Is San Francisco Going Bankrupt?

Eric Jaye's picture


Mayor Ed Lee dropped a bombshell during a press interview this week at the SF Bay Citizen – saying that without some dramatic changes San Francisco would go bankrupt.

This is definitely crossing in to new territory. San Francisco mayors have avoided such loaded language, if only for the reason that it could unnerve the bond markets and raise the city’s cost of borrowing.

It is meaningful that such a serious prediction is being made by a long-time city leader not known for using inflammatory language.

Why such a prediction? Why now?

First – it could be true. As he pointed out, the city’s deficit is expected to soar over to the next few years. Cuts in federal and state budgets are only making things worse.

Two – he’s managing expectations for what is going to be a tough budget coming up. Mayors like to give dire predictions, which puts their cuts into context.

And three – maybe he is actually serious about pension and retiree health care costs. The Bay Citizen provided video of their interview with Mayor Lee.

You can check it out here:

Kate Maeder's picture

San Jose - "The Well is Dry"

Seems like a common refrain across the state.

LA claimed to be bankrupt last year, and in his State of the City speech last night, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said, "There is no more money. The well is dry."

Mayors of the largest cities across California should come together to talk about possible creative solutions. I bet innovative ideas in one city may work in another. We should encourage a synergetic dialogue between city officials. They're all crying for help.

Overheated rhetoric...

Yes, maybe our cities are going bankrupt - but our leaders really do need to be careful of their rhetoric. The Republicans are adeptly taking this crisis to pursue a longer term agenda to weaken organized labor. Check out these comments from President Obama:

Juan Carlos Sanchez's picture

Shock Doctrine, Mayor Ed Lee and San Francisco Bankruptcy

Naomi Klein wrote a great book a few years ago - The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism - where she outlines how the right-wing (although this can apply to any political ideology) takes advantage of the shock after a natural or man-made disaster (Iraq War) to push their political agenda.

Grant's comment reminded me of this strategy - especially with what's been going on in Wisconsin.

But, to be clear, I do not believe Mayor Ed Lee is gearing up to weaken organized labor. But, I do believe that such rhetoric is a harbinger for some...dare I say shocking...budget cuts.


And now Ohio, Indiana

Check out this great (and scary) editorial in the New York Times:

Like a wind-whipped brush fire, the mass union protests that began in Madison, Wis., last week have spread to the capitals of Ohio and Indiana where Republican lawmakers also are trying to cripple the bargaining power of unions — and ultimately realize a cherished partisan dream of eradicating them. In each case, Republican talk of balancing budgets is cover for the real purpose of gutting the political force of middle-class state workers, who are steady supporters of Democrats and pose a threat to a growing conservative agenda. > read more

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