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July 15, 2002

Another Silly Decision With Unintended Consequences

David 'Kip' Koontz

Does anyone know Susan Powder so that we can get in touch with her to come to Frederick and help "stop the insanity" that is going on in City Hall?

Last week another decree was sent forth from the desk of Jenita, informing city employees they are not allowed to drive city trucks to restaurants or convenience stores on their breaks or lunch.

They are supposed to return their truck to the Department of Public Works truck parking facility and then start one of the three 20 minute breaks city workers get daily.

Seems this policy came about because Alderman Donna Ramsburg got "cut off" by a city truck that was allegedly leaving a fast food or convenience type establishment and got angry.

She is said to have demanded the name rank and serial number of the driver of the truck and seems, after not getting satisfaction, went to Herzonner and the crafting of the "don't drive your truck to lunch" policy was completed.

First of all, who hasn't had something stupid like that done to them while driving? Most of us simply, growl, cuss maybe, some even show the violator a sign of our displeasure and then we get over it.

We don't demand a change in policy because of it.

Secondly, who hasn't done something stupid while driving themselves? Come on, let's face it at one point or another all of us didn't see the car in our blind spot and started to change lanes - oops. All of us -especially as SUV's get bigger and bigger - couldn't see around a vehicle in front and accidentally ended up going through a red light. Some of us have even thought the distance between us and the oncoming car was further than it was and pulled out when we shouldn't have.

That doesn't mean these things were done on purpose or for spite. They were simply oversights in judgment where one usually gets a sheepish look on one' s face, smiles a bit, waves and says, "sorry" and all is done.

Changes in policy don't come from these missteps except in Frederick City Hall.

This new policy is waste of time and unconscionable waste of taxpayer money.

Imagine if you will a water main breaks in the city's Willow Brook subdivision which is north of Frederick Community College on Opposumtown Pike.

City workers would be sent from the DPW facility, which is on Bowman's Farm Lane behind the DMV off the far end of East Patrick Street near the airport.

Driving it last Friday morning beginning at 9:45 am (done so thinking that traffic would be light) shows that from the DPW facility to Roscrans Court in Willow Brook is 10 miles. It took 20 minutes to get there - driving I-70 to Rt. 15 to Oppossomtown Pike.

Now imagine it is break time.

The repair job isn't complete but you can't just send one guy down to the 7-11 for a snack and soda to bring back to the site where the employees may indeed keep working to fix the problem while chowing down on a chip at the same time.

No, workers must leave and either put in a temporary patch (and no, patching a hole is not the same as repaving an entire street) or leave the hole open, drive back to the truck lot (20 minutes; 10 miles), get their individual autos and then start their 20 minute break. After the break is over the crew gets back in truck and goes back out to the job site (20 minutes; 10 miles).

Now it is lunchtime. Job still not done. So the process above is repeated. Another 20 miles and 40 minutes on the road of nothingness just to start lunch and go back to the site.

Let's for the heck of it, say that the job is still not done when the third break time comes around and this whole process is repeated - another 40 minutes and 20 miles.

In this scenario folks we have just paid city employees to drive in their truck 2 hours to leave the job site and get to the start of their break and then return to the job site after their break is finished.

Two hours they should be working for us.

If they were allowed to take a city truck to lunch and or break, they would have most likely gone someplace close, picked something up and been back at work in minutes.

In the above scenario many restaurants and a grocery stores are simply minutes away at the intersection of Thomas Johnson Drive and Opossumtown Pike.

Not to mention that 60 unnecessary miles were put on a city truck.

This policy will inevitably cause the cost of maintenance to go up as trucks will be driven more and thus need to be serviced more frequently.

These are taxpayer dollars that wouldn't need to be spent if there wasn't this idiotic policy.

Imagine now this being repeated by every crew throughout the city. Can one even begin to think of the wasted time? The dollars we will end up paying for city workers to simply get to and from break is unimaginable. Plus the truck maintenance costs!

Is one of Herzonner's motives in crafting this policy an attempt to upset city workers enough so that they will want to unionize to protect themselves against her?

Does help her on a campaign pledge - one of the few she seems intent on following through on.

Either way, this policy is simply dumb.

It is inefficient.

It is inconvenient.

It wastes taxpayer dollars, and that is wrong!

Hey! Maybe Herzonner will propose that box lunches and snack like treats be delivered to city workers from Jennifer's Restaurant. While that seems a bit like Jim Grimes selling trucks to the city, don't put it past her to propose the idea.

After all, remember, "She is mayor!"

Or wait, the Jennifer's lunch program can just be part of a city employee's union dues.

Gotta go! Lunchtime calleth.

Uh oh, are regular folk allowed to take their cars to restaurants?

Or is that phase two?

Wait, news just in.Alderman Marcia Hall just got upset that there was a mess left in the woman's bathroom she uses in City Hall and is demanding that a policy be implemented where city employee bathroom breaks be scheduled and monitored!

Just kidding, but as this wind is blowing, the dumber the idea is, the more credence it seems to get.

Just please find Susan Powder to help stop the insanity. Please.

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