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Dresser asks city to stop monthly subsidy of The Rush
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LATHROP – Another request has come before the Lathrop City Council asking the city to discontinue subsidizing The Rush, the monthly publication owned by area real estate broker Frank Cavaco.

The publisher, who is a member of the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District board of directors, has been receiving $1,200 a month from the city every time the paper is published. The Rush has been receiving the money as payment for the publication of city announcements such as Parks and Recreation programs and activities, among others. That partnership has been going on for a number of years, during which time a number of residents – including current council candidate Rosalinda Valencia and mayor hopeful J. “Chaka” Santos – have gone before the council demanding that the city stop paying the publication with taxpayers’ money.

At the council meeting Monday night, Dresser made the latest request that the city severe its subsidy of The Rush when he spoke before the council and asked “that the city quit doing business with The Rush based on the latest issue where Frank only made space available to a select group of candidates – the current mayor (Kristy Sayles), Omar (Ornelas) and Sonny (Dhaliwal).” Ornelas is running for office for the first time and hopes to snag one of two open seats on the council including the one currently being occupied by Dhaliwal whose term expires at the end of the year and is running for re-election.

Dresser, who is a former planning commissioner and council member, said after the meeting, “I took issue with the fact that the paper receives city money when it is issued and, therefore, it would appear that the city was backing the slate that he has openly promoted.”

Curious to see the political advertisements of Sayles, Ornelas and Dhaliwal in The Rush when Cavaco personally dropped off the freebie issue at his doorstep on Monday, Dresser wanted to know who else have been contacted by the paper. He contacted both J. “Chaka” Santos who is running for mayor in the November elections, and Rosalinda Valencia who is a council candidate, who said they have not been contacted by Cavaco. He personally met and talked with Santos; he talked to Valencia on the phone. Both told Dresser they have never been approached either by Cavaco about running a campaign ad in his paper.

Dresser pointed out that if Cavaco plans to print an October issue of The Rush, he doubts that the publication will come out on or before Oct. 9 which is the first day that absentee ballots are being issued out to San Joaquin County voters. And that’s one of the issues he is concerned about.

Yes, the three candidates’ political announcements in the paper appeared to be paid “print ads,” said Dresser.

“But the point is, if we are paying him the money (to print The Rush), that’s an unfair use of city money,” Dresser said. “The city needs to separate itself from political things, or at least, stay out of it for the next three months.”

He added that while it’s Cavaco’s prerogative to choose what and what not to print in his paper, there is an appearance of conflict since it involves money from the city. “And that’s the rub. The city should be out of the picture,” Dresser said.

And while the printed announcements carrying political campaigns by Sayles, Ornelas and Dhaliwal appeared to be paid advertisements, Dresser said he was not sure if these were actually paid ads.

The three candidates in question could not be reached for comment as of press time Tuesday night. Cavaco was not available to comment either.

At Monday’s council meeting, none of the candidates made any comment on Dresser’s request about the city ending its subsidy to The Rush. Council member Christopher Mateo was absent for the second meeting in a row, and the fifth seat has been vacant since former councilman Robert K. Oliver retired in March.

Dresser is the latest resident to go before the council and question the city’s continuing subsidy of The Rush with taxpayers’ money.