Part of the Bay Area News Group

Wieckowski’s bill

By Matt Artz
Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 at 11:40 pm in Uncategorized.

Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski has a bill he says will help avert municipal bankruptcies. But apparently cities don’t like it one bit.

First, here’s Wieckowski’s press release:

ASSEMBLY LOCAL GOVERNMENT

PASSES BILL AIMED AT AVERTING

MUNICIPAL BANKRUPTCIES

SACRAMENTO – A bill by Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to help fiscally-strapped municipalities avoid the myriad problems associated with bankruptcy, such as in the case of Vallejo, was approved today by the Assembly Local Government Committee 5 to 3.   The bill, AB 506, would establish a mediation process to allow a fair resolution among all creditors and the struggling municipality. It will now head to the Appropriations Committee.

“If you look at the toll that has resulted from the city of Vallejo’s bankruptcy filing, it is little wonder why some associated with it say you have to be crazy to pursue bankruptcy,” said Wieckowski, a former Fremont City Council member and a bankruptcy attorney.  “Three fire stations were closed, 40 percent of the police officers were let go, the number of firefighters were substantially reduced and about $10 million and climbing was spent on legal fees.  Now the city is recognized in Time Magazine for bankruptcy and prostitution.”

Wieckowski’s bill would permit bankruptcies only after municipalities have entered into mediation with its creditors and stakeholders.  A specially-trained neutral third party mediator chosen by the municipality and stakeholders would work with the parties to forge a resolution.  The bill seeks to avert bankruptcy and provide a process to make debt restructuring efficient and more cost effective than a long, drawn-out bankruptcy case.

“This legislation is designed to get all parties to negotiate in good faith toward a common consensus with an independent, trained mediator leading the way,” Wieckowski said.  “Taxpayers are the big losers from municipal bankruptcies because of the extensive legal fees, and rising borrowing costs.  A bankruptcy should be the absolute last resort and only after vigorous negotiations by all the stakeholders.  This is a work in progress and I look forward to continuing the conversation with municipalities to improve the bill.”

Now click here for a Sacramento Bee editorial opposing the bill as a gift to public employee unions:


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  • bbox231

    Here’s the link that Matt had intended to share -

    http://www.sacbee.com/2011/05/04/3599732/yet-more-union-meddling-in-local.html

  • bbox231

    my bad . .

    There *is* a link on the word “here” in Matt’s orig post.

  • West

    Wieckowski’s bill, is it for Coperate America, making it more difficult for cities to file bankruptcy.
    I thought Wieckowski was a democrat, why is He pushing this Bill for Corperate America????????

  • West

    By Corporate America, I meant Unions; they are large corporations that wield a lot of power. I have been a union member, but we were fighting for basic rights, not to become pension millionaires.
    Yes, I know my spelling sucks

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/parting-gifts-for-election-losers/ Marty

    Coperate America

    An America where only cops can afford iPhones.

  • charlie C

    #3 Calguy…Wieckowski is a (reasonable) Democrat unlike Vinnie the arrogant or Choo Choo McDonald.

  • bbox231

    “This legislation is designed to get all parties to negotiate in good faith toward a common consensus . . . “

    Wait a minute – - – don’t all parties get together every contract renewal period and “negotiate in good faith toward a common consensus…” already ?????!!!!! (The answer is “Yes – they do.”)

    So – why is Bobbie W. now suggesting that we re-re-re-hash the very same negotiating process which has ultimately failed to achieve anything more than sound-bite “concessions” from the public unions?

    Here’s the important point – - – Taxpayers may need a way to eliminate the huge debt obligations which are accruing from out-of-control pension and retirement plans. Municipal BK is just such a tool and for all the reasons Weicksowski mentions, BK is a last resort in the private sector and should remain as such in the public sector.

    But – Bobbie wants to change that.

    “Taxpayers are the big losers from municipal bankruptcies because of the extensive legal fees . . .”

    WAIT A MINUTE ! ! ! ! ! if that were true, there would be no one filing for BK . . . but Bobbie W. has made a pretty nice living, in part, facilitating personal bankruptcy.

    The TRUTH of this matter is that EVERYONE is losing by maintaining a pretense of an ability to service debt loads which are completely unrealistic. Legal fees are a drop in the bucket and while there ARE legal fees involved with a BK filing the MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF FUTURE DEBT which are eliminated in the BK process are the big win for taxpayers !! So, while it might cost a few 10’s of thousands or even 100’s of thousands of dollars in legal fees, cities will, potentially, retire MILLIONS in future debt obligation.

    “A bankruptcy should be the absolute last resort and only after vigorous negotiations by all the stakeholders. “

    Absolutely true. . . and as made previously clear, we undertake “vigorous negotiations” year after year after year and it has gotten many to the brink of financial calamity. . . . . and despite those efforts, for some, BK will be the only way out.

    The unions would like to plug that hole.

    So, the real purpose of Bobbie’s legislation is to hinder the current BK process in such a manner that it is no longer a viable threat to public unions – and he knows it. The very entities which are largely responsible for driving many municipalities into red ink are, through this legislation, attempting to ensure that their out-of-control pension plans cannot be reined in through the use of municipal BK.

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/parting-gifts-for-election-losers/ Marty

    I’d accept bankruptcy being taken off the table as long as employee contracts are approved by voters. Though, if that were the case, no thinking person would own property in a city without sound financials.

    Honestly, I kind of envy the freedom renters have — where there’s no direct contribution/obligation to government by way of property taxes. And if the city mismanages itself into service-deprived debt-shackled scam, then you as a renter can just bounce out of town (like Wieckowski did).

  • West

    There is always the initiative process to fix the bloated pensions and healthcare for life, the voters and residence of Fremont is getting tired of the Unions Top Lobbyist, Mayor Wasserman!
    A ballot measure is usually done, when the politicians have failed the voters and residence of Fremont.

    Please no band aids, fix the problem or we (The Public will) .through the initiative process

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/parting-gifts-for-election-losers/ Marty

    I’m tired of initiatives, West. In fact I’d rather not vote on compensation either.

    In a perfect world those elected by the people would serve the people and not those who donate heavily to their campaigns. And when elected officials sell out the future ability of our governments to function for the short term benefit of a union endorsement, those two parties would take the hits rather all us tax paying spectators.

    I kike Box’s comment:

    The real purpose of Bobbie’s legislation is to hinder the current BK process in such a manner that it is no longer a viable threat to public unions

    In that respect, I can’t think of a political idea that is less populist than the one Wieckowski is presenting. He is truly an ideological fraud.

  • bbox231

    Here’s another perspective on municipal BK – “What Happens When City Hall Goes Bankrupt ?”

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=60740288

    Significant takeaway (if you do not have time to read the article for yourselves) – “In Vallejo’s case, bankruptcy offers another benefit: It would allow the city to renegotiate costly labor contracts with public-safety employees, which reportedly account for about 80 percent of the city’s general fund budget.”

    For whatever reasons, Bobbie W. fails to include this particular “benefit” amongst his list of rationalizations.

  • West

    Is Bobbie Wiekowski a Democrat??????? Sounds like far right politics??

  • http://fcnisbacon.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/parting-gifts-for-election-losers/ Marty

    Selling the fort to line labor’s pockets is far right wing politics?

  • bbox231

    You read it here first . . . . and now, Bobbie W. has finally revealed his true color, which has nothing to do with those of you who pay taxes and everything to do with those safety unions who have made a comfortable living by stacking the pension deck in their favor.

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_20693342/contra-costa-times-editorial-new-bankruptcy-bill-shows

    Because MNG/BANG does not keep their content hosted for too very long, here is a cut and paste of the article currently located at the above link:

    Contra Costa Times editorial: New bankruptcy bill shows assemblyman can’t be trusted to keep his word

    Contra Costa Times editorial

    © Copyright 2011, Bay Area News Group

    For three years now, public employee unions have been trying to make it impossible for local governments to seek bankruptcy protection.

    This has been a raw political power play to take the federal court option off the table, to force the rare local government that might be on the financial brink to irresponsibly borrow its way out of a crisis rather than seek bankruptcy protection that might lead to changes in unaffordable labor contracts.

    Leaders of cities and counties see bankruptcy as an absolute last resort because they recognize the devastating credit consequences and fear the loss of financial control. However, they understandably feel they need to preserve that option just in case, especially as the state’s economy continues to be moribund.

    Last year, during a showdown in Sacramento, a compromise was worked out — thanks to the leadership of Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis — in negotiations that involved both houses of the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown.

    It sets up a nonbinding, 90-day mediation process involving the local government and interested parties to see if a plan can be developed to avoid bankruptcy.

    To us, this seemed like a solution in search of a problem. Since 1949, only two cities and one county in California have filed for bankruptcy. That, however, was the bargain.

    Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, who carried the legislation, originally had tried to ram through a much more far-reaching bill. When the compromise was reached, he called it “a positive and reasonable step to forge an agreement on debt restructuring by municipalities in distress without going into bankruptcy.”

    Within weeks of the law taking effect, Wieckowski introduced new legislation to undermine the compromise process, which currently is being applied in two financially distressed cities — Stockton and Mammoth Lakes.

    Wieckowski admitted to us this week that he had no information that the process wasn’t working as intended in those two cities. In addition, he admitted that he had not talked to any local government organizations involved with last year’s compromise.

    Local governments had correctly insisted that the mediation process be nonbinding and that it have strict time limits that could only be extended by mutual agreement.

    Wieckowski’s new, obliquely written bill would alter that. As the mayors of the state’s 10 largest cities said in a joint letter this week, “Seeking to undo key parts of (last year’s compromise) just months after it was passed does not foster a culture of trust or reliability.”

    Wieckowski was a key party to last year’s negotiations. His bill this year demonstrates an appalling display of bad faith and shows he can’t be counted on to keep his word.

  • charlie C

    #14…
    Do you believe Vinnie Bacon can *ever* hope to hold Bob Wieckowski jock? The *gutless* Bacon is even afraid to prune his own shrubs…just.ask his wife.
    Why would *anyone* vote for this loser?

    #12…
    Hey CalGuy, adult diapers are on sale…. buy one get one one free this weekend at VinnieMart fool!

  • bbox231

    So, according to the CC Times, individuals who have served our Council are glad to make use of the tactics of bad faith negotations and lack of comittment to their own words.

    According to Charlie, individuals who support our Council prefer to make use of the tactics of name-calling, avoidance of facts, and personalized nonesense when combatting their detractors.

    Draw your own conclusions. Birds of a feather . .. .

  • charlie C

    According to his wife Bacon won’t even prune his shrubbery because he claims to be able to hear the vegetation scream …does this man deserve to be elected? Draw your own conclusions!

  • bbox231

    This guy just keeps on swinging.

    The California Legislature drafts an unconstitutional law which provides small-businesses with a tax break. Many years later, the California 2nd Court of Appeal declares the thing in conflict with Federal commerce law and The California Franchise Tax Board then asks for unpaid taxes to be returned to the state. (Taxes which WEREN’T paid by small business owners for many years while acting according to this unconstitutional law)

    Bob W says – “..if this is allowed to stand it will strip away any certainty investors and small business owners possess”

    Unfortunately, he’s NOT making reference to the ineptitude of the original action . . . . but, instead is making the California Franchise Tax Board out to be the villian!

    If *I* am a business person, the loss of confidence and faith and damage done occurred at the moment the courts stated that a law passed by the Legislature was in conflict with Federal law. I’m wondering if I can do business in California when their legislature is so lame as to concoct something this half-baked.

    Now the question is, do we reward the Legislature and their constituency for passing and acting on an unconstitutional law??

    Seems like Bob is hoping that the California FTB is willing to operate according to the adage of “Easier to get forgiveness . . . .”

    Take some responsbility, Bob. The Legislature passed this thing. The Legislature needs to get busy explaining their “mistake” to their constituency and stop hoping the FTB will bail them out.

    http://asmdc.org/members/a25/newsroom/press/item/2759-assemblymember-wieckowski-opposes-ftbs-retroactive-denial-of-small-business-incentive

  • West

    There needs to be some accountability in Sacremento. Our Legislters are next to worthless. Check the feel good bills they pass, ignoring the really big problems.
    I am not sure term limits solved as many problems as it has created. In the meantime Gov. Brown is shoving the high speed rail fiasco, and the tunnels by private interests, to pump Delta Water to los Angeles swimming pools.Southern California has never really practiced water conservation. Boy, did I Get off point. What do we do??????

  • bbox231

    “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite.”

    “What do we do?” –

    I believe that our current process and media preoccupation with moral/ethical/personal b.s. is clearly a contributor to the declining quality of leadership who choose to enter public service.

    It has been over the course of the most recent decades that we’ve chosen to deviate from a wisdom of the past which understood that our political leaders were human – and we politley gave them the room to misbehave in their personal lives. Going back further in time, a level of misbehavior was even expected. .. . . but, in both cases, it was rarely scrutinized by the media with the furvor we are currently subjected to.

    As a result, we see increasing numbers of personalities that are either too naive to understand the reality of todays political stage, or, are so arrogant as to think they (and their families) can remain unscathed by this nonesense. In either case, the candidate is seriously out of touch with reality.

    If Sara Palin is an example of the best female running mate the RNC can muster, then something is very much broken with the process that sees her rising to the top.

    If Colin Powell was driven to exit from the political scene, what was it that caused this very talented individual to do so?

    The quality of our candidates is (increasingly – and not in ALL instances) declining with time. Electorate is far too preoccupied with things that dont matter.

  • bbox231

    Wow –

    “Hayashi will vie for the state senate seat — from which Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, has reached the term limit — against Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont; Democrat Roman Reed, a spinal-injury research advocate and planning commissioner from Fremont; and Republican Peter Kuo, an insurance agent from Santa Clara.”

    So – with all respect to the also-rans – we’ll get to pick from Hayashi – an individual who has difficulty understanding “yours” from “mine” and Bob Wieckowski, a guy that subordinates fiscal sustainability of our municipalities to the ongoing wants of unionized labor.

    Personally, I fault the Republicans for this abysmal choice of candidates. While they are in near total meltdown and unable to field any kind of unified response, these are the kinds of choices the Dem’s can serve up – - – and still have a strong chance at finishing first. It’s competition that breeds quality to some degree and in today’s political environment, there is little (if any) competition.

    I watched Bob for a lot of years in Council chambers, frequently wondering what the heck it was he was trying to say/do. The answer, for me, has become increasingly clear as he departed (thank goodness!) our city – - his words are, frequently, an intellectual obfuscation – non-answer – - simply trying to bewilder his audience while he continues quietly moving on to the next pro-union action.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/elections/ci_25144532/mary-hayashi-rolls-out-her-state-senate-campaign