Friday, May 14, 2010

Meet the Candidates Night

Last Monday night was a Candidates Night for the November 2010 elections, organized by the South San Joaquin County Republicans and hosted at the Chez Shari golf course clubhouse. Various political organizations were introduced and Rita Stolp of the Tea Party Patriots was the featured keynote speaker. Jason Campbell reported the local angle in a Tuesday Manteca Bulletin article.

I went to the meeting, being a newbie local candidate, blissfully content to merely observe because I was not on the list of speakers... until the organizer/M.C., Frank Aquila, asked, “Are there any other local candidates here tonight…?” I raised my hand, stood, and introduced myself. My first extemporaneous political speech was a disaster; I write much better than I speak (at least I think so.)

Preceding me, Manteca's mayor, Mr. Weatherford (former city police chief, councilman, and two-term mayor), stood and put on a most embarrassing show.  "Aw, shucks, I'm a nobody. I don't set policy..."

A year-and-a-half ago I quoted a young woman, a Manteca outsider, in a council meeting, who had this to say about Manteca's brass:

"I mentioned to my father one evening that dealing with Manteca reminded me of a 1950s town in the Deep South. Ironically, the very next day I was introduced to someone who had been a Manteca resident for 10 years who described the dynamics of Manteca's political scene as, quote, 'Think American South circa 1950.' "

After the meeting, the iconic Mr. Weatherford buttonholed me and attempted to set me straight on my comment that the mayor certainly does set policy by holding employment at will powers over the city manager. His beef was that it takes the council to dismiss a city manager. That part is true (see MMC code sections in footnote), but his claim he is a powerless figurehead is ridiculous. I believe I used the term, the city's Head Cheerleader (which is not really derogatory if you think about it in light of what city council members did on their recent junket to Washington, D.C.)

Gimme a C... Gimme a D... Gimme a B... Gimme a G... What does it spell?
(in the Community Development Block Grant program!)

(I know, I know... CDBG is a state program. However, feel free to substitute any other acronymic program for which Manteca has to beg for taxpayer funds to be returned locally from state or federal bureaucracies. And remember that any  every bureaucrat who touches those funds skims a percentage before passing them on.)

Back on point again...

The fancy Latin phrase, quid pro quo (trading favors)... and, if you don't trade, he rattles a few skeletons... says everything about Mr. Weatherford's personal influence and his penchant for taking all the credit for every revenue dollar ever collected, ignoring the debits, and regularly singing his own praises for every taxpayer/ratepayer/feepayer/RDA-purchased "accomplishment" over his councilman and mayoral terms in city office.

The thrust of my speech was that local governments and their constituency have almost no choice but to dig in and hold on, fiscally, while conservative representatives to state and federal governments correct the ruinous, self-consuming course currently held by the "ship of state."

All we hear at Manteca City Council meetings is, "Sacramento is stealing all our money... again!" While California's spending truly is profligate, it is Sacramento's money; they managed to squeeze it (mostly) legally from law-abiding (tax-paying) citizens. But as the the Constitution of the State of California, Article 11, Local Government, makes very clear, every county and city in the state is only a political subdivision of the state; they cannot "steal" what is already theirs. The state can, however, renege on long-standing revenue sharing programs, re-write the taxation and spending laws, and break all sorts of promises... at least until the Olden State turns to dust... or is brought back to moral and fiscal solvency by responsible representatives in the legislature.

Regardless of what disconnected state and fed "lawmakers" do or don't, voters in the City of Manteca need to seriously consider whether this municipality should be impartially administered according to good law, or continue to be the personal political playground of an insular "good old boys" club.

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Manteca Municipal Code
Chapter 2.08 CITY MANAGER

Section 2.08.010 Office created—Appointment—Term.

The office of the city manager is created and established. The city manager shall be appointed by the city council and shall hold office for and during the pleasure of the city council.

2.08.080 Relationship to city council.

The city council and its members shall deal with the administrative services of the city only through the city manager, except for the purpose of inquiry, and neither the city council nor any member thereof shall give orders to any subordinates of the city manager. The city manager shall take his or her orders and instructions from the city council only when sitting in a duly held meeting of the city council and no individual councilmember shall give any order or instructions to the city manager.

2.08.100 Removal from office—Notice from council.
The removal of the city manager shall be only upon a three-fifths vote of the whole council in regular council meetings, subject, however, to the provisions of the next succeeding sections. In case of his or her intended removal by the city council, the city manager shall be furnished with a written notice stating the council’s intention to remove him and the reason therefor, at least thirty days before the effective date of his or her removal.

Authority for the above municipal code is granted in Article 11 of the California Constitution:
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California Constitution
Article 11, Sec. 5. (b)
It shall be competent in all city charters to provide, in addition to those provisions allowable by this Constitution, and by the laws of the State for: (1) the constitution, regulation, and government of the city police force (2) subgovernment in all or part of a city (3) conduct of city elections and (4) plenary authority is hereby granted, subject only to the restrictions of this article, to provide therein or by amendment thereto, the manner in which, the method by which, the times at which, and the terms for which the several municipal officers and employees whose compensation is paid by the city shall be elected or appointed, and for their removal, and for their compensation, and for the number of deputies, clerks and other employees that each shall have, and for the compensation, method of appointment, qualifications, tenure of office and removal of such deputies, clerks and other employees.

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The Manteca Response said...

I used to think that SSJR group had potential, but it never got off the ground because no real leadership. One man town activist and not even a real party affiliation. He never even invited the 3rd mayor candidate and that struck me as odd. How can you not miss that? It was done on purpose and if Frank thinks he has power, he needs to think again. His dark skeletons will soon come out to haunt him.

Samuel Anderson has better class than he does and did the right thing of not crashing that private party. I'm voting for both you and Sam. Our city needs good, honest, Christian men with principles. I see that in both of you. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

LORD! I hated this town since purchased home I thought was "in country." Stating this place is like OLD south in roughly 40-50's isn't covering blatant harrassing of familys, individuals here. Police do nothing I have seen that should be noted nor awarded.
They pull gun on dogs, old folks, discharge arms, then PYOB. Police each other BADLY, excuse, excuse.
Soldiers @ war, disabled seniors, do not get any assist: unless it is "out of town" (officated by local officers, act like children play games) Waste of tax money, air, and life in general . . .