Bob Says: 'Trust But Verify'


Ford, Bob
10:40 AM
Pat, you are correct in that the City needs a virtual help desk. We do have elements of such a system but even the limited system we now have is more often ignored and rarely fully utilized. My caveat, however, is that a help desk will not work, without staff being held accountable for properly using it.A theology instructor once advised, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Port Orange governs with good intention but shoddy implementation.  Let me provide a recent example of failure to fully implement policy.
Reacting to 2010/2011 roof debacle (years of poor roof maintenance led to major cost overruns in reroofing several city buildings) Council determined never to see this happen again established the position of facilities manager and called for routine inspections and maintenance of all city facilities. Implementation of the policy was left to the City Manager. As is often the case with failure, the effort starts out positive with a number of inspections, findings, and important maintenance interventions. It appears initially that all is well. From Council perspective, another problem solved. Not!
The first hints of problems appear in a citizen complaint of plants growing in the gutters of a Fire Station. The problem is brought to the attention of Public Works. Apparently there is no response and the citizen complains again to Councilman Burnette who brings the complaint to Council under the title “Rooftop Garden”.  The gutters are finally cleaned (clogged gutters destroy roofs). Then Councilman Ford reacting to complaints from city employees that air conditioning system in two fire stations had not been working properly for over a year. After council intervention, the air conditioning systems are fixed.
Fast forward to this Christmas Eve, City Council, the Mayor, and City Manager provide and serve a pancake breakfast to city employees.  As we are setting up for the breakfast, standing water is observed after some dish washing in the kitchen area of the City’s snack room in City Hall. Closer observation reveal well warped and well developed mold at the bottom of all the cabinets. This leak has been occurring for some time. This should have been caught by the most cursory inspection.
So, next council meeting, we will be discussing how to get the building maintenance and inspections program back on track. It also suggests that Council must alter its relationship with the City Manager, Ronald Reagan provides guidance in this regard,  “Trust but verify”.


My 2 cents     Via several letters to Ken Parker last year and Greg Kisela this year,  I have been preaching the City’s need for a Virtual Help Desk (24 Hr. Internet Hotline) with a ticket system.    With Ticket systems, each complaint or request automatically gets a file number and permanently remains in the City’s database system.  Also the ticket remains active ( in full view of  management) until some official affirms on the ticket (database record) that the issue has been resolved. 

That type online ticket system should mitigate the ongoing problems over the past few years (see example below) wherein the City keeps losing track of citizens and councilmen’s complaints & request because city staff is still recording much of the data manually.   Hey guys we are starting the year 2014 not 1914.

One thought on “Bob Says: 'Trust But Verify'

  • January 3, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Another 2 cents
    It is quite simple to set up a program to address inspections and maintenance of our facilities. We have this in the utilities department. In the 36 years that I worked for the city’s utilities department we never had a major failure in the areas that I was responsible for that caused people to be without utilities service. We have a program that addresses these needs.
    First you have to make and hold someone responsible. Someone that is passionate about their work and believes in what they are doing. You must give them the tools and support needed to do the job. Identify the facilities that need this work. Develop a check list for items that need to be inspected and or maintained. Establish inspection and maintenance procedures and intervals for a recurring schedule. Have the person conducting the work sign off and date the items inspected and or maintained.
    You need to to set up an annual operating budget and a R&R schedule in the capital budget keeping in mind useful life expectancy of equipment (how often should a roof be replaced) and budget accordingly. Involve these people in the budget process. Make sure parts and material are made available fro maintenance and repairs. Someone needs to follow up and make sure the work is getting done properly. I live here and you know how to contact me if you need anything.


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