Saturday, January 26, 2008

Missing the point

In a latter to today's paper, City Finance Director Reginald Zeno writes:
Krupa notes that in the written responses to the findings, the city pointed repeatedly to the impact of Hurricane Katrina. This is true. No matter how tiring it may be to hear, it is a fact that the storm and levee failure had a major impact on every area of city government.

In addition to forcing us to cut staff,

To be fair, Zeno's letter was not written in response to today's tepid Picayune piece:
If cuts to the finance department and layoffs of accounting personnel in other departments meant that it couldn't adequately handle the city's money, that was a bad management decision.

However, last week's news contained two stories about the shortage of accountants at city hall. I don't if the average resident really cares about the effect of Finance Department staffing shortages on a city audit, but when you read that Finance Department layoffs have kept federal money from reaching non-profits that provide housing for the homeless, it's only natural to question how Finance Department layoffs compared to other departments. One department comes to mind:*
Agency .................. Positions....Positions reduced .... Percent reduced

Mayor......................100.............34..........................35 (sic)
Finance ....................173.............113.........................65

In other words, the Finance Department was 73% larger than the mayor's office before the layoffs, but slightly smaller after the layoffs.

Of course, the bigger question would be would be about how money that could have been used to restaff the Finance Department has been spent since the layoffs, but I've been over that dozens of times before.

In fact, it's not really important to this discussion, but I wanted to bring up something that I haven't mentioned in a while:
It also seems suspicious that 65 out of 100 mayor's office staffers had been able to return by the time the layoffs took effect in October. I suspect they got a longer grace period than other city employees. I suppose it's possible that the mayor thought it more important to offer space on one of the cruise ships to members of his personal staff than to, say, wiring inspectors.

It seems impossible to me that 65 out of 100 mayor's office staffers could have found housing by October 2005. How long had those mayor's office staffers even been back on the job when they got their raises?

*Sorry to resume the Jeffrey Sadow imitation from my last post on this subject, but the original article is no longer available online. Of course, I didn't use those links to earlier posts in place of source footnotes.

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