Editor, Manteca Bulletin
Three-peat you say; I have been there four times actually (Dennis Wyatt’s Aug. 8 column, “Ben Cantu & Manteca’s three-peat”).
In the early 1970s I started my career as city planner for Manteca during an economic period that was very similar to the recent recession. At the time, city hall was struggling to find funds to retain employees. It had to reduce service levels, cut costs, and so on. In fact, in order to supplement employee ranks, the city secured a federal grant to hire in three departments. Administration proposed increasing building fees and fees for other services, but it was soundly bashed. It is now 45 years later, and the scenario has not improved — we have thousands of new homes, many more of miles of streets, traffic congestion abound, reduced city employee levels, reduced service levels, and so on.
I question, if it has not worked in 45 years why is city hall and the Big Three still operating on a wish and a prayer, and simply repeating civic management as conducted by previous leaders. I understand that city hall is working on improving things, but, frankly, I have heard that and been there before. In fact, we go through this same economic recovery process every eight to 10 years with each economic down turn. (This is the fourth in my time.)
We projected 30 years ago the Highway 120 overpasses would need to be widen due to growth south of the highway, so why are funds lacking today to make those improvements? The answer is simple, over time city hall and Council kowtowed to special interests that reared up and growled at the slightest attempt to raise fees that would actually come closer to offsetting new development impacts and maintenance costs. While there has been a P.F.I.P. (Public Facilities Implementation Program) in place for decades, it was underfunded because over time special interests working with the Council have negotiated away an effective funding program. Consequently, the residents of this community are forced to pay those costs through diminished public service levels, a lack of community amenities, and poor roadway maintenance.
My plan of recovery is not popular with special interests, for it will redefine “public service” and in whose interest the Council should focus.