Thursday, September 10, 2009

Piss away a million dollars, piss away 20-30 jobs

I started a rant about this editorial last Friday, but got sidetracked over the weekend. Since I'm taking a couple of night courses, I didn't get back to it this week. I will over the weekend, because that editorial really ticked me off.

In the meantime, it is obvious that city will face budget cuts this Fall. Instead of trying to figure out how to save money by eliminating city jobs, I'd prefer to examine how many city jobs can be saved by eliminating or reducing wasteful or overpriced city contracts. Since we're talking about the livelihoods of real human beings, I'm sure that groups that consider it their Christian duty to advise the city on budget matters would agree.

As far as I can tell, a million dollars in payroll costs is the tab for 20-30 low level city employees. In 2006, the City Council budgeted $300,000 to hire nine new staff members. At that rate, a million a year would cover the costs of 30 employees, but I don't believe it would be quite that many. More recently, the NOPL advertised for its Library Associate I position with a salary of $26,807 last December. I believe the full cost of a $26,807 employee would be about $40,000 after payroll taxes and insurance costs. That would work out to 25 positions saved for every million cut elsewhere -- certainly, at least 20. If somebody with more knowledge about payroll and labor costs can add anything, feel free to do so.

So, whenever you read about a million here or there, think about the 20-30 human beings that the Times Picayune would happily put out of work.

Full disclosure: prior to the post-Katrina layoffs, I was a city employee. Look Mom, no schadenfreude.

Prosecution exhibit 10.05.06

As I've said many times before, I doubt any laid off city employees blamed the mayor for the 2005 layoffs; the mayor only did what he had to do. By the same token, I don't understand the constant need to praise the mayor for his brilliant decision to tread water. However, once the mayor was forced to slash the city payroll, I saw no effort to put the city's remaining resources where they would do the most good. I looked and looked and tried to figure out exactly what the mayor's priorities were, but I honestly couldn't find any sign that the mayor could be bothered to take the time to set priorities. IMO, it went beyond mere incompetence to the level of simply not giving a sh**.

By itself, Thursday's editorial about police recruiting might not seem related to my point. However, it reminded me of an old article I've cited repeatedly in the past. To read the entire article scroll down to page 5 of this pdf:
Starting a wide-ranging recruitment campaign, with the goal during the next couple of years of hiring 250 to 350 officers -- the number Stellingworth said will be necessary to accommodate normal attrition levels -- will be a key test of the city's bureaucracy, depleted of money and personnel.
Stellingworth said he has concerns about launching a major marketing initiative when he doubts the civil service agency can handle an influx of applicants.
"Civil Service has to be up and functional to do that process," he said.
Making do with less
Despite losing about two-thirds of its staff, Mike Madary, a top official at the Civil Service Department, said the agency will do its best to aid police recruitment, which has been a top priority for at least a decade.
"We will do everything we can," he said.
While two staff members handled police applications before Katrina, just one person was hired back into that job, and not until March, when the department started seeking new employees. Madary said that if the agency runs into trouble processing applications, it could ask the administration for more staff.

Before the Fall

Sorry, if you're looking for a post about football or the weather, you've come to the wrong blog. I have no idea idea what to make of the stock market, but early indications point to a possible sell off today. Notice that neither article mentions Obama's health care speech. I wonder if the talking heads on CNBC look at the website of their own network.

Since those links probably won't work in a few weeks, item 1:
US stock index futures turned negative on Thursday on a range of comments from officials highlighting the fragility of the recovery.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said there are many uncertainties in the outlook for the global economy and that the foundations of China's recovery are not stable.

Meanwhile, European Central Bank's Axel Weber said banks should increase their capital buffers now.

item 2:
North American companies are flocking to sell shares this week, signaling to some investors the U.S. stock market may be close to sputtering after a long rally.
September is on pace to be the busiest month for secondary issuance since May, which to some portfolio managers is a sign companies are taking advantage of the market while they still can.

BTW: Unless I misunderstood Charles Boustany, Republicans no longer believe there's a need to control Medicare costs. Somewhere Peter Peterson is weeping. Bonus link and a general recommendation to add Angry Bear to your normal blog reading, if that blog's not already on your radar.

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Old Favorites
  • Political Boxing (untitled)
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