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The City of San Bernardino’s finances continue to confound city leaders, a week after the City Council said it would likely move San Bernardino toward Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.
The city is facing a 45-million dollar deficit in a budget that’s barely a month old. It’s reserve accounts are empty, and the city’s vendors and bondholders are demanding payment in cash. Meanwhile, City Attorney James Penman is alleging that city officials may have falsified figures in past city budgets, in order to give the City Council a rosier picture of the city’s deteriorating finances.
John Husing, the chief economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership and a long-time observer of San Bernardino city politics says no one should be surprised by the extent of the dysfunction afflicting city government
“San Bernardino is a city with nobody in charge. You’ve got a city attorney who’s constantly competing to be in charge, who’s independently elected. You have a mayor elected to run the city who has to defend himself against the city attorney. But the mayor has no vote on the council, which actually sets the policies for the city. There’s seven council people representing seven smaller pieces of the city, none with the perspective of the city as a whole. The problem is a government that essentially is designed for stalemate.“
At a meeting last night, the San Bernardino City Council voted to delay a formal decision to file for bankruptcy while councilmembers seek more information about the City Attorney’s allegations of budget shenanigans. Tomorrow morning on KVCR, John Husing will explain why he thinks that San Bernardino voters are ultimately responsible for the city’s misfortunes, and what citizens could do to fix its broken city government.
That’ll be tomorrow morning at 6:35 and 8:35 on KVCR’S “Morning Edition.”