Cash was so tight in San Bernardino that potholes went unfilled, burned-out streetlights were left untouched and ball fields languished unmowed.Also at the Christian Science Monitor, "San Bernardino bankruptcy: Exacerbated by criminal acts?"
That was two years ago, when the City Council learned that San Bernardino's $22-million budget shortfall would jump to $38 million by 2012, sending the city into financial ruin.
City leaders slashed the workforce, extracted temporary concessions from labor unions and auctioned off public land. But they failed to heed warnings that those steps weren't nearly enough to address endemic problems in the Inland Empire city. Instead, calls for swift, dramatic action — such as raising taxes or outsourcing the police and fire protection — fell victim to a noxious political atmosphere that has paralyzed City Hall throughout the economic crisis, according to interviews with past and present city officials.
"I told the council two years in a row that, if this continues, we're going to be looking at bankruptcy. I got criticized for bringing up the word 'bankruptcy.' They called it scare tactics," said former City Manager Charles McNeely, who resigned unexpectedly in May. "The politics of that place are just impossible to deal with."
McNeely wasn't surprised when the council, facing a $45.8-million budget shortfall in the current fiscal year, voted Tuesday night to seek bankruptcy protection, the third California city to do so in the last month. San Bernardino is broke, without even enough money to pay employees through the summer.
The financial turmoil in San Bernardino, while in many ways a product of its own politics, illustrates the devastating effect the economic downturn has had on cities and the basic everyday services they provide, Palmdale City Manager David Childs said.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
At the Los Angeles Times, "Plenty of blame on long road to San Bernardino bankruptcy":