TURLOCK — Funeral processions heading from one side of the city to the other can get tied up at intersections. The city doesn't have a fleet of police officers it can spare to direct funeral traffic.
That leaves the job to private companies, which until Tuesday weren't allowed to operate in Turlock. City Council members unanimously approved a change to the municipal code, allowing the Police Department to issue funeral escort permits.
Sebastian Jones, who owns Stanislaus Motorcycle Escort Service, urged the council to pass the ordinance.
Jack Kirchert, manager of Allen Mortuary, agreed.
"When we have services on the east side of the city trying to get over to the west side, sometimes it's difficult getting through intersections," he said. "We can be standing at the entrance to the cemetery 15, 20 minutes, a half hour, waiting for cars."
Councilman Kurt Spycher said the city has had trouble with Jones operating the service in Turlock even though he's not authorized to do so.
"How do we make sure people are following the rules that are set forth?" he asked. "At this time, they're not."
Police Chief Gary Hampton said the new rule will help with enforcement.
The measure "will give us the authority to regulate (the work)," he said. "It is very specific relative to enforcement and regulation, and the permit can be suspended or can be revoked at any time."
The council also unanimously approved a plan to sell bonds to replace property tax money the state took as part of its moves to balance the budget. The state will be responsible for repaying the bonds in three years, plus any costs incurred.
Councilman Ted Howze, acknowledging that the city had no choice in order to get its money, took the state to task for the plan, calling it a "boondoggle."
Howze pointed out that taxpayers ultimately will foot the bill for the bonds, too. Clearly displeased, he suggested that, with Halloween approaching, taxpayers take up their pitchforks and head to Sacramento to take on "Frankenstein's monster" — meaning the state government.
"Really, people, wake up," he said. "The state is beg, borrowing and stealing from us."
A public hearing on proposed new day care regulations, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.