Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Stanislaus County California”

Birgit Fladager – Guilty of Malfeasance?

By Emerson Drake  birgitfladager
December isn’t a good month for District Attorney. Birgit Fladager. On December 10, 2014, A.J. Pontillo was found innocent of all charges. During the trial Birgit was caught withholding exculpatory evidence that showed he was innocent.  Yes she KNEW he was innocent but hid the evidence from the court.
Now in the Frank Carson case one of her Deputy D.A.’s had to admit they hadn’t delivered all of the discovery evidence they should have. First Birgit is papering judges (punitive judge shopping) that don’t give her the rulings she wants, then her trumped up charges against A.J. go by the wayside and now she’s been caught again with her hand in the cookie jar.  Where is she now? She’s hiding out of town with family, unwilling to face the camera’s and explain why her office is incompetent and vindictive.
Here is his quote: Deputy District Attorney John Goold, spokesman for the DA’s Office, issued a statement Thursday afternoon that read in part: “While auditing discovery in this case, one of our investigators located some audio recordings that may or may not have been provided within the previous 1,000 disks discovered to the defense. There was no time to confirm whether these recordings had been previously disclosed or not. Out of an abundance of caution, we raised that concern with the court this morning and copies were provided to defense counsel.
Yesterday the judge released Frank on his own recognizance.
It’s becoming more readily apparent that Birgit Fladager is out of control and is using her office to punish her “enemies”. After all Frank ran against her for office. We think we elected the wrong person to be D.A.

County Wants to Spend $1 Million of Taxpayers Money in Secret

By Emerson Drake   stanislauslogo

County CEO Stan Risen has hand picked a committee to oversee spending $ 1 Million dollars of taxpayer money and he claims the best way to do it is in secret.  This committee is comprised of Gallo Center for the Arts director Lynn Dickerson; Modesto Nuts general manager Mike Gorrasi;  CEO of the Economic Development and Workforce Alliance Dave White; Stanislaus Surgical Hospital CEO Doug Johnson; county Superintendent of Schools Tom Changnon; Modesto City Schools Superintendent Pam Able along with Rev. Marvin Jacobo of City Ministry Network; Jeff Pishney of Love Our Cities; Cle Moore-Bell of Christ Unity Baptist Church; and Mark Vasché of Pinnacle Forum of Northern California among others.

No offense to any of the people on the Committee, but if you placed these people in the old fable “The Emperor’s New Suit”, they would be admiring the cloth and the tailoring.  Most of these people have no experience or expertise in homelessness other than to say we need to get rid of it.

The Reason For The Secrecy

According to Stan Risen in an interview with Ken Carlson and from his article in the Bee,  “we don’t need someone looking for every quote to make us look bad.”   So basically he’s saying we don’t want any accountability for what we say and do.   You’re trying to justify spending Taxpayer money in secret and you’re worrying about someone else making you look bad?  Stan Risen, CEO of Stanislaus County, paid with County funds, hand picks a group and demands total secrecy? Risen is his and their, own worst enemy.

Maybe Another Reason

We had the opportunity to listen to CEO Risen make his pitch to the City County Liaison Committee which meets monthly.  While his plan is interesting what concerned us at the time was the mandate, “any group that wants to apply for money MUST have a religious affiliation.”   Risen refuses to consider anything else.  Taxpayer money tied to a religious mandate doesn’t seem right or legal.  Should a religious connection preclude a group, no, but requiring one reeks of foul play especially considering the affiliations of four of the members.

What needs to Happen

Meeting in public  isn’t something you leave to an appointed board.  The County Board of Supervisors needs to insist that ALL meetings be held in public and in a  room that accommodates everyone interested in attending.  Hiding behind closed doors , whispering in secret, and spending taxpayer money isn’t what the people of Stanislaus County expect or will tolerate.

Don’t be shy, they like to hear from their constituents.   Feel free to contact the Supervisors and tell them how you feel about spending $1 Million dollars of Taxpayer money in secret.

Here are their email addresses.

William.Obrien@stancounty.com   vito.chiesa@stancounty.com   withrowt@StanCounty.com   MonteithD@StanCounty.com   DemartiniJ@StanCounty.com

The meeting will be held Monday from 8:30 a.m. to noon in a conference room at Greens on Tenth, at 953 10th St. in Modesto.

The Stanislaus Sheriff’s Dept Doesn’t have a StingRay but is Missing Military Equipment

By Emerson Drake  sheriffsbadgelogo

After hearing and reading how the Sacramento Sheriff’s Dept. had purchased a “stingray device”  we decided to make a Public Records Request to discover if the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Dept. had made a similar purchase. News 10 broke the story about a device that mimics a cell tower and can take information from your cell phone and tablet without your knowledge.  The scary thing is the police haven’t applied for warrants or told judges or defense attorneys about information they might have obtained. According to the News 10 report the deputies have been trained to lie in court as to how the information was obtained. These devices have been proven to have been purchased by Sacramento, Oakland and San Jose Police Departments.

“The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department may be keeping judges, prosecutors and the public in the dark about the use of a controversial electronic surveillance tool known as the StingRay, according to new information obtained by News 10.

Despite evidence showing the sheriff’s department is utilizing the device, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office and Sacramento Superior Court judges said they have no knowledge of StingRays or similar tools being used in Sacramento.”

Here are the results from our two requests:

Mr. Drake,

Your email dated August 1st, 2014 requesting documents related to a “stingray device” was forwarded to the Office of County Counsel for response. You specifically asked, “…if the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Dept. or the District Attorney owns and or operates a ‘stingray” or like device.”

Neither the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Dept. nor the District Attorney’s Office own such a device, and therefore there are no public records in that regard.

Additionally, pursuant to California Government Code 6254(f) and California Evidence Code 1040 the County deems any records related to investigatory files, or records of investigations, exempt from disclosure by express provisions of law.

Sincerely,

Robert J. Taro

Deputy County Counsel

Office of Stanislaus County Counsel

 

We had concerns since the Sacramento Sheriff’s Dept. felt it was within their rights to lie to the public regarding this device we wanted to ensure the information was void of deception so we made the second request.

Dear Mr. Drake,

Your recent request at the Board of Supervisor’s Meeting on August 12th, 2014 requesting documents related to “records and grant applications with the Harris Corporation since 2005” was forwarded to the Office of County Counsel for a response.

Pursuant to Government Code section 6253, this email is to inform you that we have determined that your request seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of the County, and that the County intends to provide records responsive to your request.

You will find those records attached to this email in two separate attachments. The first attachment contains several documents that include a “Supplier Payment History Report” as well as several invoices. Please note that the “Supplier Payment History Report” is a summary of the purchases made from “Harris Corporation” during the time frame you requested. The invoices are titled “Oracle Account Coding Strip”. You will see that these invoices are all from the “Emergency Dispatch” aka “Stanislaus Regional 9-1-1” department from 2010 and 2011.

Even though the “Supplier Payment History Report” reflects purchases made in 2005 and 2007, I have been advised that we do not keep invoices from that long ago, therefore there is no other “record” of invoice.

In addition to those documents, you will also find a spreadsheet of purchases from the Harris Corporation during the time frame you requested.  Please note that there is a description of the purchased items on this spreadsheet. Perhaps the most noteworthy of these is a item that cost $24,605.04. That item is described as a “Crash Kit for Microwave” and was purchased in 2005. I have been advised that it was purchased for “Stanislaus Regional 9-1-1”.

It does not appear as if any of these items are for a “Stingray or like device” that was the basis of your original request.

I would also note that a “Grant Application” is usually made to a State or Federal agency. An award of a grant generally results in the receipt of funds used to purchase equipment, labor, or other services which would be reflected in these attachments I have provided.

We feel that the attached records comply fully with your request.

If you have any further questions or concerns based upon the above, please feel free to call.

I can be reached at the Office of Stanislaus County Counsel – (209) 525-6376.

Sincerely,

Robert J. Taro

Deputy County Counsel

Harris_Corporation_4  Harris_Corporation_Spreadsheet

AllGov reports 

10 California Police Agencies Suspended from Pentagon Program for Losing Weapons and Gear,  Stanislaus Sheriff’s Dept is Among Them

Most of the California suspensions occurred last year. NBC Bay Area reported last week that the Napa County Sheriff’s Office lost an M-16 assault rifle and was suspended on May 6. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department didn’t know where two M16A1 rifles were and was suspended in October 2013.

Suspended agencies don’t have to return all their military equipment, but can’t order any new stuff. If an agency screws up bad enough, its status is downgraded to “terminated,” but that has only happened to seven of them.

Other suspended agencies listed were: California Highway Patrol-Sacramento, Arcadia Police Department, Huntington Beach Police Department, Maricopa Police Department, Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department, Stockton Police Department, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and Sutter County Sheriff’s Department.

So almost needless to say we filed a Public Record Request to find out what had gone missing at the  Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Dept.   We’ll keep you informed  when they make their response.

A hearty thank you to one of our readers for bringing this issue to our attention.

 

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

 

Don’t Forget to Vote !

By Emerson Drake

It’s time for recommendations for our local elections.  If you’ve read the articles here on the EyeOnModesto

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...

and listened to the radio show  ‘What’s on America’s Mind‘, you’re well aware of our stances.  The issues facing some offices make our choice extremely clear (MID water sales and Board Governance Policy).  In others, the candidates past actions makes our choice easy (Developer/Profiteers).

From participating at MID meetings and city committee and council  meetings, candidate forums and following the money, we’ve learned the true beliefs of the candidates not the ones they tell the public in order to get elected.  There is even one candidate for Hart-Ransom School District  who is in favor of forced public urination for 13 year old girls in mixed company (you can’t make this stuff up.  Candidate (Athens Abell) wrote it on her facebook).

MID District 4 is the toughest call.  We have three candidates who could perform well but unfortunately one must be chosen.  The polls are suggesting the candidate most likely to defeat Jim Mortensen (arguably the worst candidate for the people/ratepayers), is Jake Wenger.  For a complete breakdown on the election candidates check out recent “What’s on America’s Mind” broadcasts.

Here’s the list:

For MID   Division 2 Carmen Sabatino        Division 3 Les Johnson                      Division 4  Jake Wenger

For Modesto City Council       District 2 Juan Telles           District 4  Juan Melgoza                         District 5  Jenny Ketchum Kenoyer

Modesto City Schools District full Term   Michael  Scheid       Sue Zwahlen         David Allen      Ruben Villalobos

Modesto City Schools District 2 year term  Jordan Dickson

Hart-Ransom School District      Sandy Rigghs     Jim Cover   Richie Fultz

Measure V    Yes

Measure X    No

While we need more police and fire the money won’t be spent there so as much as I would like to support this measure I can’t.

The Modesto Chamber of Commerce’s Magic Elixir for Our Economic Woes

Emerson Drake

Jobs,,,Jobs…Jobs is the cry and we’re being told the magic elixir to our problem is shovel ready land.  If you build them they

An illustration by W. W. Denslow from The Wond...

will come is the Chambers mantra referring to Business Parks.  The quality jobs will flow into Modesto if we only had a park….

We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto

It sounds like a chant from L. Frank Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and it may be just as fanciful.  At the recent Planning Commission meeting we heard the Chamber’s lobbyist Cecil Russell and his faithful realtor side kick Craig Lewis repeat this claim as they have several times before, but this time with a twist.  The lobbyist had promised at prior meetings to supply us with the numbers of the prospective contacts they had received from companies looking to establish a business in Modesto.

They alleged the Stanislaus County Alliance had received over 70 inquires and the reason NONE of these came to to fruition was, you probably guessed it, lack of shovel ready land.  Bill Bassitt the Alliance’s former CEO admitted that during his tenure he had failed to bring in a single major manufacturing company despite Modesto giving the Alliance $65,000 this year alone (Modesto has funded them for years) to do just that.

 The Alliance is, by design and charter, supposed to represent ALL of Stanislaus County in an effort to obtain new business.

Lets take a look at this claim by asking ourselves a few questions:

Is the only reason we have had few companies move to Modesto because of lack of shovel ready land?  A more obvious answer would be since the current recession started in 2007 even if we had massive amounts of unused land available for immediate use here in Modesto it would have remained unused.  We’ve had land available on Pelendale (35 acres in a single plot alone) acreage in the Beard Industrial Park and Kiernan Business Park East but it has gone undeveloped.  In Beard the owners have played a waiting game looking for a particular type of tenant who would need rail access to support their private railroad company.  They’ve actually been thwarting some business possibilities playing a game with the public until the City Council made them a “special” deal by going to LAFCO and not requiring them to sign waivers to be able to access the utilities you and I paid for.

Isn’t the Stanislaus Alliance supposed to represent ALL of the County not just Modesto?

Yes, they are and Turlock, Patterson, Riverbank and Oakdale all have land available so why the flimsy excuses?  They feel the time is right and want to strike while the window of desperation is open. And what political leader is willing to speak out against the jobs, jobs, jobs mantra?   NONE.

The Chamber is running Village I Developer and Profiteer Bill Zoslocki for City Council

When the Chamber can’t come up with new ideas or faces they run retreads like Bill Zoslocki.  He has spoken out for the Chambers Pathway to SPRAWL several times in front of the Planning Commission but now that the elections are getting closer he has become the invisible man.  When we reminded people of Developer Bill Zoslocki’s past of manipulating prior councils and making millions of dollars at the expense of Modesto taxpayers his supporters whined, forgetting that once he pulled papers and then filed for office he opened himself up to public scrutiny. Something the Candidate workshops remind the prospective candidates that their supporters ignore.

Will we stand up to the Chamber’s pressure?

As we’ve written in recent articles the Chamber is playing both ends against the middle which seems to be their way.  In public pretending to lean one way and behind the scenes working in the opposite direction.  Will we, the voting/taxpaying public, see through the smoke screen or will we be like the scarecrow seeing the paved over farmland filled with houses wishing …if I only had a brain.

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

Vance Kennedy Addressing the Modesto Irrigation District Board

By Vance Kennedy – 9/10/13

I was at a meeting yesterday at which Larry Byrd said that electric service to the foothills may need to be increased to service

Groundwater Well

Groundwater Well (Photo credit: Kecko)

the very large pumps being installed to mine groundwater for growing almonds.  There are major policy questions to be addressed here:

1.   These pumps will suck water from a large area of neighbors and wipe them out, thereby cutting off existing demand by those neighbors permanently.

2.   The new large deep wells will require high-power lines, but will return money to MID to pay off those lines for a very limited number of years, depending on how long it takes to deplete the ancient ground water in the area.  That groundwater, if similar to that in the foothills in Calavaras County, is in the range of 2,000 to 13,000 years old and will take many decades to replace, assuming present rainfall.  If global warming reduces rainfall, a real possibility, it may take centuries.  There is no way of knowing, so at least consider the worst and plan accordingly.  Any wasted money for installing new high power lines to those very deep wells will be borne by other ratepayers and that is unfair to them.

When the groundwater is gone in the foothills, it will be essentially a permanent wasteland except in those areas where outside water can be imported.  Does the general public really want that?

The best simile I can think of is a bus load of people headed for a cliff in the fog on automatic pilot.  We already have several examples to the south and there are no rules to prevent a disaster due to human greed and lack of state laws.

Are Voters Becoming Disenchanted with the Modesto City Council?

By Emerson Drake                    The Draper/Centerra Decision

 

Last night’s City Council meeting was true to form. The public was forgotten and ignored by most of those on the dias.  The

Modesto's Double Tree and Brenden Theater

Mayor was so distracted by his email that many times it appeared he wasn’t aware of his surroundings. But lets start at the public comment period.

 

Many members of this Council have conspired to keep information out of the public’s eye.  An example is the article written August 18th about a Finance Committee meeting where City Manager (C.M.) Gregg Nyhoff deliberately waited until it was too late to include his Summary of Reductions – Target $6 Million Report in the Finance Committee’s agenda packet.  His report, which highlighted recommendations for targeted budget reductions to the formal agenda, (where it would have been made available to the public ).  During the meeting Nyhoff passed the report out to the committee and members of the public attending the meeting. The Committee voted to accept the report without comment.  This was a decision made several weeks prior to the meeting. After all it would be difficult for Councilwoman Burnside to stand in front of the Modesto Police Officers Association (MPOA) after voting to eliminate 20 sworn positions if the sales tax doesn’t pass. With some members of our council one hand washes the other.

 

At a subsequent meeting of the Finance Committee on August 27 I requested the report to be included on the city’s website.  Unfortunately as of September 3rd they had failed to comply.  So at last night’s meeting I again pointed out it was a Brown Act meeting and as a result the City Manager’s Report should have been included in the minutes despite C.M. Nyhoff’s efforts to obfuscate it.  So when I protested again last night the now ‘clandestine’ reports absence, City Council Attorney Susanna Acala Wood weighed in stating since it was a Brown Act meeting the report should be included in the official record.  But Nyhoff and the council members had already achieved their goal of not having the Committee be forced to give their recommendations and to keep it out of the public’s eye. Bee reporter Kevin Valine was present at the meetings but has yet to write a word regarding the events at the meeting.

 

Brent Sinclair Supports Paul Draper Being Chosen (actually he was the one who chose Draper)

 

To hear Brent Sinclair make the case for Paul Draper to be chosen was ludicrous.  His main argument was since Draper was involved with his self named ‘Team Modesto’ and had spent hundreds of hours attempting to build his multi-use towers he deserved the council’s largess.  While I commend Draper for his attempt I don’t feel the need to grant him the ‘excess profits’ by allowing him to represent Modesto’s five properties in the sale to the state. From our point of view Draper was ‘given’ a bonus by allowing this to occur. Draper will receive $30,000 for every million dollars the city receives for its five properties.  And yes it comes from Modesto’s pocket.

 

Even a judge weighed in

 

The the Honorable Ricardo Cordova Superior Court judge, spoke for the need to use Draper.   Judge Cordova’s claim to fame in the ‘good old boy’ network was reducing the charges in former Stanislaus County Detective Kari Abbey’s case in the killing of Rita Elias.  His reasoning for using Draper was that time was of the essence.  This just didn’t ring true.  After all, these negotiations for the courthouse properties have been on going for quite some time  and as a result the need for haste seems very contrived.

 

Cordova’s fear tactics appear to have worked,

 

Talking with Councilman Geer after the meeting he said he had listened intently to both sides of the arguments being made but the Judge suggesting we could possibly lose the state money swayed his vote.  It could be suggested that was why Cordova was trotted out last night. I have to wonder if he was going to speak BEFORE Sunday’s article  exposing the Centerra / Draper / Archway Commons article came out or if he was recruited afterward…

 

Why are we waiting until the last minute to approve a consultant and why wasn’t it vetted by a Committee?

 

The Mayor and City Council were well aware of the history Paul Draper and his Centerra company have with Modesto’s Archway Commons project.  The outrageous profit unnecessarily paid to Centerra was just another example of behind the scene politics that seem to occur on a regular basis in Modesto.  Kudos to the Bee for finally discussing the seamy underbelly of Modesto politics. Unfortunately the Council has learned to rush forward at the last minute anything they hope to avoid much public discussion on.  Once again it was obvious if no committee vetted Draper being hired as a consultant/realtor no one could be held responsible in the future.  It’s all about the lack of accountability for Modesto’s politicians.  The exception to the rule would be Councilman John Gunderson who understood the concern for having a downtown court house,  voted against the ‘last minute’ consideration of Draper. Congratulations Councilman Gunderson for standing up for Modesto’s citizens and not falling for the contrived, last minute, rush job.

 

Mayor Marsh answering emails during the Council meeting

 

Mayor Marsh seemed to be trying to distance himself from all questions of Archway Commons and Draper’s Centerra.  Mayor Marsh had apparently decided if he ignored the speakers they would eventually just go away.  At one point he had to be called by name three times to get him to look up from his phone and respond to a question.  The City Attorney tried to cover for him by saying she was advising him not to answer the question of how much Draper would make for selling Modesto’s five properties along with those he already represented. But unfortunately for the Mayor, he didn’t have a clue his name was being called out loud.

 

Have the taxpayers given up?

 

It needs to be acknowledged only three people came to speak against using the Draper/Centerra  in connection with the downtown courthouse.  Yet five people, including a former Councilman took the time to write a letter to the editor protesting the possibility.  Why?  Maybe because they knew it would be a waste of time since the Mayor and Council have been steadfastly ignoring the wishes of the public and just have been listening to the ‘backroom’  denizens.

 

Will Modesto Voters Memory Improve?

 

I have to be honest I doubt it.  After all they (District 4 ) are considering electing a Village I developer/profiteer Bill Zoslocki to the Modesto City Council without laughing, spitting or reaching for the tar and feathers.  But we can always hope.

 

A Follow-up to Aug. 13 Letter Regarding Modesto City Planners

By D. Minighini

 

This is a follow-up to the letter written by Carla von Hungen and posted here on 8/13. Please scroll down or http://wp.me/p1UFSP-14g 

 

Dear Residents Across Modesto (whether living in the incorporated or unincorporated areas):

 

English: Author: Carl Skaggs This image was ta...

 

 

Remember to look at page 11 of the July 15, 2013 Planning Commission AGENDA This document can be found in its entirety on the web by searching the Modesto Planning Commission website, under this date. … View more

 

This document outlines some of the development the City and County wants to implement under the General Plan Amendment project. The General Plan Amendment is the document that governs all of Stanislaus County. The Planning Commission will vote to approve it or not, on August 19th at their public meeting.

The redevelopment of our existing neighborhoods with be with low income affordable housing via the verbage on Page 11 of the agenda report entitled “Neighborhoods.”     This how our local government will destroy middle class neighborhoods, destroy thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate gains, and destroy the social fabric of a group of similar families with similar values and behaviors.  By this document, our local government has decided to mandate that low income affordable housing will be incorporated into existing neighborhoods.  This is NOT a mandate by    state law, SB 375. This is OUR LOCAL GOVERNMENT’S planning ideas, and might I say, very bad planning without care for people’s current and future wealth that is present in the homes they own.  Let’s not even talk about the social problems that will occur from forcing low income or Section 8 (benefit) residents into our neighborhoods.  Low income housing needs to be developed and located properly within the city and county. The below new “neighborhood” redevelopment (per the General Plan Amendment document) is being mandated ACROSS THE ENTIRE CITY OF MODESTO (that’s incorporated and unincorporated areas). 

 

These kinds of housing plans are negligent misinterpretations and malformations of a “sustainable city” under SB 375 by local city planners and other government personnel who have written or approve the General Plan Amendment as it now states.  Anyone in our local government, or city planners, should respect people’s economic holdings of home ownership and the financial wealth that exists in the varying neighborhoods of this city. The expectation of real estate gains coming from the one major asset that families have, is sometimes, all that they have. There is no law that demands that low income housing should be incorporated into existing neighborhoods. The placement of low income housing is a very important decision and its location should not infringe or hurt any other existing resident’s real estate values. Low income housing brings various social and economic ills to middle class or upper class neighborhoods. It will destroy financial wealth for existing residents. These are real estate facts that are well known. This also intrudes into our constitutional protections to the pursuit of happiness and the foundation of economic prosperity that this country was built upon. Every American strives to reach higher, and as their lives progress and when they decide to invest in, they choose and spend thousands of dollars into a particular neighborhood because of its economic level, social behavioral expectations, and the type of residents who live there who have similar values. Homeowners who buy into middle and upper class neighborhoods have worked hard to afford it, and have finally achieved it, with no government handouts.

Local Modesto government and City Planners have no right to destroy the American economic model and cause financial injury to its residents who own property.

The below verbage of the General Plan Amendment document is a direct proximate cause of injury to residents if it passes.  The below verbage should be modified and deleted:

“The City of Modesto will promote and facilitate a fabric of complete, cohesive, pedestrian-friendly and family-oriented neighborhoods across the entire City. New neighborhoods are to be integrated with existing neighborhoods, through contextual design consideration, compact development patterns and application of Neighborhood Compatibility Guidelines and other applicable development guidelines.”

“Goal III.C
Neighborhoods. Neighborhoods should be complete, compact and sustainable so that housing, jobs, shopping and transit access are within easy walking distance of each other. Neighborhoods should include a mix of compatible land uses within close proximity, contain a diversity of housing types to accommodate a wide range of economic levels…”

“Policy III.C.1
Complete Neighborhoods. Complete neighborhoods promote livability, sustainability and safety for all residents. Modesto’s neighborhoods should contain: a mix of housing types including affordable and market-rate;…”

(“Compact” and “affordable” housing is referring to the city’s “sustainable city” high- density, low-income RHNA housing!)

Residents need to attend the Monday, August 19th Planning Commission public meeting and voice their opposition to this and other development under the General Plan Amendment document.
The Planning Commission meeting will be held at 6pm at 1010 10th Street, basement level.

Your voice is needed.   We all need to stand together, in as large of group as possible, to demand that this verbage be modified or deleted.  This neighborhood building code is just about millions of dollars in grant monies being paid to developers and having a steady stream of tax payer money paid to our government. SB 375 is just ONE method of reducing greenhouse gases by building compact high density cities. We need to encourage our government to use “other” ways to meet the 5% GHG reduction mandate by 2020.
We don’t have to let our government destroy our neighborhoods by low income housing (which people all over the Bay Area will come to live in it. There is no guarantee that our local residents will be chosen for it.).
Don’t think your voice won’t matter. There is only one more chance on August 19.

Unincorporated area residents of the City of Modesto need to be concerned about this too.

 

D. Minighini
Modesto unincorporated resident 

 

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