Big Debt Getting Bigger & Keying Their Majesties’ Land Yachts

by Mark Scaramella, July 13, 2011

County CEO Carmel Angelo informed the Supervisors that the County’s ever-larger debt is again ever-larger.

“Complicating the budget picture is a change in accounting methodology related to the Teeter Program for the FY 2009-10 Audit,” began Ms. Angelo. (The Teeter Plan allows California counties to borrow against anticipated tax delinquency penalties and interest. For years Mendo over anticipated the income from this nebulous fiscal mechanism, thus necessitating another cooking of the books.)

“This change significantly raises the County’s General Fund negative balance — despite no recent borrowing from Teeter funds — and this balance is a key indicator for financial institutions.” (Translation — Thanks to generations of profligate spending banks, themselves wobbling from their own profligacy and massive swindling, are unlikely to lend us any more money.)

“While it is feasible," Angelo continued, "that this may have minimal impact upon the County’s short-term TRANS [cash-flow credit] rating, it has become clear that this situation poses significant risk to the County’s long-term rating. Teeter debt is on an amortized payment schedule, and is set to be fully repaid in 2028. (!) Between the County’s Teeter debt, and non-Teeter debt within the General Fund, it is possible that the County’s long-term credit rating could dip below investment grade and remain there until the County eliminates the negative General Fund balance. (Which would occur precisely on the 12th of Never given all the givens of the shrinking American economy.) This would likely make the refinancing of the County’s COP [Certificates of Participation, aka borrowing for specific projects or programs] debt cost-prohibitive. It also could mean that the County’s ability to finance capital projects, such as a new Jail, would be extremely limited until the negative General Fund balance is eliminated.”

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One other interesting, if minor and completely wacky issue arose during the consolidation discussion: Since the Public Defender’s and Alternate Public Defender’s offices are being moved into the “Courthouse Annex” closer to the Courthouse, will the more estranged defendants "damage" the Judges’ cars in the adjacent parking lot? Gasp! Do you mean their majesties' Land Rovers might get keyed? Their tires slashed? Clearly, that parking lot merits 24-hour security.

If clinical paranoia is defined as the inability to distinguish between possiblities and probabilities, someone is crazy here.

The perceived problem of what could happen to judges' vehicles took up quite a bit of time, albeit mostly with irrelevant detail about file storage randomly interspersed in remarks by Public Defender Linda Thompson.

Thompson: “With the Alternate Defender’s office entering in through that back parking lot, and I understand the judges are grown ups and the judges can probably accept that our clients aren’t going to do anything to their cars, however, I am concerned about all of the judges who park their vehicles there. We already presently have difficulties in parking for staff, people park in that parking lot from the brewery [another class of judicial malcontents, apparently]; I’ve had some difficulties with other offices having people stop there and even in just a few minutes that can be a concern.” Thompson then rattled on at length about files and storage, conceding, with an unctuous smile, that she was sure it could all be worked out and in some major ways it’ll be a big improvement.

Supervisor McCowen said the parking probably wouldn’t be a problem. “I don’t think the parking is an issue because there is allegedly or ostensibly no public parking in the Annex lot now, so all of your clients are currently competing on the street for parking spaces and they would presumably be in the same position, or perhaps there could even be a few short-term parking spaces reserved for your office."

Supervisor Carre Brown said she was concerned about the parking too. “Is there any parking available across the street at Child Support Services?”

Ms. McMenomey replied that the CSS lot was already quite full, what with all the deadbeat dads and their exes besieging that sad office for their respective pounds of flesh. “The public defender already has designated parking in that particular spot and five more spaces will become available for the public defender or alternate public defender,” added McMenomey.

In the end of this unseemly back and forth — parking safety and convenience for highly paid public bureaucrats isn't high on the public's list of concerns (and as if staff couldn’t handle such routine matters — Ms. McMenomey pointed out that security cameras would be installed on the parking lot.

And that, my fellow Americans, is your local leadership in action, in these, the last days.

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