Larry Kralj, Environmental Ranger, and I have never really been blog-friends. In fact, when I first started writing this blog, he used to torment me pretty damn good.

In a public demonstration, though, of what can happen when people start to listen to each other (no knock on you, Larry, I'm talking about me) it seems that at least on the coal plant, Larry and I agree more than we disagree, albeit for different reasons. So when Larry posted a comment to a recent post about Mr. Lawton's accountability, it made me think.

Larry's point is similar to one I have raised. If the coal plant turns out to be a horrible failure, Mr. Lawton will not be holding the bag, the citizens of Great Falls will be holding it. As a potential solution, Larry suggests that City Manager Lawton should "co-sign for the damn thing." While I understand Larry's sentiment, I disagree. Managers are expected to take risks for the benefit of their constituencies and, if every failure could result in personal liability, many risks would not be taken, much to the detriment of organizations and society as a whole. In other words, it can be argued, to some extent, that this is the very reason for organizations, whether public or private: to spread and share risk (or cost).

That does not mean, though, that Larry's point is not well-taken, especially when considered from a different point of view. For rather than suggesting that Mr. Lawton should bear all the risk of failure of the coal plant, could we not instead wonder why someone who has no risk of loss (and presumably nothing personal to gain) would be so dead set on completing this project? Why is it that someone whose job is quite safe, whose retirement is incredibly safe, seems so intent on completing a project without any public assessment of the risks of that project?

Mr. Lawton has no risk of loss, that is true. But he has no potential reward either. Why has he become such an advocate for the project? Has anyone heard him, or the City Staff, discuss the potential downside? I haven't.


Anonymous said...

It's always easier to spend someone else's money

Anonymous said...

Gee guy, I tried to post something, but it didn't appear. Must be lost in cyberspace. But understand that you do a great job on this coal plant issue. I for one appreciate it. And I'm sure that we actually agree on many things. Keep up the good work. (I'll try again)