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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 27, 2012 12:45 PM. The previous post in this blog was Portland water system mortgage payment hits $37 million a year. The next post in this blog is Like a prayer. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Maybe it was for Miss Oregon

Are those California plates on a City of Portland car?

Comments (10)

Might be a car for Leverage or Grimm. Saw a few cop cars with CA plates on their set earlier this year.

Along the same lines, I've always found it interesting that the City and State allows vehicles that operate primarily on Oregon roads to be registered out of state. For example, rental cars almost always either have Nevada or Washington plates when I've gotten a car. Also taxis. Nothing like seeing a taxi that operates with a city permit being registered out of state. Get on the ball and require these vehicles to be registered here that are using up the roads and bridges.

Was it parked at Disneyland?

It's the Official City of Portland Ambassador to SoCal: they must always be reachable by car phone in case of a diplomatic crisis.

The car was parked in the basement of the PSU/CoP building at 1900 S.W. 4th Avenue (in Portland) where the Bureau of Development Services is located.

Jeff - never saw an Oregon E- plate car in Anaheim but I did see one parked outside the "original" Starbucks, across the street from Pike Place Market. In Seattle. Was a few years back though, and it wasa DAS (state motor pool) vehicle.

We've been quietly morphing into California del Norte for some time now anyways. There you go...

Erik H.: Not sure what your point is, but let's not get carried away with the accusations of "misuse of government funds," etc. There are any number of reasons why an Oregon E-plate (DAS) car might be seen in Seattle.

For example, there are times when Oregon DEQ has meetings with USEPA (regional office which includes Oregon) in downtown Seattle.

And, for God's sake, what bloody difference does it make that a state employee might stop at the Starbucks to get a coffee before going to their meeting? Or, that they might stop at Pike Place Market before heading home? The ten cents extra gas, if that?

Please stop bashing public employees and constantly looking for some malfeasance by public agencies, public employees and, OMG, unions!

There are certainly problems with political corruption at the highest levels within the City of Portland, Tri-met, and Metro (as well as the City of Lake Oswego), and, yes, unions. And we should keep exposing and fighting (and voting) against that corruption until we stop it.

But most public employees are responsible, hard working, and take their jobs seriously. With the exception of corrupt "economic development/urban renewal" agencies, public agencies serve a community, state, or national purpose and are not going away, nor should they. I am not in favor of turning every community/societal function over to private industry, nor is that even practicable.

I'm tired of the constant bashing and insinuations that public employees are somehow just parasites. These people are your neighbors and even family/relatives. They are not dregs of society because they chose to work in public service, or because they wanted to have a more secure job with benefits for themselves and their families.

To those who, for some sad reason, can't seem to let a day go by without denigrating public employees, please, please ease up on the accusatory insinuations and irrational hatred. It's unfair to them and really adds nothing to public discourse or to solving the problems we all face, collectively, as a country.

Thanks.

No.

For example, there are times when Oregon DEQ has meetings with USEPA (regional office which includes Oregon) in downtown Seattle.

That's all great. Guess what? Oregon subsidizes this neat little thing called Amtrak Cascades.

Surely, the DEQ - the "environmental agency", would find it more apt NOT to stick another car on the freeway burning gas and spewing pollution (and likely being a single-occupant motor vehicle, costing quite a bit for one person) when it could buy a $75 round-trip ticket on the train that Oregon had to have.

And let's just assume that the DEQ guy legitimately had to drive his car to Seattle. That's great. Except none of the hotels are near Pike Place Market, I don't know of many meetings that occur on a Saturday or Sunday morning (the only times I'm in Seattle) in a tourist trap some 15 blocks away from the Convention Center and well removed from most hotels and other conference centers.

You know what? My employer doesn't pay me to take a vacation on the company dime. I believe government employees should be entitled to fair pay and benefits for their work - but nothing I can't receive. That person got a vacation on taxpayer's time, using a vehicle whose fuel was provided by the taxpayer, whose parking was paid by the taxpayer...when can I call up DAS and ask for a state provided fleet car and spend a weekend in Seattle? I had to drive my own car and pay for my own gas a couple weekends ago - my employer didn't give me a car.

(And, isn't it still more "environmentally friendly" to use electronic conferences and telecommute, rather than travel a long ways away?")

Erik, you didn’t say that you saw the State car on Saturday or Sunday. If I had seen a State car in Seattle on a weekend day, I also might have had the same initial reaction and thought “Hmmm, that’s odd.” But the difference is that I would not have jumped straight to skepticism and cynicism, even to assuming that something nefarious was afoot. The point I was trying to make is that too many people are unwilling to afford public employees even the smallest benefit of the doubt.

Are you absolutely sure there could not be any reason why a State employee might be in Seattle over the weekend? Is it not possible they could have been attending a weekend training session held in Seattle? Why do you immediately assume it “likely” that the car was single occupancy? Also, if they were expected to be at a meeting in Seattle at 8:00 on Monday morning, perhaps they drove up on Saturday or Sunday afternoon and paid out of their own pocket to spend the night (or two nights) and the cost of “parking,” meals, etc., to have an opportunity to enjoy some Seattle sites and not have to get up at 3:00 or 4:00 am on Monday morning to get to the meeting on time. So what? To waste even one second elevating your blood pressure over something this trivial seems like a waste of one’s energy, but if that’s what gets you up in the morning, that’s certainly your prerogative.

There is no State or federal agency that would knowingly approve the use of an agency automobile or approve travel for an employee to have “a vacation” on the taxpayers’ “dime,” so your assertion otherwise has no basis in fact, and you have no evidence to suggest that the car you saw in Seattle was a public employee having a “vacation” on the public “dime.”

Which brings me to your assertion that just because someone works at DEQ (or any State agency, but you seem to falsely assume that everyone who works at DEQ is some sort of proselytizing environmental extremist) that they should be obligated to take the train or public transit. As I previously stated, although public employees are public servants and their salaries are paid through our taxes (they pay taxes, too, remember), they are also just normal, work-a-day people not unlike yourself, your relatives, your friends, and your neighbors. They are men and women, mothers and fathers. Although some are young and single, most, like many people, have families and family obligations. They have kids they have to drop off at school or daycare and pick up at the end of the day. They may have elderly parents they have to attend to on a daily basis. To insist that they should have to take the train to Seattle (or anywhere else) simply because they work at DEQ (or any other agency) regardless of whether the train’s schedule would be in sync with their work-related needs or their family obligations is just absurd and unreasonable.

In light of the fact that any meeting in Seattle is likely to be an annual event, if that, and a training session could be a one time, required certification program, to denigrate these employees for use of a State car is really wasting a lot of umbrage, rage, and hatred on low-hanging fruit. And, by the way, conference calls and meetings are routinely used in State agencies and State and federal agencies do utilize telecommuting for employees. But that does not negate the need to occasionally meet in person one’s counterparts at partner agencies (just as in the business world) to improve and sustain working relationships.

Look, I’m with you on the hypocrites who run the City of Portland, Metro, Tri-Met, County Commissioners, City of Lake Oswego, etc. who are trying to shove politically corrupted light rail, street cars, condo and apartment bunkers, and bicycle-riding into our lives whether we want them or not, while never actually taking mass transit, riding bicycles around town or living in these bunkers themselves. It’s not fair to compare these crony capitalist ass-wipes to public employees who work in staff jobs at DEQ. While many at DEQ may consider themselves environmentalists, that does not mean they are extremists or wack jobs. They are engineers and scientists who are there to enforce and implement State environmental regulations.

By the way, I don’t now and have never worked at DEQ or any State agency, but have known people who do and have, and none are or were environmental extremists or slackers or losers who chose to work in public service just so they could live off the “public dime.” Every public employee I know or have known was just as concerned about waste of public money as you are, because they are also taxpayers.

I enjoy your knowledge and history of regional transit issues, Erik, and enjoy reading your many blogs about them. But I do take issue with uninformed and unnecessary bashing of public employees.


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