The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

April 6, 2017 – A History of Modesto 101

For honest men, the truth is easy.
For those who have been dishonest, truth is more difficult, and a harsh penalty that comes with accountability must be paid.

I love lively conversation, earnest debates and discussing the issues of the day with dozens of people every day.   Now and then, I will be asked, “Carmen, why do you care, just let it go.”

No sir, I will not go away or let it go. I will happily tell the truth even though the dishonest demand my silence.

I am interested, I do care and have over time become a Defacto alternative to our very unreliable paper of record – The Modesto Bee.

I am encouraged that The Backstory News continues to grow in readership across the digital spectrum of web, twitter, Facebook, blog radio and in the coming months – video.

Since arriving 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.

Since arriving in Modesto in 1955, the city of 35,000 was controlled by a group of families who went to the same high school, the same churches, the same business groups and service clubs.

Their desire was to maintain control by keeping the city within limits, and they were labeled No-Growthers.

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.

In 1987 Mayor Peggy Mensinger warned that the city was being taken over by developers such as Mike Zagaris and George Petrulakis.

In 1991 Mayor Carol Whiteside took on the building of the Centre Plaza.  Note that we owe MORE today than it cost to build.

In 1995, Mike Zagaris and George Petrulakis elected City Councilman Dick Lang as Mayor and kept Ed Tewes as the City Manager.

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.

It was left to Mayor Sabatino 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).

Mayor Sabatino was left to serve with Growthers and no-Growthers who fought to control the city and profit by power.

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.

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 could retire with thanks.

In 2007, Mayor Ridenour and the council hired Greg Nyhoff (documented bunker mentality) as City Manager.

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.

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.

Holgersson was fired last week…developers Zagaris and Petrulakis want their own manager.