Modesto political activists who favor growth and oppose spending millions of dollars for a community center a within two votes of taking control of City Hall Mayor Peggy Mensinger charged Tuesday.
“If it’s a local political machines you want to see, I nominate the one responsible for council member (Patrick) McGrath’s career,” Mensinger told an audience of more than 100 at a noon meeting of Modesto Women’s Network.
In the course of her 45-minute talk, Mensinger listed the names of more then two dozen “missionary maneuverers,” “mechanisms,” “manipulators,” “movers” and “minions” – individuals and groups she said are part of an organized effort to take control of the council and the city’s future.
“That’s a well-organized and financed group which has carefully calculated plan to gain control of City Hall this November,” Mensinger said. “The strategy is to manufacture a ceaseless series of issues and make every effort to discredit City Hall.”
Reaction from those singled out by Mensinger was varied , ranging from dismissal of her remarks as political rhetoric and “fantasy” to indignant surprise.
Mensinger’s remarks weredelivered under the speech title, “Campainge Finance Reform and Political Machines in Modesto,” an address she said grew out of last week’s “State of the City” talk.
“The voters will make their decisions in November,” Mensinger said in prefacing her remarks, “But they need to know more about what forces are involved and what’s been going on here since 1984.”
Mensinger spent half of her talk on compaign reform and the two council members she contends are most closely tied to special interests: MaGrath and Richard Patterson.
McGrath and Patterson are a minority on the seven-member conuncil on several issues, including the community center. Three of the five “majority” seats will be on the November ballot.
Mesinger contends that in the last council election 66 percent and 59 percent of McGrath’s and Patterson’s respective campaign contributions came from sources with an economic stake in sewer trunk extensions.
Both men say those figures are incorrect.
Mensinger quoted comments by both men at City Council meetings in linking them to interests against campaign reform, the community center project and land developers.
“These two hold office largely as the result of special support from those who filed conflict-of-interest charges with the state Fair Political Practices Commission against me, Carol Whiteside, JohnSutton and Bette Belle Smith on behalf of Modestans for an Affordable Community Center,” Mensinger said.
Mensinger, Whiteside, Sutton and Smith were cleared of any wrongdoing in the FPPC investigations, Mensinger said. Speaking from a prepared text and referring to charts, Mensinger identified several individuals and groups she said have been involved in the plan to “gain control of City Hall:” “Missionary Maneuverers,” according to Mensinger, are the directors of the Building Industry Association, Board of Realtors and the Chamber of Commerce, and the Democratic Central Committee, the Republican Central Committee and the 27th Assembly District Committee.
The “mechanisms,” she said, are Modestans for an Affordable Community Center, Citizens League for Economic Advancement and Revitalization, Modestans for the Future, and the McGrath, Patterson and Carmen Sabatino campaign committees.