A Box of Soap

I voted against the 911 measure.  I wouldn’t have been disappointed at all if it had passed.  Keizer is sometimes too proud by half of its public penny-pinching.  If you demand services you should be honest enough to pay for them.  Maybe we could decide better what to pay for.

One of the promos sent out to support this measure said that Keizer has only 37 officers, less officers per capita than other cities of a comparable size.  The Keizer Police web site says 40 sworn officers.  Thirty-seven officers working 40 hours a week would combine for 1,480 hours in total.  There are only 168 hours in a week, so the simple computation is that 8.8 officers are available 24 hours a day.

The same web site says that only 13 of the sworn officers are patrol officers.  That makes the 168 hours much more difficult to cover.  If you are interested in what the other 27 officers do, you’ll find it at the web site.  Because I am an average citizen spending most of my time on the business of survival, I cannot competently argue against all the department necessities that require two thirds of their staff doing something besides patrolling the streets.  In the end it just means that I can find no sympathy for yet another funding plea.

This is no attempt to belittle our police department or accuse them of anything.  They are competent, professional, and dedicated.  I feel comfortable and safe living in Keizer thanks to their ability to keep us safe.  It is more an attempt to understand the frightening spiral of the growing cost of, well, everything.

We are asked to make payments for Keizer Station improvements because the developer can’t.  When this project was sold to us, did anyone consider that it might not pay for itself?  Maybe the mix of available stores, which you must helplessly circle to find an entrance, is neither a great planning achievement, nor a shopping mecca.

The thirty-four million dollar Courthouse Square in downtown Salem is a monument to current practices.  The architects and builders have combined to settle for $1.8 million.  That leaves only $32.2 million for you and I to contribute, until they decide to raze it or make repairs.  That’s extra.

The Astoria-Megler Bridge was begun in 1962 and completed for $24 million.  The morning paper says it will cost $50 million to sandblast it and replace some rivets.  We need to do that in order to stave off an estimated billion dollar replacement cost.  Maintenance I understand.  The cost, I don’t.  If you took the long way around to get to Astoria, you could drive from Corvallis to the coast in order to see one of ODOT’s most expensive project ever, which has not opened because the earth under it continues to move.

This is at the heart of both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.  We all share the belief that things are going badly wrong.   Americans are dissatisfied at both the amounts they are asked to pay, and the certainty that governments at every level will use those funds in the least effective way.  Even more certain, in all these calamities, is that taxpayers always pay for the clean-up.  From Wall Street bailouts to Keizer Station miscalculation, business answers for nothing.

Don Vowell lives in Keizer.