July 26, 2013

Municipal Bonds are failing, Merideth Whitney has been right all along. Unions, Civil Service Salaries - Pensions are destroying Cities, Counties, and States, not to mention the federal government.

UPDATED: July 18, 2013

Many local governments across the U.S. face steep budget deficits as they struggle to pay off debts accumulated over a number of years. As a last resort, some filed for bankruptcy.

Governing is tracking the issue, and will update this page as more municipalities seek bankruptcy protection.

Most recently, Detroit became the largest municipality in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy. The state had already appointed an emergency financial manager for the city, saddled with debts totaling an estimated $18 billion.

Overall, though, bankrupt municipalities remain extremely rare. A Governing analysis estimated only one of every 1,668 eligible general-purpose local governments (0.06 percent) filed for bankruptcy protection over the past five years. Excluding filings later dismissed, only one of every 2,710 eligible localities filed since 2008.

The majority of filings have not been submitted by bankrupt cities, but rather lesser-known utility authorities and other narrowly-defined special districts throughout the country.

David Galland: “Trained-Monkey Collaborators of Death”

“Acting under political pressure, the government brought a case that clearly had no merit, with no supporting evidence, then proceeded in an underhanded way that clearly demonstrated bias… but when the jury votes unanimously to acquit, somehow the verdict is ‘surprising’? Also choosing to ignore the verdict, certain leading lights in the black community have organized protests and even threatened Zimmerman with death. And just to add a little comedy to the proceedings, this week the Detroit City Council took time out from their busy schedule of lording it over their bankrupt domain to unanimously pass a resolution calling for a civil rights investigation into Zimmerman.” Continue reading

“Earlier this year, Contra Costa County won the right to run a health care call center, where workers will answer questions to help implement the president’s Affordable Care Act. Now, with two months to go before the Concord operation opens to serve the public, information has surfaced that about half the jobs are part-time, with no health benefits — a stinging disappointment to workers and local politicians who believed the positions would be full-time. The Contra Costa County supervisor whose district includes the call center called the whole hiring process — which attracted about 7,000 applicants — a ‘comedy of errors.'” Continue reading

“It’s difficult to be optimistic when a local government imposes a $1,000 fine on a man who uses an unregistered gun (gasp!) to save a child’s life. On the other hand, I’m somewhat optimistic because gun owners and defenders of the Constitution have done a remarkable job in expanding and extending our Second Amendment rights at the state level. For instance, check out this map of concealed-carry laws in the United States. The first thing to notice is that every single state allows citizens to carry, with the only real difference being whether the law is ‘shall issue’ or ‘may issue.'” Continue reading

“Hedlund’s problems at the department began on April 26, when he radioed dispatchers about a vehicle traveling ‘a hard 90’ miles per hour. Troopers, who clocked the car at 84 m.p.h., pulled over the SUV and discovered that it was a being driven my a fellow trooper, who was transporting Gov. Branstad. They waved the vehicle on, but shortly after, Hedlund filed a complaint with his supervisor, DCI Dir. Paulson. His superiors in turn filed a formal complaint against Hedlund and on April 30 and he was suspended from duty at the behest of Public Safety Commissioner K. Brian London.” Continue reading

“The state of Iowa wants speed cameras off its freeways, but a local magistrate has other ideas. Woodbury County District Court Judge Jeffrey L. Poulson intervened and ordered Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia to continue issuing tickets until further notice. An expedited hearing is scheduled for Friday to decide whether the ticketing will be allowed permanently. IDOT District Engineer Tony G. Lazarowicz ordered the city to remove the cameras from a construction zone on Interstate 29 after city staff rejected more polite requests during the year. City officials are terrified of losing the revenue generated by the 29,697 tickets Redflex was able to issue last year.” Continue reading

“Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, 46, a former vice president of product development, pleaded guilty to a count of interstate transportation of stolen property less than a month after she was arrested in connection with the theft. Under a plea agreement, Lederhaas-Okun has agreed to forfeit more than $2.11 million and pay $2.24 million in restitution. Prosecutors said she had been allowed to check out jewelry from Tiffany for reasons that included showing items to potential manufacturers for cost production estimates. Rather than bringing the jewelry back, Lederhaas-Okun allegedly would report the items missing or damaged, subsequently selling the items to a jewelry reseller.” Continue reading

“A British-based computer scientist has been banned from publishing an academic paper revealing the secret codes used to start luxury cars including Porsches, Audis, Bentleys and Lamborghinis as it could lead to the theft of millions of vehicles. The high court imposed an injunction on the University of Birmingham’s Flavio Garcia, who has cracked the security system by discovering the unique algorithm that allows the car to verify the identity of the ignition key. They argued that ‘the public have a right to see weaknesses in security on which they rely exposed’. Otherwise, the ‘industry and criminals know security is weak but the public do not’. Continue reading