The State of Washington’s online jobs portal at careers.wa.gov is a first stop for many on their way to finding public employment, but inattention to the site’s home page is inadvertently delivering a chuckle to some visitors and maybe even a one-two punch of irony to would-be jobseekers. To make the potential embarrassment worse, the faux pas is front and center where everyone can’t help but notice.
In the banner at the top of the home page (see image below, click to enlarge), beside the declaration that “Working for Washington State is Work That Matters,” is a pleasant-looking young woman who–her arms folded atop a shelf-load of wine bottles with racks of hard liquor in view–is obviously a state liquor store employee. One problem — only a few weeks ago, Initiative 1183’s overwhelming passage made state liquor store employee a defunct career.
The real kicker is the text juxtaposed with the liquor store employee’s photograph:
“Whether it’s helping a vulnerable child, making highways safer or restoring salmon habitat, the work that we do matters to the people of Washington State.”
Yes, that work does matter. Which is why taxpayers might expect that the public face of our government has a brain behind it.
It is hard to imagine that with the months of screeching (much of it from state workers unions) about the fire and brimstone that would rain down should 1183 pass and end the state’s monopolies on liquor sales and distribution (it did), including opposition from the state’s chief executive herself, that teasing the unemployed about a nonexistent job is a tolerable oversight. But careers.wa.gov is a product of Olympia, and in a way its blunder of advertising an extinct occupation might just serve as a symbol for legislators as they seek to fix serious problems during the legislative session.
Forgive the obvious duplicity of suggesting that vulnerable children and highway safety are helped by liquor store employees in the wake of an all-out smear campaign–that is only a symptom of the greater disease. There is a cancer plaguing American society now, the insidious corrosive force of mediocrity, and nowhere is it more evident than in the way many state agencies operate.
Focus on the fact that someone, perhaps several people, made decisions to post the image and the text, all of whom must have completely overlooked what should have been obvious. Now consider if the same lack of attention is business as usual in agencies handling larger budgets or dealing with more sensitive subjects.