Actually, we’re not sure which is more improbable, that Maywood, California, the city that fired and outsourced every single public employee is doing just fine, or that the New York Times has written a seemingly glowing account of a city that has practiced this extreme form of austerity.
Either way, it seems broke city of Maywood is about to set the muni community upside down, showing that you can sack everyone from the cops to the crossing guards, without anarchy breaking loose.
After the city fired everyone, several employees were rehired on a contract basis, and the city (which is outside of LA) hired a neighbouring town’s police and firefighters for the outsourcing.
According to the article, muggings have not soared, old people are not afraid to lose their homes, and parking tickets are still being written.
What’s more, residents don’t seem dismayed.
Four years ago, in what was probably the high-water mark of acrimony in Maywood, a deputy city clerk was arrested and accused of soliciting a hit man to kill a city councilman. The deputy clerk, Hector Duarte, was concerned that his salary might be reduced or his job eliminated during a previous round of bad fiscal times; he was sentenced to a year in jail and six months of anger management counseling.
This time, the councilman, Felipe Aguirre, has received no threats and has seen remarkably little anger. “This is a very bad economy,” said Mr. Aguirre, who like the mayor and fellow council members receives a stipend from the city of $347 every two weeks. Even if city employees lose their benefits, he said, “very good workers are still going to hang around.”
Jose B. Garcia, an assistant city planner, will now be working on contract. “I still have a job,” he said. “In that sense, I can’t complain too much.”
That last line might be the most surprising. At a time when folks are rioting in some places about wage cuts, a civil servant is appreciative of at least still working. Maybe there’s more room for austerity than folks are willing to admit.
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