Monday, January 21, 2008

Paper Mess

It seems I'm not the only one addicted to paper. In "At the Keyword's" initial blog, I wrote about my reluctance to go "e" -- saying that my work had always been something you could literally touch; maybe even make your hands dirty. This new on-line media was ... well ... new and needed some getting use to.

Well, take a look at the "Empire State" page of Monday's Times Union (Jan. 21) and you'll read how some state legislators are trying to amend the state Constitution so that lawmakers won't be required to have reams of paper delivered to their desks every time a bill is introduced in the Assembly and Senate.

According to the TU's Capitol Confidential:

"... some 700 bills were deposited on lawmakers' desk at the start of this year's session. Three days later, they were unceremoniously gathered up and carted off, almost certainly unread. ... The paperwork was enough to fill at least three rolling bins in the Assembly alone. That's an estimated 450 reams, or about 225,000 sheets."

Wasteful? Environmentally unfriendly? Nuts?

Of course. But it seems that's the way state lawmakers like it. They have -- on five occasions since the late 1990s -- refused to support legislation that would change the state Constitution to allow those bills to "age" virtually -- on legislators' computers -- eliminating the paper requirement.

Calling Al Gore! How many more trees must die so that New York state lawmakers can watch unread paper turn yellow and curl on their seld0m-used desks? Our tree-hugger friends need to make their case at the Capitol.

Meanwhile, another attempt to bring the Legislature into the 21st Century is under way. Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, D-Ossining, and Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece, have reportedly introduced another constitutional amendment to force their colleagues to switch on their PCs to do their jobs. If -- and it's apparently a big if -- that happens, it won't kick in until 2010.

Quick, put a fence around the Adirondacks Forest Preserve!

Meanwhile, the same Times Union included the return of former TV anchor -- and more recent blogger -- Ed Dague. Ed was away for a few months, dealing with some legal and personal issues that made all the papers. They're now resolved and we're better off for it. Mr. Dague is a thoughtful, articulate critic of the media and -- God knows -- the media needs someone with integrity and experience looking over its shoulder.

Welcome back Ed!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As much as I like using the technologies and you know first hand how I do :) I am still hooked on paper.

If I have important email with facts and figures I need to keep they are printed out. If I am working on data or a tech manual I will print out the sections needed. Just easier to browse though it going back and forth and it is easier to scribble notes on. Many computer generated copies do not allow access to add notes to.

Along with all the trees being cut down to produce these gov documents there must be a great deal of money spent to do the jobs. Even though it is done via an agency within our state consider the ink, equipment and personnel needed.

These might also be a reason why they keep the old way of doing things. Economically it would put people out of work, hurt the ink and copy machine companies. Add these three areas up and we are talking some impact.

Wonder how much in the budget is spent on printing out the documents for the legislators?

On the other side think of what it would take to produce these documents in E format. This could lead to employment and new equipment contracts for different vendors.