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Stance against moral decay in booze vote
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LATHROP – Here’s to no booze in Lathrop parks.

Despite a request by the Lathrop Celebration Committee to add a beer and wine booth to the festivities at Mossdale Landing Community Park when the city officially celebrates its 22nd birthday on Saturday, Sept. 24, the Lathrop City Council voted 3-1 against the move during their meeting Monday night.

Only Councilman Omar Ornelas – who has to wait almost two years before he can legally buy a drink – voted in favor of the request.

It was Vice Mayor Christopher Mateo that took the hard-line stance against allowing a temporary use permit that would allow alcohol sales and consumption in city parks. He contended there was a link between several requests that have come before the five-member body over the course of the last several months.

“First it was fireworks and then medicinal marijuana – people are dragging the City of Lathrop down to the ground. People are selling their soul to the devil,” Mateo said emphatically. “What’s next – legalizing gambling and prostitution? Where are your morals?

“Are we here to teach our children that alcohol is okay?”

Diane Lazard of the Lathrop Celebration Committee gave a brief presentation to the council and outlined how the beer and wine garden would be used to help supplement the operating budget of the annual gathering. It would help make up for a relatively weak fundraising effort at the group’s fireworks booth last month.

With $8,000 being spent alone of the fireworks display on the night of the 24th, Lazard said that the booth – which was slated to be ran by the Lathrop Lions Club – would generate the additional revenue the group needed without needing to request any funding from the city.

The council, and some in the audience, didn’t see things the same way.

Nearby resident Forrest Burke said that adding alcohol to a community function that is supposed to be a gathering place for families seemed like a bad idea and a recipe for something to happen, especially since there’s no way to monitor the amount that every person would be ingesting throughout the day.

Mayor Joseph “Chaka” Santos said that while he personally doesn’t drink, he doesn’t see where allowing alcohol at the community function would provide an added benefit without adding concerns at the same time.

While the organizing group had started to work with Lathrop Police Services to try and find out what needed to be done to make the situation as safe as possible, Lieutenant Chris Pehl said that anytime you add alcohol to a public event you invite risk, and that his department was not in support of the request but merely pointing out safety issues.

The event, however, will still take place as planned.

A series of activities are preliminarily scheduled Sept. 21-24 including softball games, the South County Idol talent competition, a community “Movie in the Park” and a chili cook-off.

The fireworks display will wrap up the four-day celebration.