Hobson’s choice

The city of Stockton has three options – further cutting more services and staff, re-negotiating debt in mediation with creditors or bankruptcy.

So leaders told residents at last night’s town hall meeting.

Since I don’t believe mediation will work — though I’d love to be proved wrong — the choice really will come down to further cuts or bankruptcy. The figure of 64 cops was mentioned as a possible cut.

A consultant said Stockton should have 541 cops. Stockton staffed up to 441 when the bust occurred. It cut 99. Other cops left. The force is now down to something like 324 — about 60 percent of what it ought to be.

 Cutting 64 cops to 260 wold slash it to 48 of what the force ought to be. Less than half. But of course the number would drop further, as other police leave, unwilling to work in a city that cannot send them back-up. 

If I am wrong about this, I hope Council Member Dale Fritchen, who opposes bankruptcy, will suggest how the city can absorb cuts to departments outside public safety. Perhaps the council will have to abandon its philosophy of balanced municipal services, and cut funding to libraries and parks and roads to maintain a functioning core of public safety.

Because if it’s a question of cuts to police or bankruptcy, bankruptcy might be a better option.

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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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