Angst over the looming change in garbage rates isn’t so much about the proposed $5 per month rate increase. It’s the mandatory upsize from a 20 or 35-gallon container to a 64 or 96-gallon jumbo wheeler that has people riled. The change will affect 70% of Lodi households. This is particularly shocking to the elderly who only generate a small bag of refuse per week.

Within the next 24 months, the cost per month for people with smaller trash carts will go from $20 or $30 to $44 per month, a 23% bump for some folks. It all came to a head for about 40 people who attended a “residents roundtable” last week, hosted by Councilwoman Lisa Craig. Waste Management employees on hand for the meeting blamed the state for the changes. It’s true that California now requires composting of organic materials such as food waste, and puts the onus on cities and counties to ensure no one is throwing food-soiled napkins into the garbage can.

However, the move to larger cans is the company’s response to some people over-stuffing their containers, a persistent problem, they say. You probably received a “Prop 218” letter in the mail with all the details.

There will be a public hearing in the city council chambers on March 15, where written protests to the proposal will be tallied and a city council vote taken. If you want to object to the proposal, you have until the evening of the meeting to file it, in writing, with the city clerk.

SPECIAL MEETING: The city council will hold a special closed session meeting this afternoon to discuss potential litigation being threatened by (Councilman?) Shakir Khan, who claims he really didn’t resign his city council seat a couple weeks ago while sitting in jail, even though he signed a statement saying he did, which was witnessed by the mayor and a deputy sheriff.

It may be a quaint notion to think Khan won’t show up at tomorrow night’s regular council meeting, expecting things to be like the good old days.

However, it will probably be anything but normal, with tensions thick enough to cut with a chainsaw.

FINAL MISSION: It was January of 1970 when Marine sniper Corporal Mike Smith (not his real name) and his spotter completed their secret mission in the Southeast Asian country of Laos. They wore no insignias, and had no dog tags. They were totally unidentifiable, so if they were captured or killed, no one would claim their bodies.

The pair was running towards their extraction point, where a helicopter would pick them up and fly them to safety, when Mike’s foot caught a trip wire, setting off a grenade. The explosion seriously injured both Mike and his partner. Neither could walk.

“For the next seven or eight hours, Mike crawled on his wounded leg with his more seriously wounded, bleeding, and sedated partner bound to his back while dragging their weapons by shoelaces tied to their boots towards the extraction landing zone,” writes Phil Lenser in a new book he’s written about Smith. Lenser lives in the Lodi area and is a retired financial advisor for Edward Jones and former Marine helicopter pilot. Smith also lives in Lodi. The book, entitled, “A Marine’s Story,” tells the thrilling account of Smith’s final Vietnam combat mission. It will be available on Amazon soon, says Lenser.

THE MUSIC STOPPED: The Kingston Trio was scheduled to perform at Hutchins Street Square this Saturday, but the show has been canceled.

“They booked Modesto for the very next day and those tickets went on sale first. That made our sales not so good so they decided to cancel,” says Square Director Christina Jaromay.

The Kingston Trio was an American folk and pop music group that started in San Francisco in the late ‘50s and ‘60s. None of the three original members are with the group anymore, but it would have been a great show for those old enough to remember their hits.

LAWYERED UP: As the saga of embattled Lodi City Councilman Shakir Khan continues to unfold, it’s interesting to note that his attorney, Allen Sawyer of Stockton, is a former deputy district attorney and a Tokay High grad. He also has experience defending other public officials accused of hanky-panky.

Back in 2019 Sawyer represented former Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva, who was ultimately convicted on felony conflict of interest charges related to the Stockton Boys and Girls Club. In 2001 Sawyer himself ran afoul of the law. He was connected to a business deal involving former county sheriff Baxter Dunn and former water board member Monte McFall.

At the time Sawyer was working as the interim head of the Governor’s Office of Criminal Justice Planning, and was helping Sunlaw Energy Corp. open a plant at the Port of Stockton.

He was accused of not disclosing that he would financially benefit if the company won approval to build the plant. Sawyer maintained that he fully disclosed his financial relationship with Sunlaw, but ultimately pleaded guilty to misusing a state office for personal gain, which sent him to jail for six months. Shortly thereafter, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in an unrelated case essentially made Sawyer’s deed a non-crime, thus allowing him to practice law again.

AROUND AND AROUND: Construction of the new traffic round-about and roadway widening project at the Highway 99 offramp to Cherokee Lane has begun.

First order of business was to clear out the homeless encampment and cut down some trees.

The project will probably take 18 months or so, according to city officials. The homeless settlement in question moved to the other side of Turner Road, where the sheriff ran into difficulties with Caltrans a couple years ago for cleaning up the mess.

FLASHBACK: It was a buyer’s market when shopping for gasoline back in 1976, 46 years ago. Retail prices in Lodi ranged from 50.9 to 61.9 cents per gallon, depending on whether it was “self-serve” or full-service.

Several stations pumping off-brands were selling gas for 51 cents a glug. As of this writing, petrol prices in Lodi range from $4.19 to $4.99 per gallon of regular, and it’s all self-serve. Back then self-serve was a fairly new concept. Lodi’s first entirely self-serve station was Fill ‘Em Fast at the corner of Lodi and Hutchins, where a commercial building now sits. It was a cash-only operation. No checks. No cards. Just cash.

They sold gas for 24.9 cents when they first opened in the early ‘70s, the cheapest in town. Full-service stations timidly stuck their toes into the seas of change.

In order to compete, they started by devoting one island to full-service and another for self-serve. Soon, full-service was a thing of the past. The gas station industry was consolidating. Stations were closing.

The California Board of Equalization that year reported a steady decline in the number of gas stations in the state. While stations closed, the number of pumps per business increased along with the advent of mini-marts selling gas.

Today, there no full-service stations in Lodi, and only a few remnants of the past that now sell gas and groceries.

Oddly, self-serve gas stations are illegal in Oregon.

Steve is a former newspaper publisher and lifelong Lodian whose column appears most Tuesdays in the News-Sentinel. Write to Steve at