View Mobile Site

City Hall shakeup, crime & election top stories

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED January 2, 2013 12:18 a.m.

LATHROP – A lot happened in Lathrop in 2012.

Some key city figures left for jobs with other agencies. Others retired.

There was a major shakeup with the restructuring of the city council after the November election.

And crime became a concern of citizens after gunfire broke out at a nightclub and left one man dead.

Here is the second of a two-part section of the biggest happenings in Lathrop in 2012:

• City Manager Cary Keaten leaves for Solano Irrigation District: After nearly a decade with the City of Lathrop, City Manager Cary Keaton finally called it quits on April 24. Keaton spent three years as the city manager, and oversaw the public works department for the previous seven. It gave him the experience with water that he would need in his next job as the General Manager of the Solano Irrigation District.

During his tenure he faced a litany of tough choices when it came to balancing the city’s budget in the middle of a recession that hit Lathrop harder than most. Throughout it all he was able to keep with the vision of the council and build a reserve of more than $6 million while other cities in the area were facing bankruptcy.

• Police Chief Eric Holman retires: He spent nearly 30-years on the job and before hanging up the holster. Holman – who spent two years at the helm of Lathrop Police Services – kept a high-profile image in public and often participated in public events ranging from the Police vs. Fire basketball game to the Lathrop Senior Center BBQ Competition.

Fellow San Joaquin Sherriff’s Department Captain Danielle Hohe was tapped to replace him. She from her post as the head of an investigations division that was tasked with finding the remains of the victims from the “Speed Freak Killers” after new evidence surfaced. She has also maintained a public profile since taking the post.

• Crime concerns rise among residents: It culminated when resident Omar Khweiss approached the Lathrop City Council and told them that he was actually worried about going to a local club for his birthday after a shooting the previous weekend left one man dead and two more wounded.

But concerns about rising crime – everything from auto burglaries to drunk drivers – weren’t isolated to just Khweiss.

Next door in Manteca, just weeks before, a pair of shootings left six people wounded – two of them seriously. In one incident a car pulled up behind a home from an alley while a family was having a party and opened fire through a fence – striking five people including a pregnant woman and a three-year-old girl. Another man was gunned down just a block from his front door and was left in critical condition.

Lt. Chris Pehl informed the council that the department would be soliciting the assistance of a crime analyst that would be able to determine where the problem spots were in the community so that officers could better respond. He said that patrol units were keeping a close eye on businesses in town and that the department was taking ownership of the problems.

By the end of the year  Lathrop’s crime stats actually ended up going down in both violent and property crime when compared to last year – as pointed out by Hohe at a council meeting last month.

• An election alters the council
: Sonny Dhaliwal moved over just one seat.

But it was a big move.

Lathrop residents overwhelmingly picked him over incumbent Mayor Joseph “Chaka” Santos to take the reins of the community for the next two years in a move that alters the makeup of the council.

Because Dhaliwal had two years left on his council term, the new council had to vote to determine how best to fill that vacant position – ultimately going with the next leading vote getter the same way they did when Omar Ornelas was picked to serve the four-year term that was vacated by Fire Chief Gene Neely.

Paul Akinjo was sworn in two weeks later.

In what was a surprise to him, Ornelas was tapped to be the city’s Vice Mayor – something that he never would have expected when he was appointed in a contentious battle two years ago at only 19-years-old.

If it is approved by the agency, Ornelas could end up representing Lathrop on the Local Agency Formation Commission – also known as LAFCo – which handles annexation requests from municipalities and is tasked with fostering smart growth.

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...