Ralph Lee White loses another court appeal

The latest and apparently final twist in Ralph Lee White’s ongoing lawsuit against Stockton came today when the California Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in favor of the city. White, 72, said the appeals court is wrong but he will not pursue further legal action in the case, which centers around a term-limits provision in Stockton’s charter.

Here’s the story from back in November when the appeals court heard White’s case.

And here is today’s legal ruling.

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VIDEO: The city and chloramines

The city has produced a video on the use of chloramines to treat Stockton’s drinking water. It features City Manager Kurt Wilson and Municipal Utilities Director Mel Lytle. You can view it by going to this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teKi7T6WOAE

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Tubbs ailing (oral surgery) but sends message asking for study session on chloramines

Councilman and candidate for mayor Michael Tubbs is recovering from oral surgery and is not at tonight’s City Council meeting. But he sent the following notice our way, and it also was read publicly at the start of tonight’s meeting.

Colleagues and Public,

Apologies for not being able to join you in person for the meeting, I am recovering from oral surgery. Accordingly, I wanted to submit my thoughts on some of the most pressing agenda items to be read into the record:

Water Treatment- I have heard from many residents who are concerned and confused about the quality of their drinking water, due in part to the spread of misinformation and fear mongering on social media. Since this is a change that affects our most precious resource, water, I believe the city should host a study session or informational meeting during the month of February given that we only have one council meeting scheduled during that month.

That study session would allow newer councilmembers who weren’t apart of previous deliberations by council and the public the opportunity to go over again the information and the rationale for the change of our water treatment.

Although the process has been on going for an over a decade with input from the citizen’s water advisory group, the council’s water committee, and a public hearing by the City Council, residents are still in need of greater information on this issue.

I call for an alternative city sponsored forum where citizens can participate, ask questions of city staff, and hear from experts regarding the issue of delivering fresh, clean water to every tap in Stockton.

The February 1st meeting is not the proper venue for such a discussion as it not city sponsored and will have no city staff in attendance to discuss the city’s rationale on this important issue.

District Voting – I would like to thank the Charter Review Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee of the council for their work on making our city elections in Stockton more democratic. I said it while running in 2012 and continue to believe that having to run citywide in order to represent a district seat is undemocratic, especially given the diversity that makes Stockton so great. I urge a strong yes vote to send this important initiative to the people for a vote in 2016.

See you all soon,

Michael Tubbs
Councilmember District 6

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Sawyer: City still welcome at Brockovich event

N. Allen Sawyer, organizer of next week’s chloramines public forum at Delta College, said today he still would welcome a City Hall representative to sit on the panel at the Monday night event featuring Erin Brockovich. City Manager Kurt Wilson has said the city will not participate in what he views as a “political event.”

“Absolutely,” Sawyer said this afternoon. “We would love to have them there. They should be there. It’s a disservice to staff, too. We’ve privately heard from staff who would like to participate. They would like to make this us against (Mayor Anthony) Silva but that’s not the case.”

Sawyer said Silva will moderate the event and Vice Mayor Christina Fugazi will present the city’s view that the addition of chloramines to some of Stockton’s drinking water is safe.

Additionally, Sawyer weighed in on the 7-0 vote in 2013 by the City Council, including Silva, approving the addition of chloramines as a water treatment. Silva was silent on the matter before voting in 2013.

“Let’s say hypothetically that was a wrong decision.” Sawyer said. “Now we’re not allowed to talk about something and the city’s staff is not allowed to share information? I think it’s a really a dangerous position that we’re not allowed to talk about something as important as drinking water.”

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Erin Brockovich coming to Stockton

Activist Erin Brockovich, whose life became a 2000 movie of the same name featuring Julia Roberts, will be coming to Stockton next week for a panel discussion on water and chloramines.

Mayor Anthony Silva confirmed her visit this afternoon. The panel discussion will be held in Building 3 at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds at 6 p.m. Jan. 27, according to Silva.

“There’s such a concern with drinking water in general,” Silva told me this afternoon. “It’s something we always take for granted in the U.S. I use tap water for Cup O’ Noodles and Top Ramen. But even now I’m starting to think, ‘Hey, maybe I should use bottled water for that.’ This is all about awareness and figuring out which is the best water for Stockton. I understand if there are millions and millions of miles of pipes in the city for water, they’re going to get dirty. The question is what chemical can you use to clean the pipes so the water still be safe to drink?”

Vice Mayor Christina Fugazi also is scheduled to serve on the panel, which is still being assembled by event organizer N. Allen Sawyer. Fugazi, for the record, has no problem drinking local water.

“I’d rather drink from the tap any day of the week than a plastic bottle,” Fugazi said today.

Of Brockovich’s sudden involvement in Stockton water via a Saturday Facebook post, Fugazi said, “Are you kidding me? Come here. Come to Stockton. Take a tour of our facility. Test our water. Look at the options we have available. Don’t do a one-minute sound bite on Facebook. Bring your team of experts and let’s have a real conversation about this. … I get very protective. Here we are having someone again bashing Stockton without having background information.”

Sawyer said a little while ago it is not known if Brockovich will tour Stockton’s water facilities during her visit.

“She definitely plans to come earlier in the day to do ancillary meetings,” Sawyer said.

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Franklin Templeton cries uncle

Franklin Templeton, the lone remaining creditor in the Stockton bankruptcy, will not pursue its appeal to the next level. Here’s Franklin’s official statement this morning:

“We are of course disappointed by Bankruptcy Appellate Panel’s ruling on December 12 and have decided against pursuing another appeal.  This case was widely followed by municipal investors, and we feel this ruling may unfortunately cause investors to have serious reservations about investing in California local government general fund obligations. The ultimate effect will likely be an increased cost of borrowing for infrastructure and other projects for our local communities.”

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Reader: ‘Blatant example of police misconduct’ (with an update at the end)

A reader left the following voice message this morning regarding today’s article on the aftermath of the recent ticketing of activist Motecuzoma Sanchez’s car:

“My opinion is it’s a complete, blatant example of police misconduct. I used to be very pro-law enforcement and that’s changing rapidly. Just for the record there’s no race card to be played here. I happen to be a hundred  percent Anglo and Mr. Sanchez obviously is Hispanic. I do happen to know he’s an honorably discharged former Marine, as am I, so that’s our only common denominator. I don’t normally call or write letters or anything at all and if I do I give my name but in this case after reading what happened to him I’m afraid the stop sign half a block away from my house might be staked out so somebody could give me a ticket.”

The police department is conducting an internal investigation.

UPDATE: Motecuzoma Sanchez just notified me he received a call this morning from the internal affairs division at the Stockton Police Department and was told the citation had been “illegally issued” and officially is being dismissed.

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Zapien’s replacement

District 4 City Councilman Moses Zapien was appointed to the Board of Supervisors by Gov. Jerry Brown last week and today became the chairman. By this time next week, he may be king.

Where does this leave the City Council?

Well, aside from obviously being one shy of its seven-member full complement, the council now has an opportunity to appoint someone to the District 4 seat roughly three months before the June primary. Declared candidates Marcie Bayne and Michael Blower say they already plan to seek the appointment. Others also may give it a shot.  You have to live in District 4 if you want to enter the fray, though.

As outlined today by Assistant City Clerk Bret Hunter, the council is likely to consider an appointment process at next Tuesday’s first meeting of 2016. The process probably will entail about a month-long filing period followed by a special City Council meeting at which public interviews will be conducted and Zapien’s successor selected.

Whoever gets chosen will have to defend his or her seat in the June district primary and in the November citywide election. More on the early onset of 2016 Stockton City Council electioneering will appear online later at recordnet.com and in tomorrow’s paper.

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Best holiday card ever

Created by courtroom sketch artist Vicki Behringer (and you can view a little more about her here).

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Know your legal rights: Guides in English and Spanish with info specifically for those under 18

Stockton Poet Laureate Tama Brisbane, executive director of With Our Words, will be leading the first in a series of “Street Smart” forums tomorrow night aimed at informing young people of their rights when encountering law officers or going through the court system. Among those scheduled to appear are Police Chief Eric Jones and District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. The event is from 6-8 p.m. at the Podesto Impact Teen Center, 725 N. El Dorado Street.

Many people, young and old, may not fully understand their rights in encounters with the law. The National Lawyers Guild has published a guidebook on the subject in English and Spanish. The guidebook includes information specifically for those under 18.

More “Street Smart” forums are planned next month in south Stockton and Tracy, with locations and dates to be determined.

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