Speaking Of Lousy Editing

Speaking of lousy editing, I am reminded of an incident when I was working as the City of McCleary public works director during the early 1990s. The City operates a municipal electric utility and employs lineworkers and other professional personnel to operate, construct and maintain it electrical distribution system. At the time the employees were non-union, and woefully underpaid I might add.

I had made application, on behalf of the city, to the State of Washington apprenticeship training board seeking its authorization for the City to enroll its apprentice in the lineworker apprenticeship training program operated through a nearby community college.

Because the city’’s workforce was non-union, and the state apprenticeship program was essentially a union subsidiary, there was resistance to the city’’s application from the state agency as well as from the electrical workers union. The law establishing the apprenticeship program was explicit that the program was not to discriminate against non-union trainees, a fact of which I had to repeatedly inform folks involved with the process. I never have figured out why there must be a board of political appointees to approve apprenticeship training plans, when professional staff could determine if the submitted plans conformed to the law more effectively than a bunch of back-slapping hacks.

The state apprenticeship board met once each quarter and half of the meetings were wasted with award presentations, but that’’s another story. During the meeting when the board considered the city’’s plan, a business agent from the electrical workers union addressed the board and indicated that he had significant concerns with the city’’s safety practices. Consequently the board postponed consideration of the city’’s plan until its next meeting, three months hence.

Immediately upon returning to my office I submitted a public records request to the state workplace safety agency for all of its records of safety inspections conducted of City of McCleary facilities and operations. As it turned out the business agent who expressed his concerns with the city’s safety practices had previously been a state workplace safety inspector, inspecting electric utility operations; and had inspected the city’s operations a number of times. I guess the dumb ass had forgotten that fact, or, more likely, he was simply a despicable liar. The records indicated that the only violations for which he or any other inspector had ever cited the city were a crack in a windshield and the lack of an operator’’s manual aboard a truck.

Those who know me well know that there is nothing that brought mepleasurepleassure during my local government career than togovernmentalernemtanl agencies exceeding or abusing their legal authority. So you can well imagine what fun I had composing the letter, for the mayor’s signature, to the apprenticeship board excoriating not only the lying business agent but also the apprenticeship board and its program. The letter was one of my prouder pieces of work, which the mayor loved and readily signed. Which brings me to the whole point of this missive.

Toward the end of the letter I had made reference to the city’’s public works director. It wasn’’t until the mayor and I were sitting before the board at its next meeting, suffering through the endless award presentations, when the mayor noticed that I had left the ”l” out of ”public”. So as far as the board was informed I was the city’s ““pubic works director”.

So you can see lousy editing is nothing new for me.


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