Monday, January 26, 2009

Now you see them... Now you don't!

Someone mentioned the Grand Jury to me, so I got to poking around in their reports. I discovered that two years ago the City of Stockton came under Grand Jury investigation for complaints about their code enforcement practices. The upshot was that code enforcement was "uneven" at best and at other times practically confiscatory, serving as a substitute for eminent domain actions by the Redevelopment Agency. Cases were processed differently in part because Stockton had no internal policies and procedures to implement their Municipal Code (or city law.)

Doing what Grand Juries do, they interviewed a bunch of Stockton bureaucrats and reviewed any available documentation - minus the policies and procedures noted above. Then the Grand Jury recommended (that is pracically an order) that Stockton write the policies and procedures that code enforcement personnel and cases are supposed to follow.

Two things caught my eye. First, one official interviewed during the investigation - and during the follow up by the next year's Grand Jury - was the head of Stockton's Redevelopment Agency two years ago, and is none other than the City of Manteca's spanking-new City Manager, Mr. Steve Pinkerton. He was front and center in that little fiasco up north.

Second, the Grand Jury listed some of the documents reviewed, particularly the code enforcement policies and procedures from other cities in the county, including Manteca. One of Stockton's lamest excuses recorded in the Grand Jury follow up report was that the documents from the other cities were not useful models because those cities were not comparable in size. I certainly wish the Grand Jury had attributed that remark to the backward-thinking public servant who uttered it.

Anyway, I sent off a request to Manteca to obtain a copy of those documents which provide guidance to Manteca's finest (oops... second finest) as they approach and resolve the problems which generate complaints. I wished to see for myself why my complaints seemed to be the problem down at Police HQ :(

Wouldn'tcha know it? The new Manteca Chief of Police, serving directly under the new City Manager, has apparently (lost, can't find, maybe they evaporated?, we don't know) the code enforcement policies and procedures which the Grand Jury reviewed in the very recent past.

(Here's one for all you conspiracy theorists out there: Maybe there is a very clever plan afoot to gut code enforcement and collude with the County to do "eminent domain lite" on certain properties out by the MUSD HQ, in order to get a "good-for-the-city-and-all-citizens-in-it" northerly annexation [dubbed Centre Pointe - where do those final e's come from?] to go through without creating a prohibited "annexation island.")

Machiavelli would be so proud if city officials actually were trying to do something so underhanded; but less proud if the gumshoes are merely picking gum off thir shoes.

emails below
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From: Richard Behling
Sent: Friday, January 16, 2009 6:23 PM
To: ''
Subject: Request for Manteca Code Enforcement policies and procedures

Dear sirs,

I read the 2006-07 Grand Jury report on Case #04-06, City of Stockton Code Enforcement. Of particular interest to me was the mention of GJ review of Manteca’s Code Enforcement policies and procedures. I sent a request to Manteca’s City Clerk to obtain a copy, but she replied that such items could not be found. (See emails, below.)

Does the Grand Jury still have a copy of Manteca’s Code Enforcement policies and procedures? Could I obtain a copy from those?

Or, perhaps the Grand Jury could refresh Manteca’s memory of the documents in question. Mr. Steve Pinkerton is Manteca’s new City Manager and he was personally involved in the City of Stockton case mentioned above.


Richard Behling

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From: Richard Behling
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 11:48 AM
To: 'Tilton, Joann'
Subject: Request for code enforcement policies and procedures

January 6, 2009

Joann Tilton,
Manteca City Clerk
1001 West Center Street
Manteca, CA 95337

Re: Public records request
Dear Ms. Tilton,

The 2006-07 Grand Jury reviewed Manteca’s code enforcement policies and procedures as part of their investigation of the lack of the same in Stockton. Their Final Report for Case #04-06, City of Stockton Code Enforcement, can be found at this Web-address: Specifically, refer to the sixth bullet point on report page 51.

I, too, would like a copy of Manteca’s code enforcement policies and procedures. Please return them via email, or mail them to the address above at your earliest convenience.

Respectfully submitted by,

Richard W. Behling

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From: Tilton, Joann []
Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2009 3:34 PM
To: Richard Behling
Subject: Request for code enforcement policies and procedures

On January 6, 2009 you request copy's of Manteca's code enforcement policies and procedures, via email.

My research of my records and via the Police Chief shows we do not have the documents (policies and procedures) being requested.

I provided the Police Chief with the 2006-07 Grand Jury report you emailed to me and he is not familiar, nor could he find the information mentioned on page 51 of this report.

Thank you for your patience while awaiting a response.

Joann Tilton, MMC
Manteca City Clerk
1001 W. Center St.
Manteca, CA 95337
(209) 239-8467 (Phone)
(209) 825-2333 (Fax)