From Jon Fleischman at www.flashreport.org…
There is a saying goes something like, “Adversity Breeds Opportunity.”
This came to mind as I was reading stories in the SDUT, on the website of the Voice of San Diego, as well as a great column from FR friend Vince Vasquez on the up and coming SDRostra website — stories all about the massive budget deficit facing the City of San Diego, and the proposal of Mayor Jerry Sanders to try and address the $190 million shortfall.
First and foremost, let me commend Mayor Sanders for putting forward a package that does not seek an increase in taxes. Sanders (pictured), a Republican, understands that in a recession, you simply cannot ask taxpayers to reach deeper into their pockets. While the recession has hit the city’s finances hard (Erik Bruvold, the president of the non-partisan National University System Institute for Policy Research estimates that half of the current deficit can be laid at the feet of the sour economy), it has also hit the pocketbooks of San Diego’s residents hard as well.
That said, a closer look at Sanders’ proposal to balance the city’s books for the next fiscal year calls for over half of the shortfall to be resolved through gimmicks — like we are used to seeing in Sacramento, actually. This is where the politicians look for any possible way to push out to future years current obligations. In the case of the Mayor’s proposed plan, two examples would be “restructuring” millions of dollars in payments on a large legal settlement (pay more later rather than less today) and putting off needed upgrades in city hall’s interior sprinkler system.
Read the entire piece here.
Chris Reed (america’s finest blog)…
FlashReport boss: City should mull bankruptcy
By Chris Reed
UNION-TRIBUNE Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 9:54 a.m.
FlashReport’s Jon Fleischman has a sharp, provocative column on San Diego’s fiscal woes on his site this morning. He notes that Mayor Sanders’ budget balances only due to one-time solutions — arguably, gimmicks — and says a bolder approach might have been better:
“… the Mayor’s own Fiscal Task Force (which has echoed my call for the need for structural reform rather than gimmicks to meet the city’s fiscal challenge) has also suggested bankruptcy protection as a legitimate option for the city. The idea of substantially modifying unsustainable public pension benefit commitments in bankruptcy court has yet to be tested, to my knowledge, providing current San Diego politicians with an opportunity to be true leaders in taxpayer protection.”
“… the current situation provides an unprecedented opportunity to show leadership. Leadership not only for the people of San Diego — but for the nation’s ninth largest city to show fiscally strapped municipalities across America that adversity does, in fact, breed opportunity.”
(back to Reed)… Some city or government agency needs to be the first. I’m not saying it should be San Diego. But at some point the bankruptcy option is going to be forced on a California government body — and a lot of important precedents will be set.