Tim Byrd’s response to our last essay deserves a more prominent position than in “Comments,” so we’re posting it below, along with our reply. For those who don’t know, Mr. Byrd is Stanislaus County Supervisor Terry Withrow’s campaign manager. He is also a resident of Wood Colony and a graduate of Berkeley’s Boalt School of Law. To get a better understanding of the context of our remarks, please read our previous post here.
Eric, as a life-long democrat who encouraged my friend Sue to run for Mayor [of Modesto] and supported Josh Harder early on, you and I agree on almost all of the issues you cover. But I was very surprised to read your piece on the Withrow/Madrigal race.
As a member of the Stanislaus Homeless Alliance, I agree with you that we, like every community in California, have not solved our homeless crisis. There is no question that the problem persists. However, nobody has worked harder on the homeless issues than Terry and the numbers would be worse if Terry were not on the Board.
Just a couple of examples:
Last month Governor Newsom called together the state’s leaders on homeless issues to discuss his Care Court proposal to address our homeless who suffer from mental illness. Out of the 290 county supervisors in the State of California, he called on two county supervisors: a Supervisor from San Diego and Terry Withrow. Terry has advocated for years for a system to provide services to the most challenging portion of our homeless population: the folks who are defecating on themselves, who are yelling at nothing and who face the most risk of dying on our streets. The Governor’s Care Court proposal, which Terry wholeheartedly supports, is our best chance of getting the severely mental ill off the streets and into services.
When Terry tried to use a building within the City of Modesto next to a nice neighborhood to house the homeless. he stood up in front of a very hostile crowd of neighbors to try to convince them that we needed to do something. His mother used to live in that neighborhood, and even her long-time friends were attacking Terry. I’m sitting there thinking why is Terry doing this? This is in the City of Modesto. It was not even in his district. This is political suicide. Terry didn’t care about the political fallout. He only cared about getting folks off the streets.
As I looked around I wondered where is Mayor Brandvold and his close colleague on the city council, Tony Madrigal? I have never seen Madrigal engage on the homeless issue at any of our many meetings with stakeholders. As usual, he was a no show. Yet he takes credit for the Kansas House. He had nothing to do with the Kansas House. The incredible Barbara Krause of the Stanislaus Housing Authority was the driving force behind the Kansas House.
Madrigal also claims that he brought the Downtown Streets Team, a great program, to Modesto. That is false. The concept about the Downtown Streets Team was presented to us at the Focus on Prevention Stewardship Council, which Terry created. Terry then drove to Sacramento to meet with the Downtown Streets Team leaders and asked them to come to the City of Modesto. That is the reason we have the Downtown Streets Team.
As a person who lives, raised his family and farms in Wood Colony, this race is very personal. We know that Madrigal’s financial backer is the Wood Colony developer. The only Madrigal signs in Wood Colony are on the properties owned by the corporation that wants to pave over the best farmland in the world. As the folks in Salida can tell you, one supervisor can make a significant difference when it comes to local land use issues. Terry literally saved a Salida neighborhood on a split vote this last March.
I’ve known Terry since first grade and I know that Terry has always rejected Trump’s misogyny and racism and strongly believes that the criminals who stormed our Capitol should be prosecuted. Terry’s own son protected our embassies just like the Capital police who were attacked.
Terry advocated for COVID vaccinations and COVID relief funding for our small businesses and non-profits. Like the democratic mayor of San Francisco, Governor Newsom and others, Terry did not always wear a mask in public. I think he was wrong. But to paint him as a MAGATrumper who supports Trump’s sexist and racist behavior and the invasion of our Capitol because he did not always wear a mask is ridiculous.
You need to talk to the people who work closely with Terry. Both of the democrats on the Board of Supervisors endorse Terry. The longest serving democrat on the Modesto City Council and the City’s leader on homeless issues, Jenny Kenoyer, endorses Terry and not Madrigal, her colleague on the City Council for 8 years. That speaks volumes. The democratic chairperson of the Salida MAC endorses Terry. Democrat Perfecto Munoz, CEO of the West Modesto Community Collaborative, endorses Terry. They all personally know Terry and work with Terry on important District 3 issues. None of them would support Terry if what you say is true.
Like my dad always said, you vote for the person and not the party. I hope everyone remembers to do that.
Response to Mr. Byrd
Thank you for your comments Mr. Byrd.
You appear to occupy a paradoxical position here. Your recommendation to “vote for the person and not the party” seems not to have influenced Mr. Withrow. He voted for Donald Trump twice.
I have several disagreements with your reading of my remarks, as well as with your (re)vision of Mr. Withrow’s history of public support of Donald Trump, beginning with your claim that, “nobody has worked harder on homeless issues than Terry.”
Frank Ploof has worked much harder. He’s not the only one.
I did not, as you say, “paint him [Mr. Withrow] as a MAGATrumper who supports Trump’s sexist and racist behavior and the invasion of our capital because he did not always wear a mask.”
Rather, I characterized Mr. Withrow as a hypocrite with double standards for suggesting Mr. Madrigal is unfit for office because of crude remarks made a quarter century ago. Mr. Withrow has never publicly repudiated Trump’s “sexist and racist behavior” (your words). I stand by my characterization. It is hypocritical to argue your opponent should be disqualified for behavior far less harmful and odious than that of a man you support for president. Such an argument reflects a double standard.
Your claim that Mr. Withrow has always “rejected Trump’s misogyny and racism” would be more persuasive if Mr. Withrow himself had not (1) voted for Trump twice and (2) had publicly rejected Trump for those reasons (misogyny and racism), among many others.
Mr. Withrow has not rejected Trump, he’s supported him. I repeat, it reflects hypocrisy and a double standard to reject a man’s values and then support him for president. It’s even worse when you attempt to disqualify an opponent for missteps far less significant than those of the man you support for president.
Your claim that Mr. Withrow “strongly believes that the criminals who stormed our Capitol should be prosecuted” is undermined by Mr. Withrow’s comments immediately after the January 6 Insurrection. In an eerie echo of Trump’s “good people on both sides” remarks about the Charlottesville demonstration, Mr. Withrow said publicly, “Sincere people on both sides.” That statement is documented history. He’s never repudiated it nor shown any signs of remorse for defending violent insurrectionists who invaded the nation’s Capitol with the intention of overturning the vote of the American people. If you need to refresh your memory about Mr. Withrow’s defense of the insurrectionists, read Reggie Rucker’s response here.
As for local Democrats, you surely know as a graduate of Boalt School of Law that your claim, “None of them would support Terry if what you say is true,” depends on the assumption that I have written falsehoods. Where are those falsehoods? Please point them out. Assuming Mr. Withrow’s endorsements from Democrats originate from regard for his efforts on homelessness ignores a multitude of other more likely motives, not least of which is the desire to curry favor with the local version of the Galactic Empire, to which his and your connections are widely known.
None of the Democrats you mention as supporting Mr. Withrow has taken any significant action in defense of homeless people. Channce Condit was part of a Ceres City Council that bragged about pushing homeless people out of its city limits. Mani Grewal’s term on the Modesto City Council did not include any interest in or advocacy for the homeless and he’s shown no such interest since becoming a supervisor. As for Jenny Kenoyer, she endorsed Republican Doug Ridenour over Democrat Sue Zwhalen. So much for her Democratic leanings.
The only local elected in Modesto who has taken a public stand in favor of safe ground for the homeless is Councilmember Chris Ricci. Bravo to him and much appreciation for his courage in speaking out when no one else will.
Mr. Withrow’s endorsements by his fellow supervisors may be one reason there is such a mass exodus of Stanislaus County employees of late. How would you like to work for bosses who endorse behavior that defies the recommendations of your own public health officer and endangers the health of the entire region?
Mr. Withrow also pushed to keep public schools open during the height of the pandemic. It’s nice to know you “disagree” with such behavior, but it is more than discomfiting to know you are willing to enable it with your advocacy.
There could be no better reason for voting for Mr. Madrigal than Mr. Withrow’s endorsements from his fellow supervisors, not one of whom has ever spoken publicly in favor of safe ground for homeless people, nor taken a stand in favor of public health by censuring Mr. Withrow’s dangerous behavior. Whereas the Turlock School Board actually sued a member for refusing to wear a mask during public meetings, Stanislaus County Supervisors not only meekly tolerated it, they have endorsed it. No wonder county staff are leaving.
Your claim that Mr. Madrigal’s “financial backer” is a would be Wood Colony developer is at best disingenuous. While he may indeed have support from a developer, his most generous supporters include labor unions. Working people have had more than enough of Mr. Withrow’s opposition to living wages, not to mention his resistance to inexpensive housing options for the very poor, including Pallet Shelters, Conestoga Huts, and Boxable Homes.
It’s no coincidence that these issues and hazy memories have come up at campaign time. Nonetheless, the history is clear. You say, “The Governor’s Care Court proposal, which Terry wholeheartedly supports, is our best chance of getting the severely mentally ill off the streets and into services.” In fact, several years ago, Mr. Withrow and Stanislaus County rejected Lonny Davis’s offers to take in the homeless and severely mentally ill at a considerable savings to the county. The county’s response was that he was trolling for business. The county had a chance to help the severely mentally ill years ago and rejected it. Please read Mr. Davis’s comments at the preceding link.
One such severely mentally ill person was the late Alan Davis, who found comfort and volunteer assistance once he was brought to the Modesto Outdoor Emergency Shelter after homeless people were moved from Beard Brook Park. Then the shelter was closed and Mr. Davis went back to the streets.
Mr. Withrow’s role in moving homeless people from Beard Brook Park to MOES was a major factor in excluding Beard Brook as safe ground for homeless people. So it is that Beard Brook Park has stood empty and abandoned for three years, no longer an option for safe ground because the City of Modesto is “negotiating” a sale with Gallo Winery. Meanwhile, the physically and developmentally disabled, the mentally ill, the people without money enough to afford rent and recent victims of the new economy are thrown into the dirt, cast aside like refuse in a county with a $250 million budget surplus and an ideal city property location for safe ground conveniently eliminated from use.
Mr. Withrow is indeed fortunate to have as his friend and advocate a Wood Colony resident and graduate of Berkeley’s Boalt School of Law.
Homeless people have humble friends like Frank Ploof, Joseph Dean Dodd, Pastor Dan Lempenau, Steven Finch, Raven Partida, Christi Z Zent, Richard Anderson, Leng Nou, members of our smallest and most humble churches, and groups like “Feeding Modesto.” I will be the first to admit they need better public advocates than me, but right now I’m almost all they’ve got.
I plan to keep on.
Frances Lopez says
There are many reasons why I support Tony Madrigal’s candidacy for the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, a prominent one being that he is Latino and would be a welcome voice on this Board. He would represent our people as no one else currently on the Board cares to. (Census data shows that nearly 48% of this County is Hispanic.) In addition, Tony Madrigal comes from a family of farm workers and blue-collar laborers, so he understands our circumstances and those of our parents and grandparents. I believe he is the first in his family to graduate from a four-year college, as am I. The only other true “person of color” on the Board, Mani Grewal, was appointed by the governor. I will watch to see if he is elected and if he changes his residence to actually reside in a district he represents. As for City Councilwoman Kenoyer, I have engaged her in polite conversation at two purely social events in the past and was alarmed and embarrassed by her public bad-mouthing of certain fellow Council members and the Mayor. Perhaps senility has set in because there was no discretion.
David Rockwell says
Thanks for the excellent, point-by-point rebuttal to Mr. Byrd’s comments. I also wondered why Mr. Byrd could not bring himself to capitalize Democrat. A small point next to Mr. Bird’s defense of Terry Withrow’s unapologetic continued support of republican Donald Trump.
Bruce Frohman says
My father died of Covid in a Stanislaus County nursing home in December 2020. So, before the vaccine arrived, while Mr. Withrow was running around without a mask, while Sheriff Dirkse refused to enforce California State mandates, and President Trump was calling Covid a hoax, I lost my father.
I have to wonder whether my father would have survived had Covid been taken seriously. I don’t blame Mr. Withrow for my father’s death, but I clearly see a major failing as an elected leader. The proliferation of homeless and lack of care for the mentally ill in the community compound the failing.
I believe Mr. Withrow to be an honorable man with a conscience. However, his lack of good judgement and underperformance of county government has cost him my support. A much better county government if he wins or a loss in the election are the only means of atonement for my family’s loss.
Mr. Byrd, I don’t give a damn how good you say Mr. Withrow is. I expect better government and less political posturing. Act like a representative for the entire community and discard partisan ideology.
Lise Talbott says
I am grateful that you exist and tell it like it is, Eric.
Eric Caine says
Thank you Lise. I too am grateful that I exist.
Diedre Bush says
I salute my friend Frank Ploof, I agree with my friend Frances Lopez and I sympathize with Bruce’s pain. Mr. Withrow can run but cannot hide from his trumpist allegiance though now I understand many of the former presidents’ supporters are softening their rhetoric with a view to getting elected.
I note that Mr. Byrd made no reference to Mr. Withrow’s efforts to share the county’s substantial reserves toward any actual physical assistance to those poor souls among us, those human beings who suffer in plain sight on our streets. Maybe a commitment to regularly funding a couple of $$million to help would be a start?
I confess my belief that Mr. Withrow’s true republican values were said out loud when Jim “let other people pay the taxes” Martini left us for golden pastures.
D. Ange says
The care facility that the nice neighborhood was upset about, was going to house a large number of mentally ill folks, have very little oversight, no actual ability to control the clients, and the people who were going to open it had no experience with a facility of the size proposed, and only limited experience with one very small facility, which was why my neighbors got upset.
Our neighborhood is already dealing with a large number of mentally I’ll homeless folks, being along lateral 4
and having a nice park.
We are supportive of getting as much service as possible to this population, but the plan was not going to address the issues that accompany the population being served.
Eric Caine says
Thank you D. Ange for a clear and concise summary of the poorly planned proposal Mr. Withrow tried to sell to the good people of the La Loma neighborhood. It is telling that Mr. Byrd had to include a poorly planned failure in his much-abbreviated list of Mr. Withrow’s “accomplishments.”
Diane M. Kroeze says
So nice to hear all a point by point WHY Withrow should not be reelected. The mask issue was just another example of the disregard he has for people. He PICKS and CHOOSES what brings the most attention and votes. No real substance. Thanks. Vote for Tony Madrigal.
Lou Valero says
MAY I DIRECT YOU BACK TO THE ORIGINAL POST, WHERE TIM BYRD FIRST COMMENTED TO ERIC CAINE ABOUT TERRY WITHROW AND TONY MADRIGAL. PEOPLE LEFT COMMENTS THERE, FOR THOSE WHO HAVE YET TO READ THEM.
I COMMENTED DIRECTLY TO TIM BYRD ABOUT HIS COMMENTS, AND, ON A FEW OTHER CHOICE CONCERNS, I ASKED TIM QUESTIONS, HE MIGHT TAKE A CRACK AT ANSWERING.
WHAT I SAID TO BYRD IS APPROPO TO THIS POST AS WELL. THANK YOU, VALLEY CITIZENS FOR YOUR CHOICE COMMENTS. KEEP THEM COMING I ENJOY THE VALLEY CITIZEN BECAUSE OF ALL OF YOU.
I hope people don’t forget that sweeps are constantly happening, especially now. Unhoused folks are having their belongings thrown away so that the people enjoying their summer parks activities aren’t made uncomfortable by the
sight of them. Who is running for what is not of interest when at the end of the day, NO ONE is providing permanent housing for those in need.
I understand your perfectly legitimate thoughts: “At the end of the day, NOONE is..”
Chalze Dunger says
Im a mother to a beautiful4yr. Old girl my husband and myself have been trying to find help to het us into a house since she was born weve done the homeless program every year since she was born and we are supposed to be able to find somewhere that is no more than 80 % of our oncome which is $667 a month you cant even find a room for rent for less than $800 these days so how are we supposed to be able to find a home with the unrealistic standards the county is setting. We wish we could get into the Kansas house but were told we didnt qualify. I sure wish I could find any of the help you guys talk about for the homeless becuase woth a small child i would think we would qualify more than most but no if we inquire and let our real situation be known we gotta worry about cps taking our very well cared for daughter becuase were “homeless” its so depressing how things really are in stanislaus county.