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Comrades, are you going to next Manteca council meeting?
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Question: What do the now defunct Soviet Politburo and the Manteca City Council have in common?

Apparently they share an interior designer.

At least that’s what Mayor Willie Weatherford quipped during Tuesday’s city council meeting.

He was referencing the look of the council chambers at the Manteca Civic Center now that the new audio visual equipment and video cameras have been installed.

That’s because the area behind the council dais is now completely blank with an ominous looking camera near the ceiling.

“This looks like the Kremlin,” Weatherford joked.

Part of the problem stems from the fact the long-time volunteer who arranged various artists’ work to be placed on the wall behind the council is unable to do so any more. City Manager Karen McLaughlin indicated staff hopes to find someone who will step up and provide rotating art work displays. Plans ultimately call for recreating a large replica of the City of Manteca seal complete with the city motto, “The Family City.”

Feedback received by the city so far indicates the cable video and sound is significantly better although there are times council members faded off as they were talking. That’s because the new microphones are “directional” in that you need to speak toward them and not away.

The city staff is still fine tuning the system but most have noted it’s a big improvement over the previous system that was installed 26 years ago.

One other change you’ll see — or won’t see that is — during the next council meeting is Michael Recycle upstaging the city manager. Every time the cameras were on McLaughlin when she was speaking Tuesday the smiling blue Michael Recycle trash can loomed over her shoulder.

The new set-up includes a number of flat screens through the chambers complete with split images.

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An email sent to the Manteca Bulletin from Bob Gordon indicates he might be willing to donate land he owns at 1985 S. Union Road to the City of Manteca as long as it is maintained as a park.

The land is where a brush fire early this summer caused concern due to toxic issues the state had indentified on the site. There are some $300,000 worth of state liens on the property. And if you believe the various real estate web sites, the land and home has a value of less than half that amount.