Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Salida Annexation”

The Chamber Thumbs Its Nose at the Fair Political Practices Commission Rules and the Public

By Emerson Drake   followthemoney

They say the truth is stranger than fiction and that has never been more obvious than in this election cycle.  The Modesto Chamber of Commerce, or at least three of their members,  have been pulling out all stops in an attempt to steal Measure I from the public.  Their two campaign flyers are filled with falsehoods, innuendos,, and blatant lies (that’s as kind as I can be at this point) and now their obfuscating the source of their money.

It’s bad enough they don’t list the FPPC number on either of their flyers.  And yes it is required but they have also managed through a series of ‘mishaps’ to make it almost impossible to follow the money.

Where Did the Documentation Go?

So we contacted the County Clerk’s office to try to follow the money trail.  Here is the official version: The Modesto Chamber of Commerce faxed to the County Clerk’s office their 497’s which is the document required when a contribution of $1,000 or more is received and it is supposed to be filed within 24 hours of receipt..  But since this is a city Measure it is supposed to go to the City Clerk’s office.  ‘Unfortunately’ it was misfiled in the manila folder (no matter how many times people and the BoS have requested, the County Clerk’s office refuses to place these documents on line) of another Political Action Committee or PAC  account of the Chambers.  This is extremely strange considering 497 documents weren’t supposed to be accepted at the County Clerk’s office period.

For another unknown reason a clerk was rummaging through the outdated PAC file and discovered the document (how lucky for us was that?).  It was then forwarded to the City Clerk’s office 11 days late.

Some interesting Coincidences

There is a history between someone who now works at the County Clerk’s office in the election division with access to campaign statements and the Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber and the Bee’s former opinion page editor, who for the last 10 years supported three candidates to the Modesto Irrigation Board, all of whom were sponsored by Bill Lyons (who wanted to sell the free water he gets from his special arrangement with MID).  The cabal of three at MID that was in place three years ago, Tom VanGronigan, Glen Wild and Paul Warda, who were supported by the Bee and the Chamber during their election campaigns) were pushing to sell our water to San Francisco.  The Bee, Chamber, and Bill Lyons  supported the sale which after much intense public discussion was turned down despite the Bee’s endorsement.

Now we see the most current aligning of stars with Bill Lyons pushing against Measure I (he has property in the Beckwith Dakota Triangle –  read Wood Colony, that he wants to develop) along with the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and (at this writing the Bee hasn’t made a public comment) with a friend possibly in position to obfuscate the public knowledge of the money trail.

While we will say without any qualms and with many thanks from us that County Clerk Lee Lundrigan looked into events and has been most helpful in explaining the much traveled documentation: an unknown someone in her office ‘accidentally’ accepted wrongly submitted faxes and misfiled these important documents and then someone in her office fortunately discovered the mistake nine days later and then forwarded the documentation the the City Clerks office where it was placed online for the public on Monday afternoon.

Another  Coincidence

When checking for updates on the Campaign documents, yesterday, Oct. 22nd was a mandatory reporting day, the former online  497’s were missing.  According to the city Clerk’s office the missing documents along with any updates will be online by day’s end.

Why does this matter?

There are several reasons, actually violating FPPC campaign laws would be one.  But during an election season opponents and the public have a right to know how much money is involved and where it’s coming from.  Since the Chamber and their three donor amigos and their friends like George Petrulakis are very familiar with election laws and rules it’s our opinion this has been willful and orchestrated.

Attn John Gunderson Please Try Being Informed and NOT just Opinionated

By Emerson Drake    jgunderson

On July 26th Modesto City Councilman John Gunderson wrote an article under Community Columns John Gunderson: Clear thinking needed on Salida annexation issue where he makes several dubious and completely wrong claims.  Now we can’t tell you if just can’t comprehend what he reads or is just being malicious.  What we can say is when he relayed his columns to fellow council members, staff and others (yes the result of a public record request) where he claims to have done the research himself. The above photo is the Councilman’s ‘official’ picture.  The below one is the one he posted of how he see’s himself on facebook.  jJohnGunderson

Unfortunately Councilman Gunderson  has been wrong on this issue for a long time but to make specious claims he says he researched? well here is Katherine Borges’  response in its entirety. Her original post 

Fun from Cat and Gundy -or- John Gunderson Salida Facebook post #4 and my reply

 
John Gunderson’s new profile pic of “me”. Which ironically
(and eerily) looks just like my cat.

Well folks, Modesto City Councilman John Gunderson is at it again. I must really crawl under that guy’s skin because he can’t seem to go a week without a Facebook post on Salida. This week, he regurgitated an e-mail I wrote to the council in June regarding a tip I received from a Salidan that Modesto had hired a consultant to help them annex Salida. 

 
My cat. Rescued as a kitten
from the intersection of
Woodland & Carpenter.

While both Mayor Marsh and city planner, Patrick Kelly replied that the city didn’t hire Keith Bergthold as an annexation consultant, there’s something still amiss here. Why would Bergthold tell his Fresnan friend that he had an eighteen month contract otherwise? Perhaps it was just being bandied about and was all verbal at that point? Either way, its DOA now because the city can’t very well go and hire him after denying that they hadn’t. And how effective would he be with any kind of collaboration building with Salida? (Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.)

 
Councilman Gunderson can’t help but crank up the old propaganda machine starting right in the second sentence with, “Think the Goodwin Study would have been enough, the annexation concept was proven to be a bad idea.” First of all, anyone want to wager that Councilman Gunderson has NOT read nor thoroughly examined the Goodwin Study? Because if he had, he would know it shows that Modesto would stand to rake in $22.8 million a year in revenue in annexing Salida at full build out of the Salida Community Plan. How does that prove the annexation concept is a bad idea? And if it were proven to be a bad idea, then why is Modesto keeping Salida in their general plan? Councilman Gunderson wrote in his community column just two weeks ago that, “…the majority of the Modesto City Council feels (annexation) is still a possibility“. And he says I have “nothing to worry about???”

And once again, the councilman nay says Salida incorporating, “Should stop worrying about incorporation for Salida as well because that can’t happen either.” I previously responded to his comment about whether or not Salida can be incorporated, but it apparently didn’t register in his brain so I’ll say it again, “Keep in mind that no one has ever applied to incorporate Salida as a city. If no one has ever tried, how does anyone know whether or not it can be done?

 
Available land in
Beard Industrial Park
What he also doesn’t seem to comprehend is only supplying water in exchange for land -IS- extortion when you supply water to other areas without forcing them to turn over their land! To put it into language he’ll understand, its known as an “out-of-boundary service agreement” and the council approves them all the time. And once again, I’m going to call him out on his double standard for trying to justify water extortion by saying “Modesto ratepayers deserve better” when Beard Industrial’s sweetheart deal costs ratepayers and the city millions upon millions each year. The city of Modesto supplies both water AND sewer to Beard without annexing the land. (Read more about Beard)
 
Lastly, Councilman Gunderson said, “Modesto’s water should be leveraged for the best possible outcome that helps pay for services for residents of Modesto proper, not the surrounds.” When the City of Modesto purchased the Del Este Water Company in the mid-1990’s, they took over the existing wells and infrastructure in Waterford, Grayson, Del Rio, part of Turlock and Salida. So technically, they bought Salida’s (et al) water so its not “Modesto’s water” he wants to “leverage” to begin with. Our water comes primarily from wells in Salida so he wants to leverage our own water against us! Additionally, development occurs in all of those other former Del Este served communities and yet, Modesto does not “leverage” the water by extorting land from them; except in Salida.

In case you were wondering why Councilman Gunderson is so fixated on Salida its because if Salida were annexed, we would be assimilated into his district. That’s right, we would be the constituents of a man who feels water extortion upon us is justified because the majority Modesto residents in his district “deserve better” than the Salidans.

“The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” – Aldous Huxley

Stay tuned for more “fun” from Cat and Gundy…at some point in the next 7 days – –
________________________________________________________________

 

More fun from “Cat”. Think the Goodwin Study would have been enough, the annexation concept was proven to be a bad idea. Catherine has nothing to worry about on that. Should stop worrying about incorporation for Salida as well because that can’t happen either. Refusing City of Modesto water for new development within the Salida TPA… refusal is extortion? Modesto ratepayers deserve better than that. Modesto’s water should be leveraged for the best possible outcome that helps pay for services for residents of Modesto proper, not the surrounds. Development outside of a city’s limits is a losing proposition because of the State’s mandated property tax distribution scheme. 

salidakat@
Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2014 12:48 PM
To: COUNCIL; Brad Wall; Patrick Kelly; Terry Withrow; Vito Chiesa; Dick Monteith; Jim DeMartini; Bill O’Brien; Marjorie Blom; George Petrulakis
Subject: SALIDA ANNEXATION CONSULTANT
To the Modesto City Council:
I received the following from a Salidan today, “My father lives in Fresno and is friends with a man named Keith Bergthold. Keith told my dad he was hired by the city of Modesto to see what can be done about annexing Salida.”
I’ve met Mr. Bergthold at the Carpenter’s Church General Plan presentation in May and I also attended the April Stanislaus Community Foundation breakfast that was connected with Fresno Metro Ministries.
So you can fire Mr. Bergthold because HELL WILL FREEZE OVER before you ANNEX SALIDA or the Kiernan Corridor! Get that through your thick skulls!! How many different ways and from different people do you need to hear that before it sinks in?!? It doesn’t appear that turning out hundreds of people to voice that works since both Salida and Wood Colony have done that!!
I’ve told you once if I’ve told you a thousand times, we are willing to work with you if you want to develop the Kiernan Corridor (although I don’t know why since you are so IMPOSSIBLE, OBSTINATE and DYSFUNCTIONAL about our communities) BUT YOU’RE NOT GOING TO JUST TAKE SALIDA NO MATTER WHOM YOU HIRE!!! Your status quo land grab days are over!!! Get a clue!!!
Since you have a contract with Mr. Bergthold, why don’t you have him use his remaining time in educating you about “build up, not out”. Fresno has done well with that. Look around their Kaiser Hospital and then look around Modesto’s. And in the meantime, LEAVE SALIDA and WOOD COLONY ALONE you greed-driven sellouts!!!
Very sincerely,
Katherine Borges

On Wed, Jun 4, 2014 at 1:53 PM, Garrad Marsh wrote:
Katherine,
You are wrong about Mr. Bergthold being hired by the city. Mr. Bergthold has not been hired (or to my knowledge even contacted) by any City of Modesto employee or elected.
Garrad

From: Katherine Borges [mailto:salidakat@
Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2014 2:02 PM
To: Garrad Marsh
Cc: COUNCIL; Brad Wall; Patrick Kelly; Terry Withrow; Vito Chiesa; Dick Monteith; Jim DeMartini; Bill O’Brien; Marjorie Blom; George Petrulakis
Subject: Re: SALIDA ANNEXATION CONSULTANT
Mr. Mayor,
WHO hired him then? I was told he has an 18-month contract. Emerson has filed a public information request with the city. Even if it turns out that you’re right and the city has nothing to do with it, then you need to find out who working to annex Salida on your behalf. I want nothing to do with this man and will not contact him. His e-mail is: Keith.Bergthold@
Katherine

On Jun 4, 2014, at 2:47 PM, “Patrick Kelly” wrote:
This is to confirm that the City did not hire Keith Bergthold. Keith represents Fresno Metro Ministries and has volunteered his time to work with Stanislaus Community Foundation to look at asset based community development. At Keith’s request, the City presented the General Plan Amendment proposal at a community workshop (hosted by Metro Ministries) held on May 8, 2014, intended to inform the public about Modesto’s General Plan Amendment currently underway. At Keith’s request, the workshop also included a presentation by Carlos Yamzon, Executive Director with StanCOG about the 2014 Regional Transportation Plan / Sustainable Communities Strategy. The intent of the presentation format was to share with the public Modesto’s General Plan Amendment proposal in context of StanCOG’s regional plan.
Patrick Kelly, AICP

From: Keith <Keith@
Date: June 4, 2014 at 3:37:17 PM PDT
To: Patrick Kelly < >
Cc: Katherine Borges <salidakat@ Garrad Marsh < >, COUNCIL < >, Brad Wall < >, Terry Withrow < >, Vito Chiesa” < >, Dick Monteith < >, Jim DeMartini < >, “Bill O’Brien” < >, Marjorie Blom < >, George Petrulakis < >, “Brent Sinclair” <>, “kberg@ <kberg@>
Subject: Re: SALIDA ANNEXATION CONSULTANT

Thank you Patrick. I have no idea where such false assertions mentioned below with respect to the City of Modesto and Salida or contracts with the City might originate. I have been volunteering with various groups in Modesto, Fresno, Madera, and Kern around community building for healthy people and healthy places – which is a regional initiative and goal of Fresno Metro Ministry. Please have people contact me directly to confirm my activities and intent. Thank you again for sharing this information. Regards, keith

 

Dave Lopez is Hiding Campaign Donations from YOU..!

By Emerson Drake  fingerspointing

When reading Dave Lopez’s 460’s, which is a list of campaign donors of  $99.00 or more,  one thing jumped off the page at us.  Of sixteen donors who gave $1,000 or more, only five were completely filled out.  The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC)  requires candidates to list the employment or business type of donors.  And not surprisingly most of the missing information is from developers, real estate, and home builders. Why is he omitting the necessary information?  We can guess, can you?

Maybe like the rest of the Modesto City Council he’s willing to lie to our faces (Zoslocki “I’m not a developer”, Kenoyer “I support farmland” , Lopez “I don’t want to develop Wood Colony”) to get elected and afterward he or she will  do whatever or vote for whomever he or she feels like.

And yes the Modesto Bee is well aware of Lopez’s transgressions.  But they choose to remain silent on the subject.  Hmm, it appears Joe Kieta has turned the Modesto Bee into a Humble Bumble without teeth.

Modesto Gives Itself a Black Eye in the New York Times

By Emerson Drake      NYtimes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Emerson Drakechamberlogo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Emerson Drakeokcorral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Katherine Borges and Valerie Goldstein keepwoodcolonygreen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Katherine Borges and Valerie Goldstein

 

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

Mayor Marsh’s Letter to the Modesto Bee

February 6, 2014 at 8:05pm gmarsh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garrad Marsh, MayorCity of Modesto

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

mchbowl@aol.com

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

There’s Still time to Help Wood Colony and Salida

modestoarch

Please write your councilperson  and or all of them and tell them to leave Wood Colony and Salida alone.  Anyone can email them so please, do it now.  Also feel free to call them at 571-5597.

Marsh can be reached at mayor@modestogov.com

The rest of the council by using the first letter of their first name and their last . The email addresses follow by council district

jgunderson@modestogov.com   tmadrigal@modestogov.com  dlopez@modestogov.com  bzoslocki@modestogov.com jkenoyer@modestogov.com dcogdill@modestogov.com

Mayor and City Attorney Create Imaginary City Council Policy

By Emerson Drake gmarsh

In recent weeks we’ve made several attempts to contact the interim City Attorney for Modesto,  Adam Lindgren,  we’ve left detailed messages but Mr. Lindgren refuses to return our calls.  The first time was before the Jan. 7th meeting of the City Council to discuss the Mayor’s illegal refusal to allow those who had spoken at the Dec. 3rd meeting regarding the General Plan Amendment to speak again despite the fact that the proposal had changed significantly.  We left messages explaining the legal ramifications in an attempt to head this miscarriage of the Brown Act off at the pass. Unfortunately the City Attorney had been given the task of ‘finding’ a way to keep the people from speaking again so it became necessary to educate both he and the Mayor in public. Fortunately one of our contributors quoted the case on point (Friant Water Authority v. County of Madera) and eventually the Mayor relented and allowed those who spoke at the Dec.3rd meeting to speak again.

The second time it’s regarding the Mayors threat to remove anyone holding signs from the meeting. Admittedly it was a childish threat made in anger.  We called Mr. Lindgren, who seems to ALWAYS be out of the office,  several times but he refuses to return my call.   So as is our way, we made a Public Record Request of the city for the applicable City Charter amendment that would allow the Mayor to  take away the First Amendment rights of the attendees. The Supreme Court has ruled signs are “free speech.”   Here are the eleven pages the City responded with. If you can find where this document allows the Mayor to threaten to throw citizens out of the meeting for carrying signs please let us know.City_Council_Organization_and_Procedure (2)

Mr. Mayor, until you finally corrected yourself towards the end of the Jan.7th  meeting you violated the law,   please don’t do it Tuesday night.

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