Aug 27 2007
10:23 pm
By: Outsider

I know the Jail topic was hot about a year and a half ago, thus almost 80% of the voters rejecting the County Commish's decision. It also got hot about ten months ago when we were to be decertified by the state and all of our County Commisioner's were put in a pressure cooker (whether real or artificial) to hurry up and make a point is, this isnt a dead issue. Notice the equipment on site of the old Food City Building in Kingston and notice what the county is paying for all these aspects. First of all I feel we overpaid for the property, even it was the right spot for the justice center, because our county showed all of our cards in a game of Texas Hold'Em. Much like the World Series of Poker, those who we were going to have negotiate with had the odds in front of them like the viewers of these tournments had, and it was a 100% winner for the other side. Then we proceeded to put a cap on the amount we were willing to spend on the jail at 9.5 million dollars. And again showing our hand...I think Commissioner Bacon (who sells cars) nailed it when he said someone says they have 50K to spend on a car and how much would a particular car be, he quickly responded "$49,999". I make light of this after overhearing what was spent on site work for the initial just seems as though we should not allow the politicos to wear us down as citizens but we should constantly track the cost of this project. This may be a project that MUST be done for our county, but just because it MUST be done, doesnt mean that it MUST be done without oversight. We need to keep a strong eye on the jail and not allow it to get out of hand. Just because it is a "done deal" to happen, that seems to be when the real mismanagement occurs. So I plea to all tax payers of Roane County, let's make sure we are getting and continue to get a Fair and Just bill of goods on this project.

Who is tracking the budget

Who is tracking the budget for this project?

And...Do we have a project manager? You know, as in a "professional" who can keep tabs on it for us?

Relevant paper on the Client's Systems Engineer

See Kyler, McCumber, and Sloan (2002), published in the Proceedings of the 2002 Annual Symposium of the International Council on Systems Engineering (502kb PDF, used with permission):

The client (in this case the county) should indeed have its own systems engineer on the project to protect the interests of the people of Roane County and to make sure the project stays under control and on track.

-- OneTahiti
"Cost, Schedule, and Performance: the three things the Project Manager must control."

Have you asked and been denied information?

About the process and progress of the project? I was around when the last jail was built. Modern marvel it was to be. It was substandard the first day it was occupied. Biggest reason? County Quarterly Court (what is now County Commission) decided to cave to "economy" demands they felt from the public. What did they do? They approved change orders to change the type of steel put certain places, and to change the type of concrete put other places.- they saved some money for the taxpayers. Funny thing about that saved money: It was all lost and more in the manhunt that followed thr FIRST jail escape from there, which escape was directly enabled by the well publicized facts of how they had scrimped to various construction aspects to save some money. And the several following escapes added to the net loss the taxpayers suffered because they had prevailed upon the legislative body to do it cheaper. I know - I was engaged in that first manhunt and could (but won't) tell you the name of the prisoner and what state he was finally captured in.

So we need to be careful about HOW we "watch-dog" that project.

You may believe we overpaid for the property, but you don't know how hard the county worked to get the prices down, what was done to achieve the fact that the county DID get the prices down, how the prices were compared to assessed value, etc, etc. There was significant time and effort put in on getting the acquisition costs down as far as possible.

So it was public knowledge what we could spend on the project. I suppose you would have supported that fact being kept quiet and away from public knowledge? I somehow doubt that... they can't win: keep it secret and be damned for their conniving secrecy... make it public and be condemned for giving away all the "secrets."... hmmm... I wouldn't wanna be one of them!


We have to start from where we are...

I will be very surprised if this project comes in at budget, given the process and it's oversight at present.

I like the process by which Knoxville managed Victor Ashe Park. They hired a professional project manager who was involved in the daily oversight of the project. An aide to mayor Ashe told me that they think they saved millions over the normal handling of such projects.

In that case, of course, the Mayor was a lame duck and wanted it finished so he could christen it before he left office.

The oversight of the project...

has all along been tied to the Jail Oversight Committee, which has had oodles and oodles of public meetings. Their meetings are not secret, although they have sometimes been mis-reported by both the RCN and Mr Largen.

I wonder what people think the oversight is? My wager is that many would be surprised at the number of meetings various folks have that look at this project as it goes along. Although it isn't done in secret, it is a fact of the busy and ongoing nature of the project that every meeting of any people that has to do with the project can hardly be done so that everybody and their dog can attend. Has anybody asked the County Executive, for instance, for a schedule of the Oversight Committee meetings and attended any of them? I have attended some of them. At NONE of the ones I have attended have I EVER seen a member of the public.


wishing for virtual meetings

I have never been able to go to any public meetings here for reasons of poor health. :(

I wish we had virtual meetings online. That way the logs (for synchronous, real-time meetings) and message boards (for asynchronous meetings like these) could be recorded automatically for anyone to access afterward, and even the infirm, disabled, homebound, and very busy could "attend."

Of course having county-wide broadband would help, but is not a requirement. Meeting logs and message boards are often quite small in terms of kilobytes.
Such online message boards, meeting "rooms," and web hosting are trivially inexpensive and sometimes even free.

-- OneTahiti


RB, I guess perhaps we perfectly selected the opposite meetings to attend, because I have been to numurous meetings, and I am a member of the public. I was also told that I was not supposed to show up for a meeting by a member of the Roane County Emergency Management group, and that nothing other than plans were being discussed there. Evidentally the county Emergency Management group did not want the public looking over the shoulders of the architects. Found this to be interesting.


I'd be amazingly interested to know who in the Office of Emergency Management & Homeland Security said you should not show up at the meeting. Quite frankly, in at least one of the meetings I attended, all that was discussed was the plans (i.e. the document). Emergency Management doesn't have a dog in the fight as to looking over the shoulders of the architects.

Were you told you should not be there, or told that you didn't need to be there? The way those guys talk, such a small difference in wording could make a difference in what they actually meant. I know the two guys in the Emergency Management office, and I can hardly imagine that either one of them would actually have an objection to the public attending. And if they did, tell 'em it doesn't matter, as the meeting is not a closed meeting.

But I very seriously doubt - unless they said more than this - that they were meaning that you should not come if you wanted to.


Has anybody asked the County

Has anybody asked the County Executive, for instance, for a schedule of the Oversight Committee meetings and attended any of them? I have attended some of them. At NONE of the ones I have attended have I EVER seen a member of the public.

No one should even have to ask for a schedule...the schedule should be posted publicly. The County has a web site with a calendar. it has been erratically updated to this point. I post the County site link on every page of RoaneViews, by the way.

The minutes for each meeting should also be published publicly. I sit on the Board of a nonprofit organization that does all this consistantly and effectlvely and with far fewer resources than Roane County has at it's disposal.

A suggestion has also been made for every meeting to be videoed and the video posted in flash format for all to review at their convenience. That would be facilitated by highspeed internet...Which the County has not facilitated now, has it?

Who is to pay the extra costs for all this publication?

Should it be added to the cost of the jail project on which it reports?

One of the issues with the county website is the cost of a webmaster that can (by virtue of being paid appropriately) keep the website up to the timeliness standards that seem to be wanted. I've done a little webhosting, and it ain't easy (kudos to you and the group that started this one, BTW!). We're not talking about something that's as easy to achieve as simply making the decision to do it.

Maybe I'm simply alert for it, but I have seen lots of notices (like all such notices, they're small and not in headlines) of meetings of this committee, and I've seen reporting on what was discussed/decided. I won't say I've seen notices for every meeting, but certainly for enough that if somebody went to each one I've seen notices for, there would not likely be cause for talking about how hidden the process is.

Maybe we could start another topic and discuss the notions of how far a government has to go to get information out vis a vis how much effort a citizen should be willing to put out to get the information. How much is enough to thwart any possible accusation of not being open enough? I think there are limits. Do you?


It doesn't have to cost

One would be surprised at how little such virtual meetings and stored documents cost to host. And the county just might find there are knowledgeable, civic-minded folks who would volunteer to get and keep the website going. Hint hint. :)

-- OneTahiti

Hitchhiker's Guide and public notice :)

On a lighter note :), this whole thread calls to mind Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which Arthur Dent and his native Earth were to be destroyed to make room for a hyperspace bypass.

In the book the plans for the bypass were indeed posted well in advance for public review--behind a file cabinet in a locked basement on a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri. :)

I loved those Hitchhiker books. :)

-- OneTahiti

If only we could have held

If only we could have held the answer to 42 on the Jail project.

County Web Site

I have noted elsewhere that the Mayor Farmer has said the County has a new web site under construction that would take care of this very easily. But I will point out that RoaneViews has a perfectly adequate calendar and events management module which would cost the county right about,!

The time and expense factor is vanishingly small once the material is organized on a word processor file, something that should be done anyway.

I think it's time we drag Roane County kicking and screaming into the 20th century. ;>)

we have the capability of custom modules too

If West Roane County Volunteer Fire Department can find volunteers to make them a timely, accessible custom-programmed website, and the 83-year-old grandmother who runs the 2500-plus-page historical documents site can do the same, I suspect the county could somehow manage.

I wish more public officials would learn what most of the rest of us know by necessity: to have our first instinct be to use imagination and ingenuity to figure out ways to do something without spending money.

Volunteerism is a good place to start. It works for many other groups.

Like the cool fresh water of creeks and rivers flowing down from the mountains to the sea, the good people of Roane County and of America have tremendous untapped potential energy. If only we could make our government be more like a water wheel harmlessly and beneficially dipping into the flowing stream...

-- OneTahiti

Aw, shucks 1-T, that's beautiful...sniff

Like the cool fresh water of creeks and rivers flowing down from the mountains to the sea, the good people of Roane County and of America have tremendous untapped potential energy. If only we could make our government be more like a water wheel harmlessly and beneficially dipping into the flowing stream...

Thanks, WhitesCreek

After you scooped my usual line ("drag [whomever] kicking and screaming into the 20th Century") I figured maybe I could come up with something else. All those years of studying physics and engineering ought to be good for something. :)

-- OneTahiti

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