Wednesday, August 6, 2014

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, " 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."

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