There was an issue with a Manteca organization a few years ago – maybe longer now – where the person who oversaw administering the funds ended up doing things that benefitted them personally.
I remember there being a credit card that was used for cash advances at some Bay Area card rooms, and some other questionable things that ultimately ended up putting that person – who I got to know briefly while I was a CCD student at St. Anthony’s where she started as a youth deacon – before a judge.
If only the same slip ups were detected in the case of former Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva.
Now before I continue here, I should say – for the sake of the Facebook lawyers who are threatening anybody who speaks anything but flowery praise of “the people’s mayor” with a defamation lawsuit – that he is innocent until proven guilty and will get his day before a judge to determine the validity of the horrendous charges that have been lobbied against him.
Now (cracks knuckles) I can speak freely.
According to the story that has broken since an arrest warrant was issued for Silva a week ago — he’s been taken into custody upon his return from Columbia — all of this stems from his time as the director of the Stockton Boys and Girls Club and, specifically, the reason that the organization refused an audit of their books to the organization’s national office – leading to the revocation of the club’s charter right around the time that Silva became the Mayor of Stockton.
I don’t know whether these allegations are true – that he lined his pockets with what could be hundreds of thousands of dollars that was supposed to go to some of the poorest children in one of the poorest large cities in California, and did so with a smile while championing himself as some sort of populist mayor who was only not liked because he wasn’t a part of the establishment.
But it doesn’t paint a picture of somebody who can’t accept responsibility for anything.
During his turbulent four-year term – where there were limo fights and private security and what amounted to be an all-out war with the Stockton Record who was doing everything within its power to track him – Silva established two distinct camps in Stockton.
Those that would believe anything that came out of his mouth, and those that would do anything within their power to stop him.
But the sinister thing here, if these allegations prove to be true, is that he launched his self-styled revolution on the foundation of allegedly stealing money from the same people he was supposed to be representing. This isn’t anything new in politics – it happens all the time – but the fervent defenders that thought he all but walked on water is a new twist on the old tale of corruption, and it’s one that continues on the pages of places like Facebook to this day.
There has been a well-organized effort to delegitimize Michael Tubbs as the Mayor of Stockton. For the third time in as many tries last week, the Stockton Police had to intervene when protesters refused to let the council do its job. But this time it spilled out onto nearby streets, and police in riot gear ultimately formed a line around the Downtown Stockton police headquarters while onlooker hurled insults. Several people were arrested along the way, and it appears that Silva’s newfound legal troubles have only emboldened his supporters to make as much noise against the establishment as possible.
I can’t help but think would have happened if the money that supposedly was to go towards those disadvantaged kids wouldn’t have been, according to the District Attorney’s office – ciphered off for his personal benefit. If they didn’t, allegedly, go to pay for international dating sites and personal expenses – some of which, allegedly, were charged to the Boys and Girls Club American Express card even after the organization ceased to exist. Maybe that money would have righted a child’s perspective, allowed them to go to college and come back and fix the mess that modern forefathers have made of one of California’s once proud cities.
Maybe that money could have taken kids from the worst of conditions out of them on trips and mentorship.
Anytime there are large amounts of money at stake, people will be tempted to dip their fingers into the cookie jar and take a little something for their effort. One could say that the six-figure salary he was pulling down from both jobs – he was mayor and the director for an overlapping period – would be enough for anybody to live off.
But if the District Attorney is to be believed, this wasn’t simple scheming – it involved double-billing employee hours that were being provided by a grant, and pocketing the extra money for an extravagant lifestyle starkly different than the throngs of supporters that hung onto his every move.
And the same common refrain is coming from his camp that has come from previous Stockton politicians who were recently arrested for various levels of corruption – “this is politically motivated.”
Time will tell on this one, but I’m genuinely curious whether the people who have stood by him through wave after wave of allegation and supposed impropriety will still be there if a jury determines that there’s enough evidence here for a conviction.
Because it seems like blind faith in the people who want us to think that they’re for us when they’re out for themselves is what’s truly keeping Stockton from becoming a great city once again.
And if this holds up in court? That’s when the IRS will come calling wanting their piece of the pie. And if we’ve learned anything from the celebrities who have gone to Federal prison in recent years it’s nobody – no matter how important they may think they are – is above the law.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.