By Motecuzoma Sanchez
Stockton, CA-At the first city council meeting of 2017 the newly elected mayor of Stockton, Michael Tubbs and newly elected council members vote to increase city spending by up to $300,000 annually for him to hire two personal staffers.
This move has baffled many residents in a city that only recently emerged from historic bankruptcy. It has also shown a level of hypocrisy as well as priorities for the new mayor, as Tubbs was the sole member of the previous city council who voted NO five times, refusing to support the re-opening of the Fair Oaks Public Library.
The library is located in one of he most economically depressed areas of Stockton with high crime and low education rates and a population that is primarily of Mexican decent and highly immigrant. His reasoning for each vote was that it was too expensive for the city to afford. Advocates settled for part time operation at a cost of $155,000 a year. Tubbs claimed that would drive the city into bankruptcy again, yet now that he is mayor, only 3 months later, has no problem with spending up to $300,000 a year on personal staff. Tubbs voted against re-opening community pools in the summer for children in the areas he proclaims to represent and “reinvent”. He also voted against funding military veterans for the annual 4th of July parade, which had been shut down due to the city’s refusal to waiver expensive permit fees. But now that he is mayor and his rival is out, he seems to be much more willing to spend tax payer money.
These positions will be new hires, expanding Stockton’s bueareacracy at a time when city services have yet to reach pre-bankruptcy levels. These positions will also make the office of the mayor the most top heavy in Stockton’s history and their very necessity has been called into question. Also to be taken into consideration is the fact that Stockton is a council-city manager run city, not a strong mayor-council run city like San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Chicago. In this system the mayor has no real power, but acts as a figure head and the only full time council member of seven.
In an interview with the Record, City Manager Kurt Wilson, who predicted a doomsday scenario if the Fair Oaks Library re-opened part time, admitted that the new positions with salaries and benefits costing the city up to $300,000 a year would take the city reserves below the needed threshold to stay out of bankruptcy.
This vote was conducted during the same meeting funding for summer youth jobs as a way to combat violence was slashed from $200,000 to less than $125,000. Meanwhile, Stockton’s sales tax is the highest in California, water rates increased last year by 18% with an additional 11% increase this year, 25% live below the poverty line, the city is the 2nd most violent in California, and the median annual income per capital is only $19,000 and $44,000 for families.
$10,000 was also allocated by himself and the city council for new furniture allowance despite the city having a surplus of furniture. This is the first time in Stockton’s history the mayor’s office will have such a staff.