San Bernardino's budget troubles turn ugly

This is what happens when your city gets into such a financial pinch that cops have to be laid off. Having filed for bankruptcy, San Bernardino's homicide rate jumped more than 50 percent in 2012. That comes after a steady drop in recent years. It's a reminder that despite an improving economy for California as a whole, certain regions remain vulnerable. From the NYT:

Dozens of officers have been laid off since the bankruptcy filing, leaving the police force with 264 officers, down from 350 in 2009. Those who remain call in sick more often, said the police chief, Robert Handy. Emergency response times are up. Nonemergency calls often get no response. At the same time, as part of a plan to reduce the state prison population, nearly 4,000 criminals who would once have been sent to state prison have been put in the custody of San Bernardino County law enforcement authorities. Some have been released, putting more low-level criminals back on the streets of San Bernardino, Chief Hardy said, and adding to the challenges already faced by the police.

Joel Kotkin says that California continues to suffer from a bifurcated society of haves and have-nots. From the OC Register:

Essentially, there is only one practical solution to this dilemma: a program that promotes economic growth. This strategy would transcend the recent reliance on asset-based bubbles that have boosted property markets and technology stocks. Another bubble, whether an investor-driven spike in property values in Newport Beach or a stock mania in Silicon Valley, may provide a temporary boost in revenue but will do very little to improve employment for the vast majority or to stabilize long-term finances. The recent surge in tech employment in places like Silicon Valley is neither likely to persist or improve conditions for many Californians. The days of huge employment gains in Silicon Valley - where jobs more than tripled from 1970-2000 - are over. Even in the current boom, the Valley's employment remains down from a decade ago, and the rest of the state is doing decidedly worse.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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