Now, I'm sure many can question why we're turning all our public employees into enforcement officers - after all, the city is facing a huge deficit next year because they don't know how to reduce spending...
And I'm sure that others will question how close we're getting to George Orwell's "1984" as we monitor all activities of our citizens.
But I'm more interested in focusing on the decision-making process that led the mayor to decree 'make it so.' Turns out, there wasn't one. This is yet another example of Carty Finkbeiner exercising his ready-shoot-aim philosophy.
"Public Utilities Director Bob Williams initially objected, saying meter readers' work could be made more difficult if they are viewed as "intruders." He said meter readers already are expected to report unsafe situations involving children or senior citizens.
He was quickly overruled by the mayor, who said, "that is a great suggestion. Do it. All they have to do is write an address down. I don't even want any debate about it. Just do it.""
Notice that potential issues or concerns were not even permitted to be discussed, with the mayor stating "I don't even want any debate about it."
So, here are the questions the mayor should have asked:
* are there any legal provisions that would enhance or detract from our ability to implement such a policy?
* are the meter readers knowledgeable about housing violations that they can accurately report potential problems?
* would there need to be any sort of training to bring meter readers up to speed on the housing code?
* is there any cost the city would incur to proceed with such a policy?
* are there union contract terms that would have to be consulted or negotiated if we do this?
* is it likely that the union may ask for more money as a result of the increased duties?
* since all the meter readers would be doing is forwarding addresses, do we have the staff to perform the necessary follow-up?
* as housing violations are citeable into court, do we need to be concerned about any inaccuracies in the meter readers referrals?
* what obstacles or challenges would we face in implementing such a policy?
* who would oppose such a policy and what valid arguments might any opponents make?
* would the public embrace it or see it as further intrusion of government into their lives?
* if it turns out that we CAN implement such a policy, SHOULD we?
And these are just the questions I've come up with off the top of my head. There could easily be many more based upon the answers these questions generate.
But, sadly, the Mayor has spoken and now, despite any legitimate issue or concern, he's already started down the path to turning water meter readers into 'enforcement' agents. And, as we've seen in so many other instances, there is likely to be unintended consequences that usually result in additional cost to taxpayers, one way or the other.
"A man who does not think and plan long ahead will find trouble right at his door." ~ Confucius