Thursday, October 27, 2005
The Things You Learn
One discussion topic at their conference was ironically the "C's of Effective Communication." Hey, I'm not making this stuff up.
Here they are: Clarity
Credit and congratulate (not yourself - OK, I put that in)
Or how about this this stuff?
From a Governmental Accounting and Auditing seminar:
"If a person is greedy, a code of ethics or ethics policy will not stop a person from acting unethical or committing a fraud. But, if the Executive Officer embraces the code and the the leadership group (Board) enforces the conduct to the letter of the law, unethical conduct can be avoided."
It is unfortunate for all of us that our Executive Officer (the mayor) and our leadership group's (the Council) conduct isn't enforced to the letter of the law. Or that they seem to find the law a great big gray area open to their own interpretation.
Some other examples of unethical behavior cited included people who used another's handicap sticker and the concept of "people who believe the law doesn't apply to them" and "the ends justifies the means."
These are signs of a weak culture and a system set up for failure. The tone from the top must be "unethical behavior will not be tolerated, NOT I don't care how we do it, just so we get it done."
Anybody hear about a real interesting city fire truck sale?
Guess were kinda screwed.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Animal Farm, Monroe-Style
"All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others."
Under our current administration we are all citizens of Monroe but homeowners are more equal than renters, people who did not serve in the military are more equal than veterans who did, big business owners are more equal than small business owners, some labor unions are more equal than other labor unions, some neighborhoods are more equal than other neighborhoods and some council members are more equal than other council members.
And our "more equal" council members pay quite a bit of lip service to democracy while attending or participating in yet another illegal meeting. It would be pretty amazing if it wasn't getting to be old hat.
And fuhgedabout anyone with a little bit of a dissenting opinion - you are equal to no one.
Sure has been quite a flurry of activity in the last couple of weeks. Don'tcha just love an election year? Maybe they should have to run every year. Wouldn't that be fun? For a "part-time" gig there sure is a ton of money being spent - campaign dollars and tax dollars. Accountability is sure gonna be interesting.
Some Late Night Musings
Big shock around here after finding out our "crazy" city council just can't seem to grasp that whole "Open Meeting" concept. How many times does it make now? Jeepers, wasn't it around two years ago that our current council (you know, the ones without a whole bunch of city government experience until, I don't know about two years ago) were harping about and campaigning on more "open" government? Ya think they would have had a grasp of the concept by now, don'tcha? Perhaps instead of "experience" we should be looking for common sense, honesty, intelligence, independent thought, and the ability to grasp a pretty basic concept that it is important for a true open government when we're shopping around for a candidate to vote for.
Still can't get over the mayor's train analogy. I get the feeling he is all about "railroading" people.
I know I can. I know I can. Choo, Choo.
I keep seeing this wacky ad the mayor has out for his re-election with a "For Rent" sign. Took me awhile (and I was not alone) in trying to figure out his message. I guess it is directed at renters/landlords but I'm a little confused because wasn't it the past administration that actually instituted the Rental Inspection Program? Isn't it the current administration that did not fund additional inspectors? So what kind of bizarre schizophrenic message is he sending? By the way, the owners of that property were not amused.
There's a big Iacoangeli sign in empty office space in downtown. The business that was there just left downtown. How apropos.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Take for instance that the council members are not supposed interfere with individual employees as they conduct business yet not long ago Councilperson Compora was very upset and took an employee to task for simply answering a citizen's question regarding their knowledge of the "CCC" around town and demanded that the employee's boss reprimand her. That is absolutely not the councilperson's place. She was totally out of line. And it seems she has also targeted a least one other employee for termination if she could have her way. The charter provides for a clear separation of council and city employees that is being ignored. Or how about their efforts to reprimand and /or stop a city employee from expressing his own personal political views (try to suppress, again, a person's freedom of speech) on his own personal property?
Or how about Councilperson Guyor's using her influence to get a parking ticket she received "fixed". You see, Mrs. Guyor parked in a handicapped spot, didn't post the handicap permit, but really shouldn't have done either because her husband (who the permit is for) was not with her at the time the ticket was issued. Mrs. Guyor (who is campaigning as an "advocate" for senior citizens) appears to be a pretty healthy senior yet chose, again, to park in a handicapped parking space at the Multi-Sports Arena when the last council meeting was held there and thus possibly taking away a spot for someone truly handicapped and/or a senior.
And, ah, the mayor. Last year the mayor was doing a little remodel at his house that required a site review by the HDC (if you follow the rules). Oddly enough, according to the HDC minutes, Mr. Green recommended that that the HDC approve the project without the site plan. It was only when two members finally objected to passing it without following the procedure that it was tabled until the next meeting to make sure he followed the rules and jumped through the hoops like every other citizen has too. I wonder if those two committe members are still on the HDC but it is hard to tell because members of city committees are not listed on the city website. Hard to tell who your citizen representatives are these days. Also, there is also an ordinance regarding the placing of political signs that the mayor "interpreted" differently than everyone else that had him placing his signs out well before the 30 days specified in the ordinance. And, golly, which city employee is going to tell Hizzoner he's breaking the rules? Don't forget that "small-minded vindictiveness". (I wonder if Hizzoner is going to use that endorsement in his campaign literature?) And speaking of the Monroe Evening News, they have begun documenting the mayor and his city manager's difficulty with the whole concept of open meetings on multiple occasions. The mayor has also not had a problem using his power to access a list of city retirees to send them a political campaign letter. Let's not let a little ethics get in the way of getting it done, right?
You know, I'm curious, whatever happened to that whole "ethical" issue that Councilperson Guyor raised a year and a half ago? I would guess that at this point they probably don't really want to get into that now. Hard to do it with a straight face, don'tcha think?
Character - now there's another "C" word.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
The Little Engineer That Could (with apologies to Watty Piper)
Chug, chug chug. Puff, puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong. The little train rumbled over the tracks. It is a happy little train because it carried wonderful things for all the good boys and girls in the City of Monroe.
"You can ride in the engine, But "I" am the engineer. "I" want, "I" did, "I" will, "I" say, "I'll" hire" CHUG, CHUG, CHUG
"MY vision", "MY ideas", "MY agenda", "MY dime" so sit down and shut up (hey, I gave you more than 3 minutes to speak - what are you whining about?)
CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHOO, CHOO, CHOO!
"Or you can ride in the caboose, But "I" am the engineer so nod your head at the appropriate times, smile for the cameras, wave to the people as we go by, don't bother with independent thoughts, or independent research, or independent opinions "I'll" tel youl what to say and do because you're on the "winning side" now. "I" love it when I can get folks to kiss my caboose. Hey, a little intimidation, a little bullying just fuels my engine.
CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG
"Or I'll let you ride the train if you're fast enough and good enough to jump on but "I'm" not gonna ask you, "I'm" not gonna talk to to you, I'm not slowing down so you can get on because I'm in a hurry to get things done - I've waited over twenty years to drive this train in this direction. So get out of my way or I'll run you over too.
CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHOO, CHOO, CHOO
Here we go, we're moving now! Are there passengers at the Union & Third St. crossing? Who cares? Are there passengers at the First & Monroe streets crossing? Too bad. Are there passengers at the Lemerand & Hospital crossing - sorry you missed that meeting. Are there passengers at the LaPlaisance & Sixth Street crossing - keep going "I" know what I'm doing.
CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG
Wave, as we go by, at the volunteers from Habitat for Humanity and Monroe Area Soccer Association (suckers, who needs vounteers when you can spend a train load of tax dollars?)
Oops, golly, did I just run over a Vietnam veteran?
CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG
"I" am the engineer. "I'll" decide if you can ride my train. "I" know what is best for you.
"I" have a vision. "I" know what is best for your property as I chug by between my stops in Ann Arbor and Toledo and Marquette. CHOO, CHOO!
Yes you can ride my train but leave your baggage (independent thought, dissenting opinion, respect for people and procedures) behind.
CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG Yeah, we're picking up speed now, baby - Look Out!
Friday, October 14, 2005
With a Straight Face
The mayor continues to assert that it is the DMBN (he has finally started to back pedal a little a say some members of the DMBN - particularly the Board) is basically trying to hold him back from "his vision" of what downtown should be. How funny. Think about it for just a minute - who would have the most to gain from a successful and revitalized downtown? Could it actually be, I don't know, the business and property owners?
It is a fact that this mayor has NEVER met with or even corresponded with the DMBN Board regarding "his vision" and what part they could play in it. So is the mayor, like, psychic? Does he know what goes on in peoples' heads without actually communicating with them? How freaky.
Actually he (and his supporters) have totally dismissed the DMBN's efforts over the past twelve years to revitalize downtown. I guess the twelve years of Tree Lightings and Halloween Happenings and festivals and car shows and concerts and lots more all happened in an alternate universe where the mayor and his supporters don't exist. Which may be possible, come to think of it, because I don't ever remember seeing him at any of the twelve year's worth of events - odd since he "cares" so much about downtown and obviously has all the answers. Of course, he wasn't running for office then was he? Aye, there's the rub.
He also spoke about a proposal supposedly from the DDA that the DMBN Board supposedly turned down. The truth is it was a backchannel proposal from him not the DDA/Main Street Board as it should have been (and also of which, gee, he's just one member so how can he offer anything without Board approval?)
The proposal was that the DMBN support the Main Street program by doing all the events and promotions downtown (back when he made his first run at mayor he made a Main Street proposal that would ask for community buy-in and support (as it should be) and that would allow downtown business owners the chance to get back to running their businesses and not have to do all the planning and execution of events - my how times have changed) and he dangled $15,000 of taxpayer dollars in front of them. (It is curious that HE could offer that much money for that gig since the DDA had budgeted $30,000 for the entire Main Street program (budgeted in November 2003, by the way, BEFORE he took office, so his assertion that he got Main Street going is not exactly true either - big surprise) But, hey, that's just one of the many accounting and procedural issues Hizzoner seems to ignore or has no use for).
To finish the story, the the back channel proposal was discussed at a Board meeting who then referred it to the membership at the next general meeting. The proposal was discussed, pros and cons, and primarily since it was not in keeping with the DMBN's previously decided goals and objectives the proposal was turned down by the membership - not just the Board. (A little side note: one DMBN member who attended that meeting later found out that a colleague from the same business, while trying to do business at the City, was basically threatened that because of their affiliation with the DMBN they could have "some problems.") There's where some of that "small-minded vindictiveness" rears its ugly head.
It is also a fact that the FIRST time any member of the DMBN heard there may be a concern about the parking validation program was during the mayor's comments (totally out of left field) at a council meeting where he abruptly called for the cancellation of the contract. You would think (if you were rational) that if this mayor was really as concerned about the parking program as he purported to be he would have 1) picked up the phone and called the DMBN chair and requested a meeting; 2) expressed his concern months and months ago since he had been receiving DMBN newsletters as a courtesy since the beginning of his term (kind of an alien concept to this administration but nevertheless) ; 3) that before he requested action that he and the council have a clearer understanding of how the program even worked before abruptly pulling the plug. Yet he chose to do none of these. He chose "controlled conflict" (his words).
He chose to jerk people around for months. He chose to manipulate the Chamber of Commerce. He chose rancor and contention over simply just sitting down and talking. So tell me again, how exactly did that improve downtown?
Bottom line - the mayor is not telling the truth. The mayor's assertion that the DMBN is somehow trying to "hijack" HIS Main Street program for themselves is absolutely not true. Only one person that I know of has actually, officially, at a council meeting, criticized the current set up of the Main Street and she, Janet Berns, was not representing ANY organization, just herself as a property/business owner and former DDA member, with knowledge of how a legitimate and credible Main Street program should be set up. (Oh yeah, I heard she's a member of the ABA, GLBA (both big on First Amendment stuff), DMBN and Sam's Club too but alas, was not representing any of those groups either.)
So the mayor needs to stop attacking and slandering the DMBN - they're not the problem and any "power" they supposedly have is overrated at best.
It IS solely HIS Main Street program (he made sure of it) so its failures or successes are his. So far, the office was empty for the first five months of inception, the logo was designed in Ohio, the first director was unqualified for the position, the director position is unfilled again, over 12 businesses have left downtown with a least two more on the way, the City didn't get the Cool Cities grant to fund the big plans for the United Furniture building purchase but they're going to spend about a quarter of a million bucks (some of it from other grant money) on renovating just the outside of the building, and the DDA is working on setting up a bond issue (more debt) to fund other of his projects without addressing parking (which by the way was the #1 issue in the citizen priority list from last May but who cares because its not his #1) - yeah, changing existing lighting in downtown - not on anyone's top ten, is getting funded, yippee.
Well, anywho, the nefarious teeny group of property and business owners, some who are members of the dreaded DMBN but also Kiwanis, Rotary, Sam's Club (holy, moly are they all out to get him?) slog on. Business is down an average of 25% from last year. But hold on the mayor is here to save the day - of course the cure just might kill ya.
You know, there was that one quote by Margaret Mead, "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Hmmm.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Still in Shock
In any case I went into withdrawal from not seeing Monroe's Monday night "must see" TV's latest episode of city council. It was held at the Multi-Sports Arena - what better place to play some more games.