'The Brown Act', allows the public to attend and comment on the meeting proceedings. On Sunday, the Modesto Bee ran a wonderfully informative history of the Brown Act by William Broderick-Villa, "Modesto's Gift to Democracy? The Brown Act". So one day before this meeting, we learned that thanks to a Modestan who crafted the Brown Act back in 1953, Salidans in 2012 can attend a meeting of Modestans who are plotting to decide Salida's future. Ironic, isn't it?
|Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh points to an unincorporated area|
as Modesto City Councilwoman Stephanie Burnside and
Stanislaus County Supervisor Bill O'Brien look on during the
City-County Liaison Meeting
When they reached the Salida Annexation agenda item, the Deputy Executive Director for Stanislaus County, Keith Boggs, gave an update on the financials of the fiscal feasibility study contracted to Goodwin Consulting. He then opened the door for comment by directing it to Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh about whether this is something that Modesto and Salida wants.
So during the public comment portion, I shared with them that the overwhelming majority of Salidans who have voiced their opinion on the subject are against the annexation. I asked if they could not waste any more taxpayer money on this as its likely to be a repeat of the previously failed annexation attempt. And I relayed to them what I hear all the time in Salida, and that's the people want "Salida to stay Salida."
But this isn't what Mr. Marsh wants to hear. He responded with several of the political talking points he's used before. I replied that several Salidans are already asking to petition and that's when he began promoting an Advisory Vote.
One really big problem with an Advisory Vote is that its non-binding and could leave Salida vulnerable to be shafted again as happened in the 1996 Salida annexation attempt by Modesto. Then Modesto Mayor, Dick Lang, was quoted as saying regarding the Advisory Vote, "I'll listen to what Salida wants but that doesn't mean I'm going to do it." The reason I know that story is because Mr. Marsh told that story just last week, which made its way to me; and I repeated it back in reply to Mr. Marsh at yesterday's meeting. Now it may be inferred that this is what Mr. Marsh plans to do with the Advisory Vote, but in a roomful of city-county officials, Mr. Marsh said he would abide by Salida's wishes on an Advisory Vote. -HOWEVER- he stuck an additional hurdle in there - he said we would need SIXTY PERCENT (60%) of Salida to vote "no" on the annexation whereas with a petitioned vote, we would only need FIFTY-ONE (51%) to stop the annexation.
There was also a Modesto Bee editor who attended the meeting and so on today's Modesto Bee Opinions page, the editor gave an opinion under their regular "Our View" titled, "Patience, please, on Salida" stating that, "Salidans do deserve a chance to weigh in but we do agree with Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh that there's no reason to hold an advisory vote until reliable financial information is available." Why? Why should Salidans have to wait for that? WHY SHOULD SALIDANS OPINIONS PLAY SECOND FIDDLE TO WHAT A MAYOR OF MODESTO WANTS? ITS OUR COMMUNITY - ITS NOT MODESTO'S YET SO OUR OPINIONS SHOULD BE A PRIORITY ABOVE EVERYTHING ELSE!!
And the financial information that they are asking us to wait for is NOT FOR US - ITS FOR THE CITY AND THE COUNTY TO DETERMINE THEIR COST-SHARING AGREEMENTS for annexing Salida. The only sense where this applies to us is for how much this current boondoggle by the city and county is going to cost us taxpayers.
I know my words fell on deaf ears as far as Mr. Marsh goes. But I know that at least one politician in that room heard me and hopefully, there were others. Please Modesto and Stanislaus County Politicians, think long and hard about all of this and don't waste our precious tax dollars on an annexation that the Salida community is not asking for.