Thursday, May 01, 2008

Competence beats enthusiasm

Last night I interviewed Jeff Green, the author of the city's business plan for the Erie Street Market (pod cast is available here).

I asked him about the contradictions and issues I found when reading the plan. To be quite honest, his only explanation was that the city gave him certain parameters and he followed them.

This is why the 'new' plan is the same as the 'old' one. It's also why the plan includes a political structure for governance, despite the fact that political turmoil was identified as an issue contributing to the original failure of the market.

While I appreciate Green's enthusiasm for the city and his willingness to help out, I think he is very naive. In effect, he offered to do the homework that had been assigned to city employee, Andy Ferrara, and then he didn't do a very good job of it. Then, he put his own name on the document, despite his admission that it wasn't the business plan he would have done if this were his own business.

Ferrara, and Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, now have someone to blame for the document and Green's reputation in terms of his competence is in question.

Off the air, Green asked me what I would have done differently - and I told him. I would not have 'volunteered' to do the work of a city employee in the first place. If, for some reason, I found myself in the position of writing a business plan for the ESM, I would have written a thorough and complete plan with the appropriate feasibility and market study, accurate financial projections based upon costs that should be included even if actual costs hadn't been provided, a focus on the return on investment, and feasible solutions to the identified problems that caused the failure in the first place. And I wouldn't have included contradictions.

Further, I told him that his reputation was at stake. He put his name to a document that clearly isn't usable in terms of providing a working plan for a business operation. And now he's going to have to live with the criticisms.

Youthful enthusiasm is not a bad characteristic to exhibit, but it only goes so far. Competence beats enthusiasm every time.

related: Karen Shanahan at Shanahan Select also weighs in on the business plan.

(Cross-posted to Eye On Toledo Blog)


navyvet said...

Only in Toledo can a honest citizen come along, offer to help and then get thrown under the bus.

Am sure that Kevin learned a valuable lesson.

Our mayor is not one to be trusted...

Tim Higgins said...


You did a great interview with Mr. Green, revealing the 'child behind the curtain' in this case. Obscurred by Mr. Green's performance as a sacrificial virgin however is the answer to the question:

Who were the banker, professor, and entrepreneur that our mayor asked to review this budget and what were their opinions?

Maggie Thurber said...

Jeff did get comments back from the three, but he wasn't comfortable identifying them by name since Carty declined to do so.

He said he did incorporate the comments into the last draft which became the final document...

Google Analytics Alternative