Thursday, February 11, 2010

What a Blight!

We've all gotten pretty used to ridiculous, completely senseless things happening in government at the federal level. As a matter of fact, it makes the news when someone says or does something that actually makes sense. On the state level, a fair number of idiotic things happen but that's due mostly to the bad genetics and lack of education of the backward, inbred Neanderthals that somehow get elected to the Arizona legislature, sometimes over and over again. But much less frequent are blatant displays of undiluted stupidity at the local government level, which generally stays off everyone's radar as long as the garbage gets picked up regularly and the water keeps running. But when some local government agency does jump the rails, they bring home the crazy in big huge buckets, and it is something to see.

Such is the case with Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department (NSD), a local government entity entrusted with ensuring that Phoenix remains the "Best Run City in the World." Their website says their mission is to "to preserve and improve the physical, social and economic health of Phoenix neighborhoods, support neighborhood self-reliance, and enhance the quality of life for residents..." They are committed to "building vibrant neighborhoods" and they regard their ''investment in healthy neighborhoods [as] an investment in our residents, a sense of community and shared pride." That's some heady stuff right there, and a noble venture if there ever was one. Let's take a little look at the Phoenix NSD in action - shall we? - and see exactly what it is they're doing to make the fifth largest metropolitan area in the nation such gosh-darned wonderful place to live.

Consider if you will the recent experience of Erika and Billy, longtime residents and undisputed good citizens. They came home one day and found a notice of violation from the NSD waiting for them. What heinous crime did these thoughtless scofflaws commit which disrupted the peace and serenity of their lovely neighborhood, turned it into an unsightly disgusting blight and prompted the NSD to take such a stern action? Now brace yourself, you may want to put a pillow or two on the floor in case you take a header off the couch from sheer shock. They had a couple of boxes near their front entrance, and two palm fronds on the ground. Oh, the humanity! You have to understand, too, that Erika and Billy have a huge, wide front yard and the entrance to their home is set back a good 30-40 feet from the street. So the boxes were not right next to the street where they could offend the delicate sensibilities of everyone who stumbled by. You had to really take a good look to even see them. And the recent rainy, windy weather caused a lot of things other than palm fronds to fall on the ground.

The NSD notice said that someone reported their property for a possible violation and that an inspection would be made in the near future. If this horrible effrontery to decency was still on display then a formal violation would be issued. The notice also stated that the citizen-snitch who ratted on them "might be anonymous." Oh really? Does anyone think that any of the neighbors would really give a serious crap about a couple of boxes and palm fronds? Does anyone think that people really have time to waste caring about pointless nonsense such as that? Or do you think that what actually happened is that someone in the surrounding area got busted for some kind of violation and the NSD made it their business to prowl around just looking for things to write up. That's some kind of "anonymous" source. And they obviously didn't care how stupid, trivial and asinine the violation might be.

This is how the city of Phoenix is squandering our hard-earned tax dollars - harassing law-abiding, tax-paying citizens with utterly moronic, monumentally stupid things like citations for boxes and a couple of palm fronds. This is what the NSD wastes their time and our money on, at a time when city budget deficits are so dire that policemen, firemen and other public service workers - you know, people who actually do something useful and valuable every day - are in serious danger of losing their jobs. At a time when youth programs, senior citizen programs and libraries are either having their hours cut back or are being eliminated altogether, our tax dollars are wasted paying the salaries of a bunch of pointy-headed dimwits who have nothing better to do with their lives but root around looking for things to write up as violations. At a time when the city council recently passed a tax of 2% on food purchases, to take effect in April, because Phoenix is so poor and has no money.

Wouldn't anyone with normal sensibilities be deeply embarrassed to cite as a blight violation a couple of boxes of rabbit supplies and two palm fronds? You'd think so, but apparently the NSD employees have very little shame or self-esteem and even less common sense. How pathetic it is, in a city where you can easily drive anywhere and within minutes find home after home with enormous piles of garbage and tattered furniture and useless appliances on their front entrances, that the NSD instead chooses to target a home with a couple of boxes and palm fronds. I would rather be unemployed and on welfare than demean and humiliate myself with such a worthless, pointless excuse for a job.

The bottom line is this: Before one person from the fire department or police department loses their job due to budget cuts, and before one library or one senior citizen center cuts back its hours, they should eliminate every person and every position from the NSD. If this city is supposedly run so damned well, they will stop wasting our money on stupid agencies like the NSD and spend it on things that really make sense and enhance the quality of life of its citizens.

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