City Council candidate forums scheduled

Election Day is Nov. 4, less than three months away, and the League of Women Voters has announced it will hold candidate forums for Stockton City Council from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. on Oct. 1 at City Hall.

I’m not sure if they realize it, or if it even matters, but that happens to be the same day the fate of Stockton’s plan to exit bankruptcy is expected to be determined in federal court in Sacramento.

The contests are as follows:
Area 1: Challenger Rick Grewal vs. incumbent Elbert Holman.
Area 3: Challengers Gene Acevedo vs. Susan Loftus for the seat being vacated by Paul Canepa.
Area 5: Incumbent Dyane Burgos Medina vs. challenger Christiana Fugazi.

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Court document: Anonymous writer cites bank robbery tragedy as reason to impair CalPERS

This letter was filed in federal bankruptcy court last week. It was written by a “concerned Stockton resident” who chose not to provide his or her name. Judge Christopher Klein is expected to rule on Stockton’s plan to exit bankruptcy on Oct. 1.

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Former city manager: Leave Stockton’s CalPERS contract alone

Bob Deis penned an interesting piece for the Sacramento Bee:

“Virtually all local government employees in California are receiving a CalPERS or similar pension plan. How many large employers can ignore their de facto labor market standard and recruit substandard compensation? Knowing this, Stockton pursued a surgical plan that cut employee pay by 9 to 23 percent, completely rewrote labor contracts to save millions, and eliminated retiree medical benefits. We also restructured the massive debt the city owed and the financial service companies screamed about it, as have their allies at Moody’s. But what they ignore is that employees gave up 34 to 70 percent of their future retirement packages, depending on when they were hired. Many retirees gave up 34 percent of their retirement package, and many of them are not eligible for Social Security. What more do people want from them, and why?”

The city’s bankruptcy trial is scheduled to resume Oct. 1. Judge Christopher Klein is contemplating whether Stockton should “impair” its CalPERS contract as part of its plan to exit bankruptcy. The city did not alter its obligations to CalPERS in developing its Plan of Adjustment. Officials have said that if Stockton terminates its CalPERS contract, it could cost the city $1.6 billion.

Read Deis’ entire column here. 

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More on the slow pace of Measure A hirings

As reported yesterday, achieving a net gain of 120 police officers over three years — as called for by Measure A — will be a daunting task for the city, which is not exactly what voters want to hear after approving the three-quarter cent sales tax last year.

The tax went into effect April 1; the police department is hoping the first Measure A officer will be hired in August. The department is only 12 officers larger than it was a year ago at this time. Before a Measure A officer can be hired, the department has to increase its size from the current 358 to 365.

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Public forum on General Plan amendment

This from Stockton’s Community Development Department:

“The first public workshop will take place at the Planning Commission Meeting of July 24, 2014 at 6:00 pm in the City Council Chambers at City Hall at 345 N. El Dorado St. The topic of the meeting will be Communities and Neighborhoods and attendees will be invited to help define the City’s various existing neighborhoods and to explore the role of community in the City of Stockton. The Community Development Department of the City of Stockton invites you to participate in this workshop and to become involved in the continuing General Plan amendment process. More information, including the staff report, will be posted at www.stocktongov.com/generalplan as it becomes available.”

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City Council live — Tocan Nguyen draws ire

To-Can Nguyen, who speaks at virtually every council meeting and regularly makes inflammatory comments, tonight pushed another audience member over the edge. Nguyen referred to City Manager Kurt Wilson three times as “black city manager” Kurt Wilson.

Cynthia Gail Boyd called Nguyen out on it after the second instance and again after the third, at which point the elderly Nguyen finally left the room (as did Boyd). Nguyen, who is in her 80s, regularly refers to people she is critical of by their ethnicity during her remarks. She also often refers to them as “criminals.”

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City Council live — Against advertising on fire trucks

Randy Burns, who ran unsuccessfully for Lincoln Unified school board in 2010, spoke a little while ago against a city plan to place advertising on fire trucks.

“I think this could create animosity between other businesses in the city (and those that buy ads),” Burns said. “Is there nothing sacred? The next thing we’ll have is ads for bail bondsmen on police cars.”

He became emotional, nearly breaking into tears, and said fire and police stand for “pride, honor, sacrifice.” He added, “These things are not for sale.”

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Finger on the button and fuse about to be lit?

So wonders an editorial cartoonist with the Los Angeles Daily News. Of course, if this is actually going to happen, it won’t be until Oct. 1 at the soonest.

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Some reading on Stockton bankruptcy

Click here and here to read what others had to say about Tuesday’s hearing in federal bankruptcy court.

Ed Mendel of the website Calpensions.com wrote:

“A federal judge handling the Stockton bankruptcy may be moving toward a landmark ruling that CalPERS pensions can be cut, possibly while allowing the city to exit bankruptcy in October without cutting its pensions.”

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Pillars of justice

Stockton returns to federal bankruptcy court in about two hours. After passing through the metal detectors to enter the Robert T. Matsui Federal Courthouse in Sacramento, the first thing visitors see is a public art display. The words on the display are by Rita Dove, a former poet laureate of the United States.

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