Monday, February 28, 2005

Accountability goes a long way with Civil Action Press

LA Observed reports Into the bell lap

“Bob Hertzberg holds a 1 p.m. press conference in Eagle Rock to call for the resignation of ‘multiple Hahn administration officials.’”

At last a candidate is recognizing the problem goes much deeper than Hahn. When it gets to citing individuals and their performance, the chances for reform become meaningful.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Not this time

Reform! Posted by Hello

This time Jim Hahn can't point blame to anyone but himself. If he plants another crack pipe in his opponent’s pocket, we will know better. Hahn’s big goals were public safety, education, and police reform. What is the score?

Here is an old article that might help recall what Mayor Hahn set out to accomplish.

June 7, 2001
Hahn Puts Focus on Safety
Election: After a bitter campaign, mayor-elect also speaks of need to 'build bridges.'
The Los Angeles Times

Striving to be heard

Dear Treetop Yodeler,

Your letter reflects the quiet disdain many employees feel when leadership goes awry. Those that are aware have strong feelings. Many years ago, many of us set our career sails in search of public service. We navigated by the stars and adjusted our sails to mitigate the political winds to serve in the best interests of the public.

One day, it seemed, we no longer knew our captains. Cronies told us they no longer required our skills or opinions. We were freed from our sails and directed to stop looking to the stars for direction. Now, it seems we are shamed and sent below deck for asking, “Where are we are going?” We spend the remainder of our days mindlessly stoking a fire and hoping for true leadership and a return to glory.

It is my pleasure to meet your request.
The Gadfly
Please post on your blog site
The following information is based on one of my e-mails circa 11/28/2004:


DWP Ideas for improvement

Fundamentally, DWP has lost vision, lost supporting core values, is apparently bogged down in political expediency, and corruption. Seems to have virtually no independence to be run as a business. In house promotions to General Manager are long since history, to DWP's detriment.

DWP is being drained dry by direct and indirect transfers to City Hall. The Bank of DWP makes grants and loans that will never be repaid. No one will help DWP when it nears bankruptcy in the next three to five years. Except maybe fire sale deals to So Calif. Edison. Critical infrastructure goes unrepaired/unimproved. Employee positions in some areas are barely enough to cover needs on a good day. No depth. Just wait until retirements hit.

And DWP gets charged wherever possible for real and imagined services as well. And unfunded social programs. And contracting policies that cost DWP perhaps $200M/year in extra costs, in the name of "good faith efforts." Really a shakedown of ratepayers? Who really benefits from all the carefully contrived contracting bureaucracy?? Campaign contributions anyone? Have you read a simple recent DWP bid notice? Maybe 30 pages or more. The legal mumbo jumbo and minority hiring, child care, living wage ordinance, etc., is enough to give any bidder a headache. Need a lawyer just to figure it out. And maybe just have to hire an insider consultant (minority/female) to do the paper work, just like on formal contracts (PMI anyone?).

Promotions of loyalists, cronies, union buddies and shop stewards. Political decisions more important than fundamental business decisions. Seemingly global lack of integrity, in legal, in labor relations, in management, in Management Employee Association and IBEW union. Hide, cover up, stall, delay harass, retaliate. IBEW has black listed at least 10 former EAA employees, and denied them membership, while taking their dues.

And a fair and objective hiring and promotional process? DWP seems to take things to lower and lower lows. Pretense seems now almost unnecessary. Hiring and promoting less than qualified has real bottom line costs, beyond damage to loyal, qualified employees, minorities, females, or otherwise. DWP is the controlling authority. Whoose to say otherwise?

Historically, DWP was run by engineers. (currently a four letter word in many circles).

Engineers tend to take a conservative approach. To overbuild. To overdesign. Maybe less "cooperative." Maybe not as good at BS. And not as good at snow jobs while being publicly "beat up" at city hall public meetings. Engineers have been the key to DWP success. Vision, planning, objectivity, drive to fulfill core business. They are now history, as far as managing DWP.

Non engineers/attorneys/administratative types/bureaucrats seem to be willing to bend the rules, to rationalize, to push the envelope. To give away the store. DWP is a monopoly after all, and rate payers are always on the hook. Take a risk on reliable water and power? Nonsense?

Eliminate all DWP Exempt manager positions. No rocket science needed to figure out who the first to go should be. Some female exempt heads may roll as well. Politically dynamite. But do they, or others, add value? Base positions on business necessity, not political necessity. Way too many Assistant General Managers. And a biased selection process here as well? Exclude any former Southern California Edison employee from management positions. SCE culture is very different, and SCE, after all, is a competitor.

Require the DWP General Manager, and top managers, to have an engineering degree, as it once was. Not a political degree. Not a law degree.

Neutralize/isolate problem civil service managers who cannot otherwise be encouraged to leave (for example, retire, transfer, quit).

Get rid of long term consultants. Do work in house.

Unscramble civil service classifications. New classifications and class consolidations have done great damage, especially Electrical Services Manager. Electrical Services Managers are not Equivalent to Power Engineering Managers.

Promote carefully employees based on dedication to DWP, ability to do the job. Especially emphasize integrity.

Eliminate, or transfer to City Hall, any DWP function not a core business, or business that generates actual revenue. Keep fiber optics, cell site rentals, or anything else generating revenue. Eliminate any group or individual giving away money, goods, or services. Like business development. If it is really important, let City hall do the work, do the social programs, and pay for it, outside of DWP.

Improve the job City Personnel does. More funding. Get rid of all exempt positions in City Personnel. Need honesty, integrity, and independence of City Personnel from City Hall and from DWP manipulation.

Put IBEW's feet to the fire. Audit the Trust Funds. Make sure all Trust Fund meetings are publicized public meetings. Audit the Joint Safety Institute, Joint Training Institute, IBEW health plans, and anything else taking DWP money. (Hello, Ms. Chick). See where the money goes, and who benefits. Federal audit of IBEW management income tax returns?? Investigation of bank accounts? Audit of IBEW financial records? Audit of all contracts IBEW has, paid for using DWP moneys? IBEW campaign contributions audit? RICO anyone?

Review and revise the process for election of employee representatives to the DWP Retirement Board of Administration. IBEW currently backs "favorite" candidates. Such as shop stewards, and other loyalists. This allows them better control of DWP, DWP management, $6B retirement fund, pursuit of political and social agendas using retirement fund clout, risks lower return on investment (at great cost to ratepayers?), and potential for questionable, if not unlawful actions.

Try employee focus groups/lunches. The truth will out very quickly.

Replace the Director of Corporate Health and Safety with a real Safety person (not a high paid IBEW "favorite"). Recommend a Safety Administrator (civil service classification)

Stop giveaway's to the Bureau of Street Lighting, Street Maintenance, Department of Transportation, and Recreation and Parks, including free power. Change the Electric Rate Ordinance so everyone who gets power pays fairly. No more free lunches.

Audit all confidential contracts with large power users. Great potential for funny business, kickbacks, and campaign donations at the expense of DWP.

Get ALL exempt managers and consultants out of Finance and Accounting. Too easy to cook the books, or "spin" the facts.

Customers with special discounts/benefits/rebates must be verified US Citizens.

Only hire new employees, including exempt employees, and contractors, who are verified US Citizens (DWP is a national security issue).

Serious background checks for all new DWP employees.

Stop giveaways to the public, and private, via council influence.

Audit and annually track all moneys provided to other city departments. Free services, fees, fines, street resurfacing fees, pressure vessel fees, lot cleanup fees, lighting in city parks, streetlight installations, Christmas lights, etc. DWP is not Santa Claus, or the tooth fairy.

Audit all sales of DWP real estate since 1997. Prosecute any funny business, no matter where the cards fall, even councilpersons, commissioners, their spouses, friends, and campaign donors or fundraisers. (Giveaway of the "surplus" DWP Canoga Park Service Headquarters to a favored women's group at the second lowest bid??? Hello Ms. Miscowski? How about diverted DWP (and police??) resources for The Grove. Hello Mr. Caruso? And funny business at the Bureau of Street Lighting? And funny business contracts at General Services? When will we see that audit, Ms. Chick? Bad for your reelection campaign?)

Restart on-campus recruiting for engineers. Start hiring engineers to get them up to speed before existing engineers retire. Feb 1, 2006 may be a popular retirement date. The exodus is beginning.

Reduce annual transfers to city hall to 5 percent. NO supplemental one time only transfers.

Lay down criteria that DWP is a business, and is to be operated as a business. Have a hot line to someone with clout for anonymous watchdog reporting, faxing, e-mailing.

Create an authority that can respond to claims of violations of civil service rules. Things seem to be out of control at present. No rules. No accountability. No rocket science here either. Five minutes of asking questions anywhere will yield answers. Tape record and preserve tape recording of all new hire, transfer, and promotional interviews held at DWP. May need to hold interviews at City Personnel Dept. Maybe include an exempt "Interview Specialist" in such interviews? Cannot trust DWP on this.

Without a fair and objective hiring, promotion, and transfer process, DWP will continue to be doomed. Simply a despised puppet, to be alternately robbed and cursed, to serve at the whim of the mayor and council, to be beat up publicly for "evil" deeds, to further political ambitions. Bad, bad puppet.

Prosecute criminally and civilly any manager who behaves inappropriately, unlawfully, or unethically. Send a clear message to everyone that there are rules, and no one is exempt. That DWP is to be run as a business.

Revise the selection process for DWP commissioners. Seek a balance of left wing and right wing. Maybe have them selected by neighborhood councils?? Or by city council (instead of the Mayor?) Or by election? How about one member being a retired DWP manager, selected by DWP retirees? With a defined term?

Reinstate rules that all managers over technical areas must have a current, valid, engineering license.

Reinstate selecting General Managers from ENGINEERS within DWP. Choose long term civil service employees with proven integrity and performance. Can also cut the pay of General Manager. Civil service employees will work for less as General Manager, and may be expected to perform better in improving the bottom line.

Make DWP far more independent of City Hall and the Mayor, and all the political micromanaging, such as green power taking priority over cheap, clean reliable coal power from Intermountain Power Plant. Get realistic. Get pragmatic. Need to be run as a business, not as a political campaign. Stop the spin. And hope for a miracle or two.

Treetop Yodeler

Monday, February 14, 2005

Who are we kidding?

Who are we kidding?
Thanks to The Economist for the unmodified portion of this cartoon. Posted by Hello

It did not go unnoticed that it was the Unions, not the Democratic party, that endorsed incumbent Mayor, Jim Hahn. Democratic ideals have not been served under the last four years of this administration. No, the big advances of this administration have been made in union influence and control within the city.

In the January 2005 edition of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Surge Brian D’Arcy, IBEW Local 18 Business Manager, acknowledges Mayor Hahn for appointing a number of union officers to key city boards and commissions. Mayor Hahn has definitely been an ally of working people – that’s “polit-burro” speak for union stalwarts.

We know our city interests are not being served here. It makes us wince to pay higher taxes for hot air, waste, purposeful redirection and degradation of government services at citizen’s expense.

There is a very big investment being made by a relatively small but extremely powerful union oligarchy. Why you ask? The legitimate function of the union is to control the terms and conditions of employment through labor. In the old days, unions used to accomplish that task through old-fashioned hard bargaining, negotiation, and representation of their membership. But the newest innovation is to entrench union influence directly into politics the old-fashioned way – through the spoils system.

Union successes have been behind the scenes, but they are becoming quite apparent. They account for many of the illogical political decisions that work against the citizenry and result in higher overall costs and degraded services.

Take for instance Mayor James Hahn’s three-day work week policy for police officers in Los Angeles. How does a three-day work week for police officers benefit the citizens of Los Angeles?

Over the Labor Day weekend (2004), there were at least four murders in the city, one each in the Valley communities of North Hills and Winnetka, the East L.A. community of Boyle Heights and in South Los Angeles. Hahn Administration admitted that their promise of cutting homicides by 20% had been abandoned and that the homicide rate is up by 5%. In a press release on September 8, 2004, in response to the growing homicide rate in the City of Los Angeles, Councilman Bernard Parks said that on his first day as mayor, he would make the city safer by ending the three day work week for cops and put them back on the beat five days a week. Ex-Police Chief Bernard Parks recognizes the system problem. It has nothing to do with personnel and everything to do with mismanagement. “The rank and file who make up the LAPD are some of the best officers in the country and the vast majority joined the force for the same reason I did—because of a commitment to public service. They put themselves on the line everyday, standing in harm’s way and dealing with the toughest customers in society,” Parks said.

From a union-worker standpoint, the consolidation of 36 hours into three days is the ultimate in maximizing “quality of life” for police officers. What other citizens can claim a three-day work-week? And if the City needs more help, it’s overtime, baby. Yes!

So what is the benefit to the citizens of Los Angeles? And herein lies the rub. It is not a balanced win-win. Police work costs more because a substantial portion of the work must be covered at an overtime rate and/or more officers need to be added.

Whether it’s two 12 hour shifts or three eight hour shifts it is still a 24 hour, 7 day a week operation. From a performance stand point though, it is the same problem that truck drivers face when they drive too many hours. They get tired. They make mistakes, they lose their tempers. Some call it “road rage.” Transfer that emotion to police work. Add a gun, a badge, substantial back up, and a flashlight. Dealing with people is no easy task – especially after eight hours. In those last four hours of a twelve-hour shift, restraint might be the most difficult part of the job.

Do you think management should have considered a correlating increase in the deployment of unnecessary force, citizen complaints, or maybe the number of police related vehicular accidents before asking us for more money to support a twelve hour deployment schedule?

We all want the best for the LAPD. But logically we expect responsible city managers should have thoroughly considered these risks. If they didn’t, one should question leadership competency.

The same mismanagement problems exist at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Many DWP employees enjoy an alternate Monday or Friday off. On one hand they deserve it. One the other, management does not seem concerned with the costs. They simply raise the rates and blame it on the Mayor. Of course, the Mayor “legally” transferred DWP money to city coffers. Since the citizens pay both the taxes and the DWP bill, are we to think it balances?

In practice, it doesn’t stop there. Follow the alternate workday scenario to the citizens of Los Angeles. Some of the employees are off on Mondays and some are off on Fridays. Since so-and-so is missing there isn’t a supervisor or a complete crew on Mondays and Fridays so work doesn’t happen on those days. On Tuesday everybody is at work so they can decide what to do and order the equipment and materials for Wednesday. On Wednesday some of the equipment and materials doesn’t show up on the jobsite. Contracts are based upon a level five-day work-week and vendors can’t meet artificial Wednesday and Thursday peaks. Friday, half as many are waiting to go home. At 52 weeks a year, that amounts to 104 workdays at full capacity, less every conceivable holiday and the remaining days short some aspect of labor, equipment, or materials.

Again, it seems city management is so compromised by this joint union – city [mis]management connection that they completely disregard their duty to us, the citizens of Los Angeles. In a deregulated environment these high-level antics would have spawned a CEO firing and a corporate death spiral into bankruptcy.

Consequently, the mayor has advanced the cause of a few very powerful unions leaders at our expense. It becomes clear why unions have given up representing their constituency and entered politics. And it is perfectly clear why the Democratic Party did not endorse incumbent city management.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Tony Cardenas hammers DWP on integrity

CouncilmemberTony Cardenas Posted by Hello

On November 9, 2004 , Tony Cardenas , Councilmember and the chair of the Commerce, Energy, and Natural Resources Committee (CENR), expressed his dissatisfaction with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) management. By its actions, management clearly states to employees, "No good deed will go unpunished."

Successful management knows the importance of integrity. It is the willingness to do what is right even when no one is looking. Integrity is the core of our society’s foundation of trust and our “moral compass.”
Cardenas had a reasonable expectation that DWP management would conduct a diligent good faith investigation into his inquiries about a custodial services contract with Empire and the treatment of DWP employees – whistleblowers – that reported contract problems. The response that Cardenas, Cindy Miscikowski , and Janice Hahn received fell far short of expectations.

Cardenas hammered Henry Martinez, acting DWP General Manager on integrity. “The integrity of the Department is priceless.” Cardenas said to Martinez , “It is an extension of the integrity of the City.”

These integrity violations and incidents of retaliation against employees who come forward are not isolated. This is another one of many incidents that comprise a pattern and practice of City management which seeks to degrade, intimidate, and retaliate against employees who exercise their rights as citizens and who fulfill their moral and condition of employment obligations to report malfeasance as required by DWP Administrative Manual code.

In response to an August 2004 article entitled “Out of the Darkness” written by Jeffrey Anderson of LA Weekly, Tony Cardenas hit the nail on the head. Cardenas was quoted to say, “We can’t use settlements as Band-Aids for systemic problems in any department. We need to get these claims on the record in the City Council in full purview of the public. It’s time we expand the scope so taxpayers know how their money is being spent.”

The problem is systemic. The DWP has had a steady stream of general managers, rotating assistant general managers, and Board members and not only has the culture not changed, the dysfunctional behavior seems to have metastasized through the ranks of the organization. A DWP facilities maintenance technician put it simply, “You can change all the pipes you like. It flows downstream and it makes DWP reek of cronyism.”

W. Edwards Deming, an American systems guru responsible for a successful Japanese business culture transformation, taught that management, and management alone, is responsible for system problems. The biggest mistake managers can make is to blame individuals for system problems. Consistently, DWP management is sending a very fearful message to employees by example. Employees who exhibit integrity and strength of character to come forward should expect to have their careers ruined and character besmirched.

Responsible city managers don’t treat employees like that! Good managers praise and reward employees that find problems and then they focus others on supporting, sharing and using the information to improve processes and ultimately reduce cost and improve effectiveness. Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, claims that organizational learning requires a clear understanding of recurring problems, the willingness to address root causes, and cultural values which encourages workers to find, fix and report recurring failures.

The Los Angeles Times and the Daily News recently reported that a DWP audit concluded that the Department had lax controls over contracts and spending. The Daily News reported that the audit found improperly authorized contracts, contracts approved without authority, split contracts circumventing Board approval, inadequate credit card use procedures, and contracting that was not at the lowest ultimate cost or in the best interest of the DWP.

These administrative and operational problems, because of their established, pervasive, and unresolved “systemic” nature, must be considered fostered by high-level management. Custodians, storekeepers, supervisors, and mid-level managers do not make policy. They merely reflect the processes and standards of performance which management controls.

Deputy Mayor Doane Liu’s response to the audit inappropriately redirects blame to employees. Liu said it was too early to discuss whether employees involved in the problems should be subject to disciplinary action. Mayor Hahn has had a blue-ribbon commission studying contracting for some time. Responsible ethical managers should have taken ownership of the known contract administration problems, but they did not. Deputy Mayor Liu reflects the pin-the-blame on the subordinate culture that has become an ugly and festering cancer at DWP.

This audit was a small almost insignificant sample of the $3 billion in contracts that the DWP maintains – But the auditors found considerable problems. Statistically, it means processes are out of control. The finding should warrant serious investigation into the administration of other contracts at DWP.

Lax controls and inconsistent processes are a reflection of management performance not individual employees. Enduring systemic problems are evidence of what management allows. A quote from Michael Josephson, founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, may be appropriate here, “What management allows, it condones.”

With a predominance of inconsistent practices, it becomes illogical to blame the workforce or lower-level management. It comes to mind that DWP management maintains a lax inconsistent system for another purpose – illicit control in support of pay to play. In this system, individual employees who speak of foul play become subject to intimidation, retaliation, and constructive discipline. They are held to a standard of performance that in practice does not exist at DWP. In this environment, management can neutralize individual employees like Sandra Miranda , a custodial services supervisor, and intimidate co-workers who brought the Empire contract to light, and put fear into other employees who do no more than question management authority. This environment is oppressive and intimidating and, of course, it reflects poorly upon City management.

In response to many employee claims of retaliation, DWP management created the Equal Employment Opportunity Section (EEOS) to deal with personnel issues. The EEOS is subordinate to DWP management. All employee promotions into and out of the organization are made by DWP Management. Consequently, it can not be independent of management. It functions to support the system. Inquiries are inconsistent and incomplete. Pertinent witnesses are not examined. It is no surprise that the findings rendered by this pseudo-regulatory office consistently support management behavior and serve to redirect blame to lower levels.

Next, consider the City network in support of the major DWP management players. Systemic contracting problems and personnel issues seem to form a nexus at Assistant General Managers. DWP Assistant General Manager and former City Attorney's Office Chief, Thomas Hokinson, has been one consistent policy maker behind the scenes in Hahn’s bigger organization. He seems to have considerable influence marshaling findings, decisions, and actions through the City Attorney’s Office, the Personnel Department, as well as, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners. Hokinson sets purchasing policy, directs personnel actions and confidential agreements, and encourages subordinate managers and administrative staff to ruin employee careers.

Lastly, consider DWP management’s solution to correct the problems. They have decided to retrain managers on EEO policies. The personnel problems are orchestrated by high-level managers who are predominately accomplished attorneys. They know the laws, the boundaries, and are most savvy in the manipulation of perception. Training is another effort to reframe the problem. The Problem is not a lower-level supervisory or mid-level management problem which can be corrected by training. Rather it is an effort to redirect and enable the culture to continue.

The General Manager(s) and the Board of Water and Power Commissioners serve at the pleasure of the Mayor. S. David Freeman, former General Manager of DWP reported that Mayor Hahn has the power to set their agenda, influence Board members, and if needed replace them. Consequently, if DWP did not reflect the culture the Mayor desired, he has the power to pursue immediate corrective action to change the culture at DWP. Therefore, it seems until we get a new mayor or Mayor Hahn decides otherwise, employees who report malfeasance, business vendors who don’t support the current status quo, and a public institution which has been politically-undermined, will continue to suffer.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Los Angeles leader earns an “F” for integrity and ethical values

Integrity smarts Posted by Hello

By definition, the effectiveness of internal controls cannot rise above the integrity and ethical values of the City managers who create, administer, and monitor them.

Integrity and ethical values of the city are communicated to city employees and citizens in the actions and practices of City leaders and high level city managers. Too many examples of questionable behavior in the news degrades confidence in city leadership. Citizens know the difference between squeaking by minimal legal standards and the high standards of integrity and ethical behavior expected from city leaders.

City employees see first hand countless examples of failed city leadership and disregard for integrity and ethical behavior and it lowers confidence, self esteem and performance. Citizens see it in the media and their confidence wanes, too.

City leadership of late can’t even muster setting a good example. Mayor Hahn’s efforts to verbally defend his actions and claims that his appointments have met city values and ethical behavioral standards to the citizens has become a sorry spectacle.

Mayor Hahn’s Boards and blue ribbon committees might act to remove incentives and temptations that prompt personnel to engage in fraudulent, questionable or unethical behavior. But the fact remains that high integrity individuals and ethical leadership would not have required the additional levels of blue ribbon bureaucratic review. If citizens knew ahead of time that their mayoral candidate would need to appoint committees to assure ethical behavior they would not have given Hahn their vote in the first place.

Start at the top. The reason Los Angeles city leaders warrant an “F” for commitment to integrity and ethical values is because Hahn has set the example and his organization has fallen in line. He has created an atmosphere full of temptations for City employees to engage in improper acts. He has the power to appoint and remove commissioners. The Mayor used his considerable influence over the Commissioners to select and use Fleishman-Hillard for his personal gain. Do you think the Mayor should have been cognizant of the questionable propriety of these dealings? Hahn’s acts and the city administration’s support of them demonstrate that the checks and balances are nonexistent or ineffective. It also demonstrates a top management that is unaware or unconcerned with integrity and who most likely are unaware of actions taken at lower organizational levels. Further, it demonstrates an ineffective Board unable to exercise independent judgment within DWP, the enabling organization. And lastly, swapping general managers and rotating assistants demonstrates that Hahn has given tacit approval and insignificant penalties for improper behavior.

Integrity means benchmarking services with the best rather than the worst. How does Los Angeles Police compare with, say, Chicago rather than New York. Chicago had a significant decrease in the number of homicides. What caused it?

Chicago Police Superintendent Philip Cline said the key was changing the way officers police the city.

"We're trying to prevent crime rather than just reacting to it," said Cline, who was appointed to the top job in 2003. "We're combining street intelligence with technology and flooding the neighborhoods - and at the same time, we're attacking the biggest cause for our violence, which is gangs, guns and drugs."

With a fixed budget, Chicago police officials had to work with what they had to attack the problem. Cline ordered administrative officers to leave their desks one day each week and to hit the streets, particularly open-air drug markets. The department created a deployment operations center - known as the DOC - where officers analyze crime trends and monitor inter-gang rivalries. The DOC then deploys a targeted response unit - three platoons of about 80 officers each - to areas where violence might occur.

The costs for those changes have been negligible, said David Bayless, a Chicago Police Department spokesman.

Chicago accomplishments reflect good leadership and resource management not less workdays for more money.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Los Angeles gets black eye and bloody nose, still no clue about ethics

Warning: Internal Control Breach Posted by Hello

Once, Oops. Twice, Maybe. Three times! GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

Internal controls are essential to managing any reputable organizational entity. Everyone from the Mayor, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, the auditors, to the citizens of Los Angeles (Alias DWP shareholders) should be concerned with internal controls. If they aren’t, they had better get concerned quick. There is no question DWP rates are going up – way Up! And, Airports and Harbor fees are not far behind.

According to the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations (, an authority on such matters, internal control is a process conducted by directors and managers to provide reasonable assurance that an operation is performing effectively, efficiently, reliably, in compliance with laws and regulations, and is safeguarding assets against unauthorized acquisition, use or disposition. Internal control must be inherent in the way management runs the business and permeate the entire organization and all of its actions.

Thanks to California State University Professor Rick Hayes, here is a short list of features that usually contribute to a successful control environment:

  • Commitment to integrity and ethical values
  • Commitment to competence and quality
  • Independence, integrity, and openness at the Board level
  • Leadership in control by example (management philosophy and operating style)
  • An appropriate organizational structure
  • Appropriate delegation of authority with accountability
  • Appropriate human resource policies and practices

Any of them sound even vaguely familiar? If not, count on rates going UP.

During the next couple of posts, plan on discussing City management. You are invited to share your views.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Connect the dots: A series of musings and commentaries on local politics and management

Universal Performance Factors for General managers Posted by Hello

Some of the business strategies of late at Department of Water and Power are difficult to understand. To understand them, one needs to look at change over a period of time – Where were we (then) and where are we (now). Of course, this type of analysis lends itself particularly well in evaluating leadership, organizational culture, and a concept commonly referred to as “continuous improvement” or lack there of, as the case may be.

There is circular axiom in management. It goes something like this,

“Without standards, there is no measurement. Without measurement, there is no direction. And, without direction, there is no leadership. Leadership therefore begins with an articulated vision, enumerated goals and objectives, and a measurement of ones accomplishments with respect to those goals and objectives.”

During Richard Riordan’s term as Mayor of Los Angeles, Riordan accepted a dollar a year for his public service. He demonstrated integrity. He established standards of performance, and held City managers accountable. One of Riordan’s first executive directives was Executive Directive No. 2000-2 entitled Universal Performance Factors for General Managers. It first established his responsibility to evaluate the performance of his managers. Further, it set forth goals on which City managers were going to be evaluated, namely vision, leadership, and accountability.

James K. Hahn term as Mayor of Los Angeles has been quite a change from the former mayor. Notwithstanding a significant increase in compensation, Hahn’s public service has been marked by public scandal and Federal investigation. Probably the most relevant management change that Hahn has made during his term as mayor is that the standards of performance are gone. It is as though the performance factors never existed and remain just outside the reach of public consciousness.

The most significant difference between these two administrations is the interpretation of Charter Section 508(d), with regards to Mayoral responsibilities to evaluate the performance of chief administrative officers [general managers]. Former Mayor Riordan saw these as personal responsibilities. Hahn has transferred these responsibilities to others in the form of mayoral appointments, blame, and blue-ribbon review committees.

Mayor Hahn has chosen not to establish standards of performance for his appointments, per se. Lately, responsible citizens have had to fill that void, by making judgments based upon what they perceive first hand, see in the media, or read in print and editorials. Responsible citizens are smart enough to look at the facts. Of course, the facts include an overwhelming number of negative reports on Hahn’s administration and a degraded City government.

The elevation of law in Hahn’s administration to a standard of performance is another curious development. Most curious because, law, one would think, should be a rudiment rather than the pinnacle of rational government.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Civil Action worth mention

Secret Summits! -- Laura Chick summons Hahn’s challengers to her home for scandal talk by JEFFREY ANDERSON

Laura Chick dons spurs and takes CIVIL ACTION worth the PRESS.