Monday, November 21, 2011

The Problem with Transparency in Government

The city council decided to "get tough on drunk drivers" and passed a resolution authorizing the police chief to hire a new part-time officer.  The local media reported that the sole purpose of this new position within the police department was to crack down on drunk drivers on Friday and Saturday nights.  When a part-time officer was finally hired, the newspapers reported that he would start working this Friday and Saturday night.  

On his first night on patrol, the new officer staked out a local night spot with a longstanding reputation for its high number of DUI violators.   Ten minutes before closing time, the officer saw a man stumble out of the front door of the bar and then trip on the sidewalk and fall face down.  After laying on the sidewalk for several minutes, the man finally picked himself up and wobbled towards the parking lot.

Once in the parking lot, the man fumbled for several minutes to locate his keys.  He then tried to open five different cars before finding the one his keys would  open. 
Meanwhile, other patrons were leaving the bar and were driving off, but the officer stayed with his man.

After several minutes of trying to start his car, the driver finally got it in gear and pulled it out of the parking lot.  The new officer immediately turned on his lights and siren and pulled the driver over.   Because the officer had witnessed this man’s actions, he didn't waste time with a field sobriety test.  Instead he proceeded right to the breathalyzer to capture the man’s blood-alcohol content.  

Amazingly, the results of the man's blood alcohol came up with a 0.0 reading.  Puzzled, the officer demanded to know how this could be.  He witnessed the man stagger, fall and fumble.  
"It’s easy," replied the driver.  "We have all read the paper over the past few months and know that the city  hired a new DUI officer.  We also saw on the news tonight that today was going to be the officer's first night on duty so we drew straws and I lost.  I had to be the designated decoy tonight."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why the Dog in Fire Department?

It was that dreaded time of year when the city council had to approve the new city budget.  The city council chambers was packed with members of a local group known as C.A.N.T. - Citizens Against New Taxes

As the Mayor opened the budget hearing, members of CANT began chanting, "Eliminate government waste - eliminate government waste - eliminate government waste -eliminate government waste." 
Having heard enough of the chanting, one city council member spoke up.  "We have cut all the waste in our city government.  If your group believes there is any waste in our city government, tell us were you think it is."

The leader of CANT stood up from the back of the room and yelled, "The fire department." 
Shocked, the mayor asked, "Where in the fire department do you see waste?" 
"The dog." replied the CANT leader.  The fire department has a dog.   Why?  That dog must be fed, groomed, housed, trained, and exercised, all of which cost local tax dollars.  Why is our fire department so damn special that it needs to have a dog?  I have personally checked with several surrounding cities and none of their fire departments have dogs."  

The mayor saw the fire chief sitting in the room and asked, "Chief, would you come forward and respond to this issue?"
"Sure," replied the chief and he walked up front.

"What exactly is your question?" the fire chief asked the members of CANT?

A member of CANT yelled, "Why does your fire department have a dog?"

Before the chief could respond another member of CANT yelled, "Does that dog help you fight fires?" 
"No," said the chief.

Another member then yelled, "Does that dog help with crowd control when you fight a fire?"
"No," said the chief.

Well, does the dog bring your fire department good luck when you're fighting fires?" another chuckled. 
"No again," the chief said.

"Well then, why in heaven’s sake is your department so damn special that it needs a dog when other cities don't have dogs in their fire departments?" the CANT leader asked.

"That's easy," said the chief.  "Three years ago, because of your organization's concerns to lower local taxes, the city council voted to terminate six full-time fire fighter positions.
Two years ago, because of your group's demands to reduce taxes, the city council voted to eliminate the global positioning system (GPS) software in our fire fighting vehicles.  And last year, because of your organization's demands to freeze taxes, the city council passed a resolution banning all city departments from purchasing new maps, reference guides, and plat books," said the chief.

"What does any of that have to do with our question tonight about the damn dog in the fire department?" asked the leader of CANT.  "Will you please tell us why your fire department needs to have a dog?"
"Sure," said the chief.  "That's simple; we need the dog to help our volunteer fire fighters locate the fire hydrants when they arrive at the scene of the fire."