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Letters to the Editor

Tax thoughts

July 7, 2011

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To the editor:

We’re seeing hints of increased taxes in support of city services, and discussion of changes in those services. I have some observations.

Last summer, some Centennial Neighborhood streets were repaved. This project took the entire summer since the workers were around an average of one day a week. They’d show up, post “no parking” signs, then disappear. By the end of the summer, the repaving was finally done. Soon after, cracks (large and small) began to appear in the new pavement. When this was reported, a bit of crack filler was dribbled in the small ones. They came and put pink spray paint on a large crack near my house, put up no parking signs and disappeared forever.

About a month ago I contacted the city manager’s office to find out what, if anything, will be done about the 30-foot-long crack. No one has ever gotten back to me, and nothing has been done. Could it be that contractors just get away with shoddy work with no supervision? Sure looks that way. Letting them off the hook, though it might save effort, is bound to be expensive.

Although having only one collection a week has limitations, our trash collection is excellent. The people doing it work hard, even sometimes picking up trash left on the ground. We have a number of excellent voluntary recycling options, none expensive or difficult. So, we set up a commission to change something that works well. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Comments

Liberty_One 3 years, 3 months ago

If the roads were privately owned, does anyone think the owner would stand for such a project taking so long and being done so poorly?

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Peter Macfarlane 3 years, 3 months ago

Maybe not, but I bet you'd be paying a toll.

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jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Well, consider the world of contractors who work on houses.

Those projects seem to inevitably run over budget, take longer than promised, and the work isn't always great quality, yet people seem to accept it.

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jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Wow - quite a different story than the many I've experienced and been told about by friends/acquaintances.

Contractors routinely run over time and over budget, and often don't do quality work.

Most people I know of, even some rich ones, say that's just the way it is - sounds like acceptance to me.

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tolawdjk 3 years, 3 months ago

Translation:

Liberty_One's experiences are the real experiences and your quaint anecdotal stories are fictious communist carp.

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jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

That's a lovely fantasy - and it's the way it's supposed to work.

But, it doesn't work that way in a variety of places, including finding someone to work on your house.

The interesting question is why not?

I think the answer is that for the market to work the way it's supposed to work, consumers need to be well informed, assertive, and have reasonably high standards.

In addition, the community as a whole has to have those qualities.

I've had many experiences with many aspects of home ownership, having moved more often than expected, and I can tell you from that experience that the vast majority of people involved with that are incompetent, from real estate agents, banks, appraisers, etc. down to contractors, both individual and general. And sometimes worse than that - lacking integrity, etc.

At least in Lawrence - which relates to my above point. It's entirely possible that there are other places that have better situations. But, I've heard horror stories from folks living in a variety of other places as well.

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jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Yes.

But the vast majority do not, and are still in business.

I don't need "perfect" results - but I'd like better than we get here.

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jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

You make such large jumps in your thinking.

I'd like to see both the public and private sector work more the way they're supposed to work in theory.

In theory, government operates for the "common good" - as you often point out, this doesn't usually happen in practice.

In theory, a free market will provide quality goods and services at reasonable prices through various market forces - in practice, this often doesn't happen.

It's a 'theory/practice" issue from my perspective.

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jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

I'd set the bar a bit higher for both sectors.

An outcome which isn't even producing "good results" isn't good enough, in either place.

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jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

"That's why the market works so well,...whoever serves the consumer the best will succeed".

Only if certain factors are present, as I mentioned in a post above. Otherwise it's simply not true.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

As long as your world is imaginary, why not imagine it as a perfect one?

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KULHSLIONSfan 3 years, 3 months ago

They are probably so busy trying to address your unbelievable number of complaints about your neighbors they just haven't had the time. The city may have to hire additional help to keep up with the number of complaints originating from you, the top complainer in the city. Maybe it has finally gotten to the point where you complain so much about your neighbors and the houses you pass on your way home from KU that the city has tired of your unending complaints.

I believe they did a great job in our neighborhood and have been responsive to concerns.

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tbaker 3 years, 3 months ago

Besides running the various court systems and military and police funtions, name one single service a government entity provides that is done better, faster, and cheaper than the private sector does it.

Fort Leavenworth is a excellent little case study. In about 2006, the Directorate of Engineering and Housing (all federal government employees) who performed all the same functions of a small town city government were replaced by a contractor. There is no comparison to the level of performance one sees today compared to when government employees were doing it.

When a person's job depends on customer satisfaction, things get and stay better. The employment of those city employees painting lines on the street and disappearing forever does not depend on what the citizens of Lawrence think of their work. If it did, I'm am quite certain things would be different. The city should close the street department and contract it out.

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