The city manager is the person in the best position to know the condition of our financial health. So when that person bails even though his retirement plans include living in his Lodi-area home, you know we have problems.
This is why Rad Bartlam’s departure is so noteworthy. Despite Rad pulling hard to tighten the financial belt by reducing the number of city employees and getting those who remain to offer up concessions, things still look bleak. With sagging employee morale, deteriorating facilities, our CalPERS obligation going from $7.1 million last year to $16.9 million in 2020, and with one in every five Lodians living below the poverty line, I guess enough was enough. Or perhaps the final straw was being compared to Nancy Pelosi in the letter to the editor by Dennis Vetica on Dec. 26, despite the fact that while serving as city manager, Rad also served as our community development director for free!
The lesson we must learn is that we cannot save our way to prosperity. Our anemic growth rate of less than three-fourths of a percent over the last 25 years has left us devoid of much-needed jobs, property tax and sales tax revenues. Lodi is not business-friendly, and we are paying a price.
Nearly 150 years ago, Lodi’s founding fathers petitioned the railroad to place a station here. The competition for a railroad stop was fierce. After offering free land to the railroad, a station and a city were secured. It’s time we return to our roots and become a business-friendly city.