Friday, May 27, 2005

That Sound You Hear Is Phoblog Weeping At Her Keyboard

Borrowing my own content from Metroblogging San Francisco, this story on Schwarzenegger fixing more messes he created:

I love government. No, really. I'm a grade A, government nerd. I even still believe in the system and its potential to do good things.

Which is why when I read about public officials doing things tailor-made for Leno's inane monologues, things that add fuel to most people's "I hate government" fires, things that give people one more reason not to vote - or worse, to vote for bad things proposed by other government-haters - I weep.

To wit - this item via BoingBoing, from a Chron article. Warning: Before reading further, we here at Metroblogging would ask you to take the proper safeguards to prevent blunt-force head trauma. Because the following story may induce sever head-slapping, now might be a good time to put on a boxing glove, mitten, or just grab something soft and fluffy, like a pillow, or your cat. Thank you:

Schwarzenegger creates, then fills Potemkin pothole
California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dispatched a road crew to a residential street in San Jose to create a pothole, which he later turned up and filled, grinning for news-cameras and declaring his willingness to increase funding for transportation projects. The Potemkin pothole was later sealed by a roadcrew with a gigantic roller truck,
Porrovecchio and his business partner, Joe Greco, said that at about 7 a.m. they became fascinated watching "10 city workers standing around for a few hours putting on new vests,'' all in preparation for the big moment with Schwarzenegger.
But their street, he noted, didn't even have a hole to pave over until Thursday morning.

"They just dug it out,'' Porrovecchio said, shrugging. "There was a crack. But they dug out the whole road this morning.''

"It's a lot of money spent on a staged event,'' said Matt Vujevich, 74, a retiree whose home faced the crew-made trench that straddled nearly the whole street. "We still have the same problems. Everything's a press conference.''
To those worried about the cost, a spokesman tries to put to rest those fears:

Stutzman, the governor's communications director, told reporters that "the staging of an event like this is paid for out of the governor's California Recovery Team account,'' which pays for many of the governor's political activities, "so there's no taxpayer expense.''
Oh, I'd say it's a costly affair either way.

And to giving us that simulacrum-angle this story so desperately needed, the director of SJ Mayor Ron Gozales's communications said the "event involved 'not exactly filling a pothole, but it represented the pothole aspect' of the transportation funding measure." Actually, that's not a simulacrum - which is a representation of something that never really existed at all (think Tomorrowland). Potholes are a problem. But you'd think Schwarzenegger could've filled on that needed filling, instead of creating his own. Maybe he's the simulacrum.

I've worked in government. They aren't all like that. I promise. And the more we pay attention, the fewer of that sort there'll be. Okay, I'm off the soapbox now.


Anonymous said...

What's so wrong with this staged event? It sounds pretty typical to me. And CD, you are not drawing the all important distinction here, which is that this is politics, and not government. If it was government, they would have had crews go out all over the state to create potholes so the pothole-filling program would have something to accomplish.

I would prefer that Arnold's campaign find an existing pothole to fill, but if they didn't, it isn't a big deal.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's politics, but this is ridiculous. It's not like there aren't holes to be filled. So why spend extra money (in person hours) to create and then fix a hole? And the suggestion that taxpayers aren't paying for it is also absurd. While perhaps Arnie and cronies picked up the tab for the labor and supplies, that work crew could have been filling up a real pothole. There's lost productivity because of it. Unless all these guys were on vacation, which I highly doubt.

cd said...

Jared - you're wrong - I never confuse politics and government. But I'm also not foolish enough to think government exists without politics. And I totally don't understand your "if it was government" comment.