Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
In a front-page article (8-2-16) about Sam Fant’s election plans, the Manteca Bulletin exaggerated, in my opinion, Trustee Fant’s contributions to the recent reduction of Mello Roos taxes for Weston Ranch residents.
The article stated that Fant was “behind a push recently to help alleviate the ongoing tax burden to Weston Ranch residents — partnering with Nancy Teicheira...” It later noted that Fant was proud of “what he was able to accomplish on behalf of the residents of Weston Ranch with the assistance of Teicheira — a move, he said, that involved sitting down with one-time ally Dale Fritchen, who has been critical of Fant and even appeared on behalf of a group that sought to recall him.” Fant, himself, is quoted as saying, “It’s all about doing what is best for our community that has been taxed out the wazoo, and it’s a very fulfilling feeling to be able to do something like that — it’s rewarding to know that you’re helping people”. He goes on to assert, “ It’s a step in the right direction, but we’re not done yet. Although the people are happy with what was accomplished, we need to make sure that we do what is necessary to ensure that Weston Ranch isn’t bearing the burden of unapproved projects passed through previous administrations”. These are very laudable sentiments, but the reality is, and those who regularly attend school board meetings can verify this, the admirable effort to hold the school district accountable and to expect that Weston Ranch residents are only taxed their fair share in Mello Roos has for months been spearheaded by Dale Fritchen.
It is Fritchen who stands up before the board, citing documents and district records to underscore his assertions. It is Fritchen who painstakingly and tirelessly researched these documents and contacted former district officials familiar with Mello Roos formation and intent, to get clarification. It is Fritchen who organized committees dedicated to finding the truth. Fritchen is the actual impetus behind re-examining the way Mello Roos functions in the Weston Ranch area, even if it puts him at odds with district administration.
Trustee Fant, readers may recall, was a very vocal advocate for using Mello Roos funds to build the upgraded artificial turf football field and track at Weston Ranch High. This goaded Fritchen to start questioning whether this was proper use of Mello Roos funding, according to the original documents and spurred him to delve deeper into the issue. I’m sure it is gratifying to Fritchen that Fant has done a 180 degree turn and has come to champion Fritchen’s cause. But it does bother me to see the paper give Fant all the credit (with an “assist” from Teicheira) when it really seems that he has simply co-opted Fritchen’s stance. I do appreciate Fant’s sincere desire to help the Weston Ranch community, but the prism through which the board’s encouraging new direction and re-evaluation of Mello Roos functioning are viewed does seem somewhat distorted in Fant’s favor. One or two Trustees cannot, by themselves, change the direction or intentions of the board itself. It requires a board majority to enact change so the entire board, acting upon Fritchen’s, Fant’s, and Teicheira’s urging, should be commended.
I’ll close by noting that Dale Fritchen, when he was a school board Trustee, was always about serving the district as a whole (insisting that Sierra High get a stadium built the same time as Weston Ranch High) and looking to the needs of his community in particular. He pushed the district hard to build Weston Ranch High, for the good of the community, not self-aggrandizement. You won’t see any gyms or buildings named after him because it wasn’t about ego or self-glorification for him. Dale Fritchen is a community activist in the truest sense of the word, in its noblest form. I admire those who strive to better their communities for the sake of those communities alone. Although Fritchen is not seeking public kudos or even acknowledgement for his efforts, in all fairness, I believe they deserve to be pointed out.