And you thought that the homeless have no political clout! A story in the Chronicle proves otherwise.

It seems that Oakland has an 800-bed jail facility that is sitting empty. It includes food, medical and laundry facilities. It also has a monthly utility bill of $83,000 (that’s about $1 million a year) and is being paid regularly to keep it from deteriorating.

Thus the mayors in Contra Costa County came up with the idea of using the former jail to house the homeless. The county supervisors, who are paying the $1 mill a year utility bill, agree to a $1 annual lease to a non-profit that would accommodate the homeless in that area.

But it’s not a go. According to the Chron (San Francisco Chronicle), homeless advocates thought it “inhuman” to give people their own rooms in a former jail. It was seen as “too traumatic,” one supervisor commented.

Thus two problems remain – the monthly utility bill and bodies on the street.


Only longtime Patterson residents will remember Mary Lou Mulch (Watts) who joined the reporting staff of this newspaper in the fall of 1979 – 40 years ago. She had previously covered the government beat for a newspaper in Solano County.

She moved here about the same time as Peter Milcovich, who became Patterson’s third city manager. Her assignment, among other areas, was covering local government. Thus she and Milcovich began a long relationship that ended with her death on June 12 in Danville. The following is a portion of the eulogy Milcovich was asked to deliver at her service.

“Mary Lou worked tirelessly … and wrote some very interesting stories on a variety of issues, events and people in Patterson. In 1980, just after Roland Reagan was elected president, she received a call from the Reagan Transition Team, informing her that she was on a Selection Short List for the position of press secretary for First Lady Nancy Reagan. She also was informed that she had made the top 10 list and a round-trip airline ticket was provided … for her to come to Washington, D.C. for a personal interview. At the same time, she would also be spending some one-on-one time with Nancy Reagan.

“Once the interview process was complete, Mary Lou was informed that the Transition Team had screened over 250 potential reporters and journalists for the position. She then returned to Patterson to await their decision. About two weeks later, she was informed the position had been filled by another candidate, and she now was free to tell the world about her unique experience. She then composed a multi-page article for the Irrigator, complete with pictures, thoroughly documenting her eventful journey and experience in D.C. I can still remember the overall reaction in the community. It was very positive. The vast majority of people felt very honored that a city the size of Patterson actually had a reporter selected to be in the top 250 national reporters who were screened for a most prestigious position … they were absolutely delighted that Mary Lou actually made it to the final Top 10 list of candidates.

“Word travels very fast, especially in the D.C. Beltway. The Transition Team was queried by a variety of companies who were in need of some very talented individuals. Mary Lou subsequently received a call from the State of Texas. The Texas Petroleum Institute offered her a job which was too good to turn down. She was already familiar with a number of individuals in the industry and she came very well recommended by the Reagan Transition Team. Her warm personality, honesty, professionalism, ethics, plus her ability to handle a variety of diverse, complex assignments made their choice an easy one. She thoroughly enjoyed her job and was able to befriend many important people in Texas such as H. Ross Perot, T. Boone Pickens, and the Busy family …

“After six years in Texas, she was called by the McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. in San Raphael. She was offered a chance to return to California as a senior journalist … she was employed at McGraw-Hill for 22 years before retirement …” (She later moved to Danville to be closer to family. She leaves two daughters.)

“Over the past 15 years or so, we communicated almost every day. Because of our common experiences in Patterson, our conversations usually centered around all of the good times, experiences and people we both knew and met in Patterson. It was very clear to be (sic) that she treasured her time in the Apricot Capital of the World. Patterson truly has lost a loyal, worthy and true professional. She will be deeply missed,” Milcovich concluded.


If you hear someone say “holy moly,” you can rest assured that person is a Person of Maturity.


Watching the track and field world championships the other day on the telly, I learned of a new event whose time has apparently come.

It was the mixed 4x400 relay. Each country who qualified entered a team of two men and two women who circled the track in competition. The sprinters could run in any order, although the majority chose to place the men first and last with the women running legs two and three.


Some traditions die hard.

Back in 1983 a handful of mostly downtown businessmen met for morning coffee at Thee Bakery (closed many years ago). They used dice cups to determine who would pay for their brew and went by the name of the Knights of the Square Table.

One was the late Charles Lindner, one of the early computer users. He started logging the attendance and the payees, and once a week brought along a paper report on who had paid what.

After Thee Bakery closed, the group moved to the Del Puerto Hotel where owner Vee Hooper came down and personally served the Knights, along with helper Sharon Craven. When the hotel burned in 1996, the Knights again relocated – this time to Mil’s Bar & Grill.

But attrition cut into the numbers of the group. Ron Roos took over the secretary’s job from Lindner, and when Ron moved to Newman, this scribe inherited the task of recording the losses for coffee. They soon mounted to over $46,000 dating back to 1983. Several in the group paid more than $3000 over those years.

That was several years ago. Regular membership finally dipped to just two of us – George Klopping and yours truly. So the KOST, as referred to by many, ceased to formally exist. But did they?

George and I still have a weekly lunch at Mil’s on our schedules, and it is rare that we miss. We are joined by Patterson native Bud Ingebretzen of Modesto, and most recently Frank Gill and Bob Kimball. All are former Patterson Frozen Food employees (except me, of course), and most recently we have been joined by Frank Gill who spent his years at PFF.

No, we don’t roll the dice to determine who pays for lunch, but instead go Dutch treat. But like KOST, we have a good time but as yet have no name.

Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at

PI editor/publisher emeritus

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