It took a while, but the Modesto Bee finally got around to covering the Ridenour administration.
Don’t feel bad if the name “Ridenour” doesn’t ring a bell. Jim Ridenour was Mayor of Modesto from 2004 through 2012. Known by many as the “stealth mayor” for the lack of news coverage during his term, only two events ruffled the calm surface of his eight year tenure.
One, the SCAP scandal, occurred at the tail end of his term and wound up pointing in many directions, but somehow not the Mayor’s. The other involved the Mayor’s time sheet (filled out while moonlighting for the sheriff’s department), which, when compared with the Mayor’s calendar, showed him in two places at once. Nothing ever came of the time sheet, mostly because a Grand Jury found no problem with the conflicting calendars.
Last Sunday, the Bee revisited the Ridenour administration with one of its best investigative stories ever—about events that happened over four years ago. Although current Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh is quoted in the Bee article, he was a bit player at the time. The entire cast of city government characters involved in the Archway Commons land purchase features an all-star list of all-time Modesto Bee favorites, beginning with Mayor Jim Ridenour himself.
Add Brad Hawn, Janice Keating, Dave Lopez and Kristen Olsen, and we not only have all-time Bee favorites, we have all-time developer favorites. Of those the Bee says were “involved in the Archway Commons land deal,” only Marsh has shown a long-term commitment to smart growth and farmland preservation.
Another principal player in the Archways Commons land deal was current City Councilman Joe Muratore. Shortly after the deal was consummated, Muratore ran for City Council and was endorsed by—you guessed it—the Modesto Bee.
So why did the story run now, and why was Marsh featured? Certainly there’s concern that Paul Draper, a central figure in the Archway Commons story, is also a central figure in negotiations to purchase land for a new courthouse downtown.
Another possible reason is the Bee’s recent theme concerning the City Council’s proposed one cent sales tax. The Bee has tagged it the, “Trust Us,” tax, implying there’s no reason to trust city government with tax payer dollars. Most likely, the Bee, like the Chamber of Commerce, would much prefer a road tax, a virtually certain route to more houses. Like the Chamber, the Bee has always been in favor of more houses
City government today, just as it did during the Ridenour era, features a majority of people recommended by the Bee. Today’s city government, however, is much less favorable to unrestricted growth, mostly because of the Mayor’s leadership. It is typical of the Modesto Bee to not only want things both ways, but get them both ways.
The formula is simple: Put professed anti-government, pro-growth people in office. Look the other way while they eliminate government oversight, subsidize developers, and flog the growth horse. Wait until their shenanigans are old news, then attack government in the abstract. Repeat, then elect a new slate of your own, hand-picked, “anti-government” and “pro-growth” candidates. Play again, ad infinitum.
With pro-growth candidates like Bill, “Village One,” Zoslocki on deck and ready to take a another swing at the Mayor’s position via a seat on the City Council, the Bee may well be trying to set the table for a much more growth-friendly city government—sort of like the one we had during the Ridenour era.
One way to accomplish that end is by discrediting the current administration through a smear on government in general. That was Dick Hagerty’s theme in a Community Column that made a (very timely) appearance on the heels of the Archway Commons story. Hagerty can always be counted on to list the countless shortcomings of government while ignoring private enterprise debacles like Village I and Diablo Grande.
In short, it’s time to get back on the growth track with the Modesto Chamber of Commerce and show everyone who really runs Modesto—or at least wants to. Watch the Bee jump on an all new bandwagon of “anti-government” and “pro-growth” candidates like previous favorites Jim Ridenour, Kristen Olsen, Janice Keating, and Brad Hawn. Ought to be fun. Maybe Dick Hagerty will run for office.