Entertaining week. Lots of news:
ConVis, the San Diego regional Convention and Visitors Bureau went neutral on the “new” airport. I’m not a big supporter of the “let’s steal Miramar” campaign, but you would think that the organization whose fundamental purpose is to bring BIG COVENTIONS to S.D. would line up for Big Miramar.
Nah! Why? There are organizations like ConVis that “look” like independent boards, but they’re not. They are umbilically tethered to the City Hall for virtually all their money, so they do what the pol’s do. In this case the mayor is “neutral.”
So, you will find, is every other quasi government agency that eats off his plate.
Dan Walters of the Sacto Bee did a drive by of future republican gov-ball players currently on the junior varsity and found the “pickings … especially slim.” He concludes that our very own Jerry would be a legit candidate “if he straightens out the city’s financial scandal.”
Amen to that. And if he does it as promised without bankruptcy and no new revenue from taxpayers – well – he’s got my vote. We’re going to need just that type of magic in the big show.
Still not clear on the guy that was shot a bunch of times in his driveway, but the other newsmaker is just so disheartening. The T.O. thing is also weird. You know, you see the passive and opaque comments the coaches are required to give at the “press conferences” and you just know when they get off camera they have some more insightful and opinionated thoughts about the whole of it.
Those are the ones I’d like to hear. Think about these guys trying to field a competitive team in just a few days and having to stop because one of your players has got a pharmaceutical distribution gig going on in another state. Strange business, football.
: No money or land from either the City or County, but a joint powers authority to deal with the team. Not certain where that leads.
Good News on the City’s Finances:
The Voice reports that the City has found “an additional $31.9 million” dollars which it will put toward “reserves.” Sure. Let’s see. We spent an “unbudgeted,” say, $50 million dollars on the KROLLs, KPMG, etc. etc., and now we find an additional $31.9 million more?
There have been no [real] employment cuts, no new taxes, no adjustment of debts, no
“roll back” of benefits. And, we found, like, $80 million to pay for all this?
Ah, the Good Old Days in the O.C:
Ya know, one of the really coolest things that happened in Orange County (before bankruptcy) was the ability of the County Treasurer to periodically “find” tens of millions of unbudgeted dollars just when they were needed most. Course, it turns out, it was somebody else’s money. The amazing thing was nobody ever asked, “hey, wheredja get the dough?” It was like they really didn’t want to know. But, I digress. Back to the news.
Voice Jams The Journal:
The “This Just In” department of the Voice was anything but amused by The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial of the 27th. WSJ suggested that the SEC was poised to issue a compliance order that would not go far enough towards remediation if it did not identify and hold individuals responsible.
The Voice thought such an approach would be a clear over-step for the SEC. Perhaps. But, I see this SEC exercise as just additional evidence of the discomfort the fed’s have in trying to bring honesty in any respect, but specifically in the capital markets, to our local political process that inherently resists it. And, since we demand no better, what are they to do?
An Oucher in a Voucher:
This was one of my favorites. Both the U-T and Voice carried the news of the 28th that the mayor wants council members to become responsible to third parties for future city numbers found in CAFR’s and financial disclosure materials prepared by his office which will be circulated in the public markets. He plans to ask the Council to pass an ordinance that would require the Council to “vouch for the reports ‘veracity’”.
In a shifting political environment that has consolidated ever more power in the “executive” branch, the mayor’s willingness to “share” this particularly dangerous element in a city government historically built on phony numbers has to be seen as generous to a fault.
The city manager used to work for the council, and so they used to be responsible for his numbers. Not always a pleasant circumstance in retrospect. Now, the creation of city numbers is under the complete control of folks working for the mayor, with the council having only the right to receive the numbers from the mayor. So, the proposal is for the council to get the administration’s set of numbers, and then take on personal liability to the capital markets by “vouching” for their veracity? Yikes. This will be a good one to watch.
The city will hire a KPMG guy to be the “Director of Remediation and Implementation,” (a Kremlin-esqe title if ever there was one) of the Krolls’ top 121. Good idea. When those “fixes” don’t “fix” the financial problems, we’ll know who has to go.
The county retirement fund slid through the bad news of the Amaranth hedge fund investment reversals with a peaceful, easy aplomb. Course at that time, they expected a loss in the $45 million range on their $175 million investment. There would be studies about hedge investing, etc. Amaranth would restructure. No real problem here. Now, Amaranth looks like toast – not a big surprise since they actually lost about 70 percent of their $9 billion dollar fund in just one week. So the county fund has lost more like $125 million – so far. Might want to “alpha charge the time frame on those “studies.”
The High Diving Act, At Last:
I don’t agree with Scott Peter’s about everything, but I do agree with him that it is time for the Superior Court to let all of us suckers know if you can steal $2 billion dollars of the public’s assets “fair and square” and get away with it.
The law is (was?) that municipalities can’t get into the muck ours is in because (hidden) deficit deals to get us there are not legal or enforceable, even if you really want the money and can vote for it yourself.
I have been a big believer that these issues of massive municipal debt should be addressed in a federal court for way too many obvious reasons. But, since it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen with the present team on the field, it’s time to see what the state courts will do with this.
Peters withdrew his “conflict of interest” objection to Aguirre’s insistence on representing the public that elected him. The final procedural motions are in October. Kajillions of
your dollars are at stake. Tee it up.
(Sorry for the golf shtick – I know we hate golfers here.)
– PAT SHEA