It became clear during the Turlock City Council meeting of Feb. 20 that the debate over the future of the city’s farmers' market is in large part a debate over the future and character of Turlock.
On the one side, the ill-behaved Peter Cipponeri seeks, through the large contributions he and his family members made to Gary Soiseth’s mayoral campaign, to incorporate Turlock into a growing empire of for-profit farmers' markets that already includes Carmel and Hughson and is now eyeing many other California cities.
On the other, Elizabeth Claes and many others indicated so clearly, are large numbers of Turlock citizens who defend a nonprofit operation infused with and driven by the spirit of volunteerism.
Significantly, no one at the council meeting, and none of the many letters to the local papers, spoke on Cipponeri’s behalf. Even Cipponeri himself has been oddly quiet. I find myself wondering whether this silence reflects an arrogant and cynical belief that big campaign contributions alone can secure the desired outcome.
Let’s all hope that the grassroots community spirit so clearly on display in defense of the Turlock Certified Farmers' Market is not beaten down by the corruption too often characteristic of politics-as-usual.
— Bret Carroll