According to the website roadsnacks.com, Lodi is the 10th most dangerous city in California, based on the nine homicides that occurred in town last year. And that ranking is circulating in social media circles. Citing FBI data as their source, the website reports that Lodi ranked 26th in the state for total murders, and 22nd for homicides per 100,000 population. While confirming the number of murders last year, LPD Capt. Sierra Brucia says, “We don’t believe last year is indicative of our community’s safety as a whole.” The numbers for last year are true, but many people believe they lack context and the ranking is unfair. Chief Tod Patterson says, “The nine homicides last year were an anomaly and seven of them have been solved and arrests made.” There have been three homicides this year to date, a 60-percent reduction, according to Brucia. “I believe our numbers have increased in part because of the passage of AB109 and Propositions 47 and 57. We also have currently the lowest number of gang incidents in my memory. The number for the year is 19 compared to 270 incidents in 2011,” the chief says.

MAYOR OF OUR TOWN: There’s a new mayor in town and not everyone’s happy about it. There were lots of people rooting for JoAnne Mounce to be appointed, but she was passed over again this year. While there was not as much drama surrounding the decision this year, there is plenty of it on social media pages. There appears to be a renewed effort brewing to change the way the mayor is selected. This time supporters want the person to be elected “at-large,” meaning it would be up to voters citywide and not the city council to choose. A new Facebook page, “Lodi Elected Mayor Initiative,” has already been created. It is an anonymous site so far, but former city council candidate Spencer Rhoads is behind the effort. “Under this ballot measure, the city will continue having five representatives, but instead of five city council members, it will consist of four city council members elected by district and one mayor at large,” says Rhoads. “The measure we’re drafting has the mayor serving two-year terms, which gives residents the opportunity to have a say in local government in each election, regardless of whether or not their district representative is up for reelection,” he says. Under the proposal the mayor would continue to be “ceremonial,” same as it is today.

GROWING PAINS: Our ditty last week on the local housing boom and the lack of new schools got some people to thinking and remembering. “Uncle Dino” (aka Doctor Taco) wrote, “Where are the new homeowners coming from? Are they from Lodi? Upgrading or a first-time homebuyer? Are they from local (10 miles) or are they Bay or Sac transplants? And, where are the folks WORKING?” Great questions all, but we dunno. Linda Namewithheld also commented that it was sure nice when virtually no new houses were built in Lodi between 2009 and whenever the first nail was struck. Ahhh, those were the good ole no-growth days, she laments. But this is hardly the first time Lodi’s housing developments have been in the spotlight. Back in 1973 a 500-unit housing tract called Vintage Greens was proposed to be built on the southwest corner of Lodi Avenue and Ham. The planning commission postponed the decision on it following a raucous public hearing on the matter. Even other developers with projects underway were critical of the proposition. The concern back then was the same: the impact on schools and municipal facilities. Vintage Greens was never built, but a large office condo project was instead. The White Slough treatment plant currently has sufficient capacity for all the new and planned construction, according to Public Works Director Charlie Swimley. However, schools may be a different story, depending on who you ask.

2020: Longtime Lodi optometrist Dr. Pete Hetzner will be retiring next year, bringing his 45-year career to an end. He started out in Lodi working with Dr. Frank Johnson, eventually taking over the practice. “How many other optometrists can say they retired in 2020,” he quips. His last day in the office will be Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. How sweet is that?

NEAR MISS: Local attorney Steve Snider, who is retiring at the end of this month after 38 years in the legal biz, was aboard the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor last week, touring the ship with his wife, when the shooting began at the nearby Naval Shipyard. That’s where a sailor allegedly shot two civilian workers and then himself. Steve and his wife were never in any danger, he says, but they were ushered below deck as a precaution when the ship went into lockdown. The best part is they were able to tour the areas not open to the public, he says.

THREE-DOT THOUGHTS: The new Oddfellows Tavern in Woodbridge may be opening soon, but the Oddfellows Lodge in Lodi is a little peeved about it. Seems lodge members are irked that the new watering hole is using the “Oddfellows” name without permission. They have filed a complaint with the state and are considering their legal options. The new tavern is located in the old brick building on the corner of Lower Sacramento and Mokelumne in the heart of beautiful downtown Woodbridge, where the Cactus restaurant used to be (they moved down the street). The building used to be home to the Woodbridge Oddfellows Lodge, but that was at least a couple restaurants ago. … Lodi firefighters are back from helping with the Kincade fire in Sonoma County, according to Lodi Fire Chief Gene Stoddart. “They worked hard establishing lines for about six days and were then released back to Lodi. The state had 5,000 firefighters assigned to the fire and were expecting a certain direction of wind, but thankfully that did not come to fruition and they released our unit back home,” the chief says. The fire burned 77,758 acres and destroyed 374 buildings. … This just in: the Lodi Tokay Rotary Club recently announced that they raised and gave away $63,500 this year to a variety of different projects and causes in Lodi. Quite a feat. … Annette Murdaca was just given the status of “board member emeritus” by the Salvation Army for personally raising over $100,000 this year. For as long as Annette has been helping the organization, her total fundraising efforts must be close to a million, or more, by now. She and her husband Jim own Pietro’s Trattoria on Kettleman Lane, and will soon open Murdaca’s steak house in Woodbridge.

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

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