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Blair King was more than just a budget balancer

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Posted: Saturday, March 27, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 11:33 am, Thu Jul 22, 2010.

It's a shame Lodi City Manager Blair King is leaving now.

He has accomplished the difficult and may never be appreciated for the rewards Lodi will reap because of his professionalism and perseverance.

He'll be off in the elite Southern California resort city of Coronado, rising to whatever challenges its wealthy citizenry throws his way.

When he came to Lodi in 2005, we faced a rare challenge — our usually frugal city government was short of cash. Lodi's $41 million general fund, the account that pays for police, fire, recreation and other core city functions, had a paltry reserve of $157,000. Our historical cash cow — the city-owned electrical utility — was borrowing money from other funds.

Today, there's more than $4 million in general fund reserves and the utility department just had its bond rating buffed up.

That turn-around required sacrifice.

Lodians grumbled when sewer, water and electricity rates were raised. No one thanked King for laying off city workers, keeping some vacancies unfilled and closing down city operations to save money. Bargaining with employees to reduce benefits and holding the line on wages is not the work of heroes.

But it was what the times called for.

Not every project he put his hand to was a shining success. King pushed for redevelopment, seeing it as a tool to create a better Lodi. But with no concrete plan for using the money, the voters shot down King and the City Council.

Which brings up an important point: No city manager makes any of these decisions alone. The City Council members who supported King deserve equal billing for Lodi's improved credit rating and sounder bank balance.

On he other hand, King was more than a mere budget balancer.

Real Estate developer Dale Gillespie called King "a one-man economic development department."

Keeping Blue Shield in Lodi makes it possible for many Lodians to have good jobs without a long commute to Sacramento or the Bay Area.

Supporting the coming of Home Depot and Costco gives us more shopping options, to say nothing of a better sales tax base.

The same must be said for the unheralded contribution by King and other city staff members to the showdown over Sanborn Chevrolet. When GM blinked, Lodi kept a major employer and sales tax generator alive.

Perhaps King's most imaginative innovation involved local wineries who wanted access to the city's sewage treatment plant. Downtown Lodi needs tourists. King proposed the city allow rural wineries access to municipal sewage lines in return for locating wine tasting shops Downtown.

It is going to be very difficult for the City Council to find a manager with King's sound judgment and willingness to do what's right rather than what pleases.

But if no one else appreciates what Blair King did for Lodi these past five years, we're sure the next Lodi city manager is going to appreciate his hard work.

The people of Coronado are lucky.

Marty Weybret is publisher of the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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Welcome to the discussion.

10 comments:

  • posted at 6:36 am on Tue, Mar 30, 2010.

    Posts:

    I've been to Coronado and it isn't any more or less elitist than Lodi. I can see if he was going to Logan Heights or Chicano Park!

     
  • posted at 2:34 am on Mon, Mar 29, 2010.

    Posts:

    nemesis, all it amounts to is more wheeling and dealing by the good old boys. That's the way the system works in Lodi. Maybe you're part of that system. Lodi News-Sentinel should.ve paid at least $10 million. They should be one of those homeless they and the good old boys so loathe. As should Lodi Printing.

     
  • posted at 2:30 am on Mon, Mar 29, 2010.

    Posts:

    $50 Million between 5 polluters seems like $10 million each. Show me the documents or where to find them. Why are the citizens paying for THEIR cleanup? And why is there leaky sewer pipe rumored to be the cause when it wasn't the sewer at all, but personal neglect and ignorance by these polluters for dumping their chemicals on the ground?

     
  • posted at 11:43 am on Sun, Mar 28, 2010.

    Posts:

    OPPS. I left off a zero on the amount the Weybret family paid out. It was one million dollars.

     
  • posted at 11:42 am on Sun, Mar 28, 2010.

    Posts:

    Pre$$ure$on, Look at my comments on the article about Blair leaving. I will repeat it here. LNS insturance paid off $1,000,000 and the Weybret Family added $1,000,00- to the pot.Do archive the links and you will find what I am saying is true. $2,000,000 does not sound like bail out to me. Lodi Printing is another story. I think Randall Hays had much to do with that. He did not name them at all and by the time the light was shown it was too late.

     
  • posted at 4:09 am on Sun, Mar 28, 2010.

    Posts:

    Well, reality, I'm still waiting for an answer from you? Tell me who bailed out the Weybret's LNS and Katzakian's Lodi printing on the ground contamination? Why did Lodians let them settle for the small amount paid by their insurance companies and literally no cash from their own pockets? C,mon reality, you prrofess to know everything, tell us or shut the hell up!

     
  • posted at 10:51 am on Sat, Mar 27, 2010.

    Posts:

    I'm surprised you beat observer to the questioning stand? Are you two married or related in some way? I've posted many links from reliable sources and either you don't read them or you just don't want to.

     
  • posted at 10:49 am on Sat, Mar 27, 2010.

    Posts:

    Well, reality, just who did bail out the Lodi News-Sentinel? And Lodi Printing? Please tell us. Or do I have to once again archive those links showing who helped and paid who? LOL

     
  • posted at 7:58 am on Sat, Mar 27, 2010.

    Posts:

    pray tell what did king do to bail out the LNS. this is just some more of the unsustantiated crap you continually spew

     
  • posted at 6:59 am on Sat, Mar 27, 2010.

    Posts:

    Marty, wasn't Mr. King also instrumental in bailing the Weybret's News-Sentinel out of financial disaster concerning your part in the ground pollution settlement? I'd praise him highly if I were you, too. If not for the city manager and your trusty big 3 on council at that time, we'd be seeing the Lodi Bee for our local paper now. LOL

     

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