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A Step in the Right Direction

A Step in the Right Direction

Finally Mayor Anise Parker is taking the bull by the horn by announcing to layoff top money earning positions, such as Assistant Directors, Administrative Managers, Supervisors and other senior level positions in the new Department of Neighborhood Protection. For taking such a bold step, we want to commend Mayor Anise Parker.

However, as we posted earlier, if the Mayor really wants to minimize expenditures and reduce the budget deficit, she needs to look into the DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND ENGINEERING (“THE DEPARTMENT OF WASTE”), WHERE THE DUPLICATION OF JOB FUNCTIONS IS A COMMON PRACTICE, ALONG WITH UNNECESSARY OVERSTAFFING AND OVERPAID EMPLOYEES, CAN BE FOUND IN ABUNDANCE. In other words this is the place where groups of big fish can be easily spotted!   

Challenges

From a financial standpoint, the City of Houston is combating two big challenges:

 

1.   Massive numbers of water main are breaking easily and adding more cost to city services.

2.   About $25 million damages awaits the city for breaching a contract if red-light cameras are turned off once again by the city.

These two challenges are real test for Mayor Annise Parker, particularly when the elections are around the corner.

Possible Solutions

Utilization of Internal Manpower

We believe that the ubiquitous engineers, managers and supervisors in the Public Works and Engineering Department should pitch in to physically repair the broken line. After all, they are responsible for the design and maintenance of these water lines. Instead of sitting in the offices and issuing wordy orders, a better option should be for them to roll up their sleeves and actually go to work fixing these lines.

Lack of maintenance is the problem!  It appears that there is a lack of maintenance procedure for checking the condition of water mains through state of the art technology; lack of planning to tackle the problems hen found; and lack of well-organized approaches to protect those water lines from weather factors. Just blaming it all on heat is not enough. According to the Public Works Department, there are about 740 active water mains breakages through out the city; and according to the Houston Chronicle of Saturday August 20, 2011, the city has patched about 4,327 breaks since June1. We believe a quick cost saving method is to try the engineering staff and assign the director, his deputy directors and other high paid officials in the Public Work Department to roll up their sleeves and start digging. It is about time that the director along with his deputies set an example by actively participating in helping our financially strapped city, instead of conveniently hiring private contractors to fix the broken water lines at much extra cost.

Man power and construction equipment is available!

Cost cutting methods should be adopted.  For example, the city has modern CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT and MAN POWER; why waste TAX DOLLARS to hire contractors and their equipment? We believe real engineers are more practical handy men. Let’s see what the city engineers are really made of!  We believe that this approach would definitely cut maintenance cost significantly in this current budget crisis and the result would be very productive.

Red-Light Cameras Elimination

A similarly approach must be adopted to use TRAFFIC ENGINEERS in regards to the red-light cameras problem the city is experiencing. From both financial and operational stand points, the lack of TRAFFIC ENGINEERING INPUT is a major cause of the problem! (See our posting on red-light cameras). The Traffic Division in the Public Works and Engineering Department also has the problem of duplicated functions and several engineers are sucking up the TAX DOLLARS. It is time to consolidate traffic functions!  Currently they are housed in three groups that should be consolidated to minimize redundant top positions. This would reduce the budget deficit and the city would payoff the dollar amount the ATS company is demanding.

NO RED-LIGHT CAMERAS ARE NEEDED IN THE CITY OF HOUSTON!  Mayor Annise Parker should try the above-mentioned approaches that would benefit all Houstonians. The choice is clear!

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