(bw news, originally published August 25,2011 in Bilingual Weekly Newspaper)
SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, CA — “We got a big fire and a little hose,” City of Stockton’s Council Woman Susan Eggman summed up the many issues brought forth by Latino Leaders of San Joaquin County. The conversation was triggered by Congressman Jerry McNerney as he attempts to, “create a 5 year plan,” to address issues identified by the Leadership around the table.
15 community Leaders shared at length a list of issues affecting San Joaquin County. Among the conversation items such as budget short falls, the foreclosure crisis, immigration issues, the need for stronger education, public safety and many other topics. “Sometimes I don’t go near the windows because you don’t know what’s out there,” shared Steve Gutierrez resident of Lathrop and President of APATLI —an anti gang and violence preventative program in Stockton— as he voiced concerns over the increase violence in San Joaquin.
“What we need is to invest in our schools, not our prisons,” said Sara Casarez President of the Latina Democratic Club and Stockton Unified School District Board Member. A concern which Dr. Arturo Ocampo, Assistant Provost of the University of the Pacific agreed, “We need your support for the dream act,” Ocampo affirmed.
As the spoke person of the Council for the Spanish Speaking, Jose Rodriguez inquired for McNerney’s support on legislative issues which directly impact the Latino community. “e-verify is not mandatory in California but there is a concern of the resent push to make it mandatory,” said Rodrigez.
John Solis, San Joaquin County Work Net’s Executive Director remark the need to re-allocate Workforce Investment Board funds to California; he verbalized his concern over the lack of education achievement in Stockton. “Historically California received funds that were used for On the Job Training programs which stimulate the economy,” inquired Solis. Joining Solis on the plea for funds was San Joaquin County’s Administrator Manuel Lopez, “We [San Joaquin County] receive less federal money than other counties; with one of the lowest returns on federal funds.”
The estimated hour long meeting extended beyond expectation; as the majorly of the group agreed that Public Safety was among highest areas of concern. “We need more police to keep our city safe,” Eggman concluded.
McNerney pledge to sort the concerns and challenged the group to further the conversation in hopes to develop a 5-year plan with a focus on the key issues affecting the County.