Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Paul Warda”

MID…The Lame Ducks Do it again..People Should Be Outraged.!

By Emerson Drake

Just when you think things are somewhat under control down at the Modesto Irrigation District (MID) the old guard pulls a

Luke on Modesto, Tatooine

fast one.  And just like they have in the past they voted for an incomplete  piece of legislation called Board Policies Regarding Board Governance Process and Staff Linkage.  This was a ghost from the past since it was under this ‘guise’ they voted for the “Serpa” rule.  This was how Allen Short used to manipulate the information made available to elected Board members and the public.  One of the main parts of the original policy enabled the General Manager to use a ’15 minute rule’  as a tool to limit staff time to  research questions from the MID Board.

Here is the scary part. According to General Manager Roger Van Hoy  parts of the policy were  not included in the material on the website and in the packets passed out to the public AND the Directors. Here is the incomplete segment the Directors and the public were allowed to see.


The General Manager stated links to “other” policies” would be added using hyper-links referencing the other unnamed policies and enforced.  I specifically asked if any of the old SERPA rule were included.  NO response was given.  I requested a delay so the Board could read the entire policy they would be voting for and was ignored. Director Larry Byrd said he didn’t realize this was an action item and requested more time to study the proposed governance policy.

Unfortunately Unity of Control BL-4 which was approved IS the Serpa Rule

Once again the ultimate power is in the hands of the General Manager and the best we can hope for is a benevolent Dictator

. BL-4 states: B. In the case of Board members or committees with MID employees or contractors requesting information or assistance without Board authorization, the General Manager or the General Council MUST refuse such requests that require, in their opinion, a material amount of staff time, or funds, or are disruptive.   In the past Allen Short used a 15 minute time limit as his policy for a material amount of staff time. And just what describes disruptive?

Tom Van Groningen and Paul Warda revisit the crime scene

Directors Van Groningen and Warda were among the Directors voting for the original policy and Glen Wild has been a rubber stamp from the beginning of his term four years ago.  Sadly it appears the lame ducks are desperate for so sort of legacy. I would have thought they had placed enough anchors around the necks of ratepayers in the form of sky-high rates.

Paul Warda had promised to vote against this policy at the last meeting

He did come up to me during a short break five minutes prior to the Board taking up the policy and informed me of his rethinking his prior decision against the governance policy and that he would be supporting it.  It seems a legacy, no matter how devastating, is more important to these three lame ducks than having helped improve MID.

You can register your unhappiness with their decision by emailing the MID Board at board@mid.org  Ask them to take BL-4 out of the Governance policy immediately.


What’s on America’s Mind With Emerson Drake

Tonight’s topics include MID’s newly adopted Serpa rule, Modesto’s one percent sales tax , water mining, these topics and

Radio RED 104.9 FM

more so tune into tonight and find out what you need to know to make decisions important to you, your family and your community. Wednesday at 8:00 PM

104.9 FM our flagship station

To listen to this show live or from our archives use: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/whats-on-americas-mind/2013/09/12/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake-1

MID Watches, Ball Four Called on Water Rate Increase

English: A picture of two dual-circuit power l...

By Emerson Drake

We’ve attended some very strange MID meetings but the wrangling of today’s meeting ranks right at the top.  The discussion topic was the water rate increase of 10% max. and the farmers’ water allotment of 36 inches for this year.  Extensive discussion had taken place in prior meetings and most MID watchers believed this vote was a no-brainer slam dunk.

But as usual just when you think you have a hand on the  issue, reality smack you in the face. First Glen Wild mistakenly put forth the idea the Citizens Water Committee, which has been looking into potential system upgrades believed necessary to our canal system, was going to make rate recommendations too.  Board President Nick Blom pointed out the Committee wasn’t there to make current rate increase suggestions. Director Paul Warda, a walnut grower,  made a motion to support both staff recommendations as is. But surprisingly, this was met with silence.  The recalcitrant coalition of Directors Tom Van Groningen and Glen Wild, who have been consistent  in their opposition to anything the majority of the directors try to accomplish, were doing a silent version of whistling and looking around while the President was waiting for a second. Another  example of their ongoing attitude came later when Paul Warda made a motion to pass the small consent calender.  He was again met with silence prompting him to ask if he had “pissed someone off.”

The dynamic duo of Van Groningen and Wild, who had been in control of the MID Board for all of all of 2012, lost control in January, when Nick Blom became President and Larry Byrd became Vice President with the support of Paul Warda. But recently they’ve become like a teenagers sulking when they don’t get their way and making mischief.

Because of behind the scene maneuvering, Director Byrd remained silent instead of seconding Warda’s motion 0n the water rate increase and allotments.  So NOTHING happened.  Unbelievable but true.  After the meeting none of the Directors wanted to address the issue.

Could Tom Van Groningen and Glen Wild  be attempting to create an issue for anyone running for these two lame duck’s seats?  A straw argument since they refused to even vote for the 10% increase.

Another question that came up was why MID spends ratepayer money to fund publications which run fluff pieces on politicians in Modesto. Can it be the $1,000 contributions given to Van Groningen and Wild are being repaid to the Chamber of Commerce by buying ads in magazines that support candidates of the Chamber’s choice?  In Modesto politics one hand often washes the other.  We have consistently  made  inquires to find out how MID decides to spend our money but so far we are being met with silence.

The Better Man

Modesto Marathon  8080

He speaks quietly and seems to always choose his words with care and caution. So when he speaks, he is respected and listened to. I know him to be a true and honest gentleman. He does have some challenging health issues, and has endured them with dignity and grace. Never once have I heard an excuse, or observed him being anything except professional. He has served our community for almost twenty years, never seeking any fanfare. The man I speak of is Mr. Paul Warda now serving on the Modesto Irrigation Board of Directors.

            Mr. Warda has made an impact in recent months serving the ratepayers of MID that will live on well past his or my lifetimes. I see Paul Wardas performance as nothing short of heroic and courageous. He has been able to see thru what was past routine practices and understood that change was necessary. I for one am truly grateful, and we all should be as well.

            I write this letter of gratitude because Paul Warda deserves to be recognized for his years of service, and the new direction for the Modesto Irrigation District that he played a huge part in.

I ran against Mr. Warda for his board seat in 2009.  I, today have no regrets. I lost that election to a great board member.


 Ted Donham




MID Staff and GM Allen Short Caught Lying to MID Board

By Emerson Drake

We’ve spoken our concerns before regarding the accuracy and manipulation of information contained in staff reports, but seldom do they let you see  it so blatantly.  The report is titled Agreement for Directional Boring Contractors. It can be found in its entirety at the link at the bottom of the article.

To provide some very short background, when underground cable reaches its lifespan of approx. 25 years and the injection process they use to extend its usefulness’ warranty expires, it needs to be replaced. This is done by boring holes and replacing the cable.

Why Change Contractors?

MID has been using Applegate Johnson a local company with local employees satisfactorily for years.  There was a clause in their contract that allowed Applegate Johnson to request a rate hike. So they requested a hike and MID said no. MID was so upset, despite the fact MID had no other problems with this company other than their rate increase request, and instead of discussing their proposal, MID  sent the contract out for re-bidding to six vendors. Only five vendors responded and Daleo Inc of Gilroy was tentatively awarded the contract at the suggestion of nameless MID staff. The T & D Division and the Purchasing Department approved.  Assistant General Manager Tom Kimball and General Manager Allen Short both signed off as attesting to the truth of the presentation.

Here’s where it starts to get Hinky

On pages three and four of the report  are the actual bids the companies submitted.  Out of twenty-eight items Applegate Johnson was the low bidder on twenty-six and most of these by significant margins.  So why change vendors and was there a significant savings to be had by going with an out of the area vendor? According to the presentation given to the Board by Denise Ray of the Purchasing Dept and Asst. GM. Tom Kimball, Daleo was the most qualified bidder based on price,experience, and references.  But is that true?

Public Comment Period

It appeared the Board was going to vote for approval, but when the Public Comment Period opened a completely new story emerged.  Several speakers came and made their points regarding the contract.  At least two were from Applegate Johnson and pointed out Daleo’s  proposal was not only more expensive than their new one but was more expensive than if MID had used the numbers from the contract increase request they submitted.  Now company men speaking well of their business isn’t unusual, but something was different in this case. 

The Bid Numbers were Right in Front of  Us

Seldom are bids so clear and easy to read.  This one obviously was and while this was being discussed I went over them as did others. Twenty-six out of twenty-eight items  being in Applegate’s favor is easy to prove or disprove. It was easy to discern there was more than meets the eye going on  here. We’ve seen MID staff shuffle, concoct, and just create out of thin air some of the numbers GM Short has needed in the past whenever he’s challenged (see Reed Smith’s analysis of MID’s “extra” water to available for sale to the SFPUC).  I held up MID’s own documents and asked the Board members to look for themselves. I specifically addressed Directors Glen Wild and Paul Warda.  Mr. Wild,  known as a rubberstamp for GM Short and Van Groningen,  just looked bored as usual when “official reality” is challenged, but to his credit Director Paul Warda was intrigued by the opposing sides regarding the costs and wanted to get to the bottom of the dispute and requested more time to study the proposed contract.

MID Attorney Tim O’Laughlin Attempts to Obfuscate Details

All staff had to do was provide a breakdown that would support their claim of cost savings but O’Laughlin intervened and said he would prepare the rebuttal.  An important thing to understand is, if attorney O’Laughlin writes the staff report he covers it in what he considers his priestly robe of invisibility and will refuse to allow the public to see it (attorney client privilege).  But why would the attorney jump in so quickly?  The most probable reason is to prevent the public from finding out the reason for the strange and expensive to the ratepayers decision by staff.  Which in my opinion is either pique from the requested raise or blatant favoritism towards a bidder by steering the contract in a specific direction possibly for personal satisfaction or gain.

As ratepayers we can’t afford personal pique to enter into MID contract negotiations.  And anyone who does so should be summarily dismissed.  And since Tom Kimbal and Allen Short SIGNED this document saying the details are accurate and complete to the best of my knowledge, they should be held accountable for any misrepresentations.

Nothing happens at this level of MID without the General Manager’s approval. Nothing.


Contracts (Photo credit: NobMouse)

Here is the pdf.  I apologize for the size of the download and include it because it will be taken down by MID shortly despite requests from the public to keep an archive like other public entities do.

Board Agenda Report

Subject: Agreement for Directional Boring Contractors  Bids are on page four and five of the report.


Now ask yourself why you haven’t read about this in the Bee.

Important MID Up Date Here’s the Latest Information about the Water Sale

From Reed Smith

Concerned water users:
Director Larry Byrd stated today that MID has four (4) votes IN FAVOR OF SIGNING THE CONTRACT.  Any utterances by Nick Blom, Jr. or Paul Warda to the contrary are not true.  Blom and Warda are so strongly in support of the sale that Byrd fought for an hour and a half today just to prevent MID Board from voting on this contract on July 10.  His successful result is that they will vote on July 24, 2012 to approve the sale.  We gained 2 additional weeks to prepare, thanks to Larry.
You will see that there are no substantive changes from the Draft stating that is was entered into January 24, 2012.
Our < stopMIDinsanity.com > efforts already include:
• Supporting City of Modesto Councilpersons in suing MID as first-parties to a breach of contract.
• CEQA compliance litigation preparation.
• 3rd-party lawsuit against MID for breach of contract.
• Referendum
• Recall of Board President Tom Van Groningen and Nick Blom, Jr.
• Possible recall of City Council members who support the sale by voting to restrict the City of Modesto from defending it’s contractual water delivery agreements through litigation.  We feel this is the first line of defense.
• Economic analysis for litigation support
• Hydrology technical assessment and support
We will keep you apprised of developments as they evolve.
Fundraising is now a critical component to our success, so any referrals to potential supporters will be important.  We have a goal of $250,000 in the next 60 days.
Regards, Reed

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