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J. Kurt Roberts Lodi gangs, politics and our misguided immigration policy

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J. Kurt Roberts

Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 10:00 am, Thu Jun 23, 2011.

With our fair city currently being besieged by no less than 20 gang-related acts of violence in the past month or so, it should be clear to all that Lodi, at least the Eastside, has a serious gang problem.

Most rational Americans see these street terrorists as basically low-life common criminals bent on instilling fear and intimidation through any means necessary in order to gain some perverted form of "street cred." Most have at least one or two family members with gang ties. The use and trafficking of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs is a major contributing factor in this extremely lurid and self-destructive lifestyle.

While I personally have had little to no contact with these street thugs, I've actually been mistaken for a cop on more than one occasion, something I consider a great compliment. It is simply beyond my ability to comprehend how one could have so little respect for not only other peoples' lives, but your own life.

I mean, once you dedicate your being to the "gang," you are just one bad decision away from throwing your life away either by being killed, or by being sentenced to prison.

Some, in the blogs at least, have been so cynical as to say that at least most of the violence has been against other gang members, where there is very little sympathy. That form of rationalizing is tempered somewhat when you consider not only the cost of basically warehousing the perpetrator for the rest of his life, but paying the medical bills, also often for life of his victim(s).

And anybody who thinks that immigration, both legal and illegal, has nothing to do with this must have their head buried in the sand. I mean, these gang members who have been shooting up and terrorizing the Eastside are not skinheads, nor are they the predominately African-American Bloods and Crips. They are overwhelmingly affiliated with the Mexican gangs that go by the names, "Norteños," or northerners, and "Sureños," or southerners.

It should be needless to say that the vast majority of Mexican immigrants are very good, decent, hard-working people.

I myself, though, don't need yet another reason to insist that the government enforce current immigration law and close the border. I find it hard to fathom, however, how some in the media could possibly make the case for ever more lax immigration policy. Those who do are simply looking for more future voters they feel will keep them in power.

The current rate of job growth in California is anemic at best. If you throw in immigration, both legal and illegal, with birthrates that are off the charts, the prospects that the influx of firstor even second-generation Hispanics immigrants finding gainful employment is not good.

The likelihood of large numbers of young unemployed Hispanics being seduced by the Norteños or Sureños, however, is great.

Unfortunately, the one dominant political party in power in Sacramento has, for all intents and purposes, turned a blind eye toward any serious attempt to stem the flow of illegal immigrants from south of the border, and has actually, one may argue, encouraged it.

Lodi will likely continue to see more and more visitors from the less hospitable regions of Mexico, where the drug cartels have for the most part taken over. Most of these immigrants are indeed honest and hard-working, like the proprietors of the many fine taco trucks here in Lodi. Unfortunately, if this current trend of gang violence continues, you and I may have to soon dodge the occasional stray bullet in order to feast on these delicacies.

I do not think I want a taco that bad.

J. Kurt Roberts, a Lodi writer, can be reached at jkurtroberts@att.net.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Jay Samone posted at 7:57 am on Thu, Jun 23, 2011.

    Jay Samone Posts: 359

    Bob Kempf - I'm not sure where you get that everyone is saying the meth dealers/users and gang bangers are only on the eastside, I don't believe that's the case at all. I do believe the eastside has a high concentration of poor hispanics and also poor whites, however, I don't think that because you are poor or whatever race that means you are a gang member/drug addict/drug dealer. There are PLENTY of those over here on the westside. For example, my neighbor - who makes it clear to everyone that he has the MOST expensive and the LARGEST home on our block - has two sons with friends who are heavily involved in meth and they constantly break into our vehicles. The last time we got hit, his son stole cigarettes and a lighter, a cheap watch and a bluetooth from my boyfriends work truck. When the neighbor went looking for his youngest thug in training around the corner, I caught him and "jokingly" informed him of the theft. He knew exactly who did it, as did I. I think they beileve that because the truck was unlocked, it wasn't as serious because we didn't have to replace locks or windows.....nice, huh? In the house behind us, there is a teenage girl who is constantly cutting class with her friends to go home and smoke pot on the roof of her home or in the backyard while her parents are at work - she thinks no one knows.....pfffft.......There are serious problems all over this town and no one seems to care. It doesn't matter what goes on, the LPD KNOWS there's a problem - they just dont' want anyone telling them how to fix it, or any assistance from citizens who want to help intervene. They'd rather take and keep any credit/kudos/grant funds/newsstories about themselves. I guess it helps them promote faster.....(sarcasm)

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 7:07 am on Thu, Jun 23, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Doug stated...There's no excuse for any of the city high rollers to not have attended the Lodi Improvement Committee meeting and the great presentation on gangs and intervention methods...

    Doug... if what Jay and I stated eariler is true... that the Federal and state level is a tilewave and the city is just holding an umbrella to keep dry from the title wave, it would make sense to me that some people may perceive it a waste of time to work on "prevention" locally. Maybe it is more productive to spend time and energy in dealing with the problem that is handed to the city by our own government. Maybe prevention should go to the root of the problem which is not caused by anything Lodi has done.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 10:08 pm on Wed, Jun 22, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    There's no excuse for any of the city high rollers to not have attended the Lodi Improvement Committee meeting and the great presentation on gangs and intervention methods. Mr. Kempf, your assessment of Lodi assuming that the eastside is seemingly filled with gang members, dopers and dealers, mostly by those who keep chugging that cheap Lodi wine and living in their dreamworld of livable, lovable Lodi. With all the growth, housing and developments moving south and west, why hasn't some effort been put in to "beautify" the east side area like downtown, Kettleman Lane, Harney Lane, Lakewood Mall, etc.? I've seen a $50k mural or two added by Lodi's finest arts commission muralist and other than that I'm still holding my breath for the city to actually do the two alleys that are just some of the many on the eastside that have been waiting for years to have the work done. And what about the ADAaccess curbs? Has the city even half finished there? the west side is nearly done, and they're working on Mills where the construction is going on on those access curbs with that heavy machinery tearing up the street. The crews for AM Stephens that utilize those two huge overweight crawlers actually either crushed some transite type water main the other day and ruptured it, yet these behemoth machines are still overloading the thin asphalt paving on Mills. There's no dust control on this project whatsoever and the city could care less as long as they can generate profits for their pet contractors, who don't always provide the quality work other contractors offer, mainly due to inexperienced manpower. Why aren't they over on the eastside maintaining the streets, sidewalks and neighborhoods there? The eastside is mainly rental properties owned by good old boys from Lodi that rent knowingly to illegal aliens and many of those homes are atrocious due to lack of maintenance by the many wealthy, greedy owners. I know who many of those good old boys are and their idea to keep this area as a cheap blighted part of town to keep their stable of low paid workers to keep their properties rented. The eastside of Lodi will forever fade into darkness as long as the local greedy good old boys have their way. They can't hide the crime figures any longer, hence the name will stay, Lodi-Stockton. They must be very proud of their accomplishments. Some of them even have taken advantage of the $4,000 weatherization credit that is given to renters of properties that need modernization and things like new windows, air conditioning, new doors, refrigerators, etc. Now you can see why they let these dumps run down. I just wonder how many of these crooks will get more than one $4,000 check from the taxpayers to fix up their own rentals? I thought these crooks were supposed to provide weatherization at their own expense. I'll be asking SJ county for a list of each and every property that receives this $4,000 max funding and research who each and every owner is of every rental property. The law should require each landlord or property management company to verify citizenship of any renter of their property.

  • Bob Kempf posted at 8:00 pm on Wed, Jun 22, 2011.

    Bob Kempf Posts: 41

    Ok, maybe I missed something. But what I got out of the onion was that most of the East side is somehow involved with the drug trade, namely meth. And that most have one or two involved with gangs.....Really? I live here on the East side and it sure ain't pretty but I don't think most of us are selling dope and I don't believe most of my neighbors have family that are in gangs.

    If we have 1000 dealers....How many dopers have we got?

    I know there is a big gang problem, but not most of us are gangsters. That is really a small minority, very small. And something needs to be done about the problem, but please quit inferring that us on the East side are all scum of the earth.

    I've lived in this house for the past 25 years, and will probably be here tomorrow. I've had my fair share of really good neighbors and really bad ones. Color really never seemed to be the deciding factor. Some people are good and others not so good.

    Bob Kempf

  • Jay Samone posted at 3:19 pm on Wed, Jun 22, 2011.

    Jay Samone Posts: 359

    Bob - you clearly missed the entire point of Doug's post. This is NOT about expanding the city on the eastside, much less where minorities live in this town. Yes there is a concentration of minorities on the eastside, but there are plenty of minorities that live all over town and are involved in criminal and/or gang activity. The gang problem solely rests on the city's leaders, police force and news paper because they continue to refuse to acknowledge the existence of an increasing gang population and increasing violence in our town. Everyone would be just oh so happy to continue living with blinders on, until their home on the westside is shot up and an innocent bystander is dead.

    Darrell: you are correct in your assessment. California's lawmakers only want votes and right now the Latino population is the largest in the state. The lawmakers want to make sure they remain in office, so they continue writing AND PASSING legislation supporting illegal employment, benefits, healthcare and other "perks" that make it especially profitable for gangs to infiltrate and continue operations. Because the federal government chooses not to enforce their own laws, states have passed their own legislation in order to be proactive (and reactionary) in order to prevent continued increase in criminality -whether it is a direct result of gang influence or not. California is not, nor will ever be, a state that will make an attempt to rid itself of the financial burden illegal aliens, criminals and the like create on the taxpayers. This area has long been taken over by the gangs and they continue to flourish - and no one does anything about it because they are afraid to acknowledge it as a real issue.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 2:13 pm on Wed, Jun 22, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Doug... I enjoyed the portion of your post in regards to gangs and possible intervention... You obviously have been involved and have experience to base your opinion on. I do have a thought though to add.
    It seems to me that without Federal and state participation in battling illegal immigration and controlling the borders, that it almost seems like a waste of time. Isn't this like using an umbrella to keep dry on a beach with a titlewave coming?

  • Bob Smith posted at 11:09 am on Wed, Jun 22, 2011.

    Bob Smith Posts: 128

    Doug said, "With Lodi ever growing to the west and south, the eastside becomes further and further detached from Lodi society. This is well planned by your local planning commissions "

    Just where do you propose the city expand into on the east side? It is bordered by the river and 99, along with the industrial areas. You conveniently seem to think that Costco and the houses south of Kettleman are "south", not "east", so just where would you put new construction on the eastside? Last time I looked, there were lots of minorities living in the homes bordered by Stockton St/Harney Ln/99/Kettleman.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 10:14 am on Wed, Jun 22, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    E-verify would eliminate at least 25% of the illegal workers holding even good paying jobs here in Lodi alone. Those jobs held by illegal workers could contribute vastly to the economy of Lodi were they held by tax paying citizens of the US. There are several larger employers in Lodi who refuse to e-verify and the worst offenders are the agricultural community who hire labor contractors to provide many suspected illegal workers and some of these farmers and growers are rumored to pay cash under the table when no one is regulating their payroll. This is also an issue that fuels the recruitment of very young gang members while their parents are working hard in the fields just to make ends meeet, while not having the time to ensure that their children, brothers, sisters, and relatives are not involved in the lifestyle most Lodians consider predominanttly criminal on the eastside of Lodi. With Lodi ever growing to the west and south, the eastside becomes further and further detached from Lodi society. This is well planned by your local planning commissions and the good old boys on the city council, who completely ignore the fact that the eastside does indeed have serious gang and drug problems and have tried to hide it from public opinion or disclosure since ex-chief Hansen, and maybe even before then. I do agree with most of what you opine Mr. Roberts, but unless you have lived on the eastside and dealt with any of these youths personally, you have no idea where they are ccoming from, or going to. This months' Lodi Improvement Committee meeting had two young gentleman put on a presentation to introduce a Stockton based organization, Point Break, that is proposing to bring a gang awareness program to the Lodi Unified School District or any organization that would like help or resources to begin programs of gang intervention, substance abuse and intervention, anger management , gang awareness, victim awareness, family and individual mentoring, parenting adolescent classes and violence prevention workshops and assemblies. Not one member of LUSD, LPD, city council, management nor anyone good old boys and girls or any of you complainers here on these blogs even bothered to show up. My friend Dennis and I were the only two observers other than the two dedicated gentleman offering up this presentation. And you expect the city of Lodi and LPD to actually be serious about the gang problem here? Mr. Takeuchi, the chairman of the committee, seemed very enthused with this program and gave the impression that there needs to be a serious follow up by Lodi city officials, LUSD and LPD to work with and possibly help fund this important step toward creating some kind of liason between the gang movement and private citizenry that will involve families of those gang oriented youths and citizens of the eastside, with co-ordination through both LPD and LUSD. You can beat this gang issue to death but until the city of Lodi steps up to the plate, it's going to get worse before it gets better. Much worse with the long, hot summer coming and school out. No jobs, activities or social acceptance for most eastside residents, especially the Mexican, Hispanic and Pakistani communities only adds fuel to the fire. Come out of the 1950's Lodi, or, IMO, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. This eastside problem has slowly spread to the west side and if you naysayers think there aren't white supremacist groups amongst your hoity-toity westside wealthy neighborhoods, you are certainly living in dreamland. I've received calls from many of them while trying to start our gang intervention program in 2009 and you'd better believe they exist right here in west Lodi and in your "hoods". They are your neighbors, friends, next of kin, and anyone you would never suspect of being on a criminal style of life, usually due to addiction to drugs, alcohol or both. That's my ramble for today, take it or leave it.

  • William Dawes posted at 8:58 am on Wed, Jun 22, 2011.

    William Dawes Posts: 116

    There is a big difference from "hard working" because it is a part of your work ethic, and because you have no other choice. The big problem is how many are working illegally, or "under the table", or in some illegal trade. How many are committing fraud on the government?

    Even if an illegal does their tax return, the law allows them about 30 dependents, not living in the U.S., and w/o verification. This means they pay no taxes and actually get a rebate.

    Illegal aliens, and they are NOT immigrants, become a parasite that affects every part of our government and the tax payers are the host.

    Many of the Nortenos are anchor babies.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 7:23 am on Wed, Jun 22, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2868


    I hope you're not suggesting we put every Mexican be under the miscroscope. Only a complete idiot would think that.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 7:20 am on Wed, Jun 22, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2868

    800M wrote:

    J. Kurt, norteños are U.S. born Americans with Mexican ancestry 99% of the time.

    -Which makes it that much more likely these gangs have ties with Mexican drug cartels and illegal immigration. What better way to bolster their position here is to
    have ties with gangs who speak fluent English and probably fluent Sapnish too.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 7:10 am on Wed, Jun 22, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2868

    But make a suggestion it may have been one of the KKK's unattended cross burnings
    and that's something to ponder.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 7:07 am on Wed, Jun 22, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2868


    I'm sure you're aware it's become so PC over here in AZ our Senator MCcain can't even speculate it may have been illegal immigrants who set some of the fires here.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 7:03 am on Wed, Jun 22, 2011.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2868

    800M Specialist wrote:

    So perhaps you are saying to do away with Mexicans in general?

    Kurt wrote:

    It should be needless to say that the vast majority of Mexican immigrants are very good, decent, hard-working people.

    -This one statement from Kurt should have been enough for 800M to conclude
    Kurt does not have a problem with Mexicans, in general. But you can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear.


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