Twenty-five years ago, Tony Madrigal made crude remarks to a female police officer during a late-night ride-along. Around the same time, he was cited for driving while texting. At one point, he had enough such traffic violations that his license was suspended. At the time, Madrigal served as a Councilmember for the City of Santa Cruz.
Fast forward to today, when Modesto City Councilmember Tony Madrigal is running for Stanislaus County Supervisor against incumbent Terry Withrow. Withrow has dredged up those incidents, now a quarter-century old, while asking whether Madrigal’s behavior reflects, “our values.”
Those who know Withrow’s history of enthusiastic support for the man best known for “grab them by the pussy” aren’t puzzled by his double standard.
Withrow’s fealty to the former president includes routine MAGA virtue signaling by refusing to wear a mask at public meetings during a pandemic that killed more than a million American citizens. It includes Withrow’s comment, “sincere people on both sides,” about the January 6 Insurrection that resulted in at least seven deaths and over 150 injuries among local police officers in Washington D.C.
Are these our values?
Most likely, after twelve years and so few accomplishments to run on, Withrow is desperate to divert attention from his term in office — four more years than the Constitution permits presidents. He recently released a video bragging about his involvement in construction of a building that will provide housing for “15 to 20” homeless people. That leaves only 3,000 or so Stanislaus County homeless to go, double the number from 2015, when Withrow and the county launched his much-touted “Focus on Prevention” program for homelessness.
Sort of like mounting a diving expedition to repair the hole in the Titanic, the “too little, too late” photo op is doubtless because Withrow is feeling considerable pressure about burgeoning homelessness, especially since the “Focus on Prevention” program has gotten so much attention and so few results. Withrow’s role in closing the Modesto Outdoor Emergency Shelter (MOES), which got almost 500 people off the streets at a cost of $13 a day per person is another issue he’d prefer goes down the local memory hole.
Twelve years in office have made Terry Withrow a master of the Politics of Feeble Gestures. Homeless numbers rising? Let’s have a photo op and hope no one notices the bodies on the sidewalks. Need something to run on? Let’s open that Salida sheriff’s substation just before the election.
Withrow likes to brag that Stanislaus County is far better managed than the City of Modesto. He never mentions that the recent supervisors whose district encompassed the city had little interest in government and less energy. The District 4 seat that encompasses Modesto has served for years as a retirement home for tired Republican politicians with nowhere else to go. As a result, Modesto has lacked representation at the county level for over a decade.
Octogenarian Dick Monteith kept the seat warm before it was filled by an ailing Tom Berryhill when Monteith stepped down. Too sick even to campaign, Berryhill rode the family name into office just before passing away. Both men were passive rubber stampers for whatever their fellow board members put in front of them. Neither showed any interest in addressing the city’s problems with homelessness and revenue shortfalls, even when the Stanislaus County budget surplus burgeoned.
With a 70/30 local tax split that favors the county, Withrow and his fellow supervisors love to crow about their $250 million budget surplus while residents of the county’s cities step over bodies in the streets and suffer from diminished public services. Without significant change on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, things will only get worse.
Twenty-five years ago, Tony Madrigal accepted responsibility for his crude behavior and errors of judgment and continued in public service. Today, he’s running against an incumbent who thought, “Grab them by the pussy,” was perfectly okay for a presidential candidate, then signed off on a violent insurrection while members of congress were certifying the vote of the American people.
Are these our values?
My kids will eventually attend Elon Musk Maximum Security High School.
What are my values again?
Richard Anderson says
This fine piece helps me get a clearer perspective on some important realities. Especially the grand ineptitude of Supervisors Monteith then Berryhill. We need a person like Madrigal who has a heart “for the people” who will not ignore Modesto’s slum tenements and unhoused, and share more than the 70/30 local tax split with the cities that are so starved of the money needed for our cities.
Tim Byrd says
Eric, as a life-long democrat who encouraged my friend Sue to run for Mayor 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.
Lou Valero says
This is analogous to not being able to see the forest for the trees, and vice versa.
Could it be you are simply too close to Terry, and the others you mentioned
above, that you are not able to step back and see the whole picture. Terry would be the one not “defecating” on himself, in that picture, according to your descriptors, since that is how you tell them apart from one another.
Wouldn’t you say?
You could not help yourself, you had to slip out such unflattering choice of wording, to distinguish whom you and Terry view as a challenge, within the
homeless population. Such a negative smear campaign, to paint such a crude description as the ones “defecating on themselves”.
Perhaps Governor Newson chose Terry as one of the Supervisors he invited because he knew from first hand experience, or, somebody pointed out, that Withrow would have no qualms about how he could so easily place these innocent victims of mankind’s cruelty into such poor lighting. Just as you did here in your comments.
Where I am coming from is that some things are self understood and need no vivid mind games, to make a point. You did not have to go there. Yet you did. What does that say about you? And are you so certain that you are the one capable of shining a positive light on Withrow?
After all, even his own mother’s friends did not appreciate his part. Are you sure it was because of Terry taking up for those you claim he was. Could it have been they did not want a hypocrite pretending to care, when all these years NOTHING ever much amounted from his supposed effort? Eight years is a long time to gain expertise at aiding the homeless, yet, didn’t! Like you dad, I recall my grandmother would say: “either piss, or get off the pot.” Crude, yet so appropriate, for bench warmers like Terry! Don’t you think?
From my perspective all you did was expose Terry to more scrutiny because we now see him through your eyes. I hope to never see anything else through your eyes. Or, the eyes of others, you claim are in support of Withrow.
See, you never know, do you, how different people can see from such disparate perspectives?
Perhaps you want to try to explain for Terry and the other Stanislaus County Supervisors how it was that NOTHING much was ever done for those less challenging among the homeless? And, how it was that something working was ABOLISHED? Surely if time was up under the 9th Street bridge, due to an elapse of time, having to do with a tentative agreement, that PERHAPS could not be renewed, IT STANDS TO REASON alternative space HAD TO BE available.
After all we are speaking of a board of supervisors SUPPOSEDLY fully capable of doing their job
OR they would NOT have run for office, o
OR would NO LONGER WAIT to be voted out of office, they would DO the honest and right thing and step down, right?
I can just hear you now, when in polite conversation, behind closed doors, of course, letting your true thoughts out. WHAT are you capable of saying about us who do not agree with you about Withrow? We are another challenge, right?
Men such as you DO FIND YOURSELVES wondering WHY a politician would risk a political career, (aka) risk political suicide, when merely in “Modesto”. You meant, of all places, didn’t you, Tim Byrd? NOT even in Terry’s own district, right, Byrd? Who does that, after all, isn’t that what you meant? WHAT politician bothers to do more than what is absolutely necessary, right? If even doing WHAT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY, right, Tim?
It is because of people who think like you that fresh perspective needs to be voted in to fill the empty stale seat at the table, Withrow
vacated, a long, long time ago, when, and where, it came to truly helping the houseless in THIS county, the county seat, and elsewhere, right, Byrd?
Come on, try to see it through fresh lenses. Your boy failed his own County, and his own county seat. We just CANNOT condone such frivolity and call that just.
I am certain Governor Newsom will get along without Terry. Just as Stanislaus county will, and, Modesto will.
And, as for Tony we will be keeping a sharp eye out for those vultures who would want a major piece of his hide and of Wood Colony. Tony would not dare side in with them, because that would expose him, if he had any thoughts so heinous.
JOHN BORBA says
Democrats have run this State and most of our Counties into the ground. The legalizing of drugs and decriminalization of offenders are all Democratic policies.