I think that I shall never see

A City Hall decision that baffled me at the time is now clear.

In 2008, I pulled city tree records and broke the story that the urban forest was dying. The records included a city arborist’s memo warning further neglect would cause the deaths of 3,000-5,000 trees a year.

The logical reaction, the one I expected from City Hall, was for the city to budget more resurces for the urban forest. Instead, City Hall slashed tree crews from four to one!

At the time, I wondered if the move was intended to punish city tree workers for aiding my investigation. But it is now clear why the city acted as it did. Public employee compensation, bond debt and money-losing investments like the arena were sucking up every available dollar. The city was nearing the breaking point, feeding more and more public services into the maw of fiscal mismanagement.

And instead of making the tough choices and exacting concessions from public employees, our leaders squeezed every dime out of other budget areas, including trees. They rode that horse all the way to municipal bankruptcy.

So we’re left with whatever grants the city can secure from Uncle Sam, some Measure K money and volunteerism. None, frankly, are adequate to the needs of this city’s forest.

But there’s a lot to be said for volunteerism. The folks who planted trees at Caldwell Park recently planted only nine trees. But they beautified a scarred park and strengthened a neighborhood. Everybody I talked to was glowing with a sense of accomplishment.

UOP students enjoyed planting trees at Caldwell Park

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here’s Alea Freeman:
 

“The services I provided … at Caldwell Park not only restored the park itself but I think it restored our faith in our city and community,” she wrote. “Many people, both young and old, took the time out their Saturday morning to plant trees and paint the park benches because we want to be rid of the negative perception of Stockton. This was a way for our community to do just that because, in a sense, we are Caldwell Park. All we need to do as a community is come together and be willing to create the change we wish to see in our city. Moreover, Stockton is not represented by just its people but also by the city itself. Therefore, our city’s appearance will influence how we, as Stocktonians, are perceived by others.”

 

 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Blog Author

    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
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • RSS Related Content

    • There were no good options July 16
      Since the appalling July 16 hostage death, numerous law enforcement agencies have refused to give expert comment on the actions of Stockton police. […]
    • 'Flying machine' wowed Stockton, vexed press in 1896
      The mysterious flying craft was made of metal. It stretched around 150 feet, sported two flapping canvas wings and sprouted a rudder shaped like a bird's tail. […]
    • Hell on wheels? Sure, why not?
      Crossing India is an adventure. Crossing India during monsoon season is a punishing adventure. Crossing India during monsoon season in a flimsy motorized rickshaw ... are you kidding? […]