Comments about ‘Risk and ambition: Stockton's bankruptcy a morality tale for cities around the nation’

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Published: Saturday, Sept. 22 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

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Murray, UT

Messing with the pension is going to hurt the poor more than the lessor amount that receive $100,000 or more. I sense a desire to return to pension raiding that took place in the 80's.

If you make a contract, you stick by it.

First hand I know of another problem. Stockton in the past 15 years has had a huge immigration boom, some legal, some illegal. They were building schools as fast as fast food buildings. Police, fire, utilities it overloaded their support system.

What does Greece and Stockton have in common?

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

The people in the "private" sector got greedy. And then some people in the public sector got greedy. But the people in the public sector that had little or nothing to do with this were the police, firemen, public school teachers and most city employees. Unfortunately it sounds like they will pay the price for the mistakes of others.

The Rock
Federal Way, WA

"From California to Pennsylvania, places like Stockton and Scranton run out of money"

And they will vote for Obama; Obama will bail them out and you and I will get stuck with the bill.

Provo, UT

It's become taboo in many of our discussions to criticize public servants such as firemen, police officers, etc. Some just can't bring themselves to believe that people who put their lives on the Iine for the public good cold be part of the problem. Truth is, they are just as susceptible to greed as the rest of us (especially through their unions) and spiraIing pension costs are causing many businesses and governments to cut back or declare bankruptcy (e.g., USPS). Michael Lewis actually wrote about Stocktn specifically in his book, Boomerang, over a year ago, detailing what occurred there and how they're trying to deal with it. He did it as a warning for what is to come and called for us to make changes now. I heartily recommend it. It's a fascinating and quick read.

Murray, UT

It was a lot of things, not just union pensions. Mismanagement, growing to fast, then having the economy go bust. The easiest people to go after is the pension holders.

If you don't think bad management can't happen here, look at Utopia and the big unfinished skeleton on Orem's state street.

Las Vegas, NV

These bankrupt cities were dominated by liberal policies....need we say more why liberals shouldn't be in power?

Montesano, WA

The union's and the mantra of stick it to them man! Has come back to bite them hard. It is time to bring the wages and retirements to levels of the avrage private sector worker. Yeah it sucks but getting something is better then nothing. Because the tax payers can move an the tax base can dry up and this is what you have left.

Diligent Dave
Logan, UT

Gadiantonism, pride, and sub-replacement birthrates all portend increasing civil strife and a genuine existensial threat everywhere.

Gainesville, VA

When as a country will we learn to live within our means. Shame on those who mismanaged tax payer money and more!

Taylorsville, UT

Maybe its time to cut out the money and billions of dollars funds they are sending to China and Mexico and pay it to the state workers who can multiply every dollar they get paid into a 7 fold windfall to the economy. Instead of a city collecting taxes on fewer dollars, they can increase the tax collections to the state budget 7 time more than they have now.

Sending money and funds to dead-end economic losses, they must turn it around and keep it at home. Why help Asian and Chinese and Mexico's economy at the expense of our economy? It just doesn't make any sense the the billions and trillions this country is throwing away.

Its time to switch off these economist irresponsible cut costs mentality and switch the spending to spend money into the local economy. Trying to save a dollar is costing $10 dollars in economic loses.

Economist in government don't see the relationship of feeding the US economy and keeping Americans working and the foreign economy.

Provo, UT

People, stop pinning this as a party problem. People all around the table--liberal, conservative, private, and public sector--all contributed to the problem. We let our eyes get bigger than our stomach and wouldn't listen to those with reason until it was too late. We'll solve this thing once we stop looking to blame the other side and instead assume the responsibility to figure out how to solve our problems.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

So, how many UTOPIAs did these cities participate in?

How about some new laws that make civil employees on the same par as bond holders?

How about we don’t let business scams destroy our local government?

Wasatch Front, UT

Stockton is one of many cities that failed to plan for the long term, and live within its means.

Utah has generally avoided the municipal and state budget problems seen elsewhere, though we were not unscathed. Highland (northern Utah County) got a little proud and naive and built a huge new city administration complex, and now their taxpayers are paying the price with a 40% property tax hike since 2007.

We lived back east and saw the overspending problems everywhere. Key culprits were: 1) Public sector unions and information asymmetry. The unions knew the law and had better PR than the taxpayers who they gouged. When city/state leaders pushed back, the unions would appeal directly to the public (just like in Stockton), and regularly won this battle. They would even use May/June tax hike votes to make sure that the union and its sympathizers would have the most at the polls. 2) Benchmarking salaries/benefits/buildings/services to other naive and fiscally irresponsible cities/states.

Whenever you see union/collectivist shenanigans or benchmarking as the primary driver of an argument, it is a red flag and a warning siren.

Saint George, UT

"From California to Pennsylvania, places like Stockton and Scranton run out of money"

And they will vote for Mitt because he will fix everything, by himself, real fast.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

It the police and teacher unions say to Stockton and Scranton to build a baseball stadium using city funds. I mean the field of dreams turned into the field of nightmares. And then Stockton wasted more taxpayer money on some river front development and I think Scranton also did some stupid taxpayer paid development either--all to "attract" tourists. I mean, you're Stockton, CA. People only visit you if they have relatives. Note to Scranton, you're Scranton and the only time people want to see Scranton is on "The Office." I'm not saying that these wouldn't be good places to live and work and raise a family (of course not now) but you are what you are. The reasons pensions and such are eating up so much of the budget is of bad decisions in other areas.

I can see where people might think police, firefighter or teacher unions are evil or whatever. But if these people were paid a decent wage in the first place, like they should, maybe a promise of pensions and health care wouldn't be needed as some way to entice people to the profession in the first place.

Buena Vista, VA

What Now Says: "And they will vote for Mitt because he will fix everything, by himself, real fast." Well, sort of. Mitt cannot do anything "by himself"; he will require a cooperating congress. And it might not happen "real fast," although I would expect some results within 4 years, which is better than Obama has given us. But if people will follow the ideals Mitt has set up, we can avoid becoming Greece. If we keep spending ala Obama, we will become Greece. Stockton may have been a "perfect storm" but fiscal conservativism would have prevented its bankruptcy. Can liberal spenders learn from this example?

Roosevelt, UT

Still playing the blame game?

It was Ronald Reagan's economic adviser who stated in 2010 that he and his party, the GOP has destroyed the US economy. Lots of blame to go around.

The federal government is on the same path to destruction as Stockton and I would vote for either party who said they will make the hard decisions and fix the budget and or deficit.

According to Mitt and Paul Ryan their budget will increase the deficit by 1.2 trillion over 8 years and Pres Obamas budget will increase the deficit $800 billion in the same time frame making neither party fiscally responsible.

The sad thing is Stockton like many other tax paying entities in California have contributed their federal tax dollars to Utah and other states as the entire state of California is a positive tax base whereas Utah has a negative tax base and we receive more fed taxes than we
pay. Maybe we should be slower to the judgement seat about places like Stockton.

People need to understand we take and use more in our society than we can afford, when we understand that then we can begin to address the real problem.

Salt Lake City, UT

Protecting the middle class? Liberal policies drive out the middle class and punish those that remain. When liberals like Rahm Emanuel take office and become responsible for paying the bills, they look like Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Bad fiscal policy eventually comes home to roost; some trite comment about no free lunches becomes not so trite.

Oh Johnny

Oh UTOPIA where thou are:
There are eleven cities in Utah that will have their Stockton moment, Murray and West Valley, suckered at first 18 cities, 7 took a deep breath and passed, good thinking.
The other eleven will now pay for the remaining thirty two years to buy their blue sky
they had a new business model, sure they did, they bonded future sales tax revenue to buy these bonds, unless some stroke of luck changes they will pay as high as three million a year, you do the math, was it worth it? Again if it fails as it is, the taxpayers are on the hook. City councils and Mayors made these decisions, and now the gee! golly! whizze's are flying about, who would have thought?, certainly not them. It's worse than the iProvo scheme.
"The most dangerous Government is close to home"......Cicero


Republican "Trickle Down" policies have NEVER helped the middle class whereas Democratic "liberal" policies have NEVER helped the very rich.

Why do many residents of Utah blame the "unions" and never speak of the greedy management?

Was it the unions or greedy management that caused the financial meltdown?

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