For Stockton to reach its potential, its profuse array of grifters and incompetents in public positions must go — to jail, in some cases. Tuesday saw a step in the right direction.

As reported in Stocktonia, a majority of Stockton Unified School District trustees on Tuesday voted to eliminate the equivalent of 18 full-time positions, including some higher up, ostensibly for fiscal reasons.

“As the Board and administration have a legal obligation to ensure the fiscal solvency of the organization the District must look to reduce its ongoing expenses,” the agenda item read. 

The layoffs mark Round Two of the fight to clean up the county’s largest school district, under investigation by the FBI and other agencies for missing millions and other red flags. 

In Round One, voters in November elected a 4-3 majority of reformers to the school board after two withering San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury reports found mismanagement, suspicious dealings, even potential insolvency. 

Were Stockton Unified to go into insolvency — and receivership or bankruptcy — Stockton would cement for decades its image of ineptitude. 

The layoffs were spun as necessary fiscal corrections. And they were, as most of the positions eliminated were funded with federal pandemic relief money set to dry up in 2025. 

Irresponsibly budgeting one-time money for ongoing expenses helped bankrupt the city of Stockton.

But some of the layoffs may be firings in disguise. An example is Motecuzoma Sanchez. Sanchez is director of the Family Resource Center, which gives food and assistance to needy families.

He was hired during the administration of Superintendent John Ramirez Jr. Ramirez resigned under a cloud. By coincidence he is scheduled March 8 for further arraignment in Superior Court on a charge of drunken driving. 

Sanchez is also the founder of The 209 Times, a news site so unethical it would be comical but for its cruelty.  The L.A. Times reported that Sanchez also controls a political consultancy, Tecuani Consulting.

The FBI, state auditors and the local District Attorney launched investigations into Stockton Unified, but The 209 Times consistently failed to report on suspicious district dealings. Its silence was deafening.

Instead it attacked Stockton Unified reformers such as Board President AngelAnn Flores, and continues to do so, to all appearances allied with the hacks who brought Stockton Unified into disrepute.

SUSD interimi Superintendent Traci Miller (file photo)

What a crazy state of affairs: The new board majority, as well as Interim Superintendent Traci Miller, found themselves paying $141,104 a year to an employee whose news site undermines their reforms.

No one at Stockton Unified would comment publicly, but it’s obvious Sanchez hid behind the First Amendment as long as he could. Pink-slipping him for fiscal reasons cut the Gordian knot.

Francine Baird, Sanchez’s boss, who was not paid with federal relief funds, was also laid off. Make of that what you will.

Another manager shown the door was Armando Orozco. Orozco, director of facilities, demanded $800,000 to, as he memorably wrote, “leave your corrupt district in silence.”  His layoff, like the others, is effective July 1.

Perhaps the layoffs of others can be taken at face value, necessary because previous leaders mismanaged the budget.

The people setting Stockton Unified right, or trying to, deserve a lot of credit. Their efforts help not only the school district, though a huge district that serves around 37,000 students and employs over 1,500 teachers and 1,500 support staffers at 54 schools, is both a major employer and crucial engine of advancement for Stockton youth and Stockton itself.  

Their efforts benefit all local governments. Corruption is tumorous. If not removed, it will spread to City Hall and beyond. 

Michael Fitzgerald’s column runs on Wednesdays. Phone (209) 687-9585. On Twitter and Instagram as Stocktonopolis. Email:

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  1. I’m not so sure that the corruption at SUSD has not already “spread to City Hall and beyond.” When he’s not been grifting off the school district and victimizing Stockton residents with his 209 Times brand of cruelty, Motec Sanchez has been busy establishing some pretty cozy relationships with everyone from Mayor Lincoln to county District Attorney Ron Freitas. It will be their response — or nonresponse to these investigations that will let Stockton residents know if the whole system is rotten to the core!

    1. Yes, and with Brando Villapudua “bringing” in Ray Zulueta into the city fold only strengthens or lengthens 209Times wretched reach in the city, however, the Stockton community is watching this new DA, who, of course, was endorsed by that is now the time when Motec starts calling in favors?? Waiting for criminal charges to be filed against the prior majority board of trustees.

  2. Pass the popcorn. It’s getting real good! Can’t wait to see the layers of corruption unfold!

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