I think the most alarming part of Kirkner’s story on Interim Town Manager MMM was the line where she talked about what a good exercise the Town’s budget workshop was on Wednesday.
How many consultants does it take to rehash the same damn things we talk about every year? Four, apparently.
How many staffers does it take to sit around and pretend that this is any different from any other budget process? Ten, apparently.
And when did Cyndi Myrold get promoted? Why? Everything she knows she learned from Brad Koehn. I thought they got rid of Koehn ‘cause they wanted to go in a different direction.
At the very least, before promoting Myrold, shouldn’t they have had her de-programmed in some CIA facility?
Mayor Pro-Tem Jo Bacon said the point of the Wednesday/Thursday budget workshop was to get a jump on the process. “The difference is giving staff priorities up front versus getting a bunch of policy decisions presented to us [in May] … it was typically 3-4 months before we ever saw a workplan.”
Huh. I thought the whole point of the process was paying Deb Pierrel twice: once to write down a bunch of things we all know on big pieces of paper with a Sharpie, and then to transcribe those things onto a computer and print them onto smaller, stapled pieces of paper which no one will ever read.
How come consultants always seem so much more clever on the outside looking in? As soon as you invite them inside, all you’ve got is just another Trojan Horse taking up space.
Maybe Council should wear Trojans to prevent Trojan Horses. That or just mutually agree to lower the cone of silence down from the ceiling of Suite Z anytime one of ‘em gets an idea.
By contrast, Consultant Walter Kieser’s a Superman because during the last Municipal Finance meeting, it only took one of him, albeit at $300/hour, to facilitate the meeting.
This meeting, which took place a few weeks ago, was also flat-out hilarious … when it wasn’t disturbing.
There was Kieser, just like his consultant kinfolk this week, asking Council to come up with some sort of criteria to rank whatever the hell they felt like ranking (in this case future capital projects).
“Hey,” I said to Community Development Director Mark Wardlaw, “Sounds like it’s time to break out the sticky dots!”
The disturbing part of the presentation was Kieser’s apparent lumping of several revenue sources into one capital facilities superfund, neglecting that the voters approved Measures R and U for very specific purposes.
Kieser was more interested in that the money was there and far less interested in how it got there. As he said, “The voters in their good, in their judgment, gave you pools of money.”
Kieser suggested that Council dedicate 2% of T.O.T. (Transient Occupancy Tax) revenue plus Measures R and U to this superfund to support capital projects. He estimated that revenue at about $4 million/year.
Then he said Council needed to divvy that pool of money into four categories: projects, replacement costs, maintenance and planning and operation.
Like any good politician (and what is a consultant but a politician hired to agree with you), Kieser’s sample allocations greatly underestimated what would be needed for the final three categories.
To paraphrase a line from the writer Kurt Vonnegut, “Everyone likes to build. Nobody likes to do maintenance.”
Note to Council. Don’t let your hiring of MMM allow you to abdicate your responsibility to do some heavy lifting. The voters expect more. Enough consultants!
And from Kirkner’s desk …
On Feb. 23, Police Chief Dan Watson announced in a press release the promotion of Sergeant John Mair to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of former Lieutenant Jim Short. The promotion will be effective some time after the first of March.
Sergeant Mair has been with the Mammoth Lakes Police Department since 1996 where he has served as a canine handler, firearms instructor/rangemaster, and other assignments. He was promoted to sergeant in 2005.
Chief Watson explained, “We had two internal candidates who were both well qualified. They participated in interviews with public safety officials and members of the Mammoth Lakes community who were impressed with the qualifications and professionalism of both candidates. I look forward to working with John Mair as the second-in-command of the Mammoth Lakes Police Department.”
According to the release, Sergeant Mair began his career with the Hawthorne Police Department in 1984. While in Hawthorne, he was a canine handler, detective, and SWAT officer. In 1992, Sergeant Mair transferred to the Huntington Beach Police Department where he served for four years. While there Sergeant Mair was assigned the Aero Bureau, served as range master and firearms instructor, and worked footbeats, bike patrol and SWAT.
Cell phones and your brain
Dovetailing with Mike Dostrow’s story on page seven, a new study released Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association examines how cell phone use affects your brain. The phone increases activity in the part of the brain closest to the phone’s antenna. Doctors working with the National Institutes of Health gathered 47 healthy people. They put two cell phones up to their ears for almost an hour: one was off and the other was turned on and muted. Then they scanned their brains. The areas of the brain near the active phone had a 7% increase in metabolism. You can get a similar boost in brain activity by watching a movie, speaking or learning something. So even the researchers admit, they’re not sure if this is harmful or if it has lasting effects.