The State Auditor’s office released a performance audit that detailed quite a few of the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) incompetent failures — the Seattle Times reported on the audit, like other news outlets. However, the Seattle Times was nice enough to balance the news story of WSDOT’s misuse of tax dollars with a guest editorial written by Roger Miller, the “acting” WSDOT director, that claims the agency is “learning from its mistakes.”
If that’s true, there must be a lot of learning going on.
Below are some of the choice quotes from Miller’s editorial, detailing just how much WSDOT is learning. We have provided some translation, to strip away the “spin” being advanced by the communications folks who wrote the piece:
1. “While the vast majority of those tolled trips were processed correctly, we know errors happened.”
We made mistakes — everyone knows because of all the recent reports — but they really were not very big mistakes… so that makes it okay.
2. “That’s why WSDOT is demanding accountability and improved customer service from our toll vendor to make sure that when errors happen, we work together swiftly to fix the problem.”
Remember how there’s another party involved? You know, the toll vendor? Well, all those “mistakes” are basically the vendor’s fault. So, it’s the vendor that needs to improve service. We at WSDOT, we’re fine.
3. “Our customers are busy people who don’t need the hassle created by these types of mistakes.”
This is the part where we try to sound like we are in tune with Washingtonians by making statements meant to sound like “we feel your pain” even though we created those “hassles”.
4. “Once alerted to an issue, WSDOT takes every step we can to inform customers and the public and to reduce customer impacts. For example, we contacted those 8,200 vehicle owners as soon as we knew of the problem and provided the option of up to six months to pay overdue tolls.”
So, now that we’ve attempted to downplay our “mistakes”, blame others, and show compassion for our bureaucratic bungling, it’s time to tell our story… which happens to be different from literally everyone else’s story. You see, leaving out the fact that we contacted the 8,200 vehicle owners AFTER the media reported on the scandal changes the story entirely.
5. “Our goal is to treat every call, every complaint, like it’s coming from a friend or family member. Like any other business, public or private, that processes tens of millions of transactions annually, we will never be error-free.”
Every business makes mistakes. We aren’t any different. In fact, we should be given a little more leeway. After all, whatever happened to the saying, “good enough for government work” anyway? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we’re a government agency, and we’re gonna keep making your life more difficult with all the mistakes we make… that’s what we’re here for.
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