Orange County to Lose Bankruptcy Crown to Jefferson County, AL?

Am in Chicago right now for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) conference, and during a meeting at a bar, three good ol' boys went up to me. "So you're from Orange County, California," one drawled. Yep. "Home of the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history?" Why yes. "We're going to beat you!"

Turns out the Southern gentlemen were staffers from Birmingham Weekly, and they're right. Jefferson County in Alabama (where Birmingham sits) has a debt of nearly $5 billion, which would beat our 1994 record by, oh, $4 billion. The national media picked up story in April (hear this NPR segment), and the guys told me Jefferson will declare bankruptcy within weeks. Also, they claimed a bunch of Jefferson County officials have gone to jail over this, while we couldn't even got Bob Citron in the slammer for a day. Come on, Orange County! Are we going to let a bunch of Bear Bryant-worshiping hicks beat us in the money game?

In all seriousness, Birmingham Weekly has done a great job covering this fiasco--see their weekly column, War on Dumb, in particular.


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