What do you do when you are out of money?
Use your credit cards? Borrow from Aunt Nellie? Shift expenses? Borrow from Peter to pay Pauline?
Of course, you use any or all of these options. There is nothing as depressing as having more bills than you have money.
It wasn’t that long ago you were going through the Great Recession. You might recall some of the brutal results.
The difference with public agencies is more like a car with a five-speed manual transmission. They just shift into a different gear. A recession doesn’t stop their forward spending, they simply shift gears and reduce spending on public projects like street repairs, public park improvements or infrastructure.
Public agencies like the City of Santa Clara are limited in their ability to reduce salaries or lay off workers even during tough times. So, their economic engine continues to turn, though it may be at a reduced speed.
Shifting gears doesn’t stop the momentum or more accurately, the spending. It simply is shifted to different priorities like payroll and pensions.
Santa Clara’s unfunded pension liability is over $500 million and climbing.
Now, that times are good and revenues are rolling in, all of the City projects that had been put on hold should be underway. Except…there isn’t any money.
Huge salaries, a multitude of lawsuits and various penalties have eaten the cake.
The recent vote on Measure C indicates more residents are beginning to take notice of what is and has been happening in Santa Clara. You can fool some of the people some of the time but…at some point the covers come off.
Fewer taxpayers are buying into a totalitarian form of local government. (That’s a big word meaning “My way or the highway.”)
So, there is a gear shifting change taking place among resident voters. While voting results may indicate victory or defeat for a ballot measure, it is the percentage of change that is most noticeable.
Just two years ago, the Mayor was so popular she received 75% of the votes.
Most anything she wanted, she got! A high-priced, controversial City Manager, a City Attorney, three “yes madam” Council Members, and a couple of PR firms to hype and sell her agenda. This was followed by lawsuits with anyone and everyone who disagreed with her high gear pedal to the metal approach to governing.
The costs have not gone unnoticed by tax paying residents and no on C voters.