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The saga of the lead balloon
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The Bible tells us to be slow to anger in Proverbs 14:29.  It means that we shouldn’t fly off the handle when something or someone rubs us the wrong way.  I have obeyed this wise saying this last two weeks.  I am referring to the column that our City Manager Steve Pinkerton wrote two weeks ago in response to my “Lead Balloon” column in this newspaper, which appeared, on March 20.  He was fairly critical of me and my opinion.  I don’t begrudge the man his opinion on the utility tax issue and I did wait two weeks before responding.  I just don’t like his opinion or agree with him.  

He is a new guy in town and maybe in his experience in raising money, that is the way they did it in his last city.  I know we pay him $192,804 per year to figure out these things.  That’s over $741.55 per day!  Yikes!  That’s a lot of money Steve.  Whatever happened to the Lee Iacocca days where the leader cut his pay to $1 a year to show the way to cut expenses?  It worked for Chrysler; maybe it could work for Manteca.  But in all seriousness, we have just begun to cut our expenses and yes, it will hurt but we have a long ways to go before we start taxing the people.  That is a long slippery slope.  

Steve also mentioned that I had not attended any meetings with the group assigned the daunting task of recommending changes that were geared towards balancing the budget.  OK, shame on me Steve.  You’re right; I didn’t go to any of those meetings in person.  I would like to attend any future meetings.  When is the next meeting?      

One last comment on this issue - he mentioned that I take “pot shots” at the city workforce.  Well for the record, I believe that our city workers are the best workers a city can have and one of the reasons that Manteca is the best city on this planet to live in and raise a family.  I just think that paying anyone over $95 per hour for a salary in our little city is a little too much and over the top.  I mean we are only 65,000 people strong.  America doesn’t even pay U.S.  Senators that much!  U.S. Senators only get $169,300 per year as of 2008.  And that’s my opinion on that. No pot shot intended.

And speaking of pot shots, how about that drug bust the other day!  Good job Manteca Police.  They took over 200 producing pot plants off the market.  That’s a lot of marijuana that will not be used in town.  Thank you and thanks to the person who called in and tipped off the police.  They were being good neighbors to all of us.   

 And so the saga of the lead balloon continues.  We do have a problem with our budget this year, but that’s nothing new.  We’ve been there and done this before.  We will solve this, I’m sure.  Maybe we need to look at the concessions we made for Big League Dreams or Bass Pro or Penney’s and all the rest of the new stores coming to town.  Maybe they could help out a little more.  Just an idea, Steve.  Could be you have already floated the balloon over this one but it’s my job as a columnist to offer my opinions.  So there you have it.  Hopefully the end of the taxation lead balloon.  It will never fly here in Manteca.  
As usual, I want to encourage you to keep reading and I’ll keep writing.  This weekend, go visit your favorite church and if you don’t have one, come and sit with Karen and me at Crossroads Grace Community Church on Moffat Boulevard  You will find us there today at 10:45 in or near the front row.  God Bless.  Sid