Thursday, December 18, 2008

Car Numbers

One item that I found interesting about the report that the city has five times too many cars* was the fact the mayor's office alone has 73 vehicles. The mayor's office only had 100 employees before the post-Katrina layoffs. Well, two of those cars are used by the mayor:
Nagin himself gets two vehicles -- a 2005 Lincoln Continental and a 2007 Ford Expedition -- with a combined insured value of $70,542.

So, our fiscally prudent mayor had the city buy him a new Expedition while his Continental was still under warranty. I suppose that, since Seletha is a key adviser she needs a vehicle to drive to her lunches with the mayor.

WWL's report last night seemed to allude to earlier reports of gas purchased on city credit cards and then siphoned off for use by private vehicles (the siphoning step may have been skipped altogether), but that wasn't clear:
He also writes about the misuse of fuel, instances of fuel dispensed in excess of the vehicle's capacity. One example, a Ford F-150 with a fuel capacity of 18 gallons was fueled with 91.2 gallons, and in another case, a Ford Taurus with a fuel capacity of 18 gallons was fueled with 39.9 gallons.

On local TV stations last night (can't find it online), the mayor's explanation was that the department that oversees that program had gone from sixty-something employees down to fifteen employees. That's an argument against waste, not an excuse for waste. I really don't understand how the mayor and his defenders can use staff shortages as an excuse without immediately being asked about questionable spending practices - a top-heavy salary structure in every branch of city government (departments that lost almost all of their staff retaining most of their executive staff, pay raises for six-figure employees, creation of new six-figure positions), bombproof garbage cans replaced by appropriately sized garbage cans, etc.

*WDSU rounds 4.55 down to four. If I used numbers the way the mayor does, I would round 4.55 up to almost 7.

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