Stockton's Fiasco Government

Looking at The Stockton City Government Fiasco

In an attempt to get a handle on Stockton's near-bankruptcy gets us looking at the city's general public. Is there something abnormal in the civic culture of Stockton? It appears that Stockton never firmly created a culture of public service. Reform along with time may have rid the city of it's most blatant dishonest dealings, although lofty motives unmistakably has continued to come in second place to self-enrichment. and back-scratching If true, this relates to a term political analysis's call "political efficacy" - a belief your community involvement or your vote can make a difference. Or does it?. There are many ways of measuring political efficacy and looking at the Stockton political culture. the big item is voter turnout (or lack thereof). Here are a few Stockton voter turnout percentages for some recent elections.

The figures show that voters in Stockton are a great deal more apathetic. Particularly taking into account that voters in other cities in the county must vote at significantly higher ratios above the county averages for these averages to be where they are.

Date Type State % County % City %
Nov. 4, 2008 General 79.42 79.04 75.07
June 8, 2010 Primary 33.31 34.03 28.03
Nov. 2, 2010 General 59.59 59.87 53.97

 

Why is the Stockton electorate significantly out of step? Let's take a look at three aspects. Age: Census data shows that Stockton is a youthful city. Almost 30 percent of it's residents ages are less than 18. The statewide average is around 25 percent. A younger population results in less voters.

Education: Voter participation is increased with educational achievement. However just 17.7 percent of Stockton residents aged 25 and older have a B.A. or higher diploma. This is considerably less tan the statewide average of 30.1 percent.

Stockton City Hall

The disparity here also shows there are fewer qualified applicants to fill the spots of government commissions, boards, and committees. "A few of the more demanding positions are the ones requiring a particular skill set," Stockton spokesperson Connie Cochran said. "There have been committees that are looking for a particular background in architecture or construction, ..." and these prove more difficult to fill.

The outlook has improved over the past few years, Cochran added. Income: Research shows that voter participation gets a huge upturn once median income of a household surpasses $36,000. The Stockton household median income is around $47, 946. However many Stockton households bring in less money than $36,000 annually. These families are way too preoccupied in just getting food for the table to be concerned over city political matters.

Another factor, although not unique for Stockton alone, is the municipal politics are all nonpartisan. This may seem like a great idea to those who dislike partisanship. However races between Republicans and Democrats create a larger draw of people, says Keith Smith, a University of the Pacific political science teacher. "Partisan identity ... is a big influence in participation," Smith said. "The stronger you identify with your party, the more likely hood you will become involved." Also cultural factors are in play. Research in 2002 by the California Public Policy Institute discovered that Mexican immigrants tend to vote at ratio similar to whites - once they achieve a certain educational and income level.

The issue is it sometimes takes several generations to achieve that level. One more big issue. Many immigrants do not become American citizens. The suggestion here is that the City of Stockton should have an interest in assisting Latinos naturalize, especially as Latinos have become the largest ethnic group in the city. Surprisingly, Asian subgroups have the most culturally inclination to remain distant from politics, most probably based upon their experiences from their homeland, the study showed.

The 21.5 percent Asian population in Stockton is significantly greater than the statewide 13 percent average. The report did add: that "Filipinos and Vietnamese become naturalized and become involved at larger ratios than other subgroups of Asian." The last point, the competence and friendliness of government has an effect on it's citizen perceptions. This is bad news for Stockton as city management says many workers for the city have a I'm-first attitude along with a red tape addiction that residents have been complaining over for many years. In summary:

When a city's residents hold a belief that City Hall is just a puppet theater which is controlled by developers, good old boys, unions or any other special interest groups, or if they think of it as being surreal distorted bureaucracy, they might be disinclined to participate in any civic affairs. I believe these reasons, when combined with the Stockton demographics, go toward explaining its fiasco government. If higher paid, educated Stocktonians refrain from coming to the table, they only leave special interests and politicians who indulge in special interests at disastrous cost.

New Article  Mar 11, 2012

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