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

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  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    April 5, 2013 6:44 a.m.

    Given that government services are being reduced in many areas around the nation, people for their own sake need to be aware and learn to be more self reliant.

    In part this means it is responsible to not depend 100% on police to protect you or your family. A sheriff in Minnesota is recommending people get gun safety training and then buy a gun due to the decreases in police services.

    He said people can no longer count on police to be there in a timely manner in the event a criminal is invading your house.

  • statman Lehi, UT
    April 4, 2013 11:28 p.m.

    I think the rich are doing quite well with Obamanomics'-'it's the poor that are getting killed by it.

  • morpunkt Glendora, CA
    April 4, 2013 10:26 a.m.

    So true. And well-stated. This is a fact that always gets passed by. Thank you!

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    April 3, 2013 11:36 a.m.

    Hmmmmmmm, was a Republican in the White House in 1980 when there were gas lines, 20% interest rates, and inflation going up. Maybe it's just me, but I see the need for a conservative Republican in the White House. Not a Bush and certainly not an Obama.

  • EdGrady Idaho Falls, ID
    April 3, 2013 9:03 a.m.

    Hmmm, was a Democrat in the White House in 1929 at the beginning of the Great Depression? No, Herbert Hoover a conservative Republican was in the White House. Was a Democrat in the White House in 2008 at the beginning of the Great Recession? No, George Bush a conservative Republican was in the White House. Maybe it's just me, but I see a trend here.

  • AmPatriot Taylorsville, UT
    April 3, 2013 7:39 a.m.

    In this country with all its checks and balances in government spending and funding why aren't the arrogant politicians ignoring the laws and perpetrating this fraud not being punished and thrown in jail?

    This arrogant spending and waste should be met with criminal accusations and convictions for the millions of lives they destroy by their actions.

    Utah is following this same arrogant path of destruction and all the warning signs and red flags are fling like exploding 4th of July fireworks bursting in the night sky.

    Risk and ambition is breaking down accountability and responsible political leaders, Utah is on the fringes of destruction and they don't intend to stop this criminal governemnt fraud. Utah is now 40 years beyond even remotely trying to predict revenues for the next 40 years. We don't even know what the yearly revenues will be and governor is spending and kicking state debt down the road like its a game. We are a state of >3 million americans and half a million undocumented foreign nationals suckling for indentured servitude.

    All is not well in Utah and this state of many nations,(Mexico, Africa, China, Asia, Europe) all wanting their cut of the pie.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    April 2, 2013 11:02 p.m.

    Cities and states and banks should be run by old scotsmen. People who neither lend, borrow or promise money easily. People to whom debt is a personal relationship. People who know bad weather always comes. I keep most of my assets and liquid cash out of the United States because there aren't enough old scotsmen running things.

  • Strider303 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 2, 2013 12:36 p.m.

    My opinion as to fault or reason for failure on municipal/state bankruptcy centers on any elected official who promotes "services" which he/she defines as essential to or for the public good. SLC is promoting a hotel, saying it is essential for growth in tourism and conventions. If another hotel is so essential, why hasn't one of the present hotel companies started building more rooms? Consider the idea of moving the State Prison, essential for a dream-state silicon corridor that will offer a cornucopia of jobs, tax revenue and mega profits for the cohorts of state legislators.

    How did we old people ever make it to adulthood having lacked so many "services" and programs? Many, if not all the now essential programs or services can be identified and even provided by and through charitable organization. Arrest the bad guys, put out the fires and fix the streets. Expect and demand adult behavior from the citizenry. Read whatever you want into the last part.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Sept. 26, 2012 11:24 p.m.

    As Mr. Spock would say:

    "it's illogical to spend yourself to bankruptcy".

    With proper management, no state, city, or nation would be in debt. None!

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Sept. 26, 2012 5:00 p.m.

    Where ever you find liberals, poverty abounds.

    Those who voted in the liberals will collect entitlements from those who didn't.

    Like a liberal, I'll whine and say it's not fair.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 24, 2012 3:42 p.m.

    Re: LG72 Manteca, CA

    I have zero sympathies for the public unions and the liberal politicians that support them. Why should they be exempt from the same misery inflicted on the unemployed by our inept government leaders, both state and federal?

    Like Bill Clinton said, "It's the economy, stupid". People vote for the liberals and then wonder why they are worse off now than they were 4 years ago.

  • StateTheFacts SAlt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 24, 2012 2:01 p.m.

    And how will this proposed new city of Millcreek survive? The economic environment is jsut not right for a new incorporation; splitting away and promising a new city can do it better. History is the great teacher and example of the future. Vote NO to city of Millcreek

  • LG72 Manteca, CA
    Sept. 24, 2012 1:06 p.m.

    Totally not factual. My husband works for Stockton Fire...this article is sickenly misrepresented and not based on facts. The past City Council who agreed to these so-called lavish perks started a fund JUST FOR pensions...and the current city council lied and used it for their marina! Everything has always been funded but the money keeps "disappearing". Then you see articles such as this that are sooooo wrong! Our money has disappeared for years and we have nothing to show for it...then we have to answer to this nonsense, it's so crooked! The only reason anyone in PD or FD has EVER earned over $100,000 a year is because of OT...and that's because the city refuses to staff at state and government mandated levels. Fact is that many times these guys are FORCED (or else) to come in on days off no matter what they have going on because the city is too lame and holding on to their fluff money to staff up to safe levels, so of COURSE they earn OT, then they're trashed for it...? Ridiculous!!!! And, NO ONE is retiring with those benefits. Lies!!!

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 24, 2012 11:07 a.m.

    Re: WHAT NOW? Saint George, UT

    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and their legislature put a leash on their public unions to prevent a similar scenario in their state.

    Pres. Reagan fired each and every PATCO union employee who went on strike, and no, he didn't allow the repentant ones to come back.

    California, the state that wanted to borrow against future lottery revenue income to pay yesterday's bills.

  • WHAT NOW? Saint George, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 8:12 p.m.


    Should read Ideals.


  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 8:08 p.m.

    @The Truth.

    I am having difficulty finding any information to support your statements, could you help please.

  • WHAT NOW? Saint George, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 7:58 p.m.


    RG commented...

    "...Mitt cannot do anything "by himself"; he will require a cooperating congress...".

    romney mocked President Obama's comment that we are all in this together.

    romney built everything himself.

    romney needs no cooperation from anyone.

    However, romney will receive the same cooperation President Obama received from repubs.

    Stall, obstruct and fillibuster a ala (sic) repub senate minority leader mitch mcconnell worked well for repubs.

    Look for Democrats to follow the same strategy.

    What goes around, comes around.

    RG continued...

    "...But if people will follow the ideals Mitt has set up...".


    romney indicted 47% of Americans who don't pay federal income tax.

    American Military Service personnel, the elderly, the disabled, as well as students who are working to become federal income tax payers are among the group the sneering plutocrat romney dismissed as being unworthy free loading Americans.

    And these people are supposed to follow romney's ideals?

    RG concluded...

    "Stockton may have been a "perfect storm" but fiscal conservativism would have prevented its bankruptcy...".

    Voters have learned that fiscal conservatism exists only in the talking points of deficits don't matter cheney/rove repubs who will do/say anything to get elected.

  • timpClimber Provo, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 7:35 p.m.

    As my grandpa used to say "Don't count your chickens until they start laying." The problem lies with government units that fail pay their bills first then see what you have left to spend on wishes, Second study past economic cycles then look at least 10 years down the road before seeking borrowed money for projects. Every year there must be realistic budget reviews and adjustments. Contracts with workers need to have adjustment clauses to fit current financial conditions. States, cities and families easily go bankrupt with out sound fiscal policies in place. Now add the Obama care burden and see the bankrupcy numbers increase.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Sept. 23, 2012 7:19 p.m.

    Ah unions, the source of all evil . . .

    Of course folks with more than 2 years of accounting have been telling cities and states for decades that they were headed for trouble. Why?

    Because they hired folks promising to pay some now (salary) and some later (pension) but never put enough money away to pay the pension.

    So now there is a problem. One that cities and states have been warned about since I can remember (and I remember when the first Star Trek was not a rerun).

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 6:45 p.m.

    @ Allen#2

    Of Course "Trickle Down" work,

    Microsoft is prime example,

    It created several billionaires 12000 millioniares. and about 100000 very paid employess,

    then it tricked down some more,

    creating an entire industry that is ans was creating windowd software and windows/pc products,

    making hundresds of thousands rich and all ythis incrtesing and making the middlec class stringer,

    then tricked down some more

    making all out lives better snd easier, from grade schools kids leaning on the pc abd playing games , to sollege wsing the power of computers from writing papers to research,

    and all the businesses using wondows ans pcs to do business ansd make money,

    that trickes down some

    because those kids ans those businesses vreate more jobs ans businessses.

    YES, trickle down works

    would it have worked if the government took microsoft's money away?

    -@Ultra BOB

    no it wasn't bad business deals, that is just silly,

    it is greedy unions taking and not caring what their greed would do in near future.

    you need like 17 workers to pay the pension of one retiree,

    where are all workers going to come from to pay for all the retirees pensions?

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 6:03 p.m.


    It was neither just the unions or greedy management that caused the financial meltdown: Let me point to a few of the guilty parties (it is a long list):

    Greedy management, greedy employees, naive and greedy borrowers, individual land and housing speculators, FNMA, Freddie Mac, developers, appraisers, loan officers, real estate agents, borrowers, regulators (SEC, the United States Congress, private sector self-regulatory bodies, etc.), CDS originators and dealers, large insurance companies such as AIG, MBS dealers and originators, pension fund advisers, large Wall St. investment banks, local, regional and money-center banks, individual consumers who over-levered, etc., etc.

    It was NOT Wall St or greedy corporations. In fact, most corporations did not directly participate in the real estate or financial/derivatives at the heart of the collapse. Most corporations kept borrowing down and their balance sheet clean. They were prudent, unlike just about everyone in the housing sector, and many in the financial sector that supported/enabled them. Thank Heaven for prudent corporations. Their clean balance sheets and the jobs that this saved are about all that we have going for us right now.

    Don't buy into the anti-corporate garbage the left is selling...

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 6:01 p.m.

    Lesson learned here?

    All it takes is one clueless leader and an entire organization can be run into the ground.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Sept. 23, 2012 5:24 p.m.

    Sometimes it would be nice for people in UT to be grateful for and recognize all the tithing dollars that flow into the economy from members outside of UT.

    Sept. 23, 2012 4:39 p.m.

    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?

  • Oh Johnny ,
    Sept. 23, 2012 3:51 p.m.

    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

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 2:38 p.m.

    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.

  • Doug10 Roosevelt, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 2:00 p.m.

    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.

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    Sept. 23, 2012 1:18 p.m.

    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?

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 10:43 a.m.

    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.

  • WHAT NOW? Saint George, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 10:25 a.m.

    "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.

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 10:10 a.m.

    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.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 7:42 a.m.

    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?

  • staypuffinpc Provo, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 7:17 a.m.

    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.

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 6:10 a.m.

    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.

  • luv2organize Gainesville, VA
    Sept. 23, 2012 5:29 a.m.

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

  • Diligent Dave Logan, UT
    Sept. 23, 2012 5:17 a.m.

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

  • Dadof5sons Montesano, WA
    Sept. 23, 2012 1:17 a.m.

    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.

  • t702 Las Vegas, NV
    Sept. 22, 2012 11:18 p.m.

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

  • prelax Murray, UT
    Sept. 22, 2012 11:02 p.m.

    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.

  • staypuffinpc Provo, UT
    Sept. 22, 2012 9:03 p.m.

    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.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    Sept. 22, 2012 8:20 p.m.

    "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.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Sept. 22, 2012 7:34 p.m.

    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.

  • prelax Murray, UT
    Sept. 22, 2012 6:12 p.m.

    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?