Free Markets, Free People

Bureaucracy and bureaucratese – no sign of common sense

This story out of Ann Arbor, MI is a perfect example of bureaucratic inertia and the use of bureaucratic language to evade a common sense solution to a changed situation:

The debate in Ann Arbor, where firefighters are being laid off due to a multimillion dollar budget deficit, is over an $850,000 piece of art.

That’s how much the city has agreed to pay German artist Herbert Dreiseitl for a three-piece water sculpture that would go in front of the new police and courts building right by the City Hall.

The city has the money to do it because in 2007, it agreed to set aside for public art 1 percent of money that went into capital improvement projects that were $100,000 or larger. Most capital projects involve streets, sewers and water.

Anyone – what has changes since 2007?  Perhaps the economic climate?  So if a city can agree to “set aside” money for public art – a luxury for economically flush time – why can’t it now agree to change that previous agreement?  Why can’t it now spend the money set aside on critical jobs jeopardized by the economic downturn?

Well here’s the city administrators answer, I guess:

City Administrator Roger Fraser wrote in an e-mail that the solid waste coordinator position was eliminated as a cost-cutting measure because the solid waste millage had decreased. Fraser wrote that the art coordinator position would be paid for by the public art fund.

Fraser noted that the public art dollars did not come from the city’s general fund, which is used to pay salaries and benefits, and that less than $6,000 of the art money came from the general fund.

The art projects also must have a "thematic connection" to the source of funding, Fraser wrote. The $850,000 art project is water-themed, because the money came from storm water funds.

So there.  If that isn’t a pant load of, well you know what it is.   As one resident noted, when it wants too the city has always found ways to shuffle money from one fund to another.   But if it did that, it couldn’t scare the hell out of the citizenry claiming it was going to have to lay off critical public safety types and therefore justify increasing taxes, etc.

"Administrators cry poverty while lavishing money on the beautiful people," LaFaive said. "The threat to dismiss firefighters often comes while officials protect golf courses, wave pools and art. No city can cry poverty while it defends recreation and aesthetics such as art."

Have you ever noticed that?  Layer upon layer of bureaucrats and non-essential workers stay on staff, but police and fire protection are the first on the block.  Meanwhile almost a million bucks is slated for “water art”.  And it is all defended by bureaucratic nonsense – bureaucratese.  When they want to do something, the rules mean nada.  When they don’t want to for whatever reason, the rules constrain them.

And Ann Arbor isn’t unique here – the same song and dance is going on at the state and local level.

This is your government at work.  The politicians are only the part-time help.  Bureaucrats are who really run it all.  And the the result?

Well, look around you.

~McQ

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26 Responses to Bureaucracy and bureaucratese – no sign of common sense

  • Have you ever noticed that?  Layer upon layer of bureaucrats and non-essential workers stay on staff, but police and fire protection are the first on the block

    >>>>  Well duh!  It’s standard tactic.  When there’s a budget crunch, the mayor/city council/governor etc.  announces that there’s no money for these essential services and tries to scare the people into ponying up.

    • Right, shark.  It is a time-worn and corrupt practice that I first saw decades ago coming from Kulifornia during the Jarvis years.  The cynicism and contempt for the public has always just floored me, but it brings the idea that these pukes are “public servants” into stark relief!

    • sharkIt’s standard tactic.  When there’s a budget crunch, the mayor/city council/governor etc.  announces that there’s no money for these essential services and tries to scare the people into ponying up.

      And it they DON’T pony up, the bureaucrats and politicians get even by reducing / denying services that people actually want and even need.

      “Oh, you won’t agree to the property tax increase?  We-e-e-llll.  Then say goodbye to that fire station in your neighborhood, champ.  And, oh, by the way: here’s a map to the county dump, ‘cuz we’ll be cutting your garbage pickup, too.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to pick out the new furniture for my new assistant’s office.”

    • When Prop 13 first passed in California, the first thing to go was cleaning the beaches.  They figured everybody would notice.

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/20/business/20maywood.html
    The NYT noting that Maywood, CA outsources EVERYTHING…and the world does not end…COULD spell the end of the Collectivist world…
    From the piece, outsourcing actually improved a LOT of public services…which is not news.

  • It’s all THEIR money, not ours.

    • THOSE WHO CRIED THE LOUDEST ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE THESE DAYS — RIGHT NOW — ARE THE VERY ONES THAT VOTED TO REDUCE THIS COUNTRY’S INCOME WITH THE BIGGEST BENEFITS GOING TO THE WEALTHIEST AMERICANS.
      Byron Dorgan, on the Senate floor yesterday.
      Of course, most of that statement is a flat lie, but he makes a very clear truthful statement of Collectivist thinking, anyhow.

      • Upon expiration of the “Bush tax cuts,” the 10% income tax rate becomes 15%.
        Exactly who paying 10% (taxable income less than $8,375) is wealthy ?
        The Democrats thought the AMT creep was a problem last year, this will be a disaster for the 50% of citizens who are actual taxpayers.

        • Well, the big lie…told now for years…is that ACROSS-THE-BOARD tax cuts were “for the wealthy”.
          This is only true in bizzaro-world, where only “the wealthy” are actually PAYING any taxes.  Naturally, “the wealthy” would benefit most…directly…from the cuts.  The larger effect was beneficial ACROSS the economy, and, as Laffer predicts, NETTED more Federal revenue.
          Duh.

    • And heh – ‘it’s not from the general fund’ –
       
      OH!  THAT MONEY!  Oh, that’s the magic fairy money, given to us by the magic unicorns.   It didn’t come from tax dollars, it’s special.  It’s like fairy gold you see, if you don’t use it for the purposes the fairies gave it to you for, then it turns back into oak leaves, you see.  It shouldn’t ever be confused with the money we got from taxes and fees and licenses and such, no no no.
       
      Now toddle off, you nasty little proles.

  • Obviously, Diogenes searched for an “honest man” (or woman) in the wrong century …

    “How is there a preemption issue?” the [U.S. District] judge [Susan Bolton, a Democrat appointee] asked. “I understand there may be other issues, but you’re arguing preemption. Where is the preemption if everybody who is arrested for some crime has their immigration status checked?”

    Perhaps Eric Holder should apologize.

    • Color me cynical, but it seems to me that this democrat appointee is lashing out in frustration:

      “Dammit!  You could have argued this case on the basis of those ‘other issues’, and we would have gone for it.  But you chose to argue preemption!  What the hell is wrong with you???”

      Let’s assume that the court finds at the end of the day that the AZ bill is unconstitutional, or that SCOTUS eventually does so.  Then what?  What does AZ do?  What about the other states who are considering similar laws?  For that matter, what about Rhode Island, which has been checking immigration status as a matter of course for years?

      And if I may throw this into the pot, DCNN outdid itself yesterday in its coverage.  They did a special report in the mid-afternoon about how the law is ALREADY having effects in driving “immigrants” out of the state.  The reporter (a young, pretty Latina, naturally) drove around cities in AZ, gathering footage of closed stores and shops with Hispanic names; it made Phoenix look like a ghost town.  She talked to some wanker who claims that AZ is losing millions of dollars in revenue.  Then, of course, she went for the human angle: with footage of a family loading a moving truck in the dark of night, she chatted (in Spanish) with an “immigrant” who’s leaving.  Images of rooms decorated for children.  Yessir, these poor immigrants have lived in AZ for years.  Put down roots.  Their CHILDREN live there.  And now this horrible, racist bill is driving them from their home.  They said that they’ll lose everything and have to (I sh*t you not) “start over in another state“.

      Gag.

      All that aside, I have sympathy for illegal immigrants in such a situation.  Our country made a sort of sub rosa bargain with them: come here, work, stay out of trouble, and we won’t bother you very much.  Now, suddenly, the bargain is being revoked.  It’s like any other time when the authorities, whether to .gov or the boss, suddenly decides to start enforcing a rule that has been a dead letter for years: “WTF?  NOW you start enforcing the letter of the law???”

      This is what comes from decades of federal neglect and laziness.  Instead of enforcing the border AND coming up with a better path to citizenship / legal residency, successive presidents* and Congresses screwed around, kicking the can down the road while playing political games until things got to a crisis.  Because the feds didn’t enforce the border and keep the drug dealers and human traffickers out, a lot of people have suffered AND we’re looking at the farce of the feds suing a state for actually (gasp!) daring to enforce the law.

      —–

      (*) I vehemently disagreed with Bush’s amnesty bill, but I think he deserves credit for trying to do something.

  • More evidence that what is lacking at every level of government is leadership. Question? Will the citizenry be so pissed off at this that they will vote the bums out?

  • In Sacramento County, some towns are becoming cities just so they can “outsource” the police function to the Sacramento County sheriff department. Note they already used the Sacramento Sheriffs, but when they “outsource” they can require better service in the contract (and get it.) I can’t quite figure that one out.

  • Also, the Ann Arbor art spending may be part of a local law, a state law, or Fed law that requires spending 1% on public art. Nothing like rigid laws that take no account of the economic times, eh?

  • And Ann Arbor isn’t unique here – the same song and dance is going on at the state and local level.

    My wife works with local municipalities.  On one such occasion, the board decided they wanted to spend $6, 000 on a simple wooden sign for a park – a 3′ by 4′ engraved wooden sign showing the name of the park and which government entity brought the funds for a park.  It was ridiculous.  The wife and I thought that the price tag for the sign be included on the engraving just to let the local tax payers know just how their money was being spent.  But as you can imagine, no such information was included.
     
    Thing is, this board is 100% Republican.  Deep red stalwart Republican – that spends half their time bitching about how Obama is taxing us to death and the other half trying to find ways to spend tax dollars.
     
    A simple metal sign costing only a few hundred dollars would have sufficed.  But no.  Aesthetics and art.  Oh, the fun they have with other peoples money.
     
    They want a pretty wooden sign?  Then let the local high school shop class make them one.  Dumbass!!
     
    BTW, the sign is none too impressive.  You wouldn’t know it was there even if you were pissing on it.
     
    Cheers.

    • They want a pretty wooden sign?  Then let the local high school shop class make them one.  Dumbass!!

      >>> I’d actually suggest the local prison instead of the high school

      • A fine suggestion, shark.
        But the local prisoners are too busy raising sorghum.
        And the high school students could actually come and visit their handywork.  Also stoking community pride.  “Sign provided by…” and what not.
         
        I actually offered my services.  I’m pretty handy with woodworking.  And I know that I could do it at a quarter of the costs and still make a profit.  But, alas, there were conflict of interests to be considered.
         
        Cheers.

    • PoqueMahoneThing is, this board is 100% Republican.  Deep red stalwart Republican – that spends half their time bitching about how Obama is taxing us to death and the other half trying to find ways to spend tax dollars.

      Yes, profligacy with other people’s money and blatant hypocrisy are par for the course in our political class on BOTH sides.  I’m moving past “vote them all out” and even beyond “tar and feather the lot of them” into “string ‘em all up” territory.

      BTW, I wonder who got the sweet contract that netted $6k for a sign that the average woodworker could make in his garage in a few hours for about $50 in materials.  This is how most small organizations (small businesses, churches, clubs, etc.) do it.  “Oh, we want to put up a little sign?  No prob: I’ve got a table saw and router at home.  Would next Monday be OK?”

      • Yup.
        My first question was, “So who’s brother-in-law is getting this sweet-ass deal?”
         
        I have gotten some commercial contacts through my wife’s dealings.  There’s nothing wrong with that, I believe.  Of course, as long as such products and services are met with market value.  And I’m not 100% sure, but I believe that a 3′ by 4′ wooden sign could have been found for much less than $6k.
         
        Cheers.

        • I think the key here is that no one cares. (until its too late.)
          Look at Bell, CA, where some local Mexican-American citizens drank some Tea Party Kool aid and were chanting “fuera” “get out” at officials who made 800K per year in salary. (To manage the finances of a city of 38,000 people.)
          I bet those salaries were quietly bumped up over many years, and voter turn-out was very low.

    • The high school shop idea is great.
      I bet they could also could have gotten a free sign by allowing a local business to have their name on it.

  • “the city has agreed to pay German artist Herbert Dreiseitl”

    Another job Americans won’t do! I wonder if this guy is illegal? 

  • Oh, hell…my town just built a new $3.5 million library. Usage: 8%. Not bad for a town of 57,000.