A gofundme account for Silva

Just when you think you’ve seen it all …

In the wake of Mayor Anthony Silva’s pay cut, a supporter has opened a gofundme account to raise money for the mayor.

It’s funny — and it’s sad. A significant number of Stockton voters cannot distinguish who is doing a good job and who is all hat and no cattle. Silva’s empty talk about “making Stockton better” convinces them he’s effective. No actual record of accomplishment is needed. Virtually no accomplishment at all is needed. Just sunny talk about “making Stockton better” on his Facebook page.

On that page yesterday, a supporter said “You’re the only one getting things done.” In point of fact, he’s the only one not getting things done. So now they want to pay his salary out of their own pocket.

If Stockton’s economically disadvantaged voters truly want a City Hall that governs in their interests they have to elect someone who not only “gets” them but gets how to help them. Someone who can move beyond social media likes and publicity stunts and remedy the deep-seated problems of the less fortunate with policies and programs. That requires the ability to distinguish a leader form a charlatan.

Those who lack that ability waste their breath railing at City Hall. They keep themselves down.

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Unions lose a big one

If, like me, you see managing public employee unions as central to successful government — by which I mean treating them fairly, but not allowing them to hijack or bankrupt the institution — you might be interested in the 7th Senate District special election this week.

 

Steve Glazer with you know who.

Over in Contra Costa County, Steve Glazer, mayor of Orinda, ran against another Democrat, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla. Bonilla has the support of unions. Glazer stood up to the unions by opposing the BART strike.

So you had an establishment Dem and a guy bucking the establishment and excessive unionism.

About that: the unions said Glazer was against working people. Glazer said BART commuters are working people.

The race was fabulously expensive and dirty. Unions threw all they had at Glazer, including a bunch of mailers that smeared him as in bed with business and various tycoons.

“The public employee unions expect legislators to act like the old Soviet-era nomenklatura, compliant toadies who do what they are told,” writes Tony Quinn in Fox & Hounds.

But Glazer won. Handily.

Some see this as a big smackdown for unions, which have gotten too big for their britches. SacBee’s Dan Walters has a nuanced take about the politics of Contra Costa County. “Its voter registration is lopsidedly Democratic, but that reflects the cultural liberalism of affluent suburbanites rather than affection for unions.”

The race wasn’t just about unions, but political strategy now that California has “top two” primaries. In a Dem-vs.-Dem race, Bonilla played only to her base while Glazer’s centrism won over Republican voters.

But largely the race was indeed a referendum on unions. And unions lost — in the Bay Area, no less.

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Learn about water rights

AP has a modest primer on water rights — senior water rights, such as many in the Delta enjoy, junior water rights such as those Machiavellian south-Valley exporters have. Just a good thing to skim.

A mind-boggling factoid in the piece involves how totally unregulated water was before 1914. You wanted water, you took it. that became a senior water right.

Get this:

“San Francisco got the Sierra Nevada water that turned its sand dunes into lush gardens by tacking a handwritten notice to a tree in 1902. The state started requiring applications and monitoring consumption after 1914, but exempted previous claims.”

 

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Pay cut: strange solidarity or political game?

The Council voted to cut Mayor Anthony Silva’s pay last night, as it should, as that action was required by law.

Then the Council went overboard and cut its own pay! That is certainly exceptional in an age of ever-increasing public employee compensation.

The motion for this uncalled-for across-the-board cut was made by Christina Fugazi. Fugazi opposed the mayor’s pay cut. So we’re left to wonder if Councilman Michael Tubbs was right when he talked about a “temper tantrum.”

Did Fugazi — perhaps in consultation with the mayor — make the motion to put the rest of the council on the spot? Or did a Council majority really think what’s good for the goose is good for the gander?

If the latter, they needn’t have bothered. This was a matter of law. The city charter required the mayor’s pay to be cut. It did not require the council to follow suit.

As for the ethics of the thing, Mayor Silva illustrated my concern (see item, blow) perfectly when he argued that charger provisions can just be ignored.

“There are times when we follow the charter and times when we don’t,” said Silva.

What a poor moral compass he has. It is true certain charter provisions are dead letters. They should be followed or changed. But two wrongs don’t make a right. By arguing that they do, the mayor weakens respect for the institution he is supposed to serve.

A translation of the mayor’s statement could be: “I don’t want to follow the law because it doesn’t suit me in this instance.” If we allow that mentality to spread, we’ll see corruption in City Hall.

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Chart: a neglected Stockton district?

The Grand Jury report saying City Hall neglects south Stockton focused attention on District 6, the city’s southside district. That prompted Mas’ood Cajee to crunch census numbers and create this chart — which is very interesting when you compare southside District 6 with downtown District 5.

District Member College Grad% Dropout % Unemployment % Poverty Rate Spanish at home LEP % Population
District 1 Holman 35 18 14 14 15 50781
District 2 Wright 25 24 15 21 16 60540
District 3 Lofthus 28 21 15 23 18 45510
District 4 Zapien 30 22 12 24 28 50,054
District 5 Fugazi 14 44 21 33 43 49251
District 6 Tubbs 16 37 20 23 45 54,387
310523
District 3 Quail Lakes 38 14 15.9 19.2 14 11 5125
District 4 Brookside 61 7 5.1 4.7 9 9 9873
District 5 Fair Oaks 7 57 18.2 38.7 61 34 8181
District 5 Downtown 16 35 19.2 37 35 22 19308
District 5/6 Maya Angelou 10 44 22.8 28.8 57 29 15374

See a district map here.

By almost every measure, things are worse in District 5.

But the public debate is not about “re-inventing” District 5. It’s about the southside, District 6. That may be largely because of D6 Councilman Michael Tubbs’ exceptional leadership. And D6 does deserve more help. But if Cajee’s numbers are right, D5 also needs investment.

Grist for further study, and nice work by Cajee.

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Cut the mayor’s pay

I don’t get the hand-wringing over cutting Mayor Anthony Silva’s pay.

Yes, the salary-setting commission may have got it wrong when it recommended slashing the mayor’s pay from $104,970 to $72,384. I say “may have” because I haven’t studied mayoral compensation as the commission did.

And I do not support cutting the mayor’s pay because he is a poor mayor. He is a poor mayor. But the proper remedy for that is voting him out of office.

But so what if the commission’s recommendation is unpopular with come council members? It’s the commission’s recommendation, which the charter says must be adopted.

It’s the law.

The law doesn’t say the mayor’s pay will be set by the salary setting commission unless the council wishes to practice legal nullification. It says the mayor’s pay will be set by the salary setting commission.

The controversy makes a good case that the law needs to be changed. But not flouted. You go down that road and you not only teach disrespect for the law, you lose the moral high ground.

Take the long view. Say some city official flouts the charter in the future. How can we invoke their legal obligations under the charter if we ignore ours now?

I can just hear that official sneering, “You didn’t follow the charter when it suited you. It’s hypocritical to ask me to follow it.”

This isn’t a matter of conscience. Or, rather, the guilty consciences on the council should apply the remedy where it belongs, by revising the charter provisions to avoid this sort of thing in the future. And to restore the mayor’s pay, if they deem it proper.

But if they flout the law, why should we obey it?

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A side effect of district voting

The city of Visalia is switching from citywide voting to district voting, which may be in Stockton’s future, too. Last night, Visalia’s council approved the new districts.

An interesting side effect of the new districts: some sitting council people will find themselves ineligible to run in their old district. In essence, by approving revised district maps, they are terming themselves out.

That could happen here, too.

Of course, a council member could run in the new district, but would face an uphill battle of an incumbent retains office there.

So if and when Stockton voters approve district voting, council members may be temped to gerrymander the maps to retain office.

And voters may be voting out of office the people they voted in.

Just one of the side effects that’ll have to be thought through when Stockton debates district voting.

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San Berdoo: CalPERS skates again

Bankrupt San Bernardino’s council voted to approve a Plan of Adjustment yesterday that gives bondholders one penny on the dollar, but pays the pension Hogzilla in full.

"You are unsustainable, dude."

The council voted 6-1 to give bondholders $500,000 of the $50 million the city racked up in debt while overcompensating its public employees — a brutal scalping — but to honor its $14 million commitment to CalPERS.

So the lenders the city turned to to fund its unsustainable overcompensation get the shaft, while CalPERS, which encouraged cities to adopt budget-busting pensions — whose greed helped drive the city into the poorhouse — gets off scott free.

But there’s a catch.

The Plan of Adjustment outsources the fire department.

San Bernardino’s fire department ran the city in its own interests. We see what came of that. It was the biggest obstacle to reform. The council is ending its malign influence.

“Today is the day the City Council committed suicide for San Bernardino,” one person said.

But that is wrong. San Bernardino committed suicide when public employees hijacked it at the expense of its broader public mission. Ousting the hijackers is merely necessary reform.

As for CalPERS, its comeuppance is only a matter of time. California is on the economic upswing now. But when the next downturn occurs, the ballooning cost of pensions will drive more cites into bankruptcy. Thanks to the ruling in Stockton’s case, CalPERS is vulnerable to impairment like any other creditor. Sooner or later, cities will give Hogzilla a shearing, too. That’s not a prediction. It’s a mathematical certainty.

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A word about Spam

Reuven E. Epstein writes:

“I enjoyed your article today, but you missed something.  I have been trying to get stores to have displays of Spam on the 2nd of Feb. each year.  That is Groundhog Day, and after all, Spam is ground hog.  It seems to me that they should go together.

“I cannot understand how such a natural marketing event gets ignored.”

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“A secret jam job”

That’s one lawmaker’s description of the federal water bill, now being devised by Dianne Feinstein and south-Valley Republicans under a “cone of silence.”

“Delta, Rep. John Garamendi, allowed that Feinstein’s staff had asked him what he wanted in a California water bill,” this McLatchy story says. “But when Garamendi asked what else is in the bill, he said, he was shut out.”

“Same old story,” Garamendi said.  ”… Those of us that represent the Delta and San Francisco Bay are not included in the process.”

The next two grafs are classic.

“Advocates of Feinstein’s approach counter that it’s pointless to bring in the Northern California Democrats since they will never vote for the drought legislation anyway, as it could end up steering water from their region to San Joaquin Valley farms.

“It doesn’t do any good to say, ‘Let us see your language so we can rip it apart,’ ” Feinstein said.

Transparent, inclusive democracy “doesn’t do any good” because our region might obstruct the bill. That’s realpolitik. It’s also precisely what’s wrong with the water wars. They’re wars. One side plays to defeat the other by ignoring its interests. If a bill can pass only by kicking one region’s representative out of the room, it is bogus.

But many lawmakers are too locked into the old paradigm to fundamentally change the equation. That paradigm — that nothing can get done for powerful water exporters without jackrolling the Delta — needs to go away.
 

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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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