Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Modesto Bee Op Ed: Modesto trying to take bite out of Salida

11/24/2014 4:00 AM  UPDATED: 11/25/2014 1:55 PM

The first time Modesto City Councilman John Gunderson attended a Salida Municipal Advisory Council meeting back on Aug. 28, 2012, he was there to answer questions that Salidans had about the proposed annexation to Modesto.

If Salida were annexed, it would become part of Gunderson’s district.

Responding to a question regarding the annexation time frame, Gunderson said: “Nothing is going to happen for years anyway, other than maybe the nibble, nibble on your outskirts. That’s possible if the economy gets better.”

In the two years since, Salida residents have resoundingly decried Modesto’s annexation attempts.

A few weeks ago, in September, Gunderson appeared on the “Dave Bowman Show” on KFIV 1360 AM, and when asked whether Salida should be annexed, Gunderson replied he was against annexing “Salida proper.”

When Bowman pressed him to define “Salida proper,” Gunderson revealed there’s “a section being considered” and “the property owner seems to want to be with the city so he can develop.”

It appears the time for nibbling on Salida has arrived.

This proposed nibbling would occur on land Stanislaus County designated for Salida in the 2007 update of the Salida Community Plan. It’s north of Kiernan, west of Dale Road and east of Stoddard. Because this land isn’t within the current boundaries of Salida’s urbanized area, it might be more difficult for Salida residents to stop this raid.

Past annexations have put Costco and the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center into Modesto, nibbling away thousands of acres from Salida’s future tax base. Since purchasing the Del Este Water Co. in the mid-1990s, which supplied residents of Salida, Modesto has withheld supplying water to new development in Salida unless they get to annex the land into the city. Despite approving out-of-boundary water service agreements for other Del Este-served communities like Del Rio, Modesto’s quid pro quo is land-for-water from Salida.

If Modesto is once again allowed to extort land from Salida, will Modesto’s leap across Kiernan open Modesto to further legal ramifications? The encroachment north of Kiernan is Modesto’s effort to surround Salida, in effect an acre-by-acre creep toward turning Salida into an unincorporated county island. Not only is the creation of county islands prohibited by state law, the city of Modesto has already been sued with regard to county islands in the past for a practice known as “municipal underbounding.”

Coined by urban geographers, municipal underbounding describes annexation policies and practices in which cities grow around islands of low-income minority communities, often in favor of annexing predominantly white communities. Modesto holds the distinction of being one of the few cities in the United States to already have had a municipal underbounding lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed in 2004 on behalf of four neighborhoods which, unlike Salida, lack basic amenities such as sewer service. Granted, the city and county are slowly working toward annexing these communities into the city. But does “working toward” warrant a land grab on the tax base of a neighboring community?

It’s time for Modesto’s elected representatives to be held accountable. The unincorporated communities should be annexed first before the city casts beyond its borders. It’s time for Modesto to end its status quo abuse of Salida – end the water extortion, stop the annexations, no more nibbling.

Be a good neighbor, Modesto.

Comments made on the article via Facebook:

The Modesto Bee does not keep many of its articles nor opinion pieces online indefinitely so as the author of this piece, I am republishing it with thanks and credit to the Modesto Bee for its original publication.

The article's original link:


Monday, October 6, 2014

John Gunderson Facebook post #6 and my reply - Lovin' those Facebook nuggets!

John Gunderson is my favorite current sitting member of the Modesto City Council! Now before you start making inquiries into my mental state and shopping around for hospitals to have me committed to, allow me to explain that statement: He's the only one talking about Salida and Wood Colony. Sure, the others will talk about it, but only when a question is directly asked of them. But the Facebook-addicted councilman not only talks about Salida and Wood Colony without being asked to, he drops little nuggets of info along the way that we'd never learn otherwise from his tight-lipped peers. For instance, in his last post, he mentioned that a Wood Colony landowner wants $250K per acre. We wouldn't have known that if it wasn't for Councilman Gunderson!

In his October 4, 2014 reply to a post by Lina Allredge on the Salida CA News Facebook page, the councilman drops two intriguing tidbits:
Modesto General Plan map approved January 28, 2014

"As this topic evolves there is muttering that we will go back to the map adopted by Council January 28th (another chance to remove Salida from the plan) with the possibility of a statement of acquiescence from County."

Soooooo...the council is discussing (or to use his word "muttering") about going back to the original land grab map that was voted and approved on January 28, 2014. That would be delightful on so many levels! Particularly because it would put back in so many of the "No" votes needed to vote down annexation! And they had worked so hard to be accommodating sell-outs with gerrymandering those votes out. Tsk-tsk, what a shame...  Equally intriguing is "...possibility of a statement of acquiescence from County". Just who is he talking to and what are they saying? From everything we've heard from the County and/or Supervisor Terry Withrow up to this point, they've essentially told the city to go pound sand. Perhaps he considers the county's "No Growth Pledge" a "statement of acquiescence"? One could hope.

Now I know that its rather unlike me to bypass an opportunity to counter the councilman's propaganda about his opinions on whether Salida's residential housing is "poor planning" on the county's part, but being that he doesn't have a say in the county's planning outside the city limits, its really a moot point. So I'll just cut to the chase and comment on an end statement:
"Stanislaus County and Modesto has done some very poor planning in the past. If civil discourse can proceed perhaps something reasonable can be worked out."
If Councilman Gunderson and the rest of Modesto City Council REALLY WANT "civil discourse" they can start it by taking ALL of (county-defined) Salida and Wood Colony out of their general plan (and that includes the land within the Salida Community Plan). Salida and Wood Colony are not inanimate objects. People do live here and that's what even puts each community on a map in the first place. Both communities have made it loud and resoundingly clear that the vast majority of residents do not want to be annexed into the City of Modesto. Listening to the people is where civil discourse really begins and not with those who have "hidden agendas all over this topic".

Where wise actions are the fruit of life, wise discourse is the pollination.” ― Bryant McGill

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

John Gunderson Facebook post #5 and my reply

Modesto City Councilman John Gunderson made it about a month and a half without posting about Salida, but like any other greed driven politician, he just couldn't stay away from salivating over the county's crown jewels - Salida and Wood Colony. He posted the following on his own Facebook page on September 28, 2014 as well as a few other spots on Facebook.

In his first few remarks, he states:

"Many do not understand who is responsible for the sprawl surrounding Modesto and resultant loss of property tax revenues. If County truly was the entity that is supposed to help Stanislaus County cities it would not support development in the unincorporated tracts adjacent to cities. We all lose when development occurs outside city limits."

First of all, "...sprawl surrounding Modesto"? Just who's sprawl is he referring to? There's no sprawl surrounding Modesto, but there's a city at its southern end - Ceres, and the community of Salida which the City of Modesto has sprawled seven miles right up to Salida's boundaries in the last 100 years. And "resultant loss of property tax revenues"? There's no loss of property tax revenues, the county receives 100% of Salida's and Wood Colony's property tax revenues. Its only a "loss" if you are greedy and think your city should be receiving those taxes. As for "If County truly was the entity that is supposed to help Stanislaus County cities it would not support development in the unincorporated tracts adjacent to cities." Salida is a planned town, laid out by David Curtis in 1908. Just because it hasn't incorporated doesn't mean that Modesto gets to call the shots on whether Salida grows or not. Especially since its Modesto's sprawl which has reached Salida's borders, not the other way around. 

"Development in Wood Colony? Land owner wants $250k an acre and developer wants to develop?, do it using Modesto's system... the other way puts more strain on all of us."

Maybe the councilman has missed the news for the last nine months and experienced bouts of narcolepsy at the council meetings because the last I heard, the resounding and vocal majority of Wood Colony residents do NOT want development in Wood Colony. But its a telling sentence because it shows that the city is obviously in talks with SOMEBODY who owns land in Wood Colony who wants to sell for development. A landowner has quoted a price to him of $250K an acre. And his greed rears its ugly head again with, "the other way puts more strain on all of us." There is no "strain" for Modesto if the county were to develop in Wood Colony without it being annexed into the city. The only "strain" for them is losing out on additional tax base because Modesto is broke. 

In trying to justify the claim of strain, the councilman throws Salida under the bus with something unrelated to Salida:

"Salida is a good example of poor planning on County's part. Noticed something in a housing tract behind the mall... saw a neighborhood with two story houses. The windows overlooking back yards on the upper floors are clear, not opaque so neighbors can look down at the pool where I attended a child's birthday party. This is just one example of the lax building codes County has. There was a significant amount of housing behind the mall that was annexed into the City after it was already facilitated by the County."

The mall was built in the 1970's and does not border Salida nor do any housing tracts that surround the mall. There is nothing but commercial properties between the "housing tract behind the mall" and Salida. Housing tracts that are NOT even in Salida do not qualify as "a good example of poor planning on County's part".

The last couple of paragraphs of Councilman Gunderson's post is about what he thinks Modesto is "losing" in property tax revenues by annexing county areas AFTER they've been developed. His cherry on top is a final jab at Salida referring to Mayor Marsh's September 20, 2014 Town Hall meeting, "Liked the part where Mayor Marsh declared the BOS imposed Salida TPA a joke." 

But ironically, the last joke is on Councilman Gunderson and was done by Councilman Gunderson himself!  As he continues to try to reiterate his point-of-view to the commenters
Snippet of Gunderson's repost
on the post, he reposts what he thinks is justification for it all made by a Salida resident on the "Salida Bitch&Moan" Facebook page. He either didn't notice and/or is hoping others don't notice that the Salida Bitch&Moan page is for the city of Salida, COLORADO. 

I noticed.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A good week for Wood Colony

The good week for Wood Colony began at the Saturday, September 20, 2014 Town Hall meeting held by Mayor Garrad Marsh at 1010 Tenth Street's basement chambers. Of the 20 citizens who attended the town hall, half were county residents from Salida and Wood Colony. During the question and answer period, Wood Colony resident, Lisa Braden, brought up Modesto's annexation plans for Wood Colony to which the mayor responded, "We don't want to annex Wood
Mayor Marsh's sparsely attended Town Hall - Sep 20, 2014
The left side of the room was nearly all county residents with the
exceptions of Councilmembers John Gunderson and Jenny Kenoyer
seated in the front row with Marsh's assistant, Kathy Espinoza.
Colony. But we need to protect you from the County." This followed with Marsh claiming that the county was irresponsible in its commercial and industrial development in Wood Colony citing examples of Salida Hulling and Beckwith Veterinary Hospital. But the Wood Colony residents weren't buying it. When Marsh tried to say that the huller should be in Beard Industrial Park, Wood Colony residents responded, "How is an almond huller not compatible with almond growers?"

Then Marsh threw down the gauntlet by saying that if the County would sign an agreement saying they would not develop in Wood Colony, that Modesto would do the same. Stanislaus County was swift to take the mayor up on his proposal, and within five days of Marsh's statement, the county CEO, Stan Risen, sent a letter to the city saying they would agree to his proposal and wished to discuss it further, perhaps at a City-County Liaison meeting.

The good week for Wood Colony was topped off with an NPR story airing on KQED public radio's "California Report" titled "California Foodways: The Story Behind Stanislaus County's Top Crop" by Lisa Morehouse. As one Wood Colony resident noted, the story is about nuts,"Those we grow and those we are working to fend off." While more of the focus of the story is on the ag element, it does cover the aspect of the City of Modesto trying to push the Old German Baptist Brethren community and other long-time farming families off of their lands to further their own development plans.

Read more about Mayor Marsh's Town Hall meeting in Kevin Valine's Modesto Bee articles:
"Mayor says Modesto fire station will stay open for now"

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

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 th
at. 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. 

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
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:
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.

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
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@

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@>

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

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Setting spin straight Sesame Street style

Remember the old Sesame Street skit, "One of these things is not like the others" and then Cookie Monster eats the plate of cookies that's not the same? (And then all the cookies because he's Cookie Monster.) Modesto City Councilwoman, Jenny Kenoyer must have missed those episodes of Sesame Street because she's still trying to gobble up the wrong plate of cookies - Wood Colony.

The Modesto City Council propaganda machine is still cranking them out, and Councilwoman Kenoyer is the latest to spread the spin. In the August 6, 2014 Modesto Bee article, "Recall effort against Modesto councilwoman revived", Councilwoman Kenoyer is quoted as saying, "...the land the city is setting aside in the general plan is not part of
On Beckwith Road
the colony, an assertion colony residents dispute
". Now why do you suppose Wood Colony residents dispute it? Maybe because its true? Stanislaus County placed "Welcome to Wood Colony" signs on the very land in question. Does Councilwoman Kenoyer want to dispute with the county that the land is not really Wood Colony where they've placed "Welcome to Wood Colony" signs? 

And the spin doesn't end there, but continues on in the very next sentence, "Kenoyer said that as part of the general plan update she voted to return hundreds of acres of land designated for development elsewhere back to agriculture." Now this is where the sage lesson that Cookie Monster taught us as youngsters really comes into play. The land "elsewhere" that Councilwoman Kenoyer claims to have voted to "return" to agriculture belongs to the Gallo family and is not located within Wood Colony. Yes, that's right, "Gallo" as in Gallo wine. So when Councilwoman Kenoyer claims to preserve the farmland of the local area billionaires, is that really equal to not saving farmland in Wood Colony? Is there anyone who believes for one second that the City of Modesto would actually develop land owned by the Gallos? Needless to say, if the Gallos want any of their land developed, they do the decision making on it. 

St. Gundy the Ignorance Slayer?

Is St. Gundy slaying "ignorance"?
Just a mere three years ago, I doubt I could have produced the name of any politician on the Modesto City Council. As a Salida resident, it wasn't necessary that I know who they were (or so I thought). I would hazard to guess that the vast majority of my fellow Salidans couldn't name a Modesto City Council member either. But that all changed for us when Mayor Garrad Marsh uttered those fateful words in March 2012 regarding his plans to annex Salida.

The first time I recall seeing Modesto City Councilman, John Gunderson, was when he attended and spoke at the August 28, 2012 Salida Municipal Advisory Council meeting. Referring to the annexation timeframe, Councilman Gunderson said, "Nothing is going to happen for years anyway, other than maybe the nibble nibble on your outskirts. That's possible if the economy gets better."

"Nibble nibble on your outskirts"? What are we supposed to say to that? "Oh ok, if its just a 'nibble nibble' on more of our tax base making it more difficult to incorporate. Go right ahead?"

Aside from this institutionalized brainwashed rhetoric, I had hope for Councilman Gunderson. He is one of the few, if not the only, council member who is not bought and paid for by the Modesto Chamber of Commerce or other lobby. He has the freedom to vote the way he wants to. With that came the chance to "be the hero" which he has blown on more than one occasion. Most recently with his votes to include Wood Colony in Modesto's sphere of influence.

However, I'm very much a believer in "giving credit where credit is due" and he did cast a vote to take Salida out of Modesto's general plan update. And he did try to put Salida back on the agenda in March 2014 (to vote to remove it) but it still went nowhere (remember, most of the council is owned). But somewhere along the way, things began to spiral downward between Councilman Gunderson and the citizens of Salida and Wood Colony. I'm not sure why; maybe because he let Wood Colony down. Or maybe because some of us used the "R" word (recall). Whatever his reasons, Councilman Gunderson began blocking residents of Salida, Wood Colony, and even his Modesto constituents on Facebook. Just to be clear, I was never Facebook "friends" with Councilman Gunderson but I did communicate with him via Facebook messaging. I was very cordial and amiable too, nothing untowards. But one day, I could no longer see his posts as he had blocked me. No reason was offered as to why. In fact, he's blocked so many people on Facebook now, that a Facebook group was formed called: Banned by Gundy

Being blocked on Facebook presents the minor inconvenience that you cannot view any posts by the person blocking you. This can usually be remedied by signing out of Facebook. But while signed in, not only can you not view their posts, they cannot view yours as well. And this presents an interesting dynamic when commenting on Modesto Bee articles which use Facebook accounts as the comment means. I've found that if I sign out of Facebook, and reply to a comment made by John Gunderson on a Bee article, that it will post the reply. But unless he signs out, or he uses his other Facebook account, "Lane Gunderson", he won't be able to view my reply. 

Since being blocked by Councilman Gunderson, he has written three "notes" on Facebook about Salida, and the last one was submitted and published in the Modesto Bee. I find it slightly annoying that I cannot directly reply to his Facebook notes due to the blocking, and in the past, I have e-mailed him my response via his city council e-mail address. I am grateful to the Modesto Bee for allowing me to respond to his last note in the same method that his was published in, the Sunday edition. Because Councilman Gunderson has misquoted my private e-mails to him, even in the Bee article, I will no longer respond to his notes about Salida via e-mail. Instead, I will respond on this blog so the public can see for themselves whether he is taking my words out of context or not.

I'm also going to call him on the mat for being a hypocrite. He complained on Facebook about censorship, and how many people has he blocked because he doesn't want to hear their "free speech"? He wrote, "...no need to interrupt free speech. Stifling different views seems to be a favorite past time these days." He should know! "Stifling different views" should be on his Facebook "hobbies" list.

And while he's adding "censorship" to his hobbies list, Councilman Gunderson can additionally add "propagandist" for his latest hobby on writing Facebook notes about Salida. Correcting his propaganda doesn't sit too well with him either as he thinks he's on a crusade to correct "ignorance". On the Sunday that my reply to his community column appeared, he changed his Facebook profile pic to "St. George slaying the dragon" and posted a reply to my op ed underneath it. 

The irony of this is that when it comes to Salida, he's the one propagating ignorance. For instance, he posted just below his updated profile pic, "... there is a tract between Kiernan and Gregori HS that is to be allowed sewer service because of a Measure M vote." which is not true.

No Measure M nor Measure A vote has been passed allowing a sewer extension north of Kiernan avenue. (See Map - courtesy of the City of Modesto) There was a Measure A vote on the Kiernan Corridor in 2009 but it was defeated. 

Unless of course, he's implying a Measure M vote on this area is headed for an upcoming ballot. But its more than a little presumptuous to speak as though its already been passed by the voters. Either way, the time may have come for Modesto's attempt to "nibble nibble on our outskirts."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

John Gunderson Salida Facebook post #3 and my reply

Read first: John Gunderson Salida Facebook post #2 and my reply

Modesto City Councilman John Gunderson sent the following message to his Facebook friends along with a link to his latest note on Salida:

  • Conversation started Saturday
  • John Gunderson
    John Gunderson

    The following article was in last Sunday's Bee. After so much angst, misinformation and misunderstanding I felt that some truths need to be brought out. Modesto's and surrounds problems are because of poor planning and previous board of supervisors' lack of understanding of what the future may bring. https://www.facebook.com/notes/john-gunderson/clear-thinking-on-salida-needed/696004827136112
  • Clear Thinking on Salida Needed

    Now that we are past the recall effort, a chance for a real understanding may be possible.  I would like to mull over the "annexation" issue of Salida as it seems to be persistent and not clearly thought out by many.  Can only address it with the notes I have gathered, but some accuracy of the situation has been acquired.

    First off, the City of Modesto is not the enemy.  True there has been some discussion between County and City about annexation with County offering ~$2 million per annum to be reduced over time.  Appears to be conceptual as no progress has been made in that direction.  The majority of Council feels that it is still a possibility.  I don't like it because of the gambling notion that development will occur as County payments are reduced.  Sweet deal for County but not so certain for Modesto.  I will never support annexation unless that basic concern was addressed properly and revenues realistically support services.  Development will not occur anyway unless the numbers work for the investors, not there yet.  Annexation cannot happen without a vote by Salidans, hasn't been any talk about that yet.

    There are numbers that must be considered by the public entities as well.  The Salida MAC (municipal advisory council) is trying for incorporation.  A City of Salida conceptually would be subsidized at 34% of the County's share of property tax for the existing Salida TPA (town planning area).  County normally keeps approxamately 9.13% of property taxes collected by my calculations.  I do not know how long this "subsidy" would last or how the existing services would be funded.  Regardless, development would be necessary for Salida to have any degree of independence.  Development around Salida means encroachment on farmland.  By the way, Modesto received 50% of what would be a city's share from County when we annexed Shackleford. This is insufficient and should not be the formula for future annexations.

    Much of our property tax (59.14%) goes towards education versus 41.685% for San Joaquin County.  This is State mandated and not at all flexible unless the State wants it to be (not happening).  I think it would be helpful if County posted online very clearly where our tax dollars go, with expandable pie charts and detailed explanation clear enough for anyone to understand.  This would be a good move for transparency and I think we as taxpayers deserve that.

    Our County has some serious issues with property tax distribution that hinders meaningful progress.  First off, the shares of the property tax "pie" for Stanislaus County and the cities within are among the lowest in the state.  I had gathered property tax info from the State and County and came up with the 9.13% for County that was already mentioned and there is a 5.26% share for the cities (14.39% total).  Compare that to San Joaquin's 14.88% and their cities' 8.18% (23.06%) and one can see some disparity.  This is one factor that works against Salida and works against the County islands within Modesto as well.  Another problem is that new or existing development within any unincorporated tracts will never be able to collect a city share of the property taxes unless County gives up some of its share.  This applies to Salida as well as Modesto's County islands.  If these impediments could be changed, a lot could be done to put our house in order and I definitely would not want it being done at our County's expense.  May be the only way forward though.  Change the percentages to something realistic and remove the exclusion for a city's share in newly annexed/incorporated areas and you would see a realistically viable City of Salida.  A rennaisance would be very possible, something worth dreaming about.

    As things are with the mantra being "nothing with the State will change", I would much prefer resources going towards solving the County islands within Modesto issue rather than using them for incorporating Salida.  Has much to do with health, public safety and quality of life for the people living in those County pockets.  Salida looks fine as it is, however if they wish to organize busloads to protest the situation at the Capitol steps I would gladly go along and add my voice along with a picket sign.  Beats turning on each other and placing the blame where it belongs makes much more sense than what we have been going through.

    I think Stanislaus County and Modesto deserves better.  If we tried, put some effort into it... the revenue issue could improve.  It's about what's fair.  Stanislaus County isn't what it was in 1978 (negative bailout, AB 8) and the contribution we make for education proportionally is 17.46% more than what San Joaquin County has to bear. Make the wheel squeaky enough and maybe something can be done.                    
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My reply which was published in the Modesto Bee on Sunday, August 3, 2014, titled:

"Katherine Borges: Not Salida's enemy? Funny way of showing it"

Just after taking office, Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh announced his intent to annex Salida. Something baffling then and to this day, is why Salida residents weren’t asked first whether they wanted to be annexed to Modesto?
Unlike other unincorporated county areas such as Shackleford, Salida residents have never asked to be annexed into Modesto. On the contrary, Salida fought off Modesto’s last annexation attempt in 1996.
Why would Mayor Marsh think the situation had changed in the ensuing 16 years?
Councilman John Gunderson’s opinion piece in last Sunday’s Bee (“Clear thinking needed on Salida annexation,” Page D3) does nothing but add to the agenda-driven propaganda espoused by Modesto council members about Salida. He opens with “First, the city of Modesto is not Salida’s enemy,” then in the same paragraph says “but the majority of the Modesto City Council feels (annexation) is still a possibility.”
Over the past 2 1/2 years, Salidans have resoundingly spoken against annexation at public meetings and in the media. The Salida Municipal Advisory Council voted against annexation in February 2013. This position is supported by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors. Regardless, the city council voted against its own planning commission’s recommendation to remove Salida from the general plan.
How does voting in favor of an opposed annexation say Modesto is not Salida’s enemy?
When the city of Modesto purchased the Del Este water system, which serviced Salida in the mid-1990s, it issued a “will not serve” notice for new development in Salida, except on one condition: they will supply water if they get to annex the land. That’s right, Modesto uses water as extortion to annex Salida’s land. The Kaiser and Costco parcels used to be part of Salida’s tax base. Modesto even refused to supply water to a Modesto City Schools campus on land designated for Salida: Gregori High School. The school district was forced to dig its own well.
How does water extortion say Modesto is not Salida’s enemy?
Several statements in Councilman Gunderson’s piece require correction: The county has not offered $2 million per year for Modesto to annex Salida. As far as the county is concerned, Salida is off the table. Councilman Gunderson has also been corrected before on the property tax sharing numbers; the future city of Salida would get 30 percent, not 34 percent. Thirty percent is what the other nine cities in the county receive. The reason Modesto received 50 percent in the Shackleford annexation is due to it being a residential area without a retail tax base to offset the city’s costs for infrastructure. Yet Councilman Gunderson refers to 50 percent as “insufficient and should not be the formula for future annexations.”
How does asking for more of Salida’s property tax pie say Modesto is not Salida’s enemy?
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?
Despite this, Councilman Gunderson states “development would be necessary for Salida to have any degree of independence” which is not necessarily the case, since there are cities such as Waterford that operate on a smaller tax base than Salida’s. As for “development around Salida means encroachment on farmland,” why do you think Salida ended up in Modesto’s annexation cross-hairs to begin with? Modesto wants to develop the farmland on the Kiernan Corridor.
How does the hypocrisy of saying Modesto should develop the land but Salida would be “encroaching” say Modesto is not Salida’s enemy?
In the annals of Stanislaus County, its unlikely that a city has treated a neighboring community as shabbily as Modesto has treated Salida (with the exception of Wood Colony, perhaps) in just the past 20 years.
Modesto’s first step toward “clear thinking” on Salida should not be an offer to organize a tax protest at the Capitol. Removing Salida from Modesto’s general plan, stopping further annexation attempts, and ending water extortion would truly say Modesto is not Salida’s enemy.


  • Emerson Drake ·  Top Commenter · Modesto, California
    Fantastic article Katherine. Hit them with Salida's best weapon, the TRUTH.

    • Sarah Cromwell
      Great job Katherine Borges!

      • Duane Spyksma
        Nothing says it better than the truth. The past reflects the future. Modesto is upset because they don't know what to do when people stand for the truth and see through the smoke screen they are trying to put up. Remember the Mayor Marsh saying " We don't have all of the facts." That is ok for them to think that. We have more facts than Modesto Mayor thinks we have. Just another attempted Smoke Screen. The Mayor and the rest of the council needs to know that people are smarter than the council gives credit.

        • Amanda Sorenson ·  Top Commenter
          Modesto thinks it is Russia and Salida is Crimea and they can just come in and try to annex us. They are wrong. Salida will continue to fight annexation. Remember, councilman Gunderson had a painting made of him in the likeness of Joseph Stalin and said he would have no problem putting it up in his classroom. Is this the kind of person we should allow to teach children and make important decisions for Modesto?

          • John Walker ·  Top Commenter · Software Engineer Air Traffic Management Research and Development at UCSC
            Great piece of writing Katherine. As it always be the case with our City Council and Mayor, decisions seem to be about how to take what is our economic base that is Agriculture and turn it into a warehouse district. We do not need Salida or Wood Colony to make our city better. What we need is more organic growth based on small and medium business. The idea that a $9 - $12 an hour warehouse job fixes our problems is ridiculous. That implies there is something to do in a warehouse which is also a red herring argument. Will they listen? Have not seen any proof of that. Council Member Gunderson still thinks he is the smartest guy in the room, and the Mayor is hopefully going back to running a bowling alley in the near future.

            • John Gunderson ·  Top Commenter · Councilman at City of Modesto - City Hall
              #1 Catherine Borges own email said she was expecting 34% from the County #2 there was talk early on when I joined Council of County offering $2 mil if Modesto were to annex Salida. It was just talk. #3 Modesto is not obligated to supply water and sewer to new development in Salida, that water needs to go to development within Modesto. That makes Modesto an enemy? Salida could remain as is under the County much like Denair. Mayor Marsh voted to take Salida out of the General Plan as did I. Believe it was Jenny Kenoyer who did as well. The vote was the same when I moved for another attempt to remove. For Ms Borges to say the Mayor wants to annex Salida is not true. There has been no Salida residents' vote on annexation for Salida, so Ms Borges is correct in saying they were never asked. No annexation or moving it into the sphere of influence has been attempted with a ballot measure. Never got that far, it's just a conceptual color on a map. Not enough to get excited about. All this energy being expended by Borges & Co. would be better spent trying to correct the property tax distribution formulas at the State level. That would be of benefit to all of the County and cities. I stand firmly on my statement "fix the County islands (within Modesto) before incorporating Salida". I am hopeful that Modestans will contact our supervisors and remind them that some issues are more urgent than others.

              • Katherine Borges ·  Top Commenter · Salida, California
                Regarding #1: What my e-mail said was, "Also, if you're going to quote me, you should go back and re-read my e-mail so you get your facts straight because this is what I wrote to you:

                "If you read the 1996 Master Property Tax Sharing Agreement and its later amendments you will find that when a city annexes an island in, the property tax the city will receive is 34%. However, Salida is excluded in that agreement and thus, would be negotiated separately."

                #2: Its difficult to corroborate gossip, but I doubt the county would want to shaft themselves like that selling Salida down the river to Modesto for a mere $2 million per year when Salida currently brings in $4-5 million in tax revenue per year.

                #3: You're absolutely right that the city has no obligation to supply water to new development in Salida. But how about not extorting land and allow Salida to become a water customer? Its pretty darn irritating to sit in council meeting after council meeting watching the council approve "out-of-boundary water service agreements" for other areas but you use water to extort land from us. How about doing the right thing for once? And Steve Goldstein adequately addressed the mayoral part.

                If its just a "conceptual color on a map" then how about removing that concept? Why leave it if you're against it? Why are YOU expending energy by writing about Salida in the first place?

                If you have an issue with property tax distribution formulas, then have at it, but its not my calling.

                I agree that some county islands could use "fixing" but that's not dependent on whether or not Salida incorporates. And is irrelevant to Modesto annexing Salida because that will NEVER HAPPEN.

            • Steve Goldstein · President at The Spa Doctor
              Really? You said, "For Ms. Borges to say the Mayor wants to annex Salida is not true.". what planet are you living on? Here, I will give you the quote from HIS mouth....... ""We need to explore the annexation of Salida,"........."The Salida Plan area holds the best long-term potential for quality job-producing business and industries."......"This is a vision that needs to begin now,".

              Here;s the link: http://www.modbee.com/2012/03/28/2133555/modesto-mayor-its-time-to-annex.html#storylink=cpy.

              Keep spinning.. keep deflecting... keep distracting people from the truth.

            • Athens Abell · Creator/Producer at Home Grown Highways
              This is what Mayor Marsh said *before* he was elected, while campaigning for the Mayoral seat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXTMIYJNgIo

            • Helder Garcia ·  Top Commenter · 
              Great letter Katherine!

              • Emerson Drake ·  Top Commenter · Modesto, California
                What we have that passes for City Councilpersons in Modesto is just pathetic. Gunderson doesn't represent his constituency in regards to Salida and Wood Colony. He went so far as to block individuals who disagreed with his political positions on facebook and then comes to the Bee figuring they would not only NOT see his rants but also wouldn't be able to call him out on his lies no matter how politely they do it. In his hubris he misrepresented what Katherine Borges had written and thought he could get away with it. Almost needless to say, she set him straight. If you want to be in control you should stick to your treehouse antics... Then again that didn't go so well for you did it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCtXOUCIz2U

                • John Gunderson ·  Top Commenter · Councilman at City of Modesto - City Hall
                  Catherine Borges sez: "When the city of Modesto purchased the Del Este water system, which serviced Salida in the mid-1990s, it issued a “will not serve” notice for new development in Salida, except on one condition: they will supply water if they get to annex the land. That’s right, Modesto uses water as extortion to annex Salida’s land." My question immediately was "What Modesto Council in their right minds would allow Modesto's water and sewer service to be used for new development in an unincorporated or municipal Salida?" It would be very illogical for a municipality to do this. Dream on Catherine Borges... Modesto's utilities are not the path to incorporation, believe the Board of Supervisors knows this.

                  • Katherine Borges ·  Top Commenter · Salida, California
                    You said it exactly right Mr. Gunderson, 'What council in their right minds.." because your council is obviously NOT in their 'right minds". Are you trying to say that when Turlock has new development, you deny them water service? Or Del Rio? Or Waterford? All are on the former Del Este system too. If you were in you're "right mind" you wouldn't view new water customers as an illogical prospect. And we don't need your sewer service, we have our own and its better than yours. Unlike yours, we don't have fines for sewage overflows. Your posts don't do anything to further prove "Modesto is not Salida's enemy" now do they?

                • Mary Kathryn Smalley ·  Top Commenter · Chabot College Hayward
                  Great article Katherine. Bang, Bang, Bang, you hit the nail on the head with each paragraph.

                Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2014/08/02/3466937/katherine-borges-not-salidas-enemy.html?sp=/99/1641/1642/#storylink=cpy