Truth is Denied at City Council



Former Mayor Carmen Sabatino reported on the history between the Modesto Chamber and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Chamber CEO Cecil Russell rose to call the Mayor a “liar” and guilty of “libel”.

Russell said, “He had “no respect” for the former Mayor.

Sabatino said, “If I am lying, Russell has nothing to worry about.  Since I am telling it like it is, he should be investigated.”

The Back Story at 11:00 am Call 846-1814 to listen and comment or listen to 93.3 FM

Transcription of 1/29/19 – Cecil Russell:

Thank you.
Thank you. Do I have anybody else from the public wish to speak on this item?
You know, the person who was just up here says that he was mayor, and the truth is he was. Before he was mayor, I was a board member, an incoming chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, had been on the board for a number of years, and, uh, I became chairman. And I’m not going to tell you the whole story. You know, the person who was just up here loves to tell you about the backstory. And I hate to use the term fake news, but I’ve listened to his derogatory remarks about the Chamber and about me, personally. I became chairman of the board. The CVB was housed in the same unit as the Chamber, had been for some time. Now, I want to give you a history lesson. It had its own board. It had its own P&L. It had a– its– on its board, they were appointed by the City Council. They had to have their P&L audited not only by an independent auditor but also by the city. The Chamber of Commerce charged for their rent, for all the equipment, everything they did, $25,000. It’s been said by the person that was here that the Chamber stole $25,000 a year. That’s absolutely an untruth. And frankly, I’ll tell you, he should be charged with libel because there’s nothing further from the truth. $25,000– and in his vendetta, he swore to take the Chamber aw– I mean, the CVB away from the Chamber like it was some big deal.

It was a big deal because the majority of Chamber of Commerces and CVBs occupy the same place because when people come into a community, they go to either of those places to ask about what’s going on in the city. So it was moved, and it was moved over to the DoubleTree. Go back and look at how much it cost the CVB to be in those quarters and for all of the equipment and everything that they had to do year in and year out. I’ll guarantee it was twice as much if not three times as much as what was– the Chamber was charging the CVB. Now, I’m only up here to kind of set the record straight. The untruths will continue. I support the direction that this council is going on today to, I’m going to say, reinvent the CVB. I’ve read the white paper, and it’s really well done, and it advances the cause of the city. It advances the cause of hospitality in this community, which is really all we should be concerned about. So hopefully, you’ll consider the truths that I mentioned. It’s the first time I’ve ever publicly refuted those claims. I’ve been told not to because you don’t want to give any credence whatsoever to a lie. But frankly, I can’t set here time and time again and for my own reputation to be impugned and the reputation of a great organization in this community to be impugned by someone that I have absolutely no respect for. So thank you very much.

Reactions of City Council to the Truth…
Thank you. Mr. Sabatino, you’ve had your time.
He’s had his time.
Mr. Sabatino, you’ve had your time.
Mayor, this note involves your city.
Mr. Sabatino–
I’ve been accused of libel–
–you’ve had your time.
Mayor, I have a right to respond to a public comment.
[Chief?], [crosstalk].
[Is there a public hearing?] [inaudible] 846-1814 [crosstalk]–
I mean, you’ve had your time.
Yeah. Yeah.
I need you to step away from the mic.
You’ve said a little too much tonight, Carmen.
Way too much. Thank you. Do I have anybody else–?