Monday, July 27, 2009

Grape Bowl follow-up

The George Thorogood concert caught the attention of the Sacramento TV stations. Here's what channels 40 and 13 had to say:

And this from Channel 13

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Logistics of a Grape Bowl concert

First there's the decision to put on a concert at the Grape Bowl for the first time in 30 years. Then there's figuring out how to do it.

ATMs were rare when Foreigner played at the Grape Bowl in 1978. There weren't electronic credit card machines, either. People these days, however, are used to those types of services. Those are some of the challenges facing the City and promoter for the George Thorogood show on Friday.

Tickets may be purchased at the Grape Bowl with cash or a credit card. There won't be an ATM on site, however, so any food, beverage or other purchases inside the facility will be cash only. The nearest ATM is at the Grape Festival Grounds.

Ticket sales at the Hutchins Street Square Community Center box office, as well as online at, end at 4 p.m. Friday. The Grape Bowl gates open at 6 p.m., with show starting at 7 p.m.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Library closing Monday for two weeks

The Lodi Public Library is heading back to its Locust Street location after seven months at its temporary accommodations on Pine Street. The library is open Saturday and Sunday at 212 W. Pine St., and then is closed until Aug. 3.

Overall, $1.6 million has been spent on library improvements and renovations in the last year, with the Lodi Public Library Foundation, federal block grant funds and Lodi's General Fund the major funding sources.

Here are some pictures taken Friday as workers near the end of the renovation, which includes a new heating/air conditioning system, new carpet, children's area, new furniture, renovated restrooms (including two family restrooms) and a new entrance ramp.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Glitch in online streaming of City Council meeting

If you have cable TV, you're able to watch tonight's City Council meeting. Unfortunately, there's a glitch with the company that streams that video feed over the Internet.

Fixing the problem midstream means rebooting the company's computer, which would result in a portion of the meeting left unrecorded. We'll work on it Thursday in order to have the video available online as soon as possible.

UPDATE: The server handling the broadcast has been repaired and video from Wednesday's meeting is now available online.

No one likes paying higher sewer rates

Even if the proposed wastewater rate increase for Lodi is adopted tonight, residential rates still compare favorably with other cities in the region.

The monthly rate for a three-bedroom residence is currently $27.74, with the first-year 25-percent increase raising that to $34.68.

Take a look to the north, where Galt currently charges $51.87 for residential sewer service. To the south, residents in Lathrop pay $39.10, Manteca charges $39.50 and Tracy $31.

Over the Altamont, residents in Livermore pay $40.75 a month.

But the people really feeling the pain of the heightened environmental regulations are down Highway 12 in Rio Vista. That city just raised monthly sewer rates to $58.84 for those residents who aren't living in the newest developments. In five years they'll be paying $84.37. Here's a recent newspaper story on their situation.

Residents in other cities in our region are paying less, of course, but that is expected to change as their wastewater operating permits expire and come up for renewal. State regulators are placing greater focus on the salinity and other constituents of surface water and land discharges than in the past.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ready for a second downtown bike race?

Race organizers were pleased with Sunday's first Lodi Cycle Fest, which brought hundreds of cyclists and hundreds more spectators to downtown Lodi.

Here's an email the City received Monday from the Delta Velo cycling team, which put on Sunday's races:

"I would like to thank the city of Lodi, it was a pleasure to work with each of you on the Lodi Cycle Fest. Your efforts and endurance helped bring nearly 400 racers and their families into downtown Lodi. I personally saw many hundreds of spectators around the course with smiles and cheers for the men and women that came to race. Lodi showed off what I have known for years, that it is a spectacular city with charm and life that rivals any in California. I look forward to working with you again for next year’s Lodi Cycle Fest."

Friday, July 10, 2009

How did Lodi get George Thorogood?

There’s excitement building in Lodi for the July 24 Grape Bowl concert by George Thorogood & the Destroyers. But how exactly did this concert come about?

The main reason is the City has an experienced facilities manager on staff. James Rodems (pictured to the right) has been director of Lodi’s Community Center for roughly 2 ½ years. He previously served as a facilities manager for private and public entities. He’s now also serving as Lodi’s interim parks and recreation director, overseeing the Grape Bowl. Because of his experience, he sees the Grape Bowl from another point of view.

“We’ve had this long, belabored process trying to figure out what the do with the Grape Bowl,” Rodems said. “What do people think the Grape Bowl is? People think it’s something for football games. Experienced facility managers will walk into that venue and they will tell you it is limitless in its uses.

“So how do you convince the public it’s limitless? You do something other than a sporting event in there.”

Promoter Peter Koulouris brought veteran rocker Dave Mason to Hutchins Street Square in November and was impressed with the work of Lodi’s staff, Rodems said. Meanwhile, Rodems began toying with the idea of a Grape Bowl concert and contacted Koulouris in early 2009.

Later, Koulouris and co-promoter Troy Gotschall began looking for acts and found that Thorogood would be available.

“(Koulouris) said he thought this was the act that would fit in the venue and appeal to a large segment of Lodi’s population,” Rodems said.

Rodems said if 2,000 people buy tickets, which sell for $29 plus a nominal service charge, the show will be a success from the City’s view.

“It’s all to show that it can be done,” Rodems said. “What we want is to make sure we get the mechanics of this event down so we can do it again.”

The concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 24. Highway 61 Blues Band is the opener, Stray Cats co-founder Lee Rocker's band is the support act, followed by Thorogood, who has a new album scheduled for release in the days after the show.

Tickets are available at the Hutchins Street Square box office or at

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tour de Sewer Plant

Who can really say they know what happens to the stuff that goes down the drain? We all know what we play in sewer bills, but where does the money -- along with that other stuff -- go?

You can find out between 10 a.m. and noon on Saturday, July 11, in the first public tours of the White Slough wastewater plant.

Public Works staff is holding an open house, and giving tours of the facility, which has undergone a major facelift in recent years. Lodi has spent roughly $50 million in the last seven years on wastewater system improvements, most of them at the plant adjacent to Interstate 5.

If you're interested in going -- and who wouldn't be? -- be sure to RSVP to the Public Works Department at 333-6706. We want to know who's coming, and be sure we get a head count before we lock the gates!

The City press release on the open house is here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Some comments on fund transfers

There's been some public discussion about the transfer of money from the various utility accounts to Lodi's General Fund, the account used to pay for discretionary services such as fire and police protection, park maintenance, and general government services.

There's been an assertion that Lodi transfers whatever money it wants from the water and wastewater funds to the General Fund, and the amount is arbitrary. It is not.

The transfer is based on a cost-of-services study performed by MuniFinancial, a consulting firm used by numerous cities and other public agencies to determine the cost and funding of various public services. This report was provided to the City Council in September 2007.

If you want to read a 47-page PDF that's thick with tables and explanations, it's been on the City's website for nearly two years and is available here.

The water and wastewater fund stopped paying the PILOT -- short-hand for "payment in lieu of taxes" -- because a transfer from those utilities to the General Fund must be related to the burden on the General Fund.

Anyone in Lodi can learn what it costs to run the City. Simply read the annual budget that is posted online at

State Water Board backs off strict order

Moderately good news for Lodi wastewater customers today in what's a complicated issue.

Some background: Lodi operates its White Slough wastewater treatment plant with the permission of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. The Board dictates how the City treats the waste coming into the plant and how it discharges it onto the ground or into a Delta waterway.

In 2007, the Regional Board issued Lodi a new permit to operate its treatment plant. The nearly 200-page permit provides the parameters by which Lodi operates the plant. In 2008, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance appealed the Regional Board's permit to the State Water Board, saying the permit wasn't strict enough.

The State Water Board's staff largely agreed with the environmental group in drafting a proposed order. But at today's meeting in Sacramento, after hearing strongly critical comments from the City, cannery Pacific Coast Producers, an association of Central Valley wastewater discharges and the head of the Regional Board, the Board voted 4-0 to roll back some of the more onerous language in its proposal.

One of the most effective speakers for Lodi was none other than Pamela Creedon, the executive officer of the Central Valley Regional Board. She went toe-to-toe with her counterparts at the State Board.

"I believe your staff has it wrong and I can not stress this enough," Creedon told the State Board members, adding that the proposal from the State was "poor public policy."

The result is the Regional Board can hear new arguments in reconsidering its 2007 permit. The State Board, however, did create a new interpretation of a State regulation that will have a ripple effect throughout California and result in higher wastewater costs.

George Thorogood concert July 24

We've already put out a press release on the Grape Bowl concert with George Thorogood & the Destroyers on July 24, but the latest news is that Lee Rocker, one of the Stray Cats co-founders, will be the concert's opening act.

If you visit, you can hear some clips of his music, which are similar to the Stray Cats' rockabilly style. That's him on the left.

For tickets, visit