Posted under That's Life Columns
Summertime … And The Living Is Easy
While many seem to be able to slow down during the summer, my plate continues to overflow. Change is the only constant but understanding what drives the change is the important aspect to consider.
I noticed on perusing my school board agenda that Sandra Harrington, the chief business officer, at the Dixon Unified School District is resigning. As in most cases, you simply have to follow the money or understand its impact on the decision process. However before we get to that issue, I have a pertinent comment to make on her performance.
I have been following this school district since my good friend Patrick Blasz ran for trustee way back in the nineties. I have seen the performance of the predecessor to Susan Rinne, the business official who should have been sued instead of being rewarded for the incorrect information she provided to the Board. This information led to the district’s first bout with insolvency. I can’t quite recollect the young gentleman’s name who preceded Rinne, but his financial documents and information were also forgettable. Not so with Harrington.
I was impressed with the amount of detail that Harrington provided for the school board. Perhaps it was because of the previous financial imbroglio, perhaps it was just additional competency. Either way, the board could not complain that they didn’t have all the facts needed to make good decisions.
My only complaint about Harrington is one I have made many times before about staff members of many agencies. They prolong meetings by feeling that they must go line by line down their report. An hour and a half presentation on a budget presented similarly at the immediately previous meeting is unnecessary unless being used to wear an audience out by members of the board who don’t want to hear the public. If you want your meetings to run to midnight or beyond, schedule these presentations last so the rest of us can go home and do something productive.
Musing on Harrington’s resignation, I have to wonder if continuing calls for management to take a salary cut had anything to do with this decision. I guess it is easy to preside over the complete excising of employees, but very difficult when you are asked to be the leader and take a 5 to 10% cut. I won’t find it surprising to see others, rats or otherwise, deserting a fiscally sinking ship.
Harrington will be difficult to replace given her performance. My question is why did we settle for such poor performance in the past? Maybe it is because we don’t see what is produced in other school districts. Isolation favors incompetents.
I do have faith that those on our school board are cognizant of Harrington’s contributions. I would hope that they settle for no less in the future. To do so would be a step backward …
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It is my understanding that Jeff Matheson has also tendered his resignation as the Parks and Recreation director as well as doing the vacated job of Dave Melilli who was our city’s public works director. The diagnosis of the why behind the action still comes down to the same consideration even if understanding it is more complex.
We had an city engineer named Ron Tribbett who did both jobs of engineer and public works director for years. He told me he enjoyed the variety in the dual position of responsibility. One of his workers told me he liked Tribbett’s ability to delegate his authority to those directly under him.
Warren Salmons, Tribbett’s city manager boss, felt there was too much work and wanted to have two individuals concentrating on the individual positions. Or was it part of Warren’s ever expanding empire building efforts at city hall? Either way, it was a mistake not to reconsolidate the positions when the economy turned south and Melilli chose to head to the town of Riverbank. Instead, the position was foisted on Matheson.
Compensation shouldn’t have been an issue as Matheson’s salary was bumped up to $110,000 base as simply the parks manager. I am not positive but I believe there was a modest increase given due to the added position. If not, this may have been part of the impetus to find another position.
At the last council meeting I again addressed deficit budgeting and wanting salary cuts to balance the budget permanently. While I am only one vote and evidently the biggest mouth on the dais willing to express my opinion on what has been a structural obstacle to solving many other pressing problems for the actual citizens who reside in this town, it appears that the writing is on the wall that the Dixon gravy train is about to be derailed.
I don’t have a whole lot of positives or negatives about Matheson’s performance, pretty much everything was adequate and nothing was outstanding. I have yet to understand why we have no facilities in town for pick up basketball games when we have a joint use agreement with the school district. I complained about this to Jeff on a number of occasions and it was never rectified. Soccer seems to be the golden child of sports in Dixon.
It is also interesting to note that Matheson is taking a job under Salmons again, this time at the “golden showers” resort at Rossmoor. I believe that Golden Rain is the actual name of the senior retirement community but the former description holds a certain comical benefit for my mind. Evidently seniors have no problem paying exorbitantly for their management positions and Warren is on yet another empire building quest. None of my business at all but just my perspective.
While I wish Jeff well and salute his proactive approach to salary preservation, I believe we will continue to see more shifts as fiscal and financial conservatism become the hallmark of future council regimes. It will be interesting to see who really has a loyalty to the city beyond their next paycheck.
My problem is paying our directors more than a person who has a doctorate in many fields. I won’t even comment on what the county pays for its chief administrator. Obscene is a word that comes to mind. Well, I guess that does qualify as a comment…
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I went to the Solano County fair for the first time this weekend. At least I was able to escape the heat in Dixon on Sunday. I do enjoy fairs but I must say that our own Mayfair beats the county’s hands down. There is more to look at and more to do. Unfortunately, as with a number of things, even the Mayfair tends to be repetitive unless you look at it as a social event.
I did run into some people from Dixon on Sunday. Diane Stassi was manning, or womaning, the city’s booth. Mike Hamilton was busy concentrating on buying pigs, maybe for “grillin’ and chillin’ ”. Also saw Scott Higby and John Currey at the livestock auction, both of whom had kids with entries being auctioned. Dane Besneatte and his wife Cher were there wandering around after the Dixon day lunch.
I enjoyed the buffet barbeque lunch and the reptile exhibit. Ever see a three foot long legless lizard? A well run show with all the deep fried food you could ever want to sample.
Just a diversion from the real issues of the day…
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I want to remind you all of the July 3rd TEA party in the Women’s Improvement Club park (the green area in front of the library). Organized by Devon Minnema, it will feature speakers Lew Uhler and Gary Clift. Lew Uhler is founder and President of the National Tax Limitation Committee, one of the Nation’s leading grass roots taxpayer lobbies. Clift is the Republican candidate squaring off against recently elected John Garamendi, who replaced Ellen Tauscher when she was promoted by Barack Obama to a cabinet position.
Last year’s event was well attended by individuals from throughout the county. It generated a lot of confused looks from passers by at the corner of A and First. This year’s event should be larger as the movement has developed credibility as well as opposition and denigration from the progressives currently in power.
I look at it all quite simply. Do you like the direction … no… do you like where your country is at? Do you even recognize this country as what it was or is supposed to be? The tired phrase of “taking back” the country or government irritates me. Complacency, lack of education, and insightful oversight of what we call public servants is pushing us toward the demise of our once great nation.
What are you willing to do about it?…