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I guess it’s fair to say that the mayor doesn’t agree with me.

Here’s what I wrote today:

For all the people that are cheering Aguirre’s setback right now, you should also be prepared to cheer for either tax and revenue increases of some kind or bankruptcy. Aguirre’s was the last easy-way-out route. City councils, over the last decade, have handed out pension enhancements to employees that they didn’t plan on providing the funds to pay. That means residents have to come up with money now.

Either that, or we throw up our hands and declare bankruptcy.

There is no third way.

Here’s the mayor in a press release today (he curiously didn’t say a word about the ruling yesterday when it was released):

Mayor Dismisses Talk of Bankruptcy or Higher Taxes

… Some have offered a false choice between bankruptcy and a tax increase. I could not disagree more.

I have offered a third choice. My 5 Year Financial Plan is not conditioned on a rollback of any presently contracted pension benefits. It puts the city on an actuarially sound track to retire this debt within 20 years, addresses the related issue of retiree healthcare, and also addresses our city’s long-neglected problems of deferred maintenance.

I don’t know if that was intentionally directed at me or just my like. But I guess it doesn’t matter.

Let’s break this down:

The mayor does have a “five-year plan.” And while it’s a great document with, for once, a very realistic projection of the kind of trouble the city’s in, it does not describe – at all – what this “third choice” is.

The mayor’s five-year plan is not a plan.

It’s like saying I have a plan to pay off my credit card debt. Do you want to know what my plan is to pay off my credit card debt? It’s simple: I’m going to pay off my credit card debt.

If I were to tell people I had a real plan for paying off my credit card debt, I would feel obligated to describe what I’m going to do to pay off the debt: work another job at the bar; stop eating for a month; blow up the credit card company’s headquarters. Whatever.

I can’t just say I’m going to save money and use the money to pay the credit card debt off. That’s not a plan, that’s just a goal.

The mayor does put out some estimates of the number of people he’s going to lay off. But it’s easy to say you will fire people. There are big questions: Whom will you fire? What services will be cut back?

That’s not even the biggest issue. The biggest issue is that even if he succeeds and makes the kind of personnel cuts he plans, the mayor will still face a huge hole of $24 million this year. So how does he plan to cover that?

Again, I’m ready to consider that I may be wrong. There may be a third way out of this mess that doesn’t rhyme with shmankruptcy or baxes.

But it has yet to be presented. I don’t even think it needs to be ready right now, but don’t tell me it is and point to this.

SCOTT LEWIS

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