San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 06/19/14, 8:09 PM PDT |

RIVERSIDE >> San Bernardino and police union officials think they’re within a month of an agreement, but the city is so far from progress with the firefighters union that a U.S. bankruptcy judge released that union from mediation Thursday.

Those reports come in U.S. Bankruptcy Court here alongside an “interim agreement” with the city’s largest creditor, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, that was reached about 10 days ago and boasted in a court filing Wednesday.

“The importance of this agreement to mediation and the case cannot be overstated because of the size of the CalPERS claim, the importance of CalPERS and its relationship to the city and because the city believes based on discussions with unions and retirees that sustaining their relationship with CalPERS is very important,” Paul Glassman, the city’s lead bankruptcy attorney, said in his opening comments Thursday.

The details of that agreement remain confidential during mediation, with judge Meredith Jury saying Thursday she didn’t know the details but hoped to work out a deal regarding confidentiality requirements soon.

The police union’s bankruptcy attorney, Ron Oliner, was also optimistic about progress toward a deal with the city, in contrast with his frustration at the previous hearing in May.

“The iron is terrifically hot right now to close a deal,” Oliner said. “The circumstances are better than I’ve ever seen.”

But he also said the court should begin setting deadlines to move forward a case that’s progressing slower in many respects than the bankruptcies of Stockton and Detroit.

Vallejo’s bankruptcy had been moved forward once the judge set deadlines, and Jury should do the same in San Bernardino — for the good of all involved, he said.

“Bankruptcy court is expensive,” he said. “If the city is broke, and I’m not suggesting otherwise, bankruptcy isn’t going to be helpful if it goes on much longer.”

If Jury’s deadlines aren’t met, he said, the city should be kicked out of court and lose bankruptcy protection.

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