Greece is rioting now. Pension issues, strikes, taxes - a system that doesn't work.
Visit Oakland and what do you see:
PENSION ISSUES AND TAXES
Oakland voters will likely be asked in November to approve higher taxes to halve a $42 million deficit, but even if they agree, the city will face an even deeper crisis within months.
Ballooning pension costs will push the city's projected deficit to $58.7 million by July 2011.
The biggest portion of that budget shortfall is a debt payment of $43.9 million due July 1, 2011, to the old Police and Fire Retirement System. The payment would be more than 10 percent of the roughly $400 million city budget.
The looming crisis prompted great concern at last week's meeting from two council members, Pat Kernighan and Ignacio De La Fuente. When the council refused to ask staff to prepare a report on the impending budget woes, the typically mild-mannered Kernighan did not restrain herself.
"If that doesn't happen, you guys are crazy and irresponsible!" she exclaimed.
The costs of benefits to retirees appears to be the single biggest issue facing Oakland. Not only are the costs growing, but the city has not been funding them adequately, some council members said.
Last year, Oakland was supposed to pay $85.7 million for retiree medical care, according to a city staff report. But the city only paid $12.5 million, the report said.
Oakland teachers are ready to strike again if necessary if talks sour at the bargaining table, union officials said Tuesday.
On the heels of last week's one-day walkout, the teachers voted 565-184 late Monday to give union leaders the option to "take further actions to secure a fair contract, up to and including a strike," according to Oakland Education Association officials.
The two sides are far apart on several issues including wages, class size, caseloads for school nurses and counselors, and staffing for adult education.
Union leaders have said a raise must be part of any deal.
Administrators have said they can't afford it, given an $85 million budget shortfall for the next school year.