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Posted: Monday, November 18, 2013 11:07 am

Let me introduce myself. I am the new City Hall reporter for the News-Sentinel.

While new to Lodi, I have been covering government for my entire - albeit short four year - journalism career.

It started in 2008 when I returned to my alma mater of California State University, Sacramento to get a second bachelors degree in journalism. There I was mentored by a professor who had spent years as a state government reporter for years who decided that was the route for me. Previous to that I had spent nearly 10 years as an elementary school teacher.

While at Sac State, I ran the school newspaper, The State Hornet, and interned at Capital Public Radio's (Sacramento's NPR affiliate) Capitol Bureau covering state government.

After winning the Sacramento Press Club's Earl "Squire" Behrens scholarship, I left my native Sacramento to pursue a masters degree in state government reporting at the University of Illinois at Springfield. While there I worked as intern reporter for the Chicago Tribune's state Capitol bureau for seven months.

From Illinois, I moved to Virginia, where I was the state government reporter in the Capitol in Richmond for The Daily Press, which is based in the Hampton Roads region of the state.

I spent two-years covering the daily happenings in state government and politics in a state that has made its fair share of national news in recent years. One of the most interesting parts of the job was covering the hotly contested 2012 presidential election in what was a key battleground state. 

Late last summer I returned to Sacramento for family reasons , and now find myself in Lodi.

Since coming here I have found Lodi's elected and professional officials to be fairly open and accessible as I've done stories on water rate hikes, pensions, electric utility boxes and noise at the Grape Bowl.

I am hopeful it remains that way as I follow Lodi's emergence from the Great Recession - a storm leaders say the city has weathered fairly well in comparison to other towns big and small throughout the Golden State.

What has really impressed me so far was watching the Lodi community come together in the aftermath of the Oct. 22 car crash at Ham Lane and Vine Street - which left five member an an unborn child dead. The fundraisers and the money raised for the sole member of the family - 9-year-old Eden Miranda - I covered left me feeling humbled.

Kudos Lodians.

In reviving the City Buzz blog, I would like to post regularly on interesting happenings in the city's halls of power; interesting or puzzling things I notice about Lodi as I travel around town; and other things I think I come across I think our readers will find interesting. Much like former City Hall reporter Maggie Creamer did when she ran the City Buzz blog.

I would also like the blog to be a conversation between myself and readers. Feel free to comment, email or call me with questions, tips and story ideas.

One of the first things I'd like to do is see about a new name for the blog that better reflects the town than City Buzz.

When assigned the blog I thought of finding a way to incorporate the city's marketing name I've seen on signs around town since I began commuting down from Sacramento on Sept. 30:

LOCA - The first time I saw it I chuckled and thought, " 'Crazy,' that's a good one."

Sadly, the creative juices haven't been flowing on that score.

So my first plea to our dear readers is to help me come up with a new blog name. Of course it must be tasteful and appropriate to print. Bonus points if you can find a way to incorporate LOCA in it.

Feel free to comment or shoot me an email or phone call with your ideas. I'd like to unveil a new name by Thanksgiving based on your suggestions. And I promise to give full credit to those whose ideas  become a part on the moniker.

I can be reached at toddw@lodinews.com or 209-369-7035.

Thanks, and I look forward to keeping you informed about your city government and working with you the public as I do.

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Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 98

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