You tell ‘em, Eric

Eric Parfrey sends us his reply to the Bee editorial about “bloody, bankrupt Stockton.”

“RE:  “Stockton, in the red, tries to stop a bloodbath” Sacramento Bee editorial (Dec. 6):   My wife and I have lived in Stockton for the last 22 years. We are both college educated, have many wonderful friends here, and have been very happy to call this our home.

“We have never been burglarized. We live in the older part of town near the most popular park in the city. We don’t plan to move anywhere.

“The title and tone of the editorial (and the accompanying photo) were over the top and sensationalistic, in the worst sense.  If there was a profound intellectual point or political lesson or “wake-up call” to glean from the editorial, we must have missed it.

“Yes, it is true that Stockton, like Oakland, Fresno, Richmond, Compton, San Bernardino, and numerous other California cities are suffering horribly from the worst recession in 70 years and rising crime rates. Much of the violence is due to gangbangers fighting over drug territory or fools settling petty arguments with too easily obtainable handguns.

“The editorial correctly notes the fiscal mismanagement (and ineptitude) of previous Stockton City Councils and city managers.  However, it is not correct to assert that the current hardworking Council that made some hard decisions to seek bankruptcy “was booted from office” in the last election. Only two of the seven Council members who supported the bankruptcy filing, including our fine Mayor Ann Johnston, were voted out of office.

“The mayor was ousted because residents are understandably scared and want to see more rapid changes to alleviate the rising crime levels, even though it is difficult for local elected officials to respond effectively when financial resources are so strained.

“We have not given up on Stockton.”

Bravo. Though I don’t find the Bee editorial “sensationalistic,” I still feel a bit guilty as the Bee editorialist called me for background before writing her piece. I may have infected her with the chagrin I feel over the blunt instrument of local democracy. I’ve been burglarized twice, yet I still feel the reformist council deserved reelection. They got it right 90 percent of the time in the most difficult circumstances. We voted them out because they got one thing wrong. An important thing, granted. But our demand for perfection during insolvency is unrealistic.


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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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