Christina Fugazi and Susan Lofthus, Stockton’s new council members, officially will assume office the instant 2014 ends and 2015 begins. Actually, all three have already been sworn in, according to City Clerk Bonnie Paige. But the magical spell of swearing them in takes awhile to take effect, evidently.
The swearing-in ceremony for Fugazi, Lofthus and returnee Elbert Holman at a special meeting Jan. 6 will be purely ceremonial. After that swearing in, Fugazi and Lofthus will take part, along with Mayor Anthony Silva, Holman and the rest of the council in selecting a replacement for Kathy Miller, who by then will officially be a county supervisor.
So 2015 will get off to an interesting start, and that doesn’t even take into consideration that on Jan. 7, the city will return to bankruptcy court for the next round in its ongoing battle with Franklin Templeton Investments.
Happy holidays and see you in 2015!
Outgoing City Councilwoman Kathy Miller presented her farewell comments at Tuesday night’s meeting in the form of a Top 10.
You can read her remarks here.
As reported a few days ago, Stockton’s citywide voting method for election to the council is undergoing ongoing examination by a citizens charter review commission. The end result, though it’s a long way from happening if it ever actually does, would be a system by which district voters would have sole discretion over their area’s representation on the City Council.
In reporting the story, I received from the city some relevant sections of Stockton’s charter from 1977. There were nine districts (as opposed to the current six plus a citywide mayor); council members were chosen by voters from their districts; the mayor and vice mayor served two-year terms; and the opportunity to be mayor rotated between Districts 2, 3, 6, 8 and 9 during one election cycle and 1, 4, 5 and 7 during another. Take a look.
Today’s paper includes this story on the reflections of outgoing City Council members Kathy Miller, Paul Canepa and Dyane Burgos Medina as they prepare for tomorrow night’s meeting, which will be their last.
The trio was among a select group of council members who served during the city’s catastrophic financial meltdown. Included in her remarks was this comment from Miller:
“When I started at the Downtown Alliance in 2004, the (movie) theaters had opened, the Hotel Stockton, the ballpark, the arena. I was really aware there was concern from a lot of different people about the financing, and that perhaps we had overreached, but I had no idea of the extent of the problem.”
That’s clear from comments made by pre-City Councilwoman Miller in The Record in 2005 when the arena was brand new. Miller was executive director of the Stockton Downtown Association at the time. She said:
“The variety of programming to be offered, including soccer, hockey, football and special events, is extensive, and most has never been available in the Stockton market. This new programming will bring thousands of visitors into the downtown. Many of these visitors will be local but new to downtown Stockton, and many more will be from outside our immediate community. These visitors represent a new source of revenue to downtown businesses as well as sales-tax revenue to the community.”
The former Newberry building (115 N. Sutter Street) will host a holiday market from 5-9 p.m. Saturday. Here’s a guide to vendors, with web addresses as available:
HANDMADE SOAP, GIFT BOXES
Old Homestead Hideaway: http://ohhshop.com.
The Good Life
HANDCRAFTED LEATHER GOODS
Leather Craft 209 www.leathercraft209.com
VINTAGE CLOTHING, ITEMS
Tilting with Windmills: tiltingwithwindmills.etsy.com.
Skippy’s Fun House
Something Borrowed: www.somethingborrowedvtg.com.
Stockton is considering a ban on the use of bullhooks to prod elephants by circuses that visit the city. The story was reported last weekend.
This week, Oakland enacted a bullhook ban of its own.
Don’t know how many people were intending to go to tonight’s Planning Commission meeting, but if you were among them, save yourself a trip. It’s been cancelled.
Mayor Anthony Silva said today he recently sent a letter to the state court of appeals in Sacramento expressing his view of the case from a couple of years ago in which former Councilman Ralph Lee White argued unsuccessfully that former Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston was disqualified from seeking a second term because of term limits. A refresher on the case is here.
White is appealing his unfavorable ruling, which became moot when Silva defeated Johnston in 2012. Silva declined today to share the letter he wrote to the appeals court, but he did say he agrees with White’s interpretation of the relevant charter language as currently written. Silva also said he would not have a problem if the language was changed with voter approval and if that change allowed an individual to serve eight years as mayor and eight years on the council.
Proposed new language is slated to be discussed at Wednesday’s 6 p.m. meeting of the Charter Review Commission at the Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium. You can view the current and proposed language here.
As for Silva’s recent court correspondence, the mayor said it was returned to him and not entered into the record because he is neither a plaintive or defendant in the case.
The Charter Review Commission meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium, and the highlight will be discussion of the city’s system for electing council members. The agenda for the meeting is here.
Council members in Stockton currently are elected in a two-stage process. They must finish in the top two in June primary voting by the residents of the district they seek to represent. Then they must win a November election that is open to voters citywide.
Critics of the system say it makes campaigns much more expensive, disenfranchises members of minority and low-income communities, and costs cash-strapped Stockton extra money to pay for the November portion of the election.
Commission member Marcie Bayne has presented a proposed change that will be discussed at Wednesday’s meeting. She suggests the council be chosen solely by district voting. If a candidate wins the June primary with more than 50 percent of the vote, they are elected. If not, there’s a November runoff, again decided by district voting.
This will be a lengthy process. Ultimately, if a proposal goes forward, voters will decide whether or not to scrap the current system, though not until November 2016, at the soonest. Charter changes by law must be made in statewide elections. If district voting makes it on the ballot in 2016 and passes, the soonest it would take effect would be 2018.
Liz Farmer, a writer for D.C.-based “Governing” magazine, was in Stockton before the city’s plan to exit bankruptcy was approved by Judge Christopher Klein at the end of October. Farmer’s article on Stockton appears in Governing’s December issue, and ends on about as optimistic a note as possible given what the city has endured:
“The public is skeptical for good reason — they’ve been misled before by politicians whose financial and policy decisions turned Stockton into a sinking ship. They point to the nearby city of Vallejo and note that it is still plagued by budget deficits and crime problems three years after emerging from bankruptcy. What residents of both cities need to remember, says Chris McKenzie of the League of California Cities, is that three years is not enough time for a complete fiscal recovery. In McKenzie’s view, Stockton is better prepared to face the next decade than most cities because it’s had to devote so much attention to its financial future. “These are people,” he says, “who are not wearing rose-colored glasses anymore.”