San Ramon contribution mystery solved

On the blog of opponents of San Ramon’s Measure W, a proposed renewal of the city’s general plan and expansion of the urban growth boundary, the authors referred to a mystery $250 campaign contribution in 2009 from a Northern California farm to Councilman Dave Hudson.

Curiosity got the better of me and after some digging around, I have an answer to Save Tassajara Valley.

To start, the contribution to Hudson listed on his Form 460 from “Melo Farms” in Vina (southeast of Red Bluff) was misspelled. It is Molo Farms of Vina, a walnut and almond producer north of Chico.

Why would an almond rancher give Hudson money?

San Ramon City Manager Herb Moniz is a part-owner of Molo Farms, a 20-year family business business. Moniz did not initiate the contribution but he told me earlier today that he did not object when his family declared they wanted to demonstrate financial support for a council candidate that had supported him.

As you may recall, a previous council majority had fired Moniz. But after the city faltered under the new leadership, the council literally begged him to return. Hudson was among those who stood by Moniz.

It is unusual for a city manager to show favoritism during a council election, let alone allow anyone to make a campaign contribution tied to his name. But this was unarguably an unusual set of circumstances.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • Thanks Lisa for chasing this down. Dave Hudson was not replying to my emails on this subject. I guess he realized receiving contributions from wildly overpaid city staffers might not look so good in the sunlight. He was right, it doesn’t. 40-50% of Hudson and Livingstone’s other campaign dollars in 2009 came from developer interests like Shapell and Corrie. Now, who’s willing to trust this council with preserving the future of the Tassajara Valley? Not me, I’m voting a big NO on W.

  • John W

    Re: #2

    Doesn’t voting “No” mean trusting T-V to the county (which allowed over-development of Dougherty Valley) instead of the city? Which is worse?

  • FollowTheMoney

    #3 No it doesn’t. This land has been county land from the beginning, and it was the County that moved the Tassajara Valley outside of the Growth Boundaries in the first place in 2000 then sponsored a vote in 2006 locking it into place and requiring a county-wide vote for any changes to the County’s line. The only reason to expand an urban growth boundary is for more development.

    The idea that the County forced Dougherty Valley on San ramon is bull too – San Ramon was involved and supportive from the very beginning–the difference is that Dougherty Valley is INSIDE the urban growth boundary.

  • Steve O’Brien

    Maybe for an encore Lisa you can find out why John Shireck, owner of the Outpost, donated so much to both Hudson and Livingstone? Apparently Shireck has been after a card room license for some time in San Ramon. Can we expect that next? Also California Grand Casino in Pacheco donated to Livingstone- why would they care about San Ramon??