California = disaster

It’s official: California is a disaster.

2012Oh, a disaster area, that’s what I meant. Sorry.

President Barack Obama today declared a major disaster exists in California and ordered federal aid for recovery efforts in the area struck by severe winter storms, flooding, and debris and mud flows from Dec. 17 through Jan. 4.

That funding will be made available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofits on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storms, flooding, and debris and mud flows in Inyo, Kern, Kings, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Tulare counties. Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

We still have to deal with the rest of our disasters on our own.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • ralph hoffmann

    Josh, what steps do the President and Congress have to take to allow states like CA to declare bankrupcy?

  • Josh Richman

    Ralph, they’d have to change the law, and with people like the House Budget Committee chairman dead-set against it, that seems like a longshot.

  • ralph hoffmann

    Why would the Republican House Budget Committee Chair be opposed when bankrupcy would relieve CA of paying unfunded pensions to higher-up state retirees, most of whom I assume are Democrats?

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Ralphie and JR, California would have to change its own constitution to permit bankruptcy/default. If Mr Lockyer is any authorty, it ain’t gonna happen.

  • John W

    Hard to imagine the state declaring some kind of bankruptcy without most cities and counties doing the same, not to mention numerous other states. Wide scale defaults on state and muni bonds would start a cascade of events that would make the Great Depression look like a picnic — complete ruin of our economy and whatever wealth any of us possesses. We’d be 3rd world. If you take bond defaults off the table, what’s left? Retiree health care and pensions. Ballot box action is the only way those will get adequately addressed. Dan Borenstein wrote a column about this on Jan. 16th. Anything the governor and legislature negotiates with the unions, or crams down, would be far, far short of what is needed. Maybe we could pay the unfunded portion of pensions and retiree health care with IOU’s!

  • ralph hoffmann

    Josh, Cantor (R-VA) and the SEIU are dead against state bankrupcy. This issue has strange dead-fellows.
    Sorry, I meant bed-fellows.