The Infection of Unaccountable Money
This is the second in a series of posts written by our Friend, Fullerton Engineer.
Anybody who thinks the problem with transportation and “transit” funds is that there aren’t enough of them, either isn’t paying attention or is profiting off of the notion – either as a government bureaucrat, a consultant, a lobbyist, or an engineering construction contractor. The partisan political yappers can be added to the list too.
California government is awash with money. It is also awash with the characters and interests listed above, who all stand to gain from the new Gas Tax that will be levied on everybody else. Sure, everybody benefits, right? And the mantra of “our infrastructure is crumbling?” It sounds dire and maybe it is. But the solution is not new taxes, but effective and accountable use of the resources we already have. Until our governments can demonstrate that they are responsible stewards of what they have, why entrust them with any more?
As was recently noted on this blog, governments are rarely penalized for their misuse of their property, and the same goes for misuse of existing funds; and it would never occur to the transportation lobby to shape up. Why bother, when a helpful Legislature is more than happy to raise taxes and then start handing out salvers of freshly slaughtered pork? The simple fact is that grant funds from a distant government attracts a long line of bureaucratic applicants willing to spend that money in any fashion that meets the bare minimum of requirements from other bureaucrats in Sacramento. This diffusion of authority and ultimately the lack of coherent oversight is at the root of California’s current infrastructure woes. The fact that every dollar sent off to Washington or Sacramento or even collected by OCTA comes back after a big whack has been taken off the top only exacerbates the situation.
And then there is the problem of “transit” projects, a bottomless well of bureaucratic mismanagement, political corruption, and misuse of public funds for pet boondoggle projects that provide minimal, if any benefit to the public, but lots of benefit to the people entrusted with spending the money and those receiving it.
Which brings me to case of The People of Fullerton v. the Added Train Station Elevators, a study that will examine the long and painful (and ongoing) history of this completely unnecessary project that is quickly approaching a $5,000,000 price tag. This comedy of errors and overspending was to be paid for with funds from sources apart from Fullerton’s Capital Funds, namely State transportation funds Prop 1B and Prop 118, and of course the completely mismanaged OC Measure M Renewal funds. When somebody else is picking up the check it’s a lot easier to lose sight of priorities and interest in accountability. In this instance the availability of this play money has acted like a disease that has rendered everyone senseless and indifferent – a sort of malaise in which no one seems to care about what they are doing or how much it costs.
– Fullerton Engineer
7 Replies to “The Infection of Unaccountable Money”
“The partisan political yappers can be added to the list too.”
Yep, true to form the Democant partisans are defending the Newman Gas Tax as beneficial and necessary – just like the high speed train is beneficial and necessary.
Apart from the rusted stairs and etched glass what’s wrong with the existing bridge? Why not just clean it up and save four and a half million bucks?
Read my post again. Nobody cares about saving anything. Grant money is like a narcotic.
…anyone that even remotely believes that the 1/2 cent gas tax is going to be spent in repairing our roads, need look no further than a couple of miles south on the 57 freeway across the street from where the Ducks play hockey to see how the OCTA spent $ 185 MILLION on for an unused hangar that lights up at night!
“Nothing starts out great,” Kring said. “Everything has to build up. Sometimes it takes a little bit more energy. Eventually, it’s going to be very successful.”
Millions? That’s peanuts. Let’s talk Billions like “high speed rail” which might shave 3 minutes off the trip from downtown Los Angeles to Anaheim. Woo Woo. But really, all those different colored lights on the Anaheim Armadillo are sure cool. And they still have a lot of room for advertising posters that could go on the escalators that go up to go down and down to go up.
This looks like it might be interesting when it goes live shortly: