‘Power Fridays’ a powerful push back from public service

Gilroy’s City Council has managed (a most ironic verb in this
case) to shamefully give City Hall a huge push down the slippery
slope away from its base philosophy as a customer service
organization.
Gilroy’s City Council has managed (a most ironic verb in this case) to shamefully give City Hall a huge push down the slippery slope away from its base philosophy as a customer service organization.

Closing the doors to the public on alternate, non-furlough Fridays is a pitifully lazy way to deal with issues that could be – and we emphasize could be – honest productivity concerns in the wake of staff reductions.

Was is necessary for all departments? If so, why – what’s good for planning is good for parks and recreation and certainly good for human resources and the police department? Could there have been some creative solutions? Only the planning department in Los Gatos, for example, shuts the doors to the public in the afternoons. After the decision, the City Council there advertised that fact for quite some time to educate the public and didn’t see the need for closure in any other department.

In Gilroy, there’s clearly a lack of critical or creative thinking. The approved carte blanche option proposed by staff is merely accepted and stamped without challenge – this time by Mayor Al Pinheiro in concert with Councilmembers Dion Bracco, Peter Arellano and Cat Tucker.

Perhaps Mayor Al Pinheiro or City Administrator Tom Haglund would write a guest column dealing with this point: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

How exactly will this be measured? What reports will be forthcoming and when? Where’s the data to support the concept which suggests that people’s work can’t be done during regular business hours? There are so many other directions the Council could have taken this than the ill-conceived “Power Fridays.” What if planning closed to the public one hour earlier five days per week or on Wednesday afternoons?

The list of justifications – grant requests and development agreements – are very weak indeed. In fact, good managers would find ways to block uninterrupted time for those employees who need it while still staying open to serve the public. “Power Fridays” is the latest – and most egregious example – of a City Hall that has lost its way. City Hall exists to serve the public.

The City Council should represent residents, not the city employees. Yes, there’s a balance between the two, but under this mayor and Council’s leadership that scale has been tipped over. What we have is an illusion of leadership, not proactive governing. Alas, this significant setback may take years to correct.

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