Because of the economy, most cities around here are facing cutbacks in budgets. After listening to a worker discuss the wasteful management style of her supervisor, I was thinking of city services. Some city and county employees I know work extremely hard, while others find it easy to do less than an hour's work a day.
My many years of contacts with the city services have not been pleasant. There was the time my car was stolen. When my car was found, they called me early on a Saturday morning. I called back within 10 min (I was showering when they called) to find out that they had towed my car to the Impound lot. In those days I used a bank that had no services on Saturday and I wasn't using an ATM card at the time. Not only did I have to find a ride to the Impound Lot to pay more than twice as much in cash as it took to tow my car twice as far two months before, but when I called to give the officer a list of missing items, he wasn't interested.To top it off, he told me the car may have been there all week (across the street from the police station) but that he'd been on vacation and no one had checked the spot where cars were often left after joy riding.
When my car was totaled in an accident, I managed to drive it about 5' onto an empty field beside the street. An officer refused to allow me to call the tow truck from my insurance company, insisting it must be done immediately to avoid blocking traffic. The fact that it was not even on the shoulder of the road didn't matter. I grudgingly paid the inflated amount. I always thought it was just that officer.
Last year I had my car stall in an intersection at 10:30 p.m. The officer that drove by and spotted me suggested that we could get a tow truck faster if he called. Since my insurance card covers $75 and the tow was only going to be about 80 yards, I agreed. When the tow truck driver showed up, he jumped my battery and I was good to go. When he told me the city authorized him to charge $200 for showing up and additional mileage and a gas surcharge, I was astounded that the city would allow treble the cost of towing. His buddy the cop was happy to be bringing him some business while by then I was happy with the $45 jump (thank goodness I had some cash with me). I was having a lot of car trouble around that time and had the same company tow me 8 days before for the fee paid by the insurance company, or a maximum of $75.
Again, back in 1988, I was sick for about 3 months. I had the lot where my house had burned down that had to be mowed. It would take me about an hour on my regular sized lawnmower, but since I was sick, I was paying $50 to have it mowed every 10 days. The young man apparently hadn't done it one week. That city, without notice, had the property mowed. The charge? $470. To make matters more insane, the enforcement officer who caused all this didn't recognize that $470 was too much for mowing for an hour.
What got me on this tangent was my telephone bill. My basic rate is too high, which annoys me, but the powers that be are now allowing a minimum late fee of $5 on the phone bill. It really bothers me that they are hitting people who are down the most. I keep wondering when usury became the norm. At the very least, that's over 10% interest a month. While it definitely means I'm motivated to pay my bill on time every month, I have a choice that some people don't. Phone bills contain a nice percentage of taxes. Why would our government allow a private business to collect interest on taxes due to put in their private business pockets?
My Eureka moment was when I realized it was just like the police department. My contacts with policemen has taught me that they don't see their jobs the same way we do. We think they should be trying to solve our burglaries, find our stolen goods and arrive when we have an emergency. We get angry about being told a policemen will arrive in the next day or so to investigate our burglary or when they tell us to check the pawn shops for our stolen merchandise. (which we can buy if we find it) Governments are the same way. They aren't out to protect and serve us when they contract to do city services at triple and quadruple the price a citizen would normally pay. An average citizen never finds out what the city has done until it's too late.
So I'm lowering my expectations of government. No more will I assume the city, county, state or federal government wants to help the citizens. They are in the business of government. People just get in their way.
And I will continue to vote in every single election and hope and work for changes in the system. If we all worked for changes before it was our ox being gored, we could promote people first in our local governing bodies.