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Turlock voters, don’t be fooled

Two things happened today that compelled me to pen this letter. First, I read Mayor Amy Bublak’s candidate’s statement and second, I came upon a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Turlock is my home and this community matters to me. I was dismayed to read Mayor Bublak’s statement with claims of her accomplishments, including balanced budgets. The Mayor and Council have benefited, hugely, from Measure A. Its passage, two years ago, will add an estimated $11 million dollars in General Fund revenue, annually. It’s not difficult to balance a budget when you begin with an $11 million windfall. Mayor Bublak opposed Measure A, the local sales tax measure, and would not support putting the measure on the ballot for voters to decide. However, she’s happy to use the revenue for expenditures.

Mayor Bublak claims she “improved the efficient delivery of services.” I emphatically disagree. With support from two, new, likeminded council members, Mayor Bublak signed a contract with the City of Modesto for the administration services of the Turlock Fire Department. Operational full-time salaries that included administration were $3.6 million in FY 2020-2021, including the salaries for the Fire Chief, Fire Marshall and command staff. For FY 2022-23, the same salary costs are almost $300,000 more, not including administrative salaries. Digging deeper, the contract with the City of Modesto is $600,000.

With respect to City Attorney services, the current costs are outrageous. The Mayor, with the support from two council members, released Turlock’s City Attorney. Mayor Bublak immediately replaced the municipal law attorney with a land use attorney having no experience or credentials for municipal law counsel. The City, in addition to paying our new land use attorney almost $300,000 per year, pays qualified legal firms to do the actual municipal work. Those costs amount to more than $600,000 per year. Turlock taxpayers are paying almost one million dollars annually for legal services that only four years ago were less than half that amount. This seven-figure expenditure for legal services does not include money spent by the City to settle personnel claims for such cases as hostile work environment.

Turlock voters please don’t be fooled by claims of balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility by the current mayor. I hope you will join me in voting for honesty, decency and fiscal responsibility. Please vote for former council member and vice chair Gil Esquer for Mayor.

— Maryn Pitt