The Hummel Challenge

Jack Hummel had a personal note in the Ben Column today:

Don Rainear, give Carl Johnson a private showing of what you’ve found with the CCIA.
Send us the lunch bill.
Bring your charts.
And when Don’s done, Carl, and not a minute before, give us your honest opinion on what you think.
What the two of us don’t know about the landfill is astonishing.

I don’t need lunch, though I wouldn’t turn it down.  But my opinion is not what matters. What maters is transparency in government, and truth.

Rather than show me a bunch of charts, let me put them online here. Let the taxpayers decide.  Perhaps we could compare the numbers of the CCIA with other improvement authorities across the state.

What has disturbed me the most from news reports, and we all know the newspapers  are always right,  is the pessimistic projection of CCIA income down the road. Perhaps Don can clear this up? My impression is that the future years income is being based on the last few years, with an assumption that the decline in revenue will continue, and that there will be no end to this recession, and hence never, ever a need to expand the landfill to accommodate an increase in collections.

Sure, we cannot do anything about lawsuits forcing Atlantic County to take care of their own waste. However, we can expect the economy to rebound, and when it does, the cost of expanding will increase also.  Blind pessimism is as bad as unwarranted optimism – what we need is a dose of realism.  I am not so sure we can trust getting unbiased realism when it is coming from an insider.

I had a friend that was a head accountant for a multi-national corporation. Tony used to ask this question of new job applicants: “What does two plus two equal?” Tony claimed there was only one correct answer: “What do you want it to equal?” And that is the problem with charts and graphs and numbers. Numbers don’t lie, liars lie. The public response is dependent upon the way the numbers are presented.


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