From DAVE SMITH
If you’ve been reading Mark Scaramella’s insightful weekly reports on the County Board of Supervisors for the past few years in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, or gone to any of their meetings, you realize how utterly ineffective the Supervisors and CEO have become. With county budget deficits growing by the day, it is now alarming. Isn’t there somebody around in the 5th District who has the history, experience, smarts and toughness to ask hard questions, demand real answers, and help make reasonable decisions?
How about Mark?
Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry/Enology from Fresno State University. Ten years as USAF officer in aircraft maintenance management, defense acquisition and contract management, and logistics engineering. 15 years in defense and commercial contract engineering management, computer programming and consulting, technical writing, and part-time community college instructor.
Nephew (and political student) of the late former 5th District Supervisor Joe Scaramella, the best and most popular supervisor Mendocino County has ever had. Almost 20 years at the Anderson Valley Advertiser following county issues and politics in depth. 15 years as public rep on the Anderson Valley Fire Department Budget committee.
I asked him if he were a candidate for Supervisor in the 5th District what he would do about our looming problems…
Basic platform: Until basic management reporting and information systems are implemented and dealt with — such as monthly departmental budget reports developing a basis for follow-up, tracking and accountability over time, identifying cross-department cost-drivers, staffing, outside contracting and current problems, projects and priorities, there’s no point trying to address the so-called “issues.”
The only real county issue at this point given the badly declining revenues and state gridlock is how to introduce staff and contracting efficiencies, particularly in general fund departments. Revenue increases can be considered, but they won’t help in the short term.
If I were supervisor I would spend half my salary on outside specialists, auditors and attorneys to develop proposals for cost savings, workload decreases, and reasonable new revenues. I would also organize “tiger team” audits for larger departments enlisting local retirees and volunteers to scrutinize each departmental budget and provide clear information and recommendations, instead of (or in addition to) the governmental mush now referred to as a “budget.”
With these long-overdue decent management reporting and information system upgrades, the Supervisors and in turn the various county departments, can get a handle on what drives county costs and what can be done to prevent them.
The financial situation is grim, but unless the Supervisors and top managers get clear information, all they can do is flail away in the dark. As with any organization in financial difficulty, all top management positions and salaries would have to be cut as a major first step toward balancing the budget and retaining line workers. If and when the budget situation improves, those salaries and positions can be re-evaluated at that time.
If the other Supervisors on the board are unwilling to consider the necessary management reporting system improvements and management cost reductions, then they will be personally responsible for the predictable financial and organizational meltdown that looms.
Blunt talk about the County’s problems and organizational needs is in very short supply. The current crop of supervisorial candidates offer nothing in the way of managerial experience or ability. And whichever of them is elected, they will only produce more of what we’re (not) doing now.
If you would like to see an innovative and responsive Supervisor, impolite enough to demand an effective, efficient, and workable county, let Mark know that you want something done about our woeful county leadership.
Mark Scaramella eMail: firstname.lastname@example.org