Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tastee Freeze

The City of Vancouver, exactly like every other government in the world, is a grossly bloated bureaucracy.

When I said in a Province newspaper editorial some months ago that close to 50% of the employees and departments could be slashed with no noticeable effect on the lives of its citizens, the outrage was loud.

This morning, as I learn that the City has given the City Manager powers to slash and cut and freeze wages, I stand by my original position.

Spend some time around City Hall and then tell me different.

50% of every employee's day is given over to lengthy gabfests called "meetings," at which every participant's every subtle need must be met. The favorite song around these costly affairs goes, "I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that idea."

Meetings are followed by write-ups of the meetings followed by follow-up meetings.

For this my property taxes are going to go up 10%?

The arts and culture department is a fiefdom run by a totally obscure but power-mad shrike who operates entirely on her own agenda.

The drug office has accomplished exactly what? Any clean and sober recovering addicts? I don't think so.

Now, Council wants a mental health advocate? To do what?

The same marvelous job that Mr. Civil City has been doing?

Drugs and alcohol and mental health are not civic responsibilities. These are offices of the provincial and federal governments, who do a bad enough job on their own, without wasting my tax dollars on ineffective boobs at 12th and Cambie.

The simple truth is that City Hall could realistically cut current expenditures by hundreds of millions of dollars and you would not see a single sign of deprivation, other than the oxygen-sucking mandarins on the employment lines.

Of course, flag-waving and tap-dancing aside, the City will never do this.

Governments are perpetual swelling machines.

They give birth to eight babies a day.

They sit around all day dreaming of ways to re-generate, duplicate, obfuscate and add to our woes and costs.

Remove the snow. Keep the sewers running. Pay the firefighters and the police.

Otherwise, be quiet and stop spending our money.


Anonymous said...

David, I think this is true of any city or municipality.

Today, whilst I took my son to school in Delta, I saw two school board employees, with a backhoe, fill in the ruts under the swings!

As long as there are swings, there has been ruts under them, but no, not in Delta, where a truck load of sand, two men and a backhoe are required to fill in the ruts.

All bureaucracies are bloated and the politicians seem powerless to do anything about it.

Anonymous said...

They are cutting the Street Ambassador program. So now we can go back to "Avoid the Panhandler" game we all love and cherish.

Anonymous said...


Yes, swings develop ruts under them. The crews are filling them in because, as the rut developes, bare concrete is exposed so that the city's little citizens can fall and break their arm or smash their head and require surgery or stitches.

Insurance companies that insure school playgrounds REQUIRE that there be either pea gravel or mulch on the playgrounds and that said protective surface be properly maintained.

I know many people like to think that this is just a waste of civic money - but pea gravel, mulch and attending to those ruts under the swings is necessary.

Like Mr. Berner said, endless meetings with endless talk of mandates and agendas IS a waste of money. Conducting endless research and hiring for positions that are not even under the jurisdiction of the city are wastes of money.

Maintenance of schools, public playgrounds, parks, facilities, roads, etc. is legitimate city work and is EXACTLY where my tax money should be spent.

Linda Yuill

Anonymous said...

Update on swings in Delta!

After a recess and lunch hour, the ruts under the swings have reappeared!

David Berner said...

Giving rise to that famous modern Opera classic, "Rutless in Delta."

Anonymous said...

Linda, don't know what is under swings in Vancouver, in Delta it's mud!

Oh, twas a simpler life when swings were swings, teeter-totters teetered, monkey bars were fun and you were able to slide on slides!

Such a swinging blog today!

Pelalusa said...

From Kalifornia to DC, to Ottawa, to Vancouver, the one consistent thing about governments across this continent is that they refuse to make the tough decisions to dramatically decrease spending. Instead, they insist upon increasing spending, paying for it either by borrowing more money and/or increasing taxes.

Only in an LSD induced sick fairytale would a city increase taxes by 10% when its citizens are facing some of the roughest economic times in decades.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Dave. I am outraged when ordinary citizens didn't take your side. You are absolutely right. The bureaucracy is grossly inefficient. In fact,you can find a lot of high-paying, but rather easy jobs in the city owned by the government. I personally have worked at such institution and seen employees doing nothing because there's more than enough hired to do the job!!!!! Make no mistake, I am an advocate of big government which of course implies relatively weakened big corporations' power. However, I do believe that the current bureaucracy needs rapid improvements and added efficiency. Once again, there has to be demands from the bottom which are of course citizens whose taxes sustain the operations of all governments. Maybe we are all just too busy watching drama. Well, in real life, there are a lot of bad guys too. It's closer to us than we think.