Before Detroit filed for bankruptcy, there was Stockton.
Battered by a collapse in real estate prices, a spike in pension and retiree health care costs, and unmanageable debt, this struggling city in the Central Valley has labored for months to find a way out of Chapter 9. Now having renegotiated its debt with most creditors, cobbled together layoffs and service cuts and raised the sales tax to 9 percent from 8.25 percent, Stockton is nearly ready to leave court protection.
But what Stockton, along with pretty much every other city in California that has gone into bankruptcy in recent years, has not done is address the skyrocketing public pensions that are at the heart of many of these cases.
(Read more: Save cities or let them go bankrupt?)