Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Modesto politics”

Modesto…Are You Paying Attention?

By Emerson Drake  

On August 8, 2017, the Modesto City Council will consider the 6/8/16 Healthy Economy Committee recommendation to maintain the current / 1995 general plan boundary.

Here is the pdf from the email we received GPA-10-001 CC Public Meeting Notice 8-8-17 SIGNED (1)  Being it’s difficult to find and without  the Committee’s specific (no maps or detailed references were provided) recommendations and any discussion it’s hard to know what to think.  I do remember when this conversation was going on during a Planning Commission meeting, we were blindsided by a massive expansionist effort propelled by  the Modesto Chamber of Commerce, led by Craig Lewis.  And on 8/2/17 they are going to give Mr. Lewis a high profile position on the Stan COG Measure L Citizens Oversight Committee.

But after the directions some on the Council and the Board of Supervisors have  been hinting at lately, you are forced to wonder if a potential  land grab, wholesale or piecemeal,  isn’t around the corner.

When Thursday is the New Friday

By Emerson Drake  ladyjustice

When politicians and public relations consultants have bad news that has to be delivered for public consumption they try to do it on Friday afternoons. It’s referred to as the Friday news dump.  It’s used to avoid the media scrutiny that would accompany any release during the rest of the week.


You see newspaper people like to have weekends off just like the rest of us.  So the majority of the Saturday and Sunday editions of the paper are pre-written and much of it already printed.  They leave a small space for sports but that’s about it.  And with their staffing cuts many times reaching someone on the weekend  in the newsroom is impossible.


For the most part for courts in the  judicial system Friday is a day to sort out legal and side issues with the attorneys so juries get to stay home.  So any news will come out on Thursday and what better day to release a bombshell like the Frank Carson revelations of forgotten files than the day before Christmas Eve.  The Chief Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira, after delivering the bombshell of newly found files, had her car brought around to the back of the building and snuck out the back door, all of the time refusing to questions.  And of course where was District Attorney Birgit Fladager?  Conveniently out of town traveling with family, incommunicado. Couldn’t plan that any better.


The District Attorney’s conduct in this case, in our opinion, was reprehensible at best and vindictive, personal and almost criminal at worst.


One of the important questions remaining is will local mainstream media Public Relations Powerhouse, the Modesto Bee, call her out on her heinous behavior and run a series of articles ON A TIMELY BASIS (soon and often) or will they support this petty vindictive politician that is apparently using her office for personal payback.  Another example is if they backed a politician for office than you won’t see many follow-up negative stories.  But if you ran against one of their ‘favorites,’  and that’s a lengthy list,  then God help you because the Bee’s version of ‘scorched earth’ would make General Sherman jealous.


Bee history suggests they will run a positive article after they run a negative one for politicians and organizations they supported to gain ofice.  If they run an article showing the dark side of a few Sheriff’s deputies they’ll run a feel good article showing deputies interacting with children (not picking on deputies just using an example you’ll recognize.


So expect the Bee to allow the behavior of Birgit Fladager and her office to fall by the wayside.  They want to shape the narrative and decide which stories you’ll remember and which you’ll forget.  There goes that institutional memory thing I talk about again.





Modesto’s Latest Money Giveaway

By Emerson Drake dridenour


When a politician tells you what something isn’t they’re telling you exactly what it is. Talking about Modesto considering to give Modesto Neighborhoods Inc $900,000 Modesto Councilman Doug Ridenour was quoted as saying “This is not a power grab, this is not a money Grab.” Now you know exactly what it is.

Modesto’s history of keeping track of public funds is atrocious. Consider our track history of NSP2 or Neighborhood Stabilization and Preservation funds. Ryan Swehla created Trinity Ventures and received the lions share of the millions of dollars in grant money. Then former City Councilman Joe Muratore, Swehla’s real estate business partner, had to return $68,000 or be charged with a felony by the feds for his participation.

Then there was SCAP and Joe Gibbs who took public money for rebuilding homes and was supposed to be renting them out to low income families. But instead placed their friends and relatives in them.

The city was supposed to be overseeing these funds but instead they went to political insiders. Can we trust our politicians with our money without watching them closely? Heck NO!

To borrow a line from Frank and Ernest, Our problem is we have too many teachable moments and not enough learnable ones.

The High Cost of Being a Resident of Modesto California

.By Emerson Drake   inflation
The City Council keeps raising the cost of living here in Modesto by charging us more for the necessities. Check your water and electric bill and you’ll find a 6% city tax  ($6.00 for every hundred dollars on your bill)  just for the privilege of living here. And now they want to raise our sewer bills even more to add on to the sewage treatment plant. The funny thing is, if you can call it that,  of the majority of the companies that use our sewage treatment facility, most of them DON’T pay that tax and one is even suing us for over billing. 
For the few companies that do pay the city tax there is a cap or max limit on the tax they have to pay.
Everyone encourages us to conserve water, and we should,  but now the city wants to raise our rates because they aren’t selling as much water and need a higher profit margin to cover their spending.  Because they can’t control their spending WE have to pay more. 
Residents are encouraged to conserve electricity but we pay more than large.companies, that chew through electricity at an ever increasing rate, 17 cents vs 10 cents per kWh, PLUS we pay the city utility tax and most of them don’t!
Now the City Council wants to give another set of one time incentive pay to MPD managers, totaling almost a quarter of a million dollars. Remember just a few short months ago we paid millions of dollars in one time bonuses to city employees. I guess we’re just lucky there are fewer of the MPD managers so our bill is less.
The really strange thing is there are actually people out there saying we should be happy paying extra to support big businesses, large corporations and the wealthy.  Talk about a sense of entitlement.

More Foul Play From the Chamber and Their Minions

By Emerson Drake   stealingmoney
Joan Trombetta Clendenin wrote a letter to the editor today against Marsh that isn’t available onliine yet that attacks Marsh. I find this interesting since it was her company Clendenin Byrd, a bookkeeping company that has election experience, connection to the Chamber and their No on Measure Committee that first broke election laws by failing to report thousands of dollars in LARGE election campaign contributions on a timely basis. By hiding their contributions they broke FPPC rules for clean elections and now she’s berating Marsh.
Unfortunately this is just another example of how far the Chamber of Commerce and their minions will go to promote special interest groups intent on taking money out of our pockets and placing it in theirs.
And maybe even more importantly it brings into question the Bee’s culpability in the outcomes of both ballot decisions. For that we’ll have to wait and see.

Our Options For Mayor Are Limited But Our Choice Is Clear

By Emerson Drake roadtrip

If you don’t mind lets take a short road trip. Lets get in the car at the Double Tree hotel on 9th St. in Modesto and go west on Maze Blvd also known as 132. We’re going to pass Carpenter Rd and Dakota Rd. Still heading west we pass Hart Rd and Gates Rd, past the old Yandell Ranch Airport. We’re even going to pass the large Mapes Ranch sign and go all the way to the river. Our journey was about 13 miles and took us around 23 minutes just to get here. Now lets turn right on the river and take it all the way to just past Salida to the north.

This is the area Ted Brandvold voted to give to the Modesto Chamber of Commerce complete control of for ANY kind of development they can dream up.   Now you know why the Modesto Chamber of Commerce, along with real estate people and developers are supporting Ted Brandvold.

So from 99 to past Mapes Ranch, to the San Joaquin river on the west, from here all the way past Salida to the North. That’s a lot of homes and farms and ranches for the Chamber to pave over.

The boundaries and votes I mentioned are all part of public record during Ted’s time on the Modesto Planning Commission. The plan was presented by Craig Lewis, Cecil Russell and “Broker Bill” Zoslocki all members of the Chamber, Craig Lewis is a realtor and Bill Zoslocki is a real estate broker while Cecil Russell is a lobbyist. All of these men support Ted for Mayor.  We need to hold Ted Brandvold responsible for his votes while on the Planning Commission.

Now you see why we need to vote for Garrad Marsh for Mayor of Modesto.


“Broker Bill” Zoslocki Makes a Cheap Joke at the Expense of Modesto College Students

By Emerson Drake    bzoslocki (1)
At last night’s Modesto City Council meeting Councilman Bill Zoslocki once again embarrassed himself and all of the Citizens of  Modesto. For those who aren’t aware, Zoslocki was a developer involved in the Village 1 fiasco and at the same time he was the President of the local Building Industry Association.
 Some Background
 At that time he actively purchased influence in our local government using campaign donations. Now he’s on the flip side of the coin. Councilman Zoslocki, when not pandering to special interest groups,  is busy selling HIS influence in local government. Zoslocki likes to call himself a broker now. A broker of influence, so we’ll start referring to him by the name he prefers Broker Bill.  Broker Bill made his money by NOT paying the proper amount of building fees thereby forcing new home buyers to pay Mello Roos fees out of their pockets instead of his. This was accomplished by purchasing influence and maneuvering the then council to lowering the building fees to below actual cost.  Some have estimated conservatively these ‘missing funds’ to be between $15 and  $20 Million.  Missing only if you forget the developer/builders got market value but paid significantly below actual costs to the city.
Last Night
But last night at the council meeting Broker Bill denigrated all of MJC’s students, young adults, single mothers and fathers, people returning to college trying to improve their job skills, and others just wanting to expand their horizons. at our local MJC by calling them too cheap to purchase a parking pass.  What the City Council and especially Broker Bill chose to ignore is that MJC has been in existence since 1921 and now serves over 18,000 students each semester.  Last night the Council voted to ban students from parking on Myrtle Avenue.  Now city policy says if you want to have this type of restricted residential parking you must buy a yearly pass.  But both of the Council members are running for office,  Mayor Marsh in a March run-off and Broker Bill has had eyes on Kristin Olsen’s seat in the state legislature this coming fall.  Both of these men vowed to make the parking passes free for residents living on Myrtle.
Pandering to Voters
So while we have sympathy for the residents parking situation near MJC they chose to live there knowing the college was near by.  Now suddenly ‘students’ are made into second class citizens.  The many of these students most likely live in Modesto and we all know MJC doesn’t have sufficent parking for 18,000 students between their two campuses.  But Broker Bill and the Mayor want those votes, so students be damned.  Actually both basically said student parking wasn’t their problem, at least as long as they don’t park on city streets.
A Wake Up Call Regarding Costs
Just for the Mayor’s and Broker Bill’s information when you add up the fees the cheapest semester could easily add up to over $1,134 and that doesn’t count units per class and enrollment fees.  The most expensive, or as my Grandson who is enrolled there put it, the most unfortunate semester,  can cost $4937 again not counting units per class and enrollment fees.  So not allowing the students to park on the very city streets their gas tax dollars (remember Modesto steals the gas tax dollars from the entire County) paid for is just another way for Broker Bill to laugh in their faces and  say “Let Them eat Cake.”

Bruce “Dark Side” Frohman, Methinks Thou Doth Protest Too Much

By Emerson Drake    Darksidepic

Okay I know the title is a misquote of a line from Shakespeare that has entered the common  vernacular but seldom has it been more appropriate.  Public Record Requests (PRR) are a valuable tool in trying to peek behind the curtain  of deceit that sometimes appears when dealing with public entities and  public figures.  We use it here on the Eye on a regular basis, as do others .  In this instance a  PRR was made in an attempt to discover any ongoing correspondence between Modesto’s Mayor, Council, and Staff.

                                              Some Context 

Much to my surprise  an exchange of ‘curious’ emails between  Modesto’s Mayor Marsh and former one term  Modesto City Council Bruce “Dark Side” Frohman were among the several hundred that were turned over.  It’s common knowledge,  at one time prior to being elected Mayor,  Marsh was an advocate for the preservation of prime farmland.  Soon after the election it was revealed he (Marsh) not only attended the private Modesto  Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee meetings but publicly stood quietly on the sidelines while the Modesto Chamber and its members plotted to extend Modesto’s General Plan boundaries West and North to the river.  What was unknown  to the public at this time Marsh was a co-conspirator with his own plan.

In the past Dark Side had  been publicly siding with Denny Jackman and others for the preservation of prime farmland while pushing development onto less productive soils..but something changed recently.  After the Council withheld it’s previously promised support for a watered down version of RUL last spring and refused to place it on the ballot Denny was forced to seek signatures for his Stamp Out Sprawl initiative.

Mayor Marsh had been throwing the Board of Supervisors (BoS) under the bus at every opportunity.  He actually started using them as the boogie man and the reason for his land grab.  To “protect the farmers” he claimed.  And of course it came at a price, over 1,000 acres of prime farmland and the ability to place retail businesses inside the Beckwith Dakota Triangle.  This is akin to starting a small fire in a tinderbox forest and not expecting the Rim Fire which we experienced last year to develop. The Rim Fire eliminated hundreds of thousands of acres of forest and Marsh’s big-box retail would eventually eliminate the family farms in and around Wood Colony.  But he doesn’t care.

So when I wrote three sentences to my private facebook friends I didn’t expect the hoopla that ensued. Here is what I wrote.

“Stamp Out Sprawl has new opposition. Bruce Frohman has gone over to the dark side and has contacted Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh to co-author the con or opposition to SOS on the ballot. More to come. Watch EyeOnModesto.com for more information including the damning emails to be released soon.” 

These sentences spawned five articles from both Dark Side and the sites owner.  Each one funnier  than the prior one from my perspective since they flail out at anyone who commented  either on the sites’s stories or on my facebook follow-up.

Dark Side made the usual protestations, the statements were taken out of context, that his privacy was violated and I should have asked for permission, that Marsh’s emails were being monitored and  maybe my favorite was that it was  Orwellian. My response was: Your email wasn’t between private citizens, it was sent to the Mayor of Modesto at his ‘official’ city email so there was no expectation of privacy. It was obtained by a public record request which focused on developers in the Salida area, so asking for permission to publish it would seem to be a moot point.

Instead of me listing some of the phrases he used, here are Dark Side’s own words:    “Regarding Mr. Drake’s comment, I have no expectation of privacy when I write an email. However, I was quite surprised that the Mayor of Modesto’s email is being monitored so that those who may disagree with Mr. Drake’s viewpoint can be attacked without opportunity to respond. To have emails monitored in such a fashion seems Orwellian. Characterizing me, a private citizen, as having gone to the dark side for wanting to participate in the discussion is insulting and unreasonable. It is regrettable that some folks cannot engage in a discussion without name calling and personal attacks.”

Now compare my three sentences to what Dark Side wrote.  Kind of funny isn’t it?

After using over six hundred words in response to my three sentences, the one thing he didn’t supply is the email exchange:  From Frohman to Marshl: Subject: Denny Jackman Urban Limit Line Initiative  Bruce ‘Dark Side‘ Frohman’s exact words to the mayor on August 27, 2014 were: I would like my name to appear on the ballot argument opposing the initiative.  “Would you consider co-authoring a ballot argument, including me as a signatory?”

Is ambiguity involved?  Could there be a misunderstanding?  Is he undecided?  Were his words twisted out of context?  At least now you know why he was blustering and making all kinds of claims and  accusations.

               Lets get to the Heart of the matter…the Emails

Click on the link and you see the entire email exchange. Frohman_emails

Its almost understandable that the Mayor put further contact off for several months.  The purpose here isn’t to demonize anyone but with so many futures at stake in Wood Colony,  Salida, and Modesto knowing who REALLY supports you and who is drilling a hole in the bottom of your life boat IS important.

Bruce, your own words tell us you HAVE gone over to the Dark Side.





State of the County, 2014 – Challenges and Opportunities

By Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Jim DeMartiniJimDeMartini

Good morning my fellow members of the Board of Supervisors, CEO Risen, County Counsel Doering, those who are in the chambers today and those who might be watching on television or over the internet.  It is a privilege to present the state of the county address for 2014.

Stanislaus County is a big place, over 1500 square miles.  More than 520,000 of us live in our nine cities and unincorporated communities.  Two of California’s three major north/south transportation corridors, Highway 99 and Interstate 5, come through us.  Three rivers, the San Joaquin, the Toulumne and the Stanislaus, give us drinking water, allow our crops to grow and contribute to our recreation and relaxation.  We have a California State University, a community college and several private educational outlets.  And of course, we are close neighbors with UC Merced.

Stanislaus County’s government itself is big.  We have 3900 employees, 26 different departments and an annual budget of more than 1 billion dollars.  Because of the recession, we do the same amount of work, if not more, than in 2008, but with 750 fewer employees.  And those who work for the county have seen their wages reduced as we have tried to meet the new fiscal realities.  We owe them a debt of thanks for their dedication and commitment in trying times.

The employees of Stanislaus County continue to be our greatest asset.  Over the last few years County employees have been asked to do more with less and have responded.  Everyday our employees are out on our roads, in our neighborhoods and working in our departments providing services to the members of our community.  On June 30, 2014, labor contracts for all represented County employees will expire.  Over the next six months, the County will be working to complete negotiations with all twelve County labor groups.  Our goal will be to recognize the value of our employees while ensuring the County remains fiscally viable in light of the uncertainty surrounding the long term economic recovery.

We have big, and at times, daunting challenges.  Our unemployment rate is too high.  We have a water crisis.  We need to improve public safety for our residents.  Most importantly, we need to restore hope.  Too many of our neighbors believe that the avenue of opportunity is closed to them.  It isn’t, but they remain to be convinced.

The foundation of Stanislaus county’s economy is agriculture.  I want to speak a bit about this not just because it is my profession, but because it is so important to all of us, and because it represents the foundation upon which hope and opportunity can be built.

We sometimes take agriculture for granted.  We shouldn’t.  In Stanislaus County, it is a multi-billion dollar business.  The value of agriculture commodities produced in Stanislaus County is over 3 billion dollars.  With the multiplier effect the impact in Stanislaus County is 11 billion dollars a year.  Ag related business such as E & J Gallo Winery, Del Monte, Foster Farms, Seneca, Stanislaus Food and ConAgra are some of the county’s largest employers.

My family emigrated from Switzerland and has farmed in Stanislaus County for more than 100 years.  I am my family’s third generation and I’ve been a farmer for over 40 years.  The San Joaquin Valley and Stanislaus County in particular, is the most productive and bountiful farm ground in the world.  The Mediterranean climate that we enjoy is extremely rare in the world.  Couple that with our productive soils and an extensive irrigation system fed by the Stanislaus, Toulumne and San Joaquin Rivers, and we have the ability to grow more than 200 different crops.  This is unique n the world.  Today this valley leads the nation and the world in production of almonds, walnuts, peaches, apricots and milk.  It is the envy of other agricultural parts of our own country.  In the national and worldwide agricultural community, California is known more for its agricultural products than for Hollywood, our beautiful coastline or the Silicon Valley.

Through the years we hear of Stanislaus County becoming an economic engine for industries other than agriculture, but much of that is unrealistic.  We will never be a tourist mecca like the coast.  Nor are we going to attract the California film industry here or become another Silicon Valley.  I am not suggesting we shouldn’t diversify and look for other opportunities, but we need to lead with our strength.  Our strength is agriculture.

Unemployment is chronic in our county.  According to a report from California State University Stanislaus, employment in the valley lags behind the state in employment growth.  In order for there to be growth in employment, we need diversity in our economy that will provide jobs that complement our economic base.  The medical industry is one example of this, and it employes over 10,000 people here.  Warehousing and Distributing have added many good paying jobs with the Patterson area gaining the most.  We can add jobs in Riverbank at the ammunition plant.  Turlock has developed its job center area with the Blue Diamond plant as its foundation.  Hilmar cheese plans an expansion there also.

We need to take advantage of our fine educational institutions and partner with UC Merced, CSU Stanislaus and MJC.  The new leadership at these educational institutions is poised to work with business leaders and others to assist in not only sustainable job growth but economic growth.  We need to be more aggressive in attracting more companies that will bring “core jobs” to our county.  We need our cities and the county to work more closely together to better coordinate these efforts.

Many years ago, when I was a student in a high school ag class, our teacher asked us what we wanted to do when we grew up.  Since all of us were from farm families, each of us replied that we wanted to be farmers.  Our teacher then explained that our agricultural economy is like an hour glass.  The top part of the hour glass represents all of the inputs to agriculture, the things needed to make farming work:  the tractor and irrigation companies, the people who provide the fertilizer, fuel, trucking and nursery stock, the bankers, accountants and repair shops needed by farmers.  All of these occupations fill the top of the hour glass.

The farmer and the farm worker is the narrow part of the hour glass, where the fewest amount of people are employed.  This was where all of us in that class wanted to be.  The bottom part of the hour glass represents the people and suppliers involved in the processing, distribution, sale and transportation of the farm products:  the canneries, wineries, truckers, packaging companies and grocery stores.

The point my teacher was making was that you don’t have to be on a farm to be employed by agriculture.  It is something I never forgot.  Agricultural inputs, production and processing account for 38% of Stanislaus county’s employment.   That doesn’t include the teachers, doctors, accountants, plumbers, auto mechanics and others who serve and work with those who are directly engaged.  Agriculture truly is the “big tent” that shelters all of us.

We have the most productive and abundant agricultural industry the world has ever seen.  In the United States in 1900, the average family spent 43% of their income on food.  In 1950 that percentage went down to 30%.  Today only 9% of the average family’s income is spent on food.  When the United States Department of Agriculture expanded its activities in the Great Depression, our leaders said the purpose of our agricultural policy was to provide Americans with a health, inexpensive, abundant and varied food supply.  It is fair to say that California, and our valley, have been instrumental in achieving that purpose.  We ought not, and we will not, risk this resource.

Agricultural land should not just be considered the inventory for the next housing tract or warehouse.  Ag land is an important and irreplaceable natural resource that is responsible for employing more people than any other industry in this county.  It is time we recognize this reality.  We will not improve ourselves by paving over our most productive agricultural land or by simply becoming a bedroom community for the Bay Area.  It is important that we recognize the uniqueness of what Stanislaus County has and build on that strength.

No one understands agricultural policy and its importance like people from Stanislaus County.  That is why our county has produced two United States Secretaries of Agriculture: Ed Lyng and Ann Venemen, and four California Directors of Agriculture: Henry Voss, Clare Berryhill, Anne Venemen and Bill Lyons.  Much of the national and state agricultural policy has been driven by Stanislaus county citizens.  Agriculture is in our blood.

The Stanislaus County Supervisors have addressed some of the challenges facing agriculture.

*  We adopted the Right to Farm Ordinance, which recognizes the right to farm in a manner consistent with accepted customs and standards.  This has protected our farmers from frivolous law suits and unrealistic demands.

*  We extended the Williamson Act to protect agricultural land and open spaces.

*  We passed the Ag Element which recognized the importance of our agricultural sector and set goals and objectives that include enhancing the marketing and promotion of agriculture, protecting food safety, soil erosion prevention and water conservation.

*  We passed the first agricultural preservation requirements in the San Joaquin Valley, stipulating one acre of land be set aside in perpetuity for every acre of land taking out of production for construction of residential housing.  Although Stanislaus County was sued by the Building Industry Association, we prevailed.

*  Citizens adopted a measure requiring countywide voter approval of any new residential developments in the unincorporated areas.

*  The Stanislaus Local Agency Formation commission (LAFCO) now requires cities without our county to adopt a Plan for Agricultural Preservation.  CaLAFCO recently awarded our Local Agency Formation Commission two of its highest honors:  Most Effective Commission and Project of the Year for its Agricultural Preservation Policy.

*  2014 marks the 100th year of the establishment of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau and the UC Cooperative Extension.  Both organizations have done much to benefit our agricultural industry.  The UC Cooperative Extension provides research, education and technical assistance that helps our farmers develop best management practices and makes them more competitive in the world market.  The Stanislaus County Farm Bureau represents farmers and ranchers at all levels of government and consistently is a strong and positive voice for all sectors of agriculture.  Both organizations have given Stanislaus County 100 years of outstanding service.  We look forward to their continued leadership in meeting the challenges of the next 100 years.

But despite these successes we still have further to go.  We face serious challenges in two major areas:  transportation and water.


Evey industry in this county, including agriculture, relies on a sound transportation system to move its people, goods and services.  Counties with a local transportation tax, which we refer to as “self-help” counties, are able to use local dollars to leverage billions of Federal and State dollars each year for improving their transportation systems.  This in turn helps create jobs, expand mobility and enhance local communities.  Currently over 81% of California’s population resides in a self-help county, placing Stanislaus County at a huge disadvantage when it comes to competing for limited transportation funding.  Local leaders broadly accept that we need to be a self-help County.  But if we do ask voters to consider the issue again, StanCOG must develop an allocation plan with the cities and the county, and a list of county-wide projects that we all can agree on.  I call on each city council of our nine cities, as well as the County Board of supervisors to pass a resolution agreeing on the allocation formula and the county-wide road  projects.  This unified focus is essential to gaining the trust of and support from the voters on this important issue.  Unless the County and the cities move as one on a transportation measure, we will not be successful.  The model that nearly passed in 2008 should b the basis of any new proposal.  Partnership and cooperation is the key.

In that election, a change of only 70 votes out of over 160,000 cast would have given us the 2/3 margin we needed.  No one likes tax increases, but we can only move this forward if we act together.  But if we don’t move together, we will not move at all.


Another major challenge is water.  We are over pumping at an alarming level.  Management of the county’s groundwater is a new arena for us.  Every city in Stanislaus County relies on groundwater for drinking water.  To a great extent, agriculture relies on groundwater.  The current drought conditions have focused our attention on this vital natural resource.  The depletion of the groundwater resources that serve our County is not simply a drought related issue; it is an issue of sustainability.  Recognizing the critical importance of a groundwater policy, this Board took action last year to prohibit its export and sale.  We have now formed a water advisory committee made up of representatives of agriculture, irrigation districts and community members.  This committee has been charged, with public input, to develop a well thought out policy that will provide a sustainable solution to groundwater over drafting.  This policy must be developed using scientific facts and it must provide us with long term solutions.  There is no value in pointing fingers and there is no time for delay.  We need to act.  if we don’t and the problem worsens, the state of California will intervene and we risk the ability to control our own destiny.

The Don Pedro Dam is now coming up for federal re-licensing.   This is a critical issue for Stanislaus County.  We need to partner with the MID and the TID to ensure we retain the water that is ours.  We must work with our local elected officials, with our representatives in Sacramento and at the federal level.  We cannot take it for granted that this will just happen.  Our entire economy depends on this effort.  Giving up any additional water from Don Pedro Dam will have long lasting negative implications for all of our citizens and our agricultural industry.

While I believe transportation and water are critical issues, there are other important concerns affecting County government and the well being of our residents.


The Stanislaus County Employees Retirement Association, (StanCERA) is the agency that governs the pension fund of our county’s 3300 retirees and holds in trust the retirement money of our current employees.

It is made up of public members appointed by the Board of supervisor and members elected by county employee associations.  This board has acted responsibly and with vision in difficult times.  StanCERA took a big hit in 2008 with the recession.  Our fund balance dropped by $874 million in February of 2009.  It is now at $1.7 billion.  In addition to prudent investment decisions that account for part of this gain, StanCERA adjusted its formula that governs how much money needs to be set aside to insure these obligations are met.  The assumed rate of return was lowered to a more realistic level.  We closed the rolling amortization period so debt didn’t just get put off into the future.  We have adopted a policy to reduce the risk inherent with investing in these funds.  We will take measured steps to replace some investments with guaranteed bonds so that the cash flow needs of StanCERA will always be met.  In the 2012/2013 fiscal year StanCERA’s earnings rate, as compared to other public pension funds in the United States, ranked third nationally and second in California.  Our funded ration is now close to 78%.  Our retirees, and our current employees, and county taxpayers can feel confident that their fund is well managed and based on sound financial principals.

In 2007 this Board adopted a metal theft ordinance requiring scrap metal dealers to be licensed and to record information about sellers for every transaction when individuals were selling non-ferrous metals.  Prior to the ordinance, metal theft was increasing at an alarming rate.  This ordinance was so successful that then Assemblyman, Tom Berryhill introduced a bill similar to the Stanislaus County’s ordinance and it became state law.

Today we have similar problems with walnut theft.  There re more than 38,000 acres of walnuts in Stanislaus county with a farm gate value of $220 million dollars.  Walnut theft has increased to disturbing rates.  I suspect that there is hardly a walnut grower in the County who hasn’t suffered losses.  I am generally the last one clamoring for more regulation, but walnut theft is something we must make a serious effort to stop.

As with metal theft, the problem must be addressed at the point of purchase, which in this case involves unlicensed roadside vendors not requiring proper documentation or proof of ownership by the seller.  Another concern is food safety.  Under legitimate operations processors can trace any contaminated product back to the grower.  Having roadside cash buyers mixing any and all nuts, stolen or not, erases the chain of accountability should any unsafe product be introduced.  I call on the Ag commissioner to work in conjunction with the Ag advisory board to draft a reasonable ordinance to address the increasing problem of walnut theft and present it to the board for consideration this year.


Over the past two years, Stanislaus County has had a dramatic increase in acute psychiatric inpatient admissions.  This increase impacts bed capacity and creates a financial burden for the County.  In the past year, County staff and all area hospitals met and began a working relationship that focused on addressing the psychiatric bed capacity issues and the growing need to secure programs to meet the County’s mandated obligations.  As a result, a new 16 bed psychiatric health facility will provide psychiatric treatment services designed to require less staff than an acute psychiatric hospital, and reducing overall cost to the county by $1.5 million while providing better services to county residents.  An existing and now vacant residential facility located at the County’s Stanislaus Recovery Center site in Ceres is currently being renovated and is on track to open March 1 of this year.


Stanislaus County’s health delivery system has always struggled to keep pace with the needs of our community.  The Board has a strong commitment to serve the public interest by promoting a healthy community.  One health issue that merits our attention is the alarming rate of obesity among children.  In Stanislaus County more than 40% of 5th, 7th and 9th grade students are either overweight or obese.  Obesity and physically inactivity can have profound negative health consequences for children.  Increase risk of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and stroke are just some of the potential consequences.

Obesity has become second only to tobacco use as the leading preventable cause of disease and death.  If this trend continues, for the first time in human history, today’s children could be the first generation to have a shorter life span than their parents.  Recognizing the magnitude of this problem and the serious public threat to the health and well-being of children and families, all nine Stanislaus County cities have passed resolutions to embrace policies that facilitate activities to promote a healthier lifestyle and diet.  These policies could provide increased opportunities for physical activity in our parks by encouraging walking and biking.

I call on Stanislaus County to recognize this growing problem, and pass a similar resolution as our nine cities have.  We all need to work together to assure that everyone in Stanislaus County has access to healthy foods and safe places to be active.  Providing health environments and healthy choices promotes healthy people in a healthy Stanislaus.


We have read about and many have experienced the increase of crime in our communities.  The security of our homes, neighborhoods, schools and businesses is essential to the quality of life.  If you fear to let your children go to the park, or walk to school, not much else matters.  This County will continue to make the public safety of our residents a priority.

Public Safety Realignment under Assembly Bill 109 continues to be a significant challenge for Stanislaus County.  The effects of this paradigm shift in our criminal justice system have increased our costs and affected the jail bed capacity in our County.  Our correctional facilities are at a maximum capacity and realignment has forced us into early releases from custody.  Additionally, property and drug offenses continue to impact our community.  Despite the challenges of realignment, Stanislaus county has focused on our strong collaborative partnerships and spirit of cooperation.

Our local public safety agencies and the members of the Community Corrections Partnership have taken on the difficult task of leading our local realignment efforts.

Through their leadership and planning, we have developed an effective strategy to deal with complex issues such as recidivism, substance abuse and mental illness.  Efforts have focused on implementing only those programs and services that have the best results and are proven to work.

While the state provides funding to the County, the funding is not adequate to compensate for the costs of realignment.  The number of criminal offenders we house and supervise continues to exceed state projections resulting in increased overcrowding in our jail facilities and in the number of offenders being supervised in the community.  Funding formulas used to determine the county’s allocation of realignment funding are being reviewed.  If the number of offenders sentenced locally continues to increase, and if the state does not increase the funding to Stanislaus County, other resources will be needed to fund realignment programs.

We will continue to advocate for a change in the funding formula, as well as the total dollars available for realignment so that more money can be brought to Stanislaus County.  The County will continue to work together with our public safety partners and community based organizations to effectively deal with our offender population.


Cooperation is the key to meeting our challenges.  City and county government must work better together.  The dispute over the property tax administration fees was divisive.  That is behind us now and we need to come together.  We can disagree and argue, but in the final analysis we need to cooperate.  Our cities are our partners, not our adversaries.  Challenges that face our county and our communities will either be dealt with in a timely manner that results in a positive momentum for our residents or be dealt with in a way that hurts our economy and our ability to succeed.  The county and the cities don’t get a pass.  Stanislaus County doesn’t win if the cities lose and the cities don’t win if this county loses.  There will be no progress on infrastructure, on water or on other important issues unless we learn to work together.

In order for farmers to be successful, they must deal with all kinds of unforseen circumstances, which can impact the bottom line.  They are resilient, innovative and independent.  Our government needs the same approach to its day-to-day business.  Neither Sacramento nor Washington is going to come riding into the Valley and improve our schools, arrest our criminals, build our infrastructure, take care of our elderly or insure equal opportunity for our children.  They won’t safeguard our groundwater or protect our farmland in a way that best serves us.  We are the only ones who can do that.  Finger pointing may make us feel good, but the obligation to make our county more prosperous rests squarely on the 520,000 people who live here.  Events beyond our control will shape our future.  How we handle those events however, is fully in our hands.

These are big issues, but together, we are up to the task.  I want to thank my fellow board members, department heads and all the employees of this organization for their dedication and commitment to excellence.  Together we will pursue our vision of becoming “a county that is respected for its service in the community and is known as the best in America.”

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.

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