Bill Whittle has another great video, this time dealing with "Going out of business". In this case he's not talking about a company or corporation, but...well, I'll let him tell it.
A mere handful of people are left to hear the San Jose city manager offer the latest bleak financial news: the state of California was clawing back tens of millions of dollars more, and "140 employees have been separated from the city." (New times call for new euphemisms.) A pollster presents his finding that, no matter how the question is phrased, the citizens of San Jose are unlikely to approve any ballot measure that raises taxes. A numbers guy gets to his feet and explains that the investment returns in the city's pension plan are not likely to be anything near as high as was assumed. In addition to there not being enough money in this particular pot to begin with, the pot is failing to expand as fast as everyone had hoped, and so the gap between what the city's employees are entitled to and what will exist is even greater than previously imagined. The council then votes to postpone, for six weeks, a vote on whether to declare the city's budget a "public emergency," and thus to give to the mayor, Chuck Reed, new powers.We're not as bad as Greece. Not exactly an overwhelming vote of confidence from the mayor, is it? San Jose isn't the only municipality facing the same kind of crisis. It is, unfortunately, an all too common problem across the state.
The relationship between the people and their money in California is such that you can pluck almost any city at random and enter a crisis. San Jose has the highest per capita income of any city in the United States, after New York. It has the highest credit rating of any city in California with a population over 250,000. It is one of the few cities in America with a triple-A rating from Moody's and Standard & Poor's, but only because its bondholders have the power to compel the city to levy a tax on property owners to pay off the bonds. The city itself is not all that far from being bankrupt.
[Mayor Chuck Reed is] a Democrat, but at this point it doesn't much matter which party he belongs to, or what his ideological leanings are, or for that matter how popular he is with the people of San Jose. He's got a problem so big that it overwhelms ordinary politics: the city owes so much more money to its employees than it can afford to pay that it could cut its debts in half and still wind up broke. "I did a calculation of cost per public employee," he says as we settle in. "We're not as bad as Greece, I don't think."
Eighty percent of the city's budget--and the lion's share of the claims that had thrown it into bankruptcy--were wrapped up in the pay and benefits of public-safety workers. Relations between the police and the firefighters, on the one hand, and the citizens, on the other, were at historic lows. The public-safety workers thought that the city was out to screw them on their contracts; the citizenry thought that the public-safety workers were using fear as a tool to extort money from them.Is this is what is in store for other cities and towns in California? Yes, unless things change and the public employee unions either give up their over-the-top compensation (which has put municipalities into these dire fiscal straits) or are broken or decertified. Otherwise California has no chance at all.
Since the bankruptcy, the police and fire departments have been cut in half; some number of the citizens who came to [city manager] Phil Batchelor's office did so to say they no longer felt safe in their own homes. All other city services had been reduced effectively to zero. "Do you know that some cities actually pave their streets?" says Batchelor. "That's not here."
California has declared war on vampires, but this time it's no Hollywood monster flick.So there won't be vampire hunting squads out there trying to eradicate the bloodsuckers, just lawmakers and bureaucrats trying to eliminate phantom power loads. Wouldn't that make them ghostbusters and not vampire hunters?
The state will be the first in the nation to target so-called vampire battery chargers that suck up and waste as much as 60 percent of the electricity they consume. The California Energy Commission voted 3-0 on Thursday to regulate such power-sapping chargers despite objections by consumer product makers.