Mission Critical: Fixing America’s Cities

Trenton is one of the many U.S. cities forced to cut basic public services and the results have been deadly.

They say you can never find a cop when you need one. In Trenton, N.J.—where budget cuts two years ago forced the city to shrink its police force by a third—the city learned just how badly it needs them. In August, the Garden state’s capitol city set a record for the homicides with 32 people …

Everyday about three water mains break in Baltimore and the city has only budgeted half of what it needs to fix their infrastructure problem.

Like a lot of aging American cities, Baltimore is scrambling to plug the leaks in its water system and its budget at the same time. On a recent cloudless October morning, over the din of a gas-powered paver saw, a city public works crew, clad in lime-green vests and yellow hard hats, finishes burying a section …

Some ill-advised budget decisions are saddling Miami residents with massive amounts of debt.

The financial pain inflicted by the Great Recession has been compounded in some broken cities by ill-advised budget decisions that involved honest mistakes. Then again, not all of those decisions were honest. Look no further than Miami-Dade County, Florida, a sprawling patchwork of dozens of suburban governments clustered around the city of Miami—a financial and …

For a long time the sunny weather in Phoenix and Orlando was matched by their economic climates, as both enjoyed soaring housing prices and prosperity in the early 2000s. Then the Great Recession jolted the cities like a roller coaster at one of Orlando’s theme parks, taking them on a hair-raising ride that catapulted them …

Chicago’s has a $27 billion pension problem. The city of big shoulders is just one of hundreds of U.S. cities where pensions are a ticking time bomb.

When there is turmoil in the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market, as there has been this year, America’s mayors get very nervous. Scott Smith, mayor of Mesa, Ariz., and president of the United States Conference of Mayors, said, “The vast majority of infrastructure in this country is financed by tax-exempt financing; most of the schools, …

Detroit, you’re not alone.  Across the nation, cities and states are watching Detroit’s largest-ever municipal bankruptcy filing with great trepidation. Years of underfunded retirement promises to public sector workers, which helped lay Detroit low, could plunge them into a similar and terrifying financial hole. A CNBC.com analysis of more than 120 of the nation’s largest …

Why is Oakland, a city with plenty of its own problems, paying $4 million a year to a Wall Street bank?

Five years after a once-in-a-lifetime global financial collapse and the Great Recession, many American cities now caught in a financial bind can rightly blame forces beyond their control. In some cases, though, the damage was self-inflicted. Nowhere is that more apparent than the ongoing budget drain from hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of failed …

When a city is badly broken, it can be very tough to fix. Just ask Darren Green, president of a coalition of community groups in Trenton, N.J., where deep budget cuts in 2011 forced the city to lay off a third of its police force. “We’re at a place now where it’s very dangerous to …