Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What’s up?

A few weeks ago Mayor Chris Beutler asked all the City department directors to make a short presentation at our weekly staff meetings. The Mayor was interested in new ideas or best practices in government, and wanted each of us to essentially tell him about “what’s up” in our fields, and what impediments or challenges we face in implementing some of the things other cities are doing that are exemplary. He wanted specific example of cities that are engaging in these practices.

I was first at bat, last week. With about a half hour to cover this, it had to be a fairly short presentation, so I focused on four practices:

  1. Geographic decentralization, such as Madison’s five police stations;
  2. Web reporting, as in Ft. Collins or Tulsa;
  3. The expanded use of paraprofessionals, as in cities like Fresno or Fremont, CA;
  4. Merger of police agencies, as in Indianapolis, Charlotte, or Manhattan, KS.

I went through the pros and cons of each, where Lincoln stands, what the impediments to these are, and what I think the future holds. I finished up with a final slide, where I very briefly touched on some of the technological developments that are of interest—many of which I’ve blogged about before and some of which we are already exploring and/or implementing:

  • Mobile broadband
  • Hybrid gas-electric fleet vehicles
  • Automatic vehicle locators
  • Automated license plate readers
  • Forensic lab expansion
  • Digital video
  • Public place closed circuit TV

The Fire Department is next up, followed by the Urban Development Department. I’m glad mine is out of the way, and I’m looking forward to hearing from the other City departments.


Anonymous said...

Do you see the possibility of a merger between the city and the county some day?

Where city/counties have merged, is there an appointed chief or an elected sheriff?

Those presentations must be nice. Surely though, it may be 2 or 3 mayors later before we see most of those things. Why is our Mayor spending valuable and tax payer time on such meetings?

NOT Gun Nut

Tom Casady said...

Not Gun Nut:

Well, personally I think it is a wise move for the CEO of a far-flung enterprise with an incredibly diverse mission like the City of Lincoln to try to get a good handle on the opportunities, challenges and issues. I thought this was a good topic for a few minutes each week at our weekly staff meetings.

To the best of my knowledge, the merged departments are all headed by an appointed official. I know that's the case in Riley County, Las Vegas Metro, Indianapolis-Marion County, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

I suspect you will see more of this as time goes by. It makes a lot of sense in counties where a single city dominates both the population and the geographic area. Right now, Lincoln is 90% of Lancaster County's population, but only a little over 10% of its land area. As that continues to change, we will become more and more like Douglas County, and the concept of City-County merger will be discussed more and more by elected officials and candidates. Continued economic pressure on the tax base will hasten those deliberations.

Steve said...

Sounds like some good ideas in the works to me. I don't see how presenting them at weekly staff meetings wasted any taxpayer time or money. Any chance you could make your presentation available to us? I assume it was PowerPoint or something like that. If you had notes included, maybe you could make them viewable so it would be more easily understood.

Tom Casady said...


I'll do that, if I get a chance. This blog post, though, is really the sum total of the PowerPoint.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

The future of pirating?