Sunday, February 08, 2009

A midwinter irony

My wife, son and I stole away to Los Angeles this weekend to visit my college daughter, and watch her perform in an opera, The Marraige of Figaro.

We left a sunny Portland late Thursday morning. When we landed in L.A., the rain had just started. It rained the entire four days we were there. Hard. Flooding type of rain. So we left a sunny Portland for four rainy days in L.A.

Luckily, we weren't there for Disneyland or other outdoor stuff (although we stayed near Anaheim and saw many families with young children whose trips were pretty much ruined.) So we still had a nice time.

And I'm not an opera type - this was my second one ever. But it was great. My daughter was the understudy for one of the lead parts, and as understudy got to perform one of the nights. It was great - she was great.

Back in Portland now, reading the Sunday Funny Paper. I see they are still up to their old tricks: front page story on how will the state ever pay for Measure 57 in these budget crunching times??!!

Still waiting for the story on how the state will pay the roll-up costs that have ensued from last biennium's 16% increase that included hefty public employee union raises.

Oh well.


Matt Evans said...

The primary problem with paying for prisons in Oregon arises from two causes - neither of which is the fault of the initiative system nor of the voters.

The first problem is that the State and local governments do nothing to control the costs of prison construction. The State inevitably chooses the most expensive possible site (see: the women's facility in Wilsonville/Kitzhaber) and does not insist that prisons be constructed to ensure the lowest possible operating costs. In addition, Oregon suffers under its "Little Davis-Bacon" law, which forces the State to use over-priced labor for construction projects.

Secondly, no effort is made to ensure that the fewest possible number of employees are hired to work at each prison facility. The most expensive part of operating any government enterprise is the payroll costs, and Oregon does everything possible to maximize those costs as a partial repayment for political support by the unions who represent the workers.

Across the nation, state's are using private companies to save money and increase prison efficiency. It's time Oregon quit coddling its prisoners and government employee union members and went the same route.

Bill Sizemore said...

There are a few issues that the Democrat machine will not let you touch. Most have to do with protecting or paying off union contributors.

Little Davis Bacon tops that list. Try writing a measure that ensures that the contract for a public works project will go to the lowest reputable bidder that can fulfill the contract to specs. You will not recognize the official ballot title you will receive. If the attorney general gives you a ballot title that even resembles the measure, the Oregon Supreme Court will order it changed.

I have tried this several times in several ways, always to no avail. I don't know if it's Justice Durham, a union lawyer who now sits on the court, but for some reason the Oregon Supreme Court absolutely will not allow an honest ballot title for a repeal of Little Davis Bacon or any measure that gives an employee the right to not join a union or pay money to a union as a condition of employment.

Oregon taxpayers continue to pay artificially inflated construction costs, because the attorney general and the Oregon Supreme Court are more committed to doing the bidding of labor unions than the right thing.

Voters ought to be able to take the integrity of official ballot titles for granted, but they definitely cannot, not in Oregon.

Anonymous said...

This is all about Mr. Nobody too.

"The State inevitably chooses the most expensive possible site"

With many projects the State and local governments inevitably also chooses the most expensive design and construction methods that include high costs for exaggerated or unnecessary environmental work.

Road or interchange projects which add a new expensive bridge where none was before simply to replace a working culvert in a attempt to lesson wildlife congestion.

Road projects that include massive road runoff treatment of the most expensive possible methods. Often with little or no increased benefit above traditional treatment.

Oregon pays the highest cost possible for projects when compared to similar states and projects.

Making matters worse is the obscuring of these costs. Agencies know they are not being watched. They are free to insert agendas and preferences into project designs.
Project after project where many millions are spent outside the primary objective get zero scrutiny from any media or elected official.

Of course this is related to the far greater problem that big government represents and is highlighted in an O-A2 story today.

not found at

"Haste could throw away stimulus billions, experts say."

",,,wasting billions of dollars by attempting to spend money faster than an overburdened government,,can manage and oversee it."

Aside from the stimulus plans, this is the case at all levels.

Government has grown to a size that is simply not manageable. For a grand portion of our tax dollars, spending oversight is impossible.

Elected officials are incappable of following the money and bureaucrats fail to fill the responsibility void politicians leave.
After all, it's not their job to make it all work out.

There is too much government period. Too many agencies doing too many things with too many programs and too many tasks.
And every year it gets worse.

The result is Mr. Nobody is responsible for watching the money.