Compare this to your own experience in Hawaii….

Here’s a little vignette from retired journalist and public affairs specialist, Jim Manke, who now splits his time between Hawaii and Portland, Oregon.

We received a snail mail notice yesterday that our (Oregon) vehicle registration is due for renewal, with instructions for how to do that, including the location of the nearest emissions test site.

We went this morning to the DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) inspection site about ten miles away, not knowing whether we would have to spend a half-day in line and ‘processing.’ There was just one car in front of us, but there were a total of eight lanes open to vehicles moving through the testing process. A uniformed staff person at the front gate did a preliminary check of our paperwork, verified that we had a current insurance card, confirmed that in addition to the emissions check we could also do the re-registration at the same time, informed us about payment options (cash, debit or credit card – no checks), and then directed us to lane eight, self service, where, she assured us, someone would be available to assist if we needed.

We pulled up to the ATM-like touchscreen kiosk, followed the prompts on the screen, plugged the DEQ data cable into the appropriate place under the dash, and began the test process. It took about 40 seconds. The screen said we passed, and instructed us to swipe our card, and turn over the registration notice we got in the mail to the attendant in the booth.

By the time the credit card payment cleared, the attendant was back out of his booth to hand us our new registration stickers and paperwork and thank us for coming by.

The entire process, including the brief wait at the gate and the pre-check of paperwork, took about 8 to 10 minutes. Registration fee = $86 + emissions test fee of $19 = total $105 – for two years.

It’s always interesting get these opportunities to compare our public services with those offered elsewhere. Oregon seems to be doing something quite right!

8 responses to “Compare this to your own experience in Hawaii….

  1. Well, we don’t have emissions testing in Hawaii. I get a reminder card, send it back with a check and sometimes a pink safety inspection sheet, and get the new registration and sticker in the mail shortly thereafter. The safety inspection takes a little more time, but I’ve never had to wait more than a few minutes for someone to begin it. Not sure what could be more streamlined . . . .

  2. I always have a good laugh when I read this sort of thankfulness for efficient delivery of government regulatory “services.” The government imposes upon society enormous costs in money and time to force everybody to comply with a regulation which might have very little actual value. In this case, I’m wondering how many cars are identified each year which fail the emissions test. Then add up the costs — constructing and maintaining that 8-lane inspection center, paying the salaries of the bureaucrats who staff it (and their supervisors), the time/money costs of people being forced to drive 10 miles (or perhaps much farther) to the station, the fees paid for this “service” ($19 per head), etc. Are the results worth the costs? If those few cars which fail the emissions test were actually never identified because no tests were required, how much actual pollution would be added to the atmosphere of the Great State of Oregon, and considering the wide dispersal of the pollution, what would be the effect on any individual breather? I guess we’re supposed to be grateful if a rapist ties us up and says “I’m gonna rape you but I’ll do it as quickly and painlessly as possible, provided you comply with my demands and cooperate.” And at the end we’re supposed to feel grateful because it was fast and efficient.

    • I always have a good laugh when I read yet another senseless rant-post that achieves absolute squat in making any convincing argument:

      “I guess we’re supposed to be grateful if a rapist ties us up and says ‘I’m gonna rape you but I’ll do it as quickly and painlessly as possible, provided you comply with my demands and cooperate.'”

  3. If it’s anything similar to Washington state, that entire operation is run by a private contractor that gets paid a flat fee per car. Their profitability depends on being fast and efficient.

    The HI state annual “inspection” is a joke. Every week I see cars with no brake lights, completely busted windshields, bald tires, etc. I think a lot of people have their “cuz” at a garage give them a sticker and never actually get checked. Great idea in theory, not very effective in actuality.

  4. I have some experience with life in both Hawaii and Oregon.

    In my mind, Oregon is run like Germany, and I mean that in a complimentary way: In the public sphere, everything works, everything is clean, people are invariably polite, conscientious and efficient.

    Hawaii, on the other hand … well, Hawaii is more like Bangladesh or Uzbekistan.

  5. compare and decide

    Here is a “State Management Report Card for 2008” from Pew Charitable Trust’s Government Performance Project.

    Both Hawaii and Oregon get a cumulative grade of C+.

    For Hawaii, on page 49, hiring is listed as a strength. Weaknesses are long-term outlook, strategic workplace planning, capital planning, maintenance, strategic direction, budgeting for performance, managing for performance, and online services & information. That’s one strength and eight weaknesses.

    For Oregon, on page 80, intergovernmental coordination and budgeting for performance are listed as strengths. Weaknesses are strategic workforce planning, maintenance and performance auditing & evaluation. That’s two strengths and three weaknesses.

    Utah gets and A-. On page 88 it has 17 strengths and no weaknesses listed.

    Virginia also gets and A-. On page 90 it has 12 strengths and no weaknesses listed.

    Washington state gets an A- as well. On page 92 it has 12 strengths and no weaknesses.

    At the other end of the spectrum, Rhode Island gets a C-. On page 82 it has one strength and 12 weaknesses listed. No other state gets a C- or worse.

    A website calling itself 247WallStreet has an 2010 article “The Best and Worst Run States In America: A Survey of All Fifty”.

    It is noted that in 2010, both Hawaii and Oregon had a Standard and Poor’s credit rating of AA, with a ranking of 26; a total of 18 states had this same rating and ranking. At the high end, a total of 11 states had a AAA rating with a ranking of 1. At the opposite end of the ranking, California alone had a pathetic A- rating and ranking of 50 (although Illinois has a sad A+, at 49).

    Surprisingly, Hawaii scores high, at number ten in this site’s estimation. Oregon comes in at number 27.

    On the whole, judging from these two sources, Hawaii and Oregon should not be compared to one another as night and day. They both seem like rather average, middling, mediocre states, neither excellent nor terrible.

    As they say, “six of one, half a dozen of the other.”

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