Economic recession is not stopping Orange Country residents from taking initiatives and strategies to combat the negative impact of the downturn of the economy. Home to many Fortune 500 companies, Orange County is keeping up with the pressure that comes with the misperception that the region is such an affluent suburban region due to media’s focus on its glitzy and cutting edge beach areas. The government is seeking active involvement and participation from its residents particularly in this period of economic slowdown wherein bankruptcy and challenging economic trends insinuate new fiscal pressures.
On December 6, 1994, Orange County declared bankruptcy and became the largest municipality in America to file for Chapter 9 protection (Baldassare 1). The bankruptcy of the muncipality traces its roots with County Treasurer Bob Citron was in charge of the Orange County Investment Pool. It is recorded that in 1994, the county treasurer took on a desperate mission to raise more interest income for local governments which had their tax allocations cut by the state (Baldassare 1).
He took the risk of borrowing money and investing it through derivatives and bonds that paid high yields until in the spring of 1994, the country treasurer’s office issued warning that the county pool had suffered large amounts of losses and did not have the money the pay back the massive loans to Wall Street companies (Baldassare 1). Insitigated by the county’s risky investmennts, the financial crisis caused business slowdowns, employment declines and the massive demands for public services sought by the unemployed (Baldassare 39).
Orange County’s road to recovery is not without difficulties and marked breakdowns. Its recovery plan included keeping with the demands of money not fully restored. As the crisis puts the county in a continual state of vulnerability, its residents are living up with unpleasant setbacks of the economic downturn. The residents of Orange County see themselves as the risk bearers as they are the ones directly hit by the economic downturn and by the recuperating initiatives of the state.
For Shelly, a 30 year-old resident living in the county, the bungled municipal investment operations have affected Southern Californian way of life by creating hurtful sacrifices. Shelly says that one of such services is cutting back on some plans to expand and recreate amusement parks. She adds that Orange County will lessen its services dramatically and by doing so, other municipalities will also suffer from amusement park cuts entailing reduced employment and generating limited funds.
Shelly is just one of those who consider that Orange County is one big tourist playground and sacrificing this feature will have drawbacks on tourism and environment. According Tara, environmental activist, the county will be able to boost tourism by lowering taxes and offering tax incentives. For Tara, tourism is the foundation of the local economy that will be needing creative and innovative solutions to support the growth in this field.
Tara adds that the local government should also include the green tax credits and support the creation of new urbanism to convince the residents again that their houses are truly lifetime investment. As the county is still recuperating at this moment, the 28-year old George who is now unemployed is thinking of transferring to other cities due to the uncertain economic setting of Orange County. Father of two, George is taking the financial situation of county seriously by planning to migrate to other cities wherein he can find a job enough to sustain his family’s needs.
However, 19-year old student Scott is having high hopes on the assistance that the state is giving to Orange County education. According to Scott, the financial crisis is an opportunity for the county to attract attention from the state concerning its needs to provide public services to its residents particularly education. Although it is reported that the county is cutting back on its non-emergency spending, the region will never try to compromise the field of education basically because of the state’s keen eye on it.
For Michael, a businessman, the county is on its recovery and is taking all the precautionary measures so as to avoid what happened way back in 1994. Michael says that the county remains susceptible to any economic scenario particularly in this period of industrial uncertainty. The economic recession and the 1994 bankruptcy have their significant impact on consumer confidence. According to Michael, furniture storeowner, the decline in the sales of hus products is attributable to the consumers’ cut back on spending habits and their financial woes.
The county’s recuperating period is severely overshadowed by the people’s worry if the county will eventually lose its ground as many of its residents have seen their incomes stagnate and decline. Recently, Celine had just a sold her house for less than its worth and plans to migrate to another state and live in an apartment. Celine has lost her confidence on the way the municipality handles funds and is deeply concerned that she will become a victim of dwindling local economy.
Most of all, she is deeply worried about the quality of life in the county in the near future as its recovery tend to be stomped by financial and media glitz. Thirty-two year old Tom also shares the same sentiment with Celine. Tom mentions that aside from economic diffculties, he feels that the county’s another problem is the rising crime rate and the traffic situation. Tom expresses his anguish as to how he can both live on an area with so many social and economic pressures abound. He says that he is losing hope and trust to the local government.
Economics student Raffy wants the cities and county governments to merge. According to Raffy, one the siignificant ways to avoid another dreadening bankruptcy is to have local governments restructured in a way that the public have a clearer sight on where the local funds are going and where the taxes go. He emphasizes that the state should pit more focus on the sentiments of the Orange County residents who are the victims of bankruptcy. Taking in cues from the interviewees, the outlook of the residents of the Orannge County concerning economic recession is a mix of negative and optimist attitudes.
They point to the failure of the government to take their sentiments seriously and to the false actions and marked breakdowns of the county in its road to recovery. The residents think that though the 1994 bankruptcy has ended, the challenge remains still as they try to comply with the uncertainties of the economy and make radical decisions out of their dwindling confidence to the local government and to the state itself. For the residents of Orange County, the economic recession has its impact to their social and economic status and has opened the county open to all the negative of effects recession.
The vulnerability of the county makes the residents doubt the capacity of the region to provide public services leading to a good quality of life. Though the fears of the residents may derail the complete recovery of the county, it is said that the different attitudes of the residents render a valuable insight on solving the crisis. Works Cited Baldassare, Mark. When Government Fails: The Orange County Bankruptcy. California: University of Califonia Press, 1998. Print.