Fast Talk Another take on longstanding mayor's meetings
by Ron Swift for the Patterson Irrigator
Apr 26, 2012 | 565 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Swift
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Although this column has been written for four months shy of 50 years, minus a few breaks along the way to recharge my batteries, its contents should in no way be considered the opinion of this newspaper.

That relationship ended nine years ago next week, when this scribe relinquished ownership of the newspaper. So readers should not assume opinions expressed here are those of the Patterson Irrigator. They aren’t, and on occasion they may differ with those expressed editorially on the Irrigator’s opinion page.

That said, let me proceed.

The mayors of Stanislaus County’s nine cities have recently been called on the carpet for holding meetings in secret. While nothing was secret about the meetings being held, neither the public nor the press was invited.

This circumstance irked a few, and the press drew the conclusion that if the meetings were not exactly illegal under the state’s Brown Act, then they certainly weren’t transparent. And anytime a meeting lacks transparency, there must be some collusion, right?

Former Patterson Mayor Wade Bingham (1986-92) recalls that Modesto Mayor Carol Whiteside initiated the mayors’ meetings back when he headed city government in Patterson. The meetings were used to discuss issues of joint interest to the nine cities, from pending state legislation to ideas about how to deal with the sometimes rambunctious members of our Board of Supervisors.

Whatever might have been a meeting of the minds among the mayors, it didn’t mean diddly, for each had to take information back to his or her council for an ultimate decision.

I’m sure the meetings had their social side, as well. And that is important, for elected officials need to have a certain bonding if they are to effectively solve problems that are common to all levels of government.

I’m sure Patterson benefited from Bingham’s friendship with Whiteside. They undoubtedly shared ideas and may have collaborated on how to approach county government on various issues. There’s nothing the matter with that.

What I do have a problem with is using city funds for the purchase of gifts given to mayors at these meetings. It may be a petty expense, but it’s unnecessary.

Because the mayors’ meetings have been going on for a number of years with the full knowledge of anyone close to city government, what’s the beef? The meetings may be held in private, but their existence certainly has not been a secret. Nor, for many years, an issue.

Laundered money

As the story goes, Pattersonite Wayne Brooks recently lost his wallet, no pleasant occurrence under any circumstance. Fortunately, his wife Bev later found it in the bottom of the washing machine.

As Wayne tells the story, Bev neglected to remove the wallet from his trousers before washing. That’s the kind of thing that could happen at my house.

Let’s hit the books

As a public service, Fast Talk returns to the classroom for further education of our readers.

n Many of us have been thrilled by the Navy’s Blue Angels precision flying team. But did you know that the pilot on the right of the formation is always a Marine? Now you do.

n A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

n Almonds are members of the peach family.

Now, go out and impress people.

90-plus list growing

Our list of 90-plusers is about to go back up to 63, when longtime rural Patterson resident Evelyn Kolding turns 90 next Monday, April 30. Husband Lawrence is already on the list, and we expect him to sing her “happy birthday,” if he isn’t too busy mowing the Federated Church lawn.

Also, I have good news to report about Evelyn Rusk, who was living here in Patterson two years ago when she became a centenarian. She’s now in a care facility in Modesto and celebrated her 102nd birthday March 10. Evelyn is still healthy and alert, reported local relatives John and Moira Brouse.

Our list includes six centenarians, undoubtedly an all-time high for the Patterson area.

But we must note the death last week of Lena Correia Masi, a 50-year resident of Patterson. She was 94 but had been overlooked by our spies and therefore wasn’t on our list.

Interestingly, Lena had one great-great-great-grandchild, making the Correias the only local six-generation family in my memory.

Notable deaths

The deaths of two former Patterson residents — Donna Del Nero and Dorothy Morris — are announced elsewhere in this issue of the Irrigator.

Both Modestans were well known and had many friends here. Donna raised her family in Patterson, and Dorothy, whose late husband George was the local Ford dealer, was a noted artist. The local museum has prints available of her painting of the original Patterson High School building.

Cells in prison?

Yep, inmates in California’s prisons apparently have plenty of cellphones, despite the intrusive devices being prohibited behind bars.

Somehow, by hook or crook, many prisoners gain access to cells, and the statistics are alarming (at least to me). According to news reports, 1,400 phones were confiscated by prison staff in 2007, and that figure grew to 15,000 last year. So far in 2012, 2,181 phones have been taken away by authorities.

How do cells end up behind bars? You tell me.

Inmates reportedly use the phones to conduct illegal activities outside, organize assaults on prison staff and terrorize victims.

However, they won’t be calling my cellphone number anytime soon. That I can guarantee.

My latest cell complaint

I visited a friend in the hospital this week, but finding him asleep I backtracked to the lobby to wait. There I found all the seats occupied except one, but upon approaching it, I noticed a cord running up the back and over the top. It was a cellphone in the seat being charged.

No one moved, so I stood for a few minutes, and finally another seat was vacated, which I hastily grabbed.

A few minutes later, a woman got up, walked past several people who were seated, and unplugged her phone, freeing up the chair.

Yep, cellphones may yet take over the world.

For the sports fan

You won’t see a sweeter double play than the Giants pulled Monday evening against the Mets. Second baseman Emmanuel Burriss’ backhand stab and flip from his glove to shortstop Brandon Crawford for a throw to first was nothing short of unbelievable and likely will be shown on highlight films for years.

And finally…

“Here’s a reminder to enjoy life now, for it has an expiration date.” — Unknown

• Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at ronkay@gvni.com.

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