A Big Bureaucratic Meltdown

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - November 02, 2005
| Del.icio.us

I think I’m coming unhinged. I mean it. Untethered. Over the edge. Around the bend. Whateva. I’m losin’ it big time.

What makes me think so? One day last week I called a deputy assistant dean at one of the Manoa colleges of the University of Hawaii. I requested a standard form used by the school, and the secretary to the deputy assistant dean took my fax number.

The next day I received a call from the same secretary. She asked me to e-mail a formal request for the standard form. I asked why she needed an e-mail written request. She said to verify you’re who you say you are. Huh?


Here’s the bad part. Instead of laughing, I went ballistic. I ranted about collegiality. I raved about bureaucratic thinking. I raised my voice - very high. I foamed at the mouth. I didn’t let the poor secretary - who was guilty of nothing - get a word in.

In short, I acted despicably - like a $(#@&*. A complete and utter $(#@&*. Maybe even a +)^%!. Or worse.

Why did I do it? I hate such behavior, and I’ve roundly condemned colleagues who’ve engaged in it. So how do I explain myself? Drugs? Alcohol? Early old age crisis? Life with a Korean soap opera addict?

Nope. I blame it on George W. Bush.

Now wait a minute.

And on Linda Lingle.

And on the Democratic majorities in the state Legislature.

And on Mufi Hannemann. Let’s start with Bush. Last week saw American deaths in W’s war in Iraq surpass 2,000. Add to that slightly under 16,000 wounded Americans and 30,000 Iraqi deaths and the president can boast a bloody little war all his own - one blood-ier than Daddy Bush’s. All it required was bad intelligence (or presidential lies), a cowed press, a mindlessly subservient Congress and - of course - the valor and blood of those young Americans and Iraqis.

Last week also saw Bush’s attempt to elevate a personal legal toady named Harriett Miers to the Supreme Court end in disaster. I suppose that should cheer a Bush critic like me. It doesn’t. It only reminds me of how low we have sunk with this president. His cronies at FEMA couldn’t handle Katrina, so His Incompetence tried to put another crony on the Supreme Court.

Then there’s our good governor. Some bad standardized exam numbers came out last week, so in a press conference Gov. Lingle brings up local school boards as the answer to the problem. Said she, simplistically: “They don’t use them anywhere else because they don’t work.”


Local school boards work across the continental United States where schools are well-funded, students come primarily from upper middle class families in which English is the first language, classes are small, and teachers are well-paid.

Where none of those four conditions is met, local school boards work miserably. Miserably. The governor’s got to deal with a mite more complexity on this issue.

Now to the Democratic majorities in the state Legislature. I applauded their passage of container deposit legislation a couple of sessions ago. Now I wonder. I don’t mind paying the 5 cent deposit, but I’m not getting my deposit back.

Why? Because - like many of my fellow citizens - I won’t stand in line for 10, 20, 30, 40 minutes in front of a recycling truck in a shopping center parking lot. I’ll give the containers to school groups, individuals ... anybody instead. Let them stand in line.

Notice, I said “I don’t mind paying.” But others do, and they have a legitimate complaint. The legislation is deeply flawed. It should have included a requirement that grocery stores and bottlers take back the containers that they distribute and fill.

Which brings me to Mayor Mufi. I’m not sure he’s at fault here, but we should all be saddened by the city’s failure to work out the kinks of curbside recycling. The city delivered the bins, promised the service, but didn’t deliver (or, rather, pick up). Now the mayor appears to have thrown up his hands in frustration.

He shouldn’t. Curbside recycling is as important as potholes and sewers in a state as physically beautiful as this one. Hannemann has already received high marks for being a skilled player - a politician who can successfully work council, legislature, unions, and business interests. He should continue to apply his formidable skills to making an Oahu-wide curbside recycling program work.

So that’s why I lost it last week - plus provocation by that bureaucracy for brains assistant deputy dean at the University.

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