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Is having a voice worth it?
Lobbying trip generates $1.9M, less than grant efforts
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Do face-to-face meetings with key federal bureaucrats as well as elected leaders pay dividends for Manteca?

Manteca leaders during the past decade have scored $1.9 million as the result of joining the annual San Joaquin One Voice lobbying effort in Washington, D.C.. But the vast majority of it went to Give Every Child a Chance that recieved an initial $1 million grant to run the after school programs and subsequent follow up grants of $300,000 a year.

The city itself managed to  secure $250,000 that went to the initial design work on McKinley Avenue as the result of those trips. Countywide, the trips have helped land almost $60 million.

By contrast, federal grant applications for “shovel ready” projects filed by city department heads well versed in the art of grant writing helped snag $9.3 million in federal stimulus funds for Manteca since 2008. That is in addition to the biggest earmark ever for Manteca - $6 million for the Yosemite Avenue interchange  on Highway 99  secured by former Congressman Richard Pombo in the late 1990s. Staff also was successful in applying for $2.3 million for more work on the McKinley  interchange on 2006.

The fact that staff has proven effective without leaving Manteca in securing federal money plus being convinced “there is no money there” for earmarks given the federal budget situation and the current Congressional ban on such appropriations is what prompted Councilman Vince Hernandez to say no to asking for funding during the upcoming San Joaquin One Voice 2012 trip.

Mayor Willie Weatherford shared some of Hernandez’ reservations about asking for federal money via the One Voice trip but nevertheless joined the council majority on a 4-1 vote agreeing to identify interchange work at both Austin Road and Highway 99 as well as the 120 Bypass and McKinley Avenue as the city’s prime D.C. lobbying effort.

Councilman Debby Moorhead contends the “face to face” is important in pursing funds on a long range basis such as with the transportation bill that the city hopes to gain some funding toward the two interchange projects.

It is clear that the city will need some source of outside money - state or federal - to augment growth fees to build the two interchanges. The Austin Road project will cost at least $150 million due to the need to relocate the freeway as well as clear railroad tracks while McKinley work will cost in excess of $20 million.

The $9.3 million Manteca secured as part of the  American Recovery Act includes:

• $3.7 million for landscaping the 120 Bypass and Highway 99 corridors.

• $586,200 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money to replace the city’s existing street lights with high-efficiency induction lamps.

• $900,000 to go toward the $2.9 million project to build the four-lane gap missing on Atherton Drive between South Main Street and a point west of Wellington Avenue. They money was switched out with another agency for replacement funds after the state was unable to give the project archeological clearance to allow it to be spent before a use it or lose it deadline.

• $957,000 that paid for the rehabilitation of portions of nine streets.

• $1.4 million to hire four additional police officers for three years.

• $1.3 million in transit funds including $380,000 that went toward toward environmental studies for the transit station breaking ground next year at Moffat at Main, $100,000 for an additional fixed route bus, $130,000 for the lease of the new Manteca Transit facility, and $40,000 for marketing, branding and signage.