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Prayer, cable bill increases and Interstate 5 widening

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Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 12:00 am

In case you missed it...

In today's paper, Councilman Bob Johnson wrote a guest column about all the projects the council is working on. Johnson was firing back after our columnist John Johnson wrote a column Oct. 26 saying the council has a "simply keep the ship afloat" mentality. I'm sure this won't be the end of the debate and wonder if there will be a discussion at tonight Lodi City Council meeting. (Note: The two are not related despite the shared last name).

Speaking of tonight's meeting, here are some of the things on the agenda:

Prayer: Tonight will be the first invocation given under the council's new policy. (In the story, scroll down the prayer policy at a glance to read what the new policy is).

Here's what it says at the top of the agenda:

6:55 p.m. Invocation/Call to Civic Responsibility. Invocations may be offered by any of the various religious and non-religious organizations within and around the City of Lodi. Invocations are voluntary offerings of private citizens, to and for the benefit of the Council. The views or beliefs expressed by the Invocation Speaker have not been previously reviewed or approved by the Council, and the Council does not endorse the beliefs or views of any speaker.

It does not list who will give the invocation, but I will blog it or include it in one of my stories about the council in Thursday's News-Sentinel.

Transit cuts: See past blog or today's story.

Cable ordinance: The Lodi City Council will consider a cable ordinance to raise money to repair and replace as needed the video system in Carnegie Forum or do other improvements to expand public access capabilities. The 1 percent fee to cable uses would generate $80,000 a year for the city that can only be spent on video-related equipment and technology.

For a customer subscribing to Comcast's 100-channel "Digital Starter" service, they would see $0.58 a month added to their bill. (Previously, the city estimated it would be $0.51). This comes on the heels of Comcast raising rates on Oct. 15. The average entry customers started paying an additional $2 per month.

Interstate 5 widening: The council will receive a report tonight on an environmental impact report for a freeway interchange on Interstate 5 that could signal substantial growth toward Lodi from North Stockton. The proposed project is part of a plan to widen I-5 from Stockton to the southern limits of Lodi's White Slough Water Pollution Control Facility.

City planners are concerned because they say the project's environmental reports appear to be grossly incomplete. The proposed expansion is within Stockton's city limits, but very close to the White Slough Wastewater Treatment Facility.

In the 253-page California Department of Transportation report, there is no mention of the White Slough wastewater treatment plant. The Lodi Energy Center, a 280-megawatt natural gas power plant planned to be built next to White Slough, is absent from the Caltrans report as well.