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Jul 11, 2012

San Bernardino, that gritty outpost of 209,000 inhabitants in the Inland Empire that spawned McDonald's burgers and the nation's largest outdoor amphitheater, authorized filing for bankruptcy, the third California city in just weeks to take the plunge. The others are Stockton and Mamoth Lakes.


From The Sun's Ryan Hagen: "The vote gives City Attorney James F. Penman power to begin proceedings for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, which would free the city of much of its debt but maintain the mayor and council as decision-makers."


"Without filing for bankruptcy, the city - which has a deficit of $45 million - would likely be unable to meet its Aug. 15 payroll, according to Penman."


"Four council members voted for the authorization, with Councilmen Chas Kelley and Fred Shorett opposing it and Councilman John Valdivia abstaining.

All seven council members, city administrators and many members of the public said the decision was heart-wrenching."


More on San Bernardino from the LAT's Phil Willon: "The city's fiscal crisis has been years in the making, compounded by the nation's crushing recession and exacerbated by escalating pension costs, lucrative labor agreements, Sacramento's raid on redevelopment funds and a city reserve that is tapped out, officials said. Miller told the council that the city faced major deficits for the next five years."

"The deficits remain even after the city negotiated $10 million in concessions from employees and slashed the workforce 20% over the last four years."


"The expected bankruptcy for the city of 209,000 residents is certain to heighten concerns about the fiscal forecast for other struggling California cities, which have been slashing jobs and services as tax revenues have declined during the prolonged economic slump."


And now for a glimmer of good financial news: The state has a bit more money than predicted.


From Bloomberg's Milke Marois: "California ended its fiscal year with a shortfall that was $1 billion less than Governor Jerry Brown estimated in May, after the most-populous U.S. state collected more taxes and spent less in June than projected."


"The state spent $89.2 billion in the fiscal year ended June 30 even though it only collected $87.8 billion, Controller John Chiang said today. The state also ended the fiscal year with a $9.6 billion cash deficit, a shortfall covered with internal borrowing and accounting maneuvers."


"June revenue came in about 2 percent, or $247 million, above what Brown estimated in May, Chiang said, led by personal income taxes that beat projections by about 8 percent, or $496.3 million. Sales levies were ahead $1.3 million, while corporate taxes came in at $305.7 million, or about 16 percent below projections."


Speaking of money, one way for government to save it is to get rid of boards and commissions. Capitol Weekly's Greg Lucas takes a look.


"Eliminating “over 50 boards, commission, task forces, offices and departments” is one of the bullets on page 9 of Brown’s summary of the budget for the fiscal year, which began July 1."


"On the same page, Brown highlights reducing grants to welfare recipients to below 1987 levels, lowering aid to the low-income aged, blind and disabled to 1983 levels, cutting general fund support for public universities by 25 percent and reducing the state workforce by 30,000 positions."


“The administration has focused on shrinking state government and making it more efficient. These changes will help the state keep its budget balanced for the long term,” Brown says in the budget summary. Of Brown’s recently ratified reorganization plan, Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor told lawmakers in May, it really didn’t do all that much."


Meanwhile, hell hath no fury like a councilmember scorned, as the soap opera in San Fernando makes clear. 


From the LAT's Richard Winton: "A San Fernando councilman who revealed that he was having an affair with a colleague last year has resigned."


"Councilman Mario Hernandez stunned the community last year when he announced during a public meeting that he was having an affair with Councilwoman Maribel de la Torre. Hernandez' wife was sitting in the front row when he made the announcement. But the relations between the council members evidently cooled and both Hernandez and De La Torre obtaining restraining orders against each other following a June 28 confrontation."


"The confrontation unfolded when a police officer responded to a call at Hernandez’s home and found the residence had been ransacked and that the councilman had red marks and scratches on his neck, according to a police report."


And from our "Mystery Woman" file comes word that the companion of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been identified. We can all rest easy.


"The mystery woman pictured accompanying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to a string of official engagements is a previously married pop star, who his father banned him from seeing 10 years ago, it has been revealed."


"Attractive Hyon Song-wol, who used to front the Bochonbo Electronic Music Band, enjoyed chart success with hits including Excellent Horse-Like Lady, Footsteps of Soldiers, I Love Pyongyang, She is a Discharged Soldier and We are Troops of the Party."

"According to South Korean intelligence the pair became romantically involved a decade ago after Kim Jong-un returned from an elite private school in the Swiss city of Berne."

We gave a "Excellent Horse-Like Lady" an eight -- lousy lyrics but it had a good beat and you could dance to it....



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