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7 questions with Jay Patel

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Posted: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 6:49 am, Tue Oct 26, 2010.

Q: If the city budget worsens, what would you cut? Please be specific.

A: If the state of California would stop raiding our city’s revenue streams, I think we will be OK.

If things were to get worse, I would encourage our citizenry to prepare for a lower level of service than we have enjoyed in the past. We would all need to lower our expectations. We might have to look at eliminating graffiti abatement and reducing hours of operations for Lodi Lake, pools and parks, as well as other city services.

In truth, my main focus would be to grow our general fund revenues through pro-business and pro-jobs initiatives in order to prevent the decline of service levels as well as the need to shrink payroll. Lodi doesn’t have a spending problem as much as we have a revenue problem. Our focus must be to grow our revenues!

Q: As a member of the council, how would you work effectively with other members whose perspectives conflict with your own?

A: I acknowledge that every council member has the very best intentions for the city of Lodi. I do not expect to be on the winning side of every vote. In fact, it isn’t productive or wise to have 5-0 votes too often, as it shows a lack of independence. As such, I would not take things personally and over time I would hope to be able to persuade fellow council members that a view that I hold is correct. This is how I operate in my business life, and I consider it essential in order to succeed.

Q: Many cities are looking into outsourcing or privatizing some operations. What could be outsourced for the city of Lodi?

A: I do not believe that public safety can be outsourced. As a council member, I would listen carefully to any ideas brought by staff or members of the public regarding how we can save money through privatization. One idea that I was approached with, which sounded worthy of considering, would be sending small vehicle repair (police cars, trucks, scooters, etc.) to local garages, or maybe LUSD could take over the maintenance of our bus repairs.

Q: What is your vision for Lodi in 10 years and, as a council member, how will you work to achieve it?

A: Lodi needs to become more competitive with other cities in our area in terms of expanding our jobs base as well as sales and property tax bases. In the next 10 years, I hope to be able to help change public opinion regarding the desirability of new development as it pertains to jobs and housing opportunities.

Lodi is economically stagnated, which I believe has helped create our poor fiscal condition. Too many people and some council members believe that being anti-jobs and anti-economic growth is a positive for our city.

Q: Outline specifically how you would bring new jobs to Lodi. If part of your plan is to hire an economic development director, specify yardsticks to ensure the position is cost-effective.

A: I would consider reducing fees for companies looking to bring jobs and services to Lodi. I would put those discounts into place today.

I would also insist that the culture of our City Hall become friendlier to businesses. I have no complaints with staff, as they are all quality people. However, they consistently take the most conservative approach to building and planning issues. I have personally experienced the bureaucratic challenges put up by City Hall. It does not need to be that way.

What some council members fail to recognize is that Lodi has earned the reputation as being anti-jobs, anti-development and anti-growth. Other cities enjoy a more favorable reputation and those communities also have far better amenities, such as new sports fields, recreational parks and better shopping and eating opportunities.

I would fund the economic development director position. I also don’t feel it necessary to demonstrate initially how cost-effective that position would be. When a business is open, they have a salesperson standing by to search and respond to customers. With Lodi not having this position currently funded, it just demonstrates what potential employers and providers of goods and services already know: Lodi is not open for business!

Q: How can city payroll and pension costs be controlled?

A: I believe that the city has a revenue problem more than a spending problem. With that said, I understand the budget cuts and staff reductions that we have made so far. Additionally, I think the level of service has remained at an acceptable level. Our current pension system appears to be unsustainable. I believe we are going to need to have a two-tiered retirement system and reexamine employee compensation as a whole.

Again, my main focus would be to grow our general fund revenues through pro-business and pro-jobs initiatives in order to prevent the decline of service levels as well as the need to shrink payroll.

Q: The city’s electric utility is now recovering from a financial crisis created by burdensome debt. How can near-meltdowns in this operation be avoided in the future?

A: Our utility has served us well for a very long time, and properly managed and with proper oversight, that could continue to be the case well into the future. Years ago, the utility elected not to participate in hydroelectric projects, which in turn now denies us access to the cheapest form of electrical generation.

I believe that the new power plant that Lodi is helping to create at White Slough will help provide reliable power which will help greatly. We also need to look at connecting the city to White Slough with city-owned power lines so we could avoid the wheeling charges now charged to us by PG&E.

Additionally, we should consider offering a price break to potential employers that might be considering locating to Lodi. I would also like to see the Finance Committee be more involved in oversight of the utility.

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3 comments:

  • Doug Chaney posted at 9:24 am on Thu, Oct 28, 2010.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Mr. Patel, another day has come and the great Lodi News-Sentinel has front page news of Mr. Nakanishi and his good fortune to have at his disposal another $26,000, thanks indirectly to his board of equalization slush fund. You notice on the front page, this article only mentions Mr. Nakanishi and Phil Katzakian and the other candidates are on the inside, a naive way for the Sentinel owner, publisher and editor give Nakanishi and Katzakian front page coverage. Katzakian doesn't have his first name on his lawn signs either, did you happen to notice that? No website, either? I guess he wants those who are ignorant of what a terrible job he's done as mayor and councilman to think it might be the honorable Katzakian they're voting for and not him. Do you want either of these old gentlemen with their pandering to the wealthy and their old ideas and old age or would you rather see some forward thinking council members who represent the citizenns of Loodi and not just the good old boys, wealthy, family developers, builders and realtors who balk at bringing any new business to Lodi for fear they'll lose some of their own pricey profits to them? Vote Patel, Johnson, Amador or Reed and dethrone the good old boys system here in Lodi and their rule of greed and dominance. Bring the city of Lodi back to the citizens.

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 11:08 pm on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    After a conversation with Mr. Patel this evening, I find him to be a very intelligent, personable and business oriented individual who would make the best candidate, along with Mr. John Johnson, as our next city council representatives. I'd also recommend either Mr. Amador and Mr. Reed for that 3rd position. Haven't you Lodians had enough of the old men, the good old boys pawns and panderers, that have many Lodi taxpayers paying one of the top rates in the US for water, wastewater, seervices and electricity? The same group ththat just bought $45 million in bonds to finance a $36.5 million water treatment/sewer plant? And just last Wednesday at the council meeting again raised those rates once again to pay for the water treatment plant that we don't even need now, and probably won't for at least the next five years. Development was to have paid for this plant but these three council panderers decided to make the taxpayers pay for it in lieu of their developer friends and business accociates like Munson development, Gillespie developers with a different LLC identity to try to fool people into thinking it's not his LLP, IMO, Katzakian development, Wentland-Snider, etc. It's time for both Hansen and Katzakian to be put out to pasture by us voters and show them how we appreciate their also leaving us ratepayers and taxpayers of Lodi with the $50 million tab for the ground contamination cleanup. Mayor Katzakian and his Lodi Printing business was one of the more gross polluters, as was the Lodi News-Sentinel owned by the Weybrets. You want more of this pandering garbage from Hansen and Katzakian? Please vote new ideas and intelligent council members who sincerely care about Lodi and what the citizenry wants. Not more of Hansen, Katzakian and Bob Johnson, who only care about the good old boys who control their every move and fattening their own wallets, bellies and bank accounts. Vote Patel, J Johnson, Reed or Amador and move Lodi forward in a positive direction, not the same old stale agenda and more electric and utility rate raises to support their lavish spending.

     
  • Josh Morgan posted at 8:03 am on Tue, Oct 26, 2010.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 529

    Good interview Mr. Patel. I particularly appreciated your stand on expanding and accommodating local businesses.

     

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