It was the best of times and it was the worst of times in Dickens’ novel; but only the second choice applies today to Stockton or Detroit. Stockton is the first major California city to declare bankruptcy; Detroit has fallen from third largest U.S. city to eleventh, with 27% unoccupied homes and its finances handed to a state-appointed outsider. Both are products of long term, union influenced, Democrat governments.
The reasons for their prominent financial failure are obvious and denied the same as the conditions surrounding the Federal government but: “Who has eyes to see, let him see…” Both cases prominently include public pension promises proliferated past available resources, multiplied by waste and corruption in their pension managements. Their pension investments were just too big a financial playpen for officials and politicians to resist. There was much more of course, but the pensions set the plot.
In crime-ridden Stockton, as the link above explains, the mayor recently appeared for his State of the City address garbed in body armor and faceguard, carrying a can of Mace. In Detroit, the Mayor announced that he won’t run again, likely because the imposed Governor’s financial manager has cut off his graft, though that’s just a guess.
We can analyze the city’s problem in the light of today’s reports telling us of the $22,000 that the Detroit Pension Board (that can’t pay its due pensions) just spent sending four of its trustees to a Hawaiian beach resort for a ‘conference’ that included necessary ‘education.’
This is a tale of two American cities…and unfortunately, many more such that have not been told…yet. If this leaves you unperturbed by such far-off happenings, maybe you should verify your own city and county finances while recalling just who always ends with the unpaid bills in such situations…