A Taxing Poem

Tax $$ for Kulongoski
to replace his state car of 16,000 miles.
$400 chairs in the capitol
for politician’s cushy-bottom lifestyles.

Our state pension system
is in deficit & can’t even pay for itself.
Since politicians are on it
they pass the bill to somebody else.

A half-million in taxes
for art in a county jail called Wapato.
Only gov’t would put
public art where the public can’t go.

$40 million over budget
on that boondoggle Portland Tram.
Public transit for the rich,
while local taxpayers get the sham.

The Transportation Dept.
spends $2 billion to help you and me.
Yet $2 billion still can’t buy,
a shorter line at the DEQ & DMV.

– Jason Williams

(Now it is your turn. Email us a political poem to [email protected], and we may submit it on this blog during the election cycle as much needed comic relief. Don’t be shy.)

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 18 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Oregon taxpayer

    Hmmm, isn’t one of the usual proposals to abolish the state motor vehicle pool and replace it with private auto rentals?

    And aren’t most rental cars sold off by the time 16K miles roll around?

    • Mike in Mt. Tabor

      I might be wrong and please correct me if I am. I don’t thin the average rental car company purchases its cars with tax dollars.

      • Oregon taxpayer

        The point is that rental cars or state car pool, state employees who drive state-funded cars are likely going to be in cars with 16K miles or less.

        By the way, is $400 so much for chairs? That’s not especially expensive for office chairs. Theater seats? How much are those? Especially ones that take a beating?

        I know this is only a poem, a piece of doggerel, but how about some common sense?

  • jason Williams

    rental cars: Well there are police departments that drive their vehicles to 100,000 miles before replacement. Kulongoski isn’t chasing burglers.

    $400 chairs: These chairs were part of a multi-million make-over at the state capitol that took place during the recession. During this recession Oregonians were asked to give up a Latte-a-day to pony up to various new taxes. The politicians could have given up something like their new make-over as their Latte, or at least delayed until the state recovered. Even DHS went on a big chair buying spree during the same time.

  • Oregon taxpayer

    Truth to tell, I hadn’t heard about the governor’s car. As far as I’m concerned, he (or his chauffeur?) can drive it 100,000 mi. Mine is still going with 170,000 mi. Maybe there’s some reason he needs a new one after 16K. I don’t know.

    As for the chairs and DHS, sometimes agencies spend money like this because they lose it if they don’t. I have no idea if this was the case with DHS.

    It would be far better if they could carry the money over, as in a business. There are some government agencies that figure out how to do this and stay legal, but they are the exception.

  • Steve Plunk

    It is fiction that government agencies lose the money they don’t spend. That is an old wives tale.

    Fund balances are routinely carried over to subsequent years but administrators fear losing allocations out of the coming budgets if they don’t spend it all. It’s not a legal issue but one of bureaucrats playing games to show need for more money.

    • Oregon taxpayer

      I don’t know if you’re any more of an expert on the rules of Oregon government than I am — I’m not — but what you said makes my point anyhow:

      “administrators fear losing allocations out of the coming budgets if they don’t spend it all.”

      So if you don’t spend it, in effect it gets taken away.

      Imagine a business which got any retained profits taken away by the tax collector.

      Some carryover! Some incentive!

  • Captain An-on

    I agree Or Taxpayer… common sense should trump.

    1. 400 bucks for an office chair is not extravigent, especially when considering ergonomics which any company or government agency who has employees sitting using computers a lot should think about (long term it cuts work comp, trips to doctors down A LOT – which costs tax payers). even in a recession, this is not something people should be crying about. My guess is the state had been planning the make-over for some time. usually they plan years in advance. they get a better bang for your buck when you replace anything all at one time, rather than department by department, or chair by chair. taken into consideration that perhaps the state contracted out the remodeling and got a better price overall by including all elements of the remodel – new walls, new desks new chairs, new lights, new windows – whatever it fully entailed. I don’t think its a matter of politicians giving up thier lattes (i.e. chairs). think about it, there are hundreds of state employees, chairs wear out, so they replace them. the legislature is not in control of simple housekeeping. that’s like saying Patti smith saw that the department of ag had four old chairs and two new ones and said, no, we’re not going to allow you to switch out the new ones. you’ll have to wait until revenue picks up.

    2. cars: often times, governments enter into contracts with dealers or enter into leases that give them a new car every so often – perhaps by length of time, perhaps by milage. 16,000 may be a year, a year and a half or 2 years. i don’t know. he probably has a few cars that they rotate. either way, i don tknow if its such a big deal. without knowing the details anyway. maybe they have a contract with the ford dealership of salem that gives them a new car every year. i know the city of gresham has a contract with the local motorcycle dealer that gives them new police cycles every two years. it keeps maintainance costs lower, gives them powerful bikes, and saves the tax payers money in the long term under the terms of the deal.

    3. rolling over money. this a hard one because everyone speaks out of both sides of thier mouths. on one hand they say, if they didn’t need it this year, they don’t next year! and try to cut the budget. but with that in mind, if a department spends to keep it for the next year’s budget, they get ridiculed, when perhaps they do need it for the next years expenditures. I’m not sure if budgets are run like that so much anymore. i think there was a lot of public outrage over spending just to spend that departments got smart with it and rarely do that. i think it goes too far to say agencies don’t lose the money if they don’t spend it because in tough times they do. politicians see it as a way to save money and cut budgets, which are beign constantly trimmed. Multnomah County has had six straight years of budget cuts.

  • Jason Williams

    How can you guys justify employees stockpiling supplies that they do not need? That is not acceptable in the business world and niether in the public sector. This has happens often, and fellow state employees feel disgusted by such actions because it does not reflect their values and it reflects poorly on everyone (even though it is committed by a few).

    Comparing taking away an agency’s extra amount is the same negative as taking a business profit through taxes is crazy. Business tries to earn as much as possible by making customers happy and those customers voluntarily contributing. I don’t want my local permit office to grow as big as possible by finding ways to forcibly extract more money from me.

    • Oregon taxpayer

      “Comparing taking away an agency’s extra amount is the same negative as taking a business profit through taxes is crazy.”

      Well, you are the one who seems crazy, or dense. You made the stupid reference to the $400 chairs.

      You squirrel money away when you can, and use it later when there’s an opportunity or a need.

      You obviously have never run a government agency, and I doubt that you’ve ever run a business.

  • Capt an-on

    I didn’t do either of the two things you mentioned.

    I didn’t justify stockpiling supplies. What i said is that it is quite possible that agencies purchase goods through a contract where to get the best price, they buy at larger quantities, like costco. you know, economies of scale. like computers. agencies get contracts with dell, or gateway etc and get 300 computers at a HUGE discount. and they typically have them rotated – like 1/3 gets a new comp one year, another 1/3 the next and the final 1/3 the next year. so they buy comps every 3 or 4 years, depending on the contract. could the original computers still be used? yes. but after 3 years, the comps are pretty well antiques because of software requirements, hardware upgrades etc. i don’t see that as wasting money, especially if they get a big price break by buying so much.

    Do i think employees stockpile pens and paper, and paperclips? no. who does that?? even if they did, that would be a huge cost to tax payers. maybe what, $1.19 for a box of paperclips??

    The private sector is often more wasteful than government. half of the private sector is image. especially in the business world and marketing areas. large, extravigent lunches with huge bills, lots of alcohol consumed. or in the work enviroment they have foosball, pingpong etc for the employees who can play on company time. the private sector plays while the public sector doesn’t. so i don’t think its appropriate to try and say that private business watches its pennies sooooo much better. there is so much waste in the private sector its unbelievable. company parties, christmas parties, birthday parties, business trips to las vegas, video games on company time etc. they waste. they waste A LOT.

    i agree, i think fellow employees would be disgusted if government agencies spent just to use all thier budget. like i said, i think that is a practice of the past.

    i don’t know what you’re talking about in your second paragraph as i never even talked about that.

    and seriously jason, you don’t want your permit office growing anyway because you hate government. am i wrong?

    • Oregon taxpayer

      Captain, I have to agree, with a good laugh. There are some things about Ron Saxton I like, and it’s possible I’ll even vote for him, but thinking about him in his big Portland corporate law office, sitting in his chair which is probably $1200, if not $3000, talking about how he’s going to fire the state workers so he can cut their benefits, this is farce.

  • Allen

    Ever since TV News reporter Eric Mason then with KATU did a story several years ago about all the late model and low mileage cars, trucks and SUVs being sold by the State at below wholesale prices, all those plush pick’en rigs have disappeared from the eBay sale site.

    Not much there except a few pickups and some of those 19 passenger Vans the tax-supported agencies us to transport elderly and disabled people around town – one person at a time.

    What, are those assigned the high-dollar rigs being given first chance?

    They are going somewhere, but who knows where “where” is?

  • Jerry

    The poem is fine, the waste is there.

    I can not believe you people have time to justify the idiotic spending of our state government. It is beyond the pale! No one I know sells their car after only 16K miles, most eveyone I know has computers that are more than 3 years old and they still work, and most people I know, even millionaires, do not have $400 chairs.

    When it is your money you act differently – every time it is tried!

  • Oregon taxpayer


    Just logged on, great to find your latest!

    For office chairs: google “office chair”. You’ll have a hard time finding one for LESS than $300. I’ll bet if you look at Ron Saxton’s office at his fancy law firm, you’ll find one that costs a lot more.

    Cars: Try Budget rent a car. I don’t know about the state of Oregon. The state cars I see locally look pretty beat up to me.

    Computers: For anything serious, 5 years is an old one. I typically replace mine after 4 years. I’ll bet if you visit Intel or Hewlett-Packard or any high-tech firm, you’ll find much newer computers than that.

  • Capt Anon


    you have to be realistic. seriousy. there is waste, we never said there wasn’t. but listen to what you’re asking. you want the government to work on dinasaour computers. after 3 years, maybe 4, computers run the risk of blowingup…hard drives dying. it would be irresponsible for government agencies to allow that to happen. the older a computer gets, the more difficult IT departments have keeping them running. it’s not inappropriate to have a contract with a dealer, like DELL, to replace computers after 3 years. IT SAVES MONEY IN THE LONG RUN. i honestly don’t understand why you never acknowledge the government does a lot to save us tax payers money?? just because a computer works doesn’t mean its a good deal. new computers provide better service for residents. i know i personally don’t want my government running on 5 year old computers. they are SLOWWWW and mess up all the time. i bet HP and intel get new comps every 2 to 3 years. easy.

    like oregon taxpayer said, chairs are expensive. I have NO doubts that if Saxton gets elected, he’ll get himself a 1500 dollar super supported lumbar chair. leather even. should he? should be not? you’ve got to be realistic. governments work on economies of scale. they get better deals that way and save us money. I know that one of the counties in the portland area is going to a no desktop set up. all the workers get are monitors and a mouse. saves lots of money.

    no one is supporting government wasting money. I do support them using contracts to get better deals in the long term. and again, most of the government vehicles being driven here are clunkers. the car fleets are old. and they replace them after who knows how many years. the person who talked about 16000k miles on the cars. who did that, and when? i’ve never seen a report about that. and maybe it happens once in a while. i don’t know the circumstances, do you? context is important. but i tend to think you hate government period and so will jump on anything that could be negative before hearing both sides of the story before judging. i seriously wish people here would use thier critical thinking skills, look at both sides, and quit the assumption that the government is a robot out to get them and screw them at every chance.

  • Jerry

    Yes, I am dissatisfied with Oregon state government. All I can say about the chairs is they should buy their own with their own money – then I would have no complaints. I bought my own chair at the last place I worked because the one they furnished was uncomfortable.
    As for the cars, maybe the best idea is simply to give the people who need to drive a reasonable car allowance (say $400 a month) and let them figure out what to do and when to trade, etc.
    Remember when everyone was driving around in Lincoln SUV’s?
    No problem with that – if it is their money and their decision.
    I also got a car allowance when I worked in the private sector – but I decided what to drive and how often to replace it, etc.
    Basically, the huge amount of waste on silly programs that only serve a VERY small percentage of Oregonians is what makes me distrust almost everything else state government does.
    When the Oregonian supports a Republican for governor you know something is very wrong in Salem. I could not believe it.
    Anyway, if any state employee wants an expensive chair they can just buy one – like the rest of us do.
    I always look at both sides, by the way, but have yet to be convinced that there is not rampant and uncontrolled waste in Oregon state government. To believe otherwise is to be sadly misinformed. There is waste everywhere, while the state police limp along with fewer than half the needed troopers. No excuse for such gross mismangement. None whatsoever.

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