Friday, October 28, 2011

new commission work: contract city

more images here

ABSTRACT: LETTER FROM CALIFORNIA about the battle over the city of Costa Mesa’s budget. Costa Mesa has no apparent center: if there’s a there here, it’s unclear where. What served as a civic nucleus, until recently, was City Hall. The five-story glass-and-white-brick box is home to many of the municipality’s four hundred and ninety-seven employees. But City Hall is now under fire from the budget-slashing wing of the Republican establishment, in a war of words and pink slips reminiscent of an earlier anti-union era, when the Pinkertons battered the Wobblies with fists and clubs. Local budget deficits are a national problem. Cities are where people will actually feel the results of the argument over the country’s fiscal future, and American cities are running deficits of some fourteen billion dollars a year. One glaring contributor to the problem is growing pension payments. Cities can’t look to their states for help: a recent study estimated that there was a $1.26-trillion funding gap in state workers’ retirement benefits, countrywide (with California responsible for an eighth of that). Read more