Not on My Watch

Boston Sunrise

Here in Connecticut, the so-called ‘Land of Steady Habits’, it seems we may be close to having a budget. We don’t have a budget, but some agreements have been reached, some compromises have been made, some details have been detailed and there might be enough of them for the governor to consider. At least that’s the scuttlebutt that the Hartford Courant has passed along in its Sunday edition – front page, no less.

Since when is a possible conclusion to a task that’s almost four months overdue, worthy of front-page news? Or, is the Courant mocking these guys? If it’s mocking, then I’ll renew my subscription, since that’s about all the attention these clowns deserve.

This is why I don’t write about politics. If I appear to have broken that rule, let me clarify:

I never write about partisan politics or elections – there is no upside to that.

I don’t wade into divisive tit-for-tat – he-said-she-said – if-you-say-that-you’re-this commentary. Not only is there no upside to that, the downside is steep and apparently bottomless.

I don’t talk about what media analysts say, because I don’t listen to any of them, because I can think for myself.

On the other hand, when people in authority, be they elected officials, corporate executives, sports team front-offices, law enforcement, and so on and so forth, fail to do their job, it’s open-season on their hind-parts.

All this not-passing-a-budget got me thinking about the different jobs I’ve had and the different bosses, I’ve worked for, and deadlines. I’ll spare you most of the details, as I’m sure they’re only marginally more interesting than the budget woes of the third-smallest state in the Union.

That’s like being the 3rd youngest cousin in my extended family – who cares about you, Patty? At least on one side of the family, I was the youngest. The last baby, and by all accounts of all the finger pointers, my grandmother’s favorite. Boo-yah!

Let me give it to you thumbnail:

Job-1 of my first job – “You need to convert the master file of the payroll system by January 31st.” I was told on December 1st when the new code was released. The reason for the deadline? The payroll file was incapable of holding more that $999 of Social Security deductions, and in 1978 the upper limit that could be withheld was changed so that it could exceed that amount. The fact that our plant manager would exceed that contribution by January 31st, was astonishingly disheartening to this boy, who didn’t even know there was an upper limit to those deductions. Still, I worked late several nights and I spent one weekend in Piscataway, NJ testing the new system.

The manuals are due Monday – or the penalty clause would be triggered. I was working on a $50,000 engagement to produce operations manuals. They were due at noon on a Monday, and there was a $2,000 per day penalty clause that kicked in at 12:01 pm. The manual was written, but the Report Department hadn’t bound the 40 copies that had to be delivered. I spent several hours with my future editor, assembling the manuals over the weekend.

The reports must be mailed by December 15th – or we would be in violation of an agreement. The system that would produce those reports was being developed. Only it wasn’t going well. Beginning in early November, a small team began working night and day, week and weekend, to get that system finished on time – which they did. I helped as much as I could, knowing that if they failed, they would still get a hearty “nice try guys” but my future employment would be at risk.

Do you trust these guys to have the building ready on time? – “Yes, yes I do!” I did trust our network vendor to get the wiring run, and the equipment installed and tested in the building into which we were moving. I trusted them to finish on time and to have every computer and printer in that building working the Monday after the Friday on which we moved. I picked that vendor over the “recommended” vendor (the one paying a kickback the project management team that was managing our move). After I gave him my affirmative answer, the CEO looked at me and said: “good, because if they’re late, you’re fired.”

In my opinion, we need more people who are willing to set deadlines, enforce deadlines and work their butt off to meet deadlines.

One last story: When I worked at Weyerhaeuser, they were experimenting with “total flextime”, in other words, you just had to work 40 hours a week. You could split it up any way you liked. However, my manager informed me that: “we spell ‘deadline’ with a capital D E A D.”

Here’s to the 2017-18 budget. May she soon see the Governor’s signature.


The gallery includes some photos from a recent business trip to Boston. You can click on any image to start a slide show. Thanks for visiting.

66 thoughts on “Not on My Watch

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  1. I’m not asking you to explain it, so don’t worry, but I don’t understand how you can be spending and, presumably, collecting public money without a budget. What I really mean, though, is I don’t understand how you can be allowed to get away with it. I’m guessing the state has missed its deadline by a sizeable amount, although I think the financial year in the US is not the same as it is here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Dan – I don’t do politics either … but those sunrises are stunning – well captured and put up here for us … my sun today is covered with a thick covering of grey! Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good morning Dan. What a brilliant sunrise. I love the shots with the flares. And the water bottle refelection. Good luck with the budget. I agree about accountability. It seems it is all but dead in too many jobs. And, hey, , you may have minimal Autumn color but it is way more than we have. The palms don’t change color, and the oaks just go all brown. Have a great week.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As a person who has primarily made money writing, I can vouch for having done my share of meeting deadlines, particularly in the copy and legal document assignments.
    I can talk politics for hours on end. I seldom blog about politics, for which I think I should be given a medal. All hail my restraint!
    I think government budgets really tick people off because if we ran our households like politicians, it’d be a disaster. For instance, Moo could request a 20% increase in mineral and gemstone expenditures resulting in fewer milkshakes for Sassy. Imagine the treachery.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I heartily applaud your restraint!

      If you granted Moo’s request, it wouldn’t be long before the Dairy Board would be lobbying for milkshake subsidies. In funding those, you’d certainly have to dip into funds previously reserved for tacos.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The sunrise photos are gorgeous, Dan. What a lovely way to start a morning…on any day. It always amazes me that politicians can get away with not meeting deadlines, especially the one for budget, and not feel the repercussions other than headlines in the news. We all have to meet our deadlines at work and pay our bills or we get into serious trouble. I hope the CT government can get their act together and wrap this up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mary. The sunrise caught me by surprise. I don’t think I’ve been in a room on that side of the hotel at this time of year. It was much better to focus on the beauty in the sky than the stupidity under the dome in Hartford.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I share your frustration on the ineptness of politics at all levels. I guess we mere mortals have to live by a different standard … although I’ve never had a boss tell me that if a project failed I would be fired. Yowzer. On the other hand, by the time I was given an assignment, it was usually already in deep too-doo and I was heading the salvage team.

    Too bad the same can’t be said of the executives at the head of failed companies. Instead they walk away with huge golden parachutes while everyone else is sent on their way without a dime. Oh wait … different rant 😖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad (and sorry) that you share the frustration, Joanne. They always leave the budget until the end of the session and they’re always scrambling to get it done. This year is just a train wreck. I’ve had some projects go long, some much longer than planned, but some have come with a do-or-goodbye deadline. We’ve always managed to get them done. As for your other rant…don’t get me started.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Consulting was definitely motivation by fear. The other boss was willing to give me a big break, but he wanted me to know that if someone had to be blamed, it wasn’t going to be him.

          Like

  7. A household or a business has to have a budget and meet its responsibilities. The government? Well, they read a different financial manual than the rest of us. :-) It is challenging to be a member of the blogging and social media community and rise above all the political conversations, but it can be done. As you said, I don’t see any upside in raising my blood pressure and trading political insults. Life is too short. :-) Have a great week, Dan.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I appreciate your policy vis-a-vis politics. I am also familiar with local governments in chaos. The neighboring community went a year – an entire fiscal year – without passing a budget. The auditor was called in and everything. It was very, very messy and nasty.

    I often consider putting my name up for council – but then I come to my senses – I have no stomach for the game – and I think that’s the problem everywhere – people who have the skills and desire for community well-being are discouraged by the folks who have personal agendas only.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Local politics are such a joke. Our mayor wrote a letter to the city council denouncing what he perceived as a meeting gone out of control. Wait a minute, Mr Mayor. You did not even attend that meeting. You have NEVER attended a city council meeting. No surprise–no comment from the Mayor’s office.
    The sunrise photos are beautiful, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ohhhhhhhh ….. LOVE the pics of that sunrise and the picture of the bit of color with the evergreen is awesome! Also your artsy pic of the bottle of water and the bedside table are very cool. I prefer today to comment on your photography and stay away from “politics”. I’m in a good space today and plan on keeping it that way!! Hope your day is a good one! Don’t forget to smile!! 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The sunrise images are glorious! I like the one with your coffee cup, glasses, and water bottle too.

    The colors of Fall look good to me although I understand you’re seeing less color this year. I have a good friend who took a trip there this past week looking for Fall in in New England. He texted me to say he’s found very little color. :( But, he’s seeing some wonderful sights! :)

    Hope CT gets the budget passed, and then live up to it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My complaints about school district budgets , which in my mind favored the big shots in downtown offices and not the students , were usually met with : ” Well , those funds come from different pockets ” , which I think really meant : ” We know it doesn’t make sense , but the budget is so complicated that we can’t explain it either , so just shut up and deal with it “.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I try not to blog about politics either so I completely understand your reluctance. But… I do comment on blogs that do discuss politics so… I bet just about every one of those politicians (in your state and the other 49) ran on “make government work better for its citizens” (or something like that). So, where did that promise go now that they are in office? Consequences would be nice.

    Much better to just admire your beautiful pictures :) .

    Liked by 1 person

  14. We have all had deadlines which at the time seemed like life or death situations. I was working a software contract that was to expire at 12:01. If expired, all the computers company-wide would have gone dark on this particular software. We settled the agreement at 11:35 PM. I lost a lot of hair on that one.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. You have lived and accurately described life in the real world. Most of us faced deadlines and managed to meet them with few exceptions. But it seems once you’re elected, deadlines become something you force on others while ignoring your own. I share your rancor.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Politicians should have to get quarterly performance reviews. My town council decided to spend a fortune to post “share the road” (with bicycles) signs in dirt lots used by cars for off-road parking. The result, cars now parked in lanes previously used by bicycles.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. You don’t have a budget, but at least the authorities don’t embezzle your tax. Over here, they squander. If you question publicly, they kill you. This election period has been an open season for murder. Politics is poisonous. Isn’t it strange that we base our nations’ (and the world’s) leadership on it? I used to keep off it, but the more I ignored it, the more it troubled me. Minding it is even more sickening. Ironic, indeed.
    Anyway, the photos are truly memorable! Thanks, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I realize that we complain about things that must seem trivial, Peter. Still we seem to be moving in a way that might leave entire large portions of our population without adequate healthcare or civil rights. It’s nowhere near as bad as what you live with but it scares me sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I do politics but not in my blog unless it is about human rights — humanity — as you know.
    I love that DEADlines is spelled dead, though both M and I would be dead because in our business we find things that push the deadline — but then, we communicate to our clients.
    AND, LOVE the orange….

    Liked by 1 person

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