Friday, December 19, 2008

Outcome Based Meta Action: Part One


Part of the current dilemma on Long Island, and elsewhere, is the lack of clarity an action or actions will have on the status quo.

Will it solve the problem? Will it create additional problems?

The above simple graphic is an attempt to illustrate a small part the rational, collaborative approach we are advocating with One Long Island.

More in Part Two.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Interesting proposal ...

Here is a another proposal for the consolidation of governmental entities in New York State.

It will be interesting to see the details. On first blush the referendum reform seems well thought out. Yes there should be uniform, more simple rules for public referendum (as we've advocated in our Referendum Cycles, Virtual Constitution, Best Practices Wiki sections among many others). Allowing counties to "forcibly" consolidate districts however seems counter to the idea of a streamlined referendum process, although I may be misreading the intent of the proposal.

Less clear on the press release is the methodology for determining the validity and the efficiency of districts, towns, villages etc although I'm sure that will be forthcoming.

Just because there are a lot of districts doesn't necessarily mean they are a bad thing or not well managed. Well coordinated small units can be as effective or more effective than larger units and "corruption" and "inefficiency" is part of the human condition against which we must always be vigilant, it is not the sole domain of one form of government (or any organization for that matter) over another. Increased collaboration and coordination among all branches of government should always be our goal.

Lastly, it would be interesting to see this current proposal integrated into all of the other ideas for comprehensive change in New York, from all quarters and to take the best parts of each so that we may move forward in unison and with a common purpose.

I'm afraid however, that until we have the access to information and fair and complete analysis of the type we've been proposing (for the last 15 years or so and more vigorously for the past couple of years) large scale sustainable change may be rather difficult since there will always be a trust issue to overcome.

Is what we are being told true and are we getting all the information we need to make a rational judgment?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Climate Change initiatives ...


I read with interest the ongoing "Climate Communities" project of which Nassau County is a part and on Monday had the pleasure of hearing the Governor of New York address a gathering of the Long Island association.

Once again I was struck at how many good things people are doing and saying in all of the various disciplines, and also sadly, how truly disorganized we are.

The Governor spoke of the need to "reorganize" New York State for greater efficiency. This is certainly a good approach. He also spoke of the difficulty of getting everyone on the "same page" so to speak and the urgency of doing so. Also good.

SO above we have an partial example of a symbiotic relationship between one of the things the Governor wishes to do, that is allow SUNY and other universites the freedom to become a larger part of the economic engine of New York and to help drive innovation and job creation and the worthwhile Climate Communities project.

Free SUNY and make it easier for them to engage in business arrangements with local government. Streamline the ability of SUNY and local government to do joint projects and make application to the Federal Government for real world projects. Integrate what they are doing with the new Long Island Master Plan. Establish Green Accelerators across the state. Innovate with programs like "Better Place."

Where is the money you may ask? There is more than ample money in the system if it is organized properly and allocated effectively to at least get the ball rolling. More important is the need to free SUNY and others to be entrepreneurial and to cut the red tape.

We can not be so afraid of potential "corruption" that we paralyze our ability to be successful.

Apparently New York State is close to 15 Billion in the hole according to the Governor. Now is the time for bold new thinking and yes, some risk taking.

Playing it safe has only lead to stagnation in New York.

If "change" and reform is on the menu, we should leave no stone unturned in making comprehensive sustainable progress in addressing New York's and Long Island's future.

It is time for collaborative meta-leadership.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Making decisions with incomplete data ...

We've spoken ad nauseum about the need for accurate meta-data and a methodology for analyzing and implementing good public policy based upon same.

Bad public policy is created often in times of crisis (as now with the world financial crisis) when everyone is under pressure to just "do something." Worse, there are folks who use this time to push through pet projects or create legislation out of the existing fear in the populous.

But what effect do our actions have? How does one action affect another in the harsh light of reason?

Do we know? Do we want to know?

No, we don't currently know and yes, I believe most folks want to know so they can make a reasoned judgment.

Can we know? Of course. Certainly on Long Island and in New York we can.

All of the One Long Island series of "modular" proposals are based in real and workable solutions to our problems. They just require a little creative, analytical thought rather than the sometimes "knee jerk" reaction we have to addressing the issues of the day.

Good public policy requires most of all, an accurately informed, engaged public.

One Long Island is an attempt to create a platform to do just that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Current events ...

"The significance of the report, however, is debatable right now.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that a cap would help, regional consolidation would help, and taming the power of the unions would help. But even now, with the state in a fiscal crisis, Albany can't come to grips with cutting some money out of school aid -- and so great is the power of the status quo that reforms of the underlying causes haven't even been put on the table.

So, Suozzi ends up with a report that identifies the problem, but doesn't really identify a legislative strategy for achieving change against the opposition of NYSUT and the other special interests. And without a strategy, it's all just paper."

"Taking a page from The Great Depression’s playbook, Nassau County on Tuesday unveiled its “New Deal for Nassau,” a program designed to boost government efficiency by cutting down on delays caused by bureaucracy and red tape.

The program, which is in its preliminary, fact-finding stages, is a mission by Legislature Presiding Officer Diane Yatauro and Legis. David Mejias to make it easier for businesses to operate in the county, stimulate the economy and attract new companies, development and jobs."

The two most recent well intentioned acts only serve to point out the continuing difficulty we are having on Long Island coordinating our actions for the "greater good."

There are many fine ideas on Long Island, or in many cases programs and activities in various stages of completion. What is lacking is dynamic collaboration of the type we have been advocating.

Rather than start a "new" program or report, perhaps we should take stock of what we currently have and what has been issued before. Perhaps this information should be "converted" into a dynamic format we've been talking about and analyzed prior to starting a "new mission."

The problem with "new" programs which cover existing problems is that they very rarely take into account the work and information that is available. This is generally not the fault of the proposers of a new project since the information must be made available to them (and us) in the "meta" format we have also been promoting.

The danger with new programs which don't take into account the fine work that has come before it is that we then contribute to the "cycle of stagnation" by never moving beyond the "new, bright and shiny" phase where everyone is excited by the expectation of something new and better. This is the allure of "change." Everyone defines it in their own way because we have no "common language" to help us define what it is we are actually talking about so therefore we never truly make progress on solving our problems.

This is one of the issues the One Long Island series of ideas attempts to address.