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Lathrop farmer wants city to stop subsidy to The Rush

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POSTED January 9, 2010 3:28 a.m.
LATHROP – Retired Lathrop farmer-turned community activist Dan Doyle wants to see the city’s monthly $1,200 subsidy to The Lathrop Rush stopped right away.

“My suggestion is to stop subsidizing it. We don’t have the money,” Doyle said at the council meeting earlier this week, adding what the city is paying the publication is money that could be used elsewhere to solve the current budget deficit.

Estimates put the city’s annual budget deficit for the next five years at $2.5 million. City officials are still trying to find ways to get rid of the remaining $1 million deficit in the fiscal year that started on July 1, 2009. The city has already managed to shave off about $1.5 million from the deficit by eliminating 15 positions last May, five of which were budgeted but not filled. Most of the 10 who were laid off were employed in the parks maintenance division. The layoff practically decimated that division leaving only two remaining on staff. City reserves of $5 million in the general fund could cover the deficits for the next two years but city staff and officials do not want to see the reserves depleted.

The monthly $1,200 infusion into the publication of The Rush began several years ago and was intended to help publicize city events, programs and other information that needs to be disseminated in the community. City leaders call the money given to The Rush advertising money instead of a subsidy. The funds are currently made available to the publication on a month-to-month basis, according to the agreement inked between publisher Frank Cavaco and the city.

Doyle pointed out that, as stated in the staff report to council, the city already has several ways of disseminating information to residents including the Lathrop Seniors Newsletter, the city’s newsletter which is inserted in residents’ monthly utility bills, and the city’s official web site.

“I know it’s a Lathrop paper but half of the people don’t even get it. It’s a waste of our money. This (subsidy) needs to stop. It needs to die now. The city has more important things to worry about than this,” Doyle said.

At one point during his commentary before the council, he asked Mayor Kristy Sayles, “Is this a monthly newspaper?”

The mayor answered, “As far as I know.”

Doyle continued to press on, “Do you read this every time?”

“I do,” the mayor replied.

“I don’t,” was Doyle’s quick rejoinder.

Doyle is not the first one to urge the city to stop paying $1,200 for the publication of city events and other information in The Rush. Residents Rosalinda Valencia and J. Chaka Santos have, on a number of occasions, addressed the same issue before the council. At one point, the mayor was accused of being a business partner of publisher Frank Cavaco during a council meeting by Valencia. Cavaco at that time told the Bulletin that Sayles is not part of the newspaper. He again denied that the accusation during a telephone interview on Friday.

“It bothers the heck out of me,” Cavaco said of the criticisms and that he simply bites his tongue when it happens.

“It wasn’t for me; it was for the community,” he said of his main reason to start the paper in 1998.

“It got embraced by the people and it made me feel good. I’m just lucky I lasted this long,” added the Prudential Realty agent and broker.

Cavaco said that, actually, Santos “wanted to be a partner with this paper” at one time.

“I said, ‘I’m open; let’s see what happens,’” was his reply to Santos, Cavaco said.

In fact, Santos donated to the paper $150 toward the purchase of a camera that Cavaco has been using, and is still using, to take pictures for the paper.
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