Monday, November 20, 2006

perks for our public servants

The Taxpayers’ Chauffeurs - New York Times: This opinion piece has a novel idea: "public officials could take public transportation as a matter of public policy. "

I sat at a recent MeetTheBloggers session with Cleveland Ward 19 Councilman Jay Westbrook, and John McGovern began talking about how out of touch most people are around here with what public transportation offers, and how clueless most are about what it can do to be of better service. It should be an economic driver, and I don't think we see it as that around here any more. We have too strong a bias towards the car and tend to overuse it in the hopes of keeping our UAW friends rocking along.

Having all government people ride the public transit would shake out a lot of the bugs in the system and save us a lot on fleets of government cars.

Question: When a government employee takes a car home on a regular basis, isn't that a perk? Is it reported to the IRS as additional income? Are we losing tax revenue if it's not? Can we go back at the state and local levels and recapture these taxes? Isn't it the taxpayer ("we, the people") that pays for the car, the gas and oil, the maintenance and insurance? Can we have an audit, please, and a recapture for the public purse, if that's warranted?

All you have to do is to go to an ODOT meeting after hours to understand how many of these folks use government cars after hours. Do they take them back to the motor pool after the meetings? Drive down I-71 to Columbus any morning early and see all the commuters using government cars. Did they pick them up at the motor pool that morning, before 0500?

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