Beginning in the 1990s, the city and employee unions negotiated such high salaries and benefits that pay packages were more than 25% above what other cities were offering, said Kathy Miller, a Stockton city councilwoman.BizJournals:
Police and firefighters could retire at 50, while other city employees could retire at 55. All employees received free medical care in retirement with plans that didn’t require co-pays.
There were bonuses “for almost everything imaginable,” Miller had explained in a video she created in 2012 to explain why the city had been forced to seek bankruptcy protection. “If you drove the front of a fire truck, if you drove the back of a fire truck, if you got a degree or certificate, even if it was for something that had nothing to with your job.
“Stockton employees made pension spiking into an art form, using overtime and add pays in their final working years to secure much larger pensions for the rest of their lives.”
[Gus] Vina began working with the city of Sacramento as budget manager in July 1999, coming from the city of Stockton, where he had worked for a decade.With a resume like that, it's no wonder our City Council was "giddy" to hire him!
Stockton, of course, isn't a highly desirable Southern California beach town, and so didn't have the option of getting out of its pension and debt problems via massive development. So we've got that going for us.