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Manteca city hall stretches the truth with today’s ‘free community clean up’
Then Mayor Willie Weatherford (center with red cap, brown shirt, and light gray slacks) cut the ribbon on Oct. 16, 2008 to mark the opening of the Manteca Bass Pro Shops. How on earth did the “incompetent” people running Manteca back then pull that off?

If you’re like me and took a couple of plastic bags of personal documents to have shredded for “free” at the City of Manteca “community clean-up event” today then you’ve participated in a big lie.

Lying — or more politely stretching the truth — is what passes these days as leadership at city hall.

It falls right in line with making and then breaking promises that either they knew they couldn’t keep or never intended to keep.

For the past 18 years the shredding of documents that was far from free as it was collapsed into the garbage rates that you and I pay has been billed as the “Shred It” event.

It became the “Community Clean Up” event this year in an apparent attempt of top city management’s to pacify their bosses — the five council members elected by Manteca residents.

Giving how some on the council are afflicted with the “hummingbird effect” of zipping from here to there and never following through on commitments they make to the public in the form of adopted priorities, they likely didn’t notice it.

Back in February, if anyone on the council reflects on ancient history that doesn’t fit their personal interpretation of Manteca since 1970 like a glove, the council responding to an irked populace made “beautifying” Manteca as high a priority as addressing homeless issues.

“Beautifying” was defined as going after graffiti, trash, and property upkeep. Top management, not the council, devised the idea of a community-wide clean up where trash that couldn’t fit in a waste cart would either be deposited in front of homes and collected by the city or taken to a central drop-off point.

The council liked the idea. Staff said they’d come back in a month or so with the proposal.

At this point someone on the council should have asked if the solid waste account is rapidly approaching deficit spending such as the $20.4 million crater created by overspending in the water and sewer accounts that was backfilled by “borrowing” money from other areas such as street upkeep, then how could the city possibly afford such a move?

Today we are enjoying a community clean-up event. Let’s see that includes shredding documents that the city has done more than 30 times in 18 years. It includes collecting e-waste the city has done in conjunction with the shred it event for years as well as day-in-and day out at the solid waste division office. I also includes tire drop offs that the city added to the shred it event several years ago.

But wait, they tossed in collecting mattresses. Only mattresses, mind you, sticking with the funded state mattresses recycling program. No other mattress-related trash that won’t fit into your weekly brown cart pickup will be accepted.

Take a look around. Do you think the city tossing in mattress collection with the shred it event constitutes a community clean-up event? Apparently the top brass drive through Manteca neighborhoods as often as they drive North Main Street through downtown.

What makes this kind of pathetic on top of misleading is the fact Ripon — with one and not three generals with various ranks in the city manager’s office — is able to pull off the real McCoy of community clean-ups not once but twice a year.

Perhaps this is jumping the gun. Maybe before summer arrives we will have a community clean up event that is not in name only. But based on how top staff these days seems more interested in things such as torpedoing the long-promised North Main Street project so city hall can pursue their vision of making most of the Main Street corridor two lanes while ripping out traffic signals where they can and replacing them with roundabouts, don’t get your hopes up too much.

Let’s visit the division of duties. The council is elected by the people to establish policies. The city manager’s office and their staff execute said policies as well as run day-to-day city business.

The council established the policy to clean up Manteca. City management implemented it by collecting mattresses that are hauled to them perhaps twice a year during shred it events that they now proclaim to be actual community clean up days.

I apologize. I forgot. Salaried city staff goes out once a month on their time for an hour or so to clean up a spot in town to show they care.

Don’t misunderstand the point. It is admirable that they do it. But what Manteca needs is a holistic approach to reduce the trashing of the city. Devoting that time to make a twice annual honest-to-goodness community clean-up event work would be a much more effective use of municipal manpower.

As for the graffiti abatement, now that the Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police (SHARP) are back on the job the frequency — not to mention the staying power — of the vandalism done within spray paint will recede.

That’s because anyone who has been in Manteca for more than a year knows that SHARP is an extremely effective and valuable volunteer force. In fact, for years other cities looked to Manteca to understand how the city addressed graffiti so well. The key was — and still is — SHARP volunteers augmented by contracting with the sheriff’s community service crews.

Which brings us to the “big lie” that has been repeated with great frequency in recent years. You know the one. Everyone who has occupied a department head’s chair or higher in Manteca since the beginning of time were dunces and/or incompetent fools based on what current top brass and the professor of Manteca City governance history believe.

No, they did not walk on water. Yes, they made missteps. And yes, clearly somewhere in recent years — perhaps it was when the city started playing musical city managers and let the finance department go into free fall — the city’s bookkeeping became so convoluted a $20.4 million hole was created in the water and sewer accounts that has to be paid back.

If Manteca has been so inept over the years before those who feel we should be blessed that they now occupy seats where they can ignore and/or manipulate council policy directives in what comes across as bold, last-minute policy coups, why are we still standing?

How did we get Big League Dreams or Bass Pro Shops? How did we land Great Wolf and what will be an extremely solid steam of city tax revenue? How did we convert a blighted shuttered sugar refinery into a thriving economic juggernaut? How did we get a cutting edge food waste to fuel program to power solid waste trucks?

How did we get a diverging diamond interchange? How did we get a beautiful downtown transit center, expanded Library Park and stylish street lights and traffic signals? How is it we get what many from out of town believe is the best municipal golf course in the region? How did we get the Tidewater Bike Path or the 52-acre Woodward Park with lighted soccer fields?

How did we get one of the nicest BMX tracks around? How did we secure treated surface water to augment dropping ground levels and a wastewater treatment plant that a still state-of-the-art?

You get the picture even if those who are convinced we are lucky to pay them six-figure salaries even though they are “pained” when they look at what we are doing here in Manteca.

Clearly mid-management as well as frontline workers whose staffing needs always seem to take the back seat to expanding the ranks of upper management are doing their jobs for the most part.

That always goes for those at the top when they aren’t busy playing politics, trying to manipulate the council, or making promises they have no inkling or intention of keeping.


This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at