Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dark data: what you don't know can't hurt them

We have become so used to thinking of domestic politics in terms of party politics that we are inclined to forget that the conflict between the two systems has actually always been a conflict between parliament, the source and seat of power..., and the people, who have surrendered their power to their representatives. - Hannah Arendt, On Revolution


Recommendation from a report withheld from the city council by the mayor and the city administrator:
In addition to making it the heart of the ‘Heart of the City’, make the Chateau the anchor facility of an arts and culture district or trail, one that includes the Armory as a home for Rochester’s small arts and cultural groups and independent artists. There is an acute need for small organization support in Rochester. The Chateau will be able to meet the needs of some of the community’s arts groups, but not all of them. We would recommend that the City give RACC’s Armory proposal significant thought, particularly within context of developing an arts and cultural district in downtown Rochester and the DMC.  


1. The council president waited months after the deadline to finally bring the proposals for the re-use of the Armory before the Committee of the Whole

2. Then, after those presentations, the council president attempted to include another proposal 16 weeks after the deadline.

3. Then, after raising their questions and concerns during the presentation of the proposals, the majority of the council declined offers from proponents to meet with them to answer their questions and address their concerns. The one council member who was not present at the proposal presentations and was later concern by his "unanswered questions" also refused the opportunity to meet with proponents.

4. Then, some council members complained in their discussion of the proposals that they did not have sufficient information or answers to questions they admitted they had not asked.

5. Now we learn today that information favorable to the RACC/ACI proposal was withheld from the council by the city administrator and the mayor during COW deliberations that included the RACC/ACI proposal.

At this point, one wonders if it is enough for the council to say they'll need to review their process and do better next time. Sure it would be nice if once they set down a process they would respect it. What would be even nicer is if they treated the people they have been elected to serve with some respect as well. A great deal more respect.

Or, maybe they have in place exactly the process they want and it is working just as they intend it to work.

As for the interminable, solemn invocation of "due diligence"...well, if you can't manage it in a year maybe you can't manage it. And you certainly can't manage it by making it up as you go along and hiding important data.

"Due diligence" does mean research and analysis of a company or organization done in preparation for a business transaction. But you know what it also means: the care that a reasonable person exercises to avoid harm to other persons or their property. That sort of due diligence is overdue.

No surprise city/county planning is a broken system. We're struggling with basic good government, simple decency, and fair play. There is not an ox in this city that hasn't been gored. Bloody hell.

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