Disneyland in Fresno?

Zocalo Public Square says yes.

Why not in Fat City?

The (tongue-in-cheek) logic? That Californians should have a constitutional right to visit Disneyland, which hasn’t built enough parks to keep down the price of admission.

“The state should acquire and give Disney a piece of land, with all environmental approvals and entitlements in place, large enough to build another park in California. Where? Disney could build a third park on a large piece of land next to its Anaheim resort, but hasn’t moved to do so. (One reason: The city of Anaheim is not nearly as friendly to Disney as it once was.)  Land on the coast would cost too much, so it should be inland. And to leverage corporate welfare, the land should be tied to another public project that is already acquiring large amounts of land.”

Fresno, in other words. But by that logic, why not Stockton? Heckuva lot closer to the Bay Area’s millions.

 

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Stockton blew “golden opportunity.”

“The failure to significantly address public pension debt and make structural changes to the pension systems in both Stockton and Detroit does not bode well for the economic future of either city post-bankruptcy.”

 in Fox and Hounds, the latest pundits who presumably never ran a city to opine Stockton missed a “golden opportunity” to cut pensions.

Flying over Stockton as they do, they apparently overlooked that Stockton city employees surrendered $544 million in retiree medical benefits, a big sacrifice valued at $400,000 per person. Asking them to surrender more was unjust.

Plus city employees were lumped in a class of creditors with Franklin Templeton Investments, the ornery holdouts who alone have rejected Stockton’s Plan of Adjustment. The deal with employees was key to winning that class’s approval. That isolated Franklin.

Finally — you’re familiar with this argument — CalPERS pensions are “portable.” Stockton employees whose pensions are cut have six months to find another job with CalPERS pensions and preserve their original bennies. City Hall would empty out so fast that the walls and roof would cave in.

Of course, the outcome of Stockton’s choices won’t be clear for years to come. But the city developed a sophisticated budget going 30 years forward, something few cities ever do Stockton certainly never did. Leaders made an informed and practical decision. I’ll take that over ideology. I, too, see the need to cut pensions, but it’ll have to be done at the state level.

 

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The Gravy Train: Stockton cop makes $221,877

Transparent California released 2013 public employee compensation data for 400 cities and 826 special districts statewide.

The Valley story: “Average full-time compensation for employees of 48 Central Valley cities was $99,678 in 2013, with hundreds earning more than $200,000 a year and over 35 making at least $50,000 in overtime alone.”

“The data show that average full-time compensation for employees of 48 Central Valley cities was $99,678 in 2013, with hundreds earning more than $200,000 a year and over 35 making at least $50,000 in overtime alone. Such compensation is significantly higher than that of peers in the private sector.”

To quote from the press release:

Other notable 2013 Central Valley findings include:

  • 220 Central Valley municipal employees earned at least $200,000.
    • Alan Tandy, Bakersfield City Manager, earned $339,185.
    • Robert E. Deis, Stockton City Manager, earned $327,084.
    • Andria L. Goodspeed, Tracy Police Officer, earned $326,359.
  • 38 Central Valley municipal employees earned at least $50,000 in overtime alone.
    • Greg J. Jouroyan, Fresno Police Officer, made $93,190 in overtime and $215,056 in total compensation.
    • Youn B. Seraypheap, Stockton Police Officer, made $85,765 in overtime and $221,877 in total compensation.
    • Kay Dunkel, Ceres Administrative Analyst, made $68,295 in overtime and $161,700 in total compensation.

 

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E-mail of the day

I thought I’d seen it all, but this is a new one:

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My ship has come in!

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Bloggus yuletidus

I’ll be off Monday through Wednesday of this week. See you back here Thursday.

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Rainfall and Valley oaks

Yesterday’s rainfall was most welcome, of course. But if you live under oaks, as I do, your worry is that a truly gigantic chunk of Quercus lobata will come crashing down on your house or car.

Sure enough, this limb came down. It fell i the street, where it did no damage. But it was blocking Woodland Avenue when I left for work this morning. Puzzled drivers had to hang U-turns.

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A gift to power consumers? Or to PG&E?

At first glance, it looks like PG&E took one on the chin yesterday.

A local commission voted to allow South San Joaquin Water District to elbow the giant utility aside and take over as the power company for for 38,000 homes and businesses in south San Joaquin County cities such as Manteca.

But there’s a catch: “Commissioners approved the water district’s plan with a number of conditions, including that the district first prove it can keep its promise that rates will go down 15 percent.”

That is a poison pill. It’s also unfair.

A poison pill because, many observers believe, South San Joaquin will never achieve 15 percent savings for its customers. Unfair, because why should it have to? What if it saves customers 5 percent? What if power its power costs exactly the same but the water district sinks more money into infrastructure maintenance so the power doesn’t go out during every storm, as seems to happen with PG&E?

Perhaps the commission that approved this deal (LAFCO, the Local Agency Formation Commission) was attempting to ensure south-county ratepayers get a break. But they may have just ensured they don’t.

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A brief public service announcement

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Franklin: cold as ice

The reasoning behind Franklin Templeton Investment’s legal attempt to stay Stockton’s emergence from Chapter 9 seems clear. The Plan of Adjustment is an interwoven structure of deals. If it goes forward, the Plan, including Franklin’s haircut, would seem to be a done deal.

Franklin presumably worries it could never undo the ruling on appeal; the city will argue that removing elements from the structure will cause the whole shebang to collapse, with catastrophic consequences to the city.

So Franklin’s perspective has its logic.

That said, the hurt that Franklin is willing to put on this city as it grasps for peanuts — something like $16 million — is amazing. Delaying emergence from Chapter 9 would spook police over continued benefits uncertainty. Many more would leave. Crime will continue to be high, including gun violence and its deaths and injuries.

Deaths. Injuries.

City Manager Kurt Wilson is probably also right that many of the crack department heads recruited by Bob Deis will decamp. They came here to rebuild a city. They can’t if the city is stuck in legal limbo.

So while one concedes Franklin’s legal right to appeal, the ethics of its request are beyond dubious. This is a global company with $844.7 billion in assets. Assuming its court costs eat up say, $4 million of the approximately $16 million it stands to gain, the company is willing to keep a city of 300,000 people in a state of service insolvency — a state of near municipal breakdown — for 0.001% of its assets.

That is a cold-hearted demand for money one would expect from a loan shark, not a company that had ample opportunity to negotiate a mutually tolerable deal.

 

 

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“Six Californias” guy backs reality show

What do you do when you spent $5.2 million touting a cockamamie idea to split California into six states …

… only to see your measure rejected by the Secretary of State because you botched the signature-gathering?

Co-produce a reality show, of course.

Tim Draper has partnered his Draper University of Heroes – the San Mateo “school/ecosystem/incubator/ashram he founded in 2013″ with Ugly Brother Studios ”to produce a show that will follow students as they build and launch a Silicon Valley startup,” reports the Contra Costa Times.

Whatever.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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