The Bend Metro Parks and Recreation District has applicants for its summer programs in a bind suitable for Ken Kesey or Joseph Heller. We've tried to hack our way out only to be ensnared by the befuddling labyrinth of BMPRD's Dickensian circumlocution office.
BMPRD plans to queue up all walk-in summer program applicants-seniors, other adults and children alike-at the Senior Center at 7 a.m. on Saturday, May 9, and to use the DMV model (take a number and wait your turn) once the doors are opened to the clamoring throng. We are a group of senior hikers who object to this procedure.
Recent registrations until now have reduced crowding for everybody either by accommodating different groups simultaneously at different facilities or by registering different groups on different days in the Senior Center.
If we want to avoid the May 9 horde, BMPRD says, we should register online. One problem: Registering online at this tax-supported agency will entail a surcharge of $0.50 plus 6.5% of the program fee for each activity we choose. If we aspire to join, say, four activities at $45.00 per activity, the surcharge will be about $14.00.
BMPRD admits that they would be in an impossible situation if none of us were to use online registration. In an April 15 email message, Wayne Smith, the director of BMPRD registration, wrote: "We simply can't accommodate the demand at a walk-in only registration." By registering online, applicants do BMPRD a favor and thereby incur an extra charge as punishment for their kindness.
Some of us think that a public agency shouldn't use a two-tiered pricing system or give an advantage to people who can afford extra payment. As citizens and taxpayers, we think that the surcharge is wrong and that collaborating with it would be wrong. But the alternatives are either to get in line during the wee morning hours for the May 9 fiasco at the Senior Center or to apply by U.S. mail and be prioritized last among all applicants.
BMPRD could choose among many other methods. We favor one in which over-subscribed programs would select participants at the end of the first in-district registration day by a random process. Applicants who submitted materials by any method-online, walk-in, or U.S. mail-at the end of that day would have an equal chance for selection. As we've told BMPRD, random selection software is easily available.
John Bowers, Karen Cox, Alyce Dudley, Chris Eastwood, Christine Jones, and Colleen McNally