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Google's barge rolls in and Stockton's hopes rise

Here's what happens when a mysterious barge owned by a household-name tech giant pulls up at the river port of one of America's most famously bankrupt cities: someone quickly hangs a giant welcome banner, the mayor and other officials roll out the red carpet and two dozen reporters show up to chronicle it.

Except that, in the case of Google's purposely secretive vessel arriving at the Port of Stockton, there was no one from the tech giant there to greet.

The barge lumbered up the Sacramento River overnight from San Francisco Bay, where after six months it had finally been uprooted from Treasure Island for not having the necessary state permits to dock there. Google is reportedly paying $12,000 a month to park it at Stockton. Meanwhile, Google refuses to reveal anything about the barge and multi-story structure on top, thus guaranteeing the kind of Al Capone's-vault-mystique with which media outlets near and far have bestowed it.

For all anyone knows, it's an elaborate PR stunt, although it's hard to imagine why Google needs one.

But given the emotions elicited in Stockton it would be a kindness on Google's part to lighten up on the mystery. Besides going through municipal bankruptcy, Stockton suffers from sky high home foreclosures and a soaring crime rate. Hard to blame the mayor for engaging in some very public wishful-thinking that the barge may portend local tech jobs.

Come on, Google. If their ship hasn't come in, have a heart and tell them. Sac Bee

Photo: KCRA-TV Sacramento

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