Sure, it's true, cities and counties from Alabama to California have given up and declared bankruptcy due to this ongoing Recesssion of Doom. Hell, San Bernardino just declared bankruptcy yesterday. But those cities are quitters. They've taken themselves out of contention, the losers. For an American city that is still trying to survive financially, and failing miserably, there is no better example than Scranton, PA—the jewel of Lackawanna County.
You may know Scranton as the setting for the fictional TV show "The Office." But from now on, Scranton may be better known as "The City Where The Mayor Illegally Cut Every Employee's Salary to Minimum Wage Because The City Only Had $5K in the Bank and Nobody Would Lend It Any Money Due to the City's Own Shadiness."
See, the unions representing city workers are suing the hell out of the city because the mayor cut everyone's wages down to $7.25 an hour. When a court ordered the city not to do that, the mayor just did that shit anyhow. Which is frowned upon in the legal world! (Actual quote from the head of the public worker's union: "Morale is low.") In the city's defense: the city has no money, and nobody will give the city any money. In the city's not-defense: no wonder nobody will lend the city any money, just last month they "refused to honor a taxpayer guarantee for a parking authority's bonds," essentially telling lenders to fuck off. "I know we said we would pay back those bonds, but actually, fuck you, and while I have you here, can I borrow another $100 million?" is Scranton, PA's basic approach to dealing with lenders. It is not working out so well.
The NYT has a good rundown of the entire fucked city's fucked up saga of mismanagement, including lowlights such as this:
"The fact that they have only $100,000 cash, that's really next to nothing," said Mr. Ciccarone, who tracks how much cash cities have on hand. He said that last year less than 2 percent of American cities found themselves without enough cash to cover more than 30 days of expenses; the typical city had enough to last 246 days. Scranton, he said, appeared to have only enough for a day.
Better spend all day tomorrow looking for change, or you guys are gonna have a really bad Friday. Hang in there, Scranton. If you declare bankruptcy, you're just another municipality ruined by the economy's decline. But by hanging on by your fingernails as your situation grows ever more dire, irreversible, and illegal, you're America's Very Best (Financially Fucked City)!
[Photo: Francisco Antunes/ Flickr]