In these curious times, let us all take a moment to laugh out loud at Oakdale, home of one of the oldest, most corrupt irrigation districts in California1.; Oakdale, which sat back and watched a juvenile delinquent hedge fund steal its groundwater for miles around, replacing some of the richest seasonal pasture in the country for more nuts2.; Oakdale, once the Ladino Clover Capital of World, once the Cowboy Capitol of the World, now just another nut-case town without identity, with water problems, and represented by a passel of Republicans at the state and federal level and former Minority Leader of the state Assembly Kristin Olsen, its new county supervisor. 3. 4. 5. But the politically slick Ms. Olsen seems to be in transition: termed out of the Assembly, shoe-horned into the supervisor seat by political slight-of-hand, starting a lobbying firm in Sacramento, ending a marriage in Riverbank, and quite possibly running for state Senate in 2018. And Rep. Jeff "Lucky" Denham,6. the aforementioned termed-out state senator, is facing concerted opposition from a circular firing squad of Democrats. State Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Ceres, is termed out next year. Heath Flora, an unknown, newcomer Republican from Ripon, on the opposite edge of the district, won a close race against Ken Vogel, a former San Joaquin County supervisor, to replace Olsen in the state Assembly.
Altogether, Republican politicians and their constituents in Oakdale have feathered a nice nest for Nathan Damigo, the Button Down Bigot.
Oakdale council argues over anti-bigotry gesture inspired by Nathan Damigo
Leaders of Oakdale – the adopted hometown of a noted white nationalist – took a stand Tuesday against hate and racism. But the gesture almost failed when two City Council members said it wasn’t necessary.
Meanwhile, someone down the road in Turlock, where Nathan Damigo attends Stanislaus State University, put adhesive stickers up in various places extolling the alt right.
Oakdale council members J.R. McCarty and Cherilyn Bairos abstained from Tuesday’s action, meaning they voted neither “yes” or “no” for a resolution “encouraging civility and condemning any action that degrades, harms or acts to suppress the freedoms or threatens the safety of others.
“My concern is telling citizens how to act and what to believe,” McCarty said. He said it’s an insult to suggest that Oakdale recast what’s already in the U.S. Constitution, and Bairos called the resolution “redundant to how we live in Oakdale.”
The resolution had been significantly watered down from one proposed two weeks earlier by activists staging an inclusion rally. All of their proposed language condemning bigotry and hate acts against LGBTQ and Jewish people had been removed and replaced with general support for “inclusion, civility and mutual respect.”
“It’s not an insult to provide reassurance to the people of Oakdale who face prejudice and racism,” said Alex Romo Carrillo, who was born and raised in town but recently moved to Merced.
Rosse Hunter urged the council to pass the resolution, because “I feel it shows leadership.” Former mayor Farrell Jackson, speaking from the audience, said “any resolution saying the city is against hate and is not racist” is “probably a good thing.”
“I want for us to take a stand and say that’s not what we’re about,” said Kathy Peixoto. She referred to negativity linking Oakdale, because of Damigo, to events such as the bloody Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville, Va., which Damigo helped organize.
He founded Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group using his Oakdale address that was heavily involved in the Charlottesville rally, although he since stepped aside to let another man run it. Damigo is a former Marine who spent four years in prison for robbing at gunpoint a Middle Eastern taxi driver in San Diego a month after returning from combat in Iraq, in 2007.
Damigo espouses the alt right in videos on his website, which sells stickers identical to those recently affixed in various spots in northeast Turlock. Sgt. Russ Holeman said it’s illegal to post such stickers on public signage such as stop signs.
Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul said the resolution would remind people of Oakdale’s goodness.
Councilman Rich Murdoch said many people urged him to reject the resolution because they “don’t need to be told to not hate. I totally agree, but I don’t think I can say it enough.”
Councilman Tom Dunlop voted with Paul and Murdoch in favor of the statement.
(1) Garth Stapley, Modesto Bee, OID dysfunction aired in court papers, Sept. 9, 2016 http://www.modbee.com/news/local/oakdale/article101010062.htm
(2) Jeff Jardine, Modesto Bee, Almond joy? Not out on Horseshoe Road, April 25, 2015, http://www.modbee.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/jeff-jardine/article...
(3) Jeff Jardine, Modesto Bee, O’Brien stacks deck in Olsen’s favor in Stanislaus supervisor race, March 12, 2016
(4) Ken Carlson, Modesto Bee, Supervisor Kristin Olsen’s new business raises questions about commitments to county, January 24, 2017, http://www.modbee.com/news/local/article128567414.html
(5) Joseph Turner, American Children First, Kristin Olsen Abandoned Kids to Pursue Love Affair with Chad Mayes, July 24, 2017, http://americanchildrenfirst.org/kristin-olsen-abandoned-kids-pursue-lov...
(6) Modesto Bee, Two prominent Stanislaus County women enter bid to unseat Jeff Denham, August 29, 2017, http://www.modbee.com/news/politics-government/article170133447.html