On paper the lawsuit over whether Lathrop’s one-cent sales tax increase was convoluted and inflammatory.
But a search of records for the litigation that Lathrop businessman Dalwinder Dhoot filed over what he alleged was a swindling attempt by the city to pad its coffers with tax money when it had exorbitant reserves returns nothing.
In October it was reported that Dhoot – the owner of Joe’s Travel Plaza as well as the original owner of a Harlan Road hotel – had filed suit against the City of Lathrop after making several highly-charged claims during a city council meeting that elected officials and high-ranking administrators knowingly pushed for the tax increase when it wasn’t necessary.
A search of San Joaquin County records, however, shows no recent lawsuit between Dhoot and the City of Lathrop – only a dispute that was filed in January of 2012 involving Dhoot, the City of Lathrop, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and additional parties. It was eventually dismissed by Judge Barbara Kronlund.
The only outstanding litigation that currently bears his name on a search is a lawsuit that will be back in court for a legal conference in February.
Legal paperwork, however, was filed with the San Joaquin County Clerk back in October naming Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal and the City of Lathrop as plaintiffs. A search for Dhaliwal’s name on the county’s website now also returns nothing.
And that paperwork was pointed in its allegations that were heatedly levied in a public forum where Dhoot also threatened legal action:
“Mayor Dhaliwal and City Manager Salvator (Sic) were are of excessive and wasteful city spending and thus crafted a new measure to increase a 1 percent business sales tax (Measure ‘C’). ‘Mayor Dhaliwal,’ ‘City Manager Salvator (Sic)’ and representatives from the Fire Department Chief Officer ‘Gene Neely,’ along with several other powerful individuals, both within and outside the City of Lathrop, have conspired to effectuate the Defendants claim to eliminate ‘Dhoot’ from conducting any business in the City of Lathrop by imposing the 1 percent sales tax increase – ‘Measure C’ – by targeting ‘Dhoot’ by threats and making it difficult for ‘Dhoot’ to stay in business for the City of Lathrop.”
Measure C, which was designed to replenish funds for public safety and those for the public good that had been depleted thanks to the downturn in the economy, passed with 77 percent of the vote. No vocal opposition was voiced prior to its placement on the ballot from any public group including local anti-tax groups that have spoken out in the past when neighboring communities have tried similar measures.
As part of a handshake agreement, the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District receives 40 percent of the money generated, and those books are open to the public. A Measure C oversight committee was formed to provide guidance on discretionary funding and until Dhoot lodged his complaint with the council, no opposition had emerged.