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Promises, promises: Veterans are still waiting
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Come Jan. 25 at the first State of the City breakfast, taxpayers were promised a few months back that Manteca would have a new “brand” in exchange for paying a consultant $57,000.
Maybe it’ll be something catchy — and honest — like “Manteca: Where Promises Are Meant to Be Broken.”
Roughly three blocks away as the homeless walk from the $8 million transit center where a marketing expert from Google on Jan. 25 will tell you all sorts of wonderful things for $15, stands the Manteca Veterans Center. Almost a year ago a promise was made to this city’s veterans that a wrought iron fence or some other security mechanism would be put in place to protect a $10,000 air conditioning unit from copper thieves. Once the unit is damaged, it is on the Veterans of Foreign Wars dime to fix.
The former soldiers wanted to put up concertina wire as a line of defense after the area was initially breached and damage done. But the city said that was a no-no even though the Manteca Historical Society was able to resort to concertina wire at one point to protect the museum from unlawful entry via the alley.
And it’s not as if the city doesn’t believe there is a clear and present danger to expensive equipment along Moffat Boulevard. Since the veterans — who are apparently out of sight and therefore out of mind — were stopped from putting concertina wire up along the fenced enclosure, the city used $30,000 in tax dollars to put a fancy roof over a trash enclosure at the transit center to prevent copper thieves from trashing electrical equipment for the solar energy system.
Meanwhile, the veterans’ center is under siege from meth heads, the homeless, and literally garden variety thieves.
Forty-three plants have been stolen. Several security lights have been stripped off the building including one valued at $700. The rope on the flag pole has been vandalized. Graffiti is an ongoing problem for the $1 million plus city-owned structure built less than two years ago.
Thieves wiggled their way into the locked garbage enclosure between a wall and low covering to unscrew bolts on the gate so they could steal a BBQ and shop vacuum. Both items were retrieved by Manteca Police from the nearby Pacific Motel. Of course, no one knows how they got there.
The veterans did their best to block access and replaced the bolts while hammering them sideways to make them impossible to untighten.
The piece de resistance caught on security video footage was an early morning youthful thief who used a shrub as a cushion to law on his back while breaking off a cover at the base of a light pole in the parking lot to pull copper wire.
Commander Carlon Perry noted most of the damage isn’t being done by the homeless.
Maybe Manteca should brand itself, “Manteca: The city where veterans can’t protect themselves so meth heads have an easier time stealing to support their habit.”
Perhaps the Manteca City Council instead of waiting for staff to deliver on a solution promised 11 months ago might want to give the veterans the green light to install concertina wire on their own dime as they originally asked to do.
It won’t stop all theft but it certainly will protect the biggest and most vulnerable asset outside the veterans’ center. Law abiding citizens call it an air conditioning unit. Meth heads call it financing for their next score.

No, it was not
New Year’s
in Kabul
Readers from the four corners of Manteca weren’t happy when the stroke of midnight Sunday ushered in 2017.
They all reported gunfire was out of control.
One Manteca residents who lives off North Main Street noted, “By the amount of automatic gun fire . . .  which lasted for 15 minutes, it seemed like I was in a war! The last thing I was going to do was walk outside for fear of slugs of lead raining down. I mean it was totally out of control and all around me!”
Another Manteca resident near Woodward Park who described himself as a gun enthusiast was unnerved by repeated bursts of automatic gunfire. He also noted the bullets have to fall somewhere.
Deaths from celebratory gunfire aren’t uncommon. Last New Year’s Eve a Houston man died from a falling bullet. There have been deaths over the years in California as well. In Los Angeles 39 people over the years have been killed by stray bullets on holidays according to Newsweek.
The Newsweek story noted, “When a bullet is fired into the air, it can stay in flight for over a minute. On the way down, it gains a velocity of between 300 and 700 feet per second—that’s more than powerful enough to kill a human. Skulls can be penetrated at a velocity of 200 feet per second.”
Illegal gunfire may have been up but it seems the illegal fireworks weren’t as bad this year in Manteca.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email