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Lathrop’s No.1 boogeyman is Jack Snyder

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POSTED October 11, 2009 2:08 a.m.
We bury the hatchet
But leave the handle stickin’ out
We’re always diggin’ up things
We should forget about
When it comes to forgettin’
Baby, there ain’t no doubt
We bury the hatchet
But leave the handle sticking out
— Lyrics from Garth Brook’s “We Bury the Hatchet”

Jack Snyder – like him or not – is no longer a force in Manteca politics.

Yet he still casts a long shadow over the psyche of some in Lathrop. His name keeps popping up in the oftentimes overly spirited debates now taking place in the city where Supreme Court Justice David S. Terry was gunned down in the Lathrop Hotel on Aug. 13, 1889 to settle an old dispute.

Things are a tad more civil in Lathrop these days but not much.

Snyder who worked for Libbey-Owens-Ford in Lathrop as a quality control manager before his retirement also served on the Manteca City Council. At one point, in the 1980s, Snyder suggested Manteca should consider annexing the industrial portion of the Lathrop community where LOF and Simplot are located. Lathrop wasn’t incorporated at the time. Understandably, he touched off an adverse reaction.

Lathrop arguably had been smarting for decades over losing the first high school to Manteca back in 1920. Lathrop was the bigger of the two communities at the time. After trying to come up with a compromise site somewhere along Union Road or Airport Way, the high school ended up being built in the 400 block of East Yosemite in Manteca.

Snyder’s annexation proposal went nowhere some 25 years ago although you could make a case that the fear of Manteca swallowing up Lathrop was one of the big impetuses for the Lathrop incorporation movement in addition to the problems they had disposing of wastewater.

Ever since Snyder’s name has been coming up when people get a bit angry in Lathrop and they want to throw out a trump card. One longtime Lathrop leader – who is not part of the five souls who get to help the community tread water after being hit with the foreclosure meltdown tsunami – suggested letting Jack Snyder take the entire Crossroads Business Park by giving it to Manteca and disband the city when the council was debating what to do with police services.

Another speaker offered up that he was tired of Lathrop being a stepchild in Manteca’s shadow and made it clear he wanted a pending study about police servcie options to have absolutely nothing to do with possibly contracting with Manteca.

Snyder – if you haven’t figured it out – is a favorite verbal punching bag for a lot of folks in both Lathrop and Manteca. You can’t help but become one after 25 years in the hot seat on a city council. No matter what you do, someone isn’t going to be a happy camper.

Lathrop shouldn’t feel inferior to any other city including Manteca. While they might end up being deeper in the woods than they let on thanks to the current Great Recession’s financial mess made worse by outright thefts of local money by Sacramento, Lathrop has well positioned itself.

They stopped the uglification of the Interstate 5 corridor that headed at one time to become a clutter of unkempt and drab industrial and trucking uses to one that has modern distribution, business parks, retail, and housing.

They also managed to partner with Cambay Group to create what ultimately will be the best planned and relatively environmentally sound community in Northern California – the 11,800-home River Islands at Lathrop complete with an unparalleled universal river access. It is for real. Cambay Group has over $150 million invested into the project and has made considerable improvements. They are just waiting to the economy to recover.

People need to focus on that. It is the economy that is creating problems, not the ghosts of the past. Instead of beating up on each other – even if it is just between folks in Lathrop – energy should be directed toward making sure communities survive and are positioned for thrive when the upswing returns.

If Lathrop – and Manteca – can do that not only will they better weather the next big dip in the economy but they can help the lot of people who were struggling even before the bubble burst.

Bury the hatchet, remove the handle, and move on.
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