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Monday, August 01, 2005

Well, They Went Anyway

Remember the furor that erupted when it was learned that the National Association of Counties was going to throw a party - er, "conference" in Honolulu and that an army of county administrators from around the state of Virginia were going to attend? Most at taxpayer expense? Well, the conference was held and 75 commonwealth administrators went.

And many of you paid for it.

So. What did your administrators - who obviously have plenty of free time on their hands - gain from this meeting?

Oodles. As you might expect.

Will Jones, writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, gives us the details in an article this morning entitled, "County Officials Say Hawaii Trip Useful."
Edward B. Barber [chairman of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors] brought back healthy respect for the challenge local officials face in marketing the group's 2007 conference in Richmond.
He also brought back a deep golden tan, an improved backswing, and a coconut for the little woman.
The economic impact of the five-day meeting in Hawaii was estimated from $6 million to $8 million, he said.
Sure. Richmond will see $6 to $8 million when Ed can turn Shakoe Bottom into Maui and the city's riverfront slums into Waikiki. If you're going to dream up a crazy revenue number, Ed, why just $6 to $8 million? Why not $6 to $8 trillion?

At least he's attempting, however fecklessly, to make a connection between his extremely expensive junket and the return from it to be realized by the Richmond metropolitan area. Others are not as politically adept.

Local officials have called the criticism unfair and said the value of information picked up at the conference outweighs the travel costs.

"We had a great speaker for the whole group on world globalization and how it's affecting communities," said J.T. "Jack" Ward, chairman of the Hanover County Board of Supervisors. "I thought about right here in Mechanicsville how we lost Reece sewing-machine company that went offshore."
"I thought about right here ..." They must not have had a speaker lecturing bureaucrats on proper syntax.

News Flash, Jack! You could have picked up a copy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch on any given day to learn why it is that businesses around the state are closing their doors en masse and moving to Indonesia. What, you had to fly to Honolulu to hear the news?

Here's the formatted response I expected from someone who has become accustomed to wasting taxpayer dollars:
Henrico County Board of Supervisors Chairman Frank J. Thornton, one of three Henrico leaders who attended it, called the conference "very critical" to sharing ideas.

"Sometimes we may think that we have different problems," he said, "and when we attend meetings like that, we learn that other localities have similar problems and maybe they have solutions that we've never thought about.

"We have to attend so that we won't be provincial in our thinking."
We have to attend so that we won't be provincial in our thinking ... I wonder if this guy has the word DEMOCRAT written across his forehead. Or MORON tatooed on his butt. Good grief. Provincialism is a bad thing if you're Pope, Frank. But you're a freaking county administrator. You're responsible for regulations pertaining to grass height and parallel parking. Not global harmonic convergence.

Of course there were those who attended classes in Honolulu - was that with Maitai in hand? - on crap they could pick up at Waldenbooks.
Powhatan County Board of Supervisors Chairman Robert R. Cosby said he got information on a range of topics, including the use of eminent domain and conservation easements, as well as the growing problem of methamphetamine.

The meth comment is significant. It explains the mindset that allowed grown men and women to think a meeting held in Alice's Wonderland was appropriate to their positions in local governance.
Cosby, board chairman for 27 years, also attended a workshop on how to run public meetings. "I went to see how I was doing," he said. "Other than the location, this was no different than other conferences we attended."
Don't you love it? "Except for the concentration camps, his having brought about World War II, and the fact that 50 million people lost their lives, Adolf Hitler wasn't a bad man."

It was all about the location, Bob.

Finally, there is the ominous portent of conferences yet to be planned. Bob gives us an indication that he wasn't impressed with Honolulu.
"It was a good conference," he said, "but I think Hawaii is a little overrated to have to travel 5,600 miles."
Hawaii is just ĂȘtre insuffisant. Somebody get the planet Naboo ready for next year's party. Er, conference.

Big News In Cellphone Wars

Read it here, where I print all the news that ... few people have an interest in unless they live the life of a modern-day gypsy.

Cingular Signs Up With RadioShack

Top Mobile-Service Carrier To Replace Verizon and Join Sprint at the 5,000 Stores

By SHAWN YOUNG, Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

Cingular Wireless will replace Verizon Wireless as a cellphone-service provider sold through RadioShack Corp.'s U.S. stores starting next year, as competition between the nation's two largest wireless operators intensifies.

RadioShack is an important source of sales for Verizon Wireless and Sprint Corp., both of whose selling agreements with the retail chain had been due to expire in the next year. Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kan., has extended its contract.

In recent years, wireless companies have come to rely more heavily on their own sales outlets for business. Some analysts had expected Verizon Wireless to remain with RadioShack, but to seek more favorable terms. Instead, RadioShack and Cingular forged a deal. Terms weren't disclosed. (link)

Cingular has more subscribers than any other cellular company. Verizon, by most estimates, has the best network and broadest range of cellular applications available to its customers of any provider in the USA.

The way I read this, it was Verizon that brought about the divorce. From RadioShack's 5,000 retail stores.

It's an ever changing world ...