Incompetence or Plot?

So I have blathered on a bit about the state of affairs in traffic control and civil engineering in our fair city and frankly around the country. I find it hard to believe that our civil engineers as incompetent as the systems they design and oversee suggest. Read: ‘hate us’?

I still have a hard time with this as I drive all over the area and witness what appears to be absolute incompetence in design. I have written about short turn lanes with cars spilling out blocking other lanes and short signals that let one car through while enraging the rest in the queue. How can an “educated” engineer allow such wretched systems to be the norm in a city?

Maybe there is a more diabolical scheme at work here. Governments tend to be very greedy.  Greed on a level that makes the Wall Street Gang look like the Salvation Army. You governments a thirsty for “funds” to “fund” important programs and systems for ‘we the people’. This is, after all, what the government is supposed to do. But governments tend to waste a lot of money. You see “funds” is simply another word for “money.” Money is such a ‘greedy’ term though, isn’t it? We can’t have our benevolent elected representatives with any of that filthy money right? Of course not! They handle “funds.” They throw our money around like a sultan’s first daughter on the wedding day then cry that they can’t fix the many things that need fixing without proper “funds.” Of course in government “funds” are a soft, warm, fuzzy way of saying, “taxes.”

So is it simply that our civil engineers are in fact bright and clever, but are neutered by inefficient use of funds and sinister politicians who allow this egregious ignorance of good design to help them acquire more “funds” to fix problems they create? Probably, I still can’t believe we are producing civil engineers this pathetic. Sure our universities are crap compared to what they once were, but they are not this bad, are they? No, they can’t be, maybe UC Berkeley, but not our fine Washington Institutions. Right?

OK I like to play fair, let’s look at the budget for the ‘Couv’.

Below is a simplified chart for the previous budget for General, Street and Fire funding. Other than a $4.2 million deficit, nothing is out of whack here. Of course cities should NOT make a habit of emulating the feds when it comes to deficit spending.

budget chart
From the City of Vancouver website.

So the revenues are labeled and the expenses are for the most part pretty clear. Public safety is well over half the budget, as it should be in municipal government. The debt service is coming in at 4% and that is reasonable and manageable long-term. Kudos there. miscellaneous operations and internal support at 5% makes me nervous. In government the word “miscellaneous” is terrifying 😉 5% of this budget is over $15 million. There is a budgeting expenses for “General Services” at 3% which is close to $10 million. So where is that 5% going? What are those General Services that sucks down $10 million? Maybe it could go toward fixing the stupid short left hand turn lanes and quick left arrow signal cycles, just sayin’. I don’t like giving up $25 million in flexible spending cash to government bureaucrats.

Well despite my rage over the traffic engineering, there is no smoking gun here. So is it incompetence then? No it’s probably a diabolical scheme to ask us citizens to dig a little deeper so they can fix what they created. The cycle of bureaucracy continues.

Ah, the ‘Couv’ Life; it is good, even though we have the same goofy government BS as most cities 😉 But we should be ever wary of those we elect to represent us in all levels of government. Keep ’em honest, at the ballot box in necessary.



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