Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fecal-flicking hippos piddling away a fortune.

It isn't always easy to challenge questionable business practices. Whether those practices include fraud, favoritism or intimidation, it isn't convenient to conduct a battle just outside your cubicle. The daily grind of trying to do the best job you can - while constantly looking over your shoulder for that inevitable attack. It is difficult, I know.

For more than six years, I worked inside of the ESC and attended meetings with people that should never have been allowed to work in the public sector. Their motivation has always been questionable and their handling of public funds has more in common with the fecal flicking of hippos than with anything you might learn in an executive MPA program. Their management style has more in common with Santa Claus than with Bill Gates. Dispensing free presents to people deemed "nice" by Santa's unchallenged standard rather than actively seeking out the best minds in the industry to supplement and guide your organization. The time has come to actively inquire as to why things are the way they have been.

The District's recent list of proposed cuts doesn't even come close to the real reductions that must happen. While it is absolutely true that student enrollment has been falling since 2001, management has been getting fat in the middle. Again, it warrants mentioning that the Custodial Manager should be able to communicate directly to the Assistant Superintendent. The same would be true of the Maintenance Manager. In fact, I would be willing to bet that more and more tasks, that should be handled by the Director of Facilities Operations, are finding their way to these two managers. That leaves $104,000.00 a year being "piddled" away for no good reason. Yes, I used the word "piddled".

The Rotarian's bride is also coasting. With the huge decrease in development in Snohomish County, there is a huge decrease in the number of Requests for Review from the County. Fewer requests means fewer trips into the field to meet with developers and - given the caliber of representation - that is a windfall to our District's fragile reputation. Added to this is the practice of jobbing out $900.00 reconfigurations to contractors that charge $11,000.00. During a budget crisis, when your job might be on the chopping block, it's a hard bill to swallow. One thing is certain, however, the Rotarian's bride would never expose a corrupt Rotarian unwavering in her dedication to plunder public funds for the enrichment of friends.


Anonymous said...

Please help us Mark by writing about specific items that should or should not be cut. That way some of us can mention them at the "public comments" section.

I know, for example, that in the middle school "study club busses and athletic busses" shouldn't be cut.

Anonymous said...

Coasting in my world, translates to "Riding the bus". Get off the bus Marla! Your bus might get caught in the "Trolley Tracks". Another hint from another person who thinks you should go!

Anonymous said...

Outstanding Mark! said...

Having spent the majority of my time in Facilties, I know there are immediate corrections there.

Assist. Supe for B & O should be replaced - increasing value for dollars expended while reducing the hemorrhaging of public money.

Facilities Director should be eliminated - Custodial and Maintenance Managers should report directly to the new Assist. Supe of B & O. No need for translation services.

Planning and Property Management Clericalist should be eliminated. The case has been made that the position is no longer necessary.

Combine Risk and Safety like every other school district in the region.

That would be a good start.

Anonymous said...

We use to operate with one (1) Sup. and (1) Assist Sup. Why do we need sooo many now? And how much could we put back into the budget by cutting these costs? And what do all these people do? said...

Their "services" could comfortably terminated.

FD $104,000 plus benefits.
PPM $58,000 plus benefits.
SLC $65,000 plus benefits.

Anonymous said...

I see no reason that Edmonds have BOTH a custodial manager and a maintenance manager. Long a go the custodial department was overseen by the maintenance department, with only one assistant to look after the herd. Edmonds now has two custodial coordinators.

I am not advocating openly for one current manager or the other to retain their position, but I am firm in my conviction that it is not fundamentally necessary nor economically reasonable to retain both positions.

Proper coordination between these two departments has been lacking for over a decade. The problems with the maintenance/custodial model were a product of the quality of management at the time. This no longer needs to be the case.

Anonymous said...

IF we close all the small school What will happen to the property?

If it is sold and enrollment goes back up, what then? It's happened in the past.

If it's kept, it has to be maintained.

Anonymous said...

Close all small schools and transport all students to other school. Ya, that works! Oh for got about the cost of gas. No problem the edmonds school district has the pay to play plan that can be expanded.

Anonymous said...

True story about custodial management. And they still haven't figured it out.

Anonymous said...

I too agree that we have too may custodial supervisors. No one know what they do or which one to call for what. Also the one gal never returns phones, guess my questions or concerns aren't important enough or cut into the chit chat with HR substitute desk. We also used to have lead custodial employee and they were the kind of employees you could talk too and get things resolved unlike now!

Anonymous said...

Hmm, never seen the hippo perform this feat at the zoo, clearly it was edited from my copy of Fantasia.

The new Property Mgt section at the ESC, although it is a huge inconvenience to its neighbors, looks great from the inside. It's interesting to note that when the department consisted of 3 or 4 people making less money that they more than made do with modest accommodations, but were so much more the work force. Competence and intelligence seem to have been replaced with large salaries and comfort, along with titles and security.

I have another reconfiguration suggestion: Would someone please pull the rug out from underneath them? This department, as Mark suggests, needs to seriously be looked at during the budget cuts.

Anonymous said...

I just wrote a check for our property taxes much of which when to schools. Our home was reevaluated before the house market slowed and so we pay taxes on a home that is not worth as much and believe me the district is getting a large portion of it. I vote NO on May 20th. The state taxes us to pay for education and then the district taxes us to pay for education someone is double dipping and I want my share! Vote NO!

Anonymous said...

The State pays for "basic education." That was defined many years ago and if an individual district wants more, they have to raise the money in local taxes. Since then computers have entered the classrooms, among other things, and districts have had to pick up the tab. This is the basis of the current lawsuit against the State (the way we got a "definition" 20 years ago) over its "paramount duty" under the State Constitution to provide education to the children of the State.