So if this is such a good deal for us, how come it’s not a good deal for them?
That seems a reasonable question following the announcement last week that several unemployment offices in small towns will be closed. That’s bad news for those small communities, which includes St. Maries.
Of course, you would never know it reading the press release announcing the changes.
Not a chance. In fact, the spinmasters at the Department of Labor made it sound as if closing the St. Maries office was great news. The following is a quote from Jani Revier, director of the agency. She starts by saying:
“We are bringing the Department of Labor to the citizens of rural Idaho.”
That’s an odd thing to say on at least two points. First, the Department of Labor has always operated in rural Idaho – right up until they decided to close the office. How is it closing small-town offices is “bringing the Department of Labor to citizens of rural Idaho?”
But the baloney-fest did not end there.
“This new approach has us out where we’re needed, as opposed to sitting behind a desk waiting for citizens to find us.”
So let’s get this straight. Closing the St. Maries office means locals will have to travel 50 to 65 miles for services. How again is this getting service “out where they are needed?”
Sure. Ms. Revier and her crew will tell us that we can access services via the Internet. And it’s even better than that. According to the release, they will now focus on increasing Idaho Labor’s presence while decreasing its physical footprint.
Sounds terrific, but it still gets even better. The press release explains that this change “will empower local teams . . . to design solution that best serve their communities and are responsive to on-the-ground needs.”
Anytime the words “empower” and “responsive” are in the same sentence you know you’re looking at a double-whammy of bureaucratic doublespeak.
News flash to the Idaho Department of Labor: People in small towns were all born. But not very many of us were born yesterday.
This is all hogwash and everyone knows it. No matter how much lipstick you put on this pig, service will not improve. Closing offices will hurt small towns.
Here’s the irony – Every state politician yammers incessantly about “helping rural Idaho.” Pay attention sometime. Whenever one visits, we guarantee part of their speech will include references to rural Idaho and how much they will help
It’s Politics 101, the obligatory pat-on-the-head for rural voters.
Sure, we get it. The Department of Labor is just like every Idaho business and every Idaho family. They have a budget and sometimes hard choices are required to meet budget. Department leaders decided that closing small offices was the way to do that.
But hold on.
Let’s go back to the first sentence of this column. If closing offices in small towns improves services – wouldn’t the same be true of offices in the city?
So here’s our proposal.
Let’s keep the small-town offices – you know, where unemployment is highest. Instead, let’s close the offices in the cities. With higher rents and real estate prices, it certainly costs much more to operate a city office than a rural office.
And besides, closing city offices would afford the state the opportunity to employ all their whiz-bang ‘empowerment’ and ‘designed solutions’ – all using ‘new models’ of course. According to their own press release, this would greatly improve service.
So everyone wins. Small towns keep their offices and service is improved in urban areas.
Everyone knows that’s just more hogwash. Just like everyone knows that closing small offices will not improve service – no matter how many press releases claim the opposite.
DAN HAMMES is publisher of the Gazette Record.