Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Social Justice in Ferguson, Mo? But, At What Cost?

In the 18 months following the shooting death of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, Eric Holder's Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted a civil rights review of the Ferguson police force; even though Darren Wilson was exonerated of any charges.  Then, in 2015, the DOJ  found that the Ferguson police force was racist and that a substantial makeover was necessary.

Since then, the City Council determined that the makeover would cost almost $4 million in additional spending in the first year, and millions more in each of the subsequent years.  This, in a city that already had a $2.8 million deficit on a $14.5 million dollar a year spending budget.  Thus, the compliance with the demands of the Justice Department would result in a deficit of nearly 50% or $6.6 million in the first year; and increasing each year until bankruptcy, or unless the citizens of the City were willing to pay at least 50% more in taxes to reverse the deficit and comply with the Justice Department.  Knowing that taxes really couldn't be raised, because 1 in 4 Ferguson citizens were already in poverty and the average household income is 26% less than the  in the country as a whole. Therefore, the 50% increase in taxes would be a heavy burden on the citizens as businesses are forced to raise prices in an already poor community. The City had no other choice but to unanimously vote not to implement the required Justice Department demands.

Since that decision, the Federal government has sued the City of Ferguson in order to force the Council to implement the changes; no matter what the costs many be. And, those costs will be high; both economically and socially.

As a result of the lawsuit, the City's bond rating has been so significantly downgraded that no buyer of municipal bonds would ever risk investing in a Ferguson bond issuance.  Already, existing bonds are selling at a nearly 40% discount; and if the City loses the suit, the cost to borrow money will rise significantly.  Because a 50% increase in taxes is probably out of the question, this only leaves cutting costs to reduce the deficit.

As a result there will be fewer police and absolutely no overtime during low staffed hours.  This, in a city that is already experiencing extremely high crime rates. The number of firemen, too, will have to be reduced. It also means less road repairs or other government services such as garbage pickups.  These reductions, in turn, will result in ever lowering property values until, like Detroit, people are willing to sell their houses for a dollar to avoid paying property taxes. 

These are the costs that the predominately black community will pay to insure that not one iota of racism exists within the Ferguson Police Department.  The death of that City is a high cost to pay.  Of course, instead of suing, the federal government could pay for the demands they are making; leaving Ferguson to struggle with their existing debt problems.  But, this would establish a precedent and the Justice Department would be saddled with all the bills that it created in all the cities it declares racially biased.

File this under "Be careful for what you ask for".


Federal government sues Ferguson, Missouri:

Ferguson Bonds Downgraded:

Ferguson Missouri Quick Facts:

Crime Statistics for Ferguson, Mo:

You Can Buy a $1 Detroit Home. But Should You?:

United States Quick Facts:

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