Wasteful spending runs rampant

On Tuesday evening this week, I was walking back from having dinner at Ribs’n’Blues in Tech Square to my humble apartment on Peachtree when I noticed an awkward situation unfolding in front of the College of Management building. A guy was dropping his friend off and had pulled into one of the metered spaces and one of Georgia Tech’s lovely parking attendants (aka meter maids) was standing outside of the student’s car, waving his hands and yelling, trying to get the young man’s attention.

The parking attendant then vigorously pointed at the “NO PARKING” sign that has been printed in blue ink on a dainty yellow background and affixed with zip-ties to the light post. I suppose the kid made some acknowledgment to the Parking Employee, because he then proceeded to return to his little parking truck across the street (via jay-walking might I add).

Now, there might at first seem like there’s nothing wrong with GT Parking & Transportation doing what seems to be their “job,” but I assure you there are many a thing that are awry with what’s going on here.

First let’s go back a few months to October of 2007. Quite suddenly, on the 22nd of that month the Courtyard/Trolley Stop of the Management building was ripped up. We later found out in the Nov. 2 issue of the Technique that the College of Management had received a hefty payment for the selling out of the GT name.

All matters of selling out aside, this created a wee bit of a problem for the Tech Trolley service. So to provide a stop for the Trolley, Parking put some red plastic bags over a few parking meters, and zipped a makeshift sign to the light.

Now let me not beat around the bush much longer. Ever since they closed off the courtyard, the Georgia Tech Department of Parking and Transportation has stationed a Parking employee to stand watch over their newly crafted Trolley stop from around 8:00 a.m. until nearly Midnight every weekday. It is this employee’s job to make sure no-one pulls up into the three cordoned off space, as I’ve witnessed on more than a few occasions.

“What’s the problem with this?” you might ask. Well, stop to think about it. This guy isn’t doing this for free. He doesn’t watch three parking spaces all day because it’s fun. He’s being told by his supervisor to do this, and getting paid for it.

So while people are parking on the sidewalk around campus, motorists drive 20 over the limit through campus, the Stingers and Trolleys run without a schedule and the drivers are unionizing because of low pay and crappy work conditions and Georgia Tech has decided that our money is best spent paying someone to harass people who are just dropping off their friends for class.

Last time I took the Trolley home, the driver didn’t even bother to pull into the area they have taken so much time and money to protect. Also, why doesn’t this guy go around to every trolley stop in Tech Square and yell at people in those spots? I’m pretty sure the Trolley drivers don’t care that much. As the fact that their unionizing suggests, I think the drivers are more interested in better pay and working conditions and being treated like humans from their bosses.

I won’t try to fool you into thinking that these parking attendants get paid a king’s ransom or anything. Your average maintenance worker at Tech gets paid about $19,000 a year, and the head of parking enforcement (according to parking.gatech.edu and www.audits.state.ga.us) gets $55,000 a year. So as a midpoint, I’d guess these parking enforcement guys make $35,000 a year (there is no category for a parking employee on the state audit site). That’s still $16/hr. That’s $256 a day, $1280 a week, $5120 a month, and a running total of $21,760 that’s being spent on salary to watch three parking spaces. That doesn’t even account for the gas these guys waste as they run their engines all day.

According to the Canadian environmental ministry (I’ll send you the site if you email me), an idling engine releases twice as many exhaust fumes as a vehicle in motion. So not only are they wasting fuel idling all day, but they’re polluting the environment twice as much, and we’re supposed to be an environmentally friendly school. Ignorant wasting of both money and resources such as this is negating all that hard work getting two buildings on campus LEED certified took.

This is yet another example of unquestioned wasteful government spending. It only took $40,000 in wasteful employee spending on a P-Card to launch a full-scale investigation by the AJC. Why does the Tech administration continue to waste funding on this in the light of recent scandals where administrators have been caught wasting upwards of $300,000?

These poor spending habits tend to come from lack of oversight. It is our job as students of this institution to ensure that our hard-earned money is spent wisely with the most benefit to the student body. We must constantly challenge our administration to stay on track and do what is best for us.

But it is not our job alone. It should be the focus of every employee of the Institute to ensure they are providing the best services they are able to the student body. Wouldn’t that $20,000 be better spent making our Stinger drivers happier? Or maybe on creating an actual schedule for campus transportation so that students’ can better plan their day? If MARTA can do it, so can Tech.