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Found 12 results

  1. California Cities Face Bankruptcy Curbs By BOBBY WHITE MAY 28, 2009 As California seeks more funds from its cash-strapped cities and counties to close a $21 billion budget deficit, some state legislators are pushing a plan that could compound municipalities' pain by making it tougher for them to file for bankruptcy. The bill would require a California municipality seeking Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection to first obtain approval from a state commission. That contrasts with the state's current bankruptcy process, which allows municipalities to speedily declare bankruptcy without any state oversight so that they can quickly restructure their finances. The bill, introduced in January, has passed one committee vote and could reach a final vote by mid-July. The bill was sparked by the bankruptcy filing last year of Vallejo, Calif., just north of San Francisco. Vallejo's city leaders partly blamed work contracts with police and firefighters for pushing the city into bankruptcy, and won permission from a bankruptcy court in March to scrap its contract with the firefighters' union. That spurred the California Professional Firefighters to push for statewide legislation to curtail bankruptcy, said Carroll Willis, the group's communications director. "What we don't want is for cities to use bankruptcy as a negotiating tactic rather than a legit response to fiscal issues," he said, adding that he worries cities may work in concert to rid themselves of union contracts by declaring bankruptcy. If the bill passes, it could hurt cities and counties by lengthening the time before they can declare bankruptcy. That creates a legal limbo during which a municipality is more vulnerable to creditors. The proposed state bankruptcy commission would be staffed by four state legislators, which some critics worry could politicize the bankruptcy process. "This bill is impractical," said John Moorlach, a supervisor in Orange County, Calif., which filed for bankruptcy in 1994. "In many instances, haste is important. If you can't meet payroll but have to delay seeking protection, what do you do?" California towns and counties face a catalog of troubles. Earlier this month, voters rejected five budget measures, sending the state deficit to $21 billion. To overcome the gap, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed borrowing $2 billion from municipalities, using a 2004 state law that lets California demand loans of 8% of property-tax revenue from cities, counties and special districts. But that proposal lands as California municipalities are already facing steep declines in tax revenue because of the recession. Dozens are staring at huge deficits, including Pacific Grove and Stockton, which have publicly said they are exploring bankruptcy. Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, a Democrat who introduced the bankruptcy bill, said the initiative is needed to protect the credit rating of California and its ability to borrow and sell bonds. Mr. Mendoza added that he wants to avoid bankruptcy's repercussions on surrounding communities by offering a system that examines all of a municipality's options before filing for bankruptcy. "Municipalities should have a checks and balance system in place based on the fact that all economies are interconnected," he said. Dwight Stenbakken, deputy executive director for the California League of Cities, a nonprofit representing more than 400 cities, said the group is lobbying against the bill because "there's nothing a state commission can bring to the process to make this better." Write to Bobby White at [email protected]
  2. Montreal's Greek consulate has already felt the impact of the Greek government's austerity measures, but many in the city's 80 thousand-strong Greek community are more angry at the rioters in their homeland than they are about the cuts. Hundreds of people rioted in the streets of Athens on the weekend, setting fires and looting stores, after the Greek parliament passed a new round of measures aimed at staving off bankruptcy. Politicians voted to slash the country's minimum wage and axe one-in-five civil service jobs over the next three years. Foreign consular offices have not been left unscathed. "We have had cuts, yes," confirmed the Greek consul-general for Montreal, Thanos Kafopoulos. "But we still try to maintain service, and we are also trying to increase revenues." Kafopoulos said many Greek expatriates living in Montreal own property and have investments in their native country - and they are divided over the solution. "There is concern. There is sadness, and there is worry about the process that Greece is going through," he said. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2012/02/13/montreal-greeks-react.html
  3. The (mis)adventures of an Anglo in Montreal Petra Hendrickson Issue date: 4/9/08 Section: Opinion Montreal less than 48 hours ago, I thought I would use today's column as part anecdote, part travel advice and part opinion. The advice, although the most practical portion of this column by far, is the least fun to write about, so I'll dispense with it first. Make sure you tell your bank you're going abroad. Otherwise, their fraud department might put a block on your debit card after you use it to pay for a cab ride. This results in you having to apply for a new debit card, which will then take around 10 business days to be delivered to you. If you need help with something, ask. I have no recollection of the only other time I've flown internationally, and I was a little apprehensive about the customs and immigration process. Chances are, one of your fellow travelers will be more than happy to talk you through the process ahead of time. Granted, most people scoff at the idea of Canada being considered "international travel." Nonetheless, a flight there requires you to go through customs and immigration before leaving the airport, and chances are, you'll find something there that looks unfamiliar. Gas prices in Canada (or at least Montreal), for instance, are not only by the liter, rather than the gallon, they're also in cents. So a liter of gas is advertised as costing 114.2. Before I asked a fellow American at the graduate school I was visiting about the gas pricing system, I was pretty shocked. I mean, I knew gas prices were more expensive everywhere else, but even this seemed a little steep. Also, although I ate food while I was there, the fact that all menu items (even at Tim Horton's!) were in French pretty much means that I'm not entirely sure what I ate. There was Lebanese food of some kind, what I was told was a Chilean steak sandwich and a couple flavored croissants, but as far as specifics go, I'm pretty much at a loss. Everyone I encountered in Montreal was willing to accommodate English speakers, which was definitely much appreciated. My cab driver on my 1 a.m. excursion to the airport informed me that not only should I not have been shy about speaking English and being American, the locals don't mind at all because Americans are notoriously good tippers. The logic seems to follow that the more willingly people speak English to the Americans in Montreal, the more grateful the Americans will be, and the better they'll tip. I have to be honest. At least in my case, it was true. Most of the Anglo community seems to know how to speak enough French to get by ("restaurant French"), and certainly recognizes enough French to be able to differentiate street names from one another and the like. It was really interesting to me the combination of recognition and absolute confusion I experienced in the Francophone environment. On the one hand, words like café and boutique were easy markers as to what a building contained. On the other hand, all the words I didn't recognize meant that at some point, everything started to look the same, and it was pretty disorienting. On the whole, I'm definitely glad I visited Montreal. It was pretty eye-opening as to just how utterly American I am. I like to consider myself worldly in outlook, and I still think that's true, but it also made me consider exactly how non-worldly my experiences have been. http://media.www.indianastatesman.com/media/storage/paper929/news/2008/04/09/Opinion/The-misadventures.Of.An.Anglo.In.Montreal-3311500.shtml
  4. Pourquoi je mets cette nouvelles sur le site, Six Flags est le propriétaire de La Ronde. Source: CNN.com In an effort to shed $1.8 billion in debt, popular theme-park chain Six Flags announced Saturday that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The filing will not affect the operation of the company's 20 parks in the United States, Mexico and Canada, said spokeswoman Sandra Daniels. "This restructuring will have no impact on families who come out to our parks. They will not see an inch of difference," Daniels said. In an online letter to employees, President and CEO Mark Shapiro said Six Flags inherited a $2.4 billion debt load that "cannot be refinanced in these financial markets." "This process is strictly a financial restructuring of our debt and that's how you should view it and speak about it," Shapiro said in the message posted on the Six Flags Web site. He said Six Flags was seeking expedited approval from the for the District of Delaware of a pre-negotiated plan of reorganization under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. He said the company actually performed well in 2008, attracting 25 million visitors and making $275 million. But it could not keep up with its debt obligations. That's a balancing act you just can't risk year in and year out," he said. "Today, we are moving to rectify our balance sheet once and for all. Believe me when I say we will emerge from this process stronger and more competitive than ever." The restructuring would reduce the company's debt to $600 million. Shapiro told employees that the company was on "solid ground" and the bankruptcy decision was "difficult." He assured them their paychecks and jobs were safe.
  5. Lecture intéressante!! CARY PLANTATION, Me. — Up here, near the end of Interstate 95, a single main road ridged with stately conifers runs past the odd house that at night casts an orange glow over the snow. There is no school. No police department. Not even a stoplight. But there are property taxes. And some residents say the taxes’ growth has pushed this community of about 200 to the brink. To save Cary Plantation, they say, they want to dismantle it. “What do you do, what does the town do, when they can’t pay their bills? Do we go bankrupt? Do we lose our homes?” asked Diane Cassidy, a former nursing assistant. “There was no answer, other than deorganization.” Ms. Cassidy is leading an effort to dissolve the local government and join the Unorganized Territory, a vast swath of forest and townships in north, central and eastern Maine run by a partnership between the state and the counties. Last month, residents here voted, 64 to 0, to continue the process. At a time of rising municipal costs, local governments around the country are looking for ways to rein in tax bills, pursuing privatization, the consolidation of services, mergers and even bankruptcy. But in northern Maine, as operating costs have increased, the economy has stagnated and the population has aged and dwindled, a handful of struggling towns have pursued the unusual process of eliminating local government entirely. In the West, citizens are protesting to constrain government power. And over all, Americans tend to resist ceding their local authority. But these communities are handing their governing power over to the state and the county. “Knowing how dependent towns are in Maine on the property tax, they may have just reached a point where they’ve decided, ‘We’d be better off just not existing as a town,’ ” said Elizabeth K. Kellar, the chief executive of the Center for State and Local Government Excellence in Washington. Under state law, dismantling a local government takes 12 complex steps, often over at least two years, including legislative approval and a series of local votes. When a town deorganizes, state agencies and the county administer its services, like snow removal, policing and firefighting. Children are assigned to appropriate schools, often in a nearby district. Town-owned buildings and land are sold or held in trust by the state or the county. And every local government job is eliminated. Thus, there are no local officials’ salaries to pay and no infrastructure to maintain locally. And the cost of servicing each township is spread across the Unorganized Territory either in each county or statewide. “It’s basically like a company: There’s so much less overhead,” said Paul G. Bernier, the public works director for Aroostook County, who is responsible for overseeing services to the unorganized territories at the very top of Maine. “Sometimes it’s half of what they were paying.” In Aroostook County, Bancroft, population 60, completed the process last summer and now exists in name only. Besides Cary Plantation, Oxbow, about an hour northwest, is well on its way, although both have legislative approval and a final vote yet to go. State officials said that an effort to deorganize Atkinson, which began in 2013, may soon take a step forward, and that more municipalities had told the state that they were interested. Advertisement Continue reading the main story “Just the price tag to keep their local governments up and running is more or less untenable,” said Mark Brewer, a professor of political science at the University of Maine. “It’s the final step in this long, drawn-out process, which really starts with population decline.” Marcia McInnis, the fiscal administrator for the Unorganized Territory, estimated there have been 41 deorganizations in Maine’s history, about half of them during the Great Depression. But “it has become recently more common than it has been in the last, really, two decades,” she said. The last town to deorganize before Bancroft was Centerville, population two dozen, in 2004. There have also been deorganization attempts that failed at the local level, often because residents did not want to lose local control, or in some cases did not secure legislative approval. Photo A map of Cary Plantation. Residents there recently voted unanimously to continue the deorganization process. Credit Tristan Spinski for The New York Times “I attribute the recent increase in interest in deorganizing as a direct result of the economic Great Recession and in the loss of jobs in the logging industry,” Ms. McInnis said. Steve Sherman, a lifelong resident of Oxbow, where roughly 50 people are spread across six miles, began working to disband the government after years of watching the local labor market for papermaking and farming shrink along with the population. In November, 21 residents voted unanimously to move forward with deorganization; a third vote will take place in the future. “We’re not growing here. We’re headed the other way, it would seem,” said Mr. Sherman, a logger and Christmas tree farmer. “That’s just life, in northern Maine especially.” In Oxbow and in Cary Plantation, local government is already all but gone. Local meetings in Cary are held in Ms. Cassidy’s heated garage. With no public building, records are generally stored in officials’ homes. And most services are already contracted out. “I figure the state can do a better job,” Ms. Cassidy said. Other states have unorganized or unincorporated areas, but in Maine about half of the land is Unorganized Territory. The area predates the state itself — it was laid out when Maine was still part of Massachusetts and new settlers were expected to flock there. But the harsh climes of Maine’s wild lands, as they used to be known, never filled out with enough people to self-govern. “Maine has this oddity of having all of this space in an area of the country that cherishes town meetings and town governments,” said Kenneth Palmer, a professor emeritus at the University of Maine. “These tiny towns don’t have enough people to generate the municipal staff to really run the town. It’s this abandonment of a town structure.” But some in Cary say deorganizing is a way to give the community a new lease on life, not to abandon it. “I think it’s going to bring more people in,” said Kai Libby, 55, a retired Border Patrol agent who became the town’s first assessor last year to help shepherd the deorganization effort through the multistep process (and thus eliminate his own position). Mr. Libby and his wife, Tina, who led the withdrawal of Cary from its school district, live in the only house on their road, with a vast tract of land, enough space for four dogs and stacks of documents related to deorganization near their kitchen table. “There’s privacy, and it’s so quiet,” said Ms. Libby, 51. “We want to stay here. And to do that, it needs to be affordable for us to stay here.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/17/us/in-maine-local-control-is-a-luxury-fewer-towns-can-afford.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0
  6. LOL. How stupid can these people be? The building grew from 20 to 47 stories tall but they forgot to design the extra space for more elevators up to the 47th floor! http://gizmodo.com/the-builders-of-this-spanish-skyscraper-forgot-the-elev-1065152844 The Builders of This Spanish Skyscraper Forgot the Elevator The Intempo skyscraper in Benidorm, Spain—standing proud in this image—was designed to be a striking symbol of hope and prosperity, to signal to the rest of the world that the city was escaping the financial crisis. Sadly, the builders forgot to include a working elevator. In fairness, the entire construction process has been plagued with problems, reports Ecnonomia. Initially funded by a bank called Caixa Galicia, the finances were recently taken over by Sareb – Spain’s so-called "bad bank" – when the mortgage was massively written down. In part, that was a function of the greed surrounding the project. Initially designed to be a mere 20 storeys tall, the developers got over-excited and pushed the height way up: now it boasts 47 storeys, and will include 269 homes. But that push for more accommodation came at a cost. The original design obviously included specifications for an elevator big enough for a 20-storey building. In the process of scaling things up, however, nobody thought to redesign the elevator system—and, naturally, a 47-storey building requires more space for its lifts and motor equipment. Sadly, that space doesn't exist. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the architects working on the project have resigned, and it remains unclear exactly how the developers will solve the problem. Can we recommend the stairs? [Kinja—Thanks Igor Neumann!]
  7. Owens-Illinois closing Toronto glass container plant, Last Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 | 9:02 AM ET The Canadian Press Owens-Illinois Inc. is closing its glass container plant in Toronto effective Sept. 30, affecting 430 workers. The company said Tuesday that the closure arises from an "ongoing review of its global manufacturing footprint," and the Toronto plant's production will be shifted to other factories, including sites in Brampton, Ont., and Montreal. "This closing was driven by our global asset utilization process which identified the opportunity to shift our production to other O-I North American facilities, resulting in lower energy consumption and production costs while still meeting current and anticipated market needs," stated Scott Murchison, president of the 24,000-employee company's North America glass containers division. "The market impacts of a strong Canadian dollar, high energy prices and the recent activities of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario were contributing factors."