Turlock now seems to have entered into a new era. It is one of big city politics with all the earmarks and unwarranted spending that accompanies self-interested politicians. This is ever more apparent with the recent action that the council has taken. The council has advocated and decided to allow for the misappropriation of Redevelopment Agency funds to remodel the football stadium at Turlock High School. It was an effort headed by Councilman Howze which can be argued to be an attempt by him to score political points leading into his endeavor for re-election next year. He hopes that it will be a golden parachute for him to safely land in another term and plays into his ambitions for higher office. This is not to say that the stadium does not need to be redone, there is a safety issue. However, funds that are not intended for such a purpose should not be used. As a graduate of Turlock High School, I appreciate the history that the school has in our community and do want to see this stadium brought back to life. What is upsetting to me is this council is looking to take the easiest route possible regardless if it is the right one. They do not want to do hard work in bringing the community together to get the project done the right way.
The findings that the council made to make this decision are completely false. The stadium or the area is not blight, there will not be an increase in revenue, and there are other reasonable means of funding. One such reasonable option council members could have chosen would be to help in the fund raising effort by working to bring about awareness in the community about the conditions and the need for the project. The argument made at the Nov. 24th meeting that only $35,000 was raised in a year and that it would take 90 years at that rate is irreverent. More money could be raised by meeting the needs that a funding effort requires.
What would be needed is for the effort to be more widely publicized and get local, state and national leaders involved. We have individuals that are representing us in Sacramento as well as Washington that we elected. Let’s have a full force of people to lend their name and efforts to an important issue. One that involves giving our community’s youth the best we can. The council members could help find corporate sponsors, ask people to donate five or ten dollars whatever a person can give in these difficult times, they could even donate leftover campaign funds to kick off the effort or their time during construction. They could help in the search for grant opportunities. At least this way the Turlock and Pitman High School stadiums would get built. It would also provide for a great project that the community could get behind. The point is that the $2.8 million of RDA funds could be used to improve the west side of the city and help bring in economic opportunities as well as increase property values.
What is even more disconcerting is all of the missed opportunities that the council has had to make a difference in our community, to take an active leadership role and to overall improve our great city. Why not work to improve our roads, improve entertainment opportunities so families have something to do and even better why not work to improve career employment opportunities in our city? Hopefully, the council can tackle more than one issue at a time. People are upset with what is occurring in Washington D.C. and now we see the same in our own backyard. The council is charged with the task of doing the business of the community with its best interest in mind. The recent action continues to prove it is not. I ran for a seat on the council back in 2006 against Councilman Howze; I wanted the seat to make a difference in the community by bringing people into the process, working hard and living up to the definition of being a true leader. This council seems to not want to even listen to what community members want and basically have this “we know best” attitude. With this there are two questions to ask. Why do they choose to do this? Do they realize where their power comes from? They all need to remember the oath they took and understand that the office they hold is greater than any one person because it is an office of the people, by the people and for the people.