TRACY- Homelessness was the hot topic that packed the house at last night’s city council meeting. This has been a hot button issue since April of 2018 when councilwoman Juana Dement proposed the city form a task force to study the issue in regards to public policy and availability of resources. Months later cities such as Stockton, Manteca and other surrounding municipalities moved to designate themselves as “Shelter Crisis” cities in order to receive millions in state funding opened up by Governor Brown. The idea of that city led task force on homelessness was then quickly pushed to the back burner by a coalition of non profit organizations led by Councilwomen Rhodesia Ransom and Nancy Young who pushed for the move to have Tracy be designated as a “Shelter Crisis” city instead of any study. At stake? A lot of money for local nonprofits.
The concern for such a move was that Ransom and Young were motivated by their nonprofits being able to receive that state funding to address homelessness from Gov Brown’s Homeless Emergency Aid Block Grant, a clear conflict of interest.
There were also major concerns with the crisis status designation including whether or not such a move would hinder the ability of Peace Officers to enforce city codes in place to ensure the safety for all residents, public and private property as well as any liability to the city as a result of failing to do so. In the end the council vote rejected the crisis designation 3 to 2.
Now a year later the issue has again been brought up. This time with Stockton surprisingly being used as a model of success by Councilmembers Young, Ransom and their new mentee Dan Arriola- comprising a new 3 vote majority coalition on the council.
Several community members from residents to business owners and professionals in the field of social service spoke about the need for transparency and pleaded for the council to consider an approach other than Stockton’s current model led by politicians and not the actual community and it’s various stakeholders. Homelessness has increased in Stockton on amidst several meetings and summits under the leadership of Mayor Tubbs and the task force chair County Supervisor Kathy Miller. Former San Joaquin County Supervisor Carlos Villapodua of Stockton echoed those sentiments urging Tracy leadership not to follow Stockton’s failed model. He also warned of the risk of further politicization by allowing politicians to lead the group; instead he recommended bringing in an independent third party to find a Tracy specific model.
Mayor Rickman shared images of Stockton and Tracy’s growing problem and urged the Council not to follow Stockton’s example. In the end the vote to form an ad hoc committee led Rhodesia herself along with her underling, Dan Arriola, passed 3 to 1 with 1 abstention. Efforts to amend the motion by Vargas allowing her to join the committee were rejected by ProTem Nancy Young. Adding a third council member to the committee would place it under the mandated regulations of the Brown act that guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies. That transparency was openly rejected. It’s clear Stockton’s dysfunctional and corrupt politics have now infiltrated Tracy. Welcome to “the new generation of leadership” aka Reinvent Tracy where apparently selfies substitute for substance.