Issue is trust
It’s disappointing to see that The Union jumped on the county-bashing bandwagon regarding the recent management retreat. Like many contentious issues, this one will not end until we ask the right question. In this case, the right question is not, “Is it OK to spend $600 per department head for an off-site retreat?” The right question is, “Do we trust our county administrator and his staff to spend money wisely?”
Clearly, some newspaper readers don’t trust our county staff, making unsubstantiated accusations of tennis and golf-playing (even suggesting firewalking lessons) in their letters. One writer claimed that all attendees would forget everything they learned within two hours of leaving the retreat. I wonder why this man would even want to live in a county managed by such brainless fools. It’s clear where Supervisor Sue Horne stands on the trust issue.
My understanding is that Ted Gaebler was hired specifically to bring the “best practices” of corporate business to streamline and improve county business practices, and I trust that he’s doing that. As a local homeowner and taxpayer, I’m happy to pay $600 per person for a well-run, off-site training retreat for managers of the county’s multimillion dollar operation. Having worked for large bureaucratic organizations in the most-populated county of this state, I know full-well what it takes to facilitate good communication and coordination between different departments. Anyone who suggests that such training can take place at a local Elks Lodge has no concept of what needs to be – and can be – accomplished at such events.
Money invested in effective management training pays itself back hundreds, sometimes thousands of times over. The return comes in lower staff turnover, fewer expensive mistakes, procedural cost-efficiencies, better service to the public, and the list goes on. But again, the money itself is not the issue. The issue is trust. Those who trust Gaebler are not even thinking twice about the money. Those yelling about the money didn’t trust him in the first place. Shame on The Union for putting front-page headlines above a reasoned approach to important community issues.
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