More from City Hall: Emergency declared

5:49 p.m.:

Also in the early lobby are two people speaking for an increased police presence in central Stockton.

In the back row is Fire Capt. Dave Macedo, president of the firefighters union. He has a binder of material with him, including a draft report on the budget from the accountant hired by the police and fire unions to evaluate the city’s claim that it is in a financial crisis.

6:04 p.m.:

Interim City Manager Kevin O’Rourke is up. To declare a fiscal emergency, as he is recommending, is an “extraordinary step,” he said.

He said the council is wise to demand permanent budget fixes. He is starting to describe the city’s financial crisis. It is something of a summary of presentations made for more than a year.

6:22 p.m.:

O’Rourke is getting to it now. Among staffing “challenges,” he said, are minimum staffing requirements in the Fire Department and fixed schedules in the Police Department.

6:24 p.m.:

Interim City Attorney John Luebberke is reading a recommendation to declare a fiscal emergency. The city has been “hampered” by certain labor agreements, he said. They are “an intractable obstacle” to the city, he said.

Significantly, approval of the evening’s resolution by the council would allow the city manager to lay off firefighters or modify shifts at the Police Department (though a court might have something to say about the former).

6:28 p.m.:

Mayor Ann Johnston said, “This action is not something the council takes lightly. We’re in a serious fiscal crisis.”

City Councilwoman Susan Eggman is talking about difficult decisions in difficult times.

6:31 p.m.:

Macedo is at the podium.

“You can’t solve the citys’ problems by steamrolling people and cutting services,” he said. “It’s not right.”

The draft report from an accountant hired by the union indicates millions of dollars available. He said the union also has offered concessions worth millions of dollars in exchange for contract extensions. He said City Hall rejected that offer.

Macedo said the union cannot allow O’Rourke to “dismantle” the Fire Department by closing stations and reducing the number of firefighters.

6:35 p.m.:

A retired firefighter is at the podium. He is speaking in favor of the Fire Department.

6:44 p.m.:

Retired businessman Gary Malloy is asking if the city is going far enough. He is encouraging consideration of bankruptcy. He said unions do not give back. “You must take it from them,” he said.

6:48 p.m.:

South side activist Ramiro Reyes is at the podium. He said police and fire officials must be reasonable. “They need a little cut,” he said.

6:49 p.m.:

Greg Biddle, vice president of the firefighters union, is suggesting that the council review the report from the outside auditor before giving the city manager authority to make decisions that could potentially lead to some legal costs.

That’s soft. Macedo has flat out said the union will sue.

6:51 p.m.:

With no additional discussion, the measure is approved 7-0.

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