Mayor Ann Johnston on Wednesday had her fourth town hall meeting since taking office, and about 45 people came. She talked about the city budget crisis for perhaps 10 minutes before changing topic.


“It’s just sometimes too depressing,” she said.


Johnston praised City Manager Gordon Palmer’s appointment last week of Blair Ulring chief of police. She talked about volunteerism and the importance of shopping in Stockton.


The crowd, at Central United Methodist Church, was engaged. The Miracle Mile Improvement District’s Kevin Dougherty asked Johnston what had happened to the city’s interest in the Neighborhood Renaissance Program, former Mayor Ed Chavez’s nascent bid to decentralize bureaucracy and to afford neighborhood groups unprecedented influence at City Hall.


“To be honest with you,” Johnston said, NRP has “been on a back burner” since the freshman council was installed. She said, “There’s really no excuse,” except that the budget problem has been consuming.


She said it will return to the forefront. The council should have an update, she said. “I’m going to put that on my list.”


One of the last subjects of the meeting was youth. Johnston praised Save Our Stockton, the group of young people that has been showing up lately at council meetings. She was less fond of the operation of the Gary and Janice Podesto Impact Teen Center. It is “run terribly,” she said.


“Nothing goes on there that’s worth anything.”

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