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The new city manager of a city outside of Massachusetts is facing the skepticism of some who question his capability to run a city in light of his personal financial challenges from the past. Prior to accepting his current position, he had twice filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, once in 1991 and once, more recently, in 2011.

The city council that hired him are standing by their decision to do so. One member claimed that the council knew about the Chapter 7 bankruptcy but claimed further that it was not much of a concern in light of the man's significant experience with turning around financially troubled cities.

In their most recent bankruptcy filing, the city manager and his wife listed $620,000 in personal debt and $171,000 total assets.

The city manager explained both prior bankruptcies. He attributed the 2011 bankruptcy to the downturn in the housing market, which left him upside down on his home. As for the 1991 bankruptcy, for which there is no detailed information available, he attributed it to the economic hardship that often ensues after a divorce.

Ironically, the city to which this man came to work is also struggling with debt. The city is the third city in its state to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. A Chapter 9 is a type of bankruptcy reserved for cities and other government bodies that allows them to restructure its debts.

While some are not certain that this man will be able to perform the important public relations component of his job effectively because of the bankruptcies, a bankruptcy expert from this state pointed out that no bankruptcies are alike and not every bankruptcy signifies financial irresponsibility.

Indeed, while some bankruptcies are the result of poor or even reckless financial decisions, many if not most bankruptcies are the logical end of a series of unfortunate circumstances. The beauty of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that it gives people, despite their past mistakes, a fresh start at a brighter future.

Source: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, "San Bernardino City Council stands by new City Manager, Allen J. Parker," Zen Vuong, Feb. 22, 2013

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