MID Board makes any sense. They’re aware that Bill Lyons has been selling water the question there is how much of it was “mined” and how much of it was free from the sweetheart deals from the past. Mining water refers to using wells along side of a river. As we’ve shown before Bill has a canal running across his property. The Lyons’ deal with MID was to give them the land in exchange for free water going down the canal.

Land use attorney George Petrulakis was Stu’s ‘advisor’ in his last election for the nominal fee of $10,000. A large amount Stu wasn’t required to pay at the time. And large when you consider the Board on pays $1,000 a month. But Georges fingers don’t stop there. He’s been behind Janice Keating since she was on the Modesto City Council and ‘supported’ her in her failed bid for the Assembly when she lost to Kristin Olsen.

But all of this is just background when you consider Garth Stapley wrote articles showing Janice not only took money earmarked for advancing MID’s attempt at selling our water to San Francisco back in 2011, she also spoke publicly in favor of the sale at a MID Board meeting back then. So he was well aware of her inclinations to take money for providing her public support.

To make things even more interesting in 2011 Judy Sly, former Bee opinion page editor, came out in favor of the water sale. Now Judy was near retirement and looking for somewhere to spend the rest of her working days. Needless to say it’s been suggested she received some help getting a position with the County soon there after. For her supporting Modesto’s Chamber of Commerce concerns proved useful.

A concern with the water sale was that we had to sell the water to San Francisco in both wet years and dry years. The amount of water MID has access to is limited by rainfall, storage and by contract since we split the water with the farmers for irrigation. The smaller the pie (water) the less there is for everyone to eat or drink as in this case. Modesto needs the water to blend with our polluted ground water to make it drinkable. During the last drought we were running pretty lean in the water department. If the drought had gone another year the excrement would have hit the oscillating rotary device.

We were almost forced to laugh when the Bee Editorial Board suggested Stu would be the best one to lower our prices since the “City Boys” Stu, John, and Paul had been in charge for the last five years and didn’t bother to give residential electrical customers an even break. Yes, we’re still subsidizing big customers like Gallo and others by giving them below cost prices (Garth wrote this story too).

Is the Bee suggesting Stanislaus County elections are fraudulent and using Janice as a tool?

We certainly hope not. We had the opportunity to see the County’s election division in action under Donna Linder. Every single vote is tracked and verified (to explain the process completely would take another 2,000 words) leaving no room for any doubts or concerns. We can’t speak for other states or counties but Stanislaus County is definitely legit. Maybe if the Bees’ Editorial Board went to see the operation instead of endorsing failed retread politicians they would be more retrospect in their endorsements.

Nick Dokoozlian is a field rep for Supervisor Mani Grewal with no experience, well except for sucking up to Mani. To the best of my knowledge Nick hasn’t been to a MID meeting in person and we haven’t seen his name on line in zoom meetings. He’s articulate but even if you sound good you need to know what you’re talking about. I guess in Mani’s and Garth’s world that isn’t important. Influence is.

The Bee Editorial Board knew or should have known that MID has what they call discretionary money (that’s what they call the profits from residential electric ratepayers) shortfall compared to prior years and if they were doing their due diligence they would know this and it’s no surprise to most of us that the MID Board run by the ‘city boys’ has scheduled rate talks regarding rate hikes for the week AFTER the election.

We need people who have fought to keep our water in the Modesto Basin and have studied the situation not people who are just looking for somewhere to begin being a lifetime politician. If you want to make a difference in the way people will be treated by MID going forward you need to get out and vote for:

MID District 2: Frank Damrell

Mid District 3: Robert Frobose

Mid District 4: John Boer 

Thank you.


Politics and the MID Election

By Emerson Drake

Is there anything we take more for granted in our daily lives than flipping on a switch and having the lights turn on or turning on a faucet to get a drink of water? The conversation today is to decide how best to keep these things we take for granted available and affordable and who best to support for the MID Board this election season. We go to as many MID meetings as possible and watch the rest on line to best understand what’s going on. We even listened to the Bee’s forum to be able to see and hear the candidates answering questions side by side as it were.

As usual several of the people running for the Board haven’t been close (the closest they’ve been to MID is paying their electric bill) to understanding the intricacies of what MID does other than moving the switches and faucets mentioned earlier. MID is facing several tough issues than must be addressed fairly for all and candidates without a clue will cost us, you and me, the ratepayers dearly. A couple are so closely aligned to special interest groups that no amount of facts, meaning understanding the hard truths they/we are facing, will ever allow them to serve us best.

Her are a few hard facts. Currently MID’s electric rates revolve around the cost of natural gas. We’ve been fortunate for several years that the cost of gas was cheap. Thanks to the fact our country went from an importer to the biggest exporter in the world, the cost of natural gas has sky rocketed forty percent in the last year alone. The plant in Lodi we have partial ownership in and our local Peaker Plants all run on natural gas. The current drought doesn’t seem to want to go away and these droughts have become more and more frequent.

Because of the current lawsuit, which MID lost but is appealing, they refuse to talk about the cost of water. But those who’ve been attending meetings for years remember when the Board supplied that important information. During an earlier drought, when allotments were reduced the Board decided they had enough water to sell additional water to farmers. The cost stated was $55.00 an acre foot. Normally we sell water to farmers for $16.25 per acre foot. As you can see there is a significant cost difference. A large shortfall for the water side.

In the years just before the lawsuit the MID Board had been slowly raising the water rates to recover part of the shortfall, estimated at $8M.

Some, but not all of the electric ratepayers had been making up the difference. Big businesses had been given ‘time of use rates’. The electricity used by these businesses was given such a reduced rate it was actually below MID’s cost. Several years ago there were approximately 112 of these businesses. Most of these but not all were located south of Yosemite avenue in Modesto in Beard industrial Park. The other major one is Gallo industries not all of which are in the Beard Industrial Park. Gallo in 2015 saved over $8 Million dollars according to a Modesto Bee article written by Garth Stapley.

I remind everyone about all the balls MID is juggling so we can better understand the pressure special interest groups are bringing to our doorstep during this election. MID’s own study in 2016 said the MID subsidizes big business, both electrical and water, higher than any electric company in central California and nothing has changed.

The lawsuit was filed in the spring of 2016. When Stu Gilman ran for, and was elected to, the MID Board in 2017, his main platform to his potential constituents was to get them a rebate for the overcharge for water and electricity. Immediately after taking office Stu voted join the rest of the Board in claiming the profits from the sales of electricity to MID customers was discretionary income not electrical profits. How can you trust a man who breaks his pledge to both his church’s congregation (House Modesto) and to everyone in his district?

It’s easy to envision the special interest groups circling MID’s Boardroom. The Stanislaus County Farm Bureau and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce were and still are having heart palpations. The Farm Bureau, the Chamber, and Bill Lyons have vested interests, albeit greedy ones. The Farm Bureau doesn’t want higher water rates and the Chamber doesn’t want higher electric rates for its big businesses and Bill Lyons, like selling water.

How bad was/is the situation? From Garth’s article:

A Modesto Bee analysis of bond documents in June showed that MID saw a $106 million profit selling electricity in 2014, while farmers paid less than 17 percent of what it costs MID to deliver water, even after a series of irrigation rate bumps in recent years.

So who is left to pay the bills? Over 100,000 families and small businesses. Can the average family or small business afford to pay for the Gallo’s electricity or bear the brunt for farm water?

Should we sell our water to pay our bills?

Modesto’s aquifer, also know as Modesto’s basin, is running a water deficit of 100,000 acre feet a year. Without water recharge our water level will keep getting lower and lower. We’ve read about family wells running dry and deeper wells and or new wells have to be dug. The central valley gets nine inches of rain in an average year. Almonds and our green lawns both take about four feet of water to flourish. The water in Don Pedro is what maintains our life styles. We’ve witnessed to our south in Kern County and others how ignoring water levels causes ground levels to drop and aquifers to collapse and they can’t be repaired.

The truth is we don’t have any water to spare to sell. We need to store every acre foot we can and recharge, (put back into the ground) the rest. Anything else is short sighted and robbing our children’s future.

So lets talk about the candidates.

It’s really about who can we trust to make the hard decisions.

MID District 3

Nick Dokoozlian? He bragged during the debate that he was the only candidate who received both the Farm Bureau and Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement. Both of these entities are determined to keep you and I paying their electric and water bills without any changes. Or they’ll be like current Board member Paul Campbell and take their money and move to another state. We don’t believe being a Board of Supervisor field representative and political stand-in prepares anyone for the MID Board. So he’s a definite NO.

Nick’s opponent is Robert Frobose. A farmer who understands water conservation and was penalized by the Farm Bureau for standing up for Linda Santos against OID’s water sales outside the district. He’s a reasonable man who understands how much our water means to our future and how it’s time to take a close look at MID’s past practices. He’s earned and deserves our support.

MID District 2

Janice Keating? Janice, a contentious former Modesto City Councilmember, took from the then MID Board funneled through another company and spoke out in favor of selling our water to San Francisco back during the Board’s attempted bailout in 2011. Here’s Garth’s story detailing the events. The MID Board’s city boys with the help of the Chamber of Commerce tried to bail themselves out of a financial hole and were willing to use ratepayer money to pay for support. It was Larry Byrd, Nick Blom and Paul Warda that saved our water that year. The two city boys were desperate to sell the water to cover up their ineptitude and it was the farmers on the Board that saved our water. So she’s a definite NO.

Frank Damrell is her opponent. Frank has been going to MID meetings to understand the intricacies of the Board. He isn’t waiting like his opponent to roll up his sleeves and get involved with budget process. He understands everyone is going to need to be engaged in resolving MID’s issues and has the experience and the gravitas to fit right in. He’s against subsidies and deserves our support.

MID District 4

We discussed Stu Gilman’s many short comings earlier when he pulled a 180 degree reversal and after promising rebates on the campaign trail he he fell in lock step with special interests. Strangely enough he touts his support for the farmer to farmer water sales which benefited his favorite special interest, Bill Lyons. He supported Bill”s many interests by pushing what many refer to water mining, by using wells along the river to sell water out of MID’s district. When you pump water from underneath a river some suggest you’re stealing water from those down stream. There are several PRR, or Public Record Requests attempting to discover just how much water has been involved, but reportedly Lyons’ has made over $8 Million from these sales. Unfortunately MID is delaying releasing this information until closer to the election. Stu Gilman is a definite NO.

John Boer is the candidate we know least about. He understands how important water is to Modesto and Stanislaus County. He’s a volunteer fireman and farmer. While he may be the least polished he’s at least hard working, honest and will make up his own mind and not be swayed by special interests. He deserves a chance to prove himself and our support.

We support Frank Damrell, Robert Frobose, and John Boer as being in MID’s, along with yours and our, best interest.

District 2 Frank Damrell

District 3 Robert Frobose

District 4 John Boer

The Secrets they’re keeping From You

By Emerson Drake

Stanislaus County, the City of Modesto, the Modesto Irrigation District and the Modesto Bee ALL know what you’re about to learn. A Special Interest Group you know as Mapes Ranch and Lyons Property Investment Group (Bill Lyons) are taking Modesto Basin’s groundwater and selling it for their own personal profit. Not a big deal you say? When it’s to the tune of 10,000 acre feet worth $8.5M maybe it’s worth reading about and the water of course is completely free to them.

The email herein was sent to leaders of all of these groups several days ago. The sad thing is all of these groups had a hand in making it possible. Allegedly led by House Modesto’s and MID’s own Stu Gilman, MID has been led around by the nose with the help of John Mensinger and Paul Campbell.

The first eight pages are the important ones. The rest are the water agreement with Lyons Ranch we’ve talked about here before. Yes Bill Lyons is the only person in the District getting free water from MID

Why is everyone one staying silent? In the City Council alone both Mayor Sue Zwahlen and Councilwoman Rosa Escutia-Braaton have each taken $10,000 from Lyons entities. You didn’t hear them speak about the donations when approving the Stanislaus Groundwater Sustainability Plan. How will we be able to trust the Council to spend funds wisely when they are participating is this special interest theft (if you have a better term I’m all ears) of our water.

There will be more in the future but we needed to get these politicos off the snide.

MID: The Water Wars Continue

By Emerson Drake

We thought the water wars were over but in fact we’re in the middle of another one. As always in an organization as large and important as the MID or Modesto Irrigation District is, there is lots of room for shenanigans. And if you throw the OID or Oakdale Irrigation District in, well then things get much more interesting.

In both organizations we have three Directors that want to sell water outside of the Stanislaus Basin and two that don’t. In MID and OID memories of the water wars of 10 or so years ago are still fresh. The public uproar to the attempted sales burned them so in their opinion it’s vital that everything go smoothly. Remember how the drought brought the Dom Pedro Reservoir down to the size of a creek? Last year our rainfall was half of normal. And the water levels have been falling throughout the OID and farmers have needed to drill deeper to ensure their water supply.

OID wants to sell water to Brisbane instead of re-charging the aquifer and they need MID’s canals to do it. Everybody sees the Merced Irrigation District ready to sell water for $300 per acre foot and the salivating starts. OID’s past Brisbane water conversations have been centering around a 50 year agreement followed by a 25 year agreement at $500 an acre foot. OID attorney Tim O’laughlin was MID’s attorney for the attempted water sales to San Francisco, and is now the OID attorney and also represents Mahi Pono in Hawaii. Most will remember them as Trinitas before they were sold and expanded. O’Laughlin has a history of promoting water sales for Districts where the resident owners (both MID and OID are publicly owned utilities) haven’t always agreed with the sales. Hence the obvious need to control the Boards majorities.

OID has subsidized its farmers by selling water in the past but the falling water tables from 55 to 90 feet have opened many eyes. Some of the farmers we’ve talked with within the OID service area are willing to pay more to keep the water local. The water underground is like a savings account for everyone but OID seems to be willing to gamble everyone’s future for what could end up being pocket change today. It makes it easier to get reelected.

MID uses the electric side to subsidize their water to farmers but they also use residential electric customers to subsidize the cost of electricity for big companies like Gallo and those south of Yosemite. But they have a power broker/farmer/developer in Bill Lyons, who for years called the tune for MID’s Directors to dance to. After Directors Blom and Byrd and later Jake Winger were elected, that stopped. After Stu Gilman was elected and then turned his back on his constituents everything started to go back in the power broker/developer Bill Lyons favor. To my knowledge Bill Lyons is the only one who pays for two lobbyist/lawyers Stacy Henderson and Bob Fores to sit in the gallery meeting after meeting, or more recently on zoom to manipulate the outcomes, many for his advantage.

At the September 22nd meeting John Mensinger, Stu Gilman, and Paul Campbell were waiting to attack Larry Byrd with the help of Lyons lobbyist/lawyers hired minions, Stacy Henderson and Bob Fores.

The Board’s attorney, Wes Miliband and Interim General Manager Ed Franciosa, needed to get together to put on the last minute addition so the Brown Act presentation wasn’t officially on the agenda. The attorney said it was the first time he’d made a public Brown Act presentation in the 10 years he’s been with the MID. They were setting the table for the plotted ambush.

As soon as the non-agendized Brown Act presentation was completed Director Byrd made a short statement and then Stu Gilman jumped in. Then John Mensinger interrupted Board President Campbell to sic Stacy Henderson, followed immediately by Bob Fores, on Director Byrd.

Now the Brown Act says one Director may talk with another but the majority, in this case three, Directors can’t discuss the same topic in private. I encourage everyone to watch the video of this session and decide for themselves if these three were, well let’s be nice, and call it on the same page. Of course the outside lawyer for MID and the General Manager needed to know what was going on especially with this the presentation not originally act being on the agenda. Public Record Requests have been made but MID’s lawyer insisted on an extension which will have the requested documents arriving after the next scheduled meeting. Surprised?

The strange thing is these, should we say possible conspirators, were preparing to say that Director Byrd might have allowed someone to be present in his truck during closed session, in itself a potential Brown Act violation. Director Byrd completely denied the allegation.

At about 2:12 into the meeting Director Mensinger starts raising his voice demanding that this be brought to the next open meeting. When Director Mensinger said “we want to agendize this for discussion and action“, who is we? Was it John Mensinger, Stu Gilman, and Paul Campbell? Were the three Board members acting in collusion?

Wouldn’t that act itself be a Brown Act violation?

MID’s Crossroads, Transparency or Cover-up, PRR’s and Lawsuits – How Much and Who is Paying?

By Emerson Drake

Which road will The Modesto Irrigation District  travel, the straight and narrow road of sunlight and transparency or the one full of twists and turns trying to stay in the dark shadows of duplicity?  MID’s latest outside council is a firm chosen by MID’s General Manager Scott Furgerson called Atkinson, Anderson, Loya, Rudd & Romo to respond to PRR’s and to attend meetings to provide legal counsel and to respond to Public Record Requests (PRR).

On February 7th we requested the cost for responding to a PRR in order to compare the costs between in house and outside counsel. It was refused.  They claimed that asking for documentation regarding legal matters, in this case their bills, falls under attorney client privilege (their entire response is included in the insert.  Claiming an invoice to a public agency is covered under ‘privileged’  is a new on us.  After you read their response you have to ask yourself what are they hiding And you have to know we haven’t given up getting to the bottom line cost.

Accountability: Another looming crossroad is who is going to pay for the legal defense for Director Mensinger and GM Furgerson in the hostile workplace/harassment lawsuit and will there be consequences if they lose or if hush money is paid.  Should ratepayers be forced to pay for the legal defense?   The suit alleges John Mensinger created a hostile work environment, which employers are required by law to prevent, and the GM stood by using the ‘he’s my boss what can I do’ defense for his alleged inaction.

Should elected officials be held accountable?  Recently in Turlock Gary Soiseth lost his bid for reelection and many claim his micro managing and his creating a hostile work environment were contributing factors. This same player was given the opportunity to resign rather than to be fired for his job at MID.  Maybe Mensinger and Furgerson admired Soiseth’s management style and took it as their own.  His antics didn’t upset them since even though they had been paying him for months when he didn’t show up for work, they used his services through another company waving their new catch phrase ‘for the good of the district’.  We have to ask do they even know what that means?

If GM Furgerson helped to create a hostile work environment by his inaction should he be fired?  If by his actions Director Mensinger created a hostile work environment should he resign?  Should ratepayers be forced to pay for their legal defense?



MID Fires Two Female Attorneys But Keeps a Male Attorney

By Emerson Drake 

Firing the women and keeping the men?  Have we come to expect anything else?  Surprisingly enough, or maybe not considering the new female unfriendly direction MID has taken, they broke precedent.  In the past whether it was meter readers, made surplus by smart reader technology, or executives that couldn’t do their job so they created one (read the second highest paying job at MID), MID made the effort and offered/found jobs for employees rather than firing them.  But not so with these women.

Why the rush?  With General Manager Scott Furgerson on vacation was it the puppet master Director John Mensinger speaking for Board President Paul Campbell like he does during MID meetings?

And why are they hiding their invoices to their newest attorneys from Public Record Requests?

MID has become as transparent as a brick wall.

We continue to thank our mailbag contributors who are helping us let the sun shine in.


John Mensinger Gets Himself and MID Sued For Harassment and More

By Emerson Drake

Our MID Mailbag came through again with startling news and information.    Former Modesto Irrigation District General Counsel Ronda Lucas has filed a lawsuit against John Mensinger for among other things, harassment, creating a hostile work environment, retaliation for making a discrimination complaint, and the Modesto Irrigation District for failing to protect her from consistent ongoing harassment.  Director Paul Campbell and General Manager Scott Furgerson were specifically listed as acting in concert against her and failing to protect her rights and violations of a numerous list of government codes.

We’ve witnessed MID Director John Mensinger’s hostile outbursts against the members of the public during MID meetings.  His anger boils to the surface and he doesn’t seem to be able to control himself.  His specialty or style is to respond when the members of the public have returned to their seats and are unable to respond. It isn’t hard to envision him taking advantage of his position as MID Director, against a woman, especially if he felt in control.

We’ll be following this up with more detail from the lawsuit when time permits. We at EyeOnModesto want to thank our contributors who sent us the entire lawsuit.

Gov. Newsom’s Appointee Uses Lobbyist to Disrupt MID Meeting

By Emerson Drake  

On Tuesday Bill Lyons used lobbyist/attorney Stacey Henderson from Terpstra Henderson Law Office located in Ripon to disrupt questioning of the MID General Manager regarding invoices from Gualco, a lobbying firm MID uses for state issues.  Ms. Henderson is paid to appear at MID meetings by several close business associates of Bill Lyons.  People who regularly attend MID meetings are aware of her close ties to Lyons and their continual attempts to keep MID electric ratepayers subsidizing farmers’ irrigation rates.  William Lyons, 68, of Modesto, has been appointed Agriculture Liaison in the Office of the Governor, a cabinet position for $175,008 per year. You have to give him credit, he knows how to cash checks paid for by taxpayers.

While a member of the public was engaged in an informative exchange with GM Scott Furgerson, Ms. Henderson leaped to her feet and began to speak over the conversation.  At the beginning of every MID meeting the Board Secretary reads a short spiel stating that any persons causing a disruption will be asked to leave.  Apparently that doesn’t apply to Bill Lyon’s lobbyists.

To make everything more clear and easier to follow, Bill Lyons has been CEO of Lyons investments (read Mapes ranch) since 1976, and that is around the time Bill began treating MID as his personal fiefdom. Bill and or his family and business associates controlled three of the five votes on MID’s Board as long as most can remember (until Jim Mortensen bungled it).  For years they funded any challenge to his votes/puppets by cutting a campaign donation check for  $5,000 anytime they were opposed during an election(in most elections they ran unopposed due to lack of interest). For perspective a $5,000 check in past MID terms was more like a $50,000, check today.

Just to introduce all of the Lyon’s entourage, because we wouldn’t want to leave anyone out, another Bill Lyons lobbyist Bob Fores (who is also a lobbyist/attorney), chimed in later but at least he didn’t disrupt the proceedings.  It’s humorous to onlookers when attorneys take umbrage to being called lobbyists but if your clients don’t have any official business in front of MID and you’re being PAID to shape opinion, then you are by definition a lobbyist.  Now personally I can understand why a lobbyist wouldn’t like being called an attorney but…Oh well you get my drift.

Stacy Henderson has lobbied MID to allow farmers to sell water to each other and insisted on keeping MID’s nose out of the prices farmers charge each other, all the while insisting MID deliver the water to her clients at approximately $40 dollars per acre foot below MID’s delivery cost.

Bill Lyons tentacles reach all over the sate but especially Stanislaus County. He was behind the attempted MID water sale to San Francisco and was able to get the Modesto Chamber of Commerce including Cecil Russell, to publicly support the sale (Lyons keeps pulling those strings).  His elected MID puppets even created a slush fund of $250,000 to support the sale.  Think about that for a minute they used ratepayer funds to ram an unpopular water sale down out throats.

Can we afford to have lobbyists paid for by Bill Lyons disrupting public meetings and getting away with it?  Watching the GM schmoozing Ms. Henderson during the following break provided us with another clue and a chuckle. But not to be outdone Stu Gilman conferred with Chamber of Commerce’s CEO Cecil Russell’s female executive assistant behind the dais during a break.  I can’t say that I or anyone else there had ever seen that happen before.  When it comes to weird twisted politics, MID takes the cake.

We can count on one thing, that there’s more to come from Lyons and his band of marionettes.

About the EyeOnModesto:  We’re not paid to attend meetings and our opinion’s aren’t for sale. You can’t say the same for lobbyists or attorneys or for lobbyists that are attorneys who go to these meetings

MID Mailbag Brings Us Featherbedding at the MID

By Emerson Drake 

Over the years our MID Mailbag has produced very interesting results that have become stories, like the bastardized ‘smart meters’ MID purchased that were defective requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars (of our money) to set right. But in the past year we’ve come across some items that need to see the light of day.

When Greg Salyer was allowed to step down as MID’s General Manager and retain his same salary of $236,188, eyes were opened.  His new title of Assistant General Manager, second in pay only to the newly hired GM seemed excessive for a position created by Mr. Salyer for himself.  In the last year we’ve received ‘concerns’ from staff that they see no input or leadership coming from Salyer and are wondering how long the farce will be maintained.

After receiving numerous complaints internally regarding the inexperience and lack of performance of an Engineering Tech Supervisor last year, management finally made a move and D.W. was sent toddling off the Woodland Generating Station.  But in MID’s usual fashion a position is now  listed  internally.  A position that was eliminated years ago because it was no longer needed.  But in the best of MID’s traditional featherbedding style (Featherbedding is the practice of hiring more workers than are needed to perform a given job) MID has resurrected the job and will offer it to D.W. at double his paycheck all for a special project.

Towards the end of last summer we kept hearing how then Turlock Mayor and MID employee Gary Soiseth had stopped showing up for work at MID while still cashing his paycheck.  It all came to a head on September 7th when Soiseth resigned rather than potentially being fired.  Apparently, and unknown at the time to the rest of us, this was the first of the behind the scene maneuvers by John Mensinger, Paul Campbell, Stu Gilman and MID General Manager Scott Furgerson.

By the October 23, 2018 Board meeting it became obvious these four had conspired into trying to hire Gary Soiseth as a consultant through Gulaco with a salary increase from $132,579 to $216,808 and for doing basically the same job he had been doing, when he was actually showing up, for MID.

So when concerns were expressed by other Board  members that Multiple Brown Act violations had occurred in recent months it wasn’t a surprise.

Multiple Public Record Requests have been delayed for months.  The current regime is reverting back to Tom VanGroningen and Allen Short days.   These were the  the exact opposite of the clean transparent days from Nick Blom and Larry Byrd.

For MID employees wanting MID to be run as a public business and not a personal empire you can express your concerns by email to westernpalms@aol.com

Oh yes and Paul, are you going to get a discount from John on all that lumber you’re thinking about needing?




MID’s Missing Legal Costs

By Emerson Drake  

A follow-up to MID Staffer Caught ‘Fudging’ the Numbers

We received the missing numbers through a Public Records Request.  Not surprisingly Scott Van Veren’s representation to the public and the Board wasn’t as advertised.  In the last meeting he made the claim the reason he hadn’t added the legal costs for lawsuits was because the settlements would skew or distort the report.  So lets take a look and you tell me.

From 2014 through 2018 the missing numbers total from the legal fees for the lawsuits came to $3,283,175.  The settlements for the same period came to $100,648.  There was an additional column called other which was described as consultant fees and materials for the lawsuits which came to $680,383.  You can see the breakdown by year below. Click on it to enlarge


But clearly Scott claiming that $100,648 would skew $3,283,175 was a smoke screen.  Just as sad was Director John Mensinger repeatedly calling for a vote.  I would suggest John was aware of the ‘3 card monte’ or maybe you’d prefer ‘shell game’. being played out by MID staff.

Unfortunately MID is now using outside attorneys to process PPR’s.  Normally you could get the answers quickly and if you had any questions they were happy to provide answers.  The attorney I spoke with didn’t have a clue what the numbers meant nor could he explain the ‘other column’  Finally I was given a name at MID for follow-up explanations which were helpful. A hearty thanks to Ms. Cartisano. So we’ve made another PPR to find out just how much money MID is wasting on outside attorneys.  Billable hours versus salary?  The answer would seem to be a no brainer.  But you know John Mensinger and his cabal, they’ll stop at nothing.


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