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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Unigov and Hooda Thunkit

There's a great entry about unigov over on the blog of Dave Zawodny that I believe people should read. I feel even moreso if you are a concerned citizen and you believe that government should be responsible, responsive, and accountable that you really ought to read Hooda Thunkit's (Dave Zawodny's) Blog, 2010/03/24, Unigov..., Is Now The Time?

I think that more people should become better informed about government and take an active role. I am sick and tired of the ignorant passivity of a vast number of people.

UPDATE: Dave Zawodny has since removed his blog from the internet. However, I was able to locate much of it on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. I replaced the original embedded link contained in the last line of the opening paragraph with the page to the wayback Machine that contains the original post of Dave Zawodny.

In addition to that, for your convenience, the following is a copy and paste of that blog entry of Dave Zawodny, aka Hooda Thunkit:


Unigov..., Is Now the Time?

This recent post found on mi amigo Roland Hansen's “Roland Hansen Commentary” and titled, “Ben Krompak, Lucas County Commissioner candidate, and Police Proposal” caused me to flash back to my previous posts on the subject on my very own blog...

Here, 2005/10/05, “A low risk way to prove/disprove whether UniGov will work for Lucas County

here, 2005/10/23, “More practical, yet non-political Lucas Co. Unigov projects…

here, 2007/05/09, “Some thoughts and suggestions on Commissioner Ben Konop's “unigov” study group

here, 2007/05/14, “A Unigov Question…"

and here, 2009/06/13, “Candidates urge turnover of parks to Metroparks"

I leave it up to the reader to go back to read the original posts, because I intend to update those old posts and repost the gist of what was written then in this post.

Clearly the changes in both time and the fiscal reality of many municipal governments financial problems seem to make yet another look at combining services an idea whose time has finally come.

Now I know that Roland's post only addresses Ben Krompac's addressing police protection throughout Lucas County, but if it looks like Unigov, walks like Unigov and “quacks” like Unigov, then let's call it what it is and discuss again the benefits and potential pitfalls of Unigov, which encompasses so much more that just police protection...

This could be quite a long post, so I'll break it up into a few posts and see how/where this goes ;-)

Unigov, the financial reality of the times:
Especially now, almost, if not all of N.W. Ohio's municipalities/governments are facing rising costs, decreasing tax revenues and plummeting property values.

Consequently, they need to find long-term solutions to strengthen and improve police protection within their own borders and throughout Lucas County.

But the problem is bigger than that, it extends to all services funded by the taxpayers, whether it be through property taxes, income taxes, or some other form of income producing means..., and times are tough, very tough.

How to solve this growing “universal” problem must be uppermost in the minds of every elected official.

That is why I'm going to rehash my old posts on an obvious possibility..., Unigov, combining departments/divisions, minimizing/eliminating the number of workers needed to provide the (hopefully essential) services and thinning the overhead (management) which modifies the ratio of employees on the street working vs. those flying desks.

Yes, Unigov shows much promise, and is especially attractive when money is tight and work needs to get done, as in right now.

So, let's explore the advantages, the pitfalls and the problems of implementing Unigov and see what can be done to make our taxpayer dollars work more efficiently for us to provide the essential, mandated services we expect our various governments to provide and see if combining services to save money is indeed doable...

Unigov, what services should be provided by our governments and what should they get out of...
Recently, a group of political newcomers proposed streamlining city government and paring expenses by turn Toledo's city parks over to the Toledo Area Metroparks, a county operation.

At the time, I thought it was a good idea, but have since changed my mind.


Because this (parks) is a nonessential and non-mandated service.

Others would say that is a quality of life issue, but quality of life on the taxpayer's dollars falls way, way far down on my list of essentials, and only after we have streamlined all of the necessary/mandated services and the taxpayer's burden has been lightened as much as practical/possible...

I must add though that, if parks were essential, this would be a perfect place to test the Unigov concept harmlessly, to ally the fears of the skeptics and naysayers.

To my thinking the following departments/divisions/services are non-essential and should not have the government involved with it/them in any way:
Parks (includes swimming pools and golf courses), Sister cities and other similar non-essential services.

Further, these departments/divisions/services most certainly are mandated and should be excellent candidates for consolidation under a single county-wide provider:
Police/Sheriff services, Fire/Rescue Services (including, to some degree, basic/advanced ambulance services, road repair and maintenance (including leaf pickup, street sweeping and snow & ice control/plowing), Jails/prisons and the courts systems, water and sewer services, rights of way leases and utility franchise fees, municipal buildings maintenance and grounds keeping, street and utility engineering and inspection services, zoning enforcement and building inspection, and other utility regulation (or, possibly even providing or group contracting for them).

Additionally, the following may or may not fall under governmental purview, depending on whether it can be done by the government in a cost efficient manner, which is somewhat to highly unlikely, IMNHO:

Police impound/tow lot, Garbage/recycling (including compostables) collection and disposal, Municipal vehicle repair, and Purchasing of everything municipalities need/use, from road salt to computer equipment and vehicles.

Unigov, optimally, which services should be tested/tried first...
The non-public safety services; these less critical services should (in a perfect world) prove to be the easiest to merge with the least difficulty and build the needed trust to encourage everyone to tackle the bigger tasks/projects.

Unigov, realistically, which services need to be put to the head of the line...
Unfortunately, the greatest need is to cut public safety's costs/expenses, so by necessity they would have to go to the head of the line. The greatest problem with public safety though is the merging of the Chiefs, not the Indians, as there are so many compared to the officers on the streets...

Unigov, given the current financial climate, how to go about merging operations smoothly...
The easiest way would be to initially merge the forces and then go about restructuring the management, eliminating the overlap either through attrition or a selective buyout of those employees who have enough years to retire.

Either method costs money, so the net savings would not be instantaneous but gradual, which doesn't solve the budget problem, so a way to encourage employees with enough years to retire must be found.

Not allowing retiring employees to be paid for accrued comp time, sick days and unused vacation comes immediately to mind, but is protected by those pesky union contracts. So maybe inviting the employees to offer suggestions would yield a less costly way of achieving the desired goal ;-)

Unigov, how to deal with the managerial “deadwood,” both in the targeted services AND amongst the “political royalty...”
I think that I have addressed the managerial issue above, but that still leaves the thinning of the ranks of “Political royalty” which must be done by the voters at the polls.

Perhaps a Blue Ribbon committee could convince the electorate that a single lean, mean team of business savvy managers can run the whole county better than the current collection of politicos that we have misteakenly saddled ourselves with.

But, even with minimal representation of all affected entities would make for an unwieldy governing body, much like Cleveland.

The task is then to get everyone to believe that a small body can govern dispassionately for the good of all; and that certainly means governing by businessmen and women and NOT by politicians. . .

Think of it as a board of business managers and NOT politicians, and you too just might begin to see the light. . .

1 comment:

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...


Thank you for the plug!

Hopefully, it will generate some interesting and enlightening posts ;-)