Tuesday, September 03, 2013

THE BAD NEWS: HACKEMACK IS NO HACK



Yesterday, I wrote about how great it is for the City that it has the services of this talented woman.  Today, I go over the reasons why retaining someone of her estimable talents will be problematic.

The Obvious-- Clearly, Glenda is a talented and dynamic administrator. As such, she is in demand. If she receives an attractive job offer into a stable situation, she must consider it. This is especially so since there is always the risk that the guy who hired her is a one termer;
The Mix, Part One-- as discussed yesterday, Glenda’s management style can be summed up as “responsible delegation.” As an alderman, Kyle’s management style can best be described as meddlesome.  If one assumes that Glenda adopted her management style because it is the way she wanted to be treated, there could be a problem in the offing. If Kyle’s management style remains meddlesome and Glenda feels she can best thrive in a delegative environment, the relationship could experience stresses;
The Mix, Part Two This one is simpler.  Glenda is bright, facile, and a proven problem solver. Kyle is,… Well… Kyle. Let’s just say it is not an egalitarian relationship. There is a certain level of stress and dissatisfaction built into working for someone less intelligent. There comes a day when the trade-offs no longer compensate for that dissatisfaction. Whether that day arrives for Glenda in the first four years is anybody’s guess but it should not be overlooked as a possibility;
Oversupervising-- Glenda is accustomed to reporting to a Board of Directors once a month or so and handling the day-to-day operation of an organization herself. Kyle, as an alderman sought information on constant and detailed basis about the internal operations of various departments. It remains to be seen whether he will maintain that same thirst for day-to-day data as mayor. This could take one of three forms: he could learn to delegate to his DAS; or, he could simply require more or less real-time information about her decisions; or, worse, he could require his approval before she took any action. Either of the last two possibilities would be contrary to her experience and would, over time where on her;
15 yards and loss of down, excessive preening-- it is fair to describe Glenda’s career to date as “just doing the work without regard to who gets the credit.”  Political officeholders, generally, are, to paraphrase Adlai Stevenson Junior, generally “unburdened by humility.” This administration raises vanity to an art form. The role model for this leadership team is that noted Peacock, Aaron Schock. While that is probably amusing for Glenda in the short run, it has to wear on one to be exposed to it a full-time basis. Standing alone, this is probably not a dealbreaker for her but it’s a quality-of-life issue and would enter into any calculation related to a new job offer;
Role Definition-- if you ask the people who have been promised jobs by this administration whether it was good at defining roles, he would get a negative answer. You really need look no further than the senior third Ward alderman. Does anybody really believe that there was an honest intent to place him in the job he thought he would inherit? While I have no way of knowing, I assume that Glenda made every effort to tightly negotiate her role before accepting the job. The very breadth of the job makes it impossible to do that on the front end. If the Mayor’s expectations for her become either to limited or two broad and murky, that will call her job satisfaction into question;
The ever popular Scapegoating-- let’s just face it, working for a politician holding executive  elective office is different in kind from any other kind work. If some project downsides or something part of the city underperforms or the response to an emergent situation is deemed insufficient (“you’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie!”) The one to walk the plank is not the elected official but the appointive one. Actually, Quincy has an interesting history of mayors taking hits to protect their director of administrative service. It is difficult to close one’s eyes and imagine Kyle Moore doing that;
Labor Negotiations-- there comes a point in every labor negotiation that a decision about a compromise that will settle all of the outstanding disputed points is needed and can’t come from a mere department head. It seems like this time always arises at night and the DAS is required to make a decision, off hours and within a relatively urgent timeframe. Once this occurs, the Mayor has to decide whether to support his DAS or embarrass her. This decision point will arrive next year. It will happen, up or down. Glenda is marketable enough that she does not have to sit still for having her operational legs cut out from underneath her.
As a matter of history, after about 2 ½ or three years, our deputy mayors have not been particularly fired up about continued service. If they were not glad to leave, they were at least relieved not to have to keep all these balls in the air at once, without a lot of appreciation. With Glenda, I would bet it’s 60 – 40 that she leaves before the end of Kyle’s four-year term. In the end, it might be a compendium of all the things above or it might simply be the frustration of working for someone who is so obviously not your equal. However that plays out, one can only hope that Kyle can step out of character enough to show appreciation for the supremely skilled leader he is hired. That that is 80 – 20, against.

Monday, September 02, 2013

THE GOOD NEWS: HACKEMACK IS NO HACK!

I am very late with this post.  Someone I admire greatly got deserved recognition.  First draft was in the can in early August but it seems this is my Summer for breaking body parts and meeting charming new specialists.

In July the estimable Glenda Hackemack became the director of administrative services (a.k.a. “Deputy Mayor”).  The Mayor is to be praised for this.  It takes a measure of courage to hire someone so obviously more qualified than he to run a 30 million dollar corporation.  This was nicely done.

On this appointment, Mayor Moore deserves a good deal of credit. As his misbegotten intended appointment of an alderman as deputy mayor and his beyond clumsy termination of a highly skilled Comptroller demonstrate, there was absolutely no reason for optimism over his employee evaluation or appointment skills.  No doubt there was also pressure to hire some rube for political reasons

On the other hand, one sympathetically hopes Glenda thought long and hard about accepting this job before she joined the fray. This is true not for some of the obvious reasons that others have brought up, but for important and predictable reasons that should be clear to anyone who is ever done career municipal work.  Some of those will be discussed in detail tomorrow.

Glenda has an interesting management style, one that only works for a confident, skilled person.  It is my belief she has developed it and refined it over time.   In all her previous locations, she has believed in placing strong, skilled people in technical, service – providing jobs. She then delegates, nearly absolutely, the conduct of those professional services to those skilled people. If those people take unwarranted heat or criticism from others, she protects them. If those people make errors of enthusiasm, she hears out the reasoning for whatever they did or decided and corrects them privately if their behavior was in error. 

Her developed job skill is staying out of the way of people who know what they are doing and tacking flack so they don't have to.  She praises in public and corrects and private. I am well acquainted with many of her former employees and I have never heard anyone say that she is anything but true to her word and generally supportive with of her employees.  Who wouldn't want to work for a leader like that.

Many have said that her “lack of experience in politics” will make it difficult for her to perform in this job. That is just plain silly for at least two reasons. First, she has worked in NGOs for as long as I have known her. As a general rule, NGOs are run by citizen boards. Citizens boards of directors are generally populated by people who consider themselves “prominent in the community.”  There is nothing more fraught with politics than juggling conflicting opinions of those “prominent” board members. Dealing with a vain, empty suit in “not-for-profitland” is no different from dealing with most of the vain, empty suits in politics.  Second, her lack of partisan political experience would only be a negative if advanced vote-counting or lobbying were important parts of her job or the administration’s mission. This administration has no interest in vote-counting because it seems to have no real interest in policy anyhow.   As nearly as anyone paying attention could possibly determine, Mayor Moore’s only policy position is, “I won the election so I am the Effing Mayor.” Thus, even assuming Glenda is not strong in this skill, it does not matter because it is not a skill to be deployed in this administration.

So there is much more good news than bad in this appointment. The people of the City of Quincy have a highly skilled administrator operating as our day-to-day chief. The employees of the City of Quincy have a director who will deal fairly and evenhandedly with them, to the extent they deserve it. It remains to be seen whether Glenda’s management style will work with: A) union members; B) employees who, different from her previous employees at other locations, are not highly skilled, professional and motivated to serve the public well (and there are some of those afoot); and C) employees in whose hire she did not participate and feel as though they have some kind of “political protection.”  All told, I am guessing that her superior intellect and her chosen, well-conceived management style gives her a good chance to deal successfully, even with these. .

There is much good news in this appointment.  I am happy for Glenda, if she’s happy.  If it’s not clear already, I’m a huge fan.

But, every silver lining has a cloud.  I see some real beauties downstream.  Tomorrow, I will discuss why this very good news could ultimately render this appointment problematic.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

DUERR DOES IT AGAIN

What is there left to say about Chris Duerr's "Grid Iron Playbook?"

Every year is better than the next.  The detail is exquisite.  Followed only by the first round of the NCAA Basketball tourney and U.S. Open Sunday, "Playbook Day" is a sports day to which I always look forward.

A sports guy who actually writes in English as a first language!  Imagine!  Where does the man go for writer's block therapy?

I guess, this year, I have two quibbles.  Coulda used the term "motor" a little less.  I've always been taught that, like "Playbook," "Gridiron" is one word........but, Hell, who's counting.

Well played, sir.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

THE FUTURE FOR JACK CORNELL

One can only imagine how Jack Feels today.  To go from Super Bowl Ring to "Bring Your Playbook." is undeniably cruel.

There is, however, reason to believe his future is bright.

Even though I know him only slightly, I don't think anyone would argue with me that his work ethic is outstanding.  He has that thing you can't coach, size with strength.  He will never be a distraction in a locker room because he's a good citizen who actually took advantage of the opportunity to educate himself.  That means he'll never be a Special Ed. project when it comes to learning the playbook.

Moreover, macroeconomics is his friend.  There is a supply scarcity of large people who can potentially protect a passer.  Additionally, interior linemen tend to receive injuries that end seasons.  Mere broken digits and dislocations don't sideline them so, when they go down, they are gone for a long time.  As the season progresses, linemen will be injured.  Others will be judged wanting and General Managers are going to look for good people with potential and good character.  Jack Cornell would appear to be a poster boy for both.

The issue for NFL line play is fast feet for pass-blocking.  If I were Jack right now, I'd be playing the training version of hopscotch and spending as much time as fatigue would allow on a jump rope.  Just as I'm not prepared to believe Jack Cornell cannot be developed into a big tine pass blocker, there's gotta be a GM out there who buys into that theory.

My money says it's not nearly over for this interesting young man.  I will be applauding the journey.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

THE TRUE REASON FOR THE DEMISE OF AMERICAN SOCIETY

We just went from 27th in the world to 32nd in the world in Math and science.  About 9 million households are raising children without the parents of that child.  College is no longer affordable without ruination.  Skilled jobs go wanting because we are too stupid and unskilled to fill them.

Many people have suggested the problem is education, speculation, moral and spiritual decay and even flouride in water.  None of that is the REAL reason.

The real reason for our demise is on full display.  It has destroyed the purity of our undertakings.  It has destroyed our ability to defer gratification and it is utterly obvious:

INTERLEAGUE PLAY!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

THOUGHTS FOR THE PARK BOARD ON BLOWING UP THE THIRD NINE


REMARKS TO PARK BOARD/WRITTEN VERSION LEFT WITH BOARD 05/21/13 PUBLIC MEETING WITH  NGCA ECONOMIC STUDY

Mr. President, Commissioners and Mr. Executive Director, thank you for your service and your stewardship.

My name is Anthony Cameron. My address is 529 Hampshire St. I am here as a friend of Scotty Glasgow, a volunteer committeeperson for “the Scotty” and self-appointed counsel for all the youth and beginning golfers of the future. More on that in a minute.

Your third nine is a true treasure. When one finds oneself in possession of a treasure there is a resulting obligation to take care of, to make the most of it.

Let me tell you a brief story about your treasure. It was sometime between 1985 and 1988. I wish I could be more specific about the year.  I was on an airplane from Phoenix to St. Louis. There was a man a few rows behind me who looked very familiar. I thought I had seen his face in a golf magazine. When I got onto the commuter airline to shuttle to Quincy, he was on my flight. We talked. His name was Ed Ault. He was a golf course designer and he was going to Quincy to look at a golf hole that was an outstanding representation of a certain architecture style.  He intended to incorporate that style into a course he was building near Phoenix. The hole? Number 22, a perfect representation of the linksland “washboard” style of conflict without using linksland.

We live in an age of specialization. You have a monopoly on two very valuable things. First, you have the only freestanding nine hole public golf course in the immediate area. Anyone nearby who wants to play nine holes of public golf virtually must come and see you. Is it is an enviable position. Additionally, you have the only contiguous 27 hole facility for more than 100 miles.  No publicly owned facility in downstate Illinois can match your number of holes of availability.

If you were giving up that specialization to create something where you were literally without competition, that would be at least rational. This plan, however, seeks to build an executive course, within one mile of an existing and apparently successful executive course. It also seeks to build a practice facility within 1 mile of an existing and successful practice facility. The logic of tearing down a true monopoly to compete with a benevolent and successful local not-for-profit truly escapes me.

I am told that this decision is driven by a need for new revenue from this portion of the property. Understandably, you wish to increase revenue. To calculate whether anything will increase revenue, you would first have to have a mechanism by which you could know what revenues the third nine now brings in. When someone buys a hot dog, a dozen balls or a golf club, how do you know which nine accounted for that retail purchase? 

How do you know whether your marketing program has optimized the monopoly you have in the treasure that is your third nine? Most respectfully, I believe you are missing data to support any teardown of an existing, viable recreational facility.

Indeed, strongly marketing the third nine might resolve your revenue problem altogether. I’ll bet a lot of local kids would jump at the chance to play nine with a devil or raider varsity player. If a passholder kid could bring his non-passholder playmate out one time all day for two dollars or five dollars, you’d be making more golfers.

Scotty Glasgow always said that the way to succeed in the golf business is to “make more golfers.” My friend and PGA professional, Steve Cramblitt, in his homage to Scotty last Friday said “Scotty was the First Tee before there was a First Tee.”  The purpose of the back nine, as built, was to help “make more golfers.” In the final analysis more golfers in our area means more revenue for Westview.

The National Golf Foundation states that a so-called “core golfer” is a reliable source of revenue for local public courses. The definition of “core golfer,” is a modest one. A core golfer is simply someone who plays 8 or more rounds of golf per year. 

In the 70s and 80s, Quincy made core golfers by the dozen, largely through the inviting nature of the third nine. If that gateway to pleasurable golf is cut off, it can be virtually guaranteed that we will make core golfers at a much slower rate.

National Golf Foundation statistics are difficult for me to access because I am not a member. This much is clear: in every 15 year period there is a roughly five-year period of decline. The other approximately 10 years are growth. By that statistic, it would appear we are coming to the end of the period of decline, which began in approximately 2008. People will need places to play if there is to be growth. Take away golf holes and you don’t give the natural growth a place to happen.

What if you tear out the back nine and find there was and continues to be a need for those golf holes?  Baseline, it costs about a million dollars to build a nine-holer.  Do you really have enough data to make this decision?

Finally, we should focus on your core constituency here at Westview, your season pass holders. By and large they appreciate this place. They respect it. They replace divots and fixe ball marks. They are loyal to the continued success of Westview and are entitled to loyalty in return. Look at your own schedule on your webpage. There are 35 days listed entailing golf course unavailability or closure. Anyone who plays here regularly will tell you there will ultimately be for five more days that are not on the list on your web page but the course is closed for outings or some such. Right now, those passholders can still play golf. If you take out the back nine, you have taken those passholders off the golf course for more than 25% of the viable golf season. (Using 150 days for the golf season and 40 days of golf course closure). If you take that step, you have devalued the pass by about 30% but conditions will not allow you to reduce its purchase price by that much.

Leaving the third nine in and marketing it to “make golfers” yields a realistic business model to increase your revenues. Tearing out the third nine amounts to negative market-making. You will be creating an environment in which the market for your principal service, the enjoyment of golf, inevitably shrinks and shrinks because of conditions, you, the seller, created.

Thank you for the opportunity be heard.  I leave you my complete remarks in written form and a copy of the NGCA economic report on the prospects of golf rebounding.

Friday, May 17, 2013

"THIS VIDEO HAS BEEN REMOVED BY THE USER"

The studio version of the "Lonnie Dunn Traveling Salvation Show" has been taken down.

The group-grope is still up here.

Lonnie's part of the tribal chant starts up at 19:22 and runs a little past 21:30.  You can just slide the little bead to about 19:20.

Here's the part I don't understand, if one is proud of something like this, why would one take it down, once it has been called to the public's attention?

Your input would be appreciated.

Many of you are looking for my post on "The Scotty" tournament and Scott Glasgow in general.  It'll go up over the weekend.  This little tidbit preempted it.