By Emerson Drake
During the discussion of the consent calendar we requested some information on several items. Document #11389 in the
amount of $37,946.87 and #11408 in the amount of $8,247.96 were detailed for manual checks. No breakdown was given. And Document #11404 in the amount of $18,229.63 – #11430 in the amount of $12,590.11 – #11459 in the amount of $38,436.15, detailed for prepaid procurement cards and again no detail was given.
$115,450.72 in money for which no detail has been provided is a concern. So we made a public records request for the details regarding these expenditures. When the topic was broached all that was asked for was an explanation. The example we received was “for example it would repay employees for bridge tolls.” Now we don’t know how much of this money was spent on tolls, but using bridge tolls as an example for over $115,000.00 spent between August 6 thru August 27 seems a little ludicrous.
We also questioned a $1,300 dollar charge labeled ‘monthly’ for progress magazine which is a publication by the Modesto Chamber of Commerce. The same chamber which actively supported selling our water long term to San Francisco and which endorses political candidates including those for the Modesto Irrigation District. This presents an ethical dilemma for MID and the ratepayers. We have repeatedly requested this practice be halted to no avail. It may be we’ll have to wait for new candidates to be elected to help support Directors Larry Byrd and Nick Blom.
Three MID candidates to avoid: Jim Mortensen, John Mensinger, and Paul Campbell
Jim Mortensen actually jumped up to be speak during the public comment period to support/endorse (he used both terms) last weeks adoption of the “Serpa” rule in the Board Governance policy specifically section BL-4 (b). Quite honestly I was surprised but maybe I shouldn’t have been. He was nominated by Tom Van Groningen to the Water Advisory Board. He promised NOT to run for the MID Board and as soon as possible he pulled papers and signed up to run. Jim Mortensen has also publicly spoken in favor of selling our water to San Francisco. John Mensinger and Paul Campbell both failed to speak out against the proposed water sale. For Mortensen to support a policy that not only allows but insists the General Manager and Attorney NOT allow requests for information if it takes up too much staff time or is disruptive, is unconscionable. Please remember former GM Allen Short deemed 15 minutes of staff time as too much.
Trust is something you build
Already our new General Manager Roger ‘the Dodger’ VanHoy has demonstrated a desire to withhold information from the public and also a penchant for presenting misinformation unless his feet are held to the fire by the Board. After remaining silent last week when asked if the ‘Serpa’ rule was part of the Governance policy we got a taste of things to come IF he’s allowed to go the way of his mentor Allen Short.
We are also following up with TID Board President Michael Frantz regarding Board of Control report concerns. More on that subject after we’ve talked with Director Frantz.
If you get the chance, ask “the Dodger” why MID is spending over $6,000 a year on having bottled water delivered when MID own’s two water treatment plants. His answer would be funny until you consider the elderly and low income people barely scraping by so his people in Ripon, the Woodland generator(near MJC) and, believe it or not, the MID legal Department, can drink bottled water. Maybe he doesn’t like the taste of ours.
I know it gives me a sour taste in my mouth what about you?