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."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lathrop candidate Valencia answers questions

Manteca Live: What are the biggest problems facing Lathrop today and what do you suggest to fix those problems?

Rosalinda Valencia: The way I see it the biggest problem facing Lathrop right now is the Mayor and her inability to work well with other members of the council. We need a council that works well together to solve the issues. We need to stop the back door deals taking place at city hall. We need to work towards a solution to get the sewer up and running at the new High school ASAP!

If I am elected I will ask the tough questions not just rubber stamp things. My plan is simple: find the problems and work with those involved to reach a solution. I am willing not only to work with other members of the council but also the development community as well as the business community. I would love to get public input on any issue that comes before the council. I have already said publicly that if I am elected I want to know everything about every project going on in the city and about all programs that the city supports. I want to be able to talk to and ask questions of staff and expect to be given answers.

Manteca Live: Do you think Lathrop is "business friendly?" What do you think the city should do to attract new businesses?

Rosalinda Valencia: I will fight to make sure that Lathrop gets a business friendly attitude. We are in need of a great community development department and I will make sure that we get only the best in the business to head this department and any other department that I feel is not up to par, as it is my current belief that we are not now, or have in the recent past shown businesses that we are capable and willing to work with them to help bring the jobs that are so desperately needed in Lathrop.

One idea I have is to find out if we are able as a city to give tax incentive to companies that come to Lathrop by how many Lathrop residents they employ. The more residents they employ the bigger the tax incentive. This is just one thought I have, but need to find out if this idea is feasible or legal to do, but it is an idea. I havenʼt heard of any other ideas lately to help bring companies to Lathrop.

Manteca Live: What do you think is the biggest mistake or mistakes the current city council has made in the past several years and what would you have done differently?

Rosalinda Valencia: One of the biggest mistakes I strongly feel the current council has made is the pay as you go idea. I was the first one to speak before the council way back when that idea came about. I told the council as well as the developer, who left us without sewer for the high school, that they would be like used car salesmen coming in and lining their pockets and then leaving us to deal with the aftermath, and that is exactly what happened. I think that the council should have taken a closer look at the projects and the contracts that were signed prior to signing them. I do not think that any project should be started without having everything in place first. Things like storm drains, side walks, and especially sewer capacity.

Manteca Live: If you are elected to the city council, is there any law or ordinance you would like to see repealed? Is there any new law or ordinance you would like to see enacted?

Rosalinda Valencia: I feel the laws currently on the books are pretty good at this time and cannot think of one I would repeal at this time. I would, however, like to see the curfew changed to 10:00 P.M.

Manteca Live: Who is your favorite economist?

Rosalinda Valencia: I do not have a favorite economist. I do however like to watch the CNN news channel to get up the minute information as to what the DOW & Nasdaq are doing on a daily basis.

Manteca Live: What is your favorite book?

Rosalinda Valencia: I like books by Danielle Steel but I am currently reading a book entitled The Penny Whistle. I also enjoyed the book The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.

Manteca Live: What is your favorite movie?

Rosalinda Valencia: I know itʼs a chick flick but I love the movie Steel Magnolias and yes it still brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.

Manteca Live: Our thanks to Rosalinda Valencia, candidate for Lathrop city council, for answering our questions.

Lathrop mayoral candidate Rock answers questions

Manteca Live: What are the biggest problems facing Lathrop today and what do you suggest to fix those problems?

John Rock: One of the largest problems facing Lathrop is the political environment and its negativity. We may see a candidate claim their value based on how long they have lived in Lathrop. I disagree with this because we have good people who are new to Lathrop and have the education and experience that allows them to help conduct City business with no past biases. We have two such candidates for City council and they should not be shunned only because they are essentially new residents. There is a need to have local knowledge but that should be a single attribute and not an entire qualification.

The other matter is the bashing of our current Mayor. I see at times where I, as a candidate can tell the voters why I would do a better job but to continuously bash a person becomes counter productive. I helped get Kristy elected and I do agree that the web page is good for first amendment and healthy political debates but there needs to be an open two way communication forum. This is where your Manteca Live web site enters. However, your site, just as the previous mentioned site, should keep information open and limit anonymous hate comments.

Politics from those who are eager and desperate to hold on to power becomes down right nasty venues of dirt flinging and degrading comments toward others. This level of power seekers shall be detrimental in any community. Foremost it hurts what I am trying to do in my campaign. In my campaign I am not accepting money from any person or developer. I want to show the everyday citizen that they can get elected without (the belief it requires) taking money, making secret deals, clogging our intersections with large political signs and all of the other nuisances such as automated phone calls as an election nears. I wish to encourage an average person (nonpolitical crony) to replace me by them just walking door to door and running a clean campaign.

If you feel as I do and that is Kristy is a good person but will not give herself a time out (we must do so as a favor to a friend), then give me your vote. If you seek to leave Kristy tacked to the Dart board where everyone is taking cheap shots at her then vote for Kristy and allow her to continue on the current course. The way I see things, Kristy is fighting in every direction every day. This is not cool. I have said it before, give her a break and invite her to return when she is in her 40’s or 50’s. This is a major reason why I entered the race. To Help Kristy and the non political residents of Lathrop. For those Christians reading this, I feel you shall hear my words the loudest. I hope everyone does.

Manteca Live: Do you think Lathrop is "business friendly?" What do you think the city should do to attract new businesses?

John Rock: Before I can answer this with any degree of true accuracy, I need to be in Office and see the past actions of our city leaders. I do not believe I or you can see such past acts without first becoming a Mayor or Council member. Only then will past behaviors become visually clear. It is also a time that I would hear from business owners. I would seek to hear what they have to say. As it is in most situations, there is two sides to every story.

Manteca Live: What do you think is the biggest mistake or mistakes the current city council has made in the past several years and what would you have done differently?

John Rock: Once you go to my web page: you shall see I have been asking, begging and almost demanding that we have a flood study before the City allows the developer to build forty thousand new homes and four schools in an area I feel is a flood zone. The voters just approved a self taxation for levee improvements. This would never have been needed had any previous City council taken any of the actions I have requested in the past. Lathrop still does not own its levees. Lathrop still to this day has not had a new flood study done. Now we have all of these new homes with people in those new homes and the old levee still there with ground squirrels burrowing holes into the old dirt that has been laying there for so many decades with no hardened surfaces to prevent burrowing rodents.

I have a new High School next to my home and despite my requests to the City to open the new Lathrop Road and to also, fill in the deep old irrigation ditches on Dos Reis Road, nothing is getting done. I ask and I see no action. When I write to the City and ask them to be proactive and not reactive, I get nowhere. In past years when the river is at a very high mark, I see countless Moms and Dads driving to the end of Dos Reis Road to look at the river with fears the levee may break. I told the City years ago that with the new home owners and the old levee, the City needed a link on the Cities web site that would allow individuals to stay indoors and check the river level on their computer from home. The City did respond but why did I need to tell them this? If we had proactive thinkers in Office, concerned about the public, such work would be clearly evident.

It is the very same way with the emergency management link I had asked for that tells citizens where to relocate to in the event of a disaster. The City made a link to a county web page but never made, that I know of, a publicized evacuation route in the event a levee collapsed. I am not advocating that the sky is falling but rather, to build a system of knowledge that the public can quickly and easily access in the event of any power outage or emergency and have the faith their City leaders have been proactive in building a safe environment when an emergency does occur.

Manteca Live: If you are elected to the city council, is there any law or ordinance you would like to see repealed? Is there any new law or ordinance you would like to see enacted?

John Rock: I would like to study the Police services contract. In doing so, I would look for ways to bolster the number of Officers on the street. If say I found that the current contract was composed of more managers than we might need, I would listen to the argument and find a manner to lesson managers and increase Officers on our streets. I would also explore the possibilities to increase training and educational opportunities to such Officers and also, listen to them insofar as their requests for additional tools of the trade they may request.

I would use this same approach in listening to the employees and their union about what they would like to have changed or removed to better help them conduct their work. I would seek to build a working environment where City workers were enthused to come to work everyday. We must also have a Lathrop Mayor that can hug Manteca and work with Manteca. There seems to be friction between Lathrop and Manteca and I am a team builder. I want a productive unity with Manteca so that each City can help their neighbor.

Manteca Live: Who is your favorite economist?

John Rock: The single parent trying to make ends meet and not deprive their children of anything. The Mom or Dad that holds down two jobs and still finds time to play with the kids and help with homework. The working adult taking care of their elderly parent(s) and also, their immediate family. The retired person or disabled person living on a fixed income that can still find time to help their neighbor and/or, contribute time to community service deeds. These are the core economists in our lives and in some cases, my depict one of us or, our Mom or Dad.

Manteca Live: What is your favorite book?

John Rock: The Dictionary, The Bible (and not always in that order).

Manteca Live: What is your favorite movie?

John Rock: Dances with Wolves

Manteca Live: Our thanks to John Rock, candidate for Lathrop mayor, for answering our questions.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Questions for Lathrop candidates

The following are our questions for Lathrop's candidates, both mayor and city council. Any candidate interested in answering can email the answers to and we'll publish your statements as we receive them.

1. What are the biggest problems facing Lathrop today and what do you suggest to fix those problems?

2. Do you think Lathrop is "business friendly?" What do you think the city should do to attract new businesses?

3. What do you think is the biggest mistake or mistakes the current city council has made in the past several years and what would you have done differently?

4. If you are elected to the city council, is there any law or ordinance you would like to see repealed? Is there any new law or ordinance you would like to see enacted?

5. Who is your favorite economist?

6. What is your favorite book?

7. What is your favorite movie?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

No candidate debate forum for Lathrop

The Sun Post and the League of Women Voters held a debate forum for Manteca city council candidates on Thursday, October 16, at the council chambers at city hall. We asked the Sun Post if they were planning to hold a similar forum for Lathrop candidates and were surprised at the answer. They said that last year they approached Lathrop to hold a debate forum and were told that they could do it if they paid the city $500 for use of the council chamber. Because this is a public service and Manteca never charges them, they decided not to sponsor a debate for Lathrop.

I think it's odd that Lathrop would ask for money to do something so beneficial for their citizens. You can learn a lot about candidates by listening to them speak and answer questions. You get a feel for who they are and why they want to serve in an elected office. It's a pity that Lathrop residents won't get to have that experience. If I lived in Lathrop, I'd be kind of angry about that.

Because there won't be a live debate for Lathrop candidates and because some of the candidates have asked to be interviewed by Manteca Live, we've come up with a questionnaire for the candidates and if any of them answer, we'll publish their statements here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Discouraging words seldom heard

Human beings are social creatures. It's well known that if you're in a room and someone asks, "is this a good idea?" and everyone else starts saying, "yes, great idea," "yes," etc. that you will tend to feel like it must be a good idea! Sometimes even if you didn't think it was a good idea at first.

Evolutionary biologists would say this is an adaptive trait. It helps the human species survive. Sort of like when men lived in caves and everyone in the cave said, "Don't go out there, there's a lion!" It probably wasn't good for your survival if you were the type of guy who said, "Lion? I don't see no lion, you people are all just sayin... aaaarghaah!"

But this natural tendency to follow others can also be used by clever people to fool you, to manipulate you, to sell you something, or even win elections. The technique is get other people to tell you who is "good" and who is "bad" in an election. But here's what the real manipulators have learned: It's not as effective if people know the room is filled with supporters or detractors only. It's much better if you can fill a room with what look like "ordinary people," your "friends and neighbors." You're more likely to feel swayed if you think it's "ordinary people" just "expressing their views."

In the modern electronic world things get even more fiendish. Like if you tune into a radio talk show where people call in. You might just be driving around listening to what people say and you're surprised almost all the callers say, "you should vote for prop 8 - we have to protect marriage!" You might have previously thought "live and let live" and been inclined to vote no but now you find yourself thinking you "should" vote yes and you're not really sure why....

Now, how would you feel if you found out those people calling the radio station weren't just "ordinary people" calling in with their opinions? What if they were all or almost all "shills" paid by the "yes on 8" group? Wouldn't you feel wronged? Lied to? Hoodwinked? Of course you would!

And by the way, for the record, almost all reputable radio and TV talk shows avoid this kind of manipulation and picking callers based on their views for exactly this reason. Any radio station found to be doing that would be disgraced by scandal. (However, in the real world most callers to talk shows are self selected so it actually serves the same purpose -- something to always bear in mind when judging public opinion.) And, ahem, this is why Manteca Live people don't comment under other names.

The local cult of amateurs -- or -- NO SAYLES FOR YOU!

It caught my eye when reports of comments to the Sayles smear site going into a "black hole" came in and at least one case of being "blocked" for daring to question them or daring to question if all those bad things could possibly be true. Not only from posting messages but from even reading the web site! Why would such a thing occur?

The idea is the same old lies and manipulations. You can go to that web site, read the forums and you'll see "everyone agrees" or just about everyone agrees, "Sayles is terrible! She's rotten! Liar, criminal, etc!" It looks like everyone thinks that or that a lot of people think that! The natural human tendency is to be influenced (there's a lion out there!).

But in reality there might be 2 people ... maybe one person writing all that. The modern electronic world makes it possible for one person to sign a thousand messages. They can all agree with each other!

This manipulation falls apart unless the ringleader is careful to remove messages from people who don't agree. Or, better yet, never even hear from them.

Is this what the smear site is doing? Almost certainly. And they get extra manipulation points by claiming that "anyone can leave a message here -- we don't block any messages!" Very clever.

That comment from "Kat" got me curious. I walked her through sending me a picture of her computer screen and emailing me a "screenshot" of what her computer did when she tried to read that website. I also walked her through a "procedure" to confirm she was getting a "fake" message. (When I asked her to try a simple technique to scramble her "IP," the website magically re-appeared.) Also, the wording of the "error message" said to "hit alt-F4" to fix the problem. Ha....ha. That's what hackers in junior high say. (The alt-F4 key is the universal program shut down. It's a smartass comment that's the same as saying "to fix the problem press the big button on your computer" - just go away, in other words.)

And by the way "KAT" isn't a clever disguise for "Kristy and Tom," contrary to Brain Trust Leader and Chief Detective Sherlock's wild claims.

Which reminds me, I also asked about that "flyer" and so far as I can tell there doesn't seem to be any slick mailer being sent out. That image on the smear site could easily be a fabrication. In fact, half that web site is fabricated so it wouldn't be anything unusual.

But the point isn't the fake mailer itself, it's something else: You'll notice that there are "lots" of "different people" writing into the forum saying how they got their mailer and such. But if there's really no such mailer, what does that tell us? That those "people" writing in are fabrications too! I'm still trying to nail down the facts but so far there's no evidence such a flyer or mailer exists or was mailed out. That means all your friends and neighbors who told you, "I'm not voting for Sayles, I read it in the mailer" either don't exist or are lying.

I've typed enough! Why don't I just sum it up: The smear website is a cauldron of lies, fabrications and manipulations. Reckless interpretations. Fake documents, fake images, fake commentary from fake participants who "live in Lathrop." People who support the mayor, if they happen by, are promptly locked out of the forum after a few comments. (And the few "positive" posts that aren't deleted, they serve a manipulative purpose. The website can say "See? We don't block positive comments...!")

There are issues in Lathrop. That's for sure. See this week's Sun-Post and some of the more thoughtful comments here. But now that the waters are muddied so much by the despicable campaign being bankrolled by bully land-developers it's hard for anyone to know anything.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Candidate forum tonight

There's supposed to be a candidates forum in Manteca tonight at 7 pm (16 Oct 08) at city hall at 1001 W. Center Street in Manteca. Odd there wasn't much in the press about it. Maybe the Manteca Bulletin is too busy at the bass pro shop? And the Sun-Post doesn't seem to be on line.

The forum should be interesting if the politicians can put their self-praise aside long enough to pry themselves from the new "Disneyland" in Manteca long enough -- and if the citizens can afford the gas to get there after having to pay roughly $1000 each to "bring" this wonderous enterprise unto us. I do want to see the fish tank and that big plastic tree though.

(I have some schedule problems but I'll try to get there. If not someone ask some good questions. Also, if anyone knows about a forum in Lathrop, leave a comment about it please!)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Record endorses mediocre candidate

On Monday, The Record (Stockton) came out with its endorsements for Lathrop candidates. Citing a "shallow talent pool," they begrudgingly endorse Robert Oliver for mayor but go on to say that it's more a "vote of no confidence" for Mayor Kristy Sayles than an endorsement of Oliver.

The Record doesn't say why the vote of no confidence but they usually don't endorse Republican candidates. While the mayor's office is non-partisan, Sayles is prominent in the South San Joaquin Republicans and is a former city captain for the group.

I think The Record was remiss in not pointing out that if Oliver, current councilmember whose term is not up, wins the election that there will be an empty council seat. Technically, that seat can be filled by appointment which it probably would be. The alternative is an expensive special election. Lathrop could have a drastically different council if Oliver is elected and one (or both) of the current council incumbents defeated. Different doesn't mean better or smarter.

Something to think about Lathrop!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Friend" of Sayles

Recently, someone with the moniker "friends to the Sayles" posted on the "smear website" devoted to destroying Lathrop Mayor Kristy Sayles and her family. This "friend" claims to have been in attendance at an open house event for the mayor last week when council candidate Rosalinda Valencia crashed the party and apparently was not welcomed with open arms. "I only write now because I feel sort of bad about how Mrs. Valencia was treated by people I call friends." The "friend" claims to have spoken with the mayor and her husband about why Valencia wasn't welcome but apparently didn't like their answer. The "friend" goes on to praise Mrs. Valencia for not rushing to "post" about her shabby treatment at the Sayles event.

Perhaps the Sayles "friend" is completely clueless as to some of the things Valencia has done that might make her unwelcome, such as publicly calling for the mayor to step down from office and participating in a "smear website" (not to mention the grand jury investigation based on a complaint by Valencia).

*Sigh* Does anyone really believe that a friend would post such garbage on a website totally devoted to destroying the friend? And of course, the "friend" wants to remain anonymous because "I am known by many in Lathrop and do not want to have people look at me the way they do the Sayles" and "I really am a good person otherwise I would not have even wrote what I did because they are my freinds" and "I remain friends with the Sayles and will for as long as I feel they are doing the best they can."

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Lathrop prospers under Sayles leadership

At the last meeting in Lathrop, we heard how "bad" Mayor Sayles is and how she sent development to Manteca. Well, oddly enough, the mayor of Manteca doesn't agree. In this video from 15 Sep 2008, Mayor Weatherford points out all the mistakes Manteca has made and how all the new development is going to Lathrop!

So Mayor Sayles of Lathrop must be doing something right. At least that's what the leaders in Manteca say.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

It's so

I appreciate the comments from my fans (See Say it ain't so, Joe, Manteca Bulletin, 7 Oct 08 ).

I complained about the new "shopping cart law" because it punishes the victim. If a store has their property stolen, the city will fine the store and not the guy who stole the stuff. Sure, they "may" eventually find or cite the guy who stole the shopping cart but it's hit or miss. But if you're the store, then the city will punish you for "letting" your stuff get stolen. (Thank you sir, may I have another?)

A nitpicker might say the store isn't punished until they have three shopping carts stolen. True enough, but there's no time limit and really, how hard is it for a store to "lose" three shopping carts? Ever? Not very! (And to be clear -- stores don't "lose" the carts -- a thief steals them.) And the penalty would be so severe that it could bankrupt a store. Maybe tens of thousands of dollars in the form of a requirement to install all sorts of high tech gear that "might" help prevent thefts.

Pictured below, one of the "un-steal-able" shopping carts from Target, the store lauded by public officials as being the example of forward thinking. They installed the electronic high tech gadgetry that "makes it impossible to remove shopping carts from the store." As you can see, even the most humble street bum knows how to by-pass the "electronic fence." (Photo was taken yesterday -- 7 Oct 08 in Lathrop, Calif.)

I wonder who's writing this law? Maybe the people who sell those high tech expensive shopping cart theft "prevention" systems?

Wyatt compared this to the "successful" anti-graffiti law. The law is neither "successful" nor would Manteca, as Wyatt claims, "have a severe graffiti problem" without it. (This is a logical argument I like to call "my lucky keychain keeps wild grizzly bears away." Don't believe me? Here's the proof: Do you see any grizzly bears in town?)

The graffiti law threatens to fine a homeowner or business owner for the crime of someone vandalizing his property! Talk about using a bad example to prove another bad example!

(Let's just set one thing aside: I'm no fan of graffiti. I'm from a place where your forehead would be graffiti'd if you fell asleep on the subway. And removing graffiti right away is the wise thing to do. There's a psychological theory behind that but we don't need to get into that here.)

Where graffiti is prevalent, where does most graffiti appear? On homes? Businesses? Privately owned apartments? Not really. Most graffiti occurs on government structures such as schools, sound walls, highway overpasses, "housing projects," etc. Why is this? Private owners of buildings and homes don't typically tolerate the vandalism. In fact you can go down the "inner city" street and tell just by looking which business is open or which home is occupied and which are vacant just by the graffiti.
There really is no need for a law telling private people to remove graffiti and that kind of law can make things worse.
The problem with such a law comes in when things get really bad. You do occasionally see some home or business graffiti. Sometimes the level of marking and painting can be overwhelming. And if it's not being removed immediately it means the expense in time and money is overwhelming the resources of the business or home. In that case, the business or homeowner is at the end of his rope, down to his last dime, is defeated and can do no more. That is when the Manteca law springs into effect and adds fines and legal fees and threats of jail to the homeowner or business owner struggling to survive. If graffiti gets so severe that private homes and businesses aren't able to keep up, the police need to be "doing something" in a big way stop the vandalism. That is not the time to blame the home owner or business!

If such a law could prevent graffiti from being severe, Mr. Wyatt, just walk down the streets in Newark, New Jersey or North Philadelphia or "south-central" L.A. and tell those people if they would only be wise like Manteca and jail the people who let graffiti appear on their property, that would "fix the problem!"

The Manteca system only comes into effect at exactly the wrong time, after a long protracted battle with persistent vandals -- and after this battle, the government steps in and helps the vandals by putting the victim out of business or causing such financial hardship to a home owner that he can't battle the vandals. In today's economy, their home may be lost. Then you'll see some graffiti!

This is the same for all these "blame the victim" laws -- they lie dormant for a long time, usually no one is affected by them. So they seem like no big deal.

While we're at it, lets look at a few other Manteca's "Blame the Victim" laws:

Example: The Bank of Wyatt lends money to Joe Citizen, and Joe buys a house. Joe doesn't pay the money back to the Bank of Wyatt like Joe promised. Who does Manteca punish? The Bank of Wyatt! It's somehow your fault for lending him money and now you can be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is the Manteca way of fixing the "foreclosure problem."

Another Example: Dennis Responsible is a law abiding citizen who drives carefully, has a valid drivers license, registration, insurance. Joe Criminal drives carelessly, doesn't have even have a license and never heard of insurance. Which one does Manteca punish? Mr. Responsible (of course!) if one day he is distracted and makes a right turn without genuflecting properly. But not Joe Criminal, he's exempt! (That's right, the Manteca Red Light cameras ignore any violations if the computer can't find valid DMV data -- the police and the system makers admitted that in the public record.)
Need another example? Mr. Smith has a bad neighbor. His neighbor is always having fights and calling the police. Smith applies for a business license and is denied. His crime? There's someone near him who's poorly behaved. This is how the Manteca method of approving business licenses works, especially if it involves the sale of beer or wine. The police actually give a report about how many police calls there have been "in the area" and if there's too many, they call it a "high crime area" and take away Mr. Smith's right to have his business. They don't blame the people who actually do the crime, they punish the guy who tries to make life better by opening a business.

I guess I could go on about how it's become popular to "blame the victim" and Manteca is not alone, this is the new way of "fixing things." The definition of "fixing things" to the government is making life easier for a government unable to actually fix anything, not making life easier for you!

p.s. By the way, what's this about getting too much camera time? Well! Coming from a guy who prints a photograph of himself on the front page of every issue of the newspaper that's quite a compliment. Although it is a really nice picture.

p.p.s And I didn't even comment on Councilman Harris saying he wishes the trash trucks would just roll around town and pick up the carts and crush them! Thank you, government of hot heads, for caring more about your own image and the "image" of the city over the protection of property --one of government's three primary functions. After all the Constitution doesn't say government is to protect "life, liberty and a nice looking street..."

Monday, October 06, 2008

Pumpkin Fair

Video of the Manteca Pumpkin Fair. At the time I didn't know about the controversy / dispute between the people at the Democratic Party booth and the Republican Party booth. The Manteca Bulletin has a good story on issues on the editorial page. (In the Bulletin, news stories end up in the editorial page and the editorial opinion is on the front page.) Although I have to agree the dispute is an affront to the right of free political speech.

Both of the groups were welcoming to me. And to their credit the republicans didn't mind me asking about the dunking cage and even showed me the "Obama mask" the guy who was being dunked was wearing.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ignorant villagers show off nitpicking skills

When Lathrop Mayor Kristy Sayles' statement in response to some of the personal accusations on the "smear website" appeared on Manteca Live! it gave her detractors fodder for a few days, nitpicking everything from the exact mileage between Lathrop and Oakdale to what she supposedly did when she was 16 years old. (How many of us would like to be judged today on what we did as a teenager?) But what can you expect from ignorant villagers? Now they're again trying to blacken her husband's reputation because apparently they've gone through their repertoire of alleged offenses the mayor committed 15-20 years ago.

The Sun Post on Friday reported that mayoral candidate Robert Oliver was "ordered to remove" some derogatory statements about Lathrop city manager Yvonne Quiring from his campaign website by Quiring's attorney. Oliver's website has changed significantly over the past couple of weeks going from a single long diatribe against Mayor Sayles and the city manager to a more condensed version of why he's against the mayor in 6 talking points. Oliver supporters over on the "smear website" urge a vote for him because "Oliver is a man of God, Kristy is the devil."

We previously named current Lathrop candidates who have posted on the "smear website" and questioned their character and integrity for even allowing their names to be associated with it, let alone joining in spreading the malicious gossip. Those candidates are: John Rock (for mayor), Oliver, Steve Dresser's wife (Dresser is a current councilman running for re-election) and Rosalinda Valencia (for city council). This week we add a new name to those posting there: Lathrop city council candidate Chris Mateo. The city of Lathrop has a real brain trust running for public office this year.

As to the actual issues in Lathrop, it's a little unclear where everyone stands because they don't talk much about that. It's much more entertaining to gossip and talk about scandals and who doesn't like whom. Reading between the lines (and some since-deleted web content) it seems a lot of the discontent with the mayor hinges on her vote to hire the current city manager. Since personnel issues are cloaked in secrecy, we may never know what happened with the shake-up of city staff. Most likely, the new city manager had high expectations for staff and that ruffled some feathers. Expecting people to actually earn their bloated salaries and golden benefit packages? Off with her head!

Another thing we keep hearing is that Sayles "took developer money" for her campaign and she's in the pocket of the developers. But then we hear that the reason for the problems in Lathrop is that the mayor didn't do what the developers wanted and so they took their business to Manteca. Manteca city council is definitely in the pockets of developers, but Mayor Willie Weatherford recently said Lathrop was getting all the plum businesses because of Lathrop's developer-friendly policies.

Councilman discusses infrastructure and things

Here I catch up with Manteca City Councilman Steve Debrum at the Caltrans meeting. We discuss the interchange improvement plans and "other issues."