1/20/2006

Tribune on Golf

The Tribune had an editorial today about the golf situation. While they tipped their hat toward the truth, I simply cannot understand why a bunch of people who consider themselves the 'fourth branch of government' continually shy away from any direct criticism of those individuals in the real government.

First, it's clear that the Tribune thinks the City should have spent another $5,000.00 on consulting fees. ("...annual losses totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars would suggest that homegrown solutions aren't working.") As the Tribune spins it, this money would "finish the job," implying that either it was always contemplated that the additional money would be spent, or that those on the Commission who didn't want to spend it are somehow leaving some "job" unfinished.

Then, the only real stab at the problem: "It's clear the city doesn't have expertise in golf management, and that in its own right is an issue that must be addressed." They are right. That is a real problem. We spend significant sums of money right now on management, and it is clear that very little managing is actually going on. But why is the Tribune so circumspect?

We hear stories about Washington DC journalists cozying up to those they cover in order to obtain "access." This is Great Falls, Montana, folks. These are small town politicians and bureaucrats. You don't need to coddle them to get them to talk. If you don't have the cojones to make a few enemies, you all are in the wrong business.

Here's an example of what a newspaper interested in the truth might have written:

Great Falls residents are mad as hell, and they aren't going to take it any more. Citizens stormed the City Commission meeting Tuesday night to complain about the ongoing woes of our local golf courses, golf courses that apparently existed for many years without significant problems.

Well, they're not without significant problems now. With more red ink than links, our golf courses are in dire straits.

This community wants, no, demands answers. How did we get into this mess? What, exactly, are the problems? Who is supposed to be minding the store, and why were they not? What is the City going to do to solve the problem, and how much will it cost?

City Manager Lawton's lame suggestion that the City spend even more money for a consultant to do the job we pay him for fell, thankfully, on six deaf ears on the Commission. The last time we checked, the City already employed plenty of people who purport to be qualified to do their jobs. Perhaps, Mr. Manager, the people you have hired and you have managed should manage and solve this problem. And if they cannot, and if you cannot, is it not fair for the people of this fine community to ask why all the salaries are being paid?

Here are our suggestions for the City Commission: 1. Require a workable plan from staff' within 30 days. No fee increases. No selling the courses. 2. Require, within 30 days, a list of who, exactly, had responsibility for the issues that led to the current problems, and the City Manager's plan to address the apparent mistakes and/or incompetence. 3. An absolute moratorium on any silly talk of power plants and power companies until our "managers" show the ability to manage the assets we already have, such as our golf courses.

Better to lose $200,000.00 than $2,000,000,000.00. (That's billion, and that's the estimated cost of buying Northwestern Energy.)
That's what a newspaper should do.

UPDATE: There's an old expression that discusses closing the barn door after all the horses have escaped. Sound familiar?

Thanks Firefly!

3 comments:

a-fire-fly said...

http://www.ci.great-falls.mt.us/records/wsminutes/yr2006/ws01032006.htm
Have you read this?

SallyT said...

("...annual losses totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars would suggest that homegrown solutions aren't working.")

I thought this key, because it begs the question, "What homegrown solutions?" I've found more common sense solutions bantered around on the blogs than ever heard in a City Commission meeting.

Lawton hasn't answered the basic question: why are golf courses bleeding money? Like the good little bureaucrat he is, he can only recommend spending more money--to study the problem; to hire someone with a clue; to look for a private group to take the mess off his hands.

Interesting how the city's M.O. is to run an operation into the ground, then recommend getting rid of it

ZenPanda said...

In reading the minutes I was confused by Mr. Lawton's comments. When he says "carefully selected" committee does he mean he selects it? (I'm suspicious by nature)
I admit to not being politically inclined so much of it sounds like double talk.
I like the way you put it, Gee. Those questions NEED to be answered!
If the management is not working then I suggest they be replaced.