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Friday, October 5, 2012

Risk and ambition: Stockton's bankruptcy a morality tale for cities around the nation


By Eric Schulzke, Deseret News


Sworn police staffing in Stockton, Calif. dropped from 1.52 per 1,000 residents in 2005 to 1.16 today.
Ben Margot, Associated Press

This is part one in a two-part series.

Read part two: Pixie dust: How Stockton gambled its way from bad to worse.

STOCKTON, Calif. — The marina is beautiful, sparkling and new. So are the baseball park and the hockey arena, home to the Stockton Ports and the Stockton Thunder. Across the street is a stunning refurbished historic theater. The facilities glisten in the evening August sunshine, while teenagers do backflips off a pier and children fish for bass.

A stone's throw away is Stockton's City Hall. Above the entrance is an "All-American City" banner, reflecting faded glory from awards won in 1999 and 2004, but beneath the banner the lamp post foundations are badly cracked. It's one of many clues around the city that something has gone badly awry here.

Wells Fargo repossessed an eight-story office building meant to be a new city hall earlier this summer. The city had defaulted on its loans. The bank also seized underperforming parking garages, which the city built when boom times seemed here to stay.

At a city council meeting in that fading city hall on that warm August evening, the word "bankruptcy" is never mentioned but lies heavy in the air.

To finish reading this article, click here!

New Music in Stockton, CA

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