Not so long ago, the men and women elected by the community to lead Manteca were able to make a difference.
When a city manager by the name of Rich Jones told the late Jack Snyder he was essentially short of gourd for pushing the county into accepting an offer to buy a dilapidated county park, otherwise they would sell it to a developer housing, Snyder did not bow to the hired arm.
Jones told him the city couldn’t afford it. He told Snyder the city couldn’t keep him going. And, surprised, he told her the city should seek expert advice before adding a city park.
Jones worked to convince the majority of council that the city couldn’t afford it and that there were better things to spend money on. After all, he was the expert and should know.
In fact, the real expert on Manteca was Snyder, not Jones.
Jones was a competent city manager, but he had training in city management, which a specific community did not need.
Snyder didn’t have to spend about $ 800,000 of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to tell him what Manteca needed. He saw a great need for recreational opportunities for the youth of the community. Snyder had a sense of the community as, unlike most city directors and department heads, he actually lived in Manteca, raised his family there, and invested a lot of time and resources in community businesses. Serving as a Manteca board member was not just a job for him. It was a passion that was a limit vocation.
Manteca wasn’t just a paycheck or a stop along the way.
Snyder, much to Jones’ dismay, convinced the majority of the council to buy the land.
Today, Northgate Park is very popular with young people and families. And so is Woodward Park, another community park that exists not because a consultant paid $ 100,000 to do a study said it was necessary, but because Snyder and his fellow members of the council knew it was necessary.
Not only does the community make heavy use of the park, but it’s one of the best places for NorCal soccer tournaments to use. It was a park without a consultant.
Manteca has also decided to tackle a Big League Dreams sports complex. Again, no consultant was paid to come up with a plan to tell city leaders what they should do.
The one thing worse than planners that you can’t take your fingers off of having a deadly grip on a 1980s planning manual are the town hall guys who put more importance on education than anything else. .
Yes, we are in California where studies are a prerequisite for a lot of things. But unlike the line that is cycled at 1001 W. Center St., not just today but for most of the past five years, we don’t need a study every time before someone is. allowed to sneeze.
It’s safe to say, based on the main priories and recent advice from the mid-year budget priority workshops, that downtown Manteca is not âtheâ burning issue.
It’s also a little strange that Mayor Ben Cantu is pushing someone to hire to take care of economic development in Manteca.
Any city manager worth his salt might want to check out the existing priorities set by council in its last goal setting session. Topping the list, you shouldn’t spend $ 800,000 on another downtown plan, no matter how long it lasts.
However, there is money included in the budget for a specialist in economics. The current city manager – based on his comments to Cantu at the last council meeting – has chosen to ignore a council priority as the passage of the current budget makes it clear that it exists by not replacing the council specialist. economic development that left the city’s employment earlier this year.
As for studies in general, we all know the punch line. The studies are done and they literally expire as city managers are known to say once they’re done that Manteca doesn’t have the money to implement them.
Funny, but isn’t that what they’re hired to do, is to find a way to get things done? The last city manager actually called for a tax increase saying we needed more money, but didn’t come up with any specific plan that would tie the city into how it would be spent.
Many people said they voted against it because of a lack of accountability. They ended up being clairvoyant given that we quickly discovered that the city had no idea of ââproper accounting for the $ 62 million in public money.
This downtown $ 800,000 study staff is also a very poor outlook. Not only are they essentially pushing it as the first major initiative out of the gate as the city puts its books in order, but they do so without knowing why such an initiative sticks to the throats of people who would expect you to support it. .
The best way to explain why is to walk down the 300 blocks of East Yosemite between Manteca High and the heart of Manteca after dark.
Six years ago, people approached City Councilor Gary Singh and then-council member Debby Moorhead to tell him how dark it was.
The two elected leaders decided that there should be a lamppost. City manager Tim Ogden accepted and identified the money.
But then, city staff who struggled for seven years to advance improvements to a downtown lane found construction costs had risen. The money Ogden identified went to this job. And instead of tapping into the 25 percent reserve to buy a 19th-century-style lamppost or two, the city hasn’t tackled what the council as a whole determined to be a public safety need.
The question came up three years ago. The second time around, Mayor Ben Cantu stressed the need to continue the city’s effort started in 2003 and install several more 19th-style lighting along the main street. As shocking as it sounds, the city actually commissioned a plan in 2003 that provided for just that plus similar lights along the central and side streets.
This time, Miranda Lutzow was the city manager. The lights were supposed to come on but never did. The council at the time was told it was too expensive.
But didn’t you know the city had the money to commission the infamous “ghost” consultant report to solve the fruit improvement issues at hand downtown.
They brought in an expert from Georgia, semi-packed the transit center in December 2019, and learned that a study was coming up.
The study was apparently handed over to City Hall, but it was never shared with anyone downtown, the community, or city council.
It is now fairly clear that the bureaucrats hired by Manteca are good at conducting studies.
The city clearly doesn’t have the skills to do the small projects which are safety and quality of life issues that don’t feed their egos instead of delivering a bunch of gibberish so they can proclaim that they were the Saviors of Manteca on their CV.
Here’s a suggestion: Maybe a city council member can channel Jack Snyder and get Manteca something he needs that the pros say we can’t afford, like a street light in Block 300 East. Yosemite instead of spending $ 800,000 on a downtown study that they – as experts – determined we can’t afford not to have.
This column is the opinion of the editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be contacted at [email protected]