Stanislaus cities OK plan for spending road-tax money

June 25, 2008 

  • IN OTHER ACTION



    The Turlock City Council on Tuesday night voted to deny a claim filed by a teenage girl against the city of Turlock, the Turlock Police Department and former police officer Jorge Cruz, claiming Cruz committed sodomy with a minor, oral copulation with a minor and sexual intercourse with a minor under the color of authority.

    The teenager who filed the claim, who was 17 years old when the alleged actions took place and is known as Jane Doe No. 1, expects to claim damages in excess of $25,000 for medical costs and pain and suffering.

    Cruz was arrested in February and is facing three felony charges in criminal court, as well as one misdemeanor count of unlawful touching of a 16-year-old Turlock girl.

    Both girls were Police Explorers, a program in which high school students shadow local law enforcement officers. The City Council automatically rejects all claims, according to City Clerk Rhonda Greenlee.

Stanislaus County's two largest cities approved a plan Tuesday night detailing how they would spend nearly $186 million on road upgrades if voters approve a proposed sales tax increase for transportation improvements.

The Modesto and Turlock city councils cleared the spending plan, which is meant to give voters an idea of what they would do with the extra revenue if the proposed measure succeeds.

Turlock's vote was unanimous. Modesto's council passed it by a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Will O'Bryant opposed. At past meetings, O'Bryant has said he doesn't think the timing is right for a sales tax increase. Voters rejected a similar proposal two years ago.

The proposed transportation measure would raise $700 million over 20 years for traffic improvements in Stanislaus County, but only if it can garner two-thirds approval from the voters. It likely will appear on the November ballot.

Most city and county officials say the measure is necessary to fix roads and to demonstrate to the state that residents are willing to pay for an additional share of their transportation needs. That's referred to as being a "self help" county, and it usually comes with a boost in cash from the state.

Turlock would receive more than $48 million for local traffic improvement and road maintenance projects. Modesto would get about $137 million.

Turlock Councilman Ted Howze said he was heavily criticized for his concern that money being funneled to three regional county projects, including about $117 million for improvements to the West Main Street and Fulkerth Road corridor and roads from Turlock to Interstate 5, could be changed too easily and the money diverted.

At a Stanislaus Council of Governments meeting earlier this month, Howze insisted that a four-fifths vote, rather than a two-thirds majority, be used among the 16 board members to revise the spending allocations. Howze represents Turlock on the StanCOG board.

Howze got an "atta boy" from Vice Mayor Kurt Vander Weide for his work on the project "even in the face of some recrimination."

"I did catch a lot of heat this week," Howze said.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at mbalassone@modbee.com or 578-2337.

Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at aashton@modbee.com or 578-2366.

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