Stockton is losing Millennials

Even as Stockton’s population grew, the number of Millennials living in the city shrank 6.6% from 2005-2015, a new study says.

Apartment list, a San Francisco-based apartment rental outfit, crunched U.S. Census numbers to find that Millennials — persons reaching young adulthood around the year 2000 — are leaving for better economies and more affordable homes in bigger cities.

And not the cities you’d expect.

“Many have suggested that millennials favor walkable cities on the coasts, but 8 of the top 10 large metros for millennial population growth were located on the interior, with Charlotte, Houston, and Austin topping the list,” the study says.

“These trends appeared strongly correlated with changes in the median income over the past decade.”

In other words, Millennials are going where the money is. “In Stockton specifically, median income decreased by 10.4%.”

Ouch. That last stat bears deeper research. But it’s an old story. Many young leave the Valley’s low-wage economy for better opportunities — and affordable housing, which is why San Francisco and most other coastal cities are conspicuously absent from the list.

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The switch to district voting


Ralph Lee White at an October presser.

I don’t oppose it. But I’m not on the same page as others, either.

Take this line from the most recent story about it: “California’s Voting Rights Act (says) Citywide voting disenfranchises low-income and minority communities by giving whiter and wealthier voters a say over who represents needier neighborhoods.”

People accept this as a given. In most places I’m sure it is. But in Stockton? Here, whites have been a minority in since 2008. If Latinos or anybody else vote at a lower rate, that’s not a structural problem with the voting system.

The more consequential factor may be class. But here, too, is the system really stacked against the disadvantaged? Three-quarters of Stockton voters are working class, or living below the poverty line. An overwhelming majority, in other words. If anything, this majority should be able to nullify the wishes of the “whiter and wealthier” voters, not the other way around.

Except for campaign contributions, of course.

I also don’t accept as gospel that Measure C, the hybrid voting measure, was concocted solely to oust Ralph Lee White.

But here’s District 2 Councilman Dan Wright: “Anytime you create a policy because of one person, it’s likely to be a bad policy. No matter what you think about Ralph Lee White, you don’t create a charter amendment because of him. You follow California election law and you create rules that are beneficial to all.”

This notion is such gospel that Measure C is referred to as “The Ralph Lee White rule.”

I don’t know if Wright has spoken with the measure’s author, Dean Andal. I have. I asked Andal explicitly about the intent of the measure and whether White was its target.

Andal said when he was young he intered in Pete Wilson’s office, when Wilson was mayor of San Diego. San Diego’s council was mired in parochial squabbling. So voters passed a reform, a hybrid voting system. The new system generated council members more apt to balance district interests with the interests of the city as a whole.

Seeing the same problem here, Andal said he proposed the same solution.

I remember his exact words. “Getting rid of Ralph Lee White was just a bonus.”

I don’t know if others are unaware of this or whether they disbelieve Andal. If the latter, I hope they’ll lend me some of their mind-reading skills.

The proponents of district voting also overlook its weakness: it’s cheaper to buy influence with a discrict council member. When council candidates run citywide, they must raise money from so many different interests that no single interest can own them.

Anyway, Stockton is reverting to district voting. White will likely run and may well be elected again. I don’t know if he will bring the same profanity and disrespect that hurt decorum in years gone by. Perhaps in political exile he reflected on the need for a more collaborative aproach.

If not, any decorum-conscious mayor should recognize that White — or any strong-willed, bumptious council member — must be managed at council meetings, not suppressed. Do that, and things should work out fine.

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A closer look at “Vernal Fall”

Here’s the William Keith landscape John Muir’s family just donated to UOP.

Keith's "Vernal Fall"

In a UOP press release, art professor Daniel Kasser said the painting preserves Muir’s spirit.

“For students of the arts and environmental philosophy, William Keith’s painting of Vernal Fall is a portal into the 19th century landscape painter’s sense of wonder and reverence for the primal beauty and grandeur of our country,” Kasser said. “It prepares us all to understand the continuity between Keith and contemporary landscape painters, equally committed to preserving the spirit of Muir and our collective affection for our national parks.”

And the press release said this about Keith:

“Keith today is regarded as a member of the canon of great Western painters. Historians believe he painted nearly 4,000 paintings, but some 2,000 were destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco fire. Keith’s remaining paintings are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the de Young Museum, Crocker Art Museum, Oakland Museum of California, and the Haggin Museum in Stockton, among others. The largest collection of Keith canvasses is at St. Mary’s College of California.”

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A political eulogy for Silva

Mayor Anthony Silva in court.

I never had any ill will towards Mayor Anthony Silva. It was never personal. He was unfit to be mayor, that was all.

So I’m not going to spend a lot of time criticizing Silva in his last weeks in office. But the quote from Councilman Elbert Holman in today’s paper sums up the political ineptitude that made Silva unable to deliver anything to his supporters. Or to the city.

“(Silva) very rarely reached out to the council on issues he was trying to implement,” Holman said. “Sometimes we had no idea what was going down until we were on the dais and then we were asked to make a decision based on what had been brought to us then.”

Think that one over.

In Year 1 of Silva’s term I believe this was because of the way Silva demonized his Council colleagues. He invited his supporters, some of whom lacked any decorum, to swarm chambers and harangue them. He really seemed to believe he was leading a revolution that would overwhelm the prerogatives of others and transcend the statutory limitations placed by the Charter on the mayor’s authority. That arrogance blew up in his face. Until Christina Fugazi got elected, the mayor commanded zero votes besides his own.

It’s next phase that really baffles. Having marginalized himself, Silva did not do what most politicians would do. He did not attempt rapprochement with his Council colleagues. He tried to replace them. And he failed. A good thing, too. His friend Sam Fant is facing charges of felony voter fraud. His friend Rick Grewal, who ran against Holman, was one of the most unqualified candidates of that cycle. Grewal’s sole qualification appears to have been that he would vote in lockstep with Silva.

So Silva’s grand vision was to pack the council with a majority of members who would be as (allegedly) ethically challenged and politically out to lunch as he was. No recipe for a better city.

Silva’s political clumsiness is not the whole story. He never adjusted his behavior to the level of maturity appropriate to his office. He continued to behave like a single guy on the make at a wild cocktail party. That led to face-palm mini-scandals and to some extent to the charges he now faces in court.

Also, Silva never shed what clearly is a scofflaw’s disdain for the rules. He’s just not that ethical. Mark my word, more criminal charges against him are a distinct possibility.

I may put all this in the column before Silva bows out, and I may not. The marginal character is no longer important. What is important is that a significant swath of Stockton citizens believed such a galoot was preferable to the status quo. If that doesn’t suggest City Hall needs to do some soul-searching, nothing does.

Anthony Silva sought power for power’s sake without the aptitude to wield it. He listened to the disadvantaged — and he helped us to listen — but he never created any policy that would address their priorities.

No surprise there. Populist anger often thrusts bad leaders into office. Our call is to understand the legitimate concerns of those who feel ignored and elect leaders who will address those needs, while helping the city as a whole realize its huge potential. Silva we can now dispense with.


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Ceviche and punishment

Munchie or menace? Ceviche.

I reluctantly agree with the District Attorney’s Office that the prosecution of a Stockton mom for selling ceviche is not “frivolous.”

What it is, though, it the expression of California’s mentality that everything must be regulated. Even the modest money-making activities of poor people. A women who braids another’s hair for a few bucks must obtain certification from the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, for instance. Such licensure is not only ridiculous but regressive. It hurts the poor.

DA spoksman Robert Himelblau said the public must be protected from food poisoning, which claims 3,000 lives in America every year.

OK. But presumably most of those cases come from licensed restaurants. Besides 3,000 fatalities in a nation of over 300 million is a death rate of 0.001%. Hardly a clear and present danger.

Another approach is to treat the buyers like adults. If, as Americans did for most of the nation’s history, they accept the slightly higher health risk of purchasing home-made food, must the state step in?

Apparently it must. Yet when Himelblau says authorities must “keep an even playing field for business” forgive me for interpreting this in two ways: first — the way he wants to be interpreted — that poor people must follow health and safety laws, too.

But also that the DA must enforce the same arguably excessive regulations heaped on a poor mom as this state heaps on everybody else. A defensible argument, just annoyingly bureaucratic.


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Stockton’s “Hot Felon” back in the slammer

Perez Hilton reports:


Meek's old booking photo, which went viral.

“Remember convicted felon Jeremy Meeks?

“He’s that hot mug shot guy who blew up online last year.

“People everywhere were ogling his pic, photoshopping him into male model ad campaigns and doing other unspeakable acts with his photo probably we’re not sure, stop looking at us like that. LOLz!

“Well, you can forget your dreams of seeing him shirtless on a billboard… because he’s in federal prison now!!

“Meeks just got 27 months in a California prison for possessing a .45 caliber pistol. He’s a felon. That’s a BIG no no.

[ Related: Hot Mug Shot Guy Is Hot In Orange! ]

“His mug shot that skyrocketed him to internet fame came from when he was arrested for carrying a loaded firearm, in Stockton, CA.

“So yeah, we’re pretty sure we won’t be hearing much about Jeremy Meeks for the next two years or so…

“At least we’ll always have his mug shot to remember him by.”

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“The human Molotov cocktail”

Glenn Greenwald has a razor-sharp essay in The Intercept on how Democrat Party elitism brought Trump on itself:

“Human beings are not going to follow and obey the exact people they most blame for their suffering. They’re going to do exactly the opposite: purposely defy them and try to impose punishment in retaliation. Their instruments for retaliation are Brexit and Trump. Those are their agents, dispatched on a mission of destruction: aimed at a system and culture they regard — not without reason — as rife with corruption and, above all else, contempt for them and their welfare.”

Worth a read here.

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Why not to wear dumb costumes to work


Photos from the "Halloween Cocaine party."

Watchdog Frank Gayaldo copies us a letter he sent to District Attorney’s Office:

“Dear PIO (Tim) Daly,

“Consider this a formal inquiry under either CPRA and/or FOIA.

“The public may not have a right to know what discipline was given, but the public does has a right to know who was present at the San Joaquin County “Halloween Cocaine Party”.

“Was Chief Deputy DA Sherri Adams playing the roll of cocaine snorting Snow White? Was DDA Tom Montes and DA Kevin Rooney participants? Who else? Were you there, and if so, what were you wearing? Who specially was wearing the “dwarves lives matter” shirt? Did employees check out for this? If so, please provide copies of time sheets for all participants.

“During the party, was there any references in jest or otherwise to the several packages of missing white substances from the sheriff’s evidence room?

“You would be wise to not ignore my lawful request, as that would only result in further negative public relation consequences. Keep in mind I typically only ask questions that I already know the answer. I do this so I can tell when San Joaquin County is lying or concealing something, which we both know happens quite frequently.”

I can’t muster the outrage over this dumb stunt that others have. The DA apologized and promised to discipline the knuckleheads who gave her this headache. I find the whole thing risible. But, if we must be sticklers, Gayaldo is right. The participants are a matter of public record. The DA’s Office should answer his request for information.

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A happy day for library supporters

Maso’od Cajee with Strong Libraries=Strong Communities writes:

Maso'od Cajee

“This (passage of Measure M, a library/recreation tax) is going to be good for Stockton.

“The best part? No tax increase.

“We’ll have the best funded library system in the Central Valley, better than Sacramento, at California median, and on par with San Jose — although short of the rest of Silicon Valley.

“Sacramento in recent years has been ranked as one of America’s top libraries. Now, we have a shot at that too.

“First, we need to make sure the City delivers.
Mike, 20 years ago this month, Maya Angelou opened her namesake library in November, 1996.

“Books were a rainbow in my gray clouds,” she told the Stockton crowd that gathered.

“She hoped the library would “be a rainbow in the lives of many Stockton children.”

“And it was, and it is.

“She said, “Lonely, frightened children will find sanctuary here.” And they did, and they do.

“One of those children for whom the Angelou library was a rainbow in the cloud — and a sanctuary — was our Mayor-elect Michael Tubbs. It was there that he would fill out his application to Stanford.

“And with this Yes on M, Stockton’s children will find safe places open across the city, keeping them on the right track, and on the path to success.

“And Tubbs will be at the helm of making sure that happens.”

Eloquently stated. One clarification: Measure M is indeed a quarter-cent tax increase. However, a state quarter-cent tax is going away, so the overall tax rate remains the same. What’s going to change is the brutal, 50 percent reduction of the library system. And likely also Stockton’s culture of low literacy, and good riddance to it.

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Trump Uber Alles

Ed Bonilla writes:

“Wanted to send you guys the rad video my new band filmed all over Stockton … Came out great. It’s an homage to Dead Kennedys with a Trump twist!”

Warning: a bit of profanity.

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    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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