Offering a service as City Councilor at Large

As I said, I will work to point out things that don’t make sense, and propose alternatives that do make sense.

The first step in defining things that do make sense is to talk to the people.

A useful tool is a list. A list of priorities that the City Council can compose, have approved by the majority of taxpayers, and provide to the City Manager as clear direction on where the CM should place the City’s efforts. Furthermore, this list must be published so that thetaxpayers also know what the City is being led to do and so that they are able to voice their opinions and add to it.

I am asking you all to think about these things, taxpayers especially, including fire, police, education, the City Manager, and other interests. All of us share in the frustration at the waste, incompetence, and irresponsibility we see rampant in Government: local, state, and national. These instances show no respect for us.

That needs to change:

They work for us, not vice-versa.

I am convinced from all the conversations I have had with taxpayers that there is widespread commonality on our frustrations, but few will speak out against them.

So I shall.

It’s not about me or any particular group. It’s about people who know and want the right thing. All these ideas are so that everybody wins.

Watch this space, as I collect and present your opinions and demands of an increasingly overbearing and ineffective Government.

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As you shall see, I talk a lot about outsourcing.

I know outsourcing and outsourcing is a friend of mine.

Outsourcing does not mean that someone will lose their job. It just means that they shall have to re-compete for it.

Gosh. Just like the rest of us who are not in government have to do, every year, every month, and every day.

If they are competent and worthwhile then the new employer will seek them out, since they are knowledgeable and experienced and don’t have to be retrained.

On the other hand, if they are lazy, incompetent, or just “good ol’ boys”… Well then, devil take the hindmost.

Of course nothing every happens instantly, and of course there shall be all kinds of discussions and arguments about grandfathering, incremental change, and so forth.

But what outsourcing does mean is that people with an eye on efficiency shall set conditions that minimize waste, because otherwise they shall be outbid by someone else who is more clever at offering the best price.

That is, assuming that the contracting structure is correct: i.e., Firm Fixed Price (FFP).

At the end of the day, converting the Government to a manager of outsourced FFP contracts will convert historical Governmental medievalism (tribalism, feather-bedding, earmarks, pork, and all the rest) to a vibrantly modern, lean, mean, and effective entity of representative administrators, instead of the archaic and overbearing, and hideously expensive and ineffective bureaucracy that it has become.

Walk with me, indeed, march with me, as we reclaim our destiny.

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If you do not then you have no basis on which to complain about the outcome. Our lives are the very consequence of our choices.

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So, with all that as a precedent, here is an initial straw man of what I think are the top priorities. My mind can be changed by new information, but not by political correctness. So, tell me what you think, but do please also provide facts, links, logic, or other validation of your suggestions:

In general, my intent is to look at the processes, the rule set. I believe that none of these measures would cost more money than is already being spent and would bring into being a greater sense of minimalism, orderliness, predictability, and professionalism that everyone could enjoy:

1. Increase the visibility time for council business to at least three sessions before a vote. That way anyone can in due course see the matter, consider and communicate it, and have no excuse for not doing so. This will also prevent last minute special interest additions to the docket.

2. Examine city contracting policy and rules. Current practices may be open to abuse, particularly from “change orders” in which contracts are won with a low-ball bid, but then have additional “features” added on, for money, after the contract has been won so that there is no competition for the add-ons.. The ideal policy is to have “firm fixed price” (FFP) contracts for all services: What you see is what you get.

3. Examine outsourcing as many city services as possible. Other than fire and police services my opinion is that there is nothingbeing done that cannot be done better and less expensively by private industry than by city employees.

Certainly: tree, park, snow plow, street cleaning, and such services can easily be done more effectively by private industry.

And even in police, fire, and city management, we don’t need police academy graduates to answer phones and keep records. Outsource those as well.

I can give you a long list of renowned contracting organizations, with none of which I am any longer affiliated, who would love to come in and do that kind of  business.

4. Examine outsourcing education. There is a long argument for this approach, primarily a matter of effectiveness and cost. I’ll address that here in another post.

5. Examine outsourcing harbor management. The current process has been far too arbitrary and has opened the City to legal liabilities.

6. Enforce more energetically the laws already on the books: loitering, jay walking, noise, red-light running, violations of rights-of-way, pedestrian crossings, speeding, bikes on sidewalks, bikes in the wrong direction, parking in the wrong direction or wrong side, derelict property (“broken windows” ), etc.. etc., etc. At present, Newport, especially downtown, Bellevue Center, and the Point, is a mecca for petty lawlessness. The “Broken Windows” approach has proven the adage that “Take care of the little things and the big ones take care of themselves.”

7. Casino and North End. I won’t go there tonight. These are very complex, but the issues involve a conflict between two basic principles.:

Just as the ten laws of Moses can be shrunk down to two in the Summary of the Law, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution can be shrunk down to two rules:

a. MYOB: Your right to flail your fists stops at the end of my nose. (Political correctness, but also community rights)

b. Keep your grubby hands off my stuff. (Property rights)

A possible solution may be a Host Community Agreement (HCA) such as that eloquently offered by Mr. Farley.

8. Other ideas? Please let me know.

Thank you for your time to read this. We all win or we all lose. And WE, THE PEOPLE, have the power to make the change, but only if we embrace it.

“Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

But also, unfortunately,

“Silence is assent.”

Cheers,

Andy

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