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The jokers go wild & play the race card in Manteca’s homeless debate

The debate over the proposed homeless navigation center is now being moved into the gutter.

It’s all thanks to some opponents believing their cause is served by playing the race card.

In case you missed what crawled out from under a rock, took more than a few cheap shots on social media and then retreated into the moral abyss of self-righteousness we are now being told racism is behind the Manteca City Council’s decision to locate a homeless navigation center on land near South Main Street.

And in order to do it the targets of  their slapping the race card down on the table had to hop into a time machine as well as defy logic to be guilty of what they are being charged with doing.

Proponents contend the council conspired to place the homeless navigation center in City Council District 3 because they were motivated by racism.

The district represents what would best be described as what parts of Manteca existed prior to 1965.

It also happens to have the highest concentration of Hispanics among the four council districts as Hispanics account for 53 percent of the voting age population within District 3.

That, in a nutshell, is how they are justifying the claim locating the homeless navigation center on part of an 8-acre site in the Manteca Industrials Park was racially motivated.

In other words, the city is purposedly foisting the homeless shelter on the district where the most Hispanics reside in Manteca.

For such a racially charged claim to hold water, the council would have to had full knowledge of two things a year in advance of them actually happening.

*Where the demographer hired to devise council districts would draw the lines.

*Also, the specific ethnicity composition of districts that had yet to be drawn.

The decision to go with the South Main Street property was made on a 4-1 vote a year plus before the city got down to the brass tacks of going to council districts.

Then there are inconvenient facts that also get in the way of the council being guided by racism in deciding where to place the homeless navigation center.

Fifty-percent of the council members who voted for the South Main Street site are Hispanic.

Making it all the richer is a number of those tossing about the race card so freely are Caucasian.

It gets even more bizarre. Both Cantu and Nuno who are first generation Hispanic Americans have never been know to play the race card.

And how about this fun fact: Based on the 2020 census 41 percent of Manteca’s citywide population is Hispanic and 35 percent of the population is Hispanic.

As for the council as a whole somehow being a collective band of racists consider this:  Cantu and Nuno being Hispanic account for 40 percent of  the council composition while Hispanics overall account for  41 percent of the population.

Charlie Halford and Dave Breitenbucher being white account for 40 percent of the council composition, while Caucasians as a whole account for 35 percent of the population.

Gary Singh being Indian that is lumped with Asian American accounts  for 20 percent of the council composition and 15 percent of the pollution.

You could argue the current council composition reflects the ethnic composition of the city fairly well.

But if you believe this is all about racism then you would want to see Dave Breitenbucher — the only council member to vote against South Main Street site — to step down from the council.

That’s because he is a Caucasian representing District 3 which is 53 percent Hispanic. And given we were told District 3 was created on purpose to increase the odds of a Hispanic being elected to the council, then the person occupying it not being Hispanic  could be construed as racist.

However, Breitenbucher still does not favor the South Main Street site, the only council member to do so. He’s not the target of the racist card being played because his position aligns closer to that of the folks pelting council members with the race card.

Heaven forbid if anyone might actually concede the council reached its decision based on it being the best choice from their collective perspectives in a search where there were no locations that would ever be 100 percent acceptable to those that live nearby.

This does not mean it is wrong to oppose the decision.

What is does mean is its wrong to assume the means justify the ends.

Issues should be debated and pursued not with character assassination or vulgar unfounded charges of racism but based on merits and impacts, perceived and otherwise.

Labeling someone as a racist based on flimsy rationale is never a good thing.

And in all honestly it does little to advance their cause.

People keep forgetting the rants, tantrums , innuendos, and pollical character assassination that panders to those that have the same objectives they do will never move those that are diametrically opposed to their viewpoint

But what it can do is turn off those in between who one might need to support your position.

That — and ripping apart the community — are what can reap when you pull cards from the bottom of the deck.

The insinuation is not subtle. And once it’s been made its hard to take it back.

The truth doesn’t matter when you resort to casually playing the race card as part of a campaign to toss the kitchen sink at opponents.

 It’s a concession that you can’t win with the cards you are holding.

The damage you inflict by tossing about the race card is it will cut into your credibility.

It is a sign of desperation and deep disrespect for public debate.

All of this, of course, doesn’t matter to those that use race cards like a card shark would to win a game.


This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at