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Panhandle con: Elderly Fresno resident keeps getting stuck in Manteca
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Ten days ago Mike —a Bulletin reader — called about being played by any elderly woman panhandling.

Last August he helped her. He came across her by the Monkey’s RV & Auto Service and adjoining gas station on East Yosemite Avenue. Mike said the woman looked like she was about 90 years old. She appeared to have been there for hours on a very hot day. She said she lived in Fresno and had headed north to attend a funeral and had lost her purse. Mike decided to fill up her gas tank and get her some food. The full-sized Chevy pickup truck she had with her — complete with a camper shell — took only $15 worth of gas. At the time he thought that was odd since he had a full-sized Chevy pickup as well and it took a lot more than $15 to fill it up.

“It should have been my cue then,” Mike said.

Then 10 days ago he was driving down Northgate Drive passing Kmart when he noticed the same elderly woman. He turned around and went back.

This time she was with a man who looked to be in his 50s.

She told Mike that they were from Fresno and were stranded.

At one point he asked if she remembered him. He then referenced his first encounter seven months prior when she said she got stranded in Manteca heading back to Fresno returning from a funeral.

After an exchange Mike told the man he shouldn’t be “primping” the elderly woman out to get money.

The guy didn’t take too kindly to it but when you use an elderly woman that makes you think of your grandmother it breaks down your resistance to help. The term is a great way to characterize what was going on.

Mike had left his message on voicemail and I hadn’t got a chance to do anything about it. Then on Sunday after taking my granddaughter to El Jardin for her 18th birthday, there was a couple that fit their description on the driveway leading from Wal-Mart to South Main Street, Behind them a ways was the Chevy pickup with camper.

Their story this time: They are from Fresno and got stranded in Manteca.

In reality, they are scam artists — pure and simple. They are not flying signs saying they are homeless that might get them a couple of bucks. They are going for a larger score.

Manteca Police are correct in pointing out there are organizations that will help not just the homeless but individuals that legitimately are stranded. They’ve been doing it for years. And those homeless who want to change their lot and are willing to follow the rules they can almost always get off the street.

The more generous everyone is in Manteca with individuals who panhandle, the worst the problem gets.

Two years ago a couple with two small children was a regular feature most days in front of Food 4 Less near Spreckels Avenue.

It’s hard to turn down a kid with a sign that they’re hungry.

Come to find out this family drove down from Stockton. The reason: They said people were much more generous in Manteca and they could collect more money here.

There are a lot of organizations that do an effective job helping the homeless that can use our help: Love INC, Hope Family Shelters, and St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Do what I do. Every time I have the urge to help a panhandler, I note it on a calendar along with what I would have been willing together. They when I make annual donations to various Manteca non-profits, I add that to the amount I typically donate.

That way I’m not being scammed and the “homeless” that need help get help.


Resident has run

in with belligerent

solicitors for alternative

natural gas supplies

While we are on the subject of annoying encounters, Ginger Hadley shared an unpleasant run-in she had at her front for Wednesday with two solicitors for an alternate natural gas provider to PG&E. They made their pitch and asked to see her utility bill.

Hadley said she wasn’t interested and told then them they were trespassing on private property, and that they needed to leave.  One of the men got very aggressive and called her a racist.  He started yelling at Hadley that they were licensed by the US Department of Energy and could go wherever they wanted.  

As she called Manteca Police, the one man continued what Hadley described as “his verbal assault” while she was on the phone with dispatch.

“Please be aware no one has the right to trespass on your property for any reason,” offered in an email.  “Also, you have no obligation to show your utility bill to anyone.  Frankly, I find these predatory business practices distasteful.”

I’ve dealt with the  folks making the same pitch perhaps five times in the past five years. After saying by natural gas bill was below $20 for 10 months out of the year and I had no interest, they wouldn’t accept “no” as an answer. They said I could save money which is extremely dubious since there is a charge for using PG&E lines for another natural gas provider and my use isn’t big enough to  save enough to cover that.

Once they guy was overly aggressive and I asked them to leave twice. Then I asked to see their  permit that the city requires them to pay for if they “canvas” door-to-door and aren’t operating from  — or are connected with — a fixed place of business paying a license fee in the city. That really irked the guy and he started raising his voice.

Now that is the first question I ask. If they can’t produce a copy of a license issued by the city, I politely tell them I might listen to them when they bother to follow the law and close the door.


Paul Stallings

shares good news

about Mantecans

Now for some good news from Paula Stallings who reports that “kindness, friendship, and caring are alive and well in Manteca:

“ I was without a car for about  six weeks due to an accident (no one injured but the car). I had several appointments that were important to keep and Diane Torrano, Chris Oertwig and Pam Dyer were right there for me. They picked me up and drove me to Stockton and Modesto for appointments and even took me home from Manteca Kaiser after my husband was admitted for an overnight stay. Casseroles, homemade soup and frequent phone calls were the norm. What wonderful ladies to have as friends.

“My grandson is on the Woodward basketball team and his previous Little League coach has been taking him to and from the games.  Thanks  Coach, you are the greatest. Go Mustangs!”


Open house Thursday

for retiring Police

Chief Nick Obligacion

The City of Manteca is hosting an open house honoring retiring Police Chief Nick Obligation after serving 25 years as a Manteca Police office.

It takes place at the Manteca Transit Center, 220 Moffat Blvd., on Thursday, Feb. 23, from 3 to 5 p.m.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email