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Smart Voter
San Joaquin County, CA November 2, 2010 Election
Measure H
Stockton Fire Department and Charter Amendments
City of Stockton

Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

Pass: 28841 / 52.30% Yes votes ...... 26306 / 47.70% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Nov 23 1:19pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (167/167)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

Shall the Stockton City Charter be amended to provide for a modernized structure and administration of the Fire Department that includes revisions to the appointment procedure and duties of the Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief; revisions to impasse resolution procedures for employee disputes; exempting the Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief from the civil service system; and removing mandatory vacation accrual provisions for fire department employees?

Impartial Analysis from the Stockton City Attorney
This measure would make changes to the City of Stockton Charter (the "Charter") pertaining to management of the Stockton Fire Department impasse procedures for the resolution of labor disputes and the hiring and terms and conditions of employment of the Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chiefs.

The Charter provides that the Chief and Deputy Chiefs must be hired from within the Stockton Fire Department. The Charter also provides the Chief and Deputy Chiefs with the civil service protections applicable to rank and file members of the Stockton Fire Department, which restricts the ability of management to suspend, demote, or discharge the Chief or Deputy Chiefs.

The measure would permit the City to recruit the Chief and Deputy Chiefs both from outside and from within the Stockton Fire Department. Also, the measure would provide that the Chief and Deputy Chiefs are "at-will" employees, which is consistent with how other members of the City's management ranks (such as the Chief of Police) hold their positions.

The Charter currently requires that all disputes pertaining to wages, hours, or terms and conditions of employment that remain unresolved after good-faith negotiations between the City and Fire Department employees union shall be referred to an Arbitration Board. The Arbitration Board would then hold a hearing and render a decision that is binding on the parties. The Charter further provides that any decision of an Arbitration Board that would impose upon the City additional costs, shall not be effective unless and until the necessary revenue and appropriations have been approved by the City's electorate.

The measure would remove the binding arbitration provisions and instead would permit the City and Fire Department employees union to proceed with voluntary, non-binding mediation of disputes pertaining to wages, hours, or terms and conditions of employment that remain unresolved after good-faith negotiations. Submission of the dispute to mediation would not be mandatory. Each party to the mediation would bear its own expenses, while the cost for the mediator's time and related expenses would be shared equally. The measure would also require that any Memorandum of Understanding be approved by a majority of the City Council, following public disclosure of the associated costs and certification by the City Manager that the costs are appropriate and affordable within the City's budget.

The Charter at section 2528 provides that members of the Fire Department shall accrue and be permitted to use vacation time of not less than 15 working days per year, which may be taken as the Fire Chief directs. The proposed measure would remove section 2528, which would then leave the vacation accrual and vacation pay of Fire Department personnel subject to the normal negotiation process applicable to all represented City employees.

The proposed measure also makes grammatical changes to the Charter and replaces certain gender specific terms with gender neutral terms.

Submitted by:

/s/ John M. Luebberke, Interim City Attorney

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Arguments For Measure H Arguments Against Measure H
While we are in the grip of a "Great Recession," labor costs threaten to bankrupt the City.

This isn't a one-time problem + it's an on-going structural problem. To avoid financial ruin, City Charter provisions must be brought into the 21st Century. Today:

  • The average wage for a Firefighter is $92,000, Firefighter Engineer - $114,000, Fire Captain - $130,000, Fire Battalion Chief - $162,000
  • Firefighters can take time off for vacation whenever they want, and Fire Management's inability to control this time off dramatically increases overtime expenses
  • Entry-level Firefighters get 18 days of vacation each year + most of which they can "cash out"
  • Firefighters make no contributions to their health insurance premiums + for themselves or their entire families
  • Your elected City Council and Fire Chief have little control over Fire staffing decisions
  • The Fire Chief must be hired from within the department,regardless of qualification
  • Only 1 in 4 Firefighters lives in Stockton
  • Firefighters can request an outside arbitrator be the final and binding decision making authority for unresolved disputes

The union says they've made one-time concessions over the years, but with guaranteed perks like these, the Fire Department exceeds its budget by millions each year. There are structural contract problems that drive out-of-control raises for the future.

An independent expert called Stockton's Fire union agreement one of the "worst" in the nation.

Measure H is a crucial first step to do four basic things:

1. Removes the requirement for special vacation perks

2. Removes the requirement to have unelected private

arbitrator + who may have no experience in Stockton
resolve contract disputes

3. Removes the requirement that the Chief be hired from

4. Confirms the City Council's final authority over

Firefighters provide essential public safety, but the status quo is indefensible. Stockton can not afford "worst practices."

Vote Yes on Measure H

Submitted by:

/s/ Rick Goucher, President Chamber /s/ Donna Brown, Yes on Measure H /s/ Ann Johnston, Mayor, City of Stockton /s/ Katherine Miller, Vice Mayor, City of Stockton /s/ Dean Andal, Businessman

Rebuttal to Arguments For
The Proponents' for Measure H are hiding the facts. Don't be fooled. The facts are:

  • Measure H makes it easier for city politicians to layoff firefighters and shut down fire stations.

  • Measure H eliminates the protections that stopped City bureaucrats from cutting the daily number of firefighters and paramedics on duty by 23%.

  • The Stockton City Council has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on pork projects like spending tens of millions of dollars on a new City Hall and $22 million on a marina that loses money.

City leaders have made it clear they want to balance the budget by cutting the number of firefighters on duty every day and closing fire stations. Stockton already is one of the lowest staffed fire departments in California per capita, despite being one of the busiest.

The City Council already cut the number of Fire Truck Companies in the City by 25%. Firefighters and Paramedics on Truck Companies provide critical lifesaving services such as the "jaws of life" and conduct rescue operations to save downed residents and firefighters in house fires. These cuts have impacted emergency response times. This cut was made despite the fact that firefighters offered millions of dollars in concessions and to pay more for their retirement and health care.

Don't make it easier for the politicians to make deeper cuts that put us at risk. Vote NO to keep politics out of the fire department and away from our public safety services.

Submitted by:

/s/ Sean S. Hidalgo, Fire Captain /Paramedic /s/ Deborah Wilkens, Registered Nurse /s/ Brian Morris, Retired Stockton Police Officer /s/ John B. Hymes, Retired Stockton Fire Battalion Chief /s/ Gloria Nomura, Former Stockton Vice Mayor

Spending by Stockton politicians is wildly out of control and has lead to cuts in fire and paramedic services and the layoff of 18 police officers. Response times to emergencies have increased and will only get worse. In a life or death situation, seconds matter. Measure H puts our safety in jeopardy.

Measure H is not what it seems. If you look at the fine print you'll see it actually makes it easier to layoff firefighters and shut down neighborhood fire stations, threatening public safety. Measure H eliminates the protections that stopped City bureaucrats from cutting the daily number of firefighters and paramedics on duty by 23 percent.

City politicians want to use Measure H to balance the budget by laying off fire fighters and paramedics and cutting emergency services. Measure H could cause Stockton to fall below National Fire Protection Association recommended minimum staffing levels for fire companies, leaving staffing decisions to bureaucrats.

While closing fire companies and cutting neighborhood police patrols, city politicians continue to waste taxpayer dollars. They spent $22 million on a marina that continually loses nearly $750,000 a year. And, right after approving layoffs for police officers and cutting fire and emergency medical services, they spent $1 million to pay out a failing private sector company that lost $7 million in taxpayer funds managing city entertainment venues. Recently they handed out a $1 million no-bid contract making an exception to Council competitive bid policies. Enough is enough.

Politicians in Sacramento and Stockton have spent money we don't have. Now they are trying to make up for their mistakes by balancing the budgets at the expense of public safety.

We can't put our safety in the hands of the Stockton City Council. Protect fire and paramedic services by voting NO on Measure H.

Submitted by:

/s/ John Hymes, Retired Battalion Chief Stockton Fire Department /s/ Gay Dail, Registered Nurse /s/ Sean Hidalgo, Paramedic/Fire Captain /s/ Brian Morris, Retired Stockton Police Officer /s/ Leslie Ann Brown, Small Business Owner

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
It's true that previous City Councils have locked Stockton into bad financial deals - but the worst of these is the sweetheart deal given to the Firefighters union!

With its hands tied because of existing Charter provisions, the City has laid off hundreds of employees, closed community centers, slashed library hours and cut Police Department staffing. And still Stockton suffers from a "severe and chronic" budget deficit.

While every other area of the budget has been slashed, spending on Firefighter salaries and benefits continues to rage out of control.

Police and Fire make up 78% of the General Fund! Fire spending alone accounts for $47 million. And thanks to its special perks, Fire exceeds its official budget by millions every year.

As The Record noted, "An unwise contract gave the union the right to staff the department ... It also gave the union power to decide time off ... That's one big reason the fire department overspent its budget by $6 million last year.

Measure H does exactly what is says. There is no fine print. It removes special privileges that only Fire enjoys, and returns control of spending and staffing to the Fire Chief and the elected, accountable City Council.

While the union uses scare tactics to resist giving up control, the fact is outside experts consider Stockton's deal with its Fire union of the "worst "in the nation.

Enough is enough. Stockton cannot continue to enrich these public employees at the expense of the rest of us.

Submitted by:

/s/ Patrick Johnston /s/ Fritz Grupe, Board Chairman, Business Council /s/ Cleveland Edwards, Colonel (Retired) USA /s/ Jonise C. Oliva, President, San Joaquin Chamber of Commerce /s/ Robert W. Hong

Full Text of Measure H
The City of Stockton Charter is hereby amended to read as follows:


SECTION 1600. Organization.

The Fire Department shall consist of a Fire Chief and such other officers, members, and employees as the Council may from time to time prescribe.

SECTION 1601. Powers and Duties.

The Fire Department shall enforce all ordinances and laws and shall supervise all matters relating to the prevention, control, and extinguishment of fires and the protection of the property impaired thereby, and the prevention and control of fire hazards within the City.

SECTION 1602. Fire Chief.

The Fire Department shall be under the control, management, and direction of a Fire Chief. The Fire Chief shall be appointed by the City Manager and shall hold that position at the pleasure of the City Manager.

The Fire Chief shall with the approval of the City Manager have management, control and direction of the personnel of the Department and shall have charge of all property and equipment of such Department. The Fire Chief shall have full power to detail any officer or member of the Department to such public service as may be necessary. The Fire Chief shall recommend in writing to the City Manager that disciplinary action be taken against members of the Department if he or she deems it necessary, stating the reasons therefor, and shall immediately file a copy of said recommendations with the Civil Service Commission. The Fire Chief shall exercise all powers and duties provided by the general law or the ordinances of the City Council and shall devote his or her entire time to the discharge of the duties of this office.

SECTION 1603. Absence of Fire Chief.

In the event of the absence or disability of the Fire Chief, or vacancy in such office, the City Manager shall designate an interim Fire Chief to assume charge of the Department until the Chief returns or a successor is appointed.

SECTION 1604. Deputy Fire Chief.

The Fire Chief shall have the power to appoint at his or her discretion, without competitive examination, one or more Deputy Fire Chiefs. After appointment, the Deputy Fire Chief shall hold said position at the pleasure of the Fire Chief. If the Fire Chief demotes a Deputy Fire Chief, the Deputy Fire Chief shall be restored to the last civil service position, if any, held immediately prior to appointment as Deputy Fire Chief.

SECTION 1605. Assignment of Chief Officers.

The Fire Chief shall have the power to assign chief officers to fill the necessary supervisory positions in the Fire Department, and shall assign a chief officer as Fire Marshal and a chief officer as Director of Training.

SECTION 1606. Temporary Firefighters.

In case of emergency, the City Manager may appoint additional firefighters and officers for temporary service, who need not be in the classified service. Such authority may be exercised under the direction of the Fire Chief and for a specified time, and all such appointees shall be subject to and obey all rules and regulations of the Fire Department.

SECTION 1607. Impartial Mediation for Employee Disputes.

(a) Declaration of Policy. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the City of Stockton that strikes by firefighters are not in the public interest and should be prohibited, and that a method should be adopted for peacefully and equitably resolving disputes that might otherwise lead to such strikes.

(b) Prohibition Against Strikes. If any firefighter employed by the City of Stockton willfully engages in a strike against the City, said employee shall be dismissed from his or her employment and may not be reinstated or returned to City employment except as a new employee. No officer, board, council, or commission shall have the power to grant amnesty to any employee charged with engaging in a strike against the City.

(c) Obligation to Negotiate in Good Faith. The City, through its duly authorized representatives, shall negotiate in good faith with recognized Fire Department employee organizations on all matters relating to the wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of City employment within the scope of representation, including the establishment of procedures for the resolution of grievances concerning the interpretation or application of a negotiated agreement.

(d) Impasse Resolution Procedures.

(1) All disputes or controversies pertaining to wages, hours, or terms and conditions of employment which remain unresolved after good faith negotiations regarding a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the City and a Fire Department employee organization should be submitted to impartial mediation upon the declaration of an impasse by the City or by the recognized employee organization involved in the dispute.

(2) Within three (3) days after either party has notified the other, in writing, that it desires to proceed to mediation, representatives designated by the City and representatives of the recognized employee organization involved in the dispute shall request cost free mediation through the California State Mediation and Conciliation or other mutually agreeable organization. The parties may mutually agree on a private mediator or other impasse resolution process.

(3) Any mediations proceeding convened pursuant to this Article shall be conducted in conformance with State law. The parties may also adopt such other procedures that are designed to encourage an agreement between the parties, expedite the mediation process, or reduce the costs of the mediation.

(4) The cost of any mediation convened pursuant to this Article, including the fee for the services of the mediator, shall be borne equally by the parties. All other expenses which the parties may incur individually are to be borne by the party incurring such expenses.

SECTION 1608. Restrictions.

No memorandum of understanding (MOU) may be enforced unless the costs are fully and openly explained in public, the City Manager certifies that the MOU costs are appropriate and affordable under the City's budget and the MOU is adopted by majority vote of the City Council.


SECTION 2501. Employees Subject to Civil Service.

Classified service of the City of Stockton shall include all employees of the Fire Department and Police Department, including the Chief of each Department, except that the Chief of Police and Deputy Chief of Police, and the Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief, shall be appointed and shall hold office as specified in Articles XVII and XVI of this Charter, respectively. Except as hereinbefore expressly provided, all appointments and promotions in the Fire Department and the Police Department shall be made solely on merit, efficiency, and fitness, which shall be ascertained by an open, competitive examination and impartial investigation.

No person shall be appointed to, reinstated in, transferred, suspended, demoted, or discharged from any such office, place, position, or employment contrary to the provisions of this Charter.

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