Southern Brooklyn

Open Thread: On Government Waste


Every wonder why we pay so much in taxes?  It’s because of phenomenal amounts of waste at all levels of government.

Recently, we had several special elections in our district costing millions of dollars. A friend of mine just told me the following story which seems to epitomize goverment waste.  Laid off a few years ago, she attempts to find little bits of work wherever she can find it: temporary census worker, poll watcher, etc. So she signed up to work at the polls during the recent Republican Primary and is assigned to a poll site in East New York.

For whatever legal reason, polls need to be set up in nursing homes because residents are not able to get to other polling locations. She is assigned to one such site. Although there are only four registered Republican voters at the site, a normal complement of 12 poll workers are assigned.  Now here is the best part. Since the last election, three of the four voters passed away. That leaves one voter.  So all 12 workers sit and wait the entire day for the one voter to arrive and must stay there until the polls close although the voter has already voted. Now there has to be a better way.  Absentee ballot perhaps?

Do you have any examples of government waste?

Comment policy


  1. It’s funny you bring this up. I was thinking about the primaries. Why does the government pay for a party’s primaries? 

    Those elections should be funded 100% by the political party that is running. Primaries only select candidates, so why shouldn’t that be handled internally and not by the taxpayers? 

  2. Because they can’t be trusted to hold honest primaries. Originally parties decided on the candidates. Sometimes there were good choices but often the choices were expedient or made with consideration of payback from the candidate. The current primary system benefits the voters, not the party, when it done by a significant amount of people. Trusting the parties to hold the primaries is like giving the proverbial chicken house key to the fox.

  3. I know a guy who worked for the MTA at a bus depot. One of his jobs was to hang advertisements on the sides of buses. On his firts day he starts doing it and hangs up the sign in about 15 minutes. After he’s done the guys who work there come up to him and tell him he has to take the allotted amount of time to hang the signs based on what’s in the manual. which say you can take 3 hours to hang a sign. His next job he was replacing a cracked windshield on a bus. This time before he started he checked in the manual how long he should take and it said 4 hours. He said he needed less than
    1 to do it. He wasn’t allowed to just sit there he still had to work but they didn’t want anyone working too fast.

  4. Brooklynq was saying the parties should hold an election themselves. Not go back to when they decided on candidates.

  5. It’s understandable that you wouldn’t want someone to work too fast especially when safety id involved because you want to make sure the job was properly done, and the manual times are just guidelines, but it is a problem when they are taken too seriously. 

    Now if his boss told him he had to take the amount of time in the manual, that would be one thing, but since it was just one of the other guys, it sounds to me that he just didn’t want this guy working to fast because it would show supervision that the job could be done quicker and then all the workers including the one complaining would have to work faster.

    Now there is the other side of the coin, like what happened with the signal maintainers, they were required to inspect so many signals within a certain time period, they couldn’t possible adhere to it, so they fudged the numbers and then were caught. 

    There is no easy answer, other than  every situation is different
    and government just needs to use more common sense.

  6. This is usually the complaint thrown at unions: rules that
    limit productivity and raise costs. But they were originally placed there for a
    reason, i.e. to keep abusive bosses in check or provide for worker safety. But with
    any written rules, everyone will eventually try to game the system, both
    management and labor. Yes, common sense usually goes out the window and we end
    up with ridiculous situations. It seems the smarter we get the more we end up
    in ridiculous situations. Common sense is less common that we assume.

  7. Is MTA still hiring? I don’t mind just hanging 2 advertisements signs a day during my 8 hour shift, with 1 hour lunch and 2 half hour coffee break. 🙂

  8. On Sunday I took a walk in Manhattan Beach. There were about 4-5 Parks Department workers, some working, some standing around. Their job was to move the mountains of sand that had accumulated along the storm fence near the parking lot, one wheelbarrow at a time, to the beach. They didn’t get very far.

  9. Sure they are:

    Keep in mind that $20/hour (with 40 hour week) translates to gross pay of 41600/year.  With this kind of salary, one won’t be able to afford killing other drivers with one’s beemer, unless killing someone is a primary occupation…

    But first, do you fulfill the requirements?

    Signal Helper ($16.88/hour)
    Graduation from a trade school, technical school or vocational high school, with a major course of study in electrical, electronic or electromechanical technology and one year of full-time satisfactory experience as a helper in the electrical, electronic, or electromechanical fields. A Class B Commercial Driver License (CDL) valid in the State of New York or a learner’s permit for a Class B CDL with no disqualifying restrictions.

    Electronics Maintainer ($20.60/hour)
    A four-year high school diploma or its educational equivalent and three years of full-time journey-level experience in maintaining, calibrating or, installing one or more of the following types of equipment: Closed circuit televisions, two-way radio communications equipment, fiber optic networks, uninterruptible power supplies, security management systems, or video recording systems; or an Associates Degree in electrical or electronic technology, or a closely related field and two years of experience as described above. License Requirement: A Class B Commercial Driver License (CDL) valid in the State of New York; or a Learner’s Permit for a Class B Commercial Driver License valid in the State of New York.

    Staten Island Railway Power Maintainer ($20.09/hour)
    A motor vehicle driver license that is valid in the state of New York. Four years of related electrical – electronic experience and/or education background. A background in substation high tension maintenance and SCADA operations is required.

    TEMPORARY Car Inspectors ($30.23/hour)
    You must have: Two years of full-time experience as a journey-level mechanic (i.e., a fully trained, knowledgeable, experienced, proficient and competent mechanic), working from drawings, performing troubleshooting, repair and maintenance of large heavy duty electromechanical, electric or electronic equipment and machinery; or the electrical inspection, maintenance, troubleshooting and repair of multiple-unit electrical railroad cars or diesel-electric locomotives PLUS two additional years as an electrical/electronic/electro-mechanical helper OR a degree in electrical/electronic/electromechanical technology.
    Applicants must file for and pass the Civil Service Car Inspector exam in order to be considered for a permanent Civil Service appointment.

  10. Not sure if there was a better way to move the sand.  But once I saw someone cleaning the leaves with a broom and pail along the perimeter of the park when a single vacuum could have done the same job in minutes.

  11. why on earth does the one responsible fo assigning these positions dosn’t correct this ?    i’ll bet he’s related,a friend,or maybe deeing replacing–bet you nothing will be done to corect this stupidity–hey  what of the voice of the people or maybe even one of our elected officials—-that will be the day ,ha,ha

  12. But Allen that is not Government’s doing. It was a republican primary.  Were these workers mandated to be there by Federal Election law or they were assigned by the Republican Party appratus? 

    Syed Ahmed

  13. All I can tell you is that my friend was called by the Board of Elections and asked to work at the polls. I dont believe she even is a Republican. I don’t know how they decided the number of poll workers.


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