The emerging trend on bankrupting cities is the profligate spending on non-essential services. Yesterday, San Bernadino, Calif. started going down that path. Here’s a public comment from that story in the LA Times:
Kathy Mallon, 57, who has lived in San Bernardino for a decade, blasted the city’s elected leaders for allowing the financial crisis to grow unabated and wasting millions of tax dollars on transit projects and other non-essential services.
Stockton and Mammoth Lakes have also filed bankruptcy in recent weeks.
Scranton, Pa. is also in a heap of trouble and the employees have been reduced to minimum wage according to Fiscal Times:
The city’s mayor, Chris Doherty, a Democrat, has slashed wages for nearly 400 public employees to $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage, because there’s not enough money in city coffers to pay those workers their usual salaries. The city is some $16.8 million in the hole based on its current fiscal year budget.
Hey, but Stockton can at least say they have a taxpayer funded hockey arena. . maybe Wilmington will soon be able to say they have a baseball stadium when they head in the same direction!
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There is an interesting discussion making the rounds amongst media types about who exactly is to blame for the rejection of the petition drive to stop taxpayer funded professional sports endeavors in Wilmington. On the one hand the argument could be made that the city was obstructionist, did not help citizens understand the ordinance and thus it was Ben McCoy and Josh Fulton who simply failed to follow the rules.
The other side of the argument is that city staff have an obligation to help citizens understand ordinances. If someone needs a permit, staff should help people understand what that permit requires. If people ask staff about sidewalk ordinances or window ordinances the staff is there to help. In this instance, the staff was of little to no assistance and that’s a question worth exploring as well.
In the end, the city clerk determined that the proper affidavit(s) were not filed and thus the council voided all of the volunteer work. Here’s the section of the city ordinance pertaining to the affidavit:
State law reference— Ballots, G.S. §§ 163-135, 163-140, 163-286
Sec. 5.2. – Form and contents of referendum petition.
The petition provided for in the preceding section shall be signed by none but legal voters of the city. Each petition shall contain, in addition to the names of the petitioners, the street and house number at which the petitioner resides, his age and length of residence in the city. It shall also be accompanied by the affidavit of one or more legal voters of the city, stating that the signers thereof were, at the time of the signing, legal voters of the city, and stating the number of signers at the time the affidavit was made.
Now, did the staff make sure the petitioners understood what needed to be done? Did the petitioners ask the staff to help in that matter? There are some legitimate questions to be asked, but it is clear that staff does NOT want this to take place. Is that part of their job? Or is their job to ensure citizens understand the complexity of codes and ordinances?
If you go in to get a business permit, a building permit or need information from the city, are they supposed to help or hinder?
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The ongoing baseball saga continues. Wilmington’s elected officials have lamented the costs going from $17m in taxpayer dollars with private funding. They earlier had seen the idea of a 6,500 seat stadium at $25m go to a 3,500 seat $42m stadium publicly complaining at every turn about costs. But they never stopped moving forward on spending more money and now they’re planning to have a referendum of “up to $42m” on the ballot in November.
The city’s elected leaders privately say, month after month, that the deal is done, not good, over with. . . but their public actions continue to be unanimous. On the one hand we could say that the voters having a say is a good thing. But the council has not publicly said they will abide by the outcome of that referendum.
In other words, council has not rejected other funding mechanisms like Tax Increment Financing (TIFs) and/or Certificates of Participation (COPs) which both can bypass the will of the voter. We will await the media asking that question.
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It is funny that any and all things related to cement production in the Wilmington area immediately elicit divisive comments and media action. But if we’re talking about 40-years of uranium enrichment, it’s pretty much ok to do so in closed meetings. What’s up with that?
(StarNews) – The last major review before a revolutionary laser uranium enrichment plant could be built in Castle Hayne will take place behind closed doors. The facility on GE’s Castle Hayne campus near the intersection of Interstate 140 and Castle Hayne Road would be the nation’s first laser-based commercial uranium enrichment operation, using an Australian technology called SILEX, or Separation of Isotopes by Laser Excitation.
WOW! Really neat, but c’mon, it’s uranium. . which has a half life of like. . . I don’t know. . . forever. Where’s the environmental movement and the Cape Fear River Watch?
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