kim

In order to serve its readers the Herald must be a watch dog, not a lap dog ...

I encountered someone from out of town while driving to the office on Tuesday morning. I could tell he wasn't from Sanger because he used his turn signal.

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Obviously Mother Nature is bipolar and off her meds. 

Thank goodness the recent hail storm didn't knock all the blossoms off the trees lining 7th Street. It seems like it would be inappropriate to celebrate the Blossom Trail Festival on March 2 in downtown Sanger without any blossoms.

By the way chamber of commerce boss Tammy Wolfe is still looking for vendors for the event. Give her a call at (559) 875-4575 if you're interested ... or you can email her sidekick at the chamber, Karen Pearson, at karen.sangerchamber@gmail.com.

The chamber's dynamic duo of Tammy and Karen is also hoping for a few more trophy sponsors for the annual Blossom Trail Festival car show. Tomorrow is the deadline for getting your name or the name of your business on one of the trophies.

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Kim Reed, holding "Rambo" in the photo, is the Sanger Animal Shelter volunteer coordinator.

There are not enough words of praise in the biggest Thesaurus to adequately describe the great job Kim does making shelter dogs as comfortable as possible while at the shelter and getting  them out of the unheated and uncooled metal building on the city yard and into forever homes as fast as she can. 

You can meet Kim and other volunteers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday at the shelter. Take North Avenue east across Newmark into the city yard and look for the shelter on your left when you enter the yard. 

You can also meet Rambo and the other dogs hoping for a forever home. 

It's a special event with activities for children, an opportunity for questions and answers with the staff and volunteers, training on how to care for your pet and, of course, an opportunity to adopt your new best friend.

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We don’t believe bad things happen in Sanger because of the Sanger Herald, even though that’s what some people would have you believe. We don’t believe the Herald causes things, good or bad, to happen at city hall or with the police or fire departments because the Herald is not always a cheerleader or promoter for any of those government entities.  

That’s not our role. 

On every page but this one, 3A, we report as objectively as possible on all the good and bad things that go on in town. On this page, clearly labeled "Editorial & Opinion," there are subjective opinions about the good and the bad, even though some folk only seem to remember the less than positive opinions about what are usually unintended bad consequences of, we hope, good intentions.

The opinions expressed on this page, by the way, have been echoed by each of the four grand jury reports on the idiosyncrasies of Sanger's municipal governance.  

A free and independent press, in order to serve its readers and local taxpayers – that, by the way, is all of us who live in Sanger - must be a watch dog, not a lap dog. We are not by nature or intention an adversarial newspaper. However, we are an inquiring newspaper that is not afraid to sometimes be adversarial for as long as it takes to get a problem corrected – or at least, exposed – even though that stance is not always popular at city hall or with the fire or police departments.

 A previous mayor who complained that the Herald would not publish biased city hall press releases praising the job he was doing as mayor, proudly announced he had found another newspaper that would print the releases unedited – the high school paper.

A more recent council threatened to replace the Herald at the news desk during council meetings with someone who has a Facebook page, posts positive comments about what goes on at city hall and takes photos for the city's website for which, I assume, she is well compensated by the city.  Then the council discovered that a story about that kind of a self serving action would make the front page in California Newspaper Publishers Association newspapers all over the state.

We believe our readers want us, on their behalf, to pay attention to how their employees are conducting themselves. We regard all those at city hall and the police officers and firefighters as employees of the residents of Sanger because the residents of Sanger pay their salaries. They are, after all, being paid very well to look after our welfare and safety.

In nearly all cases they are great employees. And in nearly all cases those great employees are receiving larger salaries than the residents of Sanger who are in the private sector in a small town where, according to the “BestPlaces” website, “The average income of a Sanger resident is $16,620 a year and the average in the United States is $28,555 a year.  The median household income of a Sanger resident is $42,094 a year and the U.S. average is $53,482 a year.”

The Sanger city manager, Tim Chapa, who is not a resident of Sanger, oversees all the other city employees and pulls down an annual salary of $168,756, according the City of Sanger website.  By the way, many of the higher paid employees, like Chapa, are not residents of Sanger.

Chapa is supposed to be overseen by the city council and according to the “Council Rules of Procedure” on the city website, “Council Members receive a stipend of $300 per month and an auto allowance of $400 per month. Council Members are also eligible for participation in group insurance benefits including medical, dental, vision, and life insurance.”

That’s a lot of salaries, perks and stipends we, the residents of Sanger, are responsible for paying with our taxes and fees every month. 

But it's not as much as it will be if an employee bargaining unit is able to convince the council that Sanger should be paying public safety employees on the same scale as those in much larger communities to prevent turnover. A small town's general fund revenue dictates that small towns are and always will be de facto training locations for larger  towns ... unless a small town is willing to inappropriately take money from other than general fund sources, cut back on other services and eventually lay off the very employees who lobbied for the higher salaries.

The council which is responsible for holding the city manager accountable and the city manager who is responsible for holding all the other employees accountable are the ones the Herald tries to hold accountable on behalf of our readers and all the residents of Sanger.

It's our opinion that it's better for the Herald to play that role than for another grand jury to come to town and air the city's dirty laundry for all the state and county to see.

Comments, complaints and suggestions may be emailed to sangerherald@gmail.com or may be made by calling 875-2511

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