Will San Jose Be Next California City to Go Bankrupt?

There are serious problems in the city of San Jose, California – insolvency due to bloated government, pension obligations, and environmentalists pressuring the city to overspend on job-killing policies.

Soaring Employee Costs 

The city has seen general revenue increase 19% while the average employee cost has soared 85% despite a 28% reduction in the workforce. This should come as no surprise, given that eighty-six government employees are paid over $100,000. Their jobs titles include “electrician,” “administrative officer,” “program manager II,” and “instrument control supervisor.” The most egregious violators are:  

Colby, Steve

Senr Process & Syst Spec

$193,687.26

Romanow, Kerrie

Dir Environmental Serv U

$169,247.62

Garcia, Carlos

Senr Process & Syst Spec

$165,888.99

Nasser, Mansour

Deputy Dir U

$159,564.12

Trejo, Richard

Senr Electrician

$148,094.80

Zientek, Mary

Assist Dir U

$145,706.94

Newby, Jon

Deputy Dir U

$140,166.27

Of course, along with highly paid government employees come pension obligations. The city spent some $250 million on lifetime pension and retiree healthcare in the last fiscal year – triple what it paid ten years ago – and it’ll reach $450 million in 2016. In the meantime, the budget shortfalls have resulted in layoffs of police (22% of the force) and firefighters, bringing the total city layoffs to 2000 over the past ten years. It’s projected that misdemeanors and property crime will go uninvestigated; community policing efforts will decline leading to potentially higher criminal activity; fire response time will increase 20%; fire response to two or more sustained structure fires will not be possible; 90% of library programming will vanish, all city recreational programs will be eliminated, and the list goes on and on.   

Things are so bad that even a report on whether or not the City should declare a fiscal emergency cost $222,000! Oh, the irony! 

Environmentalists Make Things Worse 

Fiscal crises are going on in cities all over the country – 3 California cities have declared bankruptcy -- so now is not the time for environmental busybodies to be pushing their job-killing, budget-busting agendas. 

But they do anyway. 

For example, they put pressure on the City Council to pork up the city’s Environmental Services Department. Of the eighty-six overpaid city employees mentioned above, twenty-one of them have the word “environment” in their job title. Last year, John Stufflebean, the city’s environmental services director, left his job to take over the same position in Sunnyvale. In San Jose, his job paid him a whopping $193,196 and he got a low-cost $250,000 home loan from the city. Under his watch, sewer bills went up 73% and garbage rates up 50% in just seven years, with more hikes on the way.

Then the environmentalists leverage their highly-paid shills to further their agenda at the expense of the citizenry, and during an historic budget crisis.  This includes requiring Environmental Impact Reports on even the most insignificant project. The city is on the verge of bankruptcy today, yet they commission these extravagant reports on how to environmentally plan for San Jose’s projects in the year 2040! In addition, the environmentalists made certain the city was the highest paying sponsor of the 2011 U.S Composting Council. You heard me. While citizens lose public safety officers, the city concerns itself with red wiggler worms that break down kitchen scraps, and training so you can become a Master Composter! 

It doesn’t stop there. The environmentalists love to ban things. Ban plastic water bottles. Ban Styrofoam containersBan grocery plastic bags. Ban. Ban. Ban. Take Styrofoam, for example. I like Styrofoam for my takeout. It keeps the food hot (or cold) a lot better than recycled paper. If these containers get banned, I’m not the only one who suffers. Manufacturing jobs are lost. Restaurants have to pay more for other packaging, which means they pay their workers less to offset it. 

So the environmentalists find a sympathetic city councilman and cajole him into supporting the ban. In this case, it’s San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo. The San Jose Mercury News wrote, “Councilman Sam Liccardo, who has been pushing for a citywide plastic foam ban, said he understands that cost to businesses may be a factor, but he argued that ‘the experience of other cities is that this can be done very affordably and sustainably.'” Really? Then why does every Chamber of Commerce oppose these bans, along with restaurants?

All this comes at a time when California’s real unemployment rate is 20%, San Jose’s real unemployment is almost 18%, and national real unemployment is near 15%. 

That’s because environmentalists don’t care about jobs. They have no accountability to anyone. Their priorities are wrong. They put their questionable agenda ahead of cops and firefighters, ahead of people trying to make ends meet, and ahead of common sense.     

Look, we all want to take care of our planet to the maximum extent possible within reason. There’s a time and a place for certain policies, but right now the city of San Jose needs to be concerned with staying solvent, cut way back on the environmentalist nonsense, and stop telling us we how to live our lives.


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