Umbrella organizations always leave taxpayers wet
By Michael R. Shannon
web posted April 15, 2013
Sen. Tom Coburn (R–OK), a truly great American, has released his annual report on waste, duplication and redundancy in federal programs. Evidently inspecting catfish is both a vital and difficult task, because it currently takes three different federal agencies to do the job. And as soon as someone can reliably map the location of catfish sex organs, TSA is interested in participating, too.
An editorial in The Washington Examiner has more detail, but what's important for my purpose is the total figure. If the savings recommendations in Coburn's last three waste reports had been implemented, taxpayers could have saved almost $300 billion. That's enough to pay for Obama vacations and Joe Biden's shotgun shells for the rest of their term.
The problem with figures that large is it doesn't bother the spenders because it's not their money and it depresses the taxpayer because he can't imagine how one would obtain such a sum or make a dent in paying for it.
But don't despair. We have a waste and duplication situation in Prince William County, VA — where I live — that is easy to comprehend, since it's one thousandth the size of the fed's situation, and will give useful training in the art of not wasting taxpayer dollars, because the situation is replicated all across the US.
Currently the county pays almost $300,000 in annual dues to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government. There are 22 governing bodies that participate and the organization is supposed to have a unified voice on area matters that include police, fire, transportation, homeland security, growth planning and environmental concerns. There is probably a similar organization near where you live.
The Washington Post describes the group thusly, "Politically, the council's members range from very liberal Democrats to tea party Republicans. It's able to get things done by sticking to non-controversial issues. Those include collecting traffic data and improving communications among emergency personnel after shortcomings were revealed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."
What this means is the only projects COG supports are those no one in their right mind would oppose anyway. So why are PWC taxpayers sending $300,000 a year to an organization that does what PWC elected officials are already paid to do anyway? Can't our homegrown pols represent our interests?
These area umbrella organizations (there's an apt metaphor: taxpayers get soaked while the organization employees are high and dry) only serve as resume builders for politicians who are eager to move up the electoral ladder and "showing leadership" on a regional basis looks impressive to gullible reporters. COG only serves to increase the size of government and the busybodies it enables.
Until quite recently, if a PWC politician wanted to adhere to a genuine conservative philosophy and withdraw from COG he would have been roasted as a know–nothing reactionary. But that was then, COG, thanks to the hubris of its leftist Democrat members, has now given conservative jurisdictions an excellent reason to withdraw and stop paying dues.
Last month the COG board of directors — with three leftist Dems in charge — voted in favor of calling for a federal ban on assault weapons and armor-piercing bullets, a firearm purchase waiting period and tracing of guns. In MD, DC and Alexandria supporters broke out in drum circles to celebrate. But PW, Loudoun and Frederick counties and Manassas leaders were outraged and collectively threatened to withhold more than $500,000 in dues.
These Virginians said the board had overstepping its bounds and the policy was "inappropriate and disrespectful" of the views of individual localities. Regional cooperation did not include passing federal law and revising the Constitution and was not why COG was created.
It makes you wonder doesn't it? For that matter, what is COG's position on Joe Biden's warning shot or Michelle's bangs?
The PWC Board of Supervisors was angry enough to pass a resolution opposing COG's gun control advocacy, with only one member voting against. Frank Principi (D–Ambitious) is one of two PWC members of the COG board and the former COG chairman. Principi didn't bother to attend the meeting where the gun resolution was passed, but he did find time to vote against the county's resolution condemning it.
Principi claims he supports the 2nd Amendment — as long as it's confined to a dusty old parchment — but he didn't want the board to "pile on." Principi — a noted profile in political courage in his own mind — blamed politicians who are angling for statewide office for making the COG resolution an issue. What Principi didn't say was that if he had voted in favor of the county resolution it would have been the kiss of death in a Democrat primary, where the vote would be characterized as ‘caving in to the NRA.'
Feeling the heat, COG backtracked and rescinded the resolution and returned the issue to a committee for further study. Principi was motivated enough to actually attend that meeting where he voted in favor of both. This is fine, a positive step, but PWC should still head for the door. There are plenty of areas in the county where 300 grand would be better spent.
Fairfax County Board Chairman Sharon Bulova (D–Left), still surprised by the uproar, commented, "I'm hopeful we can find some language, some middle ground, where COG can be a voice on this issue of gun violence, gun safety, safety in our schools and mental health. All of these are appropriate subjects for COG to discuss and come to some consensus on."
I could not agree more. How about passing a resolution honoring a Fairfax County organization called the National Rifle Association? It's been doing excellent work on all these issues for years.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at mandate.mmpr (at) gmail.com. He is also the author of the forthcoming book: "Funny Conservative" Is Not an Oxymoron. (Or any other type of moron.)