I have spent every one of my twenty-six years in the same sad shit-hole of a town and, hopefully, that doesn’t officially make me a sad shit-hole of a person (ew…that sounds really dirty & unpleasant). A departing comrade clowned me on this fact recently, as if I wasn’t already aware of the sucky-ness factor of my living situation! For those of you not in the know about just how much Stockton, California blows, allow me to present the following bits of regional current events:
* Currently, Stocktonians “benefit” from a $15,405 per capita income, with 18.9% of families and 23.9% of the population living beneath the poverty line. A Forbes Magazine review noted our soaring crime rate (6,570 crimes per 100,000 residents, the highest in California!) and a Central Connecticut State University study twice ranked us as the most illiterate U.S. city with a population over 250,000. The crash of the sub-prime lending market that began last year slammed Stockton like no other city in the nation, leaving one out of every 30 homes in foreclosure. CNN cited Stockton as the city expected to see the greatest decline in home values in the U.S. We have been named in Forbes most recent Worst Place to Live list, coming in second to Detroit. With all these glaring issues, you’d think the local government would be a bit concerned, right?
* Despite the above mentioned notoriety, our City Council has thrown Stockton’s sparse funds into the following cosmetic projects: there was The Stockton Arena to the tune of $69 million in construction costs and $4.8 million in additional losses since it opened, which does not include the $2.7 million in interest the city had to pay on the bond used to build the mother f**ker; the Port’s home @ Banner Island Ballpark cost $22 million to build and has lost another million since ‘06; we gave $2.5 million to lure Sacramento-based Paragary’s Restaurant to the Hotel Stockton, without any rent being charged to them until 2012; we tossed $500,000 in subsidies to the Sheraton Hotel after selling the land it was built on for a whole dollar; and the City just bought the Washington Mutual building for $30 million so that City Hall can be relocated there. Oh! We cannot forget the infamous Neal Diamond concert that netted The Jazz Singer a cool $1 million from the city coffers. Now, the folks at City Hall are doling out $26.5 million to build a downtown marina for the elite Stockton boating community. By the looks of things, Stockton must be rollin’ in the dough!
* Unfortunately, that is not the case according to the approved 2008-09 budget. Our “great” All American city has slashed $10 million from it’s budget; a little over a million from the library’s book & materials funds, $2 million from the Parks & Recreation funds, $2 million from the Safe Neighborhoods Measure W funding, almost $2 million from housing grants and emergency shelter funding… You get the point, don’t you? High crime, high poverty, low literacy, high unemployment, and a shit load of cuts for all our sorely needed public services in exchange for a multi-million dollar downtown full of amenities that most Stocktonians’ will never be able to use. Wow. If you wanted to learn about political corruption or terrible public policy, Stockton is the place to be! If your not entertained by living in a crime-riddled, economically stagnant, Real Estate developer’s playground where the air tastes worse than the water & the average resident is dumber than a box of rocks, I wouldn’t advise you to move here.