If it walks like a duck…

And talks like a duck, dang it, we here in literalistic Journoland want to call it a duck!

Government, bless ’em, feels differently about this sometimes. So Stephanie and I put our heads together and came up with our favorite euphemisms used by our bureaucrats and politicians.

Got any to add to the list?:

“Hotel/Convention Center” — What the city of Vancouver calls the Hilton Vancouver Washington. Actually saying the name (usually in context of how shaky its finances are these days) is akin to saying the name of Voldemort in the Harry Potter series. We dare you to try and get the city manager or finance director to just call it the Hilton. We say, the sign on the front says it’s the Hilton. So, we should probably call it that.

“Listening session” — A special meeting where elected officials and other bureaucrats will just listen to you complain, already, so you will stop sending them emails. See also: “Town halls.”


Boldt, Mielke and Stuart having the time of their lives at a Bonneville Power Administration “listening session.”

“Fee holiday” — A county break for businesses, a “fee holiday” sounds like fun for all but it really just shifts the burden to taxpayers, as money to cover the waived fees comes out of the county’s general fund.

“Water bill credit” — A similar angle being worked at the city of Vancouver, specifically to give a break, ahem, credit to the Frito-Lay plant on Fruit Valley Road so that they can automate their production and layoff workers. This will somehow lead to job growth.

“Fund redistribution” — It’s a bailout people. One fund runs short. You use another fund to cover that money. It’s not redistribution. It’s a bailout. City’s done it with moving money from its water program to prop up its sewer program. County’s doing it by moving general fund money to cover the Clark County Events Center.

REET — A separate post could be done on government acronyms, but REET is one heard often these days. It stands for Real Estate Excise Tax, which is collected on home sales. For several golden years, officials treated the revenues like that Costco-sized jar of peanut butter of which you don’t think you’ll ever see the bottom. Alas, officials are now scraping enough REET revenue together to pay off debt on county buildings and REET revenues won’t be used, as planned, for new capital investments such as roads and parks.

When we say it in the pod, we say “REET! REET!” like the sound made when the psycho is about to stab a lady in a bad horror movie.

Finally, here’s some specific overused terms that have been recently retired:

“Clark County Central District Heating Facility” — The term preferred by county staff (at least those county staff members who were in favor of it) to refer to a biomass plant that was proposed for downtown Vancouver.

“Multi-use stadium” — If it had been built at Clark College, most people would not have said, “Hey, look at that multi-use stadium!” No. They would have called it a baseball stadium. But baseball backers preferred “multi-use” to stress the fact that the stadium would not have just been used for the Yakima Bears.

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