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‘Power to the people’ versus ‘up, up & away’

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POSTED July 27, 2009 12:52 a.m.

South San Joaquin irrigation District isn’t about to let PG&E set the perimeters of the debate this time around in their bid to provide the people of Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon with a minimum 15 percent reduction in electrical bills, better customer service, and more reliable electricity.

They have been doing a low-key postcard campaign to solicit support in the coming battle that has all the makings of a David vs. Goliath remake.

The slogan the SSJID is using is simple and to the point – “Power to the People.”

They didn’t come up with this one by accident. A few years back an angry PG&E corporate type from San Francisco let the Manteca Bulletin know the folks in the for-profit power company’s board room on Beale Street in The City where underground transformers blow up and catch fire on almost a routine basis that PG&E  brass get pretty steamed whenever the Manteca Bulletin used that moniker on a graphic box with stories about the SSJID-PG&E tug-o-war.

If PG&E would like their own catchy slogan that will help people identify with their business plan, perhaps they might want to entertain “Up, Up & Away” as it reflects their proficiency at rolling out non-stop rate increases.

Speaking of PG&E, now that the power company has finally relocated the power poles along Union Road after a delay of over six months, the traffic signals at three intersections are now targeted to be turned on by July 29.

The signals at Atherton Drive and both sides of the Highway 120 interchange have been on hold while PG&E took their time to get around to the pole relocation.

What Manteca experienced in holding up the Union Road widening projects is standard operating procedure for the power company. If you doubt that just ask Leo DeGroot who spent the better part of a year waiting for PG&E to perform construction work on his project on North Main Street.

Now the big question is just how will the city landscape the median and maintain it for the stretch of Union Road that is rapidly becoming Manteca’s “first impression” for hundreds of thousands of visitors each month? Bass Pro Shops attracted a million visitors in their first five months in operation at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley at Union Road and the Highway 120 Bypass.

PG&E – along with Verizon – have been moving at less than lightning speed to allow Manteca to move forward with the long-stalled expansion of Library Park. The promised timetable deteriorated so much that Manteca had to pay off a contractor who was ready to do the work last April with a termination fee. Why did Manteca go to bid on the project if PG&E et al weren’t ready? Well, they were told by the powers that be that the work regarding lines underground and above would be done by last spring,

Manteca Councilman Steve DeBrum was hospitalized this past week when he was experiencing chest pains.

He’s now back at home and was told it wasn’t a heart attack.

DeBrum was back to his usual self chuckling at a suggestion that if he wanted to avoid experiencing future chest pains he needs to stop monitoring the progress on the California State Budget.

Say what you want about privatization, but when it comes to garbage the City of Manteca knows their stuff.

An independent survey by HF&H Consultants showed that Manteca’s solid waste wastes for residnetial and commercial are the second lowest of 11 servcie areas in San Joaquin County and the fourth lowest of 40 service areas in Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Madera counties.

No too many moons ago there was a council minority that insisted Manteca’s solid waste crews were essentially lazy and that Manteca should look at privatization. Not the case by far. They continue to keep adding efficiency year after year amid increases in the number of homes collected per route per day to keep a lid on costs.

Manteca’s enforcement of Toter placement also helps keeps the system efficient.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail

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