Backstory bullets: Modesto and the revolving door City Managers

October 16th, 2017

Dear Garth,

Thank you for your phone call.  I hope you don’t get in trouble with your bosses (Remember, Editor Mark Vasche left instructions that the Sabatino administration was to be ignored).  Your Sunday article isn’t the front story or the back story, it has little connection to reality.    Below is some information for you on the real story.  

  1. Fact: City Managers are the responsibility of the City Council.
    1. Knowing that to a large extent – those positions are only ELECTED after being SELECTED by the “people of power and means.”
    2. Then it becomes clear that the City Managers actually serve at the bequest and pleasure of the “people of power and means”
    3. Track down the goals of these people of power and means, HINT: (they line their pockets with all your money) – and you will get an understanding into the erratic and abrupt hiring and firing of City Managers.
    4. The key to a Modesto City Managers success is:
      1. Toe the line, line the pockets.
      2. DO NOT actually manage or heaven forbid… make any real decisions based on ethics or the needs of the community.
  • Carry out the agenda that you are given, don’t worry about the agenda that is printed.
  1. Since you asked, my take as a former Mayor:
    1. Since arriving in Modesto in 1955, I have witnessed not only the growth of our town and population – but I have seen the change from traditional American governance, to a City run by a swirling mass of special interests that spread the spectrum.
    2. Modesto in 1955 was a city of 35,000 – controlled by a group of families who went to the same high school, the same churches, the same business groups and service clubs.
    3. Their desire was to maintain control by keeping the city within limits, and they were labeled No-Growthers.
    4. Along came Pro-Growthers, developers with ravenous appetites, bare-knuckle takedowns, and backroom planning to select candidates and elect them to office to expand the city at taxpayer expense.
    5. In 1987 Mayor Peggy Mensinger warned that the city was being taken over by developers such as Mike Zagaris and George Petrulakis.
    6. In 1991 Mayor Carol Whiteside took on the building of the Centre Plaza.  Note that we owe MORE today than it cost to build – yet you give her credibility.
    7. In 1995, Mike Zagaris and George Petrulakis elected City Councilman Dick Lang as Mayor and kept Ed Tewes as the City Manager.
    8. In 1999, Mayor Carmen Sabatino defeated incumbent Mayor Dick Lang and city Councilwoman Kenny Friedman. The election of Sabatino was such a surprise that developers had not appointed a City Manager they could control.
    9. It was left to my administration and the city Council to hire Jack Crist from Sacramento as the City Manager and hire Roy Wasden from Salt Lake City, Utah as the chief of police (outsiders).
    10. I was left to serve with Growthers and no-Growthers who fought to control the city and profit by power.
    11. In 2003, Mayor Jim Ridenour was accepting multiple $1000 donations to his campaign with the promise to fire city manager Jack Crist.  Councilwoman Janice Keating assisted in taking out City Manager Jack Crist.
    12. In 2005, George Britton was brought in as a Deputy City Manager in preparation to take over as City Manager with the planned firing of Jack Crist.  Britton was not fired. He retired with thanks.
    13. In 2007, Mayor Ridenour and the council hired Greg Nyhoff (documented bunker mentality) as City Manager.
    14. In 2011, Mayor Garrard Marsh was elected over the developer’s candidate Brad Hawn and decided to keep Nyhoff as City Manager who was allowed to resign and move on to Oxford.
    15. In 2015, Zagaris and Petrulakis recruited and elected Ted Brandvold as Mayor of Modesto. Jim Holgersson was an interim City Manager – he was then appointed to City Manager after a $25,000 search.
    16. Holgersson was fired months ago…
  2. Nothing has happened since in regards to filling the City Manager position.
    1. In Sundays Bee article we learn to our horror that “some members of his council are tired of waiting” (WHO are they waiting for?)
      1. Councilman Doug Ridenour thinks “There should be some thought of what we’re going to do and where we’re going to go.” (Wow – we think so too… WHO ARE YOU waiting on instructions from?)
      2. Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer thinks she is “very, very not happy. We need to do something. It’s been (several) months now and we haven’t heard a word. I don’t know what’s going on.” (Wow – WHO haven’t YOU heard a word from? Why aren’t THEY telling YOU what’s going on?)
  • Councilwoman Kristi Ah You thinks “We need to get going in a hurry, with a sense of urgency,” she said. “I’m not in favor of doing nothing.” (Wow – WHO is the holdup, WHO are the ONES without a sense of urgency?)
  1. BOTTOM LINE – The PEOPLE OF POWER AND MEANS (POPAM) want their OWNmanager – so nothing is going to happen until the (POPAM) are ready.  
    1. We are amazed that so many elected officials admitted their powerlessness in print.
    2. We imagine the Council probably drew straws to see which ones got to play the part of the concerned Councilmember… actually we know that it is not up to the Council, it is up to the Bee to decide that role.
    3. We know, and the Council knows, that nothing will happen until THEY find a City Manager THEY
    4. When the (POPAM) have decided, the mayor will be told and will inform Council of WHO is to be hired.

And on and on the show goes…