It could happen here. Local retired CHP Sergeant Don Perry says trains going through Lodi pull tankers filled with toxic chemicals all the time. They’re not unlike the type that spilled in East Palestine, Ohio a few weeks ago. And if there were ever a derailment, well, have an evacuation plan. Lodi Fire Chief Ken Johnson agrees, saying, “Lodi is at risk.” There are actually dual risks, he says, between rail traffic and tanker traffic along Highway 99. It is something the fire department routinely trains and prepares for. Indeed, Chief Johnson knows the drill so well he reels off the top of his head the actions he’d take within the first 30 minutes. He says placards posted on each tanker tells his crew what’s inside each container, and an online app tells his crew how to deal with it. The chief says if a toxic spill were to occur, similar to the one in Ohio, people could be ordered to evacuate within a one-mile radius of the spill. He also says he would request mutual aid from surrounding districts. “No fire department is prepared to mitigate a situation like that (by itself),” says the chief. … If that’s not enough to keep you awake, then remember there’s also a large petroleum transmission pipeline buried a few feet below the surface that goes along the railroad right-of-way all the way to Los Angeles.

SHOWTIME: Former official Shakir Khan made an appearance at the Lodi City Council meeting last Wednesday evening, as expected. However, he didn’t try to retake his seat at the dais. Instead, Khan sat in the audience with 50-plus of his friends and supporters. During the “comments by the public” segment of the meeting, Khan forcefully repeated his claim before an attentive press corps that he did not actually resign from the council, but signed the hand-written resignation paper under duress. He vowed to challenge the resignation in federal court. Khan also, in so many words, alluded that his Pakistani community was being persecuted, declaring, “We are used to the system!” As proof Khan cited the case against former Lodian Hamid Hayat, who was convicted and sent to prison on terrorism charges. Hayat’s conviction was later overturned and he was released. Khan reiterated his innocence of the voter fraud charges levied against him, telling the audience that many people voted for the first time in their lives because of him. “They voted because I was running,” he said emphatically. At an impromptu press conference held outside the council chambers that night, Khan somewhat surprisingly said his goal is to see that all five city council seats are occupied by Pakistani folks.

CLARIFICATION: Last week we wrote about Khan’s attorney, Allen Sawyer, and his previous legal issues. We heard from Mr. Sawyer, who clarifies that he was actually charged with honest services mail fraud. Sawyer ended up pleading guilty to a relatively minor offense, for which he was briefly incarcerated. “When I was younger, I did not have anything left in the gas tank to fight anymore. I had two children that were under 4 years old,” he writes. He says he was later completely exonerated by the court, thus he did not run afoul of the law. Sawyer said he got his law license back only after enduring a “rigorous state bar hearing.” He said of the prosecutors, “Their legal theory was not only invalid but unconstitutional.”

BY THE NUMBERS: The local real estate market continues to cool, or “transition,” as local Realtor Ryan Sherman puts it. Some 58 Lodi properties were sold as of the end of February, he says. About 121 had been sold by the same time last year. That’s a 52% decline, year-over-year. However, there is only two months’ worth of inventory on the market today. In a more “normal” market there would be twice that, says Sherman. So, the market is still tight, if declining. He says the Lodi market peaked almost a year ago. “This is a market in transition. It’s not all doom and gloom, but it ain’t all peaches and cream either,” he says. Sherman says spring activity is out there but a little “muted” compared to last year.

CONGRATS: Recently-retired chamber president and CEO Pat Patrick has been awarded a coveted life membership in the Western Association of Chamber Executives organization by its board of directors. Patrick was given the award at the organization’s annual conference in Sacramento a couple weeks ago. “Pat exemplifies professionalism in chamber management and has done so much to lead our association and for the chamber industry,” said W.A.C.E. President Dave Kilby.

SODDEN THOUGHT: Lodi’s precipitation totals over 26 inches so far this season, which ends June 30. Average rainfall per year is about 19 inches, so we’re well above normal. We saw about 4 inches of rain in February, alone, according to Dr. Sweeney’s “Lodi Lake Weather” site. Reservoir levels are lookn’ good as well. Camanche is 71% of capacity, or 166% of average, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

WOW: It’s just like old times at the World of Wonders (WOW) Museum on Sacramento Street. In fact, it’s just like 2019, before the pandemic shut everything down, says museum president Sally Snyde. School busses are parked around the block as young students come from as far away as Fresno to experience science in action at the interactive museum. “This year will be spectacular,” she predicts. The museum’s expansion plans are still very much in motion, although she says it will likely be a scaled-down version of the original proposal. Snyde hopes there will be a groundbreaking for the plaza and animal carousel this year. Meanwhile, Delta College has scheduled classes to be held at the museum facilities, in something like a “north campus” of the college.

FLASHBACK: The city is gearing up to rebuild the bleachers and press box at Lawrence Park, following an arson fire a few years ago that destroyed much of the aging baseball complex. There are still a few who remember when Lodi had a pro baseball team that played their games at the park. Over its 19-year run the team changed affiliations several times. They were variously known as the Cubs, Dodgers, Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, Baltimore Orioles and Lotte (Japan) Orions. However, pro ball was never big in Lodi. During its last year only 75 season passes were sold. The boosters club only had about 40 members, even during its best years, according to a 1985 article in the L.A. Times. Average attendance during its last season was 693, which ranked last in the 10-team California League. Pro ball first came to town in 1966. The club was originally owned by a small group of local businessmen. It was purchased in 1981 by 38-year-old Michele Sprague, whose husband owned the Stockton Ports team. She sold the team in 1985 to owners who would soon move the team to another city. And that turned out to be the last inning for single-A baseball in Lodi.

REMEMBRANCE: We note the passing of Kari Salinas, 28, who passed away last September after a valiant fight against leukemia. Kari was profiled in these pages 10 years ago in a story that highlighted her return to normalcy after rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant brought the disease under control. She wrestled against boys as a senior at Galt High School and trained at Morgan’s Martial Arts in Lodi. Her level of fitness helped her cope with the difficult cancer treatments. Pastor Perry Kallis of GracePoint Church said, “Kari was both a literal and a figurative ‘fighter’ when it came to her cancer. She fought (the disease) with great passion, and actually achieved remission.

Then as part of her recovery, she built up her strength by doing some extreme ‘ultimate fighting.’” She also worked at Tin Roof BBQ, where she waited tables and greeted customers.

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