Times columnist Joe Nocera has a remarkably shallow and conspiratorial piece about the Rhode Island city of Woonsocket today, in which he claims that a push to have a receiver take over management of the city is being driven by the new bete noire of the left, ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council). There are many things that Nocera ignores, including the fact that although the school system in the city receives more than three-quarters of its funding from state taxpayers, local officials have mismanaged the funds and the press is calling for an investigation.
Over at Bloomberg, Josh Barro also points out that although, as Nocera claims, the city's pension system problems are 'manageable,' Woonsocket is Rhode Island's most indebted city because it has floated debt to pay for pensions and health care promises to retirees that it couldn't otherwise afford. Below is the real picture of Woonsocket's finances when you combine pension and direct debt. As is often the case with pension debt, it just made things worse.