Bureaubrats: No Thinking Required

April 12, 2004
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No doubt, it is a taxing time. That’s probably why the letter below came without any comment from the offices of Grand Rapids Business Journal Small Business Matters columnist Paul Hense, dba president, Paul Hense CPA, PC. Hense also is a regular in the D.C. subcommittee hearing rooms on various matters of complaint to small business owners, including (someday) the possibility of deducting health-care costs from their taxes, like any other American. He has a way of quoting bureaubrats so that they sound stupid, to themselves. Preparing for another exercise in frustration, on the eve of April 15, Hense received the following instructions for his upcoming testimony regarding paperwork burdens faced by small businesses:

“On April 20, 2004, the subcommittee on Energy Policy, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs will hold a hearing at 2:00 p.m. in Room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building on the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). I am inviting you to testify about paperwork burden, especially tax-related reporting and recordkeeping requirements imposed on business.

Pursuant to committee procedures, please fax a copy of your written testimony by 2:00 p.m. on Friday, April 16, 2004. Please provide 100 copies of the testimony for distribution to the public and the press at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing. Also, please provide an electronic version in Microsoft Word format for posting on the House of Representatives’ homepage to Barbara.Kahlow@mail.house.gov. Lastly, please complete the enclosed “Truth in Testimony” form which is required by Congress.

If you have any questions, please contact Professional Staff Member Carrie-Lee Early at (202) 225-1962. Thank you in advance for your attention to this request.

Sincerely, Doug Ose, Chairman, subcommittee on Energy Policy, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs.

Copies to the Honorable Tom Davis and the Honorable John Tierney.”

  • Dr. Condoleezza Rice’s testimony last week made note of the fact that important memos appeared to be “more of the same” in communication and that any changes suggested by the new administration were regarded or could be regarded as “make work” —acknowledging on national television that bureaubrats do such things! Those at EPA must also have their day. If transport pollution issues are not enough, there are rags to be dealt with.

Background: Just as the office furniture industry and the auto suppliers have had a tough time so far in the 21st century, so have the printers. They once comprised one of West Michigan’s biggest industrial components and have gone through their own winnowing.

But now, according to the Graphic Communications Alliance of West Michigan, EPA is adding just another one of its little challenges to the bottom line.

EPA has ruled that shop towels — the red industrial rags that workers use to wipe degreaser or ink or whatever from their hands and from workbench tops or press housings — must be managed as a hazardous waste. But, what EPA taketh away with one hand, it returneth with the other. The agency also proposes to loosen its regulation giving a conditional exemption to disposable wipes.

The agency’s Environmental Subcommittee, therefore, has set up a seminar at 7:30 Wednesday morning at Bridgewater Place so that printers and anyone else facing these towel-and-wipe issues can get the latest on the proposed regulation, and such accompanying arcane matters as: Differences in regulations concerning incineration and disposal of wipes in landfills; which solvents are excluded from the exemption; approved storage and shipping containers; the difference between “dry” and “no free liquid”; requirements for reusable wipes; and the exemption’s timing.

Businesses go on trying to survive new obstacles, but somebody in Washington needs to get a life.

  • Update: Former GRMAYOR John Logie’s nemesis, former Grand Rapids Township Supervisor Marsha E. Bouwkamp, can now be found in Lake County, where she is the Peacock Township Supervisor. The irony of location is related to the ongoing spats over water/sewer improvements, or, as Bouwkamp saw it, infringements of the city upon the township and “excessive” charges. (Logie was equally “successful” in negotiating with Plainfield Township.)

  • Dumping on Doug:

The Kent County Republican Party held its 117th annual Lincoln Day dinner — in the week that even the S-curve was clear by virtue of spring breakers having left the cold, lake-effect clime for sun-n-fun. The grand ole party billed the event as “GOP in Paradise,” urging party goers to leave their suits and don “tropical beach wear” and sandals — in barely 40-degree temperatures — for a “spring break” with special guest Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (son of Michigan’s most famous Gov. George Romney.) One need not compare the ‘family oriented” legislation coming from West Michigan GOPers to the gay marriage defense in Massachusetts; Guv Romney needed a break from all that, too, but most especially the likely Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry

In this friendly environ and while basking in the warmth of sunlamps, State Rep. Doug Hart, R-Belmont, was freezing. While Rep. Hart is considered by this group to be “ultra conservative” even among comparisons to the rest in this west, he has been sparring with the wrong woman. Hart certainly has differences with Gov. Jennifer Granholm, but has been his refreshingly candid self in battling Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Betsy DeVos over Michigan’s public schools chief and agenda items. Well, maybe not battling: He just didn’t agree with her.

Hart has suffered at the hands of the faithful who will not encourage his re-election without mea culpa’s for the chief.

  • One more in: One might believe that Wayne Creelman is the only candidate for State Representative in District 86, given his early announcement and continuous news releases about yard signs in every friend and employee’s yard. Now comes former Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howlett Managing Partner Robert Eleveld, who had fliers and business cards printed just in time for the GOP fest. He is indeed a candidate.    

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