Sunday, October 26, 2008

On Coordinators, Green and Sustainable

Interesting to see that the City has finally hired a sustainability coordinator for greening and whatnot around Pittsburgh. That's great and all (we here at the ADB are big supporters of the green movement in general), but we noticed some fundamental problems in this hire:

(1) The Title of Coordinator is poisonous. Imagine you've been given a position, with no staff, no budget, but an objective that absolutely, positively must be met. Being a coordinator means that you don't really report to anyone, but no one actually reports to you. You can't really boss anyone around and can't demand that anyone do anything. Usually, that "anything" is vital to your job. It's a no win situation, but it'll make your boss look good because he's done "something."*

If I had a Guide for Bureaucrats rather than Rules of Bureaucracy, one of the pointers I would give would be "Don't be a coordinator."

(2) People are territorial. By definition, the coordinator position is supposed to tell multiple bureaucrats across multiple departments what to do. People don't like being told what to do to (and the people that are early adopters are going to be few and far between). True, if the coordinator has the support of the mayor in all of her programmatic decisions, it's going to be a lot easier... but really, let's be honest, the mayor is not really going to be taking a really active role in any of this.

(3) Age. Now, there's nothing wrong with young people in City Government; some of my colleagues are very bright, but don't remember things like Duran Duran or "stagflation". That's OK, seriously.** However, there are a lot of people in City government that will go on endlessly about their age and experience and how "we've never done it this way before, so it's obviously bad". To make it worse: a lot of those people are Directors and Deputy Directors. They hate young people and will make Ms. Baxter's job miserable.

(4) $45,347/year is not nearly enough money for putting up with the crap. Seriously.

So, yeah: Good luck.

* By the way, multiple "coordinators" are know as a "commission."
** Unless your name is an anagram of "Shaven Talk Rule"

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