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.