Archive for the ‘ Quotables ’ Category

DeKalb’s Financial Hole

As with yesterday’s clip, today’s video comes from a recording of the April 2013 workshop meeting involving DeKalb officials and the financial consultants Executive Partners, Inc. In this one, EPI’s Larry Kujovich explains why the city needs to shift to a more strategic, longer-term approach in allocating its resources.

The clip comes from the first couple minutes of this portion of the workshop video.

The setup: The April 2013 workshop meeting between city officials and their contracted financial consultants, Executive Partners, Inc., was coming to a close. EPI’s Larry Kujovich (on the left) and Rob Oberwise have been talking about the importance of image building to economic development. Alderman Ron Naylor remarks that economic development has been a priority for as long as he’s been involved with the city, so he asks, “Is there something that you’re saying we need to do more of?”

The clip comes from this 10-minute portion of the meeting video. Ald. Naylor’s question starts at 7:50 into it and both consultants respond. Watch to the end and you’ll see what impact Mr. Kujovich had on the discussion.

A Chronicle article last week talks about all the new building, equipment and personnel the City of DeKalb is investing into its fire department.

I read the article after just having skimmed through the city’s check register for August. The police department spent, among other things, $125,000+ on software and $2600 on the new dog, including $79.95 for a water bowl. They seem to be having fun. Read the rest of this entry

Do you ever go into a store during a weekday when your own kids are in school, and see similarly-aged kids and think, “I wonder why they’re not in school?”

I’ve done so quite reflexively on occasion, and when that happens I say or do…nothing. Because it’s none of my business.

This is between the parents/guardians and whatever school authorities apply to the situation.

Now, city staff are pushing a truancy ordinance that would encourage police officers to enforce what in essence constitutes a curfew during weekdays that District 428 schools are in session, making truancy suddenly the business of the City of DeKalb.

If a school district has a truancy problem and a municipality needs more revenue, it might seem like a good solution on the surface. However, several flaws emerged at last night’s council meeting, not the least of which was any lack of anticipation of how this would affect the kids who are privately schooled. Read the rest of this entry

A Tale of One Public Servant

Private citizen Arthur Clennam finally catches Mr. Barnacle in. Mr. Barnacle heads up Circumlocution, a government office with a far-flung reputation as a model for How Not to Do It.

“It is competent,” said Mr. Barnacle, “to any member of the–Public,” mentioning that obscure body with reluctance, as his natural enemy, “to memorialise the Circumlocution Department. Such formalities as are required to be observed in so doing, may be known on application to the proper branch of that Department.”

“Which is the proper branch?”

“I must refer you,” returned Mr. Barnacle, ringing the bell, “to the Department itself for a formal answer to that inquiry.”

“Excuse my mentioning–”

“The Department is accessible to the–Public,” Mr. Barnacle was always checked a little by that word of impertinent signification, “if the–Public approaches it according to the official forms; if the–Public does not approach it according to the official forms, the–Public has itself to blame.”

~Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, 1857

DeKalb’s Business Friendliness

I am rapidly developing a crush on Larry Kujovich, a member of the group of financial consultants hired by the City of DeKalb.

Still working on taking in the whole of the April 13 workshop video, I swooned this time during a discussion of image-building as part of economic development strategy.

Use terms like “image building” and “branding” and I reflexively roll my eyes because such exercises are futile when the desired image and reality reside in different zip codes. But I quickly regained focus when Mr. Kujovich said this:

[I]f you survey potential businesses, would they consider DeKalb business friendly? I don’t know the answer to that question. We have heard anecdotal evidence; some say that DeKalb is one of the most business-unfriendly cities they’ve ever encountered. Well, if that’s the case, economic development will be a challenge. So, it’s something that perhaps could be addressed.

Read the rest of this entry

EPI and City of DeKalb Operations

Here’s a transcript of a bit of commentary by Larry Kujovich from the dynamic duo Executive Partners and Crowe Horwath, the consultants who met with City of DeKalb officials April 13 to talk strategic financial planning.

You’ve gotta look into the future. . .Does your 5-year plan list what you need, or what is available in terms of resources. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t say what you need. If you’ve got to fund all your capital requirements, all your replacement funds, AND fully fund your pension plans, you’ve got a hole that is HUGE. You need to know what that hole is, even if you can’t solve it right now. Because you’re making short-term decisions, and maybe — we talked earlier about the half-million savings, or the million dollars, how can we use it? — you may need that to do just what you’re doing today, three years from now. And if you don’t have that visibility, you’re gonna get yourself in a box where you spend it now and you don’t have it in three years. Now again, this is my private sector experience; if we didn’t do this THERE, we’d be bankrupt.

Mr. Kujovich also recommended a culture change, in which the focus shifts from the requirements of the organization to an outcomes-based model that asks how best to deliver what the citizenry needs. In other words, he’s asking the bureaucracy to act like less of a bureaucracy.

Watch the full video here. The operations portion begins roughly an hour in, following the discussion of revenue opportunities.

There’s a Facebook group called “You know you’re from Sycamore, Illinois when…”. I just took a screenshot of it in case somebody deletes something later. Anyway there’s a nice photo of the Sycamore Public Library posted along with this description:

For those of you who haven’t been back to Sycamore for some time, this is a foto of the new library. Instead of tearing down the old one, we added a large addition to the east side of it in 1997. It is two stories and has room for a large meeting room and kitchen area. I think the addition ties into the old building rather well. At the east end is a large parking lot.

One commenter on the post notes that there was a lot of opposition to the Sycamore Library expansion and to paraphrase, he was proud of the work he and others did to overcome it. That is a nice comment. Nobody called anybody names.

Then there is Kris Povlsen’s comment:

We are doing the same here in DeKalb to the Haish Library. The anti idiots are always going to oppose all progress. Over the years I have learned to ignore them and do what is in the best interest of the community.

Read the rest of this entry

In reading “NIU: ‘We Welcome’ State’s Attorney Involvement” we get this:

“The integrity of this great university is not at issue,” the statement continued.

When your PR people claim that the resignations of two of your top employees at the same time were for personal reasons and a coincidence, but later it’s found they actually resigned in the midst of investigations into “serious and substantial allegations of misconduct,” I’d say integrity is exactly the issue.

Good day.

From the “A VC Blog” (my emphasis):

Companies are not people. But they are comprised of people. And the people side of the business is harder and way more complicated than building a product is. You have to start with culture, values, and a committment to creating a fantastic workplace. You can’t fake these things. They have to come from the top. They are not bullshit. They are everything. There will be things that happen in the course of building a business that will challenge the belief in the leadership and the future of the company. If everyone is a mercenary and there is no shared culture and values, the team will blow apart. But if there is a meaningful culture that the entire team buys into, the team will stick together, double down, and get through those challenging situations.

My experience tells me this is true of any outstanding organization, not just a start-up. I’ve been a member of some really good teams. I’ve put together a couple of them, too. It is the hardest work I’ve ever done but oh-so-worth-it, especially in social services and other customer service oriented operations. The satisfaction after a year or three is incomparable because both team and clients achieve, sometimes in the face of extreme skepticism.

Anyway, the passage has energized my morning so thought I’d share.