Redevelopment blues

Feb 21, 2011

Redevelopment isn't the only big-ticket item in Gov. Brown's cut-and-tax budget proposal, but it's getting more ink than all the others combined. The LAT's George Skelton takes a look a mermaid bar on K Street.


"The new Sacramento mermaid bar is called Dive Bar, part of a relatively small downtown redevelopment project that benefited from a $6.8-million city subsidy. That also means a state subsidy, because local redevelopment funds come from property taxes. And property taxes diverted from schools must be made up for — "backfilled" — by the state. That, in turn, means less state general fund money for other programs, such as universities and healthcare..."


But is a mermaid bar — any bar — really what tax money should be spent on when governments are struggling to keep their heads above water? Maybe laid-off teachers can land jobs as mermaids."


Meanwhile, the locals continue their push to lock up redevelopment money.


First, Santa Clara and the proposed 49ers stadium. From Lisa Fernandez in Mercury News:


"As a proactive measure, the City Council plans on Tuesday to "memorialize" official language into the stadium deal, effectively etching in stone that leaders had been crafting the proposal long before Brown began looking at disbanding redevelopment agencies."


"We wanted to be clear in our language that this has been planned out and under way for a long time," said acting assistant city manager Carol McCarthy. "We've been working on this for four years."


Second, San Diego and Chula Vista want their hardware store and affordable housing. From Wendy Fry in the U-T:


"National City is preparing to issue up to $45 million in redevelopment bonds to pay for affordable housing projects on the West Side, street improvements on Eighth Street near the city’s business district and to complete a joint project with Chula Vista to build a Lowe’s home improvement store."


"Cities across the state are racing to protect as much future tax revenue as possible before state legislation that would eliminate redevelopment agencies can be passed. Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed to get rid of such agencies, which are aimed at eliminating blight."


Meanwhile, that other high-profile issue -- public pensions -- gets another look as the move to a 401(K)-style standard looms on the horizon. Ed Mendel in CalPensions tells the tale.


"The author of a bill in Congress that would result in public pensions reporting much larger debts expects the same outcome as his opponents — a move to switch to the 401(k)-style individual investment plans now common in the private sector."


"As U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, spoke to local government officials last week at a pension “boot camp” held by reformers, he said the federal action could spark action by “folks on the ground” in the states."


In Sacramento, Republicans are demanding deeper pension cuts than those approved in last-year's budget agreement, reports the Bee's Kevin Yamamura.


"GOP leaders have yet to offer a formal counterproposal to Gov. Jerry Brown's budget to close a $26.6 billion deficit. In recent weeks, however, some Republicans have suggested they might be willing to consider a five-year tax hike extension on the June ballot if pension changes are part of negotiations."


"In California, 70 percent of likely voters told the Public Policy Institute of California last January they would favor shifting new public employees from defined pension benefits to 401(k)-style plans."


And now from our "Courts and Cops" file, we learn about the Massachusetts town that is fed up with police brutality lawsuits.


"Mayor William Lantigua says he will no longer pay legal bills for police officers being sued, including the bills for those officers involved in nine brutality cases pending in U.S. District Court."


"The mayor says over the past three years, the city has spent $1.2 million to defend officers in civil cases. Instead, Lantigua says he will hold to the police unions' contract, which says the city only has to pay the $5,000 retainer for a patrolman and $7,500 for a superior officer. Lantigua says officers have two options when they are being sued — to use one of the three city attorneys or have their unions pay for the defense."


"From Day One, this should never have been allowed. We cannot continue to do business as usual," Lantigua said.


Might make a new David Simon TV show...

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