If nothing else, events of the last few days — especially Mayor Ford’s Excellent Adventure At Queen’s Park — have revealed for all to see that running a government is nothing at all like running a business. At least not running a successful business.
Assuming for the moment that, in fact, Rob Ford has successfully run a business. That he’s not just some hereditary caretaker, handed the keys to the offices built by his daddy and simply living off the proceeds. That before turning to municipal politics, he actually had hands-on experience in helping to make the family business the enterprise it is, employing 200 people in Toronto, Chicago and New Jersey.
There’s no reason to think otherwise. His brother, Councillor Doug Ford, has 3 homes. Clearly he’s in the pink. Both Ford’s seem able to chip in and run their respective offices with their money. Deco Labels and Tags has been “Partnering with our clients to provide Solid Labelling Solutions for over 45 years…” Somebody must be doing something right there. Why not the mayor?
Reading about the mayor in action with the premier yesterday, however, it’s just not clear what business acumen he’s bringing to the table of public service. I mean, would a business go to an investor and ask for money to build some questionable infrastructure and then muse out loud for everyone to hear about what life will be like after the investor goes bust? I know some people can compartmentalize and erect a solid wall between business and personal, still… It’s not very good form, as I imagine they say at the Empire Club.
Or imagine the provincial government as a bank, and a company or corporation, say, like the city of Toronto, having eliminated various revenue streams, comes to them and asks for money to help make ends meet. And then when the bank politely turns them down and calls security to escort them to the door, this company, corporation or city threatens to rain down a force (Ford Nation, let’s call it) to bring about their demise. Seems like a dodgy strategy if you ask me. The only business I can think of that might employ such tactics is the mafia.
David Hains over at The Clamshell breaks down the business oriented Six Sigma craze now sweeping through City Hall, a ‘lean mfg / 6 Sigma’ version which Deco has been a practitioner of. According to Hains, the thrust of the idea is “…to eliminate process steps that might increase the likelihood of error…” Well, by that metric, the first step we should take is to eliminate the process step that allows the mayor to participate in any of the city’s business since every time he does it only increases the likelihood of error.
By going to the province asking for money to help the city balance its books (a practice he gleefully derided his predecessor for doing), the mayor is admitting a couple things. One, he didn’t know what he was talking about during last year’s campaign and after 10 years sitting on council. Two, that running a government is an entirely different beast than running a business especially a government dealing with billions of dollars, not millions, with tens of thousands of employees not 200 and serving 2.5 million ‘customers’ whose needs extend beyond just labels and packages.
By going to the province asking for money in such an inept fashion, the mayor does reveal one absolute overlap between government and business. Neither one can function in the absence of good management. If Rob Ford was a good manager in the private sector, you wouldn’t know it by the job he’s been doing for the citizens of Toronto.
– going about businessly submitted by Cityslikr