Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Things I don't understand

Some things have been in the news lately that just don’t make sense. Cincinnati and Hamilton county are in the midst of cutting expenditures to reach a balanced budget. Queensgate jail will close creating overcrowding in other jails and prisons. So far I’ve not heard any discussions on plans to reduce the number of people sent to jail. The Butler County sheriff made the news last week for choosing NOT to enforce evictions notices. He was rebuked by the Hamilton County sheriff for directing his deputies to not follow a the law and evict the tenants. In all of these discussions, no one seems to have noticed that by evicting people (who have nowhere else to live), it only increases the homeless population which will lead to more crime. We know we are going to lose an 800-bed jail, isn’t it time to start re-assessing laws and decisions that cause people to be sent to jail? I’m not defending law breakers but instead calling for a systematic approach that recognizes how one decision has cascading effects.

Another example, as reported in the Enquirer yesterday Cincinnati is spending $140K on a climate protection coordinator and $291K on a bedbug inspection program. I don’t claim to know the merits of either of these decisions but I do know Hamilton County and Cincinnati are short on road salt. Keeping roads clear of snow and ice helps reduce traffic accidents and fatalities. Accidents cause police and fire runs which cost money. Reducing the amount of salt produces a short-term gain on the spreadsheet but in the long run will cost the city and county more money in responding to increased accidents.
This morning councilwoman Leslie Ghiz said on the radio the city plans to hire laid off Hamilton County deputy sheriffs. These individuals will go through the police academy next year. If it happens, this would be an excellent example of working a well coordinated strategy. It shouldn’t be limited though to just this instance, now with economy is such a downturn the time is now to start relooking at how we fund public safety. Instead of duplicating police, fire, and EMS at each township why not look at a regional concept? Why have 42 different fire departments in Hamilton County alone? Combining some departments to create regional fire departments could help reduce costs and decrease response times.

Speaking of redundancy, I’m temporarily driving a Pontiac Vibe while my car is in the repair shop. The Pontiac Vibe is simply the Toyota Matrix with different decals. Why do we have two automakers selling the same vehicle? Or perhaps a more harsh question is why is GM asking for a bailout when at least one of its brands, Pontiac, is merely reselling a Toyota with Pontiac markings? Either Pontiac needs to reduce their offerings or be combined with another GM brand. Ever notice how Chevy trucks are also offered under the GMC brand as well? Each brand creates its own dealerships, overhead and logistics. No wonder the big three are in such a mess!

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