Priorities vs. Efficiencies

I think every candidate has something to say about priorities for City Hall. Nobody can say public safety, for example, is not a priority. Looking deeper, we have to consider the ordering of priorities and the trade-offs implicit in putting one need above another desire.

I say Basics First! That means we fund core services toward excellence before we fund non-critical initiatives. I'm in favor of getting the basics right over doing eveything inadequately.

Rather than admit to trade-offs and acknowledge there's just not enough tax money to support every good idea, candidates will bring up the notion of increasing efficiency as a way to escape the harsh constraints of economics and finance. But there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

My background is in economics, business and investing. Increasing efficiency is a way of life. When politicians tell me they're going to make government more efficient, I wonder what they were doing before? Is waste O.K. in non-election years?

I like pretty much all the ideas we've heard for eliminating redundancy in City Hall. Let’s merge commissions, departments and bureaus wherever possible. That's just good management. To campaign on efficiency strikes me like a letter carrier promising to deliver the mail. It's the essential job they're hired to do. Making government work better is should be a relentless process.

But that hasn't been a priority.

The entrenched power structure is not business-minded. (I think some would even consider that idea abhorrent) Maybe that’s why it seems so much can be gained from “efficiency”. To most government folks, it’s a new and promising concept that will free them to deliver on the non-essential priorities that get all the attention after election day.


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