It may not have made a difference if the Lathrop City Council voted for the Pilot/Flying J Truck Stop on Roth Road at Interstate 5.
According to Lathrop City Attorney Salvador Navarrete, the company said that they were going to build the truck stop at its proposed location – which is outside of Lathrop’s city limits – even if the council didn’t give their approval and take the necessary steps to annex the piece of property right outside of town to tap into the tax base it will afford.
On Monday two respected community members brought up the matter to the council after it was announced last week that more than 1,100 registered voters had signed a petition demanding that either the city rescind it’s approval, or place the matter on the ballot in a future election to let the residents decide.
According to Reverend Lou Davis, who said he has been answering questions of as many as 15 people about the issue since word of the petition got out, it was his understanding that the project would be built in that location regardless, and that the representative from Pilot/Flying J said that they had the backup plan of appealing to San Joaquin County to get permission to construct the facility.
And he wasn’t alone.
Lathrop Planning Commissioner Bennie Gatto, who voted in favor of the matter before sending it onto the council for final approval, said he felt that the people who were lobbied in the community to sign the petition were given faulty information in order to get their signature.
He also made a reference to Steve Macias – who organized the outreach against the truck stop the night that it appeared on the council agenda, and has subsequently pulled paperwork to run for mayor against Sonny Dhaliwal, who voted along with the rest of the council in favor of the project.
“The people of this community were misled to get them to sign a petition when they really didn’t know what was going on,” Gatto said. “This is a very good project for the City of Lathrop and I can’t figure out why anybody that is against growth would want to run for the City Council.”
A San Rafael-based political action committee calling itself the California Future Fund has distributed fliers to Lathrop residents outlining all of the ways that the massive truck stop would damage the quality of life for Lathrop residents – alleging that drugs, prostitution, pollution and crime will likely follow shortly after it is constructed.
According to filings with the California Secretary of State, the California Future Fund is a PAC that was started by Bay Area political consultant Thomas Montgomery, and is affiliated, at least in financial dealings, with San Joaquin-based CrossCurrents LLC – a political consulting firm founded by Stockton resident Lee Neves. Montgomery’s firm, Political Visions, is listed on the California Future Fund filings, as is CrossCurrents LLC, and on Neves biography on his company’s website, California Future Fund is listed as one of his clients for the 2016 election cycle.
And the group is also using other high-profile political consultants. According to Harry Randhawa, who was listed as the driving force behind the petition effort, the group has secured the services of San Joaquin County political consultant Steve Reid as well.