Tuesday, February 15, 2011

NS millage to cost $12,000

I'm just back from the Norton Shores city council meeting.
Mostly dull except for a question about the cost of next week's millage election.
It is expected to be about $12,000.
Don't forget to vote next Tuesday!
(enter "NS" in the search box, top left, for more info and links)

Editorial: Laptop dilemma: Efficiency, cost savings vs. appearances

"A proposal to purchase laptop computers for Muskegon County commissioners needs close review."

A well balanced editorial from The Chronicle.

An additional perspective:
Best Buy has a high power (3 GB ram) laptop for $350.
The county estimate for each laptop for the commissioners is $1391 with warranty and MS Office.
Open Office, a free version of MS Office is free.

The county's only stated reason for the taxpayers to foot the bill for commissioner's laptops is that it will provid savings on printing and mailing costs.
The county reports $2000 in mailing costs.
The commissioners are in the county building twice a week.
Why are they mailing ANYTHING to commissioners?
Can't they simply pick up all paper when they are in the building?

They can start saving taxpayer's money today.

The county reports printing costs of $3857.
That is because the current policy is to print everything for every commissioner.
Commissioners have told me that many commissioners go to their county mailbox and dump most of it in the trash.
If the commissioners cared about cost, they would only print what they need.
They can start saving taxpayer money TODAY.

Not to mention that most of what is printed is already online for those commissioners who have home computers.

Our county commissioners are paid $16,000/yr plus full medical benefits, including dental and vision care.
And for those who qualify, lifetime medical and pension.
A total cost to the taxpayers of about $25,000 per year.

And these part-time employees want us to pay for free laptops?

Most commissioners already have desktops and laptops at home.

We've heard no cry from them that important information has been unavailable.

They already have the tools.

If laptops would provide such great efficiencies, why has no commissioner brought theirs to county meetings?

(yes, one commissioner brought his last week and flailed around with paper during the meeting.)

Their actions speak louder than their words.

Free laptops are not a "tool" for these part timers, they are a statement from our elected commissioners to us.

I hope we listen to them very carefully!

Update on "the Rosemary Woods moment"

We finally got a copy of the audio of the Feb. 8 meeting of the full county commission board.
Excerpts will be posted soon.
But it did take four visits to the county clerk's office, after I had already paid for my disk.
We had to use our own flash drive to get the recording so my $5 went to...who knows where.
It must be noted that my first request was to have the file sent to me via e-mail.
A savings to the county.
In a county that tells us they are working HARD to reduce costs.

I'm told that county clerk Nancy Waters has been "stung" by citizen complaints about the clerk's office.

Imagine if our local Best Buy provided similar service:

Day one-I buy my software but ask if they could e-mail it to me. I am told the boss must make that decision and I leave my phone number and ask to have it e-mailed or if it can't be e-mailed, to call me so I can pick it up later in the day.

Day two-No e-mail or call so I go back to the store and am told the only person who can help me is in a meeting. I leave my phone number again and ask that she call me.

Day three-No contact at all from the store so I return, am told that the boss still hasn't ruled on sending me my software via the web, so the nice lady makes me a copy on a disk.
That evening I find the disk is corrupted.

Day four-I ask a friend to return to the store with his own flash drive and try to get the software.
It easily uploads.
Store manager openly laments that unfair complaints about service have been made by customers.

Day 5?-Muskegon County commission opens hearings on "outrageous customer service" by Best Buy.

County Directory - Board of Commissioners

County Directory - Board of Commissioners

Personal phone numbers and home addresses of our county commissioners.
A good start.
With all the talk of free laptops for commissioners, why don't they list their personal e-mail addresses?
Give your commissioner a call!
They tell us that citizen input is important!

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