Staff praise and food wagons

These items are a little late, but worth nothing:

•During comments last week at the City Council’s first meeting of 2011, members each noted that Stockton is sailing rough waters, but everyone struck a positive tone and stressed the city will find its way out of its crime and economic messes.

And though this year will bring increased pressure on city departments to cut back and employees to sacrifice, council members heaped kind words on staff and its leaders, in particular City Manager Bob Deis and Police Chief Blair Ulring. Councilman Elbert Holman, Jr., for instance, said Stockton is “blessed” to have the employees it does.

Deis just had his six-month review in closed session earlier this month. Apparently it went well, based on council comments last week.

Mayor Ann Johnston said: “It’s really under his leadership that we’re going to move this huge ship forward.”

Councilwoman Susan Eggman said Deis will be “one of the finest city managers in the country, and Stockton’s going to be the place where he’s really going to blossom. Councilman Dale Fritchen called the council’s hiring of Deis “a very wise decision” and said the council is “very pleased that we have him, because we’re a very lucky city to have him with us.”

There was also praise for Ulring, whose department struggles with low staffing and high crime. “All of our department heads are really under the gun to do more with less, a lot less, but not all of them get hammered on the front page of the paper, and Chief Ulring is really doing an outstanding job,” said Vice Mayor Kathy Miller.

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Councilwoman Susan Eggman wants the city to re-examine its mobile food wagon rules. At the end of last week’s meeting, she said it’s been years since the rules were last evaluated, and “a lot of things have evolved. … I’ve lived in cities that have a wide and healthy food cart community, and it thrives.”

Stockton last looked at its rules in 2004, when the city passed tougher rules on lunch wagons that require truck operators to undergo background checks and restrict the amount of time they can stay in one spot.

The trucks still generate complaints. One truck operator, who is fighting tickets he’s received, made the news recently.

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