Some people were tricked into signing petitions for the recall of a water leader, said a Modesto-based private investigator hired by a recall opponent.
Some people asked to sign petitions were told they would help stop local water from being sold to Southern California, the investigator said in reports to his client, Oakdale-area grower Robert Frobose. In reality, the petitions urged the recall of Oakdale Irrigation District board member Linda Santos.
Deceiving people with “lies” about a subject “near and dear to all our hearts” suggests fraud, Frobose told the OID board in a heated exchange Wednesday.
“The public needs to know about this,” Frobose said.
The man told him the petition was (to) ‘prevent water from going from north to south.’ Mr. (redacted) said the word ‘recall’ was never mentioned. Mr. (redacted) told me he didn’t really read the petition and that both he and his girlfriend signed.
Al Neep, private investigator
Recall proponents last week submitted to Stanislaus County 660 signatures, and elections officials have until late December to verify them. If at least 421 represent registered voters in Santos’ southeast Oakdale Division 4, a recall election could be scheduled for May 2.
A few people told Al Neep of Jack Able & Associates Private Investigations that petition passers never mentioned the word “recall” when asking for signatures, say his reports, a copy of which was obtained by The Modesto Bee with names redacted. Two people who “didn’t really read the petition” signed, while two others familiar with OID’s political turmoil refused, the reports say.
One man was urged to sign “to keep water from being sold to Southern California,” reported Neep, a former Ceres police detective. “He told the (petitioner), ‘That’s bull----,’ and the (petitioner) then admitted that the petition was really for the recall of Linda Santos,” the report says.
Another prospective signer told Neep “she has followed the controversy surrounding OID and knew more about the issue” than the signature gatherer, and she declined. Others passing petitions said they hoped “to stop the transfer of water out of the area” or indicated it involved “shipping the water out,” Neep reported.
Recall proponent Deanne Dalrymple last week said it was mainly a grass-roots effort although some signatures came from an organization paid to gather them.
Anyone who signed saw on that paper what they were signing for.
Deanne Dalrymple, recall proponent
“It’s well known that Robert Frobose is a tenant of Linda’s who is in an active lawsuit against OID, and an outspoken supporter of hers,” Dalrymple said Thursday. She referred to a lawsuit brought by Frobose and former board member Louis Brichetto, who challenged a fallow-for-money plan because the district had not studied potential impacts to groundwater levels.
Dalrymple added, “The recall petitions that went out clearly stated the reason for the recall and Linda’s response, on both sides of the petitions. They were there for people to read. Anyone who signed saw on that paper what they were signing for.”
Recall proponents accuse Santos of favoring “friends, campaign contributors and special interests” and “put(ting) petty politics over her constituents.” After Wednesday’s board meeting, she passed out a point-by-point rebuttal saying she is trying to correct OID mismanagement. “Choosing to stick with a director who has championed our agricultural community is our best chance to retain OID’s strong water rights,” the paper says.
Garth Stapley: 209-578-2390