Saturday, December 27, 2008

The three stooges strike again

Friday December 26, the Sun Post did an article about another "special" closed door meeting that was held by the Lathrop City Council on Saturday, December 20. This was the second special meeting in less than a week under questionable circumstances. I heard about the meeting and expected to see something about it in Monday's Manteca Bulletin, but the topic and the outcome must have been deemed non-newsworthy by them because there hasn't been a mention of it in the daily paper. You'd think spending $1.5 million in taxpayer money might rate a little higher on the newsworthiness scale than spending $250 on a party. While the Bulletin wrote a lengthy article about Lathrop's fondness for throwing receptions and parties, they've been silent on the latest shenanigans engineered by Councilman Robert Oliver and one of Lathrop's biggest developers TCN Properties (Tom and Cathie Luckey).

As reported by the Sun Post, Councilmen Oliver, Dhaliwal and Mateo voted to pay TCN Properties more than $1.52 million to complete a project that was originally negotiated to cost $1.2 million. Mayor Kristy Sayles and Vice Mayor Martha Salcedo voted no. According to Mayor Sayles, TCN is having financial problems and so the council voted to help them out by giving them a few hundred thousand extra for fulfilling their contract with the city. Sounds like the Lathrop ATM machine is still in operation thanks to the three stooges.

The Luckeys were pleased with the 3-2 vote to pay them the extra money and thanked Councilmen Oliver and Dhaliwal who negotiated the deal which reportedly includes some concessions to keep TCN "in the black." Once again, rookie councilman Chris Mateo sided with the Waterboy to stage a rushed vote on an issue favorable to local developers involving taxpayer money.

Some things to ponder: We've got the special meeting Oliver called to push through the hiring of a developer's employee as city manager and now the special meeting to approve a contract to pay money that Oliver says is owed to a developer (despite the city saying TCN owes them). Who's being represented? You, the average citizen? or special interests?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lathrop citizens enjoy "party politics"

Here's a view of the infamous "waste of public money" cake. If you look closely, you'll see it's not even a cake, it's a space-station like conglomeration of cupcakes. That saves money from having to cut it, provide plates, etc. On the sides you can see some of those "donut" balls. None of this is any significant expense. Yet the Manteca Bulletin finds fault with this "extravagance!" Sounds like someone has run out of things to criticize.

Maybe the decorative icing is the problem? But how expensive can that be? Apparently you can get a cake inscribed with happy birthday Adolf Hitler for a few dollars at Wal-Mart.
I've noticed this is a common "complaint" or attack. The uninformed complain about some tiny insignificant expense and never complain about the vast waste of tax dollars being spent somewhere else. Sort of like what Bastiat called the "seen vs. the unseen." The "seen" is complained about but it's usually the "unseen" that is more important.

I normally hate the argument that something is such a small expense it doesn't matter -- after all, every penny does count. But keep things in perspective: in the time it takes you to walk from the back of the room to the podium or fill out a purple complaint form speaker slip, the city spends more money than on that plate of cupcakes. It would probably cost more to stop the party than to have it.

Minor expenses are important but the distinction here is that it provides some public benefit. Note in the photo at right citizens get to meet their elected leaders. Shown in the background is the extravagant punch fountain -- which was actually a cheap plastic thing that ran out of punch about 5 minutes into the event. I couldn't fill a thimble with what was dribbling out of it.

The Bulletin writer screeches about "throwing a party without sending an invitation to those who foot the bill, namely the taxpayers." Au contraire -- the reception was published in advance and the doors were thrown open at 6 pm and anyone could come and partake in the goodies. You, the taxpayer, were invited and people did come by.

Instead of complaining about a plate of cupcakes worry about the millions being spent keeping land developers, civil servants and union bosses happy.

Instead of complaining about inviting us to a party let's ask why other cities like Manteca have their parties in secret. They have them, but we're never invited. Maybe they learned that if you invite the tax payers to the party someone will invariably complain about the "waste" and extravagance.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Road to Serfdom

Here is the economics lesson from Friedrick Hayek in the cartoon form I mentioned at the Manteca City Council meeting. (It was previously mentioned in the entry on 5 Dec.)

Lathrop politics as usual

The Sun Post did an article Friday, December 12, featuring Joe and two other political activists in the area, Georgianna Reichelt and J. "Chaka" Santos. I'd put a link to the article here, but the Sun Post hasn't been online for a couple months. You remember Santos, the angry mayoral candidate whose frequent outbursts at Lathrop city council meetings make him the person I'd most like to see voted off the island. I think the most interesting thing out of the entire article is the information that the Sun Post interviewed Santos in the offices of TCN Properties, the developer who is rumored to have funded much of the vicious campaign to unseat Mayor Kristy Sayles in November. The article doesn't say why Santos was interviewed in their offices (does he work there?) but it does say that Santos doesn't see his involvement with them as a "conflict of interest." Hmm.

The last Lathrop city council meeting was a festive occasion compared to the previous one. The mayor and new city council members were sworn in, everyone's families were there. New guy Chris Mateo seemed totally shocked and in disbelief that he had actually won the election and was almost speechless. I met Mr. Mateo in person two days later at the Lathrop Christmas tree lighting and he still seemed in shock, though he was very nice and friendly and was even able to name an economist! I hope Mr. Mateo is an independent thinker and doesn't get ensnared into the dirty politics that plague Lathrop.

That might be too much to hope for.

Word on the street is that Councilmen Oliver, Dhaliwal and Mateo are are in a big hurry to hire a new city manager. Their choice is Glenn Gebhardt, a former city employee who, since 1999, has worked for the group behind River Islands development headed by Susan Dell'Osso, another of Lathrop's landed gentry developers and a friend of Laura Thimler.

So let's see. You have a dissenter and bully regularly attending council meetings, who has some kind of ties to TCN Properties, a big developer who has made no secret of the fact that they feel they have been treated badly by the Lathrop city council. Now you have an employee of another big developer in the running for city manager and there's some kind of urgency to hire him.

I think whenever there is any kind of hurry to get something approved in the absence of a real emergency, that it's usually to get something done before anyone has a chance to question it or think about it. Make an end run around any objections before they can occur. The waterboy strategy. Mateo has been on the city council less than two weeks but he's already been corralled by Oliver into pushing an early vote to hire a new city manager.

The next Lathrop city council meeting is Tuesday, December 16 starting at 5pm with the closed session regarding the hiring of the city manager. The regular meeting starts at 7pm.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Main screen turn on.

This is a view inside the school district's new office building. I was just joking earlier about there being a penthouse control room -- but now I actually got to see this!

Top picture is the foyer outside the superintendent's office. I was expecting Mr. Messer to bark out for Dee to "open a hailing frequency to Lathrop High" and put them "on screen!"

If you notice, the display is colorful and on the left depicts some kind of schedule of meetings, with a news crawl below that (general news, like you see on CNN or Fox news); the right side has video of some local event, below that is a map of the building and an animated "you are here" symbol; below that is the weather report and clock and calendar. All electronic. All those feeds aren't cheap either!

Pictured below is the first floor common area. Shown is school board trustee Nancy Teicheira(L) getting some guidance from the screen. I did ask about the cost of this boondoggle and how the district could afford such a thing and yet couldn't videotape the meetings and she just "shrugged" and nodded I think in some agreement.

(Darn I had the shutter on 1/1000th from outdoors that's why the screen looks a little odd but it's identical to the one on the 3rd floor)

Friday, December 05, 2008

A tree lights in Lathrop

I was hoping to get a picture of Mayor Sayles throwing a big knife switch with sparks flying as she lit the Lathrop Christmas tree, but that wasn't in the plan. I was told some guy in the back "plugged it in" at the right time. But it worked. And as you can see there was a tree and a party with lots of free goodies. I was told by City Clerk Caldeira that I must find a spot to see that star at the top of the tree. They were very proud of that star.

I also got a chance to speak with the new guy, Councilman Chris Mateo. He was easy to talk to, open and answered every question, no matter how dumb. Sorry I didn't have a video.

He said his reason for wanting to be on the council was to "improve the quality of life" in Lathrop. I asked how might he do that. He mentioned "crime." I asked if he thought Lathrop had a lot of crime and he said "no." So then I asked why does he want to [expend resources as a priority] reduce it? He was quick with an answer that the crime rate was "non-zero." Hmm. I may have met my match in answering dumb questions.

To be elected, he said he went door to door and met people. He expressed how exhausting his campaign was.

Next I hit him with the same question we asked the other candidates, "who's your favorite economist?" And without missing a beat he responded "Galbraith?" John Kenneth Galbraith? Eww..., sorry, that wasn't the right answer. The correct answer was Milton Friedman but I would have accepted Ludwig von Mises, Friedrick Hayek or Henry Hazlett or even Ronald Reagan or Adam Smith. But he still scores higher than most because he was able to actually spit out the name of an economist. I asked why didn't he just pick John Maynard Keynes? He said that was another of his favorites. Eek! I mentioned (half kidding) in other words "we're doomed."

There is hope though because he did express general support for the mayor's initiative to loosen the restrictions on businesses displaying signs and banners advertising their services. He said that was something to be open to because "the economic times are tough." He's right about that!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Enquiring minds want to know

Dennis Wyatt's column in Tuesday's Bulletin "Sexual orientation & age should not be campaign fodder," was a potentially juicy read but unless you've followed Manteca politics for the past 25 years, you'd be lost. Wyatt makes insider references to warring "factions" on the last city council but only names some of the parties involved and we're left to wonder who he's not naming. Come on Dennis, don't be coy, enquiring minds want to know!

I've lived in Manteca over 20 years and though I didn't follow local politics closely until about 5 or 6 years ago, I remember there being a lot of turmoil before Mayor Willie Weatherford and his posse gained power. Much of the disagreement seemed to be over Woodward Park and Big League Dreams. No doubt big developer money helped get Weatherford and the rest elected and with the appointment of Woodward Park's biggest supporter, Jack Snyder, to an open seat on the council those two huge projects sailed through with unanimous votes. For years we've heard the Bulletin praise this council for their ability to "get along" and "get things done." They've gotten things done all right.

I don't want a city council that gets along and gets things done. When the government gets things done, that means they're spending your money (our tax dollars). Debby Moorhead is the first new council member in 6 years and I think the voters made a wise choice. It was time for "new blood" on the governing board and if I can step into my feminist shoes here for a moment, it was time for a woman to be on the council.

Wyatt's column brings up the question of ageism in the election since some candidates repeatedly mentioned Snyder's age. Though that probably did factor into some voters' decisions, anyone who knows Snyder or has watched him in council meetings knows that he is perfectly capable of serving in public office and that some of the wisest comments from the dais have been spoken by him. It was just time for someone new.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sayles, Salcedo, and some guy sworn in

Mayor Kristy Sayles was sworn into a second term as the leader of Lathrop, California. The mood was festive. Unlike the cheapskates at Manteca who held their swearing in ceremony at what appeared to be a museum quality replica of Hitler's underground bunker, there was a nice spread of sandwiches and cocktail shrimp, punch, cake and coffee at the Lathrop soirée.

Shown at right, Mayor Kristy Sayles flanked by her minister(L) and husband Thomas (R) after taking the oath of office. (Councilman Sonny Daliwahl is shown in the background.)

In addition, Martha Salcedo, previously appointed to the council by Mayor Sayles, was overwhelmingly approved by the voters in her first election. Salcedo takes her place on the council for another four years.

The other guy is believed to be Christopher Mateo, a dark horse candidate who somehow appeared on the ballot and received 0.51 percent more votes than the incumbent. He replaces Councilman Steve Dresser on the council. Good luck!

Moorhead coronated amid electrified throng

Manteca City Council: "Debby" Moorehead installed Monday, 1 Dec 2008.

The council chamber was packed with people and and the crowd seemed excited by the prospect of getting a new leader.

There were so many cameras and flashes going off, the photo above was taken by me but illuminated by another photographer's flash! (most likely came from Hime Romero of the Manteca Bulletin) This means the two pictures had to be taken just about simultaneously.

I've been told people watching at home could sense the excitement. Councilman Moorhead has her work cut out for her. Good luck!

Oh, I almost forgot, Councilman "Steve" Debrum was also re-oathanized.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Code enforcement officer gets $1.01 million in 6 years

Last month I made a "prediction" that the cost savings in the police re-organization would evaporate "in a few months." I was wrong. It only took two weeks.

The chief discovered a "mistake" in the original request. He didn't mean to say the code enforcement guy was to get a raise from $141,905 to $156,500. Did I say only 156K? No, that's an insult! His raise was supposed to be to $169,900!

That's over a $ 1million for the next 6 years. And is:
  • 5 or 6 times the pay of a soldier fighting in Iraq. 3 or 4 times the pay of his commanding officer. Several thousand more than the General in charge of the whole operation in Iraq and on whose decisions rests the fate of civilizations.
  • More than a U.S. Congressman or Senator
  • Above the average pay for a doctor (not a specialist), a judge, teachers, (but about on par for the already overpaid administrator of the entire Manteca Unified School District but at least he has the responsibility for the quality of education for over 21,000 students)
  • More than the average working person in Manteca ($35,528)
I could go on... I'll spare you. The qualifications for the "code enforcement supervisor" seems to be he had to go to high school. And perhaps a 3 month summer camp of training. And how many does he "supervise?" You got me; so far as I can tell it's zero, he supervises himself.

The issue will be discussed tonight at 7 pm at City Hall, 1001 W Center.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What isn't hard to them?

Both the Manteca Bulletin and the Sun Post have spouted the standard cliché: "The schools are 'facing' budge cuts and it's hard to choose what to cut."

It's not hard.

I attended one of those budget cutting brainstorming sessions and about half way though the exercises (breaking up into groups, listing priorities, etc) I realized that no one in the room knew what we were trying to accomplish. We were trying to save $10 million. But ten million out of what? Sure it's "hard" to do something when you have no idea what you're trying to do!

So I buttonholed Superintendent Messer, "What's the size of this budget that we need to save ten million from?" I mean, if the budget is $11 million, then cutting $10 million pretty hard! Messer had to think about this but eventually came up with a rough figure of $170 million. So ok, we need to save 10 million out of $170 million? Simple, I suggested, "why don't we just cut everything by 6 or 7 percent and that would do it." Messer looked at me like I had just given out the secret of the H-bomb. He stammered something about that being simplistic but had to admit "that would work."

He's damn right it would! (the actual cut needed is 5.9%. But not all costs are payroll costs so it would be a little more maybe 7 to 9 percent. But cut some waste with it and it's back to 5% or less, and so on.)

During the presentation Messer said part of the problem is "declining enrollment." Fewer students -- less money. (Schools in California are paid for each student that actually attends school each day, like a head count. Called ADA or average daily attendance.)

That lead to this Q&A session with Mr. Messer:

Q: You said declining enrollment was bad?
A: Right, we get less money.
Q: So if enrollment goes up would that be good?
A: ehhh...
Q: I mean, we were told a few years ago we have to vote for the Measure M bond tax increases because the "problem" was increasing enrollment -- that there were more and more kids going to school -- So we need more money to build more schools. So is increasing enrollment is bad?
A: eh.. yes!
Q: So enrollment going up is bad and enrollment going down is bad?
A: Well, yes...
Q: Ok, so is this a fair statement of your position? No matter what happens it's bad? Is there anything that can happen that wouldn't be bad? How about (I made a flat hand gesture) if enrollment doesn't change at all?
A: That would be "ok."
Q: Because the bureaucracy doesn't like change of any type?
A: Yes, because of the state bureaucracy...
(note I didn't say "state," I was meant at every level, including the school administration. But lets move on.)
A:... because of the planning, and kids don't come in neat packages of 20. If kids came in neat packages of 20 then maybe it wouldn't matter. But if we have 23 kids, what do we do, we have to open a new class just for 3 kids....
Q: How many classrooms are there?
A: ehhh... a lot
Q: In theory, there should be no more than 12 classes of odd numbers of kids, one for each grade and even then... (I started yammering on the math which proves that there's no way that can really be a problem...)
A: Then we'd have to do busing. You don't like buses do you?
Q: (I thought I was asking the questions!) Well, I like buses better than some of the alternatives!
(we move on to the next subject)

During this workshop, various groups such at the teachers, yard monitors, janitors, bus drivers, etc were there and each group made suggestions to present to the group. This led to my last question:

Q: Do you think there's any chance of this process working?
A: ah, well...
Q: By "process" I mean this meeting -- where each group gets to make a suggestion to cut someone other than me.
A: (laughs) That might be what happens. That's where we'll have the third level meetings.
Q: I mean, each group is making suggestions that are essentially "cut the other group." Why not have each group stand up and tell us why they shouldn't be cut?
A: That might ... sort of... happen!

With that cryptic comment hanging out there we moved on...
Note that if all that's needed is to cut everyone's pay by 7%, that's less than the last two raises everyone got. So, worst case scenario, everyone could work for 2006 wages. Horror of horrors. How will they cope?

That suggestion of course violates the tenets of the American Labor Religion. (Thou shalt not ever accept any cut in pay no matter how modest) At some point Mr. Messer did agree that he would give up his $600 / month car allowance (no kidding!) and he would readily accept a cut in pay -- he wouldn't mind, but he wasn't sure they could do that because some people are already making so little, etc. He's just looking out for the little guy I was told.

The school district isn't a "jobs program." And how does a bus driver survive on $40,000/ year?
In a 2001 article about education Scientific American used California as an example of how NOT to do "class size reduction" -- it was money down a rat hole.

Also, last month the board decided to save some pennies and stop videotaping the meetings. The public doesn't need to know anything; just trust them. But at the same meeting they voted to keep paying school employees even when they aren't at their jobs if they are serving the nation in the military. I could see keeping them on the roles for when they get back, but paying them for years? Since when is it the mission of the school district to fund foreign wars? That's the fed's job!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Thanksgiving" in America

Happy Thanksgiving.

Here's a picture from my short lived cooking show a few years ago I think. Hope you have better luck with your turkey.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Reversal of fortune?

This just in -- Current unofficial election results so far:

Manteca City Council:
DEBBY MOORHEAD 5977 18.73%
JACK C. SNYDER 5937 18.61%

Lathrop City Council:
STEVE DRESSER 1279 22.59%

Tread carefully newsman

The Sun-Post reports on the mysterious "Mantecans for Safe Streets committee" with its unknown members and secret contributions. They promise to reveal the members and their activity in the fullness of time.

Anyone remember this is exactly the same thing that luncheon with the developers said before the election? The one where they practically snatched the list from the hand of the reporter (he got one photograph). They more or less told him tread carefully newsman! and it is unwise to inquire...

Which reminded me of this episode from the 2004 national election, kindly provided by Comedy Central:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Reality TV comes to Lathrop

I love TV reality shows. I can't help it...I've been hooked since I first saw Survivor eight years ago. Something about the interaction of human beings in stressful situations provides more drama and entertainment than almost anything else on TV. I don't watch every reality show that's on, but I usually check them all out at least once and only the best (in my opinion) get on my "must watch" list. My favorites are Survivor, Top Chef, and Project Runway.

Recently I've added the Lathrop City Council meetings to my viewing schedule. The drama and theatrics are stuff great TV is made of. Tuesday night's meeting was a classic. This first meeting after the widely publicized nasty and vindictive election campaign is a "must see" for those of you who like reality TV. In a show of solidarity, the losers in the Lathrop election stood up and castigated Mayor Kristy Sayles for everything they could possibly think of, most of which the mayor and council have no control over and the rest had no business at a government meeting and was just sour grapes.

Loser J. "Chaka" Santos made a loud and disrespectful 5-minute rant at the mayor and others on the council and city staff. He is a bully and, frankly, scares the pants off of me. Menacing in tone and demeanor, he challenged the mayor to go "one on one" with him, "just you and me." He was talking about another election where it would be just him and Sayles, but it sounded like he was calling her out for a street fight. He should be ashamed of himself for showing such disrespect to city officials at a public meeting and he's no role model for the students he brought with him. I don't care what your feelings are about the person holding the office, but show some respect to the office itself. While his cohorts might have found his antics amusing (loser Rosalinda Valencia hooted and guffawed throughout the meeting from the front row), most people found his behavior disgraceful. He reminded the mayor several times that 62% of voters didn't vote for her. Can I remind "Chaka" that 74% didn't vote for him? and even more didn't vote for Robert Oliver.

Councilman Oliver, who lost his bid for the mayor's seat, joined in the theatrics by bringing a bucket filled with water bottles and labeled "waterboy" to the meeting and displaying it on the dais next to his microphone. Oliver is still whining about the campaign flyer Sayles sent out calling him that and told a reporter at the meeting that Sayles "needs to be held accountable." Can we say "hypocrite?" No wonder he lost.

Thanks to Joe for the video clip.

Submitted for your disapproval

Citizen evidently doesn't approve. From Tuesday night's meeting of the Lathrop City Council:

If you're thinking, "what does this have to do with the city government of Lathrop?" join the club. Manteca Live is offered as a public service and our contact information is on the front page.

By the way, that is the former City Clerk of Lathrop. Which could explain why esoteric communication tools such as "e-mail" and "web sites" are mysteries. She's not the City Scientist you know.

I don't know why I didn't think to get the address 'cause that sounds like a real money maker.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

School board cuts video

The Manteca Unified School District has decided to stop broadcasting video of the school board meetings. It seems that after spending more than $13 million on the new administration building and meeting hall, they can't afford to move the video camera to the new building. They said it might cost as much as $90,000 to run the cameras.

The board decided that the expenditure was just "too much" and if they broadcast the meetings, they would have to fire a teacher. They actually said that.

They didn't think there would be any inconvenience to the public or any issue with keeping the public informed of their government's actions. They said an audio recording of the meetings will still be available if anyone wishes to simply drive down to the district office complex and provide some compatible multi-layered optical media and they would be happy to make a copy for you.

Here is a rare video from the superintendent's control room located in the penthouse of the new administration building showing the decision making process; I think obtained by hacking into a Chinese satellite transmission.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lathropians restless

The Lathrop City Council has become the 2nd best show in town. Here citizens rise to express their feelings on who's golfing with whom, go into tirades about their disappointments, interrogate the mayor on mysterious web sites, and so forth. hmm.

They should rename the "citizen's forum" to something more appropriate like "find-a-reason-why-it's-the-mayor's-fault-for-whatever's-bugging-me forum." One participant blamed the mayor for the valley's levees and for FEMA and the California Water board. I thought he was going to blame her for Global Warming® next. Another blamed the mayor for the high school's flushing problems and for the road left incomplete when a builder evaporated. I have to check the notes for the rest of the laundry list of complaints -- but I could have sworn one rose up and wanted to present spectral evidence. I couldn't decipher most of the other expressions of vague displeasure.

Frankly, it's a disgrace. And by the way, the elected leaders have titles you know. They are "councilman" or "council member" and "mayor" or "your honor" - not "kristy" or "martha" or "young lady."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chief's assessment: Manteca Police

From the report to the Manteca City Council, 23 Oct 2008:

You can read the report for yourself here, but let's simplify things. The chief has done his first 90-day assessment and has some suggestions for how to improve the police department.

First, the chief has observed that most of the calls to the police are nonsense. Calling them "priority 3" and "priority 2," he figures they'll try to get there "in about an hour" or so. (Like having a pair of eyeglasses made at Lenscrafters. Which would be handy if a thief steals your glasses, you can have a new pair made before the police arrive.) For things the dispatcher guesses are a little more urgent, they'll try to get help out in about the time it takes to get a pizza - about 30 minutes.

Well, all this running around dealing with nonsense has been making it hard to respond to "priority 1" situations. He'd like to respond to these in 3 minutes or less - about the time it takes in the outside civilized world to call the police. The "call the police" level priority are dire situations where someone's life is at stake. The chief notes with some pride that the Manteca Police have failed to respond to these life threatening situations only about one in ten times (90.2 percent response rate). That means if you're ever in desperate need of police help, there's a 9 out of 10 chance you might survive. Those are "pretty good" odds -- if you're a gambler. Hats off!

As an aside, there's a certain conflict between the stated goals of the police and this classification system. On page one, one of the goals is listed as "pro-active suppression" of crime; crime prevention in other words. But the definition of "pizza level" calls is "situations that are likely to develop into true emergencies soon" (priority 1). Well, if the goal is to be proactive in preventing situations from developing, why delay responding to situations likely to become emergencies soon? You'd almost think creating or letting emergencies develop was one of the goals.

The chief has also decided that we can save some money because most of those nonsense calls really don't need a "police officer" to respond. So his plan is to fire two police officers (damn waste of good money) and give police clothing to three people and have them respond to the nonsense calls. These "Costumed Simulated Officers" (CSOs) will be taught to act like, talk like and appear to be police officers. Or something like that.

No one can say the chief lacks creative thinking outside the box!

The next problem is there's too much overtime being used by shift supervisors. His creative solution is to promote six "police officers II" to "police corporal." Even the corporals are officers now. Where are the enlisted men? Never mind. The interesting part is how the "police officer II" is a matrix level 38A-2 and the sergeant is matrix level 46A-2. The new "corporal," he suggests, should find his place in the matrix at 40A-2. That's one hell of an organizational chart! I pity the poor guy at level 01A-1 since he obviously has several thousand supervisory positions above him.

The last part of the report deals with the "code enforcement officer" who is tasked with responding to complaints "in a few days" (the time it takes to get your cat spayed or neutered). I guess that's really a low priority. But never mind, he's being promoted to "code enforcement supervisor." This fixes the problem of lack of supervision in the code enforcement department. He supervises a team consisting of ... himself. But there is some plan to bring in someone for him to supervise at some unspecified time in the future.

The future looks bright!

By the way, anyone care to guess the compensation packages that go along with these promotions? I'll let you think about that for a while and put that in a future dispatch. I'll have to end this entry here on the grounds that it's too depressing.

The proposed changes will be discussed at tonight's city council meeting, 7 pm at city hall.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Doug Bandow gives economics lesson

If you've been looking for some free economics education, here's your chance. The lecture series is co-sponsored by the Cortopassi Family Foundation and the Pacific College Republicans and you are invited to attend and even ask questions if you wish. Pictured is last Tuesday's lecturer, Doug Bandow, a "Bastiat Scholar in Free Enterprise" and former Cato Institute scholar (don't ask).

Ok, you had to ask. Bandow has been criticized because among his supporters was an infamously corrupt Washington lobbyist. But all of these talking heads are paid by someone who supports their viewpoints and wants to help them spread the word. But in this case since the lobbyist was highly unliked it sparked complaints. Maybe unwise. Or not. Who knows.

I didn't know about this "controversy" at the time but it does explain a few things. First, I did get the feeling he was ready to jump out of his skin when I approached to ask a question. (Fortunately my disarming good looks let me slip past the handlers.)

I asked two questions. First, I wondered how he thought the young people received his message of the value of the free market? He hoped so but said we should ask the young people. Good point. In the next round of questions I asked about "global warming."

This is where I realized that although I loved the lecture and it was most informative, Bandow, like a lot of Californians suffers from "CPS" - Californian Political Syndrome. One of the characteristics of this disease is when a person can't answer a simple question or express a viewpoint without first trying to ascertain what you want to hear.

My question about the climate was met with questions and back and forth to try to determine my opinion of the matter. As if there's some rule that you aren't allowed to disagree with anyone so you have to figure out what that person believes and then answer the question accordingly.

As an aside, I first noticed this syndrome when talking to the guy who was doing the "restaurant" study in Manteca. And his assistant. Both of them simply refused to answer any question on any controversial topic without first asking what I thought. But once I expressed an opinion, they would enthusiastically agree.

For the record after going back and forth Bandow agreed that his position could be summed up as "maybe the earth is warming a little, but it's nothing to worry about and we should just deal with it instead of trying to destroy civilization in a vain attempt to stop any climate changes." Which he could have said right away without all the questions and answers. Maybe that's CPS or maybe I just looked like Jack Abramoff's brother in law.

The lecture was worthwhile and I even got a little book for free. You might want to mark your calendar. The next lecturer will be Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute. Whatever that is. Hm. From the looks of the website I might have a few questions. She will speak on Markets and Morality at 6 pm December 2 at the Pacific Theater, McCaffrey Center at the University of the Pacific. For more info contact or 800-526-7022 ext 147.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans' Day

I forget if I shared this before.

From: The Best Years of Our Lives, 1946.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lathrop voters reject vicious campaign

The election is over and Lathrop's Mayor Kristy Sayles won handily in a 4-way race but the sour grapes and animosity continue. According to the Manteca Bulletin, Sayles' bitter foes are calling the paper and demanding that they look into the mayor's "sins." They can't fathom how someone as "immoral" as they claim Sayles is, could have won a second term. They apparently also can't fathom how their venom and vicious attacks helped her get re-elected.

How many of us can say that we've led exemplary lives, free of mistakes and embarrassments, that would withstand the scrutiny that Sayles and her family endured for many months? She lied about her age when she was 16 or 17, she wrote a check that bounced when she was 20. She's been married 4 times. Does any of that disqualify her for public office? No. She accepted thousands of dollars in campaign donations 2 years ago from developers but didn't roll over and do what they demanded. Should she return the donations as some have suggested? Wouldn't that indicate that the developers only donated to her in expectation of favors in return? Is that what Lathrop wants?

Obviously not. Her detractors say that she didn't win a "majority" so the vote was really "against" Sayles, not for her. In America, votes "against" a candidate don't count, only votes "for" and more Lathrop citizens voted for Sayles than her closest competition. Robert Oliver and John Rock, both of whom were running against Sayles, denounced the website that tried to take her down, but only in the last week or so before the election. Why didn't they denounce it earlier? Both had been enthusiastic posters on the site in the beginning, joining in and encouraging others to "burn the witch" for her sins. Did they think people wouldn't remember? I find it particularly distasteful (and hypocritical) that Oliver is crying that Sayles ran a "negative" campaign and called him "waterboy." Boo hoo.

The second highest vote-getter in the race for mayor was J. "Chaka" Santos. Though Santos didn't participate in the smear website, he was very vocal in his criticism of the mayor on issues but came across to the public as being a very angry person. People might respond well to anger if there's been some grave injustice and the angry candidate is rallying to right it, but I don't think people thought Sayles had done such a bad job in the past. Santos' anger and theatrics at city council meetings didn't sit well with most voters.

In the end, it was Kristy Sayles who prevailed. Maybe it wasn't a landslide, but she certainly beat her closest rivals by a resounding margin. The citizens of Lathrop rejected the brutal and anonymous campaign against her. They also rejected the quieter campaign against Martha Salcedo, city council member who was called Sayles' stooge and accomplice. Salcedo won re-election hands down. In contrast, incumbent Steve Dresser was beaten by newcomer Chris Mateo but only by a few votes so we'll have to wait for the final results on that one.

I can't help but think that the vicious campaign against Sayles has made her a stronger person and probably a better mayor. She kept calm and held her head high when so-called friends and colleagues shunned her because of embarrassing gossip posted on an anonymous website.

My mother (bless her soul) used to tell me that whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger and that adversity builds character and my mother was always right.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Manteca Bulletin's pit bull still attacking on election day

Shame on the Manteca Bulletin for running another hit piece on Lathrop's Mayor Kristy Sayles on election day. Continuing her recent string of attacks on the mayor, assassin Rose Albano-Risso does a story on how happy the city's union (SEIU) workers are now that city manager Yvonne Quiring has been terminated. She even quotes chief ignorant villager Laura Thimler, girlfriend of the mayor's uncle and former mayor Steve McKee, giving her opinion of the firing as if that is somehow newsworthy or relevant. Thimler has made many vicious and defamatory attacks on Sayles on stemming from a very personal feud.

The rest of the city council who were interviewed apparently have no control over what decisions are or were made in the past, blaming everything on Sayles. You'd think Lathrop was run by a dictator instead of a 5-person council. Not a one of them takes any blame for the the firing of the last two city managers in as many years, for the half million dollar sexual harrassment lawsuit settlement to former city clerk Nancy Rustigian or for the firing of Matt Browne. According to them, Sayles did it all herself. Amazing!

Who the heck is running things in Lathrop? Sounds like the developers and unions if you ask me. No matter how the election turns out today, Lathrop has a lot of healing to do if that is even possible.

One might also wonder who is running the Manteca Bulletin these days...Dennis Wyatt seems to have abdicated his position to Abano-Risso who has been letting her friendships with influential people color her judgment.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Negative campaign?

Am I reading this nonsense right? Is Rose Albano-Risso trying to tell us that Mayor Sayles is responsible for the terrible "negative campaign" in Lathrop? Are my eyes deceiving me? Did she actually write that? And the paper printed it?

Doesn't Risso realize that just the fact that was created by someone other than "Kristy Sayles" indicates that it's not the Mayor doing the "sleazy" campaign? Ms. Risso here's a clue for you: If a website uses someone's name as the URL, and it's really made by someone else that alone is dishonest. Did you ever explain this to the readers?

Is the sleazy campaign the mayor's fault? For a trivial comment? Is it reasonable to draw some moral equivalence between the things said to Sayles and what she said? That's a joke and a double standard.

Maybe you're confused. Take out a paper and write down the things that the people campaigning for Oliver have called the Mayor, then write down the things Mayor Sayles has said.

Under the "Oliver campaign" you can list the following:
  • Criminal!
  • Liar!
  • falsified documents
  • bigamist!
  • child abuser!
  • husband beater!
  • Irresponsible!
  • called "whore" or "slut" (translated from Spanish)
  • Adulterous!
  • she's divorced!
  • Improper illegal business practices!
  • no business license!
  • Destroys people's lives, dictator, reign of terror!
All of which is either false or malicious/vindictive/reckless interpretation. And I mean all. Someone I'm sure will point to the "criminal conviction." Sure thing, a $370 fine 'cause her bank closed her account before somene got paid. Admitted mistake and paid same fine as rolling through a right turn at a red light. If that's the definition of "criminal" then you're a criminal and I'm a criminal. Anyone who ever got a traffic ticket has a "criminal conviction" so if that's you, you're "a criminal."

Under the Sayles campaign you can list:
  • Said someone was a "waterboy for the developers" (who are funding the smear website and despicable campaign of lies)
  • Called developers "greedy" and said they want to use the City of Lathrop like their personal ATM machine
Oh my stars how terrible! I don't know how anyone could stoop so low as to say someone is a "waterboy." I sure hope Mr. Oliver, I'm sorry Reverend Oliver, no I'm sorry Professor Oliver will somehow survive the onslaught of negativity! And now calling developers greedy constitutes a negative campaign too? Are they running for office?

How well has that or any of these articles served to inform the voting public about the issues? Zero!

Mr. Wyatt, editor of the Manteca Bulletin, you have a newspaper to straighten out.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Voting guide: Manteca

Manteca City Council

There are two seats open. I'm going to be voting for:

1. Debby Moorhead: An "outsider" with a fresh perspective. She seems to recognize that "business unfriendly" is really the same as "poverty friendly."

2. Benjamin Cantu:* For lack of any other really good choice. Cantu is the ultimate bureaucrat having spent 30 years in the employ of city government. I had to look past comments at the forum disparaging Wal-Mart (the world's most successful company). To be fair those comments were not entirely clear.

On the positive side, he had the courage to publish his viewpoints in a full page ad in the newspaper. That's refreshing to me. It's not so much if I agree or disagree with him, he's one of the few who has the courage to actually say what he thinks. At least there's the possibility for discussion when someone speaks their mind.

* As an alternative to Cantu, you may want to consider Samuel Anderson. Vote at your own risk because his warranty may have expired. He voiced a desire to roll taxes back to 2006 levels (repeal measure m extra sales tax) -- and that alone is a good enough reason for consideration.

This was difficult because both incumbents, Councilman Snyder and Debrum are good men, but terrible politicians. They are both qualified -- but damnit, they are stuck in the "way things have to be" instead of seeing what could be.

Snyder enjoys the wisdom of years. Yet he still insists that we "have to compete" with other cities and what he means is "we have to take more money from our citizens to give to big corporations than other cities do." That's not competing, that's a form of (dare I say) mild fascism and a prescription for poverty. Which has worked to produce poverty exactly as predicted.

On other issues he is courageous. He once asked why all the policemen in town are dressed like thugs and gangsters with their shaved heads and menacing appearance. I admire that kind of courage and it's unfortunate I can't vote for him.

Similarly, Debrum is personable and competent. Yet he still insists that it's government's job to take money from people by force and give it to big corporations. He also pointed to the "measure m" tax increase as "good" even though the money has simply gone to a pay raise (37%) for city personnel with zero increase in "safety" for all practical purposes. He points to boondoggles as "good" -- The "Big League Dreams" park that everyone in Manteca was forced to purchase with their hard earned money ($1000 per person!) whether they liked the idea or not. He justified the $millions taken from ordinary citizens and given to "Bass Pro Shop" and "Costco" as "helping you." We need someone more careful with the public's money.

Are you wondering why I would praise "business friendly" above and yet condemn the gifts to big corporations? That's not a conflict. Business friendly means business has the freedom to open their shop or factory or store with the minimum of costs or hassles from the city government. That is entirely different than giving gifts to business. That's not business friendly because it's profoundly unfriendly to the one not getting the gifts.

And this has been the problem with the current council. They will give gifts to certain favored businesses and other "little guys" get nothing but hassles from the city. The little guy can't open a car wash (no permit for you!), the little car dealer must donate 10% of his land to the city tree program or else he will be denied a permit but the big car dealer gets money from the city. Simply putting a sign on your building is an ordeal. Unless you are favored; in that case you get an exception from the sign ordinance. And so on.

We can do better. We can live as free people. Go out and vote like it means something.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Joe's Voter Guide: State measures

Joe's Quick Voter Guide:

A few people have asked "how am I voting" so by popular demand, here are my picks starting with the state measures and propositions:

State measures: No on everything except 5, 11, 12. If you're curious read on. If not, don't worry about it.

There are so many statewide ballot measures! Almost all are terrible examples of the initiative process gone wrong. Things should be debated and deliberated but instead we get an unchangeable "new law" that we all have to say yes or no to on one day and this allows the unscrupulous to send out propaganda days before the election. That's no way to decide things!

So for all the initiatives, the answer is NO. With these possible exceptions:

Prop 5 moves away from the "war on drugs" which has become a "war on the American people." The downside is that it creates a bunch of new commissions and funds "treatment programs." But on balance, and even the impartial analysis has to agree -- contrary to all the rhetoric from people who make money from the prison system -- that it will save over a billion dollars a year minus it's cost of almost half a billion, so that comes to a savings of a $500 million a year.

But more important than money is the attempt to put some sanity into the drug laws. If you believe anyone who smokes a plant or is addicted to something but otherwise doesn't hurt anyone should be thrown into the dungeon for their "crimes" of "hurting themselves" then prop 5 isn't for you. But if you believe human beings have a right to their own bodies so long as they don't hurt others then you should consider voting yes on Prop 5.

I know this conflicts with what "all the police chiefs say." But they are responding to the incentives of their position. They always want more laws, more prison, more budgets. They will tell you anything to keep you afraid and their budgets intact. The prison-industrial complex only cares about one thing: more laws to break, more people sent to prison. And they tell you it's for "your own good." The politics of fear. (They are criminals!) But now is your chance to actually give your view.

Maybe prison for minor drug addicts who don't hurt anyone else should be a thing of the past. Maybe vote yes for Prop 5.

Prop 11: Redistricting

Did you ever wonder how the "districts" are drawn? You are represented at the state by representatives who draw lines on a map and decide what their "territory" is. Politicians like to stay in power! So they like to draw their districts to include people who are "like them." In other words, currently instead of you picking your representative, your representative picks you! That's why very few incumbents are ever not re-elected.

Prop 11 is an idea to take the power to draw those districts away from the politicians and let some commission of citizens draw them. That may not be the absolutely best method possible, but if we wait for the best possible thing we'll wait forever. I would consider voting "yes" on prop 11.

Prop 12 is replenishing funds for a program that helps veterans purchase homes. This program has been in place a long time (since WWII, I think). It's not related to the current "mortgage crisis." Most people support this because they figure you should get something for helping fight a war or two. I'll agree and vote "yes."

Don't get me started on the other measures. Just NO!

Yes, I know that includes prop 8, the so-called "gay marriage" ban. I say "no." Why do I care what gay people do? I don't expect gays to tell me how to live, so I'm not going to tell them what to do.

Change the state constitution? That's crazy! Constitutions are about recognizing (or granting) rights to people, and restricting government. For example, the right to speak your mind, to practice your religion, to arm yourself, to have a trial with a lawyer if you're ever accused of something. Those are rights! And constitutions restrict government ("congress shall not" etc). Here prop 8 would restrict people and grant government a new power, exactly opposite what a constitution should do.

If you hate gay people that much that you can't even live in peace knowing that somewhere a gay person exists then by all means vote "yes" and hope that some right you cherish isn't next on the list of things for people vote over. How would you feel if some right you cared about was just "put to a vote" and if more than half voted "no" then c'est la vie it's gone. Sorry, majority rules you aren't allowed to own a firearm or majority rules your religion has been outlawed. But if you think certain things are private and that we really shouldn't "have a vote" on someone's life then vote "no" of course.

I don't think much needs to be said on prop 1A. $9.95 Billion. Sounds like it's on sale from $14.95 Billion. That won't pay for one rail of that train. That's not in dispute -- everyone agrees. The prop 1A people say "we'll get the rest of the money later... this is just a start." What kind of plan is that? You know they would say "give us another 10 billion, after all you don't want that last 10 billion to go to waste?" And so on and so on. People agree the train would cost at least $50 billion and most likely double that. If we're lucky. And for what? A train from somewhere we aren't really sure where to somewhere no one wants to go. Not just "no" but "hell no."

Prop 3 sounds irresistible. Who wouldn't want to help the poor sick children in the "Children's Hospital?" But that should be done by the legislature. Just say no.

Same with prop 2. What do I know about animal husbandry? Sure, a big cage sounds reasonable but what it really means is some new commission and inspections by "animal rights activists" and costs and paperwork for farms. Lets face it, prop 2 just means "no raising chickens or cattle or hogs in California - we will henceforth buy food from other states or countries where they don't have to deal with the animal rights nuts." Of course, this will not help the total number of animals raised on farms, they will just be in raised in other places -- so prop 2 is dumb. Vote "no"

Prop 4 is about "abortion." Do I need to say more? Let's set all that aside and let me explain, no there's too much, let me sum up:

Say a young girl becomes parent at age 14. She is automatically emancipated and is "no longer a child" when she gives birth. It's like magic. A 17 1/2 year old can't get an ear pierced -- but a 14 year old who gave birth can consent to any medical treatment. Not just treatment for her baby but also for herself too. Including an "abortion."

If she could consent to an abortion if she gave birth that doesn't make any sense. But that's the basis for why a young girl can currently get an abortion. Because if she would become an "adult" if she didn't get the abortion then she can decide for herself.

Does this make perfect sense? No. But it's the uneasy work-around for our culture's abnormally high age of majority and the realities of human life on earth. I wish there was some easy answer but there isn't.

And this is where prop 4 disrupts the delicate balance of the byzantine universe of conflicting rights. Prop 4 only mandates "notification" and not "permission" technically and and a "waiting period." On the practical side I think most young people do tell their parents. For some reason they just do. But for those who don't or can't I don't have the wisdom to dictate how things should be in everyone's family life so for that reason I'd say to vote "no" on prop 4 and leave things as they are. Similar propositions have failed in the past in California.

Also, 4 affects the state constitution and there's no way such a thing should be in a constitution so that's another reason why no on 4 is just the only option regardless of how you feel about abortion.

Let's see... prop 7 and 10 or "energy" laws. No and NO. Thanks T. Boone, I'm sure CNG is a wonderful fuel. Now explain why I should make it a law that everyone must purchase your product? Can't you just sell it now if it's so great? Likewise, Prop 7 is high minded: do you want electricity generated from rainbows and butterflies. Why yes I would. No matter what the costs? No matter how many lives or families are destroyed? Hmmm, no thanks.

By the way, pictured at right is my home made solar oven. No prop 7 or 10 needed. If you want to use alternate energy go right ahead no one's stopping you.

That leaves prop 6: more money taken from more people causing more poverty -- for more laws and more police to send more people to prison. No thank you, I'll pass on the Police State and hope you will too.

That leaves prop 9, Rachel's law or Marsha's law or Buffie's law or something. These are very complicated things. Sure victims of crime suffer greatly but you have to balance that with the rights of the accused. You can't just pick someone off the street and punish him whether he did it or not because it makes the victim feel better. Vote no, this is a job for the legislature or else you may suddenly find yourself in a prison cell with no right to a "fair trial" because we voted it away.

Whew! Thanks for reading. Next up: Candidates in Manteca.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lathrop's October Surprise II

Keep an eye out for more information coming out about the man who claims to be the sole driving force behind Jeremy D. Maurer, fearless P.I. and "opposition researcher." This may be Lathrop's second "October surprise" today and we're going to give you a sneak preview.

Back in 2005, Maurer set up a website to defame someone named James Morrison. Mr. Morrison fought back and won a civil judgment against Maurer in 2008 in North Carolina to the tune of $165,350. Since we know how much everyone loves "documents," we have copies of the judgment from North Carolina included in "application for entry of judgment on sister-state judgment" and a "notice of entry of judgment on sister-state judgment" from California ordering Maurer, who resides in California, to pay Morrison.

The defamatory website was taken down but we discovered remnants of it posted on another website. One of the accusations made by Morrison against Maurer was that he and an associate tried to extort money from Morrison by offering to sell him the website for $50,000. Still think Jeremy Maurer is doing this for free?

Lathrop and Mayor Sayles press on

Today, both the Manteca Bulletin and the Stockton Record ran prominent stories about Lathrop politics. Bulletin editor Dennis Wyatt defended Mayor Kristy Sayles against some of the 'brutal' attacks being made on her including from his own newspaper. In the article he links the mailer recently sent out by Lathrop's Dan MacNeilage to TCN Properties (Tom and Cathie Luckey) by their postal permit number. Isn't that curious?

The Bulletin's assassin, Rose Albano-Risso, wrote a story about Lathrop's city manager, Yvonne Quiring, who is supposed to be getting a sum of $335,000 to leave her position today. At the core of the termination supposedly is a letter from the city employees union, SEIU, complaining about Quiring. Between the unions and the developers, who's really running things at city hall? Both groups seem to wield undue power and have enough money and influence to mobilize and destroy people they don't like.

The Record story is about the 'vicious' campaign against Sayles and her request to have the grand jury investigate the website behind most of it, Two of Sayles' opponents, Robert Oliver and John Rock, were quoted in the article as decrying the nastiness of the website, but say Sayles brought some of it on herself. Oliver basically says that it's what Sayles deserves because "she attacked local developers." Rock thinks it's only a handful of people posting under different names and that the website has its positives because information about Sayles is getting out and "people are getting involved." (getting involved in libel maybe)

Two weeks ago the Record weakly endorsed Robert Oliver, saying it was more a vote of no confidence against Sayles.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Manteca Bulletin's assassin

What an election season this has been. In less than a week, it will all be over and our country will have a new president. Whether it's Obama or McCain, it will be an historic event for the United States. We will either have the nation's first Black president or the nation's first woman vice president. God bless America...we're gonna need it.

Political campaigns have always been nasty and ugly, even when we pretend to be civil. One of the nastiest campaigns I've ever seen is playing out in the city of Lathrop. With the mayor's and two council seats up for grabs (potentially three council seats if the councilman running for mayor wins), there's a tremendous amount of power, prestige and money at stake. Someone with lots of money to spend and even more to gain from ousting the current administration is bankrolling the vile campaign to unseat mayor Kristy Sayles.

In the last 10 days or so, Rose Albano-Risso, city editor of the Manteca Bulletin, has written two hit pieces on Lathrop's mayor Kristy Sayles and taken pot shots at her in a couple others. The Bulletin rarely "disses" local politicians like this. For the most part, they treat incumbents and candidates with respect and they usually don't do endorsements. This is the opposite of an endorsement and is even lower than the Bulletin's usual ethical standards.

In the first piece, Albano-Risso chastises the mayor like a child for being mean and ungrateful to developers Tom and Cathie Luckey, beneficent landed gentry of Lathrop who bestow goodness and mercy upon all the citizens there. The Luckeys contributed to the mayor's last campaign but they are aggrieved that she hasn't given them special treatment or something and they have been very vocal about their displeasure with Sayles.

In the most recent hit piece published prominently on page 1, Albano-Risso interviews political opponents and known enemies of the mayor and repeats opinions, accusations and outrage posted on a smear website from unnamed "citizens." She got around the standard journalistic ethic of allowing someone being smeared in print to respond by calling the mayor's home late at night when the mayor was sleeping. The article was published a few hours after that phone call was made. From the tone of Albano-Risso's article, one would almost think this was done on purpose.

It looks like the Manteca Bulletin, or at least its city editor, has joined the ignorant villagers.

Flyer flap

Outrageous fabrications attributed to Dan MacNeilage!(?)

I have a few questions:

1. Was this really sent by Dan?

2. Was it "paid for by Dan MacNeilage" as it says? Including postage?

3. Who's permit number 819?

4. Didn't someone calling himself Dan MacNeilage complain bitterly when I pointed out that the Sayles smear website was "full of fabrications?" What are those pictures of checks? I got some questions from people in Lathrop and they believed those checks were supposed to be photographs of actual checks! Of course they are not.

5. How do you vote against someone? Why does that language sound familiar?

6. Did the mayor really "write a check" for 37 million dollars? Does the mayor keep the city checkbook in her purse? Doesn't it take four other members of the city council? Why do you show only "Kristy Sayles" on the check fabricated for this mailer? Is that to make it look like Kristy Sayles alone does things? Is she like a dictator now?

7. Why is the mayor being blamed for the school's sewer? The schools are not built by the city! The schools are built by the Manteca Unified School District (MUSD).

I happened to be at that MUSD meeting when "some guy" from some builder/sub-contractor, I don't even remember, sauntered before the school board and "announced" that he wasn't going to finish the sewer pipe -- he didn't feel like it because he felt someone (the main contractor or the school board or someone) "owed him money."

This was during public comments, it wasn't even on the agenda. The trustees had to ask him, "eh... the school opens in two weeks...when we flush the toilet, what happens?" And "this guy" said there was some tank out there and they could truck out the waste. And then he left. This was a complete surprise -- two weeks before the school opened. No one at the school board or the mayor or any member of the public knew there was some problem before this guy "dropped" it on us.

The problem is not related to sewer capacity. There is plenty of sewer capacity. That's what the city was responsible for. If the guy didn't build the pipe correctly, that's not Mayor Sayles' fault. If anything, it was the fault of the contractor and it's somehow related to some "cash flow" problems from one of the big land-developers.

Both MacNeilage and Councilman Oliver have raised this spurious issue. What's bad is they both know better. They both know the mayor cannot fix disputes at the school district.

8. Aren't those payments related to "pay as you go" development agreements? And guess what -- who approved of "pay as you go" (crazy method of development)? The mailer blames Sayles for these payments. The exact opposite is true: Mayor Sayles voted against the things she's being blamed for! It was Oliver, Rhodes and Dresser who voted in favor of the "pay as you go!"

This is right from the public record (page 8 of the pdf), the minutes from the 18 Jul 06 meeting of the Lathrop City Council.

After hearing about the "pay as you go" scheme from Richland and Richland's consultant and after public discussion, Sayles (then mayor pro tempore) moved to approve the agreement without the pay as you go provision. Mayor Rhodes, Councilmen Oliver and Dresser voted against this and the motion failed. Immediately after that, Mayor Rhodes moved to approve the pay as you go development. Rhodes, Oliver, and Dresser voted "yes" and Sayles and Dhaliwal voted "no!"

Here's a page from the documents (people seem to like documents). You can click on the image to enlarge it or look at the original pdf file (pg 8 and 9).

No wonder so many are throwing so much money at getting Sayles out of the way. Sayles is the only thing standing between the developers and big money taken from the Lathrop taxpayers!

I almost forgot... I liked the part in the mailer about how Sayles "has been accused of ..." The translation: One person accused her. This citizen apparently didn't know it was legal for people to donate money to a candidate. Or the complaint was "someone I don't like donated to the candidate, so that must be illegal." Or something like that. The grand jury found everything was proper. But it's an "accusation." If that's the standard now, then I'm going to start "accusing" people of things.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Email outage @ mantecalive

If you sent email to anyone @ yesterday after 8 am or today before noon we may not have gotten it. This would affect or
From Manteca Live!

I opened a trouble ticket with the IS provider at 3 am and told them how critical it was because "there are candidates writing in and the election is coming up...." I don't know if that impressed them or not. But it sure did annoy me.

As far as I can tell the email stopped working sometime during the day yesterday the 27th after 8am and was not working until about noon today. If you tried to send something you should probably have gotten a "failure notice" that returned the email.

So if you sent us email, or if you sent in your candidates' answers and we didn't answer you please send it again. I'm sorry for the inconvenience.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Don't blame us

Here's an excerpt from the Manteca City Council candidates forum. Councilman Snyder outlines a narrative where whatever problems we have they are caused by outside forces, "the economy" or things over which "we have absolutely no control."

(And I don't mean to pick on Councilman Snyder because I think he's one of the more wise members of the council -- and this idea that "the problems are not our doing" has been expressed more or less by all the local politicians.)

But is this really true? Here are some graphs for you:

First, Millville, New Jersey:

Next, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Notice the similar graph:

And finally, Manteca, California:

Who says economic policy and the damage done by "planning departments" don't have a negative effect on people's lives? It's not "the outside forces" -- that's just an excuse. We are responsible for the world we create.

p.s. The candidates forum will be re-broadcast on comcast channel 97 at 6pm tomorrow (Monday, 27 Oct 08)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Manteca yard sales get national attention

Manteca yard sales get national attention!

I noticed a few months ago that on any Saturday you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a yard sale. And people weren't really trying to "get rid of stuff" -- unlike most yard sales of the past. It seemed to be more important to maximize the income -- regardless of how much time and effort it took.

But since it takes so much more time and effort and it can involve multiple yard sales, what does that tell us? That is a sign of "bad times."