By David Anderson
With “Washington lawmakers currently looking to fill a roughly $1 billion shortfall;” the Postal Service stopping Saturday delivery; and gas taxes proposed to increase, here’s five reasons for taxpayer revolt, in no particular order as they all fall into the same ‘Please, Are You Serious?’ (PAYS – crime doesn’t) category.
One: “Four hundred U.S. Postal Service executives are heading to San Francisco next month for workshops, meetings — and a dance party. And a golf tournament. And a dinner event. The trip is expected to cost the flailing agency — which is pushing to stop Saturday letter delivery due to revenue issues — more than $2 million. An estimated $220,000 is going to be spent on exhibit space and $300/night motel fares.”
Two: “An audit last month (reveals) that the vessel’s (new State ferry – authorized by the Washington State Department of Transportation) final off-the-dock, in-the-water price of $83.6 million in 2010 was nearly $50 million higher than what a Massachusetts ferry operator paid three years earlier for a boat with a comparable design.”
Three: “We just thought it was ugly,” said Bret Carlstad, facilities management director for Tacoma’s City Hall. “Ugly” translates into a $400,000 renovation: new carpet and paint (Council members get to choose the color); exchanging round doorknobs for levers; and other ‘necessities’ for the Pierce County Council’s offices. And that doesn’t include another $810,000 to replace single-pane windows with dual-pane insulated glass.
Four: State legislators were reimbursed – at taxpayer expense - more than $5,600 for dry cleaning while total expenditures for iPhones, picture frames, artwork to decorate their office, and Bose headphones were not disclosed. “Stephen Ellis, vice president of the group Taxpayers for Common Sense, said the idea that lawmakers should spend public money to decorate their office or keep their clothes clean is beyond the pale. He said that while the amount of money may be small in comparison to the budget at large, the expenses offer a chance for taxpayers to get a glimpse at how lawmakers operate.
“‘We see it as a lens into how they approach the budget,’” Ellis said. ‘If they’re profligate with their own spending in offices, it stands to reason that they’re not going to be too frugal with the state or the federal budget.’”
Five: “Taxpayers face a hefty bill for Washington’s oversized State Data Center project in Olympia and in a time of tough state budgets, it now needs a $34.4 million subsidy to cover lease payments and some smaller project costs over the next two years – a project that was built much larger than the state needs due to an apparent gross miscalculation of the state’s data-storage needs. ‘It’s a Taj Mahal. It’s way overbuilt. I think it was a bad capital budget decision (in 2009 to build it),’ said House Appropriations Committee chair Ross Hunter, D-Medina, who initially voted for it.”
I could go on but in conclusion, an idea.
Pierce County is offering classes on how to reduce waste at home, practical things like sorting through your garbage before it goes in the bin, or composting whereby worms for fishing – a most worthy endeavor indeed – may be more readily found.
There needs to be waste reduction classes as well for those evidently too far removed from reality – those charged with efficiently fishing for funds while running our democracy – as quite apparently, from the examples given, money – our money – is spent far too freely.