Candidates Get Down With Business ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Friday, August 28, 2009

Candidates Get Down With Business

Tuesday night's business forum was both refreshing and exasperating, insightful yet predictable. Well organized and well attended, it definitely gave the audience a good opportunity to see and hear from ALL candidates who provided one-minute responses to a series of questions--all about business.

However, the real theme was the abysmal failure and record of the Moyer Administration. The entire evening seemed an indictment of the current mayor and some of her many departments and their managers, but especially including Transportation, Planning and Zoning, Neighborhood, Public Works and Environmental Protection and drum roll.... Economic Affairs. Two of these departments were created under Moyer and are headed by favorite and longtime associates.

The frequent buzzer, the one-minute limits and the "talking-head" scenario with a constant switch proved confusing, even for a seasoned pol, and I heard at least two separate conversations around me about "Who was that?" or "Which candidate was that?" because speakers did not have name plates. Nor were they identified by party, which is of course crucial right now.

However, it is nice to have a slate of candidates with some real business and management experience, a point driven home by Independent Chris Fox who, true to character, played up his inexperience in government and politics but basically said what makes him experienced to be mayor, in a word is "payroll".

I asked each candidate to provide a paragraph about their management experience and to specifically address payroll. Answers below provided in order of reply:

Sam Shropshire-Founded organization in 1987 and grew it from a staff of two to a national office staff of 6 and 10 regional representatives. Recruited and trained more more than 4,000 volunteers serving in communities in all 50 states and 15 foreign nations. Raised all of the payroll and operation moneys for the organization. Founded and directed entrepreneurial training program in former Soviet bloc countries, assisted more than 200 men and women in making the transition from Socialism to a free market economy. Training was given to these men and women in developing business plans and business management (including staff recruiting, employment and training).

Gil Renaut--Experience in supervising government lawyers and in running volunteer groups. As for payroll, he writes, "Almost none, managed only volunteers, except for one Executive Director who was a salaried employee of volunteer group with about 2000 paid members..."

Trudy McFall--35 year of executive management experience in government and business with biggest government responsibility a Md state agency with a budget of $500 million and a staff of 150 plus about an equal number of folks who worked for CDA on contracts. Homes for America for the last 15 years with a staff of 15 and an annual operating budget of $1.4 million, assets of $240 million and ownership of 65 rental communities. HFA also has numerous firms and individuals who work for us on contract as we develop housing. HFA has to earn every penny of the payroll that we have to meet plus numerous other financial obligations of the many communities we own.

Wayne Taylor--As an Operations Manager with Value City, I was charged with managing all departments as well making sure each came in or under their stipulated payroll. If they, by mid week were trending over, it was my responsibility to bring them back in line. As store manager with Toys R Us, my responsibilities covered payroll as well as the entire operations of the store. I set sales goal, which in turn creates payroll to be used and in turn dictated what each department head was responsible for. Once again, thru weekend forecast keep it under control. My bonus dollars were great. I hope this answers your questions.

Zina Pierre-I own and run a successful consulting firm which I started after leaving the White House in 2000. My staff, which includes a mix of professionals and administrative personnel, has ranged in number from 2 to 12. We have represented up to about 50 clients at a time, including the fifth largest city in the country and several Fortune 500 companies. For virtually all of the years since starting this business, I have been solely responsible for business development and, as the sole owner, the only person responsible for making payroll and paying other operating expenses and liabilities. My firm has experienced lean revenues and budget challenges, and also periods of growth. I am proud to say we have successfully stayed in business in a very competitive environment and have been able to do a lot of good work along the way.

Josh C0hen-For the past three years I have been employed as the Director of Special Grants for a non-profit organization. In that capacity I manage a $6.5 Million federal grant, supervise a team of employees, and have hired and fired personnel. I have not personally been responsible for meeting payroll. As a county council member I hired and supervise my Legislative Aide, Gail Smith.

Thanks to those candidates who responded. The following did not provide answers, so I put together what I knew based on reading about, listening to and talking with the candidates. (To the candidates--If I am not complete or accurate, blame had almost three days to answer...the HEAT is on)

Dave Cordell--leadership and management skills as an Army officer and as a government supervisor. Payroll? Probably not. (Cordell is at least consistent--he does not respond to anything these days...Can't take the HEAT??)

Laurie Sears-Deppa--leadership and management skills as Naval officer and owner of various small businesses. Payroll? Yes, as a business owner.

Chris Fox-seven years experience in starting and operating successful business in Annapolis and Baltimore. Payroll??--definitely!

It's enough work to attend all of these forums. I don't think I can keep reporting on them, but they are of course open to the public....hint, hint...


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