Sunday, November 22, 2015

Whittling Away at 4% of the Budget

Council spent Thursday evening and all day Friday going through administration's proposed additions to the budget.  Once again, we don't look at what we're currently spending money on, and figure out ways of finding efficiencies there.  We only look at the proposed increases, which to my mind is missing a great opportunity for change - finding programs that are no longer required, and redeploying positions to new priorities.  I know that this kind of budget would be much more work, but I think that it would give us a much better result.

However, the day and a half was well spent, in that we managed to whittle down the proposed 4% increase to somewhere around 1%.  I found it entertaining that one veteran councillor wondered if having an increase of only 1% the year before an election might be considered as doing this for purely political purposes, obviously forgetting his actions of a few years ago, when he fully supported a zero per cent increase, also the year before an election.  The difference this time is that we went through the proposed expenditures before announcing the increase, unlike a few years ago when the zero per cent was announced before we started budget deliberations.  I think there's also a recognition by most members of council that more money does not always result in getting more work done - there's only so much work that can be done in the available time with the available resources of equipment, people and weather.

In any case, we made the decreases largely by rejecting the new positions and expenditures proposed by administration.  My reason for turning them down has two parts.  For one, the business case for adding the new positions was not clear.  Nobody took the time in the proposal to explain clearly how making these investments would save money - the argument put forward that other cities have made these investments just isn't a good enough reason.  The second is that I don't believe that new positions are required - this city has an extremely bad habit of adding positions, but never deleting any.  The population of the city has certainly not increased proportionally nearly as much as the staffing levels at city hall.  Just as pegging the tax increase to the cost of living increase is a good guideline, I think that matching staff levels to population levels is probably a good rule of thumb.

I'd hoped that administration would look internally to figure out where redundancies are, and propose reallocating staff resources.  If they aren't willing to make that effort, then I'm not willing to have tax payers fund new positions while still paying for staff that may not be needed in their current positions.  For instance, the mayor no longer has two secretaries, but those positions were just moved - now the city manager has two secretaries.  Several years ago, a new position was created to track the donations for the new soccer centre - that position is still in the mix, somewhere, although getting a clear answer out of management on these matters is extremely difficult.

It wasn't all cutting, of course.  In some cases we identified areas where more work, and thus spending, is needed - sidewalk repairs being one, as a complaint that has been raised at several of the ward meetings over the fall.

Unfortunately, close to the end of our discussions, the loan to bail out the Borealis Music Festival was added to the mix.  I'm not sure why it was included as part of the budget, since it was presented as a loan that would thus be revenue neutral, and not affect tax rates.  I think that it was added in the hopes that it would be hidden, sort of like in an omnibus bill, and accepted by council, rather than being presented as a separate motion on its own.  Why some members of council feel that we should bail out the Prince Albert Tourism and Marketing Board, which is its own entity, is a mystery to me.  This board is not a committee of council, but a separately incorporated group, on which two members of council sit.  But we are not responsible for paying their bills.  I feel badly for the local businesses that have not been paid, but I feel worse for the tax payers who are now expected to further subsidize this event.  And I'm also concerned about the precedent that this proposed bailout would set - other functions that the city may agree to give money to may then come and expect the city to cover their losses.

The final vote on the budget will be at a future council meeting.  While, as always, I think that we could improve the process by digging deeper into current spending to find opportunities to cut, I do think that we've done a reasonable job in getting the proposed increases down.  With the exception of the inexplicably added music festival loan, this is a budget that I could support.

"A budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations." - Jacob Lew

Sunday, November 8, 2015

It's Budget Season Once Again

This week, the draft budget was posted on the city website, with a proposed increase of 4%.  What many people don't realize, judging by the comments on various websites that universally slam council for this proposal, is that this is the budget drafted by administration - council had nothing to do with it.  This draft budget is the starting point, based on what administration thinks it should cost to do the work of maintaining the city.

This is the draft that people have the chance to comment on.  On Monday, after this week's council meeting, the various agencies that are funded by the city have the opportunity to present on their piece of the budget, and explain any increases.  Then on Friday and Saturday, council as a whole will go through the budget, reviewing proposed changes to the status quo - the increases that administration has suggested.

Of course, this isn't really reviewing the budget, because it isn't reviewing how we're spending money now, and identifying areas where cuts to programs could be made, or efficiencies found.  It is council's chance to lessen future expenditures, to question why new positions are needed, or why increases to program funding are essential.

It also isn't the final step in approving the budget - that will come later.  And that's the opportunity to identify areas where we could stop spending money - positions that are now redundant that could be cut, programs that we're delivering that could be done more cheaply.

It will take some pretty good arguments from administration to convince me that any new positions are needed.  I think that our staffing levels are quite high when compared to our population.  I'm not sure why, when a position is vacated through someone leaving or retiring, city managers are not required to establish the necessity of that position before it is filled.  And sometimes I think that positions are created or filled almost as insurance - I can't think why the city manager needs two secretaries, since I can remember when the mayor and the city manager managed with one secretary between them.  And we have managers without any staff to  manage, which makes no sense either.

One of the ongoing frustrations that I have with the budget is that we do it backwards - looking to spend more money before we look at where we could save.  I know that there are some members of council who believe that once a service has been provided to the public, it can never be cut, which is nonsense.  We need to look much harder at making services pay for themselves.  For instance, right now we pick up grass clippings and garden waste in a totally disorganized way.  Put a clear plastic bag of waste out, and a truck with three guys on it will pick it up.  How about if instead of providing this extra service for no charge, and in the most labour-intensive way, we provide another bin, which can be picked up by one guy in an automated truck on a set schedule, just like garbage and recycling.  If you want this service, it's an additional charge on your water bill.  If you do your own composting, you don't have to pay for the service.  As simply as that, we could remove a cost, and keep a revenue-neutral service.

I've said it many times - the budget is the most important thing that council does.  But we don't do it alone.  I would encourage you to go through the document, which is on the city's website, and if you see something that you think could be done more cheaply, or isn't part of what you think the city should be doing, give me a call.  After all, it's your money that we're spending.

"Look at our society.  Everyone wants to be thin, but nobody wants to diet.  Everyone wants to live long, but few exercise.   Everybody wants money, yet seldom will anyone budget or control their spending." - John C. Maxwell

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Nightmare on Eighth Street

This spring, the city started some long overdue street repairs in Midtown, on the 300, 400 and 500 blocks of Eighth  Street, and the 300 block on Ninth Street - replacing old water and sewer lines, repaving, and putting in new curbs and sidewalks.  The work started in May, in the 300 block of Eighth, tearing up half the street to repair a water main break.  Then the next two blocks were torn up.  Then, for some inexplicable reason, reconstruction work continued on the 400 and 500 blocks, without finishing the 300 block.  Then the equipment moved to Ninth Street, leaving the 300 block torn up.  And it remained that way all summer.

The residents at first were pleased that any work was being done, although many mourn the inevitable loss of mature boulevard trees that results from such extensive work.  But they understand that outdated pipes that break far too often need to be replaced, and getting new curbs and sidewalks is great.  But as the summer wore on, with no sign of the work being completed, people started to get a bit concerned - no one dreamed when the work started in May that the street would still be torn up in September.  And they received no information from the city as to when they could expect this work to be done, or reasons as to why the other blocks were finished, and theirs was not.  Just think, six months of dealing with difficult access to your home, no place for visitors to park, and no street lights.  And nobody telling you what's going on.

When I got back from holidays in mid-October, the phone calls started.  Some residents had called City Hall for an explanation, and were told that crews were really busy.  That's not an explanation; it's not even a good excuse.  So I read out loud one of the emails that I received from a resident at the next council meeting, and asked that administration inform all the residents on the block what was going on.

The city manager sent residents a letter, claiming that the delays were caused by the work that had to be done on the Big Dig.  Now, I realize the temptation to use that as an excuse, except that the city contracted out that work - it hasn't been city crews on that particular project.  When I was told by a resident that this was the excuse given, I was quite annoyed.  Then when I saw city crews working on paving a parking lot behind SIAST, rather than working on a residential street that has been impassable for six months, I shared my annoyance with the city manager.

That Saturday, crews were back on Eighth Street, but they haven't been back since.  Nor has there been further communication from City Hall.

To me, this sends several unfortunate messages to the residents.  The first is that our highly paid professionals are lacking in project management skills.  This apparent lack means that they don't appear to be able to plot out a work schedule that will result in a project getting done quickly, efficiently, and with the least disruption to the tax payers who live in the area.  Even though unexpected things are bound to happen, good project management will ensure that things get back on track as quickly as possible, so that the original objective is met.  It also means that new projects are not started until you are certain that you can finish the current project.  Multi-tasking is not something that should be done with these sorts of projects.

The second message is that communication is not a priority of administration.  Residents should not have to pester City Hall to find out the timeline of a project, or the reasons (or excuses) for why targets aren't met.  We could save ourselves all sorts of trouble if we just kept the people most affected informed ahead of time.

The final, and least fortunate message, is that residents in this part of the city don't matter to the people in charge at City Hall.  For whatever reason, their needs are secondary to getting a parking lot paved, and whatever other projects are considered more important than the provision of a safe, well-lit street, and the timely completion of a project.

As more than one resident has reminded me - these people pay taxes, and have a right to be provided the same level of service as other tax payers.  And, sadly, I don't have a good answer  for them, because I'm not getting straight answers either.

"Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." - Dwight Eisenhower

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Borealis Music Festival - What Should Happen Next

The Borealis Music Festival was back on the council agenda for my first meeting back after holidays.  And not in a good way - the event lost so much money that Prince Albert Tourism, which was the entity that actually ran the festival, since they're already incorporated and thus were eligible for various grants, is now out of money, and needs $20,000 to make it to the end of the year.  Not only that, but various bills for the event haven't yet been paid, so they were asking for an additional loan of $80,000.  How they plan on repaying such a sizeable loan wasn't in the details that we were given, but we were told that it would be worked out later.  Considering the value of their financial planning so far, I think that it's safe to assume that the city wouldn't see that money again.

Let's put it into a bit of perspective.  The city has already given this event a $15,000 grant, even though they applied too late according to the rules.  We also provided an additional $15,000 in kind - largely in labour costs for set-up and site preparation.  Council did this based on a proposal and associated budget that even at the time seemed totally unrelated to reality - the projected attendance of 15,000 over three days, with half coming from local residents, apparently was conjured out of thin air.  Consider that the Edmonton Folk Festival attracts 25,000 - surely that should have factored into planning, but it wasn't.  And their other income, from T shirts, promotional items and beer sales, was also based on that 15,000 number.

Now we have decided to give them another $20,000 - that a total of $50,000 of tax payers' money.  They didn't get 15,000 attendees.  The reported attendance is less than 10% of that - 1,200.  The city subsidy per attendee is now $41.66, rather than the initial $2.  If we decide at some future point to add the additional $80,000, that brings the subsidy per attendee to $108.33.  That gets very difficult to defend to tax payers who may think that the city should spend based on the needs of many, not the entertainment desires of a minority.

Since the event happened, we've been getting information in dribs and drabs.  First we were told, right after the event, that they had adjusted their plans and the budget as the event got closer.  That's fine, but nobody told the city, which had made its decision based on the original plan, not on whatever the adjusted plan was.  We've since been told that they were counting on a chunk of funds from the Destination Marketing Board, which was funded through voluntary contributions from hotels, but the participation by hotels is far less than had been hoped, so that organization was already in the process of folding up shop - why would they be counted on to help pay the bills?

Prince Albert Tourism submitted a status quo budget for 2015, and although they mentioned plans for a music festival, they didn't include it as a line item in their budget.  If you're going to take on something of that size, that obviously has the potential to financially sink your organization, you should revise your budget first thing.  It's like buying a new car, but not adjusting your personal budget to account for the new payments - just asking for trouble.

I've had questions about this from the beginning (which another councillor deemed ridiculous), and I have even more now.  One of my key questions at Monday's meeting was about the actual numbers - we had none in front of us, and there was nobody from Tourism there - which speaks volumes about how complacent they were about getting bailed out of a problem that was entirely of their making.  I was told that the numbers had been presented at an in camera meeting the previous week.  This generated even more questions - this subject is not land, legal or labour (the only reasons that the Cities Act allows for not having something in the public portion of the meeting), so why weren't the numbers made public?  If we're just concerned about embarrassing some of the individuals involved, I don't think that's nearly as embarrassing to council as continuing to cover things up.

I also would like to know why Administration recommended the original proposal to council, instead of putting it under close scrutiny.  Where was their oversight?  I'm occasionally chided by other members of council when I question Administration, since they're supposed to be the professionals providing us with good advice.  This is why, and why more members of council should step forward with their questions - our responsibility is not to administrative staff, but to the tax payers.

So now we're getting a better understanding of the financial mess that the festival has left behind, how do we move forward?  First, we need to see the books, both for the Borealis Music Festival, and for Prince Albert Tourism.  It's like planning your financial future - first you have to know how big a mess you're in, and identify the mistakes that got you there.

Should the decision be made to go ahead, then the organizational team needs to be identified, with responsible and competent people in charge.  People with financial and promotional experience need to be in charge of various aspects of the event - it's not enough to hand it over to enthusiastic amateurs who have no idea how to organize the many aspects that go into making something like this a success.

Those who were involved have to identify where mistakes were made.  I would much rather have those involved say what they learned, and what they're going to change because it really didn't work as they thought it would, than hear that it was a great event, and that those few who were there had a really good time.  I'm always surprised by the defensive response when people extrapolate your questions to mean that you must hate Prince Albert, volunteers, music, the arts in general, small children and flowers.

I understand that many people worked very hard to bring this festival to Prince Albert.  I also understand that events that bring people into the city have the potential to improve the city both financially and in less easily measured ways.  However, my role as a councillor includes asking the hard questions to ensure that new events are successful, and can grow.  We need to balance opportunity with risk, and more people involved all the way along the line, from the organizers through the various levels of administration to council, need to ask these hard questions.

And part of that is open debriefing after events happen, so that you can fix mistakes and build on what worked.  That's what hasn't happened yet with the Borealis Music Festival, and it is what has to happen before council even considers providing assistance in future years.

"You can't change what you don't acknowledge." - Dr. Phil

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Post-Vacation Thoughts

Three weeks ago, Andrea and I were on a train, heading east for Toronto, for our annual trip to Ontario to remind our families what we look like.  As is our habit, we take the train both coming and going, to provide us with some forced relaxation on either side of what tends to become a hectic time of trying to visit family and friends in several different locations.  On the train, for most of the time, you're out of range of cell phone or internet, so your time is spent disconnected from the outside world, reading, napping, and talking with other passengers.  And eating, of course - the Via Rail chefs produce amazingly delicious meals, three times a day.

Once in Ontario, we spent the first weekend with Andrea's family, as five of the sisters, plus husbands and children, gathered near Magnetawan to celebrate the milestone birthday of one sister.  These birthday weekends feature much eating, drinking, laughing, and catching up on each other's lives - this one also featured a pumpkin beer tasting, a bonfire, and sparklers.  We then spent a few days in Fergus visiting my family, a couple of days in Niagara on the Lake, seeing two plays and visiting two wineries, Thanksgiving weekend in Millbrook with Andrea's youngest sister and her family, before a final couple of days in Toronto, having dinner with Andrea's only brother and his wife, plus another sister and her husband and son.  Then it was back on the train for the two day trip home, arriving back in Saskatoon only seven minutes behind schedule, on Thursday evening.

Even though it was vacation, I'm always keeping an eye out for how other communities handle the issues that every city has to deal with.  In Niagara on the Lake, for example, we had the chance to spend a couple of hours with a former Prince Albert businessman, Paul Moser, who told me that residents there are allowed to buy an annual parking pass for a set fee, so that they can park downtown without feeding the parking meter.  The parking meters are still there, of course, and the many, many tourists that flock there to tour wineries or take in a play or two at the Shaw Festival, provide parking revenues.  However, the local residents don't have the disincentive of having to dig out change for the meter whenever they go downtown, and the city gets parking revenue from two sources - from residents through the passes, and from the tourists through the meters.  These are the kind of options that I wish this city would explore, whenever we bemoan the lack of activity in the downtown area, while at the same time we hear that one of the reasons that people don't like coming downtown is because of the parking meters and the ever-vigilant ticketing people.

In Winnipeg, we had a few hours between arrival and departure, when we were able to wander about The Forks, the riverside area that has been developed with walking and biking paths, a children's museum, restaurants, and an indoor market.  We noticed that several white lawn and kitchen chairs with writing on them were scattered throughout the market.  When we looked closer, we saw that each chair had a suggestion written on it in black marker.  It turns out that Winnipeg has a website called ChairYourIdea, to which residents can submit ideas for improving the city - some of the ideas are then written on the chairs.  Some of the ideas are quite fanciful (I'm not sure how a Ferris wheel restaurant on the riverbank would work, although I'm sure the view would be great), some were more practical, like having a lending library for tools, that also provided seminars on simple home  repairs, which I think is a great idea, especially for lower income families.

Vacations are a great opportunity to get perspective.  While there are always lots of people in downtown Toronto, we also saw many empty storefronts, and more panhandlers and people sleeping on the street than I remember from past visits.  We also drove through downtown Hamilton on our way from Niagara on the Lake - there open stores seemed to be the exception, with many blocks appearing to be completely vacant.  Keeping downtowns vital is a problem no matter where you go.

While it's always great to see family and catch up with old friends, it's also great to come back home, and sleep in our own bed after three weeks of variable mattresses, and enjoy a good shower, after three weeks of variable water pressure.  And I'm looking forward to reconnecting with my council colleagues, on Tuesday this week, as we're taking Monday off to vote!

"The ant is knowing and wise, but he doesn't know enough to take a vacation." - Clarence Day

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Ward Three Public Meeting

The public meeting for Ward Three, that I talked about a month ago, was held last Thursday evening.  This is one of a series of public meetings, arranged by the Director of Planning for the city.  His current plan is to hold a meeting in each ward (so far meetings have been held in Wards One, Four and Three), with the last meeting held in late October for Ward Two.  He then intends to complete the community plan, and bring it to council for approval.  Councillors were not involved in the planning of the meetings, and although I made some suggestions as to meeting content and notice, for the most part they were ignored.

Attendance at the first meeting in Ward One was quite good, probably because flyers were dropped in all the mailboxes in the ward well before the meeting.  There was no such notice for the Ward Four meeting, which resulted in only about four ward residents being at the meeting - the remainder of people there were either city staff, councillors, or political candidates.

On Thursday, the day of the meeting, Andrea came home at lunch to find a flyer about the meeting in our mailbox - not the best timing, but better late than never.  As a result, about fifty ward residents showed up, although I did get a couple of emails after the meeting justifiably complaining about the short notice.

I had suggested that if we wanted to focus these meetings, it would be helpful for a large map to be made, showing where city amenities are.  Not only would this provide a starting point for discussions, but it would also illustrate the disparity among wards - and perhaps get council to a point where we could agree that there should be a baseline of amenities for all wards - not all wards have all paved streets, for example, or sidewalks, or parks, or city-built splash parks.  Unfortunately, this didn't happen, but I still think that it's a good idea.

Most of the issues raised were issues that I have raised at council - the lack of roll-out garbage bins, derelict housing, poor back alley maintenance, discarded needles in streets and playgrounds, lack of police presence.  The only new thing that I heard was one resident asking about the possibility of raising chickens.  While I agree that there may be issues with trying this out, I also know that one of my daughter's neighbours in Saskatoon keeps chickens (yes, contrary to bylaw), and they cause no problems at all.  Rather than just say no, how about we look at the potential issues, and see what policies need to be put in place to solve those issues before they start.  Knowing the woman in question, I'm quite sure that her chickens would not be a nuisance to anyone.

The city manager was at the meeting, and I hope that one of his takeaways from the meeting was that it's not just me raising these issues - they are legitimate concerns of the people that I represent.  The people of Ward Three pay taxes like other city residents, and their concerns deserve to be heard and addressed just like those of residents in other parts of the city.  For example, for several years I've been advocating for an increase in the budget for back alley maintenance.  It's a little discouraging to hear other councillors refuse to support such an increase, because they don't have the same number of back alleys, and in any case, the back alleys in their ward are paved.  We're supposed to have a broader perspective than that.

I was also glad to see Councillor Miller and Councillor Orr at the meeting, as they were at the other two meetings.  It's good to see that some councillors realize that their job isn't just to represent the residents of their wards, but also to see and hear the concerns of other parts of the city.  I plan on attending as many of these meetings as I can, and I hope that the director of planning realizes that if you want people to come to meetings, you have to let them know about the meetings, well in advance, and not rely on social media to do the job for you.

This meeting was just a starting point.  I think that we need more meetings before any recommendations make it into the final community plan, which is the director of planning's goal for using this information.  Rather than making assumptions as to what the best solutions to the various problems identified would be, I think that it would be well worth the effort to come back to each ward with a draft plan, to confirm with the people who live there that these are ideas that are worth trying.  That's because no matter how much expertise city staff may have, the people who have to live with the results are the residents.  Otherwise, these meetings will turn out to have wasted everybody's time.

"If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings'." - Dave Barry

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Once Again, I'm the Resident Curmudgeon

A week or so ago, the local paper asked for my thoughts on the provision of money from the Special Events Fund for the recent Borealis Music Festival.  This fund is $50,000 that council sets aside each year, to be provided to local groups who want assistance in putting on events of provincial or national attraction.  I suggested to the reporter that we need to rethink our whole policy around providing money to events - maybe it's time to consider setting up a levy on hotels, as other communities do, with the levy going into a fund for these events, rather than council taking money out of tax revenues.  After all, hotels are the ones who benefit directly from people coming to these events - the city gains no revenues.

After Andrea read the article, I asked her if I came across as too curmudgeonly.  She laughed, and said that I was no worse than usual.  And then she said that it was too bad that it often seems that I'm the only curmudgeon on council - the only one who insists on asking questions when it comes to spending tax payers' money.  Which is funny, because I think that asking questions about how we spend people's money is a huge part of the job - we're not elected just to be automatic cheerleaders for every idea that comes forward, although that seems to be the perception of some of my colleagues.

It's not that I'm against events such as the Borealis Music Festival.  When the proposal came before council, I pointed out that it did not qualify under one of the basic criteria - applications for use of this fund are supposed to be submitted a year before the event.  That's because putting on an event of provincial or national attraction requires a lot of time to plan and execute.  The music festival was less than five months away.

At the time I identified several weak spots in their budget - their attendance projections (15,000 people), were wildly ambitious, and their estimates for revenue from beer and souvenir sales were also extremely high, and tied to the same proposed attendance.  They were going to transport people from Christopher, Emma and Candle Lakes, without considering that on a long weekend, someone who is at the lake is likely there because that's where they want to be, not back in Prince Albert.  And I questioned the wisdom of not branding the type of music that was going to be offered - most people like to know what they're buying before they shell out a significant amount of money.

I pointed these things out not to be  mean, or discouraging, but to increase their chances of holding an event that would be seen as a success, with the potential to grow in the future.  I understand the whole idea of dreaming big, but my responsibility is to try to make sure that tax dollars are spent with regard to the benefit of the community as a whole.

But my questions weren't answered - in fact one of my colleagues said at the meeting that such questions were ridiculous and a waste of time.  And seven members of council voted to give the music festival $15,000 from the Special Events Fund, and a equal amount of in-kind contributions - hanging banners, mowing grass, trimming trees, and other such services.  And we agreed to block off a large portion of Kinsmen Park for the duration, making it unavailable for local residents.

Now apparently the initial budget was revised over the next few months, as the organizers realized that they weren't attracting the numbers that they had hoped for.  I don't know how well they kept their other sponsors informed, but they didn't share these downward projections with council.  So it was rather a surprise to hear after the fact that they were quite pleased with their estimated attendance of 1,200, as being more than they expected.  Somewhere along the line, they realized that attendance was going to be only about ten per cent of what they had originally planned - the plan that they had used to persuade council that this was a worthy investment of $15,000 (plus an equal amount of in-kind contributions).  So each attendee was subsidized by more than ten dollars of tax dollars.

Now suppose that, in their first year, they had planned a smaller, one day event.  Fewer acts would have decreased their costs, and they could have put some kind of identifier on the kind of music.  Lower costs could have translated to a lower admission price - fifty dollars for a single day's admission translates to more than $100 for a couple - quite pricey if you're not sure of what's being offered.  And don't worry about bringing people in from the lakes - focus on how to make the event more attractive to the people who are here.  In that case, attracting a thousand people would be considered a success, and something to build on.

I understand that some of the people involved with the music festival resented my comments in the paper, which is unfortunate.  I think that using that energy to identify what didn't work, and what they are going to try differently would be more productive than blaming the guy who asks the questions.

And remember, as long as you're looking to spend tax dollars, I'm going to be asking hard questions about it.  That's my job.

"You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world.  But it takes people to make the dream a reality." - Walt Disney