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A Bankrupt City and the Delta Smelt

On the one hand we have highly paid government workers and retirees with expensive salaries, pensions and health care demanding more and more, and on the other hand we have environmentalists doing all they can to destroy the businesses needed to pay them.

Sep 27, 2012

The story in the article below is playing out to some degree in cities all over California's Central Valley. It has been one of our goals to connect the dots of ag economic activity and municipal economic problems. The story below demonstrates this point as well as it can be told.

On the one hand we have highly paid government workers and retirees with expensive salaries, pensions and health care demanding more and more, and on the other hand we have environmentalists doing all they can to destroy the businesses needed to pay them.

We know that the water issue is kind of on the back burner right now, but it's still going to come back to burn us again if we don't get it solved.



 

 

NEW: Now Atwater teetering toward bankruptcy

 

By Chriss Street


Atwater, Calif. just admitted it does not have the cash flow to make a $2 million municipal bond payment due in November. It may become the fourth local California government to file for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy this year.


The 28,000-resident farming community has been strangled by environmentalists less interested in family farms than in protecting the lifestyle of a three-inch fish called the Delta Smelt. With the city burdened with crippling ized public employee wage and pension costs, while private sector wages and property values , Atwater is the latest in a soon-to-be tidal wave of local government failures.


Beginning in 2007, Federal Judge Oliver Wanger imposed limits on the amount of water pumped from the San Joachin-Sacramento River delta to farms in California’s Central Valley in order to protect a two-inch endangered fish called the Delta Smelt. As a result, hundreds of thousand of acres of farmland lie fallow, and tens of thousands of jobs were lost. (Wanger later partly reversed himself.)


More than 200,000 farmers, migrant workers and their family members were financially devastated. Homeless shelters and bread lines were overwhelmed as crops withered and banks foreclosed on family farms. Local public schools continue to report rising malnutrition, as many proud families are too embarrassed to take government welfare.


The U.S. House of Representatives Congress passed San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act, H.R. 1837, to try to restore the water flow. But California’s two U.S. Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, fought off the legislation in July by convincing President Obama’s senior advisors to recommend a presidential veto.


A disgusted Speaker of the House John Boehner said on the House floor that using the Endangered Species Act to protect a fish at the expense of food production and economic growth is “a perfect example of the overreach of government”.


The median home price in Atwater has plunged from $336,000 in June 2007 to just $140,000 today and unemployment has surged to 21 percent. The 2010 Atwater median household income was $42,226. That was 19 percent below the national average of $51,914. Almost a fourth of the population is now considered below the poverty line, compared with 13.7 percent statewide, according to U.S. Census figures.


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Comcast Leaving California Due to 'High Cost'

U.S. Economy Grows Less Than Thought


Orders for Durable Goods Plunged in August

Report: 254 Companies Left California in 2011


Top 10 Reasons Why Companies Are Leaving California

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