Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Recognition time

Normally when I hear about national recognition that local cities/towns receive for being nice places to live, I always get a kick out of how politicians tend to take credit for the quality of life which caused the town to receive the recognition, when in fact they had little or nothing to do with it. It is as if the politicians think they have anything to do with our quality of life, rather than the hard work and ideas of the private citizens who comprise the community.

However, Ellicott City recently received recognition for being one of the top 25 cities with the "Best American Values" precisely for the stuff that the local government is pursuing. Specifically mentioned was the library system with it's "high patronage", the solar panels installed at the East Columbia Library, the Choose Civility program, and the Healthy Howard Access Plan. This all sounds very impressive to an uninformed outsider, but it is really just a bunch of crap.

The library system is a dinosaur that frequently does not have copies of books that I want to read, as well as poor hours and a poor selection of electronic resources. It costs tens of millions a year to operate now and we are being forced to spend over $100 million on building new libraries/upgrading existing libraries over the next 5 years. As far as "high patronage" goes, only about one-third of residents check out even a single item in a six-month period, and fewer than half check out an item in a single year. I blame the library management, the library board of trustees, and the local officials for allowing the library to publish misleading statistics about the utilization rate of the library system. The Choose Civility plan is kind of lame, and doesn't mean anything to our quality of life. The solar panels installed at the East Columbia Branch of the library cost $45,000 and will take 50 years to pay for themselves in lower electricity costs.

The Healthy Howard Access Plan has consumed $500,000 in resources stolen from taxpayers and has only enrolled 200 people.

While all of these things may appear really awesome at first glance, they are actually very unimpressive to those who understand them.


Eludius said...

As Benjamin Disraeli said, "Lies, damned lies, and statistics."

You can prove anything with statistics. I'm sure I could prove that the Earth is square.