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.

Mayor Povlsen Calls Opposition to DeKalb Library Expansion Actions “Anti Idiots”

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.

Continue reading Mayor Povlsen Calls Opposition to DeKalb Library Expansion Actions “Anti Idiots”

NIU “Coffee Fund” Quote of the Day

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.

Building Blocks of Great Organizations

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.

Bull Moose

One of our national leaders was shot but the injury did not deter his making a long speech.

I am in this cause with my whole heart and soul. I believe that the Progressive movement is making life a little easier for all our people; a movement to try to take the burdens off the men and especially the women and children of this country. I am absorbed in the success of that movement.

Friends, I ask you now this evening to accept what I am saying as absolutely true, when I tell you I am not thinking of my own success. I am not thinking of my life or of anything connected with me personally. I am thinking of the movement. I say this by way of introduction, because I want to say something very serious to our people and especially to the newspapers. I don’t know anything about who the man was who shot me to-night. He was seized at once by one of the stenographers in my party, Mr. Martin, and I suppose is now in the hands of the police. He shot to kill. He shot – the shot, the bullet went in here – I will show you.

Continue reading Bull Moose

State’s Attorney Candidate Makes Public Corruption an Issue

There are three Democratic and two Republican candidates for DeKalb County State’s Attorney. Only one of them, GOP hopeful Clay Campbell, has brought up the issue of corruption in local government. The following is my transcription of Campbell’s closing remarks during the Chamber of Commerce candidates’ forum last Tuesday. I’ve stripped out an “uh” or two and ignored his tendency to drop the “g” (e.g. “lettin'”). To listen for yourself, visit WLBK for the podcast.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have to begin the process of healing our community. We can’t keep going back and forth: Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, name calling–we can’t do that anymore. It’s not good for us, and it’s not a good model for our children. We have to again restore the respect for government officials that they deserve. We have to elect people that will come forward and serve the public good.

I’m reminded of this Victor Wogen matter here with the City Council of DeKalb. Continue reading State’s Attorney Candidate Makes Public Corruption an Issue

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here is a CPS school kid having a great time!

Today, we celebrate a group of people chased out of Europe, thankful they were still alive, which brings me to a quote from Bill Murray in Stripes:

“We’re all very different people. We’re not Watusi, we’re not Spartans, we’re Americans. With a capital “A”, huh? And you know what that means? Do you? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog. We’re mutts.”


A Call for ‘Ethical Capitalism’

In 2004 — just about the zenith of the “greed is good” decades-long Wall Street feeding frenzy — Cambridge economist Noreen Hertz published The Debt Threat: How debt is destroying the developing world…and threatening us all. Here’s a great article about her experiences. Since the early 90s she’s been often ignored and sometimes attacked for her views that the markets were unsustainable, and that one of the major factors in unsustainability is inequality. Ignored, that is, until everything crashed last year.

Hertz saw the financial meltdown as not only a failure of the laissez-faire market, but also — and more important — a failure in thinking. “People either ignored the unknowable or purposely disregarded the facts,” she says. Continue reading A Call for ‘Ethical Capitalism’

Lincoln on Wind

Abraham Lincoln on the possibilities of wind power:

Of all the forces of nature, I should think the wind contains the largest amount of motive power—that is, power to move things. Take any given space of the earth’s surface—for instance, Illinois—; and all the power exerted by all the men, and beasts, and running-water, and steam, over and upon it, shall not equal the one hundredth part of what is exerted by the blowing of the wind over and upon the same space. And yet it has not, so far in the world’s history, become proportionably valuable as a motive power. It is applied extensively, and advantageously, to sail-vessels in navigation. Add to this a few wind-mills, and pumps, and you have about all. That, as yet, no very successful mode of controlling, and directing the wind, has been discovered; and that, naturally, it moves by fits and starts—now so gently as to scarcely stir a leaf, and now so roughly as to level a forest—doubtless have been the insurmountable difficulties. As yet, the wind is an untamed, and unharnessed force; and quite possibly one of the greatest discoveries hereafter to be made, will be the taming, and harnessing of the wind. That the difficulties of controlling this power are very great is quite evident by the fact that they have already been perceived, and struggled with more than three thousand years; for that power was applied to sail-vessels, at least as early as the time of the prophet Isaiah.

~Lecture: “Discoveries & Inventions” (1860)