Muni sweeps: Grand Rapids singing her song

By Cate Long
May 31, 2011

A post-Memorial day salute to all who have served our nation!

Grand Rapids shakes her booty

In Michigan, the decline of the U.S. auto industry has shrunk many cities. In January Newsweek highlighted the decline of American cities and identified Grand Rapids as a city on a downward spiral. Grand Rapids has fought back, producing the video above to show the vitality of their city. Good on you Grand Rapids. Your sense of caring and community shines through. (H/T CuriousityCounts.com)

San Jose goes the restructuring route

Bloomberg writes about the city of San Jose’s plans to restructure $550 million in short-term debt. With long-term rates fairly low, it could be an excellent strategy for municipal entities to refinance short-term variable-rate debt into fixed, long-term paper:

San Jose, California, the 10th- largest U.S. city by population, plans to restructure as much as $550 million in airport debt this year as it weighs whether to declare a state of fiscal emergency, municipal officials said.

The City Council will consider refinancing as much as $300 million in short-term notes on June 21, Arn Andrews, the Finance Department’s treasury manager, said today in an interview. The refunding isn’t tied to the fiscal situation, he said.

“We have short-term commercial notes outstanding and so we’ll pay part of that off with the long-term financing,” Scott Johnson, the finance director, said in the City Hall interview with Andrews.

Public official gets slap on wrist

It’s a little hard to read how a retired California public official gets a small slap on the wrist and pays relatively small fines for corruption when regular people have gone to jail for lesser crimes. From the Los Angeles Times:

A longtime city administrator of Vernon pleaded guilty to illegally using public money to pay for golf outings, massages and meals, ending one of several public corruption cases that had dogged the city as it fights an unprecedented state effort to disincorporate the town.

The plea Thursday involved Bruce Malkenhorst, who led Vernon for decades and was at one time California’s highest-paid government official. He also holds the distinction of being the state’s highest-paid public pensioner, receiving just over $500,000 a year.

Malkenhorst could have faced jail time if he had been convicted. But as part of his plea, he got three years of probation, as much as $35,000 in fines and penalties, and he must pay Vernon back $60,000 in restitution. According to CalPERS, Malkenhorst will still receive his pension because the law states that only the pensions of elected officials convicted of public corruption can have their pension be reduced or revoked.

Credit ratings data access expands

From MuniNetGuide:

BondsOnline, an online resource for bond investors, recently launched a unique new feature that tracks rating agency actions and commentary regarding ratings changes for municipal bonds.

The Municipal Credit Ratings Press Release database includes over 16,000 announcements of ratings announcements by Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch for municipal bonds and energy sector corporate bonds dating back to 2008.

Mini sweeps:

OK Policy.org: FY 2012 Budget Highlights

alttransport.com: In Some Cities, Not Walking is as Dangerous as Walking

New Bottomline: Florida Clergy, Faith Leaders Tell AG Bondi: Stop Siding with Wall Street Banks

The Big Picture: Vallejo Wins Approval for Creditor Vote on Bankruptcy

Bloomberg: Arizona Land Sells for 8% of Price Calpers Group Paid at Peak

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/