Rewarding dysfunction, Part II

Just four days ago in this space, we pointed out the public sector’s propensity for rewarding dysfunction — when bureaucrats fail to do their jobs or entire institutions are irreparably broken, the solution always involves throwing more money at the problem. It’s becoming a broken record.

Certain state officials believe bigger regulatory budgets will help prevent a recurrence of the public health crisis currently gripping the Las Vegas Valley, even though various bodies were slow to respond to patient infections and refused to use the full extent of their authority to mitigate damage and preserve public confidence.

Now the Clark County Commission seems inclined to create an entirely new office, at a starting cost to taxpayers of $4 million per year, to make up for the inept building department’s refusal to do its job.

An independent audit was commissioned in response to last year’s discovery of shoddy, undocumented hotel remodeling and building officials’ willingness to look the other way. The resulting report accused inspectors of negligence and fraud for ignoring defects that compromised hotel guest safety, and recommended the formation of an investigative unit to handle complaints of faulty construction and provide oversight of inspectors.

On Tuesday, county commissioners gave preliminary approval to the plan, which would create 20 new, well-paying jobs amid a purported budget crunch. Final approval is expected within a month.

Ron Lynn, the county’s building chief, told commissioners that complaints are a small part of his department’s workload. But with extra staff, “They will be pursued in an aggressive and diligent manner.”

That begs the question of why building inspectors couldn’t handle the task in the first place. And where was the supervision from salaried managers and administrators, Mr. Lynn included?

To borrow a construction analogy, the county had a box full of tools to manage the hotel remodeling controversy. It didn’t use any of them. Now it’s getting a case of new hammers?

Mr. Lynn vows to use the new team to conduct annual inspections of high-rise hotel and residential buildings. It’s a good idea, but the public has no reason to believe he’s capable of overseeing such labors.

The county should be cleaning house, not building a new one.

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