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July 28, 2005

Comments

starsandbars

You mentioned the OCTA group travelling on "Our Dime". Any idea how we can find out how much those people are wasting flying around the country to get slaps on teh back for dinners? I would be very interested in seeing that and don't most of them sit on more then one board...with that said...then how much they all spend via other seats they sit on...and then total it up....now would be great reading......really for those that like to claim there are "protecting the taxpayers"

Why doesn't somebody in the media ask how much of our dollars good old James Silva has spent on trips around the country and the globe? Between this transit board, the board of supes and the air quality gig and his other appointments, rumor has it that he is flying all the time on our dime. In fact, he and his wife recently hopped a trip to DC before one of the holiday weekends so that they could go see their son or something (their pic was in the Register about people flying out of John Wayne before the fourth of July I think?)Rumor has it that he shows up on these junkets with moths in his pocket. Wonder who pays for his meals?

CommonSense

I get so sick of people complaining about how government spends/wastes money, how politicians and buearacrats are overpaid, that taxpayer money is going to fly them here or there. It's the cost of doing business. We need a government to run our country. Short of anarchy, there is no other way around it. Anytime you have an organization/group doing a job, it's going to cost money.

What do you want? A college educated, employee to do his job for free. Do you want to underpay buearacrats for work that is often equal to someone in the private industry, and without the same perks? If someone is stupid enough to do that, is that the type of person you want running our government?

Everyone bitches and complains, but not once have I heard someone come up with a meaningful and serious solution to running an efficient and cost-effective government. Do you have one?

redperegrine

CommonSense:

Civil servants used to be compensated for lack of remuneration with the benefit of tenure. Now they get both. The cost of paying for government employees and their retirement deals is an ever increasing burden on the rest of us -- and many of us don't have anywhere near the sweet deals public employee labor unions are getting the pols to approve.

Naturally it galls us when we see elected officials who are supposed to be representing US come to identify themselves with the interests of the bureaucracy.

Nobody on this blog is asking for free government. And the day citizens stop "bitching" about government waste will be a sorry day for the Republic, indeed.

Lurk

I appeciate all comments on this -- they're well thought out and well written -- and that's characteristic of our audience.

In response to CommonSense, yes in fact, I do have a "meaningful and serious solution to running an efficient and cost-effective government". Right here (see 2)): http://www.ocblog.net/ocblog/2005/06/two_solutions_t.html. Richard Rider (who was running for Mayor in San Diego) calls this the "Yellow Pages" approach in his comment below the post.

I see absolutely no reason why nearly every aspect of local government can not be outsourced by competitive bid to for-profit private businesses or non-profits (e.g. healthcare to Kaiser). Government is little different from private enterprise in terms of the services it offers. If you'd look thru the County department directories, a creative person could think of a private sector organization that does or could do the same work. If I was Fluor, for example, I'd covet the opportunity to do roadwork and perhaps sewage treatment for this area -- Fluor designs, constructs and manages these kinds of enterprises around the world, and in environments a lot tougher than the OC. And considering the recent uproar about the OC Sanitation District and their costly use of a Yoga priest for internal staff coaching and, apparently, arbitration among the silos that Blake Anderson had built, could a private company do any worse? If Flour decided to bring in a Guru for HR work, I could care less if it was on their nickel as we would have selected them as low bidder for a fixed price arrangement to run the sewers. Why does the Sheriff run jails when Corrections Corporation of America is in that business? I'll bet they don't use sworn personnel to run those joints, and I'll bet they don't have the union problems caused by the Prison Guards at state level.

For more on the posts we've left re. outsourcing, please try this Google search of OC Blog: http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2004-30,GGLD:en&q=outsource+site%3Awww%2Eocblog%2Enet.

So again, we appreciate your comments, but don't think for a minute it's just our job to bitch and moan.

calwatch

But Orange County HAS done a lot in the transportation area. The freeway
system (administered by OCTA) is in a world class state, with wide,
smooth lanes, plenty of shoulders, and carpool lanes everywhere, in
sharp contrast to the condition of the freeways in Los Angeles County.
The freeway system may not be able to handle the afternoon rush hour,
but most of the time it flows quite well, with much better signage
than you can find on the other side of the Orange Curtain. (Little used is not true, as anyone actually driving in the carpool lanes on I-5 through Santa Ana and getting stuck in slower traffic than the regular lanes can attest to.)

As for the 91 freeway, tolls are actually lower overall than in the
private system. Remember that OCTA is setting tolls to fill capacity,
while the former owners, the CPTC, set tolls to maximize revenue,
which aren't the same thing. The fact that tolls are in the $7.75
range only shows how congested the toll lanes would be if they were
set at lower levels. Eliminating tolls on the two toll lanes would
only change the current situation from 55 mph in the toll lanes and 15
mph in the regular lanes to 20 mph for everybody, and that wouldn't
help anyone at all, since there's no money for future transportation
improvements, people go only slightly faster, and people who are
really in a hurry don't have the option to make their appointments.

On the bus side, OCTA has recovered from the wrath that [former OCTA
CEO] Lisa Mills brought, the disasterous "Straightlining" program that
resulted in wide criticism from transit riders, disabled people, and
the public. Brain dead decisions were made in that era like un-serving
the local Braille Institute, forcing transfers at random
intersections, and a mismatch of service in the central Orange County
area, resulting in extremely overcrowded buses. Straightlining
resulted in a net loss of ridership in a growth economy. Most of the
worst effects of the decision have been taken care of and the bus
system is still nowhere near the level of old big cities like New York
and Chicago, but is very good for a car dominated, multi-centered
metropolitan area.

Yes, the Centerline was a debacle, but the Centerline was always a
poorly planned project. Light rail does not work in Orange County's
multi-centric area, and with the traffic congestion and lack of
available right of way that at-grade light rail would cause. Elevated
rail would be a sound solution for Orange County, but that was shot
down due to cost. Don't forget, also, the role of cities like Irvine
and Anaheim and their politicians killing the projects through their
communities. With the loss of community support, OCTA was stuck with a
dog of a project, one that they wisely terminated.

So overall, considering the environment that they are in, where most
people drive and the bus system was an afterthought, they are doing
pretty well.

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