Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Commissioners, Please Double Our Pay

Speech to the Josephine County Commissioners, 3/28/12.

Honorable Commissioners:
Regarding item 4c, “Approval of Request for Temporary Employment Agency Usage, 12 Park Aide positions, 5/1/12 through 11/01/12:”  Today, you get my interested comment.
I thank Commissioner Haugen for bringing to our attention at the Admin meeting that one of the responsibilities of these summer park aides is to “enforce park rules.”  These are minimum wage, temporary positions.  Such workers should be given no enforcement responsibility, because they have no authority in the eyes of the public; nor should they have any.  Enforcement of rules is a dangerous occupation that should be left to park hosts and police. 
Our CFO said that these workers would only have to stop unsafe behavior.  The most that they should do is what anyone should do if they see unsafe behavior: call police.  Interfering in unsafe behavior could easily get a person hurt by the kind of people that engage in it. 
The minimum wage paid to these workers got me thinking about the cost of yearly park passes:  $30 next year, or 8 hours of labor.  I bought 4 park passes, 3 for Christmas presents, this last December for $20 apiece with the December discount; next year it would be $25 apiece if you continue the discount.  I make $21 per hour in my gardening business.  At an average of $3.33 per hour, it isn’t worth it to me to volunteer in our parks to pay for those passes.  Even at the full $30 cost, it only pays $3.75 per hour, less than half the current minimum wage of $8.80 per hour.
I would like to lead some weed-pulling groups in Schroeder Park.  If we could earn a park pass in 3 hours rather than 8, I would be earning close to minimum wage, working for park passes.  It would be worth my while, and it would be worth the while of other people to join me.  The parks would probably get a lot more volunteers, for less than you will be paying these temporary workers, for whom you also must pay taxes.
Please reduce the hours we need to work to earn a year’s park pass by at least half.   We need more incentive if you want more help to maintain our parks.  And please do not ask temporary, minimum wage workers to enforce park rules.  At most, they should report apparent violations.

Published at Yahoo Voices.

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