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Things are going to change, Lathrop edition
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This week concerned residents packed Lathrop City Hall to voice their displeasure with a city plan to widen Lathrop Road to two lanes in each direction from Harlan Road to 5th Street.
And while some of the points that were raised were legitimate – like the safety factors of backing out of a driveway onto a street where the traffic flies by at 50 miles per hour – it also jumped the rails early on with accusations of impropriety on the part of the city and featured some choice anecdotes to describe those who are backing the move.
“George Washington fought against a tyrannical government then as well,” surmised one man in a move to equate the council, and chiefly the city staff who bore the brunt of the criticism, with the Brits loyal to the throne.
Really? Is widening a street that has been slated to be widened since 1994 really tyrannical?
I understand that things get touchy when the government steps in to acquire private property for public use – as they’re doing with a sliver of three parcels with homes along the south side of Lathrop Road to ensure the right-of-way is in place for the new 84-foot wide section. People start to get concerned that it’s simply the first step towards losing their homes.
I hate to say this at the risk of sounding naïve, but forgive me for thinking that municipal planners who could make significantly more money in the private sector actually aren’t out to screw people over and ruin their lives.
It isn’t like this is something that was sprung up overnight.
The City of Manteca invested a ton of money into overhauling the interchange at Lathrop Road and Highway 99. Why do you think that was done? To make it nicer so that people could visit Calvary or get to Raley’s? No. It’s because the long range forecast for the valley calls for an abundance of traffic, and with long-term traffic issues on the Highway 120 Bypass being a reality – even if it’s widened – planners need an alternative route to get traffic between two of Northern California’s arterial highways.
It’s the same reason that a new expressway was built along Arch Road essentially connecting I-5 and Highway 99 to the north of Lathrop.
It’s unfortunate that homeowners along Lathrop Road will have their lives disrupted by progress – that they won’t be able to get their mail in front of their homes anymore, and that they won’t be able to park on the street in front of their homes anymore.
But that’s not the fault of planners or even elected officials who are simply trying to make sure that congestion and logjams aren’t the order of the day 15 years from now.

A hefty sum
There has been some fervor over the annual compensation of Lathrop Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely over the course of the last week when we reported that his total compensation last year topped $350,000.
And while some speculate that there were sinister moves that allowed Neely to get to that mark, it seems that the math points to something far more innocent – though not completely understandable.
Here’s why.
According to Neely, his new contract pays him a base salary of $135,500 at the time it was signed (he gets a one percent cost of living increase between 2014 and 2015, so that went up between those years). However, his contract also allows him to have the additional straight pay he gets as a division group supervisor for Cal Fire added to his base salary – which brings the number, with other additional pay, closer to $200,000-a-year.
I’m not saying that he isn’t worth that much money, and I’m not saying that he doesn’t’ deserve every dime that he gets in his paycheck. But it doesn’t seem prudent that the additional money he’s being paid on top of his salary goes to the same fund that his retirement contribution is assessed from.
Neely said he worked almost 1,000 hours for Cal Fire last year – which equates to roughly six months worth of work when you’re talking about a 2,080-hour year.
Maybe it’s time to look at some other structuring options to save the taxpayers – who are coming up with some insane ideas on how and why Neely is able to pull down the amount of money he is – a little bit of their money?

The Picks of the Prideful Pack
So here he are in Week 9 of the Valley Oak League season, and Mark Condit – who went 5-0 last week – and I are knotted up at 22-3.
East Union grad – and more appropriately, former University of Washington swimmer (he just went back for homecoming and won’t shut up about the Huskies) Eric Wohle is currently sitting at a respectable 20-5, while everybody’s favorite Portuguese comedian Chris Teicheira is drowning at 14-11. Ouch.
While I would encourage all of you to find Teicheira on his Facebook page and point out that he can’t pick his way out of a paper bag soaked in brandy, he’s currently on day 2 of a 30-day suspension for calling somebody “human garbage juice.”
While it seems innocent enough, apparently Mr. Teicheira’s humor is lost on the censors at Facebook who have seen fit to suspend him twice already in the past 12 months.
But enough about those in last place. Let us now unveil the Week 9 selections of the prideful pack:
uCampbell – The big game this week is Manteca vs. Oakdale, and it’s a tricky one because the Mustangs have proven to be hard to figure and they’ve absolutely crushed teams without even throwing a single pass. How will that fare against Manteca’s balanced offense in what could be a stormy night at Guss Schmiedt Field. I’m going with the Mustangs here for the wet field factor. I’m also picking Sierra over Lathrop, Central Catholic over East Union (playoff bound East Union). Because San Francisco is on a bye, I’ll take THE Golden Bears over USC, and Oakland over Tampa Bay.
uCondit – While Teicheira already accused me of hedging my picks to ensure I don’t lose, I assure you that didn’t happen despite the fact that Condit made the same picks I did – Cal, Central Catholic, Oakland, Sierra and Oakdale. Although he added a cute little Manteca adage to his to give it a little bit more zip – “may a kettle bell from Richard Boyd’s Cross Fit PE class fly through the windshield of your arch-nemesis’ car.”
uWohle – The man has to make moves to spare himself from wearing a Manteca High jersey come December, so while he’s taking Central, Sierra and Oakdale and the Raiders like the rest of the winners, he’s going with USC because his Pac-12 knowledge is far superior to those of us who didn’t go to one of those schools. That and he’s evil.
uTeicheira – There’s no way the Buff that bleeds green is going to pick Oakdale to win this week, so Teicheira stands alone because he’s a true alum. He’s also picking Sierra, Central Oakland and Cal – even though he showed he’s really but a true Bears fan because he picked Stanford this week with absolutely no chance of not buying a brick in the East Union Circle of Honor. I see you for what you are Chris. Or as he said it, “may the helmet mullet of Gary Cook warm your child on a cold winter’s night.”
Until next week!

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.