Monday, December 24, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 84 - Efficiency

The is nothing more frustrating then watching a group of local public officials do something efficiently - when the thing they are doing does not need to be done at all.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 83 News Media

Many local government officials expect too much from their local news media outlets.

They want their local media sources to run favorable stories about them; yet they expect their local media to run only true stories.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 85 - Personal Pride

It is amazing what any local governing body can accomplish if the elected or appointed members who sit on that body put their personal egos aside and stop focusing on who gets the personal credit for the good things they are doing.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 82 Knowing Names of Public Officials

Most people in a community cannot recite the names of all the members on their city council, or those governing their schools, or those sitting on their county board, let alone recall more than a handful of elected officials from the past.  Why is that?

Perhaps it is because so many local public officials live in a gray twilight; they don't have a clue what their real role in government is.  Some locally elected public officials seem to want nothing more than to cut current local government services; others cry out for lower taxes but can't figure out any acceptable methods to lower them.

As a non-elected county administrator, I saw my job much more than providing services and cutting taxes.  I found  my sense of purpose in these thoughts expressed by Theodore Roosevelt.
It is far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor souls who neither enjoy nor suffer much simply because they want to serve their terms in office in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 81 Silent Public Officials

Generally, the local public officials who know the most are the ones who say the least.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 80 Great/Weak Officials

Great local government officials are hard on themselves;

Weak local government officials are always hard on others.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 79 Hear, Say and Do

Most local public officials who hear something, forget it;

Many local public officials who see something, remember it;

But every local public official who does something, actually understands it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Controversial Pearl of Wisdom

The Pearls of Wisdom I share are generally short and to the point.  My goal, since starting this blog, has always been to quickly share priceless gems of information you can use and apply immediately.  This Pearl, by its very nature, has to be long.  We are in an election year and there is a lot of talk across the aisles about restructuring our tax codes.  Hope this is of value.  

Not long ago ten boys graduated from high school; all ten applied for jobs at the local mill.   As luck would have it, the boys all qualified for different jobs.   Their jobs ranged from custodian to sales, to marketing and machinists.   Each was paid a different wage rate.  

The years at the mill flew by, yet their friendship remained strong.   When they turned 21, they began to meet on Thursday nights at a local bar after work.   They would talk about the old high school days, discuss how their families were doing, and sip on several drinks.   When the night ended, their bar tab was typically $100.

Since there was such a difference in their pay, they came up with a plan to pay their tab.   The first four men (the lowest paid) contributed nothing.   The fifth man put in a $1 while the sixth man chipped in $3.   The seventh laid down $7 and the eighth tossed in $12.   The ninth kicked in $18 and the tenth man (the highest paid) coughed up the remaining $59.

For over two years, the men used this arrangement to pay their bar tab and all seemed okay.   Then one week the bar owner threw them a curve.   He came to their table and said, “You boys are wonderful customers; from now on I’m going to reduce the cost of your bar tab by $20.  When you guys come in on Thursday nights from now on, you will only have to pay $80
instead of the regular $100."

Delighted that the owner was going to reduce their burden, the buddies agreed to still pay their bar tab on a sliding scale. The six payers had to decide how to divide up this $20 reduction?   If they divided the $20 equally by six, that would mean a $3.33 savings per man; however, when they went to subtract the $3.33 from their shares, the fifth and sixth both received money and that just didn’t seem fair.  

Seeing their dilemma he caused, the bar owner suggested they reduce their shares using the principles the federal government applies to income taxes.   The men agreed and the bar owner calculated what each man’s new fair share would be.

According to his calculations, the fifth man, like the first four, would now pay nothing (a 100% savings).   The sixth man would now only pay $2 instead of $3 (a 33% saving).   The seventh man would now only pay $5 instead of $7 (a 28% saving) and the eighth would now kick in $9 instead of $12 (a 25% saving).   The ninth man was asked to contribute $14 instead of $18 (a 22% saving) and the tenth man would now only be responsible for $49 instead of $59 (a 16% saving).
Proud of his solution, the bar owner smiled as he believed the ten men were now better off than before.  

The men settled their tab using the new system and then left the bar.  Once outside they began to compare their savings. “Damn, I only got one dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man!”  He then pointed to the tenth man and said, "but you got a $10 savings!” 

That’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I too only save a dollar; it isn’t fair he gets a benefit ten times more than me!” 
“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back, when I only get $2?  I guess it’s true what they say the wealthiest always get all the breaks!”

Just then the first four men yelled out in unison, “Why are you guys complaining?  Look at us; we didn’t get any savings from the $20.00. This system really sucks; we get nothing, he gets $10 and you all get something - we are the only ones here being exploited!”   The nine men were now so worked up and irate that they surrounded the tenth man and beat him up and left him lying in the street as they walked home.

The following Thursday night, the tenth man did not show up; however, the other nine men met as usual.  They talked about the old high school days, discussed how their families were doing and had several drinks.   As the night came to an end, the bar owner came over with their $80 bar tab.   Within a few minutes the men realized they did not have enough money among the nine of them to cover even half the bill.

And that my friends is the problem we face when someone announces they want to fix our federal tax system and reduce our taxes.   Invariably, individuals who pay the most in taxes are going to be the ones who get the greatest benefit from any reduction.

If we choose to tax the wealthy extra just for being wealthy they might decide not to show up on Thursday nights.   In fact, they might start going overseas where the conversations and the atmosphere is friendlier.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 78 Public Officials' Goals

It is a fact - it is impossible for the largest magnifying glass in the world to ignite a piece of paper on a bright sunny day if you keep moving the magnifying glass.  However, any small magnifying glass, if properly focused, over a piece of paper and kept focused, can quickly ignite the paper on fire.

The same, I believe, is true with elected and appointed officials of county boards, city councils, parishes, townships, boroughs, or school boards.  If they 
fail to develop goals and keep a tight focus, they shouldn't expect  much to happen in their unit of local government.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 77 Government Officials Relating to Employees

As a local government official, never walk in front of your public employees - they may not follow.

It's also important that you not walk behind your local public employees - they may not know which way you want them to go.

It's important you walk alongside your public employees and give them clear directions, solid advice and personal feedback so they know what you expect.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 76 Trick Questions

Most of the questions raised at a local government public hearing are similar to those raised at the American Association of Magicians ... they are all trick questions.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 75 Accepting the Best

There is a funny thing about serving in a unit of local government - or in a business environment. 

Once you begin to accept anything but the best you seldom ever get the best.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 74 Do Your Best

You are not expected to be the best local government official the world has ever seen - all that is expected is that you try your best while you serve in public office.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 73 Perfect Answers

There are few perfect answers - respond to every question the best that you can.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 71 Failures in Government

The real failures in local government are those elected and appointed public officials who really never tried to make a difference.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 70 Conversation

When a local public official engages in a conversation without a purpose it is like going on a journey without a destination.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 69 Direction Wind Blows

You can't control the way the wind blows in your community but you can adjust the direction of your sails.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 68 Leading Public Employees

Either lead your public employees, follow your public employees, or get the hell out of their way.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 67 Leadership is Action

Local government leadership is action - it's not a title on a business card or a position you hold on a committee.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 66 Your Colleagues

Your colleagues - the other men and women who are elected and appointed officials who serve on your public body - school boards, city councils, commissions or regulatory authorities are not against you ... it just that they are merely for themselves.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 65 Positive Thinking

If local public officials think they can - they usually can.

If local public officials think they can't - its almost a given they can't.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 64 Constituents

       Simple Truths About The Constituents of Local Government Officials

The vast majority of constituents will forget what their local government officials say while they are in public office.

The vast majority of constituents will forget what their local  government officials do while they are in public office.

Few, if any, constituents will ever forget how their local government officials made them feel while they were in public office.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 63 Concerned Public Officials

There is a "significant difference" between local government officials who worry and those who are concerned.

Public officials who worry are the ones who only see the problems in their communities.  Public officials who are concerned generally are evaluating possible solutions to improve their local communities.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 62 Daydreams

Local government officials should daydream often as to how life in their local communities could be better; for it's often their  daydreams that become the blueprints for how they achieve true success in public office.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pearl of Wisdom # 61 Enthusiasm

Successful local public official understand one basic and very important concept:  It is important that they go from a failed idea in local government to another without losing enthusiasm.

They know that Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron did not hit a home run every time they went to bat.