A Novel Defense in Stockton

There are moments when consuming our morning  fix of Americano at Starbucks can be dangerous. No,, there is nothing wrong with the coffee; it’s great. It’s just that as we peruse our morning paper we sometimes come across news items that tend to induce a coughing fit, and here is one. See Diana Marcum, Stockton’s “Not Bell,” L.A. Times, Aug. 6, 2013, at p. AA1.

The State of California has just completed an audit of the finances of the city of Stockton (which, as you may recall, is one of three California cities that have filed for bankruptcy), and predictably, discovered some, er, irregularities. No, as far as these folks can tell, no one has been caught with his hand in a cookie jar — no sir. The defense offered by Stockton is more along the lines of: Oh, that old stuff. We weren’t bad; we were just incompetent. No big deal. You aren’t going to make a fuss over the fact — for example — that we stashed some $1.3 million in redevelopment funds, even though there has been no redevelopment in California for a while, or that we were so incompetent that we didn’t fill out some federal forms properly and thus missed out on $8.6 million in federal money. Coulda happened to anybody.

Good enough for government work.