State

Jardine: Two candidates' endorsement listings earn no gold star

From the e-mails and voice-mails:

HMMMMM ... -- Candidates in two political races last week posted the same basically accurate but somewhat misleading headlines on their Web sites, each proclaiming the support of "Gold Star Parents."

Gold Star parents are those whose children were killed in wars.

Kurt Vander Weide, running for the 25th Assembly District seat, and Sheriff Adam Christianson both listed endorsements in that manner.

On the surface, it would appear the Gold Star Parents organization endorsed them. But you have to read the text to understand the endorsements come from individuals, who certainly have the right to endorse candidates. There is no organizational endorsement from Gold Star parents because no such organization exists locally.

Michael Anderson Sr., who supports both men, said no group of Gold Star parents met to interview candidates or make endorsements.

Vander Weide's Web site claims "the support of several Gold Star Parents in the 25th District." It lists three: Michael Anderson Sr., his wife, Angela, and Brent Layton.

In reality, there are twice as many candidates running for that assembly seat as there are Gold Star parents listed supporting Vander Weide.

If a Gold Star parents' organization existed here and did interview the assembly candidates, it seems Bill Conrad -- a 30-year military man who recently completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan and is the only Assembly candidate with military service -- might have been at or near the top of the list.

Conrad said he didn't want to use war deaths for political gain and declined to comment further.

Anderson said he made the endorsement because Vander Weide works for Congressman George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, whose office has been supportive and respectful of Gold Star families.

And beneath the headline "Gold Star Parents Endorse" on Christianson's campaign Web site, Anderson wrote the text that began, "As one of Stanislaus County's Gold Star families, we (he and his wife) want to offer our full support and endorsement for Sheriff Adam Christianson. Adam has stepped forward and reached out to the local families that have lost a child due to the ongoing conflicts abroad."

Gold Star parents. Accurate? Basically. Misleading? Certainly.

SHADES OF GRAY -- Some readers might remember Obispo Gray, a man of 19 known aliases who for a time housed 25 registered sex offender parolees, in a house zoned for one offender, along north Modesto's Kiernan Avenue. The state paid him $575 per month per offender. He was arrested on perjury charges and pleaded to a felony count last summer, doing some county jail time.

Gray is back in jail after being arrested in Tuolumne County over the weekend. A warrant issued in Stanislaus County, on a complaint by the California Department of Health Services, charges him with grand theft. Sheriff's deputies brought him back to Modesto, where his bail is set at $10,000.

According to the warrant, Gray claimed disabilities that required a wheelchair. The state paid three residents of the sex-offender house a total of $13,370 in 2008 to provide in-home support services for Gray. But when interviewed by state officials, the offenders/caretakers said Gray used the wheelchair only when a social worker would visit. And when he was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail in April 2009, Gray walked in and required no special medical needs, the complaint states.

ALONG CAME A SPIDER -- One of the more unusual items on the Stanislaus County supervisors' collective plate today: The Denver Museum of Nature & Science wants permission to camp in Frank Raines Regional Park to trap camel spiders, also known as sun scorpions or, for Latin speakers, Arachnida solifugae, for research. They want to trap two to 10 of these predatory bugs, working mostly at night. The county's Parks and Recreation Department supports the efforts if the Denver folks can meet some conditions. Among them, they must get a valid scientific collection permit from the state Department of Fish and Game. Think of it as a trout stamp for scorpions.

Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at 578-2383 or jjardine@modbee.com.

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