Bankrupt Detroit rolls out ‘hybrid pension plan’

Here’s a New York Times story published today about a pension solution negotiated by unions and the City of Detroit.

Stockton’s pension obligations have been a major topic during the city’s ongoing Chapter 9 bankruptcy trial, which is scheduled to resume July 8. Here’s an excerpt from the Times’ story:

“The new plan is called a hybrid, which means the workers will keep some of their current plan’s most valuable features but will give up others. Trading down to a less generous pension plan is often said to be a legal nonstarter for government workers, so if Detroit succeeds, its hybrid could become a model for other distressed governments from Maine to California.”

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Retired UOP prof Benedetti to lead bankruptcy panel discussion in Sacramento

The event is from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at 1020 11th Street, about two blocks from the state capitol in Sacramento.
Read more here. Below is information on how to get free tickets.

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Stockton attorney on bankruptcy judge’s decision

At the end of the fifth day of Stockton’s bankruptcy trial yesterday, Judge Christopher Klein set a July 8 court date at which he will determine his valuation of the collateral in the city’s dispute with Franklin Templeton Investments. Klein also may announce a ruling on Stockton’s plan to reorganize its finances.

Here’s what Stockton attorney Marc Levinson had to say today via email in response to a question I sent him:

“Judge Klein’s decision to rule first on valuation made sense to both the City and Franklin because it will result in the plan being modified, and the modifications may result in the narrowing of the disputes over the new plan.  I do not interpret Judge Klein’s approach as any indication of whether he is or is not inclined to confirm the plan or any indication of his views about pensions.”

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City’s bankruptcy costs rising

Stockton went back to bankruptcy court yesterday for the fifth and final day of testimony in the Chapter 9 trial. Now it’s back to waiting.

Not surprisingly, this is costing the city a lot of money — $14 million in bankruptcy costs in the past two years, according to Stockton’s attorneys. And the cost keeps rising.

The city allocated $5.2 million for bankruptcy costs in the current fiscal-year budget. But it turns out the cost for 2013-14 will be more like $7 million. So at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, council members will be asked to approve appropriating an additional $1.8 million from Stockton’s bankruptcy fund to apply to 2013-14 costs.

Read the agenda item here.

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Van Buskirk descendant’s testimony to be entered at bankruptcy trial

Yesterday’s paper included this article on descendants of Charles and Bertha Van Buskirk (left), who decades ago deeded the land to the city that became Van Buskirk Golf Course and parkland (and a community center) in south Stockton.

Quoted in the article was 86-year-old Marilyn Moore of Lodi, a niece of the late Van Buskirks. Last week, bankruptcy attorneys for the city took a written declaration from Moore.

With the trial resuming tomorrow for what the judge has said will be the final day, Moore’s testimony will be entered into the record. You can read the declaration and view pertinent documents here.

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More info on the downtown hotels city is marketing

Today’s paper included this story on three century-old downtown hotels the city is hoping someone will buy, refurbish and adapt to a new use.

Here’s the Stockton brochure with much more information, including details of the tour of the sites being given by the city June 10.

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Mayor Anthony Silva: ‘Slapped’ in the face

Wednesday night, five of the seven council members said that rather than spend money on a discretionary fund for each district and add a staff member to the mayor’s office they would prefer to maintain the ShotSpotter gunfire detection system.

Mayor Anthony Silva disagrees strongly and has taken it personally. He posted the following last night on his Facebook page:

“Residents of Stockton! In June your City Council will adopt this budget of 623 Million Dollars. As you can see, 73% will be going to your Public Safety. 52% dedicated to Police. Last night however, the Council Members with the exception of Vice Mayor Paul Canepa slapped me in the face again by refusing to fund the Mayors Office. I asked for $40,000 so I could redirect that to community organizations and projects like the homeless and youth. But I was denied. My request to have an additional staff member was also denied. So I wanted you to know that once again I have been granted ZERO resources to do my job. They also refuse to allow me appoint and fund the Public Information Officer position. I hope you can see clearly that they do not want me to be successful. Their actions are silly and petty. But I will move forward with ZERO dollars and only 1 staff member.”

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Council decides ShotSpotter should continue

Keith Reid covered last night’s City Council budget study session, and right at the end the discussion turned to ShotSpotter, the gunfire detection system that was tested for the last nine months in a 2-square-mile area of the city.

A majority of the council wants to keep ShotSpotter at the expense of discretionary funds for each council member and additional staffing for the mayor’s office. Mayor Anthony Silva disagreed with the position taken by Elbert Holman, Dyane Burgos Medina, Kathy Miller, Michael Tubbs and Moses Zapien.

“To feel like you guys will basically stop the office of the mayor – and we’ve been getting along very well the last few months – I think that’s silly,” Silva told the council. “Understand what you’re saying. You’re approving a budget of $632 million, and trying to save $20,000 in each council district is silly.”

Here’s the story from today’s paper.

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City Council live — Council comments

Mayor Anthony Silva spoke of spending Thursday night last week as a homeless person and said the city needs to do more to address the problem. … He said he spent an economic development conference yesterday with two city officials. “I’m determined to get a Nordstrom Rack here,” Silva said lightheartedly but added he is eager to bring more businesses here.

Moses Zapien spoke of a conference he attended last week in Santa Clara on innovation and entrepreneurship. … He also thanked people who attended a clean-up at American Legion Park. … He also spoke about a community event on Wilson Way on Saturday.

Michael Tubbs: The city is moving forward on hiring a leader for the new Office of Violence Prevention, a sign, Tubbs said, that the city is taking action on matters, not just talking about them. Tubbs also spoke of some other events and activities.

Kathy Miller spoke of several events she’s attended, including a recent tour of levees. “It makes it a lot more understandable,” Miller said of the tour.

Dyane Burgos Medina congratulated Fathers & Families for the presentation that was given earlier this evening. She also said there will be a spay/neuter event June 8 … more info to be announced at a later date.

Elbert Holman said he will be speaking at the upcoming eighth-grade graduation at Kennedy Elementary School.

Paul Canepa spoke of the amazing students at Health Careers Academy. And the meeting is over.

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City Council live — Public comment

No action was taken in closed session at tonight’s City Council meeting. During public session:

Citizen Gary Malloy spoke about the grand-jury report released yesterday. He said there is plenty of blame to go around. ” Most of us feel there have been a lot of Brown Act violations from closed session,” Malloy said. “There are a lot of things going on in those sessions that get out and are leaked. We as citizens want to make sure you look at other leaks, not just the Mayor’s. I’m not saying what he did was right. But there are other leaks.” He added, “I think as leaders of the city I want to see you react to things like this.”  

Vincent Sales made brief comments about God, Sodom and Gomorrah and  gays. ”This is a world that doesn’t have a lot of faith in God, but God did create it,” Sales said. “There’s no two ways about it.”

Abraham Gutierrez asked what elementary schools and middle schools to make sure everyone has equal opportunity, with his main focus on minorities, “especially Mexicans and blacks.”

Representatives from Fathers & Families of San Joaquin are presenting a PowerPoint about crime prevention. The report includes data about crime in Stockton and San Joaquin County. The speaker said the group is refurbishing Eden and McKinley parks. They are working with students from Camp Peterson. The participants are learning a variety of lessons through the program. Some of the speakers approached the podium with tape over their mouths, then peeled it off to show that the Fathers & Families program is giving people a voice.

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