General Mills swings and misses

Corporate sponsorship of a PGA Tour golf tournament typically comes with a slough of perks for executives of the company shelling out the money to have its name attached to the event. Particularly for title sponsors.

This week’s Tour stop is the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula, and Nature Valley’s parent company is General Mills.

General Mills, which just announced results from a terrible quarter in which profits plunged.

General Mills, which then said it would enact a cost-cutting plan to save $100 million a year.

General Mills, which then announced a day later that part of that plan would be the almost certain closure by the end of next year of its plant in Lodi that employs 430 and has been in operation since 1948.

The First Tee is a worthy cause. It’s the PGA Tour’s nationwide organization that funds youth programs and event to give more kids, particularly in urban areas, the chance to play golf. There is a local chapter, the First Tee of San Joaquin.

And Nature Valley is under contract to be the title sponsor of the event.

But in the wake of such grim news for the company and the workers who are likely to lose their jobs, General Mills’ decision to fly a group of executives – a company spokeswoman confirmed execs are at the tournament – to Pebble Beach for luxury wining and dining, with a dose of golf and back-slapping, is a misguided decision.

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Lodi 911

A couple arrests reported by the Lodi Police Department on its Facebook page:

01/06/14 @ 1028 hours
Officers responded to the 300 block of W. Walnut Street on a report of a male yelling and acting strange. Officers arrived on scene and recognized the male as Donald Stilley (45, of Lodi). Stilley admitted to possessing homemade firearms on his person. Stilley was taken into custody after a brief struggle with officers. Two homemade firearms were found on his person. Stilley was arrested and booked in the Lodi City Jail on numerous weapons violations.

01/06/14 @ 0935 hours

LPD officers assisted members of the Delta Regional Auto Theft Task Force (Delta RATT) after they located a stolen vehicle in the 1100 block of East Kettleman Lane. They waited as the suspect, Derek Woodyard (26, of Rocklin) returned the vehicle and they surrounded him. He was taken into custody and booked into the Lodi City Jail on charges of vehicle theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, burglary, and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

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Top Lodi stories of 2013

Today’s paper features the region’s No. 2 story of 2013 as judged by Record readers: The horrific Lodi crash that killed five members of the Miranda family and an unborn child. Lone survivor Eden Miranda, 9, is now an orphan.

This is undoubtedly the biggest Lodi story of 2013 – not just the crash and the pending trial of the drunk driver who caused it, but the way the community banded together in the aftermath of such a devastating event.

It wasn’t the only newsworthy story in Lodi this year, however. Here’s a list of stories that I think round out Lodi’s top stories of the year (in no particular order).

  • Lodi Unified pays $4.75 million to the family of Diana C., a special needs student who was molested on a school bus by driver Richard Evans.
  • Trinchero Family Estates Winery announces plans for a $300 million expansion.
  •  Premeditated murder or accidental discharge? Richard Welker is on trial for murder in the death of his roommate Arlie Druen. Welker said he was showing off a gun that discharged. Prosecutors say he knew the gun would go off, and he planned to kill Druen.
  • FCB Homes gains approval for its 232-home Rose Gate subdivision in west Lodi, the first major housing project since the economic downturn.
  • Lodi Unified retracted a controversial  social media policy after it sparked national opposition from First Amendment groups and spurred student protests.
  • A proposed moratorium on wine marketing events has been a seemingly never-ending drama for Lodi vintners.

Have anything you want to add? Let me know in the comments section or email me at

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Video of McAuliffe’s lobby during class change

Today, I wrote about Lodi Unified’s hotly debated route to relieve overcrowding at McAuliffe Middle School in north Stockton.

I’m setting aside the political wranglings for a second here to post a video of what McAuliffe looks like when students are moving from one class to another after a bell rings.

Take a look.

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Would you use a Portland Loo in downtown Lodi

Here’s a photo:

A Portland (Ore.) Loo can be placed on a sidewalk. Courtesy photo from the City of Portland.

I also got an email this morning from the co-founder of the Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human group, Carol McCreary. She says:

“Our experience is that addressing the problem takes combined efforts of journalists, the business community, and citizen advocates.  You might be interested in the resources on our page Protect Your Toilet Rights.  Our group has a hand in the Portland Loo and agree it’s really great.  As a stop gap measure some sort of Community Toilet Scheme might be tried.”

What do you think?


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The end of a (video) era

I wrote in September about the closure of Lodi’s Blockbuster video store, and how it was the last of the brick-and-mortar video rental options in town (except for a store that specializes in Spanish films).

Similar stories can now be told nationwide. Blockbuster is closing all of its remaining 300 stores.

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Bully prevention week in Lodi

Lodi Unified has declared Thursday as Bully Prevention day and schools from around the district will be marking the occasion with various events, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Catherine Pennington said.

Ansel Adams got a jump start Monday by bringing in country music singer Lizzie Sider, a 15-year-old who is making a name for herself in Nashville with her song “Butterfly.”  

Other activities suggested for schools include the “crumpled paper activity” where students are asked to crumple and stop a piece of paper without ripping it. Then, they try to fix it by smoothing it out, but realize the paper can’t be fixed. It has permanent scars.

Another message is the acronym T.A.G. to use when being bullied or kids see people being bullied.  T.A.G. stands for T- Tell the person you don’t like what they are doing or saying. A – Ask them to stop. G – Go get help.

The final suggested activity is called “sticks and stones” which focuses on cyberbullying and teaching how online bullying can be anonymous and go viral.














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Omalu featured in “Frontline” documentary

San Joaquin County medical examiner Bennet Omalu, who works in Lodi, was a key interview in the PBS “Frontline” documentary titled “League of Denial” which aired last night.

The documentary follows the NFL’s history of concussions, and alleges that the league has covered up much of the evidence that shows a long career of head punishment can lead to long term health effects.

Omalu discovered a neurological disorder in former Steelers player Mike Webster. He wrote a book on the topic. Here is the 2008 story on that by Record sports reporter Stephen Roberson.

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LodiUSD not worried about federal shutdown

It is true that Lodi Unified receives federal funding for key programs, however, the recent government shutdown will likely have no impact on the district at all.

Associate Superintendent Tim Hern said federal school money is paid out of previous year budgets, so the money is already allocated and isn’t being threatened.

The only possible problem school districts might have, Hern said, is if the shutdown carries on for a long period of time and California starts to think it may not get other federal money it is counting on for other state programs. In that case, the state could come knocking on the school district’s doors to borrow money and start handing out deferments.

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Would you drive to the country for technology?

An 11th hour proposal to transform Tokay Colony Elementary School into a technology-themed magnet school could be the school’s last shot at survival.

Tokay Colony has declining enrollment, and it’s the type of decline that does not indicate the tide can change. There are only six kindergartners and seven first graders enrolled and there’s very few preschoolers on deck to come to school next year.

That has led district officials to recommend closure.

At last night’s meeting, however, the idea of enticing students from throughout Lodi Unified to come to Tokay Colony as a school where technology-based learning is front and center emerged.

Trustee George Neely – who has long pushed for technology-themed schools, particularly high schools, loved the idea. Other trustees appeared willing to listen to a more specific proposal.

So – all this for a simple question for parents: Would you drive from Lodi or Stockton to 13520 E. Live Oak Road for a Technology themed magnet/charter/academy?


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