Sunday, July 22, 2012

The utter incompetence of government

If you want to know why some of us are exceedingly suspicious of every new "big government" idea, or even of the very concept that government can improve our lives, there are two wonderful examples in today's Sunday newspapers.

First, the St. Paul Pioneer Press has gotten around to taking another look at the tragic death of Clarisse Grime earlier this month. Clarisse, as I wrote about here, was killed by illegal immigrant/drunk driver/serial speeder/unlicensed driver Carlos Viveros-Colorado.

The PP story shows that Viveros-Colorado - who had been "voluntarily deported" after a 2001 DWI conviction but then again illegally entered the U.S. - had pretty regular interactions with law enforcement, including:

- July 19, 2011: St. Paul police stopped him and cited him for speeding and for driving without a license
- March 8, 2012: Newport police stopped him and cited him for driving without a license
- April 19, 2012: Minnesota State Patrol stopped him and cited him for speeding and driving without a license

Three violations in the year before he killed Clarisse Grime, and yet in exactly NONE of those incidents was Viveros-Colorado asked about his immigration status, nor was the information that he had been deported and illegally re-entered the country available to officers who ran a check on him. St. Paul, of course, proud of its status as a "sanctuary city," prohibits its officers from inquiring about immigration status. For the other two officers, no information was available because there was "no warrant from Immigration and Customs Enforcement for his arrest," according to the story.

Think about that for a moment. With all of the money, people and technological resources at their disposal, the federal government, State of Minnesota, Ramsey County and the City of St. Paul were unable to determine that a previously deported illegal alien and convicted drunk driver, driving around town without a license, was in their grasp.

It seems like a pretty basic function of government. St. Paul City Council member Don Bostrom - the only member to vote against the 2004 ordinance that gave St. Paul its "sanctuary city" status - said, "We have a responsibility to protect our citizens." think so?

The IRS will hound you if you forget to report a few hundred dollars of income. The city will send someone around to give you a ticket if you don't shovel your sidewalk and the State of Minnesota has computer systems that will reject your drivers license renewal if you have an unpaid ticket in another state. Yet no one at any level of government could be bothered to note Viveros-Colorado's immigration status, a simple step that may have saved Clarisse Grime's life.

The same issue of the paper informs us that another state government bureaucracy - the Department of Education - routinely hands out waivers so that high school students can get their diplomas even if they haven't met the requirements for graduation.

Minnesota has a law that requires high school students to pass a basic math skills test before graduating. About 57% of Minnesota students pass it on the first try.

Those who don't pass, however, aren't really deterred from graduating. They can take the test again. If they fail, they can take it again. And if they fail a third time, their school district can just waive the requirement.

And it happens, according to the PP, thousands of times every school year. In the Minneapolis school district, more than a third of those receiving diplomas can't pass the test. In St. Paul, we can't even get an accurate number because the district doesn't track the number of waiver-dependent diplomas it issues!

Seems like that might be some pertinent information, doesn't it? Ironically, the same issue of the PP has a column by Joe Soucheray in which he notes that the St. :Paul school district has about 39,000 students and a $655 million annual budget, which works out to about $17,000 per student per year. And yet they just can't figure out a way to record how many students can't pass a basic math test.

The money quote in the story is from the Commissioner of Minnesota's Department of Education, one Brenda Cassellius, who defends giving diplomas to those unable to comply with the law. ""When you have about half the kids not passing, you know you have to do something," Cassellius said. "You cannot just deny diplomas."

Really? You can't deny a diploma to someone who hasn't met the requirements for graduation? What value is there in a diploma, then, if it doesn't represent meeting those requirements? Why don't we just hand out satisfactory attendance certificates and leave it at that?

This is your government in action, folks, performing two of the most basic functions - public safety and education - in a manner that screams incompetence and failure.

Really makes you eager to have them in charge of your health care, doesn't it?


  1. Take a look at VDH's recent column about two incidents in his home state.

  2. This would argue for disbanding the dept. of education. And saving all that money.

  3. None of this should surprise anyone. Union employees, overpaid and underworked, with pay, benefits, and work rules determined by the very people they choose to determine their pay, benefits, and work rules. This has been, is, and will continue to be an unmitigated disaster unless (or perhaps better put) until a real revolution occurs. The bozos that run most of our agencies of government are qualified perhaps to work as trash collectors. And my guess is they would get fired for incompetence.

  4. great post. Denver is a sanctuary city too. You'll never hear about the extra cost for licensed and insured drivers who must pay extra for "uninsured drivers." My recent renewal included this at 25% extra cost to me. My point: government has no incentive to quantify a darn thing to justify it's existence or longetivity. A private entity goes bye bye if the customers don't vote (with their dollar bills) unless of course the government intercedes on it's behalf (i.e. GM.)

  5. To discourage DWI and to encourage a fundamental change in public attitude, New Mexico has enacted some of the toughest in Dwi laws new Mexico.