Res Ipsa Loquitur

10 comments:

E Hines said...

Shovel ready jobs. Citizens built a staircase of which the city disapproved, and very promptly, the city hired workers (not the builder's homeless guy and his buddies, I'll bet) immediately to tear it down.

Eric Hines

jaed said...

You know... this kind of thing could be what leads to bodies dangling from lampposts. Not now, but eventually.

The path is dangerous, and the city is dragging its feet. You might prefer a wider, sturdier city-built staircase when they get around to it, but in the meantime, a neighbor has built some stairs to solve the immediate problem. Maybe they're not perfect, but they're better than no stairs, and they'll do for now. Then the city decides to just tear out that solution and continue with its interminable, incredibly expensive "process"... which might result in stairs someday... instead of letting them stand until the city is ready to construct new ones. Then let's say next month your sister falls on that path.

It might seem trivial, but that memory could burn for a long time.

Krag said...

RE: You know... this kind of thing could be what leads to bodies dangling from lampposts. Not now, but eventually.


Yep. It does indeed. The contempt for action and hubris of power wafting off the city officials is sickening.

Matt said...

To play devil's advocate here, I have heard it said that a good part of what's driving both this action and the cost of the proposed construction is probably the city's legal liability. The theory is, by tolerating it on city property, the city's accepting legal responsibility for it, and if it's not up to the legally specified building codes, as soon as somebody injures themself on it (potentially deliberately -- it wouldn't be the first time), the city's on the hook for a lawsuit much more expensive than $65,000 dollars. Can we get someone with legal experience to weigh in? Is Texan99 in the house?

There's probably an unconscious symbiosis going on -- lawsuit-happy citizens and outright fraudsters create an environment that demands cities pass onerous regulations to cover their own butts, and the resulting regulatory environment so greatly constrains the number of potential suppliers that those who remain have an easy time bidding up the cost ridiculously.

On the upside, I heard that this whole incident probably at least embarrassed the city into getting "suitable" steps built for a "mere" $10,000. So, progress?

Jason said...

the city's legal liability

So put up a sign at the top and bottom of the stairs saying "These stairs are not city property and were built by private individuals. Use at your own risk.".

I'm sure the city could blow at least $20K on those signs, and therefore feel that it had done something worthwhile.

Grim said...

It's easy for me to accept that the city could be on the hook for a settlement of more than $65,000. It's very hard for me to accept that, therefore, a $65,000 settlement is a good bargain.

In fact, I can't quite figure out how you would spend $65,000 on a staircase anyway. Around here, I'd expect that much money to build you an up-to-code staircase with a small house around it.

Anonymous said...


Rope. Tree. Bureaucrat. (or Entitled Politician) Some Assembly Require

Time is getting close to being up.

U.S. National Debt Clock : Real Time
http://www.usdebtclock.org/

-Mississippi

Grim said...

That's true, although in fairness this story is from Canada. I don't know what their debt clock looks like, but I assume it's on a smaller scale.

Grim said...

It's very hard for me to accept that, therefore, a $65,000 settlement is a good bargain.

Clearly, I meant to write, "that, therefore, a $65,000 staircase...".

Matt said...

It's easy for me to accept that the city could be on the hook for a settlement of more than $65,000. It's very hard for me to accept that, therefore, a $65,000 staircase is a good bargain.

Sadly, I doubt there are many government bureaucracies in the world that agree with you. CYA is inevitably the first rule. I believe it's been expressed as the Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

"...in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representatives who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions." -Jerry Pournelle


In fact, I can't quite figure out how you would spend $65,000 on a staircase anyway. Around here, I'd expect that much money to build you an up-to-code staircase with a small house around it.

Not if it's the government buying that house :)

I expect the cost includes professional design, professional design review, environmental impact statements, and so forth. Plus everything done at a premium because only a handful of companies meet the required workforce composition laws and/or are willing to deal with the paperwork necessary for working with the government, and charge handsomely for it.