By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Salcedo loses in bid to drop DC lobbying trip for city officials
Placeholder Image
LATHROP – Lathrop Vice Mayor Martha Salcedo’s logic was simple.

“We can’t ask our residents for an increase in water and sewer rates, and then turn around and say, ‘fly us to Washington.’ I just couldn’t bring myself to do that,” she said, explaining why she voted against sending a delegation from the city to the annual San Joaquin One Voice Trip to the nation’s capital.

She was the lone dissenter with Mayor Kristy Sayles and Council members Sonny Dhaliwal, Christopher Mateo and Robert Oliver casting the majority vote to send just two instead of the usual three representatives to this year’s lobbying trip organized by the San Joaquin Council of Governments. Approved to go are the mayor and Interim City Manager Cary Keaten who, along with the representatives of other cities in San Joaquin, the county and some businesses, will be in D.C. on April 26-30.

Moments before the One Voice vote, the council on Tuesday night approved a three-year water and sewer rate increase for residents.

Salcedo’s proposal to send only one representative was also torpedoed by the other council members.

“One person would be enough to represent us,” she said.

“Because of all the cuts we’re doing, I just didn’t feel it was fair to the people to raise their (water and sewer rates) then ask them to send us to Washington, D.C. Keep in mind, it’s taxpayers’ money being used to pay for this trip. I just want to do what’s fair. I just don’t feel like right now is the right time, with all the budget cuts,” explained Salcedo during an interview after Tuesday night’s council meeting.

But while Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal agreed that “times are tough and we want to save money, we wanted to go this year” to tap into President Barack Obama’s newly approved economic stimulus package.

“This is the right time for us to go there and lobby our lawmakers in D.C.,” he said.

It’s true that “we’re asking people for more money” by raising their water and sewer bills, he said.

“But the new stimulus package is going to be about infrastructure, and now is the best time to go and lobby because everybody is looking for a  piece of the pie. That’s why it was very important for us to send Cary (Keaten) because he’s our former Public Works director. When we’re dealing with infrastructure, there’s nobody who knows more about it than Cary does,” added Dhaliwal who was interviewed after the council meeting.

While city officials can always use the telephone to contact their representatives in Washington, Dhaliwal said, “there’s no substitute for face-to-face talking, explaining face-to-face what our projects are and how much we’re hurting, how much help we need.”

Besides, it’s always good to have a “multi-pronged approach,” he added.

Lathrop has submitted a list of projects totaling close to $125 million for the One Voice group to push in Washington, D.C.

Staff reported that in the past eight years that Lathrop has been taking part in the One Voice annual trips, Lathrop has received more than $900,000 from these efforts.

The estimated cost for three people attending the trip this year is approximately $10,000 to $12,000. However, the city’s expense will be much lower than that since the mayor’s expenses will be equally divided between the city and COG by virtue of her being on the Council of Government board as Lathrop’s representative. One hundred percent of Keaten’s expenses will be covered by the city.