Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kicked to the curb

This past spring and summer, construction crews were hard at work putting in or replacing handicap ramps at intersections throughout the city. This work has been going on for more than five years.

The city found out Wednesday that almost all of the redone handicap ramps are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This is how we work in America. We don't want to fund government with taxes (yikes!) so there is little government oversight. Then, we hire private contractors to follow ADA rules and put in the new ramps.

Naturally, these contractors have no idea how to follow basic ADA instructions and the city did no checking on its own because it had no money to do so and, well, private enterprise knows how to do this work better than any city crew could ever do.

Well, this is how private contractors roll: They get paid to do the work incorrectly and then get paid again to fix their own mistakes.

And, we wonder why our country is in this economic hole.

As Barney Lerten at reports, it's going to be an expensive correction:

"The city will have spent about $7.5 million on ADA fixes since 2004, by the end of the current fiscal year, including $3.2 million in long-term debt and about $2.5 million from the general fund.

"Depending on how far from the exact specs they are, city Accessibility Manager Susan Duncan told councilors it could cost anywhere from $2,500 to $5,500 per curb ramp to get them compliant. Do the math, and the total cost ranges from $15 million to $34 million - the latter figure, by comparison, twice the city’s overall $17 million deficit estimate for the next six years."

The goal of private contractors is to rip off the government (actually, taxpayers) and then turn around and blame the government for letting them rip off the government/taxpayers. These contractors put welfare abusers to shame.

It's no wonder Americans have a low opinion of their government. It's also beyond belief that Americans have anything but a low opinion of private contractors or corporations.

The lesson, in this "teachable moment," is to get yours while you can and to hell with everyone else, particularly your own government.

Now that's the American spirit.

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