Mission Viejo

Preventing Costly Mistakes

By Ed Sachs

How do we prevent repeating mistakes that are costly to taxpayers? In my professional career in the private sector, I accomplished this by holding responsible parties accountable for their mistakes. Not surprisingly, this had the effect of eliminating or at least reducing the number of mistakes which translated into savings for the company.
I write this in the hopes it will encourage our city council and staff to do the same within our local government. I refer to the city council’s recent admission that, “oops, we forgot to consider irrigation for the Dog Park.” I find it hard to believe that a Dog Park that requires grass was designed without a water source. Yet just recently, a Change Order asking Mission Viejo residents for an additional $190,600 was presented for approval. The reason staff and council are asking for more of your money is that once again, somebody neglected to include irrigation in the initial project specs.

The Dog Park started with a design/build cost of $800,000 to city taxpayers. This Dog Park has now ballooned to a cost of  more than $1.1M for Phase 1. And if it has a Phase 1, wouldn’t it stand to reason that it would also have a Phase 2 (or 3, or more)?
This isn’t the first time this has happened. I believe it was “Change Order #6” for the Marguerite Tennis Center that had council rushing to include irrigation that was discovered “missing” at the very last minute. In that case, Councilman Ury manipulated UDR developers to prepay $500,000 in park fees to cover the cost of that Change Order. This is the same Tennis Center project that cost over $5M of residents’ money, if memory serves me correctly.

After the many projects in our city necessitating Change Orders, it’s hard to fathom yet another costly “oversight”. Mission Viejo deserves a city government that works in favor of its residents and always understands that as staff and council members, they must work to manage taxpayer dollars in the same way that you and I do in our own personal lives. Perhaps it’s time to start holding the responsible parties accountable for wasting “other people’s money”.

Ed Sachs and his family have lived in Mission Viejo since 1991. Ed spent 30 years in the consumer electronics industry where he was inducted in the Hall of Fame. He retired as President Emeritus at Pioneer Electronics in 2009. Since retirement, Ed has opened his own leadership-consulting agency while becoming active in the community. In 2012, Ed ran for Mission Viejo City Council. Ed and his wife Leagh, an accomplished and award winning photographer, have two sons, David and Daniel.

Questions? Comments? The CCS wants to hear from you! Contact Mission Viejo Contributing Editor Steve Magdziak at: (949) 441-0499.

1 comment:

Shripathi Kamath said...

Every former CEO touts anecdotal private sector experience as a cure for public sector ills. Well, almost every former CEO anyway.

Most frequently when they are about to run for office. Other times, they are more reserved.

Rarely is there a basic acknowledgement that the two are structurally different. There are some similarities: tenure, for one. A non-performing CEO can be ousted by a few, just as a public council member can be ousted at the next election. Tenure-wise, the two are the about the same 2-4 years, and no ousted CEO leaves empty-handed. A severance paycheck usually in the millions for failure is almost guaranteed.

Here is one informal case study

Likewise, common sense is the art of labeling everything to be obvious. And simple. So simple that a caveman gets it. No matter what the problem is, how complex it is, or whether data exists to back it.


That is true once you know the answer. By definition a CEO always does, and a council member, or one that you dislike cannot possibly know that.

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