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Ceremonial costs

An excellent catch by the Idaho Statesman today: The high cost of photo ops and ego boosting.

The context here, of course, is that the Otter Administration has proposed, in the interest of saving dollars measured more in the thousands (elimination of the Human Rights Commission and Hispanic Commission) or not a lot more (public television’s state buy-in, which could bring much of the network to crash).

What the Statesman found was this: “Since June, the Idaho Transportation Department has spent almost $70,000 on seven such groundbreaking or dedication ceremonies – which Otter’s office wanted to be the ‘governor’s signature events.’ . . . Four of these highway ceremonies, all in northern or eastern Idaho, were put together by ITD’s own communications staff at a total cost of $9,571 – an average of $2,393 per ceremony. But for the three Valley events, ITD paid RBCI, a private consulting firm. The cost for these three: $60,035 – an average of $20,012 per ceremony.”

These are the events where “dignitaries” stand around, smile, cut ribbons and get their pictures taken. What the public actually gets out of them . . . well . . .

The House Transportation chair, JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, described herself as “appalled.”

The story suggests that the costs more or less snuck up on their governor’s office – that they didn’t know how large the costs were – while the transportation department put together the events more or less as they seemed to be asked to do. No particular villain here.

Maybe a few lessons to be absorbed, though.

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