As mentioned at various times this week, Mayor Anthony Silva had plenty to say at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Previously we’ve reported on his dialogue with City Manager Kurt Wilson and his plan to raise funds for a July 4 fireworks show.
Silva also weighed in Tuesday on the Stockton Police Department’s Neighborhood Blitz program, the Free Weston Ranch group, and what he called “verbal judo training” for the police. As with his public discussion with Wilson earlier this week, Silva prefaced his comments with compliments and said he is unaware of wrongdoing, then raised potential issues he says he sees.
SILVA ON NEIGHBORHOOD BLITZ
“I think code enforcement is a great tool to clean up the city, period. And Stockton is a city that needs to be cleaned up. … The trash, the graffiti, this stuff needs to go, it needs to be taken care of. Folks that are living in substandard conditions, they have roaches, they have bedbugs. Guess what? The council, I’m sure, concurs with me that we’re going to clean this up and we’re going to do it apartment by apartment, complex by complex, and we’re going to do it. But I want to make it also clear that at no time should we be infringing on the residents of Stockton’s rights, their human rights, their personal rights, and it’s not going to be used as a tool to enter buildings and try to figure out who lives in that apartment and who doesn’t. I want to make sure it’s done by the book with the proper notification. I’m not saying anything that’s transpired has been incorrect. I’m saying now it’s on my radar and I’m going to pay more attention to it so we need to make sure that if we’re going to use the Neighborhood Blitz teams, that we’re going to do it fairly, professionally, and the same application is going to be used for different, various areas of Stockton, OK? And I want to be honest with you like I’ve talked about before. Certain areas that are allowed to have trash and graffiti and transients and panhandling, certain areas, it’s just sort of allowed in certain areas of Stockton. People go, ‘Oh, that’s Wilson Way, it’s just gonna happen there. That’s Charter Way, that’s Sierra Vista, that’s Conway, that’s Eighth Street.’ Well, I’m tired of us accepting that. Let me make it quite clear. That’s not going to happen behind the gate if I’m in Trinity Parkway or Brookside or Spanos Park, it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to be acceptable. Security will be on that in a second. That trash will be picked up in a second. I want it to be equitable throughout Stockton, so that’s really what I’m after this year.”
SILVA ON WESTON RANCH
“These folks are now a hundred strong running around Weston Ranch collecting petitions … it’s not healthy for a city if one part of the community, if 30,000 residents, want to break away from the City of Stockton because they feel they are not getting a police presence, because they don’t feel they have a community center, because they feel they have half a library and not a whole library. … They showed me a lot of pictures of graffiti in the parks and all sorts of issues. I’m not defending them … because I know (Councilman Michael) Tubbs has met with them, I’ve met with them to try to do the responsible thing, but either way I think city staff needs to help the City Council come up with solutions because it’s not going to be healthy if they go to LAFCO and force the City Council here to take some kind of vote against them leaving the City of Stockton. It’s going to be bad publicity for the city. I’d rather go over there, clean up the graffiti, I’d rather give them a police officer out there for 30,000 people, these are things I’d rather do so we have peace in 2015.”
Tubbs then spoke up with what he called a “point of clarification” and his effort to clear up “misinformation.” Tubbs said, “City Manager Wilson and I met with two of the people from the Free Weston Ranch movement. I’m not sure it’s a hundred people, I’ve heard it’s eight or nine, but we met with two of them and we talked about some of the issues, and a lot of the issues were things that aren’t in city control and also predate the (current) City Council. But in terms of what we have been doing for Weston Ranch, for example, Weston Ranch has a monthly meeting with a lieutenant from the Police Department … and I’m not sure if any other part of the city has that. … So there has been a lot of work being done with Weston Ranch.”
As for Silva’s comment that he wants “peace in 2015,” Wilson said Wednesday during an interview, “It’s wonderful to avoid conflict. That’s always a goal. But it’s not the primary goal in the efficient allocation of public resources. … The purpose of having a modern city government structure is to have a buffer so decisions are made based on what is appropriate, regardless of whether it makes a specific individual happy.”
FINALLY, SILVA ON “VERBAL JUDO TRAINING”
“I understand our Police Department is getting some, what I call verbal judo training, customer service training, on how to deal with the public. Because, hey, when you through all this rigorous training it’s real physical, it’s mental, and then you get thrown out into a city, you want to do a good job, and sometimes, as you guys know, just like in your everyday lives, sometimes things can escalate for no reason, but they don’t need to escalate. And so it’s about how you talk to a person, how you talk to them with respect, and it’s giving them the benefit of the doubt before you arrive on the scene and just assume that there’s some criminals or just assume people are doing things wrong. I’m not saying that happened. But what I’m saying is I’m very interested in hearing more about that training and making sure that things that happen in other cities with racial tension toward police and those sorts of things don’t happen in Stockton, California, because right now we have a lot of momentum, things are going great, so I just want to be proactive.”