In a move to help balance the budget, the state has suspended the rules that local governments provide agenda information in advance and make public the decisions made behind closed doors. Editorial writers start your keyboards.
From the Press-Enterprise's David Danelski: "City councils and the governing boards of counties, school districts, water districts and other local agencies are no longer required by state law to post agendas and disclose decisions made in closed sessions."
"To save an estimated $96 million, California legislators suspended the requirements as part of budget legislation adopted in last month. The suspension could last three years or longer..."
"Because state law requires local governments to prepare and post agendas for public meetings and disclose decisions made in closed meetings, the state has covered the associated costs."
San Bernardino's slide into bankruptcy reflects the fiscal stresses of cities across the state, including the spiraling costs of health care for pensioners. In Stockton, a group of retirees is going to court to fight the elimination of their health care.
From the LAT's Diana Marcum: "With the city's cuts, Seibel's health insurance costs would be $1,126.66 per month, or about 51% of his net income."
"I am already taking generic meds for cholesterol and triglycerides against my doctor's advice, I can't afford the $70 co-pay. My wife cries all the time. She don't understand how when they promise you all this stuff, then they [can] just take it away," he said in court documents."
"A retired parks caretaker who worked for the city for 31 years, Seibel also suffers from a work-related herniated disc and enlarged lymph nodes that doctors say are from chemicals he used on the job."
San Bernardino, it turns out, is worse off than Stockton, experts say.
From Ryan Hagen in the LA Daily News: "The city is in worse shape than Stockton, which last month became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy, he said, based on what bankruptcy analysts told him."
"While the city's structural deficit - $45 million with no reserve - isn't as bad, he said, the cash flow problem trumps Stockton's. San Bernardino has had as little as $150,000 in cash on hand on one day, said Interim City Manager Travis-Miller. That amount fluctuates, but she predicted that the city would be unable to make its Aug. 15 payroll without serious cuts."
"Those cuts would need to be made before the filing of bankruptcy protection, with some coming administratively and others requiring City Council approval at the meeting after Monday's."
Holdout state workers who declined to agree to wage cuts demanded by the administration are feeling the wrath of the administration: The governor has ordered furloughs.
From Chris Megerian in the LAT: "Gov. Jerry Brown is bringing down the hammer on two unions that have not agreed to wage cuts, issuing a furlough order for about 11,600 state workers."
The order was issued last week, and it reduces pay for the workers by almost 5% by forcing them to take one day off a month. The affected employees include engineers at Caltrans, the state transportation agency, and machine operators."
"The furloughs are similar to the personal leave programs that have been negotiated between the Brown administration and 19 of the state's 21 bargaining units. But the final two units have not agreed to any deal."
The local pain from the abolishment of California's redevelopment agencies never seems to end. The latest example: The locals just got a bill from the state for excess property tax receipts.
From Lisa Vorderbrueggen in the Contra Costa Times: "Most of the 25 disbanded redevelopment agencies in Alameda and Contra Costa counties got a hefty bill from the state this week -- with two days to pay it -- and they are hopping mad."
"The $2.4 million payment due in two days and demanded by state Department of Finance was totally unexpected with no advance warning provided to local agencies," said San Pablo City Manager Matt Rodriguez, adding that his city is looking at its legal options."
"Pinole is already broke, and now it must borrow $1 million and repay the loan with general fund money, said an infuriated City Manager Belinda Espinosa."
And from our "Happy Ending" file comes the tale of the man who found his first true love -- his sports car -- on eBay 42 years after it was stolen. And we're not talking any sports car, we're talking Austin Healey. Yeah!
"A man has found his beloved 1967 Austin Healey 3000 after thieves stole it 42 years ago."
"Bob Russell, 66, was a graduate at Temple University in Philadelphia and used the classic cream-coloured British racing car to woo his wife Cynthia who was also a student there."
"The car, which Mr Russell paid $3000 for but could be worth up over $50,000 today, was stolen from a parking lot the morning after their second date."
Brings tears to your eyes....