Skip to comments.California: Bankruptcy Upon the Union Altar
Posted on 02/26/2012 4:50:45 AM PST by Kaslin
Bondholders of Stockton, California debt are about to be punished as City Manager Takes Steps Toward Bankruptcy.
Stockton, California, may take the first steps toward becoming the most populous U.S. city to file for bankruptcy next week because of burdensome employee costs, excessive debt and bookkeeping errors that misrepresented accounts, city officials said today.
The Stockton City Council will meet Feb. 28 to consider a type of mediation that allows creditors to participate, the first move toward a Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing under a new state law. The council will also weigh suspending some payments on long-term debt of about $702 million, according to a 2010 financial statement.
Somebody has to suffer and in this case the city manager has decided it should be the bondholders who suffer, Marc Levinson of the Sacramento-based law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, which represents the city, said at a news briefing at Stocktons City Hall today.
Stockton, a farming center about 80 miles (130 kilometers) east of San Francisco, has fought to avert bankruptcy by shrinking its payroll, including a quarter of the roughly 425- member police force. At 292,000, the city has more than twice as many residents as Vallejo, California, which became a national symbol for distressed municipal finance in 2008 when it sought protection from creditors.
Stocktons council will be asked to reduce the current budget by $15 million because of newly uncovered accounting errors and fiscal mismanagement that have left the city almost broke, City Manager Bob Deis told reporters. To keep the city solvent through the end of the fiscal year June 30, the City Council will be asked to default on $2 million of debt payments owned to bond holders.
Our employees and the citizens of Stockton who receive city services have borne the entire brunt of our restructuring efforts so far and now its time for others to do the same, Deis said in a report to the council. We cant grow our way out of the problem and no amount of forward looking financial planning will properly fix it.
Deis said the city is facing a $20 million deficit in the next fiscal year. Expanded retiree health insurance commitments in the 1990s have left the city with a looming $450 million unfunded liability.
Next year, we expect to pay more for retiree health insurance than for our current employees, Deis said, likening the promises to a Ponzi scheme.
A state law backed by unions and passed last year in response to Vallejos bankruptcy requires cities to work with a neutral evaluator for at least 60 days before seeking bankruptcy court protection. The process is similar to mediation and gives creditors a right to participate. It can be bypassed if the city declares a fiscal emergency, according to the law.
Entering the 60-day mediation process could cause a run on the general fund by vendors, bankruptcy attorney Lee R. Bogdanoff of Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP, the firm that filed the biggest municipal U.S. bankruptcy on behalf of Jefferson County, Alabama, said today in a telephone interview.
Once again we see fraud and untenable union benefits at the heart of the problem. The bondholders should suffer, and so should the unions. Those contracts should be wiped out in bankruptcy.
I commend the actions of the city manager to not tax its citizens to death to meet ridiculous, probably fraudulent, union benefits that should never have been granted.
Chapter 9 bankruptcy was established to deal with these situations. Unions better get used to it, because more actions like this are coming.
The gall, arrogance, and stupidity of public union pandering has reached new heights. A senate bill sponsored by written by Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles seeks to force businesses with five or more employees to create personal defined benefit plans, managed by CALPers.
The Sacramento Bee reports California Democrats push pension plan for nongovernment workers
Senate Bill 1234, written by Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, would require businesses with five or more employees to enroll them in a new "Personal Pension" defined benefit program or to offer an alternative employer-sponsored plan.
The new system's investments would be professionally managed by CalPERS or another contracted organization. Employees would contribute about 3 percent of their wages through a payroll deduction, although they could opt out of the plan.
The fund would assume much lower investment returns than the 7.75 percent that the California Public Employees' Retirement System says its investments will generate, de León said.
Steinberg rejected suggestions that Democrats are pushing de León's bill to fend off pressure to enact substantial public pension changes.
"Absolutely not. We're not running away from it," Steinberg said, calling de León's bill the private sector "bookend" to public pension reform measures he expects lawmakers will send to Brown before the current session ends. Pure Insanity
There is no polite way to put this so I won't. Sen. Kevin de León is clearly a certifiable nutcase.
Stoctkon and Vallejo California are both bankrupt over insane promises made to public union employees. So is Detroit Michigan, Central Falls Rhode Island, Providence Rhode Island, and Harrisburg Pennsylvania.
Numerous other cities will eventually be forced to seek bankruptcy. Los Angeles and Oakland and at the top of the list.
Numerous airlines and GM went bankrupt over defined benefit pension plans.
De León's bill would bankrupt countless small businesses trapped in its wake.
Things That Would Happen If Passed
Porter Stansbury wrote a tremendous article on The Corruption of America and how public unions are at the center of it.
Golden State on road to Greece, by way of Detroit
Stansbury touched on Detroit in his article and so did the Orange County Register in an editorial Golden State on road to Greece, by way of Detroit
The Chicago Tribune reported Chicago teachers asking for 30% raises over next 2 years.
Is that insane or is that insane? The only way to stop such insanity is by ending collective bargaining of public unions, scrapping Davis Bacon and all prevailing wage laws, and instituting national right to work laws.
As long as public unions, corporations, and lobbyists can bribe legislators with campaign contributions, then bills are going to be written by public unions, corporations, and lobbyists. Tax reform alone cannot and will not work. In addition to a balance budget amendment, something must be done to rein in the power of public unions and corporate lobbyists at the center of this mess.
Ending collective bargaining rights of public unions and passing right-to-work legislation would be a wonderful first step.
I missed the words "Employers could make voluntary contributions into the fund." Sorry, but I still don't buy it. This would be the first step towards mandated involuntary contributions. Moreover, maintenance of the plan would cause headaches, and giving money over to CALpers to manage is inane.
If people want to enter such programs on their own, let them. Mandating businesses offer such plans is another ridiculous burden on all businesses, especially small businesses. Nothing at all stops private companies from offering such plans.
Who is going to guarantee these benefits anyway, and who will be at risk when the plans fail to meet the goals? The answer today may be one thing, the answer down the road is sure to be taxpayers and businesses.
-——De León’s bill would bankrupt countless small businesses trapped in its wake.——
I don’t see how this would be harmful to any business. The employees wil be effected. If you earn $1 an hour, you will receive only $.97 on Payday and a note on the stub that $.03 was deposited into a retirement account.
The Republicans are missing an opportunity over the 6% payroll tax cut. They should increase it to 10% with 4% permanent and to be deposited in a bank special individual retirement account. When the account reaches say $2500 it can be transferred to one of several index mutual funds run by any of several fund companies in business for 25 years and with a positive record and $??? billion managed assets.
Voila....... privatized social security based on the strength of the American economy.
Wow, that bill is one of the best wealth re-distribution schemes I’ve ever seen! And even more blatant is that the non-governmental “contributors” will receive a much lower rate of return than the current contributors.
It nearly boggles the mind.
CalPERS or some other entity would manage it. Here is the real motive. Then the state could borrow against it. Guess what happens to the money? The loss would be blamed on corrupt officials or bad investments. Bottom line is that when the government increases control over private employers; it always makes a problem worse. You’ve botched up California public employment - leave the private employees alone.
Another HUGE reason Democrats are desperate for single payer health care. Then the costs for health care can be spread out to everyone, whether or not you live in a liberal "utopian" one like CA or a fiscally responsible one like TX.
Single payer is yet another union bailout.
Interesting that the article notes LA as another city in big trouble, yet the mayor of LA, Villagarosa, is going to be the "emcee" at the DNC Convention.
Actually it boosts employment
all those existing workers will be put on reduced hours (less than 32) and new "temporary" workers hired to fill in.
All are now "temporary" and so don't get ANY benefits.
How did that 36 hour week work out in France............/sarc
“Bookkeeping errors” - Oh, Democrat vacations to France.
“Somebody has to suffer and in this case the city manager has decided it should be the bondholders who suffer, Marc Levinson of the Sacramento-based law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, which represents the city, said at a news briefing at Stocktons City Hall today.”
Just .... wow.
Eventually, California will be like a big, feudal kingdom. Large, pristine estates will be divided up among celebrities, politicians and the super rich. On these estates will reside the serfs (e.g., Latino and other subservient minorities) who will do the menial labor and gardening. Except for a few college campuses (e.g., Berkeley, Stanford, Pepperdine) there will be no one else.
I’m not the least bit surprised. Expect this to be repeated in many other Blue State municipalities in years to come. Further, expect the bondholders to be demonized in the MSM if they object to getting shafted. After all, sacrificing for the greater good is (apparently) expected for us “priviledged” Americans.
One of the reason why I won’t touch Municipal bonds.
“require businesses with five or more employees to enroll them in a new “Personal Pension” defined benefit program or to offer an alternative employer-sponsored plan.”
The key words are “DEFINED BENEFIT”. The contribution is fixed at 3 percent. The benefits are defined at possibly “to infinity and beyond” (Buzzlightyear from Toy Story). Guess who makes up the difference ?
Plus the funds are managed by Calpers. Will Calpers mingle the new funds with the current public employees funds where the current revenues bail out the current bankrupt public union pensions and when the time comes the new money returns zero or will Calpers keep the new money in customer segregated accounts like MF Global did with the “customer segregated accounts” ?
Good plan. Admittedly, I know jack about CH9 - but, before one bondholder gets shafted, I want to see the furniture in City Hall auctioned off.