Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Stanislaus County”

When Thursday is the New Friday

By Emerson Drake  ladyjustice

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Public Comment Delivered to MID and Modesto City Council

By Joan Rutschow

The need to produce and deliver safe and nutritious food is a fundamental human concern.  We will have to produce

English: A volume of one acre foot. It is a on...

English: A volume of one acre foot. It is a one acre area with a depth of one foot. This is equivalent to a 66 x 660 x 1 foot volume since an acre is defined as 66 x 660 feet. NOTE: the drawing is not to scale! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

more food in the next 40 years than we have in the last 10,000.

California farm revenue was $43.5 billion in 2011, making it the nations’ top ag state.  California produces more than 400 commodities, employing 800,000 workers on 81,500 farms.  U.S. farmers are among the most efficient in the world.  Over the past 30 years, California has increased production of milk by 44%, processing tomatoes by 69% and almonds by 122%.  At the same time, new production methods have helped growers save 100,000 acre feet of water a year.  Our farmers are excellent stewards of our land and our water!

Letter to Editor, 5/31/13

It is very encouraging to see Adam Gray and Anthony Canella supporting farmers in Stanislaus County and Merced County, location of the most prime agricultural land in the world.  We do have a water storage problem.  We need more facilities to capture and store our water.  Currently, because of 2 year drought conditions, and low water levels in our reservoirs, I feel San Francisco needs to seriously consider desalinization plants if they want more water and not take our water here in the valley (whole Pacific Ocean; technology for 50 years in the Mideast and Japan).

Bee Article, 6-23-13

The Water Advisory Committee stated that farmers get credit for replenishing our underground aquifers which have a value of $600,000/year.  However, our resident farmer and hydrologist, Vance Kennedy, has stated that the value of aquifer recharge by our farmers is $2 million + per year.  Concerning garden head accounts, which is property of less than 5 acres, homeowners are permitted to flood their property.  The great majority of these small user accounts are urban homeowners and are maintained by families and elderly people who grow their own food in their back yard.  Human survival by growing your own food, personal responsibility and self-sufficiency should not be penalized financially by raising the rates of the garden head accounts to sky high levels.

Remember – water + food = life itself!

By Joan Rutschow

Don’t Forget to Vote…!

Official seal of County of Stanislaus

Tomorrow, Tuesday,  is election day. Already 72,927 votes have been cast in Stanislaus County according to Head of Elections and Clerk Recorder Lee Lundrigan. This equates to 35% of the eligible voters having already cast their votes. 

It’s important for you to remember to vote and remind everyone you can to get out and VOTE.

Thank you Lee Lundrigan for keeping us informed as to the early balloting and for the job you and your people do.

Now stop reading this and GO VOTE.

Never Doubt that a Small Group of Thoughtful, Committed Citizens can Change the World, Indeed, it is the ONLY thing that Ever Has.

Margret Mead

“What’s on America’s Mind” Wednesday at 7:00 PM Pacific

Blogtalk

Blogtalk (Photo credit: onitz)

Tonight’s discussions include the MPD’s response to a 14-year-old girl getting beat up and a video made at Enochs High school,  last nights Salida MAC meeting including an update on the annexation, MID cover-up of $21,000 in “special spending”, A quick look at the local Bail Bond Industry, missed opportunity regarding the veteran’s jobs bill.  This and more, so make a difference by participating in the democratic process and let your voice be heard.

7:00 PM Wednesday on Blogtalk or 104.9 FM Salida/Modesto

Our call in number is 1-347-215-9414

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/centralvalleyhornet/2012/09/27/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake

Some of the topics discussed will reference articles on http://EyeOnModesto.com/

The County’s Response to Seven Questions Regarding the Salida Annexation

By Emerson Drake

Following the Hammett Road Interchange  meeting held on 7/31/12 between county residents, StanCOG, and County officials, seven questions had been brought up or came to mind  regarding the possible annexation of Salida California. Supervisor Terry Withrow was extremely helpful in getting these questions answered, since several of them are not just looking for documents but explanations of legal positions.  I wish to thank Supervisor Withrow, County CEO Monica Nino and all of the people involved in answering this extensive request.

Now obviously these aren’t the only questions but I thought these might be a good place to start.  Ground zero so to speak.  Here are the question made to the County Board:

1. Is it possible for Salida to have a referendum and vote to refute the County Boards’ Salida Now land use vote from 2007?

2. Are Salida citizens guaranteed by law a vote in any annexation attempt by Modesto?

3. How much is left in the account the County says developers contributed to in order to push the Hammett Road Interchange?

4. Exactly how many years are remaining from the Salida Now vote regarding land use designations?

5. Exactly how many years will remain on Salida Now land use rules if Modesto annexes them?

6. Will Modesto citizens get to vote on annexing Salida?

7. For the sake of openness, exactly which companies and their owners  were the land use guarantees made to?

The following pdf is the County’s response.

SalidaCorrespondenceDocument

Joan Rutschow Addressing The MID Board of Directors

Contracts

Contracts (Photo credit: NobMouse)

By Joan Rutschow of the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association

Good morning, MID Board and ratepayers and voters.  I would like to address the water contract.

The water sale contract puts San Francisco in 1st position ahead of Modesto residents and farmers.

MID would have no “out” on the contract for 50 years unless San Francisco defaults.  San Francisco can terminate the deal in any year by deciding not to allocate funds.  Very simply, the contract ties up our water for 50 years, giving San Francisco priority over Modesto.  San Francisco would be entitled to the full contract amount even if MID cuts deliveries to Modesto and our farmers due to drought or any other unforseen reason. 

Bee Article (6-16-12), “San Francisco cannot agree to a water sale contract that gives preference to Modesto!”  MID is agreeing to sell water we might not have!  Suggesting that we have excess water to sell, MID management has increased the risks that we will face onerous bypass flow regulations under our new FERC license and jeopardize our ability to meet local needs.  San Francisco understands this and can terminate the agreement if they cannot live with the bypass requirements.  There is no similar right to terminate by MID!!!  MID will be solely responsible for all costs, compliance with all laws, agreements with all third parties.  The agreement shifts all risk, liability and compliance with laws onto the MID ratepayer.  This entire contract stinks to high heaven! 

Question – what caused this gigantic mess?  A long list of poor policies and poor decisions by management and directors!  Let me count the ways:

1.  $1.3 billion debt (Editorial in  Modesto Bee, 6-6-12 – Ed Bearden)

2.  Phase 2 treatment plant failures

3.  Significant deterioration of MID’s balance sheet during past ten years (Editorial in Modesto Bee, 5-17-12, Jeff Burda –  unfunded pension obligations of $60 million (2010), unfunded health care obligations – $66 million)

4.  Unprecedented increase in electric rates, reversing our competitive advantage for job creation

5.  Recent settlement of the biomass lawsuit for $1.2 million

MID management has put the rate payers and farmers into a deep financial hole.  Unfortunately, MID is willing to sacrifice our economic lives for its immediate financial needs.

Selling our water is NOT a good idea.  It is a disaster.  It violates Modesto’s contract with MID from 2005 to supply Modesto with 30 – 36 million gallons per day of treated Tuolumne River water.  MID is trying to break that contract.

Yes to food, yes to jobs, yes to life, because water = food = jobs = life itself.

NO to selling our precious resource (our water) to San Francisco!

A Little Salida Now Background: California Planning and Development Report

Pro-Growth Salida Initiative Wins Without Going To Voters

 

By William Fulton on 29 August 2007 – 11:00am

 

Stanislaus County supervisors and developers have beaten farmland preservation advocates to the punch. Supervisors adopted a developer-written growth plan for the unincorporated community of Salida six months before voters are scheduled to decide on a slow growth/farmland protection initiative that actually was written first.

In response to the “Stamp Out Sprawl” (SOS) initiative, scheduled for the February 2008 ballot, developers drafted the “Salida Now” initiative and appeared to qualify it for the November 2007 ballot. However, the Board of Supervisors in August voted 3-2 simply to adopt the initiative. Supporters say the plan is very similar to a community plan update that has been in the works for years, provides infrastructure funding for industrial and commercial development, and moves Salida toward financial self-sufficiency.

Detractors say the quick drafting and adoption of the Salida Now initiative was a brazen political move that could backfire. “It’s such an obvious, in-your-face flaunting of power,” said Denny Jackman an (SOS) organizer and former Modesto councilman.

County Supervisor Jeff Grover conceded that the SOS initiative created a “feeling of real urgency.” By adopting the Salida initiative, supervisors simply speeded up what had already been a long process. The Salida Now plan “is exactly what we’ve been working on and exactly what we’ve been planning in Salida,” Grover said.

With a population of about 14,000, Salida is by far the largest town in unincorporated Stanislaus County. Salida’s location along Highway 99 at the far northern end of the county puts it within long-distance commuting range of the Bay Area. County officials, however, have long wanted to see Salida grow as an employment center (see CP&DR Local Watch, May 2000). That has not happened and county officials say Salida is an approximately $3 million-a-year drain on the county.

Since 2000, advocates of farmland protection in Stanislaus County have been trying to get something on the ballot that resembles Ventura County’s SOAR initiatives (see CP&DR Insight, May 2002; CP&DR, December 1998). Previous efforts failed, but in June 2006, farmland advocates presented the county with signed petitions on the SOS initiative. If approved, it would require voters to decide on the rezoning of unincorporated agricultural land. Supporters wanted to place the initiative on the November 2006 ballot. However, county supervisors ordered an analysis as allowed under the Election Code. By the time the analysis was completed two months later, the deadline for getting an initiative on the ballot had passed. Therefore, supervisors scheduled the SOS initiative for the next general election — February 2008.

The move bought Salida growth proponents time. Within months, the Salida Now initiative was on the streets, and in June supporters submitted an extraordinary number of signed petitions — enough to force a special election. The $400,000 signature-gathering campaign was financed almost entirely by developers, primarily Pacific Union Homes, Bates Properties and The Stringer Co., all of which have substantial interests in Salida. (An interesting twist in the initiative calls for development fees to reimburse the cost of preparing the initiative.)

Again, supervisors ordered an analysis. But when that analysis was presented to the board in August, supervisors somewhat unexpectedly adopted the initiative, a decision permitted by state law.

The decision studded some people. In an editorial under the headline “Maybe The Developers Really Do Run The County,” the Modesto Bee opined: “In a single vote, three supervisors amended the county general plan, adopted the Salida Community Plan as firm for the next 25 years, and OK’d a development agreement with developers. And the three supervisors did all of this without giving the public any time to comprehend it all and to comment.”

From a political standpoint, Jackman said, the supervisors’ actions have been great for SOS supporters. First, supervisors delayed an election on the grass-roots SOS initiative, then they adopted the developer-funded Salida initiative with virtually no warning. SOS supporters could not have asked for better campaign material, Jackman said.

But Supervisor Grover, who represents Salida, makes no apologies. State demographers predict Stanislaus County will add 350,000 people and need at least 100,000 new jobs by 2030, Grover pointed out.

“We need areas to provide jobs all over the county,” Grover said. The SOS initiative would “block everything in the unincorporated areas.”

The lack of infrastructure in Salida is often cited as one reason for the lack of economic development. According to an analysis by county staff members of the initiative, “The proponents envision … the residential component subsidizing the initial infrastructure of the industrial and commercial areas and in later years the industrial/commercial area generating adequate revenue to maintain the infrastructure of both the residential and industrial/commercial area.”

Grover said the initiative is very similar to a community plan update — in process for years — that was presented to supervisors in April. Adopting the plan simply keeps the decision-making in the hands of elected officials, he said.

In the Turlock-based Farmland Working Group’s most recent newsletter, President Jeani Ferrari expressed doubt. “The supervisors’ action gives the project to the developers, with no right to say ‘no’ to the project as a whole, no matter what the environmental impact report and financial feasibility studies show,” Ferrari wrote.

The initiative covers 3,383 acres, of which about 60% is designated for industrial, business park or commercial uses. Proponents say as many as 27,000 jobs could be created there. In addition, the plan permits up to 5,000 housing units in varying densities and sets aside 100 acres for a riverfront park.

The initiative contains no entitlements, said Stanislaus County Planning and Community Development Director Ron Freitas. The next step is for developers to prepare “development plans” that would be similar to specific plans. While the initiative did not undergo California Environmental Quality Act review, all development plans are subject to CEQA, Freitas said.

“We’re stepping back and saying, ‘It’s your development plan, you prepare it.’ We will still retain the EIR consultant,” Freitas said.

Loss of farmland is a significant issue. About 3,000 acres in the plan area are in agricultural production, and most of the territory is prime farmland. The initiative calls for housing developers to offset loss of farmland by buying acre-for-acre preservation easements on similar farmland elsewhere in the county. However, the mitigation requirement does not apply to non-residential development.

The initiative also calls for developers to contribute $150,000 to a Salida incorporation feasibility study.

Contacts:
Stanislaus County Supervisor Jeff Grover, (209) 525-6560.
Ron Freitas, Stanislaus County Planning and Community Development Department, (209) 525-6330.
Farmland Working Group, (209) 247-2503.

http://www.cp-dr.com/node/1770 

 

And a Comment  by the Farmland Working Group

Correspondence A

Wisconsin Shooting Victims Memorialized

By  Emerson Drake

Last night at the Sikh Temple outside Turlock a cross-section from the community embraced those from the local Sikh Temple, reminding everyone all Americans hold Religious Freedom dear to our hearts along with Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness. 

People from all walks of life were in attendance. From County Supervisors, local Mayors , Police Chiefs to us regular citizens all partaking in the candlelight vigil.  Representatives of the Sikh Temple thanked both Wisconsin police officers for their efforts that fateful day, and local Police and Sheriff’s deputies  for their continued concern and support. While several community groups were mentioned, the Latino Community Roundtable was especially noted for providing extraordinary assistance in organizing the observance with Maggie Mejia and Rosealinda Vierra being singled out for special recognition.

Several hundred people attended and all were made welcome. Everyone was invited to partake in the evening meal.  It was heartwarming to see so many people  honoring the dead while celebrating life.

“What’s on America’s Mind” Tonight at 7:00PM Pacific

Tonight we’ll be discussing the Bee’s inability and John Holland’s unwillingness to convey what is happening at local meetings,  Our County Supervisors view on the Water sales, what’s happening in New Hampshire regarding freedom of Speech and local authorities trying to stifle it, and last but not least how Women’s Issues are playing out on the national stage.  It’s starts Wednesday night at 7:00PM Pacific time.

You can call in and just listen to the show or join in the conversation by calling 1-347-215-9414

You can always catch any of the shows in the archives.

And of course a big Thank You to Brad over at  104.9 FM K-GIG who broadcasts Central Valley Hornet Shows.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/centralvalleyhornet/2012/07/26/whats-on-americas-mind-with-emerson-drake

We Followed up the Email Bomb Shell with a Public Information Request

By Emerson Drake

After reading today’s article about the alleged bogus email by Bill Lyons we sent a Public Information Request to County Council requesting the “entire email including the IP information.”  This afternoon the county responded with the email but no IP information.

We’ve done a follow-up request but I’m sure we’ll have to wait until tomorrow for a response. 

This is a copy of the allegedly  “Bogus Email”

—–Original Message—–
From: bill lyons
To: <gstapley@modbee.com>, <boggsk@stancounty.com>, <obrienw@stancounty.com>
Subject: West Park
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2012 08:49:56 -0700

I think an interesting story would be why supervisor Terry is able to vote on a project where his family and their partners own surrounding land. Del Mar and Maring and their affiliates own land around and near the naval base. In Terry’s own words “his is an accountant and can work figures”, I think anyone that can do basic math can figure when surrounding properties are developed, the undeveloped values increase significantly.
 
 

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