Second budget hearing coming up at 5 p.m.

If we learned anything at last night’s budget hearing, it’s that libraries are a uniting force. No matter how bitterly people may disagree with each other on other topics, everyone will say they love libraries and wish there was one on every block (as opposed to four in a city of 300,000 residents).

The shuttered Fair Oaks Library in east Stockton was the focal point of discussion at last night’s opening budget hearing. Tonight, the council could decide it wants the city to spend the money to reopen Fair Oaks, which was shut down in 2010. Or it might not. Or it might do something in between. Or maybe it’ll do nothing at all for the moment.

City Manager Kurt Wilson has made it clear for now that he does not believe reopening Fair Oaks is something Stockton, barely three months out of bankruptcy, can afford at the moment.

“I do think it makes a lot of sense to go forward (with Fair Oaks) because the cause is worthy,” Wilson said last night. “Nothing would make me happier than to say, ‘Just do it.’ But that is exactly the type of poor planning that got us in trouble in the first place. Does that make me the bad guy? Maybe. But better that than going back toward bankruptcy. My recommendation will not be to do anything reckless.”

As with last night, department heads will give reports on their 2015-16 budget plans. The schedule: economic development, municipal utilities, public works, charter offices (city manager, clerk and attorney) and police.

There were a few police use-of-force activists on hand at last night’s meeting. They may be back tonight. The city’s proposed general fund includes $105 million in police spending in 2015-16 — 53 percent of the total budget of $199 million. The fire department checks in next at $40 million, another 20 percent. No other department receives more than 9 percent.

Nothing is finalized tonight. In fact, if they don’t make it through all the items tonight, there could be a third hearing tomorrow evening. Regardless, a council vote on the final budget won’t come until next month, June 9 at the earliest.

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Shuttered Fair Oaks Library could be big topic at budget hearings

The Fair Oaks Library in east Stockton was closed by the city amid its financial woes in 2010. Community calls to reopen it have been frequent for more than a year. But reopening the facility is not in the proposed 2015-16 fiscal-year budget being rolled out at City Hall this week.

Here’s background information from City Manager Kurt Wilson, along with a memo explaining his reasoning for the absence of Fair Oaks in his proposed budget.

Here’s a response to Wilson from library activist Colleen Foster.

And here’s a release this afternoon from library activist Motecuzoma Sanchez.

Tonight’s budget meeting begins at 5.

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Budget hearings tonight, tomorrow and possibly Thursday

Yup, it’s that time of year. The City Council will meet at City Hall the next two or three nights (at 5 p.m.) for the roll-out of the 2015-16 fiscal-year budget. If you want to dig deeper, the links you need are here.

The Thursday night session is scheduled in case they don’t get through everything tonight and tomorrow. The presentation is by topics and departments.

Tonight’s planned discussion: Debt, administrative services, fire department,  community development, human resources, information technology, community services.

Wednesday’s plan: Economic development, municipal utilities, public works, charter offices (city manager, city clerk, city attorney), police.

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Handouts for the three downtown affordable-housing projects

Affordable housing already is coming to downtown Stockton, and more is in the works. Cal Weber is on its way. Grand View Village and Anchor Village are hoping for good financing news. Here are some handouts related to the projects, the first from a groundbreaking, the second from a committee meeting at the San Joaquin Council of Governments.

Here are links to handouts on Cal Weber and the pending Grand View Village and Anchor Village projects.

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Silva issues ‘challenge’ to business community, plus more homeless data

As reported today, Mayor Anthony Silva spent last night with some of Stockton’s homeless.

Here’s a quote from him that did not make today’s paper:

“As we revitalize downtown with all these projects and attract new businesses here, we must address the homeless issue. I challenge the business community to help me create more facilities where services such as mental health and life coaching can take place on-site.”  

Meanwhile, full results from January’s census of homeless people are available. A few were reported in today’s paper. The full report is here.

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Ralph Lee White to host third town-hall meeting

Former City Councilman Ralph Lee White, who says he is going to mount a campaign to be a San Joaquin County Supervisor, will host a town-hall meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at his home at 2201 E. Eighth Street.

This will be the third town-hall hosted by White in the past half-year. The focus Thursday, as in the previous two, will be policing and officer-involved shootings.

For background on the first two town halls, click here and here.

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VIDEO: Mayor Anthony Silva posts “Limogate: Silva Uncensored”

The Mayor took responding to the latest limousine stories into his own hands Friday.

You can watch his video here.

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Roy Vazquez Jr.’s day in San Francisco

Saturday’s paper included this story on Stockton 13-year-old Roy Vazquez Jr. and how his family is using cannabis to assist his recovery from the ruptured aneurysm he suffered in 2013. On Sunday, Roy’s family took him to San Francisco to participate in an Aneurysm and AVM (arteriovenous malformation) Awareness Walk.

Here’s a report on Roy’s trip to San Francisco from his mom, Silvia Vazquez, along with a couple of photos she shared:

“Walk was awesome. Roy managed to stay awake the entire day. He was up at 6:00 am wide-eyed and ready to go. He enjoyed the entire ride and did not sleep at all! Everyone got to see him awake. He was even turning his head to the sides to see the ocean!”


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Union rep speaks out on MUD grand jury report

The grand jury report on Stockton’s Municipal Utilities Department was released yesterday and you can read it here.

This morning, Mike Eggener of OE3, the union that represents MUD workers, called to comment on the grand jury findings.

“Everything in that report I have said personally to MUD management,” Eggener said. “Shame on them. They knew this was coming. It’s been at least a year that we’ve discussed these issues. The issues of the pay, we’ve been saying that all along. I’m glad the grand jury realized that. The one that really surprised me was the Intake Pump Station at the end of Eight Mile Road. It’s pretty significant. It looks like an earthquake fault.”

Will the grand jury report make an impact?

“I hope so,” Eggener said. “This is significant. This is the drinking water and the flushing of the toilets. This is huge. That issue at the Intake Pumping Station could affect the whole agricultural area out there. … Why has this not been taken care of and if it has been, where is the evidence that it’s been taken care of?”

The city declined comment on the report after it was released Wednesday.

Eggener and his workers have been in the news recently regarding their contract bargaining with the city. He said the workers plan to be out in force again at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

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Today is April 30, there is no meeting scheduled for the salary-setting commission, and that’s significant

April 30 is a key day in the process that could result in a 30-percent pay cut for Mayor Anthony Silva and all future Stockton mayors for the next millennium or two. With no salary-setting meeting scheduled for today, which was the deadline, it appears certain the matter will go back in the hands of the City Council at an upcoming meeting.

The City Charter appears to make it all but mandatory for the council to approve the salary-setting recommendation to cut Silva’s pay from nearly $105,000 a year to $72,000 starting July 1. But then again …

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