Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jefferson County faces Doomsday

It's finally happened: Jefferson County, Alabama faces Doomsday. Its finances have finally imploded, as the county will probably enter into bankruptcy:
"BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - Alabama's debt-ridden Jefferson County laid off about two-thirds of its 3,600 employees on Monday because of plummeting revenues, a move that will sharply curtail services in areas ranging from roads to courthouses.
The cuts are just the latest blow to Jefferson, whose population of 660,000 includes Birmingham, the state's largest city and its economic powerhouse. They come after the county racked up around $4 billion in debt by using exotic financial instruments to fund a revamp of its sewer system.
The work-force cuts will hit the roads and transportation, revenue and security departments, and reductions will also affect the courthouse and information technology department as well as laborers paid on an hourly basis, according to a senior county official...." Article

This angers me a little, as the media in Jackson has been negligent in its duty to report local city business of this nature to the public. Unless one reads this blog, watched a couple of minor stories on WLBT that didn't get into the details, or read the Northside Sun, one would have no idea Jackson is considering refinancing some of its bonds with these same "exotic financial instruments." Several reporters have told me it's over their heads, people don't care, or it's just too much to cover. The Clarion-Ledger is not interested in this story and the one publication that should cover it, the Mississippi Business Journal, is too busy writing puff pieces to make their advertisers happy, as it should be called the Business Edition of VIP Magazine or something similar. But hey, they support Jackson as they moved downtown, so in the eyes of Downtown Jackson Partners, which should be concerned about this matter, they are ok people.

Well, the article above is WHY they should cover this story. The time to report it is not after the budget has blown up and the people have no one left in city government but before it happens. No one in the media has grilled Rick Hill and asked him some tough questions. He has yet to explain what happens if the interest rates move the wrong way. He was once asked if what happened to Jefferson County could happen to Jackson. He said it couldn't but his answer makes one wonder if he even understood what took place in Alabama. Mr. Hill has not been forthcoming with details and still has not explained why the fees are much higher than the fees paid for the original underwriting of the bonds. All he has said is it can't happen here and to trust him. Sorry Mr. Hill, I've seen too many of these weapons of financial destruction cripple too many budgets around the country to accept that from a bureaucrat whose answers make me wonder if he even understands how these things work.

Don't take my word for as gospel on this subject. I have collected all my posts on this subject and placed them in a sidebar on the lower right-hand side of this blog page. If anyone in the media wants to cover this and doesn't understand the subject matter, contact me. I'll be more than happy to explain it to you, as on this subject I care more about the reporter just getting the story out there than giving me credit. I have posted all available public documents on these refinances (they were obtained through public records requests). Additional public records requests have been submitted for information on the revised proposal. Unless you want what is taking place in Jefferson County to happen here as well, it's time to quit whining how this is over your heads and start learning how this stuff works.


Anonymous said...

... and the one publication that should cover it, the Mississippi Business Journal, is too busy writing puff pieces to make their advertisers happy as it should be called the Business Edition of VIP Magazine or something similar.

Great line. The MBJ has become a next to useless periodical. They should change their artwork to a cheerleading theme.

Kingfish said...

Notice how they were pimping Perkins Rowe in their Baton Rouge story as being part of the downtown success? Guess they didn't notice Perkins Rowe is waaaay out from Downtown (Its on Perkins and Bluebonnet) and they somehow missed how the project is going under and how many liens are being places on it as the owners are suspected of engaging in fraud.

Urban Warrior said...

Well it seems to me that all we have to do is take the Wizard's advice, close our eyes, click our heels together, repeat his mantra and go deep on some new taxpayer funded debt to build a new arena downtown. THAT will solve everything.

Kingfish said...

Actually we do need an arena. The Coliseum is a complete joke and embarrassment to the area.

Urban Warrior said...

Absolutely. Build the arena. It is our magic bullet. It will all be green grass and high tides!

DEBT KILLS said...

They may call out the National Guard in Jefferson County.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The sheriff in Alabama's most populous county may call for the National Guard to help maintain order, a spokesman said Tuesday, after a judge cleared the way for cuts in the sheriff's budget and hopes dimmed for a quick end to a budget crisis.


Hale may have to cut as many as 188 deputies and almost 300 civilian workers out of more than 700 employees total because of Boohaker's ruling, Christian said. That would leave just enough workers to staff the county's two jails, which hold about 1,000 prisoners on average.

NOW think about that same scenario playing out in Jackson

Kingfish said...

Never said it was a magic bullet. I just we need a new one. When it should be built and how it should be funded is another issue.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with KF on this one.

Anonymous said...

So do I. We need to avoid rate swaps like we need to avoid the plague.

DEBT will KILL Jackson said...

Wall Street pushes Jefferson County closer to the brink.

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--The Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK) Monday filed suit against Alabama's financially-strapped Jefferson County, seeking to expedite payments for holders of the county's $3.2 billion in outstanding debt.

The bank, which is the trustee for the owners of Jefferson County's auction-rate and variable-rate debt issued by the sewer system, argues the county failed to pay $331.7 million in principal payments on warrants due for redemption since June 2008.

Birmingham has lost 14% of its population since 1990. The Governor and Legislature of Alabama are working on a rescue plan. Their solution. HIGHER TAXES.

Say NO Mayor Harvey Johnson.

DO YOU LIVE in Madison or Rankin county? said...

The plan in Alabama is to impose a 0.5% percent occupational tax on everyone WHO WORKS in Jefferson County -- which includes Birmingham. Everyone will pay, there will be no exceptions.

If the same thing was to happen in Jackson due to the extreme recklessness of the bond schemes being proposed by Rick Hill it wouldn't matter where you lived in the metro area, if you worked anywhere inside of the Jackson city limits you will pay this tax.

Jackson residents would be royally screwed as we already pay the highest ad val taxes in all the metro area.

Mayor Harvey Johnson. You can not put Jackson in this spot. You must refuse to advance the irresponsible esoteric bond schemes to refinance Jackson's debt.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS