Blame all around for biggest U.S. municipal bankruptcy

Comments (35)
Element3 wrote:

“Jefferson County, with a population of about 660,000, contains some of the richest neighborhoods in the country”
Melinda, Jefferson County is nationally ranked 459th with a median household income of $37-43K and median home value of $132K.

Nov 10, 2011 2:05pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Tiredofit2 wrote:

Element what difference does it make if they have the the richest neighborhoods or not? Are you trying to say that just because some have money that they should pay for the bills of all? I don’t feel that they should. If you owe money you should pay your own bill. I don’t see anything that shows a willingness to give those who make more money some sort of credit (say a deduction on their taxes) if they end up paying more than they owe. I am sick to death of everyone saying ‘the rich should pay for it’. This is half the problem here. No one wants to have to pay their own bills. Instead they want handouts and programs put in place to help them so they don’t have to pay their bills.

Nov 10, 2011 7:52pm EST  --  Report as abuse

Typical – blame the Republicans for the fact you are in bankruptcy…

“Carrington also laid blame at the feet of Governor Robert Bentley and the state’s Republican-controlled legislature for not calling a special session to raise taxes to help Jefferson County settle its debt.”

When it is REALLY the corrupt Democrat mayor’s fault…

“Larry Langford, a Democrat and former mayor of Birmingham, was sentenced to 15 years in prison last year for his role in corrupt business deals that fueled the multibillion-dollar sewer debt. Langford presided over the county commission during the height of the bond swaps that led to the run-up of the massive debt.”

Yes, why don’t you tax all the other people in the state to get your sorry a** out of bankruptcy. After all, they didn’t elect corrupt officials who done “runofft” with the money!

Nov 10, 2011 7:56pm EST  --  Report as abuse
trajan2448 wrote:

Blame? Give me a break. The blame is on the county that spent way more than they had coming in and handed out pensions and benefits they had no business doing. End of story.

Nov 10, 2011 8:27pm EST  --  Report as abuse
trajan2448 wrote:

Larry Langford, a Democrat and former mayor of Birmingham, was sentenced to 15 years in prison last year for his role in corrupt business deals that fueled the multibillion-dollar sewer debt. Langford presided over the county commission during the height of the bond swaps that led to the run-up of the massive debt.
This what happens when idiots elect politicians WHO CAN’T EARN A LIVING IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR SO THEY STEAL FROM THE TAXPAYER. TYPICAL DEM.

Nov 10, 2011 8:30pm EST  --  Report as abuse
davemowers wrote:

What happened to America? Since when did we allow a company (J.P. Morgan) to admit they committed fraud and still negotiate with them? They waived their legal rights when they engineered a scheme to defraud the people of Jefferson County. The only fair ruling for the Judge to make is a complete nullification of ALL debt and for investors to sue J.P. Morgan for their money.

THIS IS RIDICULOUS PEOPLE, JP MORGAN IS GUILTY AND THEY SHOULD PAY.

Nov 10, 2011 8:43pm EST  --  Report as abuse
BobGrenJr wrote:

Great Comments, some of you hit the nail on the head. But that’s where it ends, you don’t take the next step which is to organize into a Solidarity movement and force reforms. We have to abolish the things that are causing our economy to collapse into a Great Depression(16 million Americans are without jobs—a Great Depression for them already). The Republicans are rinos, but A general strike will force your private sector employers to stop paying taxes till the crooks are put in prison. A peaceful, mass movement. mensunion org

Nov 10, 2011 8:55pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Soljerblue wrote:

I have been in Birmingham since 1986, as a broadcast journalist and media rep for a large local non profit. In that time I have watched the city and the county degenerate from well-governed entities to having their finances mismanaged, misused and abused by elected representatives, several of whom are now doing prison time. The county commission created a total disaster around the sewer project from which county taxpayers may not recover for a generation. They will pay the price for the stupidity and criminality of their so-called “leaders”. And the only thing those “leaders” know how to do is raise taxes, and ask the state for a bail-out, and blame the governor because they don’t get it. Governor Bentley and the new legislature weren’t elected to dig the county out of the hole its leaders created. Alabama taxpayers should not, and do not, have the responsibility to throw scarce resources at Jefferson County’s homegrown problem. The county is losing jobs and residents steadily because of this mess, and it will only get worse as those who are able get out. The cure may well be worse than the disease, but in this case the cause of the disease lies at the door of the Jefferson County Commission and no one else.

Nov 10, 2011 9:05pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Muttley49 wrote:

The beginning of the end for the entitlement crowd and freeloaders who can no longer expect to look to the Legislature to raise taxes to spread the load out over the entire state. Just so they can continue their financial misconduct and corrupt behavior.

Note to all politicians, quit stealing my grand childrens money!

Nov 10, 2011 9:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse

In a recent local election, the 99% all voted to continue to force the 1% to give more and more… unfortunately, those 99 ticks sucked all the blood out of the thoroughly outvoted and defeated dog, who then died.

…but it was a Fair Election expressing the will of the 99% ; )

Nov 10, 2011 10:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Sewblon wrote:

“Jessie Morris, a notary public waiting in a long lime outside the Jefferson County courthouse in Birmingham on Thursday, said bankruptcy would likely exacerbate the impact of the economic downturn on cash-strapped county residents.” Mr. Brown, you typed “m” when you should have typed “n” Unless you meant that the notary public waited inside a citrus fruit.

Nov 10, 2011 11:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
labillyboy wrote:

Just too many stupid people in this county. They voted in criminals who spent more than they had coming in. Problem with Cities, Counties and States is you can’t just “tax the rich” because guess what? They can move out of the city, the county or the state… then what? Same thing works at at national level too, why do you think so many millionaires and billionaires invest outside of the U.S.? Stupid people vote for Democrats who promise gov’t solutions to every problem that can never be delivered or paid for… but stupid people don’t understand that.

Nov 10, 2011 11:48pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Edson22 wrote:

Democrats spend money and expect others to pay the bill. people in all major cities keep electing democrats and then wonder why they are so far in debt. Of course these people have no decent education and no fathers.

Nov 11, 2011 12:10am EST  --  Report as abuse
bigpsgal wrote:

Does the city of Birmingham honestly expect the rest of the state to pay for their sewer system? In my north AL city, we pay for our own pot to pee in, responsibly, on a budget. Sorry. I would hope that the B’ham taxpayers are ready to hold themselves accountable for failure to elect the right leaders and correct their error at their polling stations. Dismiss corrupt and incompetent politicians and elect those who can prop you back up. I am praying for these communities.

Nov 11, 2011 12:59am EST  --  Report as abuse
ProfessorJ wrote:

For some time Birmingham has been in the relentless grip of a housing crisis. This is the elephant in the room that noone seems to want to talk about. Each foreclosure reduces the price of the houses around it. As prices fall home owners, with no equity, turn in the keys. the vicious cycle drastically reduces the money a city or county can take in. There is only so much cutting anyone can do. Ironically there is no financial justification for all of the thousands of foreclosures taking place. The market is glutted. Repossession is like having a license to fish in a pond that is fished out with hundred s of fisherman trying to catch something. The Federal government has failed to address this. We need to incentivize saving people’s homes.

Nov 11, 2011 1:43am EST  --  Report as abuse
Ian1 wrote:

Suppose those bonds were AAA rated too?

Nov 11, 2011 7:43am EST  --  Report as abuse

What the article doesn’t mention is that a federal judge ordered the sewer system to be improved. The crooks on the County Commission thought that once sewer waa available people would get off septic tanks. That didn’t happen. And Jefferson county has Mountain Brook, one fo the richest neighborhoods in the nation. It also has bham, one of the most deadly cities in the nation.

Nov 11, 2011 7:53am EST  --  Report as abuse
Bevus wrote:

Go and tell Mercedes Benz to give back that $5,000,000 tax donation you all gave them to build that plant down in Tuscaloosa! Did it do anything for B’ham? hell no, but it was a donation from the tax payers for the unions, now the tax payers have to eat dirt. Blame anyone you want, but the real culprit is demonrat mismanagement, union give-a-ways, and greedy pensions for public workers. And the stupid tax payers just sit there and eat the dirt shoveled into their mouths.

Nov 11, 2011 8:42am EST  --  Report as abuse
IrateNate wrote:

From the photo, it looks like the “Occupy Jefferson County” movement has slowed…

Nov 11, 2011 9:25am EST  --  Report as abuse
Hedley_Lamar wrote:

A city with a Democrat mayor going bankrupt…. whodda thunk it? And then there’s ProfessorJ who thinks the federal government should do something about foreclosures…. like what? The federal government caused the housing bubble and he thinks they’re smart enough to actually fix it. Apparently he’s another clueless Democrat. The root of the entire economic downturn is due to the doubling of the price of gas and the Democrats are in complete denial. Until we get back into the energy business, there will be nothing but misery. Who you vote for in 2012 will seal our fate – one way or the other.

Nov 11, 2011 9:38am EST  --  Report as abuse
johnengles wrote:

Carrington also laid blame at the feet of Governor Robert Bentley and the state’s Republican-controlled legislature for not calling a special session to raise taxes to help Jefferson County settle its debt.

Talk about pass the buck,its the city mismanagement that brought this downfall! Birmingham run by mini obamas collapses from within and screws all its people too!

Whatever made them think a city could run a 3.5 billion dollar ponzi scheme to begin with,perhaps the FEDS forced birmingham to redo its sewer systems thru the unfunded mandates democrats are famous for!

Nov 11, 2011 9:52am EST  --  Report as abuse
factsrus wrote:

I see numerous factors….the poor as well as the not so poor require the use of the sewer system…all need to pay a share….corruption in the past…some of those involved got jail time…how about going after their assets to offset a portion of these expenses…anyone who benefitted from the corruption should be investigated for recovery of funds, including County Officials, Banks, etc. etc…tried & true method…follow the money…then investigate and prosecute!

Nov 11, 2011 10:05am EST  --  Report as abuse
BillRice wrote:

Everyone is missing the real story with Jefferson County bankruptcy. This was caused by the United States federal government mandating that Jefferson County upgrade its sewer system. The EPA and U.S. attorney joined a lawsuit and a judge decreed that the county spend at least $ 1 billion to settle the suit. The sewer system did not HAVE to be upgraded, or a much less expensive repair could have been used. None of what’s happened – layoffs, quadrupled sewer rates, loss of government services – would have happened absent this federal government mandate. Again, this was NOT a voluntary action on party of county commission. They were forced to do what caused this Mother-of-All-Unintended Consequences. Let’s lay blame where it belongs – Federal government environmental activists forcing a local government to do something that wasn’t in its interest, the interest of its citizens, overall quality of life or economic future. Talk about “cost/benefits” for a project! I wish Reuters would cover this story from this angle. This is the real story the media is ignoring.

Nov 11, 2011 10:57am EST  --  Report as abuse
johnnynj wrote:

Unnecessary to write or read this whole article, all you need to read is the last sentence.

“Politics ruled, logic doesn’t”…….this can be said for the vast majority of government. It’s why we’re in the mess we’re in.

Nov 11, 2011 11:44am EST  --  Report as abuse
february2 wrote:

I guess the city administrators feel it is more important to keep workers in the city workforce than going bankrupt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nov 11, 2011 12:58pm EST  --  Report as abuse
mtnhiker wrote:

“Carrington also laid blame at the feet of Governor Robert Bentley and the state’s Republican-controlled legislature for not calling a special session to raise taxes to help Jefferson County settle its debt”

I guess Carrington beleives that the rest of Alambama should bail out Jeffereson County – WHY?

It sounds liek Jefferson county allowed the fraud and corruption to flourish, why should the rest of Alabama have to pay for it?
Jeffereson County should live with its mistakes. Without some responsibility and Accountability soon states like California, Rhode Island, and Illinois will want the rest of the country to bail them out becuse of thier irresponsible spending.

Nov 11, 2011 1:05pm EST  --  Report as abuse
GLK wrote:

This economy is still experiencing what happens when a President removes all the pre-existing rules, controls, enforcement and oversight on financial institutions. Hey Banks, we’ve unshackled you, so fly little birdies fly! And fly they did making tons of money for themselves and everyone else along the way. The economy was screaming at a record pace, ain’t life grand we have the best President, ever! The year was 1995 and that President was Bill Clinton.

Nov 11, 2011 1:07pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Boggie wrote:

THIS is what happened to Birmingham…

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/looting-main-street-20100331

I hope they have enough guts to stick with the bankruptcy. The criminal bankers and corrupt politicians should all be in jail!

Nov 11, 2011 1:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Boggie wrote:

Google “Taibbi Birmingham” and you’ll see where the fault for this debacle lies. HINT! It ain’t with the taxpayers!

Nov 11, 2011 1:34pm EST  --  Report as abuse
kyslim wrote:

My lord!!! these democrats take the cake” blaming the republicans for not raising taxes and making the whole state pay for their robing the City and County blind. They have no shame. This reminds me of the city in L A Ca paying all the democrat officals $800.000 a year. LOL I guess they could blame Bush.

Nov 11, 2011 1:48pm EST  --  Report as abuse
reman wrote:

JPMorgan should seize the sewers and shut them down until they get paid! Cancel all pensions, cut all county employees pay by 75%, seize the assets of all politicians and sell all the county assets.

Nov 11, 2011 3:05pm EST  --  Report as abuse

Bill Rice is right. The Federal government did order the sewer improvements which were not needed. Yes, you can blame the enviro wackos for that part. Where in the constitution does the federal govt get the power to tell a county how to build a sewer system?

But to compound the problem, the commission (bribes going on at this time) decided to expand the sewer system beyond what was ordered thinking they would have more revenues because people would abandon their septic tanks. Didn’t happen. So that revenue never came in.

Another scandal going on not mention is John Young from New Jersey was appointed to oversee the sewer system mess. In one year he has been paid a MILLION DOLLARS!!!!! And all he has done is 1) recommend massive sewer fee hikes and 2) create a welfare program so poor people won’t have to pay increased fees.

The scandal continues. The corruption continues. Some journalist from CNBC or Fox Business needs to come down here and report on all the corruption.

Nov 11, 2011 3:21pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Lupae wrote:

They are bankrupt because of mismanagement.

This will be similar to what happens to the United States next year. Let the bankruptcy court straighten things out. That is what they are there for.

Nov 11, 2011 3:21pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Duane7Z7Z wrote:

Orange County, CA has 4 1/2 times more people than Jefferson and has an economy about 8 times larger. It filed Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 1994.

Your article title needs to be corrected.

Nov 11, 2011 6:22pm EST  --  Report as abuse
TheNewWorld wrote:

They are for raising taxes on everyone but not for raising the sewer system prices? How is that fair? Obama’s solution would be to mandate that all people in the county must be a sewer system customer, or be fined yearly. That would fix their budget problems.

Nov 12, 2011 3:24am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.