Sunday, January 16, 2011

Who Moves Slower--The Federal Government or the City of Los Angeles?

I seldom watch much in the way of daytime TV, but when we were in the breakfast room at the Waikiki Hilton Royal Kuhio for five days I got to see some of the early morning news shows that I ordinarily don't view. One feature that made an impression on me was the story of some kind of upgraded military vehicle which was essentially like a new model year edition of an existing automobile, similar enough such that a trained user of the old model would only need a day's worth of training to get up to speed on the revised equipment. So when will the new model be available for use? In 2019, 9 years after the process to update the vehicle began. Why so long? Because of Department of Defense labyrithinal requirements for procuring "new" items of equipment. Can you imagine if it takes 9 years to provide a simple improvement of an existing item used by the government how much money the government is wasting in implementing this process?

Recently I was witness on a much smaller scale as to the snail's pace at which the city of Los Angeles operates. Two and a half years ago we set off our home burglar alarm when our motion detector thought a helium balloon in our den was an intruder. This cost us a $110 fine for generating a false alarm, which we accept as being our fault. However on top of that we were fined another $100 for not having an alarm permit. Well I have been paying the $30 alarm permit fee faithfully every year, so while I paid the $110 false alarm fee, I explained that I had a current permit in force, providing the permit number and a copy of my payment for the year in question. I figured that the $100 portion would be quickly waived, which seemed to be the case as I received no further requests to pay the $100. Until a year and a half later when I get a letter from a collection agency in New York saying that the city's receivable from me had been assigned to them for collection. Very fortunately for me the collection agency informed me how to formally protest the imposition of the $100 assessment for not having an alarm permit, which I quickly filed with the Los Angeles Police Commission. I was hoping that would take care of the matter, but I couldn't be sure because I never heard back from them. Until a year later when I received a notice that some subcommittee of the police commissioner had voted in a hearing on December 21, 2010 to waive the assessment. I'm not sure what part of this tale is the most appalling. The incompetence in mistakenly assessing me for not having a permit; ignoring my documented response which could have been easily verified in five minutes by a chimp. The glacial pace at which these events played out. The fact that it takes a meeting of the police commission to undo the mistake. Or the amount of city money that was obviously wasted by this process. No wonder why Los Angeles may go bankrupt by 2013.

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