Auditor: State’s 12 largest cities all at financial risk

Oakland has the worst finances of any large California city, according to the state auditor’s office. (Image: Wikimedia)

According to a new website run by California State Auditor Elaine Howle and her staff, the dozen most populated cities in California all have significant fiscal problems and will be forced into major adjustments in coming years.

Eleven of the cities – Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Santa Ana and Riverside – face what Howle classified as moderate risk. One – Oakland – was seen as a high risk.

All 12 of the cities face considerable stress from the rising cost of pensions. Several – especially Los Angeles – also have vast unfunded health care obligations for their retirees. 

Howle’s findings were depicted as surprising in a Sacramento Bee analysis, which focused on the health of the state economy and the low unemployment rate. But government finance experts have long warned that California’s cities – which have seen the cost of post-employment benefits roughly triple over the last 30 years – are in a far worse position to deal with pension bills that the state and counties. That’s because total employee compensation takes up a much bigger chunk of city budgets.

Howle warns cities to prepare for recession

At a news conference introducing the website, Howle said a primary goal was making sure that both local officials and residents of each city would use her office’s analysis to prepare for a possible economic downturn. Even a mild recession is likely to reduce revenue that cities get from sales and hotel taxes and from development permitting.

“If some of these [cities’] costs continue to go up and these cities aren’t prepared for them, they will have to cut services in order to pay pensions, to pay for benefits, to pay for the debts that some of the cities have taken on,” Howle said, according to the Sacramento Bee. She specifically said nearly half the cities will struggle to meet their steadily increasing payments to CalPERS.

Rankings on the website are based on the 2016-17 fiscal year, with a focus on each city’s pension obligations, pension funding, pension costs, anticipated future pension costs, retiree health care expenses, debt burden, liquidity, general fund reserves and revenue trends.

Overall, 18 cities were said to be at high risk overall, 236 at moderate risk and 217 cities at low risk. Compton – which has not produced an audited overview of its finances in five years – was judged to be in the worst shape, followed by Atwater and Blythe. 

The other cities listed at being high-risk: Lindsay, Calexico, San Fernando, El Cerrito, San Gabriel, Maywood, Monrovia, Vernon, Richmond, Ione, Del Ray Oaks, Maryville, West Covina and La Habra.

Among the cities found to be in the best shape: Rancho Cucamonga, Chino Hills, Poway, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage, La Quinta and Mountain View.

The fact that 2-year-old information was being presented by the auditor as a snapshot of cities’ current fiscal health prompted criticism from the League of California Cities.

“It doesn’t tell the story of now, and so we’re not really clear on how helpful this dashboard is to the public, to the cities or basically anybody,” Jill Oviatt, director of communications and marketing for the league, told the Bee. She likened Howle’s rankings to “a data dump that’s void of context and analysis.”


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  1. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 29 October, 2019, 16:51

    Great advertising for pushing doomers down the pot holed freeway to our travel trailer moving lot. Love the articles….keep them coming….

    Reply this comment
    • Ebolan
      Ebolan 30 October, 2019, 15:22

      It’s enough to make you want to be a swabbie in Queeg’s navy so you can sail away from this madness.

      You got any pack-n-ship deals for the rest of us?

      Reply this comment
      • Queeg
        Queeg 31 October, 2019, 09:46

        Who needs specials.

        Business is brisk. But. We could throw in a antique Korean War era Falstaff aluminum bottle opener with every extendo-trailer cross country deal.

        You can’t believe how popular Vicious is with doomers. We gave away 167 paw autographed pictures of this highly social pup.

        You are shielded from Desert Storm-type winds in our buttressed fire proof comfort bunker while enjoying a vita-rich guava icee with a dab of organic mint leaves…… A sprinkle of Sir Lanka turmeric on request too…

        Reply this comment
    • Edward Ryan
      Edward Ryan 24 November, 2019, 22:14

      Los Angeles Crime Victim, Ed Ryan, wants Justice and End to Los Angeles Court Corruption. 11/24/19
      Attorney Mike Feuer’s Use of Corrupt Neighborhood Prosecutors that Protect LAPD Vigilantes By prosecuting Homeless Victims with False LSAPDS Police Reports Must Stop. by L.A City
      The Corruption is that not one LAPD Police report of any Arrested Homeless Person in Los Angeles says anything about the truth that LAPD Vigilante Harassment of homeless is on-going. Now the truth is out thanks to the “LAPD Crime-buster Vigilante” Scandal. Homeless are provoked by vigilante harassment and arrested when the fight back in self-defense. Why are all arrest reports of homeless out of the LAPD Topanga Station bereft of any mention of vigilante harassment when now we know vigilante harassment of Topanga Area homeless was endemic. The Los Angeles News Media, including the LA Times, is Bias against the Homeless and does not report this issue.
      Los Angeles court corruption victimized me to repeatedly from 2015 through 2018. Some of my arrests were in the San Fernando Valley and in the general in vicinity covered by the vigilantes belonging to; “Homeless Transient Encampments of Our West Valley” and “Crime-busters of West LAPD Hills/and Woodland Hills”. A full investigation by the uncooperating California Attorney General Becerra would prove Los Angeles court corruption. He now fails the people of Los Angeles allowing LAPD Crime-buster Vigilantes to Corrupt courts and Violate civil rights by doing violent crimes onto San Fernando Valley Homeless
      The best way to prove that Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Moore is feeding the public lies and dis-information as a way to cover up the real crimes of corruption being done by this LAPD vigilante thing, is to take a close look at the criminal cases against any San Fernando Homeless defendant from the following category; Any and all San Fernando homeless, either arrested by any LAPD community police officer from LAPD Topanga Community Police Station, or any homeless defendant prosecuted by Attorney Karine Philips, the Deputy City Attorney and Neighborhood prosecutor for the Topanga area. Note that Neighborhood prosecutor Philips was found to be a member of “Homeless Transient Encampments of Our West Valley” and/or “Crime-busters of West LAPD Hills/and Woodland Hills”. Thus, the time frame of criminal cases examined should be the time period that the first vigilante Facebook group above existed.
      Police reports from Homeless arrest cases in the Topanga area since 2016 will show no reporting of any homeless harassment by vigilantes. At the same time, we know the LA City prosecutor covering Topanga, along with many of the SLO community police officers making the arrests were all members of the vigilante Facebook groups. Because of this corruption the police reports will not report the intense vigilante harassment onto the homeless, we now know to be true. The LAPD police that were used to convict and incarcerate will be false and misleading, being reports of random homeless defendants doing supposedly random crimes like threats, assault and vandalism.
      Using false and misleading police reports to convict and incarcerate is felony obstruction of justice. All those involved in making that happen are guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice. LAPD Chief Moore and other officials who downplay the LAPD’s culpability in this matter by labeling this Crime buster LAPD vigilante scandal as no more than LAPD officers using insulting language describing the homeless, are covering-up the corrupt reality. The truth is that this is much more than a few LAPD officers showing poor judgement by joining a secret LAPD vigilante Facebook group and engaging in politically incorrect banter about the homeless, No, it is the of wholesale corruption of the Los Angeles court system through ongoing and repeated acts of obstruction of justice. Ask Judge Kevin Brazile, the presiding justice of the Los Angeles Superior Court. Xavier Becerra covering up the Crime buster vigilante crimes of the LAPD Brass (Deputy Chief Kris Pitchers, a known member of the West valley vigilante Crime-buster group) reason why there has been no full investigation of this matter by the California Attorney General. No doubt the reason that LA Mayor, Eric Garcetti the LA and the LA City Attorney have all stayed silent to protect LAPD Chief Moore and Deputy Chief Pitcher chose to lie and cover up full scale court corruption by spreading dis-information. In the captured Facebook postings, Crime buster vigilante Eileen Barnette posted on the Facebook site criminal threats instructing other LAPD Vigilantes to “make it as uncomfortable as humanely possible. She suggests using flood lights, and firecrackers.” She likes horn honking.
      She thinks standing in the vicinity of a targeted homeless victim and taking pictures is a good tactic. She says there are “other things she wants to do but she does not want to get kicked off the Face book page. This is plain proof that these LAPD that LAPD vigilantes in San Fernando Valley are doing real crimes of violence and assault on the homeless. They do terror instilling stalking and assault and theft acts. To do this they have to do to get up close to targeted homeless and lay down poison or t snap picture.
      These are the same criminals who constantly stalked and harassed me when I was in the San Fernando Valley. When I fought back in self- defense, I was arrested by LAPD SLO members of this group or by other officers sent in by them to protect their identity. Full investigation of this vigilante corruption that has corrupted the LA courts with fraudulent police reports is needed. I was forced against my will to say nothing about the LAPD Gang Stalk vigilantes who attacked me on 12/29/16 in North Hollywood at 2 am. My Los Angeles County public Defender, Casey Kozel and Van Nuys Municipal Court Judge Mulcahy made it clear that any talk by me of the LAPD Gang Stalk vigilante attacked would be met by Mulcahy ordering me to under- go a six-month competency exam at Patten State Hospital. Corrupt Attorney Casey Kozel Filed paperwork with the court against my will. He then worked with corrupt LA county Jail to have a lady, Miss medina come to my cell and warn me to stay quiet about LAPD vigilantes in court or else be shut down in a mental hospital. This is Stasi like police state tactics. Attorney Kozel has now left the Los Angeles County defenders office, leaving 5 months ago when I went public. He now works in San Mateo. I did a six-month sentence because of this fraud. Los Angeles City Attorney Feuer needs to supply Ed Ryan with the identity of the corrupt Neighborhood Prosecutor, like Topanga neighborhood prosecutor, Karine Philips. This Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Prosecutor was corruptly was working with the LAPD vigilantes and used false LAPD Police reports. This unethical and corrupt attorney wrongfully convicted me on 1/23/17 in the Corrupt Van Nuys Court of Van Nuys Municipal Court Judge Mulcahy. I am now asking the California Judicial Council to Investigate the LAPD, the Los Angeles City Attorney and the California Attorney General for their corrupt acts either working with the LAPD Crime-buster vigilantes, or not investigating the corrupt acts of the LAPD Crime-buster Vigilantes.

      Reply this comment
  2. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 30 October, 2019, 17:55

    Some of the cities listed as “moderate risk” should be reviewed more closely. I suggest the analysts check out the State Controller’s Office Annual Reports on Cities and take a look at the bottom lines in the very last Table–total revenue, total expenditures, total indebtedness.

    Reply this comment
    • Joe
      Joe 31 October, 2019, 19:50

      Could you provide a link to the annual reports and that table you mention? Thank you.

      Reply this comment
      • Standing Fast
        Standing Fast 1 November, 2019, 16:46

        Financial reports
        Cities & Counties
        Fiscal Year

        Follow prompts. You can also call the State Controller’s Office for help getting started. Telephone number posted on the site.

        Reply this comment
        • Joe
          Joe 1 November, 2019, 18:30

          Sorry, I can’t find it.

          I don’t see a Financial reports link but do see a Financial Reports, Taxes and Economy link and if I click on it the page that displays has no Cities & Counties link.

          Can you provide clarification or correction?

          Thank you.

          Reply this comment
  3. T TTT Ted Steele, Mentor
    T TTT Ted Steele, Mentor 30 October, 2019, 21:51

    Trump pseudo economic doomera dogma bites chamber of commerce morons in the ass, film at 11!!!

    Reply this comment
  4. Edward Ryan
    Edward Ryan 28 November, 2019, 14:21

    Los Angeles City Council Member Harris-Dawson; You are is totally silent on the “LAPD Crimebuster Vigilante Facebook Scandal” Why do you fail to do “Good Government” oversight to stop LAPD and Los Angeles City Attorney Corruption. Read the “National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, Regional Advocacy Project” Complaint to California Attorney General Becerra. Becerra ignores the complaint even though LAPD vigilantes may of caused the death of the homeless man who is threatened on a video posted by the LAPD vigilantes and referred to in the complaint. The video described above is available here: Vigilante Facebook Postings in the complaint show nine homeless being criminal victimize by LAPD vigilantes. These nine are later arrested, but not one LAPD report tells about the vigilante “Stalking” harassment that provoked the arrest. The Los Angeles City Council should demand LAPD to identify the homeless victims whose photos are in the complaint. The Council will see that the LAPD police reports do not report the truth. No facts of the “vigilante Harassment” provoking the arrest are in the LAPD Police Reports. LA City Attorney Feuer’s Topanga Neighborhood Prosecutor uses the false LAPD reports to Convict and incarcerate the homeless shown in the complaint. The Vigilante Groups “Crime busters of our West Hills and Woodland Hills” and “Homeless Transient Encampments of our West Valley” were started by LAPD vigilante Fern Peskin-White. She is a LAPD volunteer from the Topanga Community Police Station. The participation of LAPD officers in these groups gives tacit permission to vigilante acts. Members include: LAPD Deputy Chief Kris Pitcher, former LAPD Deputy Chief John Sherman (ret. 2018), former LAPD SLO Brent Rygh (ret. 2018), LAPD Topanga At least the tobacco industry doesn’t have a coward LA Mayor Garcetti and vigilante acts by LAPD Officers who are members to the Crimebuster vigilante Facebook vigilante group Members include: LAPD Deputy Chief Kris Pitcher, former LAPD Deputy Chief John Sherman (ret. 2018), former LAPD SLO Brent Rygh (ret. 2018), LAPD Topanga Division Sergeant Karen Rayner, LAPD Senior Lead Officer (SLO) Sean Dinse, LAPD SLO Duke Dao, LAPD SLO Daryl Scoggins, LAPD SLO Gabriel Ahedo, LAPD SLO John Catalano, LAPD SLO Kari McNamee, LAPD SLO Jose Fernandez, LAPD Officer William Jones, LAPD Topanga Police Service Representative Monica Fairbanks. Why are Los Angeles City Attorney, Mike Feuer and LAPD Chief Moore allowing LAPD Brass, LAPD Slo’s and Neighborhood Prosecutors to belong to Vigilante groups. Routine false LAPD reports of homeless arrest, who are provoked by “LAPD Vigilantes”, corrupt the Los Angeles Courts. The Los Angeles City Council reputation is already soiled by cooperating with Mayor Eric Garcetti “Pay For Play” corruption at Los Angeles City Hall. Please do not make it worse by not investigating these LAPD Vigilante Hate crimes onto the homeless. Demand the LAPD supply the names of all homeless shown in the Above mentioned complaint. Then review All LAPD police reports relating to their arrest. Then ask why the LAPD police reports do not mention the
    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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