Friday, November 17, 2006

Another year older, another budget

We're getting plenty of never mind the quality feel the width from the government about the estimates. I'm put in mind of a builder telling someone that they still haven't finished building their extension but bragging about how much more they have spent than they had previous intended to.

I was wonder how the issue will percolate down to the local authority leve. It would seem on initial reports about the place that the local authority grant has not risen to match inflation not to mind the commitments made as part of benchmarking. It would seem in part that the government is aiming to force the local councils to increase charges and as such create resentment against the opposition parties that are now in control of most councils around the country.

Of course, all this robbing Peter to pay Paul sleight of hand is going to have an immediate direct impact on local authorities most directly in the form of waste charges as budgets for the coming year. The government negotiated with the unions a few years back and agreed a partnership deal with increased pay for local authority employees. Then they did the dirty on the local authorities by not increase the contribution from the central fund to cover this increase.

I believe that paying directly for something such as the bin collection service places the issue in sharp focus for most people. to hear some talk about it you'd swear it was tiny minority of households that produced all of our waste and in fact we were all producing too much. I got myself into some hot water a few years back when I queried the comments from a public rep who appeared to be opposing the change in the Dublin City charges system from one that charged everyone the same amount to one that charged based on how often you put your bin out. In fact what annoyed me most was that while I had pointed out the problems with the intial plan the same person had publicly supported that previous reform package which was even less responsive to the amount that people put out and as such would have rewarded recycling efforts much less than the system introduced. Well, sure, you makes your choices and let the voters decide, and we live and learn.

Of course, any charge system should have a consistent national waiver system to address the issue of affordablity that affects those on fixed incomes and treats everyone fairly. That does not mean that someone getting the service for nothing would be able to dispose of all the waste you would like for nothing. There are issues to be addressed particular to different groups such as the issue that many older people have with disposing of pants for incontinence, there again I'm not sure that should be going into the regular wheelies bins as it is. I would think that there should really be a separate free collection for people in such situations.

On a minor political issue, I wonder where will Cllr Cosgrave place her vote when it comes to the budget for Dublin City Council? It would be nice but naive I suppose to think she might pay a visit and consult her constituents and those who voted for her as to what she should do.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Fixing the electoral register.

See here is the thing, if you filled in the form and gave it to the collector, and it got lost in the system, what is there to stop it getting lost again if you fill it out now and have it returned by nov 25th?

And being a complete ninny but why do we not have a rolling register? Instead we have a deadline of Nov 25th and the register next comes out on Feb 15th of the following year. That is nearly 3 months to update and print something?

Surely, at this point the orginal register from which the printed version is made is electronic, probably a greate big excel file and that can be accessed via the web as we can see from so why can't they update the changes as they are going along? Each Monday morning the latest version replaces the version that was previously being accessed and then we can see well before Feb 15th and the final version being printed if we're on the damn thing.

Christ you would really wonder some times if the lads in the Dept of the Environment even know what century it is.

I will correct myself on one thing, the register comes out on Feb 1st and comes into effect on Feb 15th.

See it takes 2 whole weeks to distribute them. Odd that a publishing company and on-line sales sites can get you a copy of the new Harry Potter into hundreds of thousands of homes in the space of 2/3 days, we take 2 weeks to distribute the register to around a thousand locations.

But there is no IT job involved, the work of making the register available has been finally done and all this is copying a new version of the files up the same location once a week.

A rolling register would spread the cost and make it cheaper rather than having this false peak and who knows perhaps associated overtime.

Can anyone seriously think of a valid reason why we do this whole once a year deadline thing?

The most recent illustration of the farce our electorate register are
the revelations last week that a number of TDs have been struck off
the register despite personally preparing and handing in their forms.
If they are being targeted for elimination then what hope for the
rest of us?

As many people are now aware the Dept of the Environment has at long
last started to embrace the modern age and you can check if you are
on the register online using . Those who do
not have access to the net can continue to check at their local Garda
station or Post Office. If you are not on the current draft register
then you must fill in the form and get it into the council by
November 25th.

What is not understandable is why we do not having a rolling
register? By means all print and provide a paper copy once as year as
we already do, but we should spread the work of updating the register
throughout the year. All alterations to the register should require a
written note to be attached to the electronic master record. If
someone is removed the note should explain why that was done, just as
we have to provide a written form to be added. It would be very
interesting to hear why these Labour TDs were targeted for removal.

And finally, we should automatically add people to the register when
they are issued with a PPS number. Of course, only with the voting
rights appropriate to their status in the Irish electorate system.
The means to fix the register are so straightforward one would have
to wonder why it hasn’t been done already? E-voting has shown we
can’t trust the government to count the votes and now it seems we
can’t trust them to let us vote.