Bankruptcy — Good for San Diego

After the $7000 mud-brick Old Town Jail disintegrated, the City was declared bankrupt. Will history repeat itself?
  • After the $7000 mud-brick Old Town Jail disintegrated, the City was declared bankrupt. Will history repeat itself?

Mayor Jerry Sanders, who in reality has no intention of cleaning up the City’s fecal finances, says he opposes a City bankruptcy. Councilmember Carl DeMaio, who does want to deterge the fetid finances (as long as it doesn’t upset his political base), has “incorporated some elements from a traditional bankruptcy proceeding” in his reform package, he allows, but strongly opposes a trip to the courtroom.

Sanders, DeMaio, and others who claim the political process can save the City from itself assert that a bankruptcy would create a “stigma.”

Stigma, schmigma. The mayor, in plumping for the Proposition D tax increase, sent goons out to meetings, warning of massive cuts in police, fire, library, parks, recreation services, and the like unless the increase passed. It was rejected overwhelmingly. Analysts will draw logical conclusions. Sanders created the stigma.

But equally important, doesn’t the “stigma” crowd know San Diego’s history? The City was almost born in bankruptcy. Only state seizure of a young town permitted San Diego to get back on its feet, although it took time. And in subsequent years, multiple private-sector bankruptcies provided refinancing that led to the City’s growth. Shunning court-monitored financial reorganization because of fear of “stigma” is like rejecting lifesaving surgery for fear of having a scar that will be exposed when you’re wearing your bathing suit.

San Diego was incorporated as the state’s third city in 1850. A mere two years later, it was declared bankrupt. It had tried to erect a $5000 jail out of mud, brick, and straw, according to a November 2010 article in the publication Police Chief. The building “melted in the first heavy rain,” says the publication. The City sank another $2000 into the structure. The first and only inmate — a brother of the mayor — dug his way out with a pocketknife.

As a result of this financial disaster, the state repealed the city charter and installed a three-member, state-controlled board of trustees. As mayhem reigned, some trustees resigned. “A grand jury report of April 1852 reported the streets filled with garbage and human waste. Dead animals were lying in the streets, and a foul stench filled the air,” says the magazine.

The New York Times took its first crack at San Diego, calling it “a flea infested cesspool and the most godforsaken rathole on Earth.”

It wouldn’t be until September of 2004 that the Times, noting the City’s very similar financial stench and unwillingness to disclose its pension woes in bond documents, called San Diego “Enron-by-the-Sea.”

In 1887, San Diego replaced the board of trustees with a mayor-council form of government. But along the way, it got a glimpse of its future — and how an intelligently managed leadership in bankruptcy can steer a community straight. One Moses Hazeltine Sherman found his way west from Vermont, intending to teach school. In Arizona, he quickly learned that land speculation was more remunerative. Catherine Mulholland noted in her book William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles that Sherman had wangled a brief appointment as adjutant general of Arizona and thereafter called himself General Sherman, fooling some into thinking he was the Civil War hero General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Mulholland wrote that for all his business acumen, Moses Sherman had a “dark side.” He “practiced a ruthless brand of laissez-faire capitalism and mastered the art of growing rich with other people’s money. He never went to jail and rarely lost a lawsuit, but he skirted both.” (Remind you of anyone, or several ones?)

Sherman was named a trustee of San Diego. He also had a bundle of stock in a budding enterprise named the San Diego & Los Angeles Railroad Company. On his last day as trustee, on May 5, 1870, Sherman and a fellow trustee voted that San Diego would grant 5000 acres of pueblo land to the railroad. (The third trustee smelled a rat and voted against the deal.) Hours before their terms ended, the land was transferred to the railroad, in which Sherman was a director and owner of $10,000 in stock (then a lot of money).

The succeeding trustees of San Diego sued, and the case went all the way to the California Supreme Court. “We do not think this deed can be upheld,” wrote the court in 1872. “The general principle is that no man can serve two masters.”

In following decades, rascal after rascal dominated San Diego’s financial matters. Oh, if only the City had taken each scoundrel to court, as its bankruptcy trustees took Sherman.

“We’ve returned to the era of 1850, in which city officials prove themselves to be unable to responsibly manage the city finances,” says former city attorney Mike Aguirre. By warning that if the tax increase failed the City could not provide essential services, Mayor Sanders made the case for the first test of bankruptcy: financial insolvency.

The biggest problem facing those who would try to reduce pension benefits in state court is that judges are sucking on the government teat too. Jan Goldsmith, current city attorney, is a classic example: citing state law, he keeps arguing that pension benefits are cemented into place and bankruptcy won’t work. But Goldsmith was mayor of Poway, a member of the California State Assembly, and a judge before taking his current position. Mayor Sanders, the former police chief, has a fat pension. Politics as usual can’t deal with insolvency.

The Constitution gives Congress the right to establish bankruptcy laws. “Bankruptcy law is the supreme law of the land,” says longtime San Diego bankruptcy lawyer Don McGrath. “If state law is inconsistent, it will get knocked out.” With the flick of a pen, a bankruptcy judge could get rid of such absurd benefits as the classic double-dipping Deferred Retirement Option Plan, by which employees’ pay is almost doubled in their last five years. Had the City gone into bankruptcy in 2003, as reformer Diann Shipione suggested, a judge could have erased the purchased service credit program that permitted employees to buy five years of fat retirement benefits for a steep discount.

Aguirre says a federal judge from outside San Diego could be brought in for the case, and a popular figure such as former mayor Pete Wilson “could lead the City through the bankruptcy process.” It was clear at least seven years ago that San Diego could not meet its pension obligations, but the political process has failed to deal with the excessive benefits.

“The bankruptcy court can abrogate a contract,” says a noted San Diego attorney. “When you get in front of a state court and an argument is being made that if a law is applied as written there will be terrible consequences, judges routinely say that you have to go across the street to bankruptcy court. The state court is not set up to fix enormous financial problems with lots of stakeholders.”

What about stigma? “The whole city was built on bankruptcy,” says McGrath, noting that the ability to reorganize financially helped spur development of Clairemont, Fairbanks Ranch, Otay Mesa, Linda Vista, Black Mountain Ranch, and dozens of other locations. “Reorganizations work. They shift debt around.” A bankruptcy reorganization is the way to save the City of San Diego.

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RE "As a result of this financial disaster, the state repealed the city charter and installed a three-member, state-controlled board of trustees":

This seems to be a precedent that shows our civic situation is not as "vested" as some elected civic leaders have recently suggested...

It also points out that there are seldom-used state executive powers that just might appear useful if our strong mayor/council form of government cannot rise to the challenge of running a financially-disciplined municipality.

Talk about the blind leading the blind! Bankrupt California leading bankrupt San Diego out of the financial wilderness! It worked in 1852. Now? Best, Don Bauder

Former Governor Jesse Ventura stated recently that there is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans. They dine together and then appear to quarrel on TV.

Developing flows of new revenue by using Petco Park-Bay front Hotel Strip- convention center more is missing. Las Vegas tourist bureau would have the place jumping this time of the year with our weather.

Lets put it on the ballot whether to declare bankruptcy or not. Let the public voice

Those proposing bankruptcy -- the only intelligent way out of this mess -- would have a real education job on their hands if it were put to a public vote. Best, Don Bauder

Former Governor Jesse Ventura stated recently that there is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans =========== I love Venture-and he is right.

BOTH parties are bought and paid for whores.

Mr. Bauder,

Interesting strategy. Only two flaws, the Republicans gutted the BK laws during their last reign in congress. The only benefits, from a clean bk court case filing by the city, will go to the debt holders, in this case, the unions. Debtors (the City) would not be able to shed the debt as the laws are currently structured.

Now, during the last depression (the 30's) judges had the flexibility to rule justly. Not now. BK is a massive scam, not in favor of the debtors.

Problem number two. The bk southern district court based in san diego, where the cases would be heard are corrupted. The fatal flaws are widely known in certain legal circles, like the san diego bk network, they have advised the unions of the flaws.

The chief judge of this district has been paid off by big debt holders since his taking the bench. Look at the records, the blood of the debtors of this district, coat the walls of the downtown bk court.

The federal trustee of this district (bk court) has been proven to protect fraudulent debt holders and routinely provides false testimony against the very same debtors (the City), if the council decides to go down this specious path.

Not only is the bk path not a panacea as is it is falsely described in many recent 'think tank' opinions, in san diego, because of the corrupt chief judge and the fraudulent san diego federal bk trustee, the city would find itself needing to 'pay-off' the system just to get out of the circuit, once its case is filed.

The unions have already been advised of their odds by several national profile attorneys.

The unions would contest the chief judge and any other judge in the san diego circuit and they would have the justice department remove the current trustee.

The only way out would be to reach a deal with the unions. And the city can do that with a phone call.

I am not aware of what you say about the chief BK judge or the BK trustee. These are strong statements and are not backed up with facts. Best, Don bauder

The unions have already been advised of their odds by several national profile attorneys.

==================== Ken WHAT are you TALKING ABOUT????????

You made a bunch of false and completely unsupported statements.

I do agree with you on one thing- Peter Bowie, BK presiding judge for the Southern District, is a moron.

Interesting strategy. Only two flaws, the Republicans gutted the BK laws during their last reign in congress.

BTW-the 2005 BK revisions were written by the credit card companies and passed by BOTH parties.

There is NO WAY major legislation like that could pass without BOTH parties being bought off.

The bankruptcy laws during the Bush years were changed for the worse -- in favor of the banks and against the consumer. This does not necessarily address municipal bankruptcy, however. Best, Don Bauder

We cannot dismiss what Ken says. We simply want him to present facts to support his statements. Best, Don Bauder

Watch this, an interview with "Inside Job" film maker Charles Ferguson;

. http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11321 .

U-T Headline Today: "City retirees get bonus checks averaging $784 as "13th check"


Where was the "Watchdog" when their puppet-Mayors Murphy and Sanders caused all the problems we are having today!

I wonder if they got the city computer fixed in time to produce the "13th check"?

Good point. The computer will be fixed so it can get the 13th checks out quickly. But the city's annual report will have to wait half a year. That's a handy kind of computer problem to have. Best, Don Bauder

Let's be honest...OneSD is the City of San Diego boondoggle that's cost the taxpayers in excess of $50 million and is still a nightmare. SDCERS uses a completely different and separate system for the distribution of Pension Checks and payments. It's grossly unfair to compare the City's boondoggle against a sophisticated and smoothly operating system.

RE http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/dec/01/city-retirees-get-bonus-checks/ :

Of course, all of our civic leadership who were demanding passage of Proposition D failed to inform us that even with a $70+ million budget deficit, there would still be this payout. It would have made a lot better sense to have applied it to future scheduled pension liabilities. Instead, we get an object lesson in how much fat is still left in the municipal operations budgets.

At the same time, city retirees can't say they didn't get their stimulus checks right before Christmas.

I wonder how much will get spent immediately at Wal-Mart.

Did you EXPECT those who were propagandizing for Prop. D to bring up something like the 13th check? Best, Don Bauder

Goldsmith is a wussy.

That wimp should be in court RIGHT NOW seeking an injunction to stop the 13th check while at the same time seeking a declaration from the court that ALL excess earnings should be applied to the deficit.

What a loser Goldsmith is.

And these clowns think Prop D could pass when these frauds show up on a daily or weekly basis? Please.

Remember that Goldsmith has spent almost his entire career in the public sector and has his own pensions to protect. He has been a local official, state legislator, and judge before becoming city attorney. Best, Don Bauder

Don, Goldsmith has no backbone. That is the bottom line.

I know he has been in the public sector basically his entire life-and does not want to rock the boat, but the boat is SINKING and he is the one with the power to make history by making some legal challenges, but he makes excuses all day long as why he THINKS a new and novel legal challenge will fail-instead of thinking of the ways it can WIN.

That is the difference between him and Mike Aguirre-Mike stepped up to the plate and took some swings-he struck out once or twice-but he wa stepping up and had the possibility to hit the homerun (and may have if his cases were followed through on). Goldsmith is too scared to even enter the batters box.

All I want Godlsmith to do is STEP UP to the plate and take a swing.

That's funny. Goldsmith has already won a few cases; PSC at trial and appellate, Italiano at trial, and a hearing for substantially equal which is now scheduled for trial early next year. Goldsmith is doing just fine at the plate. It was your hero, Aguirre, who struck out repeatedly while swinging wildly at anything. Talk about a moron....

To cut to the chase: Our Leaders are RIPPING US OFF, with a smile on their faces as they support all their soon to be wealthy Big Union members that got them elected and together they have "tagged teamed" the voters demanding yet more from our city budget!

Our $TRONG (aka: $ WRONG) Mayor is never going to do anything to reduce his OWN pension or those of his supporters which BK court would do...

OUR only hope is that someone with some money/power will sue the City and demand that those that make our fiscal decisions are not also those that benefit from them; until they all recuse themselves, we are doom to more "fiscal foolery"!

Keep in mind that former leaders such as Mayor Susan Golding voted themselves hefty pensions. Best, Don Bauder

As much as I hate what Golding did-it was Jack McGory who was the one who destroyed the cities finances with his harebrained schemes to underfund the pension system while at the same time jacking the pensions retroactively-absolute fraud.

That is why we have the fiscal problems we do, nobody will speak up because they do not elect or hire folks that "speak up", just those "that will only follow Orders", which brings to mind all kinds of very bad images from the past...

Those who speak up while everything is crashing are usually considered radicals, obstructionists, or small town undertakers. Best, Don Bauder

Yes, but who instructed McGrory to underfund the pension system? Best, Don Bauder

Puppy, you forget it was Pete and Ray who bailed out of Social Security in 82 and promised health care for retiree. Then instead of investing in a medical trust with the savings, they spent it. Then to make things worse, they raided "surplus" SDCERS investment earnings, calling it a "waterfall" making retiree medical a paygo accounting trick. There's lots of blame to go around.

A pension just under 50K a year is "hefty"? Don if 50K a year is hefty, according to you, then what's a "normal" pension amount for a person living in San Diego?

Don Bauder for Mayor of San Diego. Don appears to be one of the few who utilizes both the financial & common sense parts of his brain regarding government finances in SD.

Too bad he has retired to Colorado. SD's loss is Colorado's gain.

When Jerry Sanders first ran for Mayor, a lawyer also ran on a City bankruptcy platform and was supported by Diane Shippione(sp?).

It appears that BK is the best plan for SD.

Just tweaking things like Sanders or De Maio or others propose will not work.

De Maoi's plans are flawed since it targets only certain Civil Service employees and lets Police, Fire, Council and Staff "off the hook".
It also does nothing to stop the cronyism and back room deals with the "well healed and well connected" that suck huge taxpayer subsidies out of the public treasury and are one of the primary reasons that the City budget has become a "shell game" moving funds around to cover the shortfalls from backroom deals.

Don Bauder is one of the few who see the whole, true picture of the shenanigans(a.k. a. the City budget process) and has the guts to publicly expose it for what it is.

It was Pat Shea who ran for mayor, suggesting the City file for bankruptcy. Yes, he was supported by reformer Diann Shipione, his wife. She had suggested in the Reader in 2003 that the City would have to file for bankruptcy. Best, Don Bauder

She had suggested in the Reader in 2003 that the City would have to file for bankruptcy

We will never get out of the pension hole, the hole is TOO BIG and the structural deficit will continue to make it even bigger.

BK is coming one way or the other, whether KFC files or the one who is elected after him.

The definition is important. Some claim that you can't file Chapter 9 until you can no longer pay your bills. They agree that there is no doubt that this day will come, but it is not here yet. Others such as Mike Aguirre say that when a city can no longer provide basic services -- such as Sanders has admitted is the case in San Diego -- then it is time to file. Best, Don Bauder

Saying it is one thing, especially when it comes from a moron like Aguirre. Lets give credit where credit is due. Aguirre also said we needed to evacuate to Phoenix during the horrendous wildfires. And the city was negligent for LaJolla's ancient landslides. Like I said before, what a moron. The city is, and continues to provide public safety services each and every day.

BTW the "reply" feature needs some work. I "replied" to a post way up the page, where Don said Aguirre advocates or says we should declare bankruptcy, but the system software posted the comment here.

I'm afraid that calling Aguirre a moron shows your own ignorance. I have known few people in my long career who can grasp a complex topic more rapidly than Aguirre. Of course, you and your fellow city employees don't like him. You don't like Donna Frye, either. Both have tried to face the city's major problem -- excessive pay and particularly pensions -- and have taken abuse for it. But as I said in an earlier post, you are on the wrong side of public opinion. Best, Don Bauder

It makes sense that a city employee attacks Aguirre as Aguirre fights to keep SDG&E rates down for consumers. After all, the City of San Diego refuses to deal with raising the electricity franchise rate from its measly 3% of gross receipts. If it were more like 20%, the power lines would be underground already and we'd have a lot less to be worried about when it comes to utility-caused wildfires.

Agreed. SDGE is getting away with murder. This is one reason the Union-Tribune and establishment so viciously attacked Aguirre. Best, Don Bauder

Well, history tells that a vast majority of San Diegans, the ones who take the time to vote, believed he was ineffective as a city attorney and turned him out after a single term. Something usually UNHEARD OF in SD City or District Attorney races. And don't bother telling us the SDUT swayed public opinion against him, because if they did it to him, then they're doing it to government employees too.

Aguirre made mistakes. He knows it. His biggest problem was tackling too many of San Diego's injustices at once. And tackling the establishment, including the U-T. (He fought the U-T's smears.) Best, Don Bauder

His biggest problem is equally shared between his ego and his mouth. Can't say which is bigger or more destructive.

There is no question that he is quite unpopular with your fellow city workers. After all, he has tried to solve the city's financial woes -- unlike other elected officials, other than Donna Frye. Best, Don Bauder

It says something either about the case or an attorney's work product when he needs to file his 47th amended complaint (yes I know it's an exaggeration) and the Court is force to dismiss WITH prejudice. I'm just not sure if it was the wild theories of the attorney or his work product.

It says something either about the case or an attorney's work product when he needs to file his 47th amended complaint

yes, it says the issue is new, novel, has never been litigated before so therefore there is a need to clean it up by trial and error. It has nothing to do with his ability and everythng to do with the novelty of the issue.

How many new, novel, major complex cases have you litigated JW??? Thousands I bet-and I also bet you have NEVER had to amend any complaint-ever :)

The negative critique of Mr. Aguirre's work product was from the bench, not me. If you want to be his apologist that's up to you.

More admiration for the local bench. Best, Don Bauder

Remember, judges suck on the government teat, too. Best, Don Bauder

I'm not surprised that you think the San Diego judiciary is so wise and unbiased. Best, Don Bauder

So telling Mt. Soledad landslide victims the City is liable for damages is solving the city's financial problem. You've got to be kidding.

Thank God the City has the wherewithal to hire outside attorneys to look after that taxpayers' wallet on that case.

Aguirre's quick grasp of complex litigation issues must have been on vacation that day. Probably confused by all the Grand-Standing for the media.

Aguirre went to Mt. Soledad and told the people the truth. Politicians are not supposed to do that. Best, Don Bauder

Whose, you mean his warped version of the truth. If that was the case, why did the trial court reject all the claims?

Politician? Wasn't he elected to be the City Attorney? Maybe that was why he was so confused. He forgot he was supposed to be the City's Attorney, and NOT a politician.

His biggest problem is equally shared between his ego and his mouth. Can't say which is bigger or more destructive.

By JustWondering

Oh brother!! Talk about irony.

Kettle, meet pot!

SP and JW square off again. Best, Don Bauder

But it is unfair for me to fight with an unarmed opponent :)

I'm afraid that calling Aguirre a moron shows your own ignorance.

Anyone that points out the TRUTH to JustClueless is labeled a "moron" or some other negative comment, like this one from a few hours ago;

"Surfpuppy has a long and illustrious history of being 100% wrong."

He is so caught up with his scams that he no longer sees the difference between right and wrong-only between those who oppose his pension scam and those who don't.

I no longer take his positions, or insults, seriously.

Will you have the same attitude on Dec 6th, when Donna start collecting her Elected Representative Pension? She'll be 58 years young and seven years younger than surfpuppy's 65 or older requirement.

One of those clownsil members is vollecting a pension at age 35(or was it 40?), and it is a scam. I have said that over and over again- No matter who is receiving the pension at a young age.

Age 50 is ridiculous-but age 35???

Who dreams up this nonsense? Gov employees, that's who.

No, not the "employees" it was the people who are the elected representatives who approved negotiated retirement benefits. And it was those same elected representatives who approved the "Elected Representative" retirement package where they are eligible to collect immediately. But the NEW U~T doesn't complain about that.

No, not the "employees" it was the people who are the elected representatives who approved negotiated retirement benefits.

Actually it was the public unions who wrote these pensions, not the representatves. And the so called "negotiations" were not done at an arms length since the public employees were giving $$$ to the officials. In the real world that is called bribery and fraud.

Supporting Prop D was Donna Fry's going away present to the City, and she never once mentioned anything about not accepting her Pension ASAP!

Our Leaders are all taking care of themselves and their own pensions; that is why an independent Board should make all decisions regarding the Pension REDUCTION and all those that stand to gain or lose should recuse themselves from any discussions on that matter...

When did the PF pensions change to 3%@50 and was it retro for then current PD or was it a "from this point forward" change.

SB400 was a pension change written by the STATE public safety unions, CHP and prison guards. It lowered the pension age to 50-from 55 and raised the payout from a 2% per year multiplier to 3% (50% increase)- to a maximum of 90% at 30 years. It was applied RETROACTIVELY. SB400 was approved in 199 by Grey Davis and implemented in 2000.

So if you were retiring in 2000 with a $6K per month pension-SB400 jacket it to 9K.

Then all the state subdivisions (cities and counties) made the old "me too" claims.

The problems were many, but the MAIN problem was the retroactive increase. Mike Aguirre started the San Diego lawsuit as a conflict of interest, but amended it to also include the reatroactive portion as illegal.

This retroactive issue will be settled by the CA Supreme Court b/c Orange County has it challenged right now at the appellate level, and who ever loses there will seek review by the CA Supreme Court.

That move was certainly one that had to be challenged. Best, Don Bauder

The ultimate answer to these pensions lies with the CA Supreme Court and how they will rule on the OC challenge to the retroactive portion of the pension raises.

If the CA Supreme Court strikes these down there will be billions of dollars taken out of the red from all muni's.

It will be an important decision. Best, Don Bauder

The timing of the Mt. Soledad landslide was certainly due to city negligence. The ground was soaked by a broken water main during a dry year. Very likely the collapse would have happened during a wet year in the next hundred years.

The city could only use the Charlie Manson defense:"They would have died anyway.".


Consult a geologist when buying hillside property. Don't hire Michael Aguirre if you want your lawyer to lie for you. When mounting a personal attack find a footing more stable than slippery La Jolla clay. Michael Aguirre may be humanly flawed, but no question is a formidable intellect.

Absolutely it was due to city negligence. But Aguirre got smeared for honestly telling the residents what their rights were. San Diego politics. Best, Don Bauder

John Kaheny's comments in the UT regarding BK

"What bothers me the most about all the media stories is the selective information presented. Granted the success of the SDCERS investments this year has only a limited effect on the City’s future obligations, but is the public fully informed? How many know that the SDCERS trust has grown from $3.2 billion or so to close to $5 billion since the so called pension crisis began. See any stories on the 13 –16 % rate of return. Probably not because those facts would contradict the template that the Drop Program was a financial loser to SDCERS. ( You get an 8% return on investments that earn 13+% so the fund gains 5% on your money). The bias in all these articles is as deep and strong as granite. Notice how they always try to give Aguirre and his henchpersons some credibility even though they have been wrong time and time again. Just look how the media covered the exoneration of ALL of the criminal and civil defendants in the state and federal persecutions. No story yet on the web of intrigue between Aguirre, Shippione, Shea and Lamm and the bulldozing of Dumanis and Link. There is a story out there and it is not the tired old call for bankruptcy so Aguirre and Shea can finally recover from the Brown Field disaster. This whole mess brings back memories of how easy it was for Dominelli to scam the elite of San Diego society. But today’s wrecking crew is so good at what it does it has even co-opted Bauder. If it were not such a serious matter, it would make a great tragic comedy. This City and County needs to grow up."

John Kaheny does have a right to spew his opinions, and the U-T should print them, along with information from reliable sources. Best, Don Bauder

Hi Margo-how is Kima doing?????

I love that dog!

SP, do you get invited to the Beautiful People parties that Margo covers, and there meet Kima? I didn't know you were high society in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

No, I have never been part of the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous crowd.

In fact I am not one for going to parties anymore. I loved it in high school and college, but not my bag today. Would prefer to sit back, alone or with close family or friends, and seek solitude.

But, Margo's dog is adorable. Plus Margo ALWAYS dresses Kima up in crazy little outfits that brings a chuckle to me when I see her pics.

I agree that Margo's dog is adorable. I enjoy Margo's writing. I didn't mix with the Beautiful People in San Diego, unless it was an event connected with the San Diego Opera, one of my great loves. Best, Don Bauder

would there be any other reason to go beside Kima Bauder??? ;=D

The dog's name is not Kima Bauder. Did you mean to have a comma between Kima and Bauder? Best, Don Bauder

RE John Kaheny's comments on alleged success of the SDCERS investments this year:

Hard to say this isn't all hype by Kaheny... or maybe he has access to all those secret Wikileaks documents on SDCERS that aren't ordinarily allowed to see the light of day.

Here's a link to the latest quarterly report found at the SDCERS website... dating from June 2009. Seems there's no such reporting for the last five quarters. Correct me if I'm wrong, but even SAP's infamous OneSD bookkeeping system isn't that far behind on churning out data. At least, not yet.


Oh... and for anybody who's interested, SDCERS reported investment return for all of 2009 was -19.2% (that's NEGATIVE 19.2 percent, nearly a loss of a fifth), or -3.5% for the three-year period including 2006-07, well before the Crash of 2008 while DJIA was somewhere around 14000 (p. 2, SDCERS Comprehensive Annual Financial Report 2009). By that measure, SDCERS would have had made just about 25% to get out of the red, from 2009 to now. Not even Kaheny gives them that much credit.

Current employees should be wondering where that SDCERS June 2010 annual report actually ended up... or maybe Wikileaks has the only copy.

Oh... and for anybody who's interested, SDCERS reported investment return for all of 2009 was -19.2% (that's NEGATIVE 19.2 percent, nearly a loss of a fifth),

Calpers had a negative 28% (-28%) in 2008. That did not include their stated ROI of 7.75%, which would make the projected loss over 35%-in just one year.

That kind of loss generally cannot be made up, not even using a 50 year smoothing scam.

Keep in mind that the Federal Reserve has openly announced that its program to buy bonds (QEl, QEII and possibly QEIII, according to Bernanke Sunday) is INTENDED to run up the stock market. Saving pension systems, and thereby states and municipalities, may be one reason for this strategy, although the main one is to feed Wall Street. However, the Fed will find there are some problems with all this bond-buying. First, other countries are screaming, correctly, that the U.S. is trying to run down the dollar as it complains about other countries running down the values of their currencies. And those countries hold oodles of our debt. Second, as the Fed's liquidity runs up stocks, it may serve to help run DOWN bonds, making it more difficult for the Treasury to finance the horrendous deficits. Best, Don Bauder

SDCERS reports with a significant lag. So its status today would be considerably better than it was when SDCERS last officially reported. That's because stocks and bonds have done quite well during that period. Almost everybody is up. Best, Don Bauder

Again cutting to the "chase," $D lost about a "turd" of its money in 2009!

Any short fall has to be made up by the City... $o

If our Mayor and New formatted City Council don't step up to the fiscal palate and promises some major PENSION roll backs, which includes their OWN, they are all now part of the FI$CAL problem, trying to protect their own Pensions...

Sanders's plan for 401(k)-like plans is a step in the right direction, although too late with too little. Best, Don Bauder

SP - Kima is the Arthritis Dog Honoree for the third year .... they have their Jimgle Bell Run/ Walk this weekend.... she has helped raise significant funds for Arthritis ....now if she could just help the City's issues!

If anyone can pull this divided City together, it is Kima.

Glad to hear Kima is doing good and is helping to raise money and awareness for worthy causes!

Isn't it a shame that we cant's get human beings to help human beings? We have to leave it to dogs. Best, Don Bauder

Margo: She could go to city council and bite members' ankles the same way dogs herd cattle. Best, Don Bauder

I do want to thank Mr. Bauder and the Reader for the forum.

Where would San Diego be without both, together? Much less of a town with an open mind, I say.

Regarding facts to support statements. I could state them, but that would cause needless trouble.

The former city attorneys idea of an outside judge from an outside court could work, if the ca supreme court rules as surf has noted. Maybe. Don, your viewpoint on Michael is a strong beam of light on how independent and valuable your public opinions are to us readers.

After watching the Bomb House Burndown it struck me. Our current national financial meltdown (in progress right now)is much like the Bomb House.

Everyone with the responsibility, authority and power don't want to go near it. They know its really messed up and any part could blow their legs off. But, they also know the only way to fix it right, is to take it down. Completely.

But, if they get their legs blown off just doing a half-a job, they wouldn't get those golden years they look for everyday day at work, rather than really working.

But, in this new financial reality, these same authorities are unwilling or unable to burn it down to the ground and start over, to the foundation.

Allowing mortgages to be converted to other financial mechanisms and their unsupervised manipulations has exposed the entire financial world and its underpinnings.

Pensions, bonds, investments, taxation, all are exposed now and suspect. Every kind of financial transaction, a possible explosive tinderbox.

Bonds from an insolvent government? Be serious!

And the first thing the republicans want to do when they get the new power in congress is to get the tax breaks for the wealthiest and grill the new financial watchdog?

When right now, all of the financial transactions and products are all too weak to go near, no trust, they could harm you if you go anywhere near them. And you don't know which can explode next!

The current situation makes the city situation that much worse. The core city financial transaction, its relationship with its workers. Just another critical underpinning, weakened and ready to collapse.

The authority knows how dangerous the real situation is and is unwilling to go near it.

So, the money the workers of those union members, the money that wall street wanted to control during the Bush admin, after they made the investment houses into banks, when they said they could grow the dollars better then the workers themselves. The money the S&L's stole, the money the traders are taking on the oil barrel/gas price market right now (note the timing after the recent election)and the money they use from the fed (taxpayer dollars-converted to private banking dollars)to make more, mucho more money, isn't enough.

ALL of those dollars aren't enough to satisfy the money changers.

Don, is it time to burn it ALL down to the ground?

RE: Bomb House Burndown, I don't even know what you are referring to!

Since this is only your second post perhaps you could explain what exactly needs to be done instead of posting a long rant and asking, "Is it time to burn it ALL down to the ground?".

IMO pushing the discussion toward radical action serves nobody but those promoting the radical action...

But radical action can be beneficial. About 120 years ago, William Jennings Bryan, whose rhetorical skills were unmatched, began pointing out the basic inequality of a plutocratic system. The Populists didn't make much headway, but the Progressives, under Teddy Roosevelt, did. The trust-busting era was an important and positive force in American history. Best, Don Bauder

Bernie Sanders of Vermont made an 8-hour speech on the floor of the Senate yesterday. The mainstream media ignored it. But it lit up Twitter, I understand. Sanders very articulately spelled out one of the nation's worst problems: the widening gap in income and wealth between the richest 2% and the rest of Americans. That gap may be even wider than it was in the Gilded Age. Even Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke, who have helped create this gap through unwise monetary policy, realize it is a powder keg. The numbers that Sanders cited, and that I have been citing for years, are horrifying. But here is Congress planning a tax measure that would exacerbate it. And the Democratic president is going along. There is something close to a revolution brewing, and the rebels have a devastating weapon: sharp computer hacking skills. Best, Don Bauder

The cyber-rebels have little or no discipline.

None of them are part of the economy that would be using Visa or Mastercard, or their cyber-attacks would be directed against themselves. Better yet, none of them have significant relationships with persons of the opposite sex who would be extremely annoyed by not having access to their own credit card purchasing power. If someone were launching cyber-attacks against their own non-existent businesses on the Internet, then they'd be loudest amongst the complainers of how unfair denial-of-service attacks are to their own interests.

Once the cyber-rebels crash the Internet, the only things they'll have left are burning cars in the streets. Fortunately, they have a lot of virtual training for that from endless hours of playing Grand Theft Auto on their personal game consoles while staying up all night.

The current success of cyber-rebels reflects more on crappy commercial website security across the Internet than it does on anyone's competence as a code-copying hacker with few actual programming skills and even less scruples.

You're certainly confident that hackers won't do major damage. I don't share that confidence, but I don't profess to be a computer expert by a long shot. Best, Don Bauder

I have complete confidence that undisciplined hackers will eventually do major if not catastrophic damage to power plants, traffic networks, and all kinds of other needful things that have become 'net-dependent BECAUSE of crappy commercial website security.

I am completely not surprised that the wikileaks site has this sort of following. Previous psychological studies have shown the level of let's call them social maladjustment problems there are among the most ardent of hackers...

My gut tells me that for every computer hacker that causes a web based problem they will hundreds if not thousands of people that choose to do many little things that taken together will cause major problems for the Ultra Wealthy and not just in the USA.

The Ultra Wealthy now have a new problem, how to live an enjoyable life without attracting the ire of the other 99.8% of the population of the Globe! I would suggest that they spend some big bucks (because they can afford it) figuring out how much is too much or they will find themselves living in large fortress's especially in America where gun ownership is legal and many folks now own state of the art long range sniper weapons!

“A grand jury report of April 1852 reported the streets filled with garbage and human waste. Dead animals were lying in the streets, and a foul stench filled the air,”

Wow. Not much has changed!

Except today's stench is largely financial and political. Best, Don Bauder

Bermie Sanders is a hero to many.

please see Short 15 minute speech link


America is going down the wrong road and it must change or our leadership in the world will be over...finished...caput.

Bernie Sanders is doing a great job telling Americans about the yawning gap between wealth and income of the upper 2% and the rest of Americans -- and how that income gap has widened enormously in the last couple of decades, greatly because of misguided tax policy. Best, Don Bauder

Bermie Sanders is a hero to many.

please see Short 15 minute speech link

. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5OtB298fHY .

BTW-awesome VIDEO!!!!!!

He was up for more than 8 hours. It didn't get the coverage it deserved. Best, Don Bauder

I am glad they only used an 8 minute clp then!!!!!

He is right, America looks more like a banana republic than the America we were, like that of the 1950's-70's.

Mike Aguirre had good intentions, but took on too many issues at once.

I was happy to finally have a City Attorney who was not just a lapdog for the Mayor and Council.

If someone like Mike Aguirre with some brains and guts had been in office during the Pete Wilson ERA, then this crazy unsustainable pension plan for City workers would have been objected to loudly and, possibly blocked OR there would have been a major streetfight over it for all the public to see on the record.

Didn't Aguirre get the 150M Rocque de la Fuente lawsuit reversed and saved the City 150M??!! I think that is great legal work.

Former Reagan Budget Director David Stockman is currently working on a book with the working title:

"How Misguided GOP Tax Policies Destroyed The American Economy".

I agree that Mike took on too much. He saved the city money on the de la Fuente matter, but I don't remember the figure. Best, Don Bauder

Stockman has been on TV talking about the book. Should be a good read. Best, Don Bauder

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