Regular reader BBC wondered about this story earlier this week so I thought I'd address it here. Perhaps you've heard that Jefferson County, Alabama, where I live, is about to declare the single largest municipal bankruptcy in US history over $4billion in sewer bonds it cannot afford to pay. And you thought Chicago politics were corrupt to the core....
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The sheriff in Alabama's most populous county may call for the National Guard to help maintain order, a spokesman said Tuesday, after a judge cleared the way for cuts in the sheriff's budget and hopes dimmed for a quick end to a budget crisis.
Circuit Judge Joseph L. Boohaker ruled that leaders in Jefferson County — now trying to head off a municipal bankruptcy filing of historic proportions — could go ahead with plans to slash $4.1 million from the budget of Sheriff Mike Hale, who had filed a lawsuit that temporarily blocked spending cuts for his office.
About 1,000 county workers already are on unpaid leave because courts threw out a key county tax, and Hale has warned that reductions to his budget would mean fewer patrols by deputies and decreased courthouse security.
A spokesman for Hale, Randy Christian, said the sheriff told Gov. Bob Riley after the ruling that state assistance may be needed to perform basic law enforcement tasks once the department's current funding is exhausted in early September.
"We will certainly be looking at calling in the National Guard," said Christian.
Combine corruption, greed, nepotism, and incompetence with the repeal of an unconstitutional, occupational tax and you have the makings of one of the biggest municipal collapses in US history. For the last 20 years, Jefferson Co. has been seizing a percentage of the paychecks of anybody who works here, even if you don't live here. Not surprisingly, doctors and of course lawyers who wrote the tax, are exempt. A judge recently ruled it to be unconstitutional so it cut the county budget by about 1/3.
Then you have the JeffCo Commission who have been as corrupt, wasteful, and incompetent as any you can imagine, losing billions down various rat holes with nothing to show for it and no accountability. There are literally unaccounted-for billions. Nobody knows what happened to it.
With the county on the brink of bankruptcy and only vital workers still being paid, there is a shortage of cops, prison guards, and admin. workers to run the county. You may have heard that Birmingham always ranks in the top 5 in murders per capita in the US. We like to call ourselves the Detroit of the South. We're very proud! So who's going to tamp down the north-side riff-raff when they get wind that there aren't any cops to shoot at them when they terrorize their own neighborhoods? The national guard, that's who. It'll be like post-Katrina New Orleans but, without the hurricane and cannibalism.