Monday, June 23, 2014

The states of state affairs

Comparing remuneration of senior public officials in Washington State to BC counterparts can leave one astounded. The most obvious examples are at the publicly owned investment management agencies and the ferry operations.

Despite paying substantially less to executives, both Washington State Investment Board and Washington State Ferries outperformed equivalents north of the border. In recent years, WSIB earned better investment returns than bcIMC and WSF had growing utilization while the opposite is true at BCF. My review of Washington’s senior civil servants is also demonstrating major differences.

I surmise that rules of open government in the neighboring State are great moderators that restrain influential groups of individuals who aim to advance their own private interests. The open government web page of Washington State begins with this statement,
“Government accountability means that public officials - elected and un-elected - have an obligation to explain their decisions and actions to the citizens. Government accountability is achieved through the use of a variety of mechanisms - political, legal and administrative - designed to prevent corruption and ensure that public officials remain answerable and accessible to the people they serve. In the absence of such mechanisms, corruption may thrive."
It goes on,
“The Washington Public Records Act is one of the strongest open government laws in the nation and reflects the desire of Washington citizens to know what their government is doing. A transparent and accessible government is essential to a successful free society, and fosters trust and confidence in government.

“Strong ‘sunshine laws’ are crucial to assuring government accountability and transparency. In Washington State, those laws provide for open public records and open public meetings…”
In British Columbia, the Liberals came into office promising complete transparency and accountability. Gradually, this commitment eroded. Today, it barely exists except in meaningless matters. Information is now a commodity for spin masters to massage until meaningless. If the public identifies a fault in government programs, the first response is not to rectify the situation, it is to begin a PR campaign to pretend it never existed, and if it did, it was corrected long ago.

That is an ironic situation: taxpayers pay people who focus comprehensive efforts to ensure those same taxpayers have a distinctively incomprehensive version of events and states of state affairs.

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7 comments:

  1. Norm,

    Your last line is the best. This government is full of ironies.

    Not unlike the fact that teachers pay taxes that fund the government lawyers whose mission in life is to continue to appeal the court ruling until a) they get a favourable ruling, or b) they break the BCTF so they cannot continue to pay their own lawyers to counter the government lawyers.

    Comes a point when the definition of irony no longer applies. Something much more sinister is afoot.

    Like, if the courts won't support you, and public opinion is not with you, just starve 'em. The teachers will eventually go away, find jobs in the oil patch or service industries or other jurisdictions.

    With no teachers we will have an uneducated electorate.

    And please explain to me how an uneducated electorate is a bad thing for the spin masters in government.

    The Liebs could be starting a dynasty.

    ReplyDelete
  2. More to the point of this post, Norm:

    I suspect this blog is read by thousands, maybe tens of thousands. Some of them must be from the government side.

    I would love to hear a senior government spokesperson explain just why the italicized portion of your post would not make a terrific mission statement for our own government.

    And back up the mission statement with appropriate action, instead of spin.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If BC had a web page like Washington State there would be a lot of politicians in jail including our smiley faced Premier.
    Keep up the excellent work Norm, I'm thinking more people than you realise follow you but don't comment because.....well because they are Canadians most of which wouldn't say shit if they had a mouth full of it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Paul Ramsey asks for the RFP for the new $842,000,000 "Clinical and Systems Transformation Project" that IBM won... DENIED.

    He had to FOI it ???

    Turns out the BC Liberals are contracting out even more jobs to our American cousins.

    http://blog.cleverelephant.ca/2014/06/when-is-it-project-just-it-project.html

    Do you trust this man with your health records?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've mentioned it before here.....when dealing with the Narrows Inlet IPP issue I took part in a webinar with the California Energy Commission. This required a couple of phone calls regarding where to find information and what to expect. I received more information in one phone call about BC IPP's from a foreign government body that I did over 4 years of FOI requests with my own government. Paid for with my after tax dollars I may add. Very helpful, prompt supply of facts and figures, as well as a general feeling of inclusiveness. For free. I am certain Norm is correct about the same mentality with Washington State.

    "In the absence of such mechanisms, corruption may thrive."

    I'll say....more like "has thriven" (sic)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I seem to recall a few years back during the reign of Capo Gordo some interjurisdictional conference occurred between Washington State and B.C. B.C. residents found it faster, and cheaper to obtain information from the Washington government concerning what had been discussed, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  7. http://blogborgcollective.blogspot.ca/2014/06/bc-premier-clark-signs-990-year-lease.html
    Has anyone else come across/heard this? Where's our "news" stations?

    ReplyDelete

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