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Jinkens gets mayors ear
Ex-city manager makes buy local pitch
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David Jinkens - who served as Manteca’s city manager up until 14 years ago - has some suggestions on ways to stimulate the local economy.

And Mayor Willie Weatherford who served as police chief under Jinkens wants the city staff to review Jinkens’ letter that contains five suggestions and to provide their input on the feasibility of implementing them.

“Any time you get someone who has good ideas you should listen,” Weatherford said.

The mayor added that the city should look at anything that helps Manteca - whether it is the private sector - weather the current economic downturn and set the stage for a thriving economy as conditions improve.

Weatherford noted that while the city is doing at least one of the economic stimulus suggestions Jinkens suggested, the other four may have merit. Near the end of Tuesday’s council meeting he asked staff to review and respond to Jinkens letter sent to the council on April 8.

Jinkens was employed as a city manager in Elk Grove after Manteca and then South Lake Tahoe where he recently retired. He now lives in Manteca.

The suggestions include:

•Adopting a “Buy American First” purchasing policy based on California law that provides a preference in all city government purchases of products made in the United States as opposed to those products made in foreign countries. Jinkens in his letter to the City Council notes, “let’s help keep residents of our city and our county working first. Let’s hope and work toward encouraging our residents to do the same to when they make purchasing decisions in these lean difficult economic times.

•Provide preferences in the public bidding and procurement for goods and services for business locations within the City of Manteca. Jinkens noted he has seen such policies in place that offer up to a 5% preference. He wrote that, “the purpose is to support local businesses that have historically supported us.”

•Undertaking an assessment of historical resources within the city limits including landmarks, commercial buildings and residences and develop a code and assistance programs that encourages restoration and retaining such resources.

•Developing a comprehensive and financially realistic master plan with an implementation strategy for expanding and creating a long-term sustainable downtown. Jinkens advocates collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce, downtown business leaders, and interested community members can make it happen.

His fifth point referenced the need to development redevelopment agency programs that specifically aid and assist smaller local businesses that want to remain in business and expand their business.  Manteca already has several programs that do that although Jinkens suggests there may be additional ways to have the RDA assist them. Among the higher profile local business expansion efforts the RDA has undertaken in recent years is Mountain Valley Express plus a number of small retailers and business concerns that were already established.

Jinkens’ suggestion for a local preference resonates with points made during recent meetings by Councilman Vince Hernandez.

Hernandez has queried staff about warrants paid to firms that aren’t locally based for services and products available from Manteca concerns.

State law requires the city to award such bids to the lowest qualified bidder but there have been some California cities, according to Jinkens, that have been able to carefully draft policies that give some preference to local businesses in specific situations.

As an example, the fact local businesses collect and pay sales tax locally could possibly be used to justify some kind of preference if a local bid falls within a certain percentage of a non-local bid.

Weatherford said despite the city receiving millions of stimulus dollars from the federal government, it was his opinion it wouldn’t do much to generate local jobs or put a dent in Manteca’s 16 percent unemployment.

He indicated if there was a way to put local people to work he would be in favor of pursuing it.