Saturday, July 23, 2011

Decisions, leadership & biz101

As I lift my head briefly from a pile of academic readings (on globalisation, media & communities if you're interested), I wonder where the days have gone. It doesn't take much to figure out however... long hours working with students, reading various texts and attending lectures - which at this level are not sit-n-listen classes but more akin to (hyper)active discussions with ideas flying at a mile a minute. No wonder I'm tired!

Life continues on in Shakeytown,,, not quite so shakey these days, although there's still the odd sizable jolt to remind us it's not all over yet. People round here seem to fall into two categories - those who stay positive amidst the doom & gloom, and those for whom it's all just a bit much to deal with. Many of us flip between the two depending on the circumstances, and no matter how much we'd really like to stay in that positive group, it's not always possible.

One thing we do need is decisive leadership, from all of the councils, authorities and committees involved in C-city's rebuilding process. There has been a bit of a spat recently over the allocation of the rubble management work. I'm with Cr Wells on this one - sometimes decisions have to made immediately in order to get the job done. We all know it's a big job, and this is just one aspect of the citywide recovery process. I've always loved Sue's sense of humour, well illustrated by her comment about the acronym of the euphemistically named 'recovery park'... BRRP (go on, say it phonetically & indulge your inner child).

I wasn't terribly impressed with The Press' coverage of this one... and I don't know whether it's just a case of reporters misinterpreting the concerns of those they interviewed, or whether the contractors are just throwing big numbers around to make it sound more impressive. Monday's story in The Press about $500 million worth of rubble prompted Cr Wells to give her view Monday evening, and by Tuesday The Press was quoting unnamed contractors as saying the operator of the BRRP could make $500 million. Really? No operating costs involved at all then? Business 101 needs to be taught somewhere, and I'm not sure what's scarier... that it's the reporters or the business-people who are confusing turnover with profit. Of course, there's always option C - a poor choice of wording and a lack of editorial oversight that saw a basic error go out unchecked.

Another news item that caught my interest this week was this one on 3News about the temporary supports that are currently propping up many fences around Shakeytown. While our elected councillors seem to be operating with the bigger picture in mind, I'm not sure that the same kind of leadership or holistic viewpoint is being displayed by council staff. If the council is seriously going to charge every homeowner in insurance-limbo who blocks the footpath in order to prop up a damaged fence or building, will they do the same to every non-residential building owner whose protective measures also block the footpath? 
Why not just fine God or Mother Nature while you're at it, for the amount of litter they leave lying around every time they stamp their feet?
I hope there is someone within this particular council department who can step back and take a pragmatic view of the situation. These are not normal times, and existing rules & regulations should be reassessed in line with current circumstances to see whether there should be a new approach taken. How about some safety guidelines - a requirement for flouro paint or reflective markings, no sharp edges or things that stick out to snag the unwary... you know, something helpful & proactive instead of a fine. There are so many competing agencies involved in this assessment-insurance-repair process that penalising those who are stuck in the middle is unfair and short-sighted.

Let's face it, fence supports are the least of our worries around here... I think we're all quite used to negotiating obstacles round these parts! What we really don't need is for officious council departments to be blindly following procedure when everything around them has changed.

Our city's dark heart... click to embiggen

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