Trolling Not Allowed

Trolling Not Allowed! Comments from anonymous trolls are not permitted and are deleted if posted by the offending pest.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ben Krompak, Lucas County Commissioner candidate, Glass City Jungle, and Metropolitan Government

Unigov, regional government, metropolitan government. Whatever terminology you may wish to use, I find the topic to be very interesting. That being said, I find the Glass City Jungle entry Krompak says metropolitan goverment offers solutions… to be very good reading, not to mention thought-provoking.

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. . .

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lucas County Educational Service Center: Transparent and Accountable OR NOT

Sometimes, I just have to wonder at just how responsible is the administration of the Lucas County Educational Service Center, aka LCESC.

My wife, Judy, recently ended 12 years of service on the LCESC Governing Board, having been elected three times to four-year terms. Prior to her service on the Board, I had three four-year elected terms on the Board. I made a conscious decision back in 1997 not to seek re-election to that body due to the lack of support from the other Governing Board members in attempting to have a progressive Board that made policy rather than having an administration that recommended policies which were rubber-stamped by the Board as a whole. For example, I remember a time when I questioned whether the administration documented telephone quotes that were obtained for purchases not requiring competitive bids; I won't mention that fellow Board Member Marcia Helman responded that it wasn't necessary because she trusted the administration. I also won't tell you that the Board was not told by the Superintendent that the Superintendent was an active player and key point person in developing the legislative proposal by State Representative Sally Perz to create chartered community schools in Ohio; I learned of the role of the Superintendent later when I read a book the Superintendent had written that was published. As far as my wife's reason(s) for leaving the Board, it is not my place to say.

All that aside, I am a strong proponent and supporter of the role of ESCs in Ohio; in fact, I have always advocated a larger role because of the financial efficiencies of services to local school districts and consequently the taxpayers.

Okay, so "now what is the gripe?" you may ask. Well, I also believe in responsibility, responsiveness, and accountability, Those are areas in which I believe there is room for improvement of the Lucas County Educational Service Center administration and its Governing Board.

I draw your attention to Judy's Jewels Website Updates. I also draw your attention to a previous Roland Hansen Commentary on the LCESC.

I ask you: Is the Lucas County Educational Service Center transparent and accountable, or not?
ref: all Roland Hansen Commentary entries concerning LCESC

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ben Krompak, Lucas County Commissioner candidate, and Police Proposal

Ben Krompak has an idea whose time has come! Below is a copy of a release he has issued on the subject of improving police protection tghroughout Lucas County, Ohio.

Commissioner candidate pursues long-term solutions to prevent future lay-offs, increase patrols, and improve response times

Toledo, OH – Seeking long-term solutions to strengthen and improve police protection throughout Lucas County, Commissioner candidate Ben Krompak is urging local officials to explore merging the Toledo Police Department with the Lucas County Sheriff’s office and establishing a metropolitan police department. Krompak will discuss the idea at a press conference today, in front of One Government Center, at 2:30 P.M.

Explore Creating A Metropolitan Police Department

Today I am calling on Lucas County and City of Toledo officials to begin exploring the creation of a new metropolitan police department as well as other options for cooperative law enforcement.

Now is the time. County government’s financial challenges are being felt by the Sheriff’s office and the city of Toledo is contemplating mass police lay-offs for the second year in a row. We must work together to save money and improve safety.

Mergers of city and county police departments have previously been undertaken in communities such as Indianapolis, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Charlotte, North Carolina. We can learn from their experience as we chart our course forward.

Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert White has said that their merger led to increased patrols and faster response times. In Hamilton County, Ohio, an analysis by the Cincinnati Enquirer finds that merging local police departments with the County Sheriff could cut costs to communities currently served by their own departments by $30 per resident per year.

Establishing a metropolitan police department is one strategy for ending duplicative efforts, improving efficiency, and increasing the number of police on the street. Other approaches might involve establishing contractual agreements for one entity to deliver law enforcement services to others or sharing services by combining certain functional units within departments.

In addition to the city of Toledo, I believe that suburban communities with their own police departments as well as institutions like the University of Toledo would benefit from a new countywide approach to law enforcement. But this can only be achieved through voluntary efforts between communities that see clearly the benefits of working together.

While threats to public safety posed by police lay-offs make law enforcement a good place to start cooperative efforts, let’s not stop there. Let’s merge the county and city of Toledo prosecutor’s offices, information services, economic development, building inspection, and any other departments that duplicate efforts.

Skeptics say these things can’t be accomplished any time soon. But time is not on our side. If regional cooperation remains a topic for white papers and blue ribbon commissions for another decade then public safety and other essential services will suffer. Now is the time to make regionalism real.

Come to think of it, in my opinion, this same concept can be applied in several areas of local governmental services. Bottom line: It's an idea that fits perfectly into the concept of regional government. While I am aware that some of my peers do not favor regional government, I believe it is long overdue.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Carnival of Ohio Politics: R.I.P.

After a long absence with no explanation by or from anyone (at least, not to the best of my knowledge), I feel it necessary (or at least a compelling need on my part) to announce the unseemly and sudden demise of the Carnival of Ohio Politics. It appears to be dead, dead, dead. No announcement. No explanation. Just suddenly gone since June 25, 2009. Cause of death is unknown, at least unknown to me. However, I cannot help but wonder what was the cause of death and why no explanation has ever been provided.

I say:
Rest In Peace to the Carnival of Ohio Politics.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lucas County Educational Service Center; Often Overlooked and Underappreciated

I would like to refer readers of Roland Hansen Commentary to the blog Lucas County Educational Services Center Updates by Angela Zimmann. The Lucas County Educational Service Center (LCESC) is a public educational service organization with a multimillion public dollar budget governed by five elected governing board members that rarely gets any media attention and yet it provides many valuable services to the citizens in the general area of Lucas County. Isn't it about time that this public agency and its elected board receive the same attention of other public agencies and elected bodies? I believe the time is long overdue.

I certainly appreciate the updates provided by Dr. Angela Zimmann, member of the LCESC Governing Board and current President, through her blog. It is too bad that the LCESC website itself does not contain the Governing Board meeting notices, agenda, and past minutes including financial reports. In this modern day and age with the internet combined with the greater public demand concerning transparency and accountability of governmental public bodies, I would think that the administration of the Lucas County Educational Service Center would provide the Governing Board meeting notices, agenda, and past minutes including financial reports on its website. Perhaps the LCESC Governing Board should introduce and pass a motion at one of its public meetings directing its administration to do so.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bye, Ben Konop. Hello, Harry Barlos.

Well, it seems that Ben Konop must have gotten the word. He has apparently decided not to seek re-election to the Board of Lucas County Commissioners. You may read about it here. Gee, I wonder if Ben ever read any of my Roland Hansen Commentary "Ben Konop" entries. I think the departure of Ben Konop is just fantastic news.

On another happy note, it seems as though Harry Barlos, former Administrator of the Village of Holland Ohio and former Lucas County Commissioner and former Lucas County Clerk of Courts and former Mayor of the City of Maumee, is coming back into elective politics. I first met Harry way back when he was a page for the late great Vern Riffe, Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, and when he made his first attempt in the mid 1970s at elective politics in seeking the Ohio House seat that was held by incumbent John A. Galbraith. Harry has filed to run for the 46th district seat of Ohio House of Representatives. Mark Dansack is not seeking that seat this year, nor is he seeking the seat for Lucas County Commissioner, but Mr. Dansack has echoed my sentiments in wishing Harry Barlos well in his quest.