Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Downtown Summit follow-up

About 70 Lodi community members attended Friday's Downtown Summit, with guest speaker Michael Freedman -- the architect behind the School Street renovations of the mid-1990s (pictured to the right) -- the highlight.

Also unveiled were survey results. More than 60 business and/or property owners returned surveys, and another 50 downtown visitors were polled over three separate days.

Conclusions: Everyone identifies downtown Lodi with the theater, restaurants, farmers market and special events, with a generally positive view of downtown overall. Interestingly, the vast majority of visitors felt safe downtown, with 47 of 50 saying they felt "very safe" during the daytime, and 43 of 50 saying they felt "somewhat" or "very" safe at night.

There also was a consensus of those surveyed that downtown needs more parking more specialty shops/museums and more restaurants. A few areas showed dramatic differences of opinions between property/business owners and visitors. Visitors felt businesses should open on Sundays, but business owners disagreed. Meanwhile, businesses felt downtown needed to be cleaner, but that didn't register with visitors.

One thing the surveys couldn't reveal was what is the attitude of those people in the region who don't visit downtown Lodi. Is it because they don't know the city has a downtown recognized as one of the best in the Central Valley? Are there qualities of downtown that keeps them away?

Meanwhile, Freedman gave his opinion of what it would take to bring Lodi's downtown to the next level. Some of his observations: property owners, not the City, should now be the catalyst behind boosting downtown's vitality; Sacramento Street improvements should wait until School Street business intensifies; and a handful of underutilized key downtown properties could stall downtown's potential.

Summit attendees eventually broke into five discussion groups, where they each identified five priorities for boosting downtown.

A recap of the Summit is scheduled for the City Council's "shirtsleeve" session at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the Carnegie Forum. Freedman is scheduled to attend and answer questions.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Public Works Goes Pink!

It was a cool, damp, foggy morning as 18 ladies joined hundreds of other walkers/runners for this year's Race For Awareness. We gathered at Geweke's car lot on Beckman Road. This is our second year that members of the City of Lodi Public Work's Department, their family and friends participated in the 5k Run/Walk. We were able to field two teams in this year's event and most walked the 5k route while we did have one runner who won her age division. We had a great time raising funds for a great cause and ended the morning with a pink pancake breakfast provided by the Kiwanis.

Special guest to the morning's event was Tina Macuha, Good Day Sacramento (CW31) morning traffic commute host. She shared about her recent diagnosis (April 2009) and treatment of her breast cancer, the importance of early detection and how her mother died of breast cancer in 1983.

Funds raised benefit Geweke's Caring for Women Foundation. The Foundation has always been focused on creating awareness for the need of early detection for breast cancer.

As the event has grown and progressed they have begun to realize the other side of the breast cancer story; women who are in the fight for their life and struggling financially to stay afloat. The stories have touched their hearts deeply which is why the Geweke's Caring for Women Foundation was started in November of 2008. All money raised through Pink October events will go towards helping Breast Cancer Survivors who are struggling with financial needs. They are able to see the tangible results of their efforts by touching these women directly.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

FBI National Academy

I recently had the unique opportunity to attend the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, along with 254 other law enforcement professionals from across the United States and around the world. Each year, the Lodi Police Department has the opportunity to send one member from our management team to Quantico to attend the National Academy. It was a wonderful experience that I will fondly remember for the rest of my life.

Graduates from my class represented law enforcement agencies from 48 states, the District of Columbia, 21 international countries, three military organizations, and three federal civilian organizations.

The FBI Academy is located on the United States Marine Corps Base Quantico, deep within the Prince William Forest. It is an extremely secure location guarded by a Marine Corps security check point one mile off Interstate 95 and then an FBI security checkpoint approximately five miles further into the base. It is a large complex that houses the FBI’s Field Training Unit, Firearms Training Unit, Forensic Science Research and Training Center, Technology Services Unit , Investigative Training Unit, Law Enforcement Communication Unit, Leadership and Management Science Units, Physical Training Unit and their world-renowned Hostage Rescue Unit. The main complex has three dormitories, two cafeterias, a library, a classroom building, a large gym and track, an indoor and eight outdoor ranges and a Hogan’s Alley which is a mock city with facades replicating a small town and is used for tactical training.

Internationally known for its academic excellence, the FBI National Academy provides 10 weeks of advanced investigative, leadership and fitness training through graduate and undergraduate classes which are accredited through University of Virginia. Training for this program is provided by FBI Academy Instructional Staff, Special Agents, and other staff members holding advanced degrees, many of whom are recognized internationally in their field of expertise. I took 17 units of instruction on Leadership, Ethics and Decision Making; Labor Law Issues for Law Enforcement Administrators; Stress Management in Law Enforcement; Managing Organizational Change and Development; Conflict and Crisis Management and Fitness in Law Enforcement. To some extent, it was like being back in college running from class to class, Monday through Friday, on a tight schedule.

The training that I enjoyed the most was the fitness program. The Physical Training Unit challenges each student to improve their physical fitness while attending the academy by exposing us to core performance training. Ironically, I did not lose a single pound, but I lost 8% body fat and 2 inches in my waist. My particular fitness class met on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays for two hours of instruction on nutrition and fitness followed by core and aerobic training. Each Wednesday, the entire academy, as well as several instructors, gathered for our Challenge Runs. These were runs that started at 1.5 miles in the first week of the academy progressing to a 6.1-mile run and obstacle course at the United States Marine Corps Base Quantico known at the Yellow Brick Road. Those that complete this feat receive a traditional yellow brick which signifies their accomplishment in the area of physical fitness, which I proudly display behind my desk.

A total of 42,964 graduates now represent the FBI National Academy since it began in July 1935. Of this number, 25,452 are still active in law enforcement work. We currently have three other National Academy graduates still active in our department: Chief David Main, Capt. Gary Benincasa and Lt. Steve Carillo. Our Mayor and former Police Chief Larry Hansen is a graduate as well.

In addition to the benefits of the academic, leadership and fitness training one receives from attending the National Academy, an extensive litany of professional networking is developed. There is a unique fraternity of FBI National Academy graduates who network with one another for counsel, information sharing, professional advice and friendship. I now have professional contacts in 48 of our nation’s 50 states as well as 21 foreign countries such as England, Germany, Canada, Belgium, Kenya, Gambia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Bangladesh and more. The number of police officers who have the fortunate to attend the National Academy in comparison to the total number of police officers nationwide is very small. I consider myself fortunate to have attended and for that, I thank the Lodi Police Department and the City of Lodi.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Downtown Summit tomorrow

You probably know Lodi has a downtown that other cities have used as a model for downtown revitalization. The California Planning and Development Report named Lodi's downtown of the top three small-town downtowns in the Central Valley.
Now, 12 years after the City invested millions of dollars to bring new life to downtown, property and business owners will join other interested residents in discussing the business district's future in what's being called a "downtown summit" at 7 a.m. Friday at Hutchins Street Square.

The event features three guest speakers, one of whom (Michael Freedman) is the architect behind downtown Lodi's current design. We'll also reveal the results of a survey of downtown property and business owners, and a survey of visitors about what they see in downtown and what they think it needs to reach a higher level. In some results, downtown shoppers and business/property owners have opposite views of what they see as challenges.

We'll digest the information, and give summit attendees a chance to discuss priorities for downtown's next phase. When and what that is, who knows? But at least it will give the City a framework for enhancing downtown Lodi in the future.