Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A committee for the camel.

When I think about Sheila's big idea in her campaign document, it is she is going to run the city by using citizen committees. This has amazed me, she really can't think this is a good idea can she?

I like the idea that the committee who was assigned to design the horse came up with the camel. Here is the Wikipedia entry about this. A key quote when we apply this to Carbondale -
The defining characteristics of "design by committee" are needless complexity, internal inconsistency, logical flaws, banality, and the lack of a unifying vision.
Clearly, the best example of this in Carbondale is our Study Circle "program" and their pool idea. I have written about the Carbondale outdoor pool initiative in some detail before, but like the horse turning into a camel, the Carbondale outdoor pool has turned from a pool into a theme park in the hands of the study circles.

I can't tell you have surprised I was when I read that Sheila was in favor of this plan (or maybe she isn't, it is hard to tell). From Sheila's campaign document -
In Lee's work for a public outdoor pool he is always focused on comparing the dividends that will result from different priorities in spending.
The city of Herrin when through this recently, if you build a pool it costs around $2M less land. If you build a theme park of the water variety, you are looking at $6M (plus overruns). That is a big difference. The $6M park is scheduled to lose $250k to $500k a year from the last plan I saw (from the Carbondale pro-pool crowd). That is real money going out the door. The $2M pool would lose much less, because it would have very few working parts and many less employees.

I'm thinking that given the number of users, it would be cheaper to figure out how many kids were going to use the theme park and buy them each a Rec Center pass and then give each of them a full ride through college. Yes, it is going to cost that much money and more. I'm almost in favor of the $2M pool, I know it will a racial mess like the Boys and Girl's club, unless there is real management in place, but it would be nice to have.

I'm not sure the citizens want to afford a pool, even it is the cheapest version. The special interest group of parents with swimmers clearly drove the study circle to this result. Just as the people who live next to Hickory Lodge intend to drive the result of that startup committee in the park district too. Kind of interesting isn't it, only the people with a real vested interest or nothing better to do show up for the death march of committee meetings that these sorts of things provide. Unfortunately, in Carbondale this almost always leads to poor results.

This is the form of government that Sheila is putting forward, management by committee. The voters should be afraid, be very afraid.


Anonymous said...

I heard a definition of committee once that I really find rings true: "a committee is a cul de sac into which good ideas are lured and slowly strangled" I wish I could give formal attribution but I don't recall where I heard it first.

dave said...

The quote is from Barnett Cocks in New Scientist

nobody said...

it's so strange to have a republican mayor who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, opposing a Democrat who is fiscally liberal and socially conservative...