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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Opportunity knocks at Salem City Hall, no one answers

Salem City Hall from across the pondImage by Jason McHuff via FlickrThere is an intense competition for groups who want to use the location across Liberty for banner ads for their events. The City Hall response is therefore . . . sad.

Sad because Salem is so cash-strapped that it's cutting library services and hours, and it fails to recognize the golden opportunity here -- instead of a first-come, first-served deal, they should auction off the rights for the banners on eBay each month, a month in advance. The State uses eBay to great advantage for getting rid of state surplus furniture and odds and ends. The beauty of the auction system is it would maximize revenue for the city while ensuring that every group has an equal shot at the location, regardless of what time they wake up, and no group would pay more than they want to, because they'd only pay what they agreed to pay by setting a bid limit.

The cliche about "government should run more like a business" is rarely true on the buying end -- when government is the buyer, strict controls are needed that prevent government from doing it "like a business." But when government is the seller, a much more business-minded view is long overdue.
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