Wednesday, June 14, 2006


'The only thing to do'
Perhaps the toughest decision facing the RTA is a proposal to slash the payroll from 790 or so workers to about 360. Pre-Katrina, the RTA employed about 1,340 people; no employees have been fired, but about 550 failed to return after the hurricane, officials said.

RTA board Chairman Jimmy Reiss said the draconian cuts in the work force are part of a painful process that the financially crippled transit system must work through as it figures out how to squeeze more out of less while the city rebuilds.

Draconian cuts:
The proposal that the RTA board will consider also recommends a change in the agency's top management.

Under the plan, General Manager Bill Deville would move into a new position: director of capital recovery. Deville would be replaced by Mark Major, the RTA's deputy general manager for finance and administration.

Reiss said he will recommend that Deville retain his $125,000 salary and that Major's $100,000 salary increase by $25,000.

Deville has come under fire from several RTA commissioners who have questioned his decision to extend a contract with Creative Risk Controls, the agency's longtime insurance claims administrator, without board approval. Privately, some RTA officials also have called attention to a $175-an-hour agreement Deville signed with a consulting firm that provides advice on how to get along better with board members

Really draconian cuts:
Also on the board's agenda Friday is a discussion of the cost of the consultants' work. Originally budgeted around $1 million, the consulting team's billings now stand at about $1.8 million.

Reiss said the federal government has agreed to allow the RTA to tap into $42 million in already-approved grants for capital and maintenance projects to pay for the consulting work

Update 6/15: On the matter of the two salaries, if you look at it as one $25,000 raise, it might seem like a minor matter. However, as I've brought up before,there are many such minor matters--yeah,I know RTA has a separate budget. It does reflect the fact when it comes to cost cutting, the mindset of this administration is very business-like--at least like a modern corporation. The question of the consulting fees is potentially far bigger. And, of course, it brings up many more general questions.

But hey, I have every confidence in Reiss. Anybody who can get evacuees angry enough at Nagin to vote for Nagin has got to be a miracle worker.

I was ready to drop the subject of the city payroll on the grounds that, since no one else seems to care, it must be personal. Then I saw something (thanks Gentilly Girl) that made it seem worth a little more attention.

Of course, another way to look at the two salaries is that they created a new six figure position (for somebody who got into trouble at the old one) while eliminating dozens of five figure positions. Of course, that's the first we've heard (or I've heard) the T/P or the local media mention Deville's critics. But, of course, why should they bother to report on the possible appearance of cronyism in this administration. Everybody knows it's just the appearance.

I almost posted something along these lines myself.. but I figured it was only a matter of time before you did.
I hope that doesn't mean that I'm too predictable. Actually, a new work schedule is making blogging increasingly difficult. I did a lot of posting the week before and after the election, but that was all with readily accessible sources. What does that say about the press oversights and misstatements?
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