Ellen Perlman was a GOVERNING staff writer and technology columnist.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
It's ingenious. Pennsylvania uses marketing moxie to make money from items people must surrender at airports, according to a local story. For the past three years, the state has been selling on eBay free items collected from 13 airports the state services. But the state doesn't just sell individual wedding cake servers, scissors and belts. No, that's what everyone else does. So uncreative.
Instead, those items are packaged together. So a cake server and a corkscrew becomes part of a housewares kit. Free weights are "New Year's resolution" kits. Trowels with other tools are gardening kits.
The state sends drivers from a vocational school to pick up items. General services workers on physician-ordered light duty sort the goods. Photos are taken so the items sell better. And people end up buying 98 percent of what gets listed. Since 2004, the state has made more than $350,000, even as it competes with Kentucky, Oregon and South Carolina, which are also in the used-goods business.
To its credit, Pennsylvania also shows some marketing restraint. The marketing guru behind this, Ken Hess of General Services, decided against marketing fuzzy handcuffs - and apparently more people than you'd think try to travel with fuzzy handcuffs - as part of Valentine's Day gifts. Hess thought it might send the wrong message to taxpayers.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.