Sunday, May 07, 2006

Column 83 - Experts

IVGID could save a lot of money by firing their entire professional staff – I mean the golf staff, the tennis staff, the ski staff, the Rec Center staff – the whole lot. After all, they can just ask some Incline residents how to maximize the return on our multi-million dollar investments, particularly in the recreation area.

What gave me this brainstorm was reading all the sage advice proffered by residents regarding maintenance of the golf course, how to speed up play, and similar advice over the past couple of years about golf course maintenance during the winter, staffing of the golf course and tennis programs, how to run the ski area, dogs on the beaches, etc. It seems we have an awful lot of people who must be experts on these matters. I don’t have any idea of their credentials, but they give their opinions with great certainty and not a hint of a possibility that trained professionals might know more than they do.

Now don’t get me wrong – everyone has a right to their opinion, and the First Amendment guarantees their right to express it. At the same time, I’ve never cared for what an old boss of mine used to call “a guy in a diner.” If you’ve ever been in a diner late at night you’ve encountered the guy who sits at the counter with a cup of coffee and offers (usually loudly) to all within earshot his opinions on the government, the economy, and anything else he can think of.

Too bad there’s not a diner in Incline – it would make a fortune.

I suppose for someone who expresses views publicly to criticize others who do so might be unseemly. I like to think, though, that I do my homework and while some (many) might not agree with what I say, I think most would agree that I have some basis for it beyond just how I would like it to be so that it’s convenient for me.

IVGID hires really top quality professional people, from the General Manager on down, to be stewards of valuable assets belonging to the entire village. Stewardship means to hold in trust property belonging to another and to maintain or hopefully increase the value of that property. IVGID professionals are hired for their expertise and expected to do just that – to ensure a return on our investments. In doing this, they must make decisions that will not meet everyone’s desires. The fact that the golf course is a public facility owned by the District, does not mean that everyone should be able to do whatever they want with it, whether it’s cross-country skiing in winter or driving carts on the fairways in the spring, if those activities will, in the judgment of the experts, damage the asset.

In case I’m not making myself clear, the key word in the last sentence is experts. Not everyone is an expert and to say, in effect, “I own the golf course so I know what is best for it” is like putting water in the gas tank of your car and expecting it to run just because you think it should.

These self-appointed critics also make their attacks personal. The IVGID staff put hours of work and study into their recommendations (if you don’t think so, go to a Board meeting when any of them are presenting to the Board and you’ll see the professionalism and careful analysis behind their reports), but never mind that: if you don’t like what they recommend, call them names, say they’re “spending like a drunken sailor,” and generally disparage their hard work and dedication. If you seriously think you are their employer, you should know better than to treat valued employees that way.

But what the hell. If you’re a guy in a diner, you don’t have to be responsible, just sling mud around to show how much smarter you are than everyone else. After all, no one will hold you accountable if it doesn’t turn out.

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