Tracy man think’s he’s cracked Zodiac case

Since the D.B. Cooper case has been solved, maybe we should tackle the Zodiac Killer. Neal Haight of Tracy thinks he has the answer.

“Hi Mike,
          “Great news-I found the Zodiac Killer.
A handwritten note, written by Steven Kent
Hodel, has similarities to letters written by
the Zodiac between 1969 and 1978. The
note is posted on his website, of all places.
          “At first, the ptinting appeared different
than that on the Zodiac’s letters. Closer exam-
ination, however, showed stretching of words,
and gaps in words. I’ve attached Hodel’s note
as well as a Zodiac note, so you can compare
them for yourself.
           ”For example, note the word ‘toschi’ is
printed ‘tosc hi’, in Zodiacs note. In Hodel’s
note, see the words ‘sons’ and ‘laughing’, and
how they’re printed as ‘son s’ and ‘laugh ing’.
           ”If a handwriting expert were to say, “a
lot of people write in that fashion! This proves
nothing!”, then I would refer any to the attach-
ed images of Hodel and composite drawings
of Zodiac.
           ”Steve Hodel is the son of George Hill
Hodel, the Los Angeles doctor, who police
suspect killed Elizabeth Short and cut her
body in half, and dumped it on a vacant lot.
The LA media dubbed her the “Black Dahlia”.
           ”The gruesome murder took place back
in January, 1947, when Steve was just five
years old. In 1950, papa George, fearing arrest,
fled the U.S., leaving Steve and his siblings
to grow up fatherless, though I suspect he
came back to the U.S.prior to the Zodiac
murders, and lived in San Francisco.  Papa
George turned 62 on October 10, 1969. The
following day, cabbie Paul Stine is shot to
death in his cab. An interesting possibility is
that Steve was visiting his dad on his dad’s
birthday. Steve lived in LA, and had to drive
500 miles (+or-). This tends to explain why
there were only five killings, in four attacks.
         ”In the attached Zodiac note, the killer
mentions columnist Herb Caen. Turns out
that Caen was socially involved with George
and his wife back in the 1930′s, when they
lived in San Francisco. The 1940 U.S. Census
had George and his second wife living in LA.
          “I think you’ll find the attachments inter-
esting. If you have any friends in law enforce-
ment, you might want to share this with him
or her. If this all proves to be correct, they
can score a double whammy, first the East
Area Rapist, and then the Zodiac. Hodel is
alive, and turns 77 later this year.”
“Thanks, Mike. All best, Neal A. Haight, Tracy, Ca.”

“Zodiac’s note. In spite of doubts expressed above, this note was penned by the Zodiac.”

“Note written by Steve Hodel, to crime author James Ellroy.”

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New marina market opens (without beer)

New marina manager Chris Agro in the city's new little market on Stockton's waterfront.

SMG, the citys’ venue management company, took over the municipal marina last Spring. “Our entire vision is just to make this whole waterfront a destination and bring people down here,” said Kendra Clark, SMG’s local manager.

In June Clark promised changes, such as WiFi at the marina, and coming attractions, such as popular music bands playing at the south bank amphitheater. She hoped bands would be happening by July.

Well, it’s August and the bands are not happening. So I called Clark just to see where SMG is with its plans.

“Things are moving along,” said Clark. Not as fast as hoped, though. SMG discovered that the city owns only part of the amphitheater area; “three-quarters” are owned by the (new) owners of the Waterfront Warehouse.

“We’re currently in discussions with the Warehouse,” said Clark, who characterized negotiations as “Good, good. The owners have been wonderful. We share a vision down there.”

The city owns the other part after buying the waterfront towers as the new City Hall. City officials support the resurrection of the amphitheater, so it’s just a question of hammering out a joint operating agreement.

Clark hopes for concerts by fall.

SMG hired a new marina manager, Clark said. Chris Magro, a native New Yorker, has for the last 14 years managed the largest urban marina in the United Kingdom. So, “He brings the urban marina experience,” Clark said.

The “urban marina experience” includes not only dealing with marina tenants but homeless people and a plague of petty crime along the waterfront. Clark said SMG has doubled security. Guards now patrol the north and south banks 24/7, and they’re in contact with SMG’s command center in the arena.

Bids for installing WiFi are due in Aug. 8. A contractor will be chosen a week after that.

Finallly, SMG opened the long-sought downtown marina market July 2. The biggest criticism of Stockton’s marina when it opened, besides its preposterous cost, was the lack of any typical Delta market selling snacks, beer, sunscreen, bait, etc. Such markets are a fixture of any Delta marina. Now there’s a market, though it’s a pretty modest affair.

“It does have soda, water, ice and snacks, but not beer and wine, yet, Clark said. Though beer — without which any market is out of synch with the Delta boating market –  is coming, she said. “We’re continuing to work and go through the process with ABC.”

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Stockton’s newest public artwork “really cool”

“Transcending Vessels,” by Denver artist Mike Clapper, has gone up along Thornton Road at Estate Drive.

"Transcending Vessels." Photo: Michael Fitzgerald

A 100-foot long ribbon of wavy stainless steel water, buoying three ships representing different Stockton eras, the piece is supported by three giant rusty steel tule plants.

“I just try to distill the place down to its essence,” said Clapper, whom I spoke with last year. “I guess I thought that was Stockton.”

The piece, intended to create an “artistic gateway” for drivers entering Stockton from the north, is part of the city’s Thornton Road widening project, which is ongoing.

Bankruptcy delayed the project and increased the artwork’s cost to $184,495.

In the above-linked column, I called the concept “strong.” Having seen it, I’d revise that to “good,” which is perhaps unfair, as the heavy equipment is still on site and landscaping absent. But good is good, especially along scruffy Thornton Road.

Neighborhood reaction was favorable, if a bit unclear on the concept.

“I like it,” said Charmaine Lea. “Does it symbolize something?”

“It looks really cool,” said Anthony Bertolozzi, who added, “I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean, or anything.”



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The low ranking that matters most


Stocktonian Charles K. Barnard's proposed logo for a CSU, Stockton

Stockton is one of the least educated big cities in the United States, a new study finds.

Wallet Hub ranked Stockton 143 out of 150 for educational attainment. In fact, five of the nation’s educational cellar dwellers — Modesto, Fresno, and Bakersfield and Visalia, too — are in the Central Valley.

Visalia ranked dead last at 150.  Which explains Congressman Devin Nunes.

This ignorance — for that’s what it is — is at the root of Stockton’s problems. It’s not the economy, stupid. It’s the uneducated, unskilled, unwitting workforce and electorate, which translates to a culture of mediocrity and incompetence. Low-paying, dead-end jobs, charlatans on the City Council (see: former Mayor Anthony Silva) and a cohort of populists with their weird combination of cynicism toward elites and gullibility towards any checkered character from their community who claims they care.

Most such bad actors would be left behind if the city had a deep bench of educated leaders. And educated voters. We’d have better policy and smarter urbanism. Not to mention the better jobs. Not just high-wage employers moving in, but organic start-ups, entrepreneurialism, inventors winning new patents and making improvements to Ag technology and who knows what else.

More prosperity, less poverty, lower crime. Higher earnings and savvy also translating into  increased political muscle. And a city that refreshes itself with youth who stay and enliven the scene instead of seeking education and prospects elsewhere.

Support a California State University, Stockton. Or, if you prefer Assembly member Susan Eggman’s vision, a California Polytechnic University, Stockton. If the campaign takes years, make sure your children carry it on. It’s the way up.


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Reader: Why does City Hall still close on Fridays?

Closed every other Friday: Stockton City Hall

Lorne Truscott writes:

“Perhaps you could give us an update on the status of City of Stockton employees.  After the housing market imploded, and the City went bankrupt, city offices have been closed every other Friday.  Originally, this move was sold as being a money saving option for the City.  We’re not positive City employees took a pay cut, but maybe they actually did.  In any event, now that the City has emerged from bankruptcy, why are the closures still taking place?”

The city stopped “furlough Fridays” – unpaid days off every other Friday – years ago. When, yes, they did take a pay cut.

What they have now are “closed Fridays,” part of a “9-8” workweek. Employees work 9-hour days for nine straight days then take the second Friday off.

“The reason that we adopted that schedule was for air quality,” said Stockton city spokesperson Connie Cochran. Which state law requires all large employers to do.

Unlike a factory, City Hall can’t reduce smokestack emissions. But it can reduce the number of vehicle trips made by its employees. Closing on alternate Fridays reduces vehicle trips and greenhouse gas emissions.


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Manteca pilgrim goes the long way

Shalice Tilton in Pamplona, Spain. residents dress in ceremonial garb for the annual Running of the Bulls.

Manteca’s Shalice Tilton, 56, is another pilgrim who walked the Camino de Santiago, a medieval Christian pilgrimage trail. The trail leads to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain where tradition holds the remains of St. James are buried.

Unlike the Stockton and Linden women I wrote about, Tilton went the long route, starting just across the border in France, traversing all Spain.

Five hundred miles.

A retired City Clerk for the City of Buena Park, “Her friends, co-workers, and family all paid for her trip as a gesture of appreciation after nearly 30 years of service to the City,” writes her husband, Jeff.

“She started the Camino de Santiago on June 1 in St. Jean Pied De Port, France, and finished the 500 miles on July 11 in Santiago, Spain. The picture was taken in Pamplona, Spain, just prior to the annual “Running of the Bulls.”

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Mexican food and Arellano’s epiphany

A tamale and burrito at Mi Ranchito.

As I said in today’s column, Los Angeles writer Gustavo Arellano managed to write a book about Mexican food without visiting the Central Valley. But when he did, in this piece, it’s as if the food shook the scales from his eyes. Not only about food but the Central Valley itself.

“The one thing Central Valley gets credit for is being the anchor of the state’s $46 billion agricultural industry, where nearly all of the country’s table grapes, almonds, walnuts, pomegranates, and many other crops are grown,” he writes. “But it’s also an essential, underappreciated locus of Californian identity. Waves of immigrants over the past century — Armenians, Okies, Portuguese, Sikhs, Filipinos, Japanese, Hmong, and especially Mexicans and Central Americans — have established themselves in this country in the Valley’s fertile soil, meandering roads, and affordable housing. But narratives about the Central Valley as the state’s much-maligned-yet-vital backbone and as a hub of Mexican culture are erased again and again.”

Bingo. This region’s self-description is overmastered by Coastal interpretations that are often biased or skewed or, at the very least, leave a whole lot out. It’s like being an American consumer product without the ability to control the Madison Avenue ad campaign that defines our brand. It’s between interesting and amazing that our regional food can convey our true identity.


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Cosmic talk about a new venture

The “common sense conservative” who went on Judge Judy while running against Sen. Cathleen Galgiani has a new venture: The Space Between.

Steven Davis’ proposes to bring Wi-fi to rural areas. He has an eye-catching website.

While the site’s visuals are impressive, it’s unclear how the public will react to the schroomed-out, cosmic text. Sample line:  “Well here we are at the begging of segment of life where we carve up the limitless into a man made table called time.”

We wish Mr. Davis success wit his new venture.


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Stockton’s clandestine organist

Today we mark the passing of Richard Timmins, the ex-spy who rocked the magnificent pipe organ hidden in Stockton’s Masonic Temple. He was 86.

Timmins played the organ and piano for seven U.S. presidents. He once played the thunderous organ in Notre Dame in Paris for John. F. Kennedy. He loved the 1921 Hope-Jones pipe organ in the Commandery of the Masonic Temple.

“It’s the jewel of the Valley,” he said.

The blogware is malfunctioning this morning, so I can’t post Timmins’ picture; but you can see him in this 2014 column.

Timmins had a much more flamboyant past than most organists. He served in Military intelligence and the CIA. During the Korean War, his handlers arranged for his capture so that Timmins, who boasted a photographic memory, could identify enemy officers and gather military intelligence.

In his later years in Stockton he played organ at various churches. But he loved the giant organ built into the walls of the Masonic Temple.

“It’s the king of instruments,” he said.

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Are urban nutria a threat to our pets? And to us?

"I'm gonna bite someone for this."

An obvious hole in my column about nutria invading Stockton: do they pose a danger to our pets?

Or to us?

“They will tangle with dogs,” said Peter Tira, the spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Nutria prefer to submerge or duck into the bushes, Tira said. “However, when confronted with no way out they will fight and stand their ground, They can potentially cause a lot of damage to a dog.”

Cats, not so much. ” I’m guessing since they (nutria) are semi-aquatic and most cats aren’t fond of water, there’s not a ton of interaction,” Tira said.

Last, but not least, what about danger to humans?

“You certainly don’t want to handle them. The bigger ones especially. Our biologist who traps them says they can be quite ornery. The larger ones do their utmost to inflict some bites.”

And they carry diseases. “Nutria also serve as hosts for tuberculosis and septicemia, which are threats to humans, livestock, and pets. Additionally, nutria carry tapeworms, a nematode that causes a rash known as “nutria itch”, and blood and liver flukes, which can contaminate swimming areas and drinking water supplies,” Tira said.

To report nutria, call 866-440-9530.

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    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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