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— Without the pension obligation bonds, "We go to crisis mode," Rider says. Bankruptcy would be one option he doesn't necessarily favor. Expenditure cuts would have to be deep.

"This is just another indication that we are truly insolvent," says Shipione. If the City borrows, it would probably be at a very high rate, she says.

Maybe it would be a junk bond rate. Then Sanders could blame another bad cop: interest rates.

"Generally, my philosophy on pension obligation bonds is not to encourage issuing debt to pay off existing debt," says Councilmember Donna Frye. Like many, she has other questions about the Sanders budget: why, for example, do sales tax revenues soar 63 percent in fiscal 2007 and property tax incomes rise 19 percent?

"The pension debt is void, as the council did not comply with the Charter requirement for an auditor's certificate committing to these massive obligations," says Stirling.

Says Rider, "At best Sanders's budget is tenuous; at worst it is Pollyannaish and a fantasyland, predicated on very big 'ifs.' "

From the standpoint of honesty, it's worse than that.

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