Friday, January 28, 2011

3M's Top 10 List AKA Letterman

I got all excited when I saw that the mayor was going to outline his top 10 big wins since taking office. He started by saying he was doing this to counter all the negatives the past week. I think you should shout out your accomplishments because you are proud of them, not to counter negatives heard out and about, whatever that means. I was looking forward to the top 10 big achievements in 2010. I thought he was going to talk about the progress/achievements towards his first term priorities.

The mayor said he wanted to do something different. OK, so he pretended to take a page from Letterman and present his top 10. His presentation may be different but I can tell you that what he has outlined is called goal setting and accomplishments. Goals and Objectives are supposed to be specific.  City departments have been doing goal/objective setting and outlining their accomplishments long before Mayor Huether entered city government from his corporate world.  He acts like he has created something new. Sorry, the presentation may be a little different, but the identification of accomplishments has been done before. After all, isn't that what good government is all about, mayor? I even recognize some of those same city department accomplishments from the past.

He's flattered that all the TV stations were at his news conference.They aren't there because of him. They are there because they are covering the news. That's their job. They are reporters. Why is it always about him? Why is it that when I listen to him I don't feel his sincerity? I like to hear a mayor recognize and praise city employees. Like he said, the ones in the "muck" of things. Without them, he is nothing. He says that, but I don't feel his love and admiration, I don't. Words are words and he has a lot of them. I get this feeling of a sense of superiority from him. His presentations are full of socially acceptable phrases to describe his relationships or feelings towards others but it doesn't feel real to me. He comes across to me as someone who feels he is better than anyone else.

He got to #8 - Not afraid to tackle tough issues. Those tough issues have been tackled before. It's not like he is just now tackling them for the first time in city government. Good grief.  I am not interested in his tackling tough issues. He is supposed to tackle tough issues. That's his job. I am interested in results regarding those tough issues. Give me a list of the top ten actual and specific results and then maybe I can get excited about the mini-Letterman impression.

Top Ten # 2 - City government embraces business acumen and becomes more productive. This is humorous if it were not sad at the people carnage in 2010. He said they need to think out of the box, that they are not satisfied with the status quo. I agree, good concepts. Is he saying past administrations didn't embrace a business acumen and he has just brought that concept in to city government. That is at the height of arrogance.  Then he said employees weren't satisfied.  He said he wanted to surround himself with leaders that have the same energy, vibrant spirit, same focus on making things more accountable, more efficient, more productive on this journey with him. I guess we know which departments heads didn't fit that bill, don't we? Six department heads down. Notice anything they all have in common?

Now we get to the big one - #1 - Greater value with taxpayer dollars. The mayor recognized former mayor Dave Munson and his 12 department heads. He said those 12 department heads before him laid the foundation, maintained quality.... Well, not all 12 department heads, I guess.  First he praises other administrations and then he makes it sound like the previous administration didn't take care of the basics. Please mayor, taking credit for not spending reserves and returning money to the budget in 2010? Been done before, really. How do you think the reserve fund has grown over the years? You didn't do something extraordinary in 2010. The departments worked hard that year, just like they did in past years, to return money to the general fund and build the reserve fund. Nothing new here, believe me.

At the end of each fiscal year, the department heads have always summarized their accomplishments against their goals and objectives. It's a good business practice, whether you are in corporate America or in city government. All that was done in this press conference was a grandstand and a play on Letterman's top 10 idea. It would have had more impact if it had lasted a couple minutes with specific achievements  instead of 20 minutes filled with lofty words and no specifics.  Short, succinct, specific. Words to live by next time.

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