Wednesday, March 28, 2007

DuPage Taxpayers Buy New "Philosophical Statement" for County Board

From your Chicago Tribune:
A strategic plan intended to guide DuPage County through years of slower growth, tighter finances and a diversifying economy and population was released Tuesday.

The plan, officially a draft until it is approved by the County Board, was launched a year ago and contains few specifics, but board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom called it "a good philosophical statement" that focuses the county on its evolving role as a regional government.
A "good philosophical statement" with few specifics -- just what the people of DuPage County were clamoring for.
The plan lists four strategic goals: improving communication with the public on the operations and financing of county government; creating more partnerships between organizations and other governments; responding to changes in the county's economy and demographics; and providing region-wide leadership on issues including transportation, business development and education.
While goals are necessary for a plan, a list of goals alone is not a plan. And let's consider these goals:

The first one, "improving communication etc.," is merely a euphemism for better salesmanship of the decisions and spending coming out of the County Board. This is nothing more than an intention to a better job of marketing the County Board's mismanagement of taxpayers money.

The second goal has almost no meaning. What kind of partnerships? On what basis? To address what issues? Between what organizations and goverments? This one doesn't just fail to be a plan it fails to be an actual goal.

Let's jump to the fourth goal "providing region-wide leadership on issues including transportation, business development and education." Sure... a County Board a projected $50 million shortfall in their half-billion dollar budget is just the kind of leadership the region is looking for.

Back to the third goal. The third goal is simply breathtaking: "responding to changes in the county's economy and demographics." Think about this goal for a moment. Is there any lower standard for county government than to "respond" to changes in the county? I cannot imagine one. And the DuPage County Board had to pay someone to come up with this minimum standard. They couldn't set a goal of "governance" in house?

The DuPage Board's "philosophical statement" isn't a plan, it's a list of goals. And a more substantive list of county goals could have been formulated in the first 15 minutes of a freshman civics class.
Last month the County Board created a Strategic Planning Committee, with the task of finding ways to put the strategic plan into action, Schillerstrom said.

The committee is chaired by board member Debra Olson of Wheaton.

"This is an opportunity to aggressively review our policies and procedures, and to look at where we want to be and how we want to get there," Olson said.
As I said, this is not a plan it's a list of goals -- very vague goals. And the members of the County Board can't even pretend its a plan -- if it were an actual plan, the time for "aggressively reviewing" the County's policies and procedures would have been before the plan was developed -- not after it has been rolled out. But, as noted above, this "philosophical statement" isn't actually a plan.

But what's the price tag on the County Board's new list of vague goals?
Much of the research and writing of plan documents was done by the Regional Development Institute at Northern Illinois University under a $77,200 contract with the county. The NIU staff and county officials developed the goals and lists of related issues through a series of public meetings and interviews with elected officials during the past year.
Yes friends, it took $77K and a year of public meeting and interviews with elected officials to figure out that the County Board needs to "respond to changes in the county's economy and demographics." Is Todd Stroger paying these clowns to improve his image? I thank God that the NIU staff didn't show up with a bag of magic beans.
"We need better accountability, better performance measures and objective criteria for the things we do, so we can measure our effectiveness and make decisions on how we spend our money," Olson said.
Which leads me to ask the following, "What in the blue hell has the DuPage County Board been doing?"
She noted that the strategic plan recommends the county establish performance standards and measurements.
Strategic plan and philosophical statements be damned -- it's quite clear that the DuPage County Board has failed to meet minimal "performance standards and measurements."

Update: Mr. Wurf is similarly underwhelmed by the Board's purchase.

1 comment:

LeeMelon said...

They still teach civics?

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