Mad as Hell and Digging for the Bar

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The first time I wrote “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more.” Was in an article dated Oct 2007, that’s rapidly approaching the 5 year mark. Since then we have seen little or no improvement, in fact our financial situation is far more precarious. I took the line from a from the movie Network released in 1976 . …… one evening, Howard Beale, an aging news anchor of a network with poor and falling ratings becomes fed up with the pabulum, truth distortion, denial and spin of network news and he decides he’s mad as hell, he can’t take it any more, and he’s going to start telling the truth (or kill himself). Panicked producers fire him but not before his and the TV station’s ratings soared, so he’s brought back as a commentator. In one scene while on TV he tells everyone to get up, go to the window and scream “We are mad as hell and we are not going to take it any more.”

The following is a recent email I sent to Mayor and Council:

Over the past several years there have been enough articles written about City Hall Accountability and Transparency or lack thereof to fill a book.

 I currently pay over 20 thousand dollars per year in property taxes so as you might expect, as a consumer, I would like to better understand what value I receive for this healthy chunk of change. 

Leading up to the election and post election what was the most or one of the most pressing concerns expressed by citizens?

Would it have been the Pension Plan?  While searching for information I came across the Pension Plan on the City web site (see below) and clicked on the link . The last entry was:  On March 3, 2008 the City Manager tabled a report with Common Council suggesting next steps in dealing with the Plan’s funding position. Council did not deal with this report and instead directed the city Manager to commence discussions with the City’s employee groups.

 My good Mayor and Councilors that was over 4 years ago. Who is responsibly for keeping information current and why are we still paying them. Better still why do they even have a job. As a taxpayer I am appalled by the lack of staff accountability…… this email may in fact be my next article…. I am mad as hell. 

 I applaud Councilors Fullerton, Reardon and McAlery for having the courage and common sense to vote against  a $175,000 study that will consume the better part of this Council’s term. As a City we can’t afford the financial expenditure nor can we afford the time. A small group of business people with any business experience at all, chaired by a Councilor could provide a report to Council, that if implemented would provide an immediate return and……restore citizens confidence.

Do you need just one example for starters? Why do we have a Communications and Marketing Department Budget with a nearly 1 million dollar budget and we have a City web site that’s incomplete and out of date?  Compared to many city web sites that I have visited it’s a complete embarrassment.

Saint John taxpayers don’t need yet another study, they need a Council that will demonstrate the “courage “to make changes, courage that is still forthcoming.

The other day while at coffee I bumped into a former in municipal operations employee, he left and went to the private sector to do comparable work. He offered that when he joined the private sector a crew of 5 men would be sent to do  work where the City would have send 10 workers and, in his opinion,  it haven’t gotten any better. Again I don’t blame the workers they simply follow orders.

We have had and continue to have mangers in all City Departments that have failed to establish acceptable productivity standards.

As a taxpayer looking for the municipal performance and productivity bar I may have to dig for it and will probably get mad as hell in the process as I look ………yet again at my current excessive property tax bill.



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One response to “Mad as Hell and Digging for the Bar”

  1. billyjoeb

    Whenever and wherever staff have to supply their estimation of their own performance – these problems will abound. We need some “dollar a day men”. (And definitely NOT hired consultants) to sort out the mess. Perhaps a few of our corporate TITANS could volunteer some of their talented managers to review and clean house for us.

    City Administration is incestuous and self-serving – with consultants feeding off the dysfunction.

    Councillors are just mannequins in the shop-front window. Behind them – it is business as usual

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