Friday, January 02, 2009

Loose Ends at the Starting Gate

Lake County, Illinois - Happy New Year from the northern Chicago suburbs. Evan and I are here visiting my aunt and her husband, and to take in a few sights. Today we spent the day quietly, watching the Winter Classic on TV (I tried to get tickets, but too expensive for me) and having a great dinner with some of my cousins and their families who came over. It is nice here, and I'm grateful for the chance to see family and explore some new territory.

I spent the early part of this week at work, having a nagging cough and cold resurface (I'm blaming the inversion), and then trying to get ready to take this trip. Over the course of the week some significant events occurred concerning topics I've written about recently.

When I spoke with Rep. Steve King about his proposed school safety bill, one point he wanted to emphasize was that he did not want the bill's requirements to be so restrictive that the proposed rules would create too much of a fiscal impact, or be resisted by school administrators. Thanks to Mike Saccone of the Daily Sentinel, another reason for this has come to light.

It seems that Rep. King is now engaged in the business of conducting security audits of at least one educational institution. Mesa State, AKA Foster's Home for Republican Friends, hired Rep. King's company for some healthy pocket change, but conveniently under the amount that would require a competitive bid. The Sentinel's Editorial Board called Rep. King on the carpet for what they feel is a
"clear appearance of conflict of interest", and I'm inclined to agree.

I'm also a little upset because the legislation that Rep. King was preparing for consideration had the potential to be a good thing; it would likely have helped to make safety and preparedness a priority in all private and public facilities that provide educational services. Now the bill is tainted by the spectre of its' author standing ready to profit personally from it. Bad form, Steve.

Bad form on Mesa State as well. According to the Sentinel, the college claimed ignorance of any "
other firms in this region that could perform the sort of work they sought". To quote Wikipedia on what the logical next step should be:
"A Request for Information (RFI) is a standard business process whose purpose is to collect written information about the capabilities of various suppliers. Normally it follows a format that can be used for comparative purposes."
In other words, the college eschewed due diligence in obtaining information necessary to objectively select a vendor capable of performing the work. I wonder if the college staff involved did a sole source justification, as many colleges and universities require, and what the reasons were for the awarding of the contract to Rep. King's company.

I worked with Rep. King during his tenure with the Grand Junction Police Department and the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. I am impressed with his skills and abilities as a law enforcement professional. I do not believe that this experience alone qualifies him to be the sole source contractor for a comprehensive audit of the security needs of an institution of the size and complexity of Mesa State College.

Such an undertaking also speaks to several other public safety disciplines, such as Emergency Management, Incident Command, and effective interface with Fire and Emergency Medical Services. I hope that Rep. King seeks out professionals in these areas to serve as subcontractors or compensated advisers, and that the audit report is made available for public inspection upon completion.

KREX reported that they had reached an agreement with Bresnan for Retransmission Consent of their channels. This is what I expected would happen. On a much larger scale, Viacom pulled off a similar last-minute extortion, I mean agreement with Time Warner Cable under the threat of denying its' group of networks, which include Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central, to that cable company's 13 Million-plus subscribers.

The interesting thing to do now is for Bresnan subscribers to keep a close eye their cable bills, should any rate increases be forthcoming. I've requested information from Bresnan on what they are paying for programming, which I expect they would be willing to provide if only to help justify their rates for providing service. I'll let you know what I am able to find out.

This past year has been one of continued transition and reflection for me. I've not had a very good time of it; I've left a job under duress, gained weight, not met goals in several areas, and have let a relationship suffer from inattention and a general lack of focus, which seems to be a recurring theme in my life and something that I pray often for improvement in.

One thing I have done that may show more production, but not more productivity, is almost quintuple my blog posts over 2007. I feel that this may have taken me away from other pursuits that will aid me in becoming better educated and more competent in my chosen profession, but I have also reaped intangible rewards from the connections I have made with so many in my community and elsewhere who I would otherwise not had the opportunity without this blog.
I enjoy writing, and appreciate those of you who choose to visit here regularly. I hope to be able to continue to write with at least the same frequency in the coming year.

I don't believe in resolutions; I prefer to try to listen closely to what God is telling me to do with my life, and with those whom I have been blessed to share my life with. The message is not always a clear one, but I have a general idea of where I feel I should be going and who I should be making the journey with. I'll have more to say about that in the month ahead.

In the meantime, enjoy the new year, and may God bless you with unexpected joy and overlooked treasures. Evan and I are going to explore Chicago a little bit tomorrow. Maybe we'll find something to share.

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