By Mike Dello Stritto

STOCKTON (CBS13) – Stockton city leaders promise people won’t notice the bankruptcy black eye. They say there won’t be any further cuts to services. That remains to be seen, but there’s a sizeable group that will see a big change fast.

Kristina Pendergrass, a retired dispatcher, is just one of 1,100 retired Stockton city employees who are set to lose health benefits under the Stockton bankruptcy.

“I have friends that say this is a death sentence for them,” said Pendergrass.

People who packed council chambers Tuesday put faces on the harsh realities of bankruptcy.

“To me that’s just heartbreaking,” said Pendergrass. “Last night was a tough night for a lot of people.”

The retired dispatcher spoke to the council before their vote, with more of a sense of resigned disgust than a desperate plea.

“And you all know the decisions you’re making tonight are effectively throwing a grenade in my life and destroying everything I’ve worked for,” Pendergrass said at the meeting.

A day later, Pendergrass watches her daughter at skeet shooting practice.

Eleven-year-old Samantha wants to be a Stockton cop when she grows up.

“And that’s kind of a hard thing right now, to support that dream,” said Pendergrass.

Stockton spent three months and $3 million to avoid bankruptcy, but that didn’t happen.

However, the mayor is hopeful the mediation process will help Stockton quickly emerge from bankruptcy.

“We are hopeful that it won’t take more than a year or two years to get out of bankruptcy,” said Mayor Ann Johnston.

The city of Stockton decided to proceed with Chapter 9 bankruptcy now, but the city will write its own chapter next by reorganizing, restructuring, and, no doubt, remembering the days of prosperity that seem so long ago.

“It’s really hard not to feel bitter,” said Pendergrass.