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Santa Monica College Hosts Panel on Why Cities Go Bankrupt


By Jorge Casuso

September 17, 2012 -- So far, Santa Monica has dodged the fiscal bullet thanks to a healthy economy and thriving development. But other cities are no so fortunate.

On Wednesday the Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute will present a panel and audience discussion titled “Why Do Cities Go Bankrupt?” The event will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at the college’s Bundy Campus Room 123, 3171 S. Bundy Drive.

"California was stunned this year at the news that three of its cities were plunging into bankruptcy," forum organizers said. "Now, many are saying that San Bernardino, Stockton and Mammoth Lakes could be just the tip of the iceberg."

The panel -- moderated by Policy Institute Founding Director and former State Sen. Sheila Kuehl -- will "not only answer the question posed but will talk about how widely the suffering may be spread," organizers said.

“The topic for each community forum hosted by the SMC Public Policy Institute is generally taken directly from the headlines, and this forum is no exception,” Kuehl said.

“This is a great opportunity for folks to hear and discuss the reasons why some cities are broke and some are not, and how counter-intuitive the real facts can be.”

Unlike other municipalities, Santa Monica has averted layoffs and been able to pick up the tab on employee pension contributions that have ballooned from $10 million a decade ago to $40 million and growing.

But a swelling anti-growth movement is calling for scaling down, if not halting, the major developments that have become a key economic engine.

The question remains -- can the City continue to balance its budget without laying off workers, raising taxes or continuing to count on major development.

The speakers are Ventura City Manager Rick Cole, who is also the former Azusa city manager and former Pasadena mayor; Sonia Caravalho, city attorney of Santa Ana and Claremont and a partner with Best Best & Krieger LLP; and Kafi Blumenfield, president and chief executive officer of Liberty Hill Foundation.

The institute strives to engage the community in analyzing issues of public policy, "especially those that affect local jurisdictions like cities and counties, and to provide forums such as this for civic engagement," Institute officials said.

The event is free, as is parking, but seating is limited and reservations are required. To RSVP, email with the number of guests attending. For questions, call 310.434-3429.

For more information about the institute and its activities, please call 310.434-3429 or email


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