Water hogs to be exposed

The San Jose Merc exposes the biggest water hog in the East Bay Municipal Utility District, and it turns out to be a regular guy with a small house and rocks for lawn.

He had a leak. A big leak.

I asked City Hall to supply records on Stockton’s biggest residential water hogs. At first they said no. This made me wonder. The city is on the horns of a dilemma. It met its state-mandated water reduction goal. That’s a mixed blessing. Saving water is good and necessary; reduced water consumption, however, means reduced revenue to MUD from consumers. That revenue pays off the water bond on the Delta Water Supply Project.

In other words, if the city saves too much water, it might have to raise rates so it can pay its bond debt service. that happened in Los Angeles.

Whatever the case, the city reconsidered after the above-mentioned column and said yes. But they say producing the records will take 30 days, not the usual 10 prescribed by law. The reason, they say, is the city’s antiquated computer system, which is older than Councilman Michael Tubbs.

Journalism in a bankrupt city. Well, at least the info is coming.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Requiem for a stripper

Famous San Francisco stripper Carol Doda has died. She was 78.

Working at the Condor Club, where she descended from the ceiling on a grand piano, the silicon-injected Doda was one of San Francisco’s mainstays for decades.

When she left the Condor, Doda formed a rock band called Carol Doda and the Lucy Stiffs. I met her in 1989 when she did a disastrous gig in Lodi. She was not the hardened old hatchet you expected. She had a heart, which her guitar player/boyfriend stomped on that night. She was also smart and funny.

I sat alone with her in the dressing room as she cried. The interview became a kind of confessional.

“It’s just very difficult sometimes because people don’t take you seriously,” she told me. “Men related to me in a different way. Either they were afraid t relate, or I’m just an ego boost to them, or a one night stand, but not the girl next door. It’s very hard to find a good relationship, even a good date.”

She was a good person. Crazy, but in a good way. The column predates the electronic archive. Here it is: Carol Doda

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One badass general

… Was General Robert T. Frederick, who lived out his years partly on a Brentwood walnut ranch, and whose relatives live in Stockton.

Here’s the column. While it recounts the battle that became the book and the movie, “The Devil’s Brigade,” it omits much more of Frederick’s harrowing and heroic WWII experience. For that you should read “The Last Fighting General,” by Anne Hicks.

Photos of Frederick arrived too late for publication. Here’s one.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A ride on high-speed rail

Joe Mathews took one in Germany.

“The real difference was the speed, and—confession—I was a little spooked. The ride was smooth, but there was just enough of a rattle to produce anxiety; it was unnerving how much faster we were going than the speeding cars on the Autobahn, which was visible for most of the trip. And on turns, it felt—at least to this high-speed rail rookie—like the train was going to take off like a plane.

‘The train itself also psyched me out. At the end of each car were screens showing our speed. I freaked a little when we reached 300 kilometers per hour—or 180 miles per hour. (I’ll need training to handle the California version’s top speed of more than 200 mph).”

Apart from the experience, though, Mathews returned with lessons about the importance of stations being important connectors — “between transportation hubs, between cultural attractions, between cities, between job sites.”

He lauds Fresno for making its station part of the revitalization of Fulton Mall. But Bakersfield, succumbing to small-government dogma, located its station outside of town. A blast of Tea Party thinking they will come to regret.

Anyway, the whole story here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Atlanta reforms pensions

If pensions are driving a city toward insolvency, it only makes sense to ask public employees to increase their contribution. They get to keep their money, after all.

But public employee unions in California defeated this reform, getting a court ruling widely believed to mean they must get everything they were (sometimes foolishly) promised, no matter what havoc it wreaks on the municipality.

In Atlanta, It’s a different story.

As Calpensions reports, “Last week the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the Atlanta employee pension contribution increase, approved by the city council four years ago, did not violate the vested rights of employees.”

Meaning that Atlanta is going to regain fiscal health. While California cities will sink under the ever-increasing weight of unsustainable pensions.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Panhandler cards

The Downtown Stockton Alliance again has created cards to give panhandlers in lieu of cash.

Homelessness is one issue, however, that the private sector cannot solve. Thank Heavens Supervisor Kathy Miller is showing leadership on the issue. A Stockton City Council member flat-out admitted to me that the Council has been waiting for the county to act.

But the issue is analogous to The Marshall Plan. The county may have most of the money and relevant agencies, but the problem is primarily expressed in the city. Collaboration is therefore key.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If Pharoah decrees it, so shall it be

Here’s a lulu of a quote from tunnels proponent Jerry Meral, the former deputy secretary of the state’s Natural Resources Agency, in the Sacramento Bee:

“I’m sure there were people who didn’t like the pyramids, but in the end they got built because, frankly, the people who had the power to build them built them.”


Of course, “the people who had the power” were Pharoahs who claimed to be divine deities. They ruled with absolute power during a primitive period in human civilization. They were not democratically elected officials of a modern state who are supposed to represent the people, not ignore substantial opposition or destroy our natural world for the benefit of special interests.

But then that’s what makes Meral’s quote so telling. Gov. Brown & Co. long ago delegitimized opposition, reducing an entire region and all its valid interests to peasants who Shall Knuckle Under. Their increasingly strident tone belies the wisdom of this method, which cemented implacable opposition. I guess they see our region as a plague of frogs. That says more about them than us.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

San Berdoo, glad we’re not you

“Scattered across the 60-square-mile city are people who stay even as it seems there is not much to stay for. Like longtime couples who tolerate each other’s faults and still see beauty others may not, many of San Bernardino’s strongest supporters are committed for better or worse, in part because they’ve already been through so much.”

The L.A. Times, writing about the wreck of San Bernardino. Much about our brother in bankruptcy resonates with me as a Stocktonian.

Like the woman who said, “I love, absolutely love, this city. I know sometimes it looks dim and I think, ‘Oh my God, is it going to get better?’ But I know it is.”

I didn’t follow San Berdoo’s bankruptcy closely because early on it became clear it was different form Stockton’s in key ways. Stockton had an extremely competent leader who saw where the city had to go and took it there over the objections of the public employee unions. In San Berdoo, the fire department simply refused to be part of the solution; numerous beholden council members strove to maintain the absurd status quo, putting fire department interests over the interests of the city as a whole. So their bankruptcy has been an unmitigated mess.

Stockton also has hope. From the Marshall Plan to Reinvent Stockton to the gathering downtown comeback, there are very positive initiatives here. They will bear fruit. I hope the people of San Berdoo see their commitment rewarded too.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Ruckstull papers

Speaking of The Haggin Museum’s most obscure artifact, a bust of F.W. Ruckstull, here’s a 1920 newspaper article about the dedication of one of Ruckstull’s sculptures. In Brooklyn, I believe.

“The statue is a combination of various Greek elements,” Reports the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Old Ruckstull was a traditionalist and his formulaic sculptures were already somewhat passe thanks to Rodin.

Still, Ruckstull was a master. His “Evening” stands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other works decorate various government buildings and civic spaces.

At the Haggin, Ruckstull’s bust is currently not enjoying the hallowed niche he perhaps envisioned for himself.

F.W. Ruckstull, schmoozing with Duncan, The Haggin Museum dog.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ban roadside panhandling?

Charleston, S.C. just did.

“The ordinance, which goes in effect Wednesday, prohibits anyone — including panhandlers, people collecting money for charities or those handing out religious fliers or selling newspapers — from passing items to or from the occupant of a vehicle on a roadway in a traffic lane,” reports the Charleston Post and Courier.

“So people making a donation, and those accepting it, both would be violating the ordinance, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,092 fine.”

Why roadsides? Because roadside posts are the most lucrative, the story reports.

A good idea.

Here’s a photo I snapped this morning outside Capital Donuts on Pershing Avenue.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
  • Blog Authors

    Michael Fitzgerald

    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
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • RSS Related Content