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Government Day
Riverbank High students who rode along with Deputy Gary Vernon on traffic patrol had the most exciting experience of those who attended Youth in Government Day through Riverbank City Hall on Wednesday, May 6. They got to see a real traffic stop, which yielded an arrest for a suspended driver's license and other violations.

"We went in a police car, a Charger," Mikayla Anderson told her schoolmates at the mock city council meeting that traditionally concludes the day.

"We stopped him for no license plate. He had a suspended license, was just out of jail for embezzlement, had drugs all over the car, and they towed the vehicle," she said.

Back at the police station, by coincidence, Police Chief Bill Pooley was demonstrating the capabilities of its radio equipment and showing other high school students the information coming through about the traffic stop at the same time it was occurring.

Parks and Recreation Supervisor Kerrie Webb commented she just didn't experience the same excitement from visiting the Scout Hall to lead games for the Tiny Tots program that her department organizes.

"My group got to play with three- and five-year-olds and give them sugar and candy," she said, chuckling.

Webb was over at Scout Hall earlier that morning mixing quantities of differently colored sugar in plastic tubes to form candy the kids could eat.

More than 30 students, including a dozen from Cardozo Middle School, paired off with city officials and followed them about town to see what their daily work involves, then gathered back at City Hall to discuss their experiences, have lunch and take part in a mock Riverbank City Council meeting.

Playing the role of mayor, RHS student Lisa Zamora grabbed the gavel, other students assumed the parts of council members and the meeting got under way in council chambers about noon.

Public business from the floor comes early on the agenda and City Manager Rich Holmer, Mayor David I. White and Councilmember Daniel Fielder each in turn enjoyed the chance to reverse roles and play the part of a citizen voicing a complaint instead of having to listen to them.

An unusually belligerent Holmer, getting into character for the occasion, strode to the podium and complained loudly to the young council members about a code enforcement officer fining him for having three cars parked on his lawn, dogs wandering off the leash, children's toys lying in the street and a couch hauled out front.

"I can't see anything wrong with this. How can you complain without even looking at it?" he asked.

"I'm from Iowa, the show me state, and we like to show off our possessions," he said.

"Mayor" Zamora correctly said the council could not handle this situation at once but would look into putting it on the agenda for a future meeting.

White wanted to discuss how the city could afford to install the new $544,000 fountain at Patterson Road and Callander Avenue in these tough economic times.

"We've got people losing their homes, unable to pay their bills," he said. "How can the city expend funds on fountains? Why not give that money to the poor? And how much does it cost to run?"

The "council" fell silent while Holmer pointed out this was an example of money coming in different pots, special funds for special purposes. The funds to build the fountain came from the state in so-called transportation enhancement funds and can only be used for that type of work.

"Our staff is paid a fair wage for their work when compared with their peers in Oakdale, Patterson and such," Fielder commented on another subject. "We're trying to bring you real life issues, the kind we hear at every council meeting."

White told of a problem with teens congregating at a park in the Crossroads late at night and irritating neighbors with loud music, drinking and an occasional thrown bottle. Two neighbors complained to council, city staff investigated and stopped the late night parties by removing the bench in the shadows that the teens favored. It was an efficient, well worked out solution.

RHS Student Activities Director Christina Perez and Cardozo's Leadership Class Advisor accompanied the students.