Mayor Mike McGinn sent out an email (and video message) to city employees today asking city department heads to “pause” on the sweeping mandate he announced when he took office earlier this month to layoff 200 senior-level positions.
McGinn’s spokesman Mark Matassa confirms that the mayor is adjusting the process, noting “the high degree of concern and low morale” the original sweeping mandate caused among city staffers.
Matassa says Mayor McGinn “still believes” there was huge growth in upper level positions during the Nickels years and there need to be cuts.
(When McGinn first made the announcement on January 4, he pointed out that the city had 639 senior level employees eight years ago, but the number had grown to 951 today, an increase of 49 percent—while the overall city workforce increased only 2 percent during the same time period.)
However, rather than going ahead with layoffs now, McGinn wants the departments to use the process of identifying the staffing cuts and merge those details into the larger mid-year budget process—reevaluating what needs to be cut in the larger context of the department’s work.
Matassa adds that the $40 million budget shortfall may get worse with preliminary predictions puttig the hole at $50 million.
Another reason to adjust the sweeping staff cuts, Matassa explained, is that “bumping rights” (that is, who got promoted when and into what position) blurs the lines between actual people and positions.
“Its not so simple,” Matassa said, to just yank 200 positions, “when you get into the nitty gritty. There are unintended consequences.”
Here’s the key part of McGinn’s email:
I have asked department directors to pause work on phase II of the senior-level position review exercise. As originally designed, in this phase departments were to develop position reduction proposals to meet their assigned target levels. Knowing that we will have to re-tool our operations in the face of upcoming budget reductions, I have now asked departments to integrate plans to reduce the number of senior-level positions into larger exercises around meeting potential mid-year reductions and in developing the 2011 budget. This will also allow us time to review senior-level positions in the context of Council’s span of control Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI), which is due to the Council on June 30, 2010. This will allow for a more deliberative review of our staffing levels in the context of changes that will be necessary in the face of our serious financial challenges.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Can Obama Woo Back the Grassroots? (seven minutes in, after the news and introduction))H/t to Ari Melber.
The big story of the 2008 presidential campaign was the massive, grassroots army of some 13 million volunteers that Barack Obama recruited with the promise of change. The big question of 2009 was how those political soldiers could help accomplish the goals they fought for. Now, more and more of those supporters say they're being left out of the action by a White House that's all too comfortable with Wall Street and Washington's ways. Did Obama raise unrealistic expectations? Has he missed the opportunity to build a movement, or is governing just different from running a campaign? We hear from grassroots supporters, both current and former. Guests:
- Micah Sifry: Executive Editor of TechPresident.com
- Mary Jane Stevenson: California State Director, Organizing for America
- Marta Evry: Former Regional Field Organizer, Obama Campaign
- Bim Ayandele: former Associate, White House Office of Public Engagement
- Fred Hiatt: Editorial Page Editor, Washington Post
Howie P.S.: John Aravosis says "Krugman and Ezra have apparently had it with Obama on health care reform." More disappointment from Frank Rich: "The State of the Union Is Comatose."
Friday, January 29, 2010
Think Progress: "Axelrod Struggles To Explain Why Obama’s Spending Freeze Doesn’t Include Defense Funding"
Yesterday, ThinkProgress joined a handful of journalists for a wide-ranging discussion with David Axelrod, Senior Adviser to President Obama. In his State of the Union address on Wednesday night, Obama announced a discretionary spending freeze that excluded the massive budgets of the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
Update TPM’s Christina Bellantoni, The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein, and OpenLeft’s Chris Bowers reported on the meeting as well.Update Paul Krugman opines on the motives behind the spending freeze. “Mr. Obama’s advisers believed he could score some political points by doing the deficit-peacock strut,” he writes. “I think they were wrong, that he did himself more harm than good.”
If words alone could do the trick, President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech worked. But this time, words were not enough.But as I talked to members of the crowd at the bar afterward, one of them, Obama admirer Mikal Kamil, summed up the difficult situation facing the Democrats: “You can’t tell success by a speech. You have to see the performance.”"In State of the Union address, President Obama put himself on the outside looking in" (Eugene Robinson-WaPo):
President Obama's State of the Union address didn't signal a political shift to the left or the right. It sounded more like a shrewd attempt to move from the inside to the outside -- to position himself alongside disaffected voters, peering through the windows of the den of iniquity called Washington and reacting with dismay at the depravity within. In his State of the Union speech, he sought once again to sound the themes -- and inhabit the persona -- of his remarkable campaign. He's been president for a year, but he sounded like an outsider again.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
AMY GOODMAN: Naomi Klein, right now—well, you just flew into Park City, Utah just before President Obama’s State of the Union address. Your reaction to it?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I mean, we knew the spending freeze was going to come, but to me, it’s really striking. I think what this moment represents is the decision, which we all feared would come, to pass the bill on from saving Wall Street, from saving the elites of this country from their own mess, a bill worth trillions of dollars, to regular people in need in this country. I mean, that’s what a spending freeze really means.
And we have to look at it in the context of the debt crisis that is occurring at the state level. There’s deficit—huge deficits being run up. California is the most dramatic example, but you’re already seeing how students are facing things like 30 percent tuition increases. Women’s shelters are being closed. So, you know, when the President says freeze spending, that’s saying to the states, “We’re not going to help you. We’re not going to bail you out.”
So this is really—this, to me, all comes back to the top-down bailout that should never have taken place in the first place, the decision that was made to throw the taxpayer dollars at the banks, at the elites, no strings attached, not to help the people losing their jobs, losing their homes. And now the bill is being passed on, because the debt crisis, the private-sector debt crisis, which started this, the banks racking up these huge debts, was never solved. It was just moved. It was just moved to the public coffers.
And now Obama is—this is a Hoover move. This is a Herbert Hoover move. And I think we have to say very clearly, he is not FDR. And, you know, in the spirit of Howard Zinn, who passed yesterday, I keep thinking, you know, what would he say about the State of the Union? And I think he would tell us to refuse to pay this bill, that we need a debtors’ revolt.
"SOTU as National Rorschach Test" (Melissa Harris-Lacewell-The Nation):
A contemporary State of the Union address is less an assessment of our national circumstances than it is a collective Rorschach test: an inkblot given meaning by the viewer more than by the subject. The televised pageantry of applause and ovations has little to do with the President's articulation of a policy agenda and far more to do with how his partisan allies and opponents read the electoral viability of his phrases. Like tilting your head to view the inkblot from a different angle can suddenly make a new image appear, really listening to the President last night can make the country's future seem much different than it did before. Whether the new vision is reassuring or frightening is largely our own projection."I Never Suggested the Change Would Be Easy" (John Nichols):
Say what you will about Barack Obama.
But don't accuse the president of veering from the course he charted at a point when his term was new, his popularity ratings were high and Americans took seriously all that talk of "hope" and "change."
Instead of rallying the base, President Obama chose to preach the gospel of bipartisanship. Instead of offering America a bold new agenda, or at least an edgier style, the president chose to recall old themes. Instead of accepting that the approaches of 2009 did not work, the president signaled that they will be repeated in 2010.