Sunday, March 30, 2014

And The Rest of the Open Mic Story is...

THE MODESTO BEE - March 30, 2014
"Was microphone left on after Modesto City Council meeting?"

"Is this thing on?" (Photo credit: Fly'n Dutchman Signs)
Why yes, yes it was...
I listened to Greg Nyhoff talk for just over an hour, the streaming conversation being broadcast over the internet ended at 1:05:53. The most concerning part of the conversation was Mr. Nyhoff's comments regarding Salida and Wood Colony which I quoted during the public comment period at the Modesto City Council meeting on March 25, 2014:
"Now there's a very good reason why I feel that further abuses could be forthcoming and that's because after the last council meeting, I had left after public comment, but then regretted not staying for another one of the agenda items so I turned the meeting on at home. The screen said the meeting was over, but I could still hear streaming audio come through from about an hour long conversation between Greg Nyhoff, Jenny Kenoyer, and Stephanie Lopez. Mr. Nyhoff was giving Ms. Kenoyer sort of a history lesson on Wood Colony and Salida. He said that Bill Lyons had come to the city asking for his land in Wood Colony to be annexed and that Salida wasn't going anywhere, “...because we have their fire department, their water, and their sewer.” Pretty much saying that Modesto has Salida over a barrel."

My mouth was agape listening to this and when I snapped out of my shock, I started contacting friends in Salida and Wood Colony to turn on their computers and listen. At least one person in Wood Colony also heard it along with the Spyksmas who taped it. While I wasn't able to tape it myself, I did take notes.

Mr. Nyhoff was quite the Chatty Cathy. He lamented how Modesto, "Can't get off the Top 10 lists, heck, we can't even fix the sidewalks!" He spoke about the unions and the failure of Measure X, saying, "We have no cops, we watch the criminals zip through."

But another jaw-dropper was his comments regarding city planners, Brent Sinclair and Josh Bridegroom: "Brent won't bring anything to us and Josh is following in his footsteps. This isn't the Josh Show."

I didn't seek out the Bee to do an article on the open mic, but I'm glad they decided to do one because of the revealing interviews Kevin Valine conducted. First off, Mr. Nyhoff claims temporary amnesia for an hour-long conversation. Perhaps reading my blog post will refresh his memory. That, or he can listen to the recording.  And Bill Lyons is, "...not aware of any talks between his family and the city" regarding developing his land in Wood Colony. Can we take that to mean he is counting himself among "his family"?  Bill Lyons owns the largest parcel of land in the proposed annexation zone under the name "Beckwith-Dakota LLC" so that's GREAT news for Wood Colony if he and his family have NOT been talking to the City of Modesto about developing their land there. Guess Mr. Nyhoff was mistaken when he named him.

Source: Salida MAC Facebook page
I've been told that there's a backroom behind the dais where the council can have private conversations so perhaps they'll make an effort to use this room next time instead of risk having their conversation streamed over the internet via a live mic. Marco Moreno posted that its happened before and he's tried reporting it but to no avail. The upside if they choose to ignore the issue further is potentially more "what do they really think" streaming conversations.

Read more here:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The People's Republic of Modesto?

On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, the Modesto City Council voted against their Planning Commission's recommendation (September 16, 2013) that Salida be removed from Modesto's General Plan update.  Additionally, the council voted to add in approximately 2,300 acres in Wood Colony to the General Plan.

These two votes have resulted in a backlash the likes that Stanislaus County has never before seen. 

And now the back-pedaling begins...

On Tuesday, February 25, 2014, Coucilwoman Jenny Kenoyer motioned that the General Plan be brought back before the city council on Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Behind the scenes, the council are meeting with people in Wood Colony. For what reason? A compromise? The residents of Wood Colony don't want a "compromise". Like Salida, they just want Modesto to leave them alone and stop trying to take their land. But as far as Modesto goes, they will use whatever underhanded tactics they have in their arsenal to accomplish their means to an end, and that includes gerrymandering, revisionist history, and just flat out ignoring the wishes of the people who live in Salida and Wood Colony.

Gerrymandered Beckwith Map
The first blantant exhibit of gerrymandering occurred with the approval of the "Mayor's Alternative" map for Wood Colony which contains a "notch" that cuts out 34 homes along Beckwith Road. When questioned about the gerrymander notch at the February 15th Hart-Ransom meeting, Mayor Marsh replied that the houses were cut out to "prevent eminent domain". Audience members were quick to point out that there wasn't anything that would stop eminent domain from being declared on Beckwith to run needed infrastucture or widen the road for commercial development.

Furthermore at the Hart-Ransom meeting, Marsh indicated that the City may remove the 1,254 acres designated as "ag". This move will also gerrymander out more votes from having the ability to vote down any land annexations in the Beckwith-Dakota area.

Salida does not escape Modesto's gerrymandering swath unscathed either. Modesto City Councilman, John Gunderson, contacted a member of Salida's Municipal Advisory Council on February 18th saying a "surprise" is in store for Salida. He did not reveal just what the "surprise" is but other sources have confirmed that the city council is planning to remove the existing town of Salida from the General Plan update and just keep in the Salida Community Plan land that is north and south of Kiernan Avenue. AKA "The land around Gregori" as Marsh refers to it in trying to negate Stanislaus County's designation of that land for Salida. By removing the existing residents' from the General Plan update, this gerrymanders out Salida's votes from the Salida Community Plan land grab. If this comes to pass, it will be up to Salida residents to make the case to LAFCO to preserve this land for Salida as its now designated.

Revisionist History
Talk Radio Commentator, Dave Bowman, was the first to call it like it is when Marsh tried to say that the area north of Beckwith and east of Dakota "isn't part of Wood Colony" as a justification for leaving in the red "commercial" area on the general plan. This same view was expressed
Wood Colony Cemetery entrance
by Councilman Bill Zoslocki as reported by Wood Colony residents who attended the meeting at Kristin Olsen's office. Modesto is adamant about leaving the area in the plan update and Wood Colony residents are adamant about it coming it out; because IT IS a part of Wood Colony. How ludicrous a thing to try and promote that THE LAND DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE WOOD COLONY CEMETERY IS NOT A PART OF WOOD COLONY?!? 

Some of the comments that have been coming out of city council and from Modesto Chamber of Commerce members are: "Modesto needs a win", "There has to be a compromise", "Modesto needs to save face", "the intention is to come up with viable solutions". Now why they feel that Salida and Wood Colony residents should and would agree to a compromise that sacrifices the futures of our communities for Modesto to "save face" is unfathomable! This isn't the "People's Republic of Modesto" where socialism reigns and our communities must sacrifice for Modesto's greater good! Or is it? By virtue of our location along 99, does Salida have to pay yet another price of losing our tax base to Modesto because of 144 years of Modesto's bad planning? Salida has already lost the land that Kaiser is on, along with Costco, Lowe's, Save Mart, etc. How much more municipal lifeblood does Salida have to lose to quench Modesto's thirst? And why does Salida have to even talk about losing it in the first place? Is it because its the status quo in Stanislaus County? Modesto's status quo is that they are used to always getting what they want.