Thursday, April 10, 2008


My Field of Dreams

It has not been a bad week at work, nor has it been a good week. As most weeks are, it has been frustrating. Don't get me wrong, I love my job. I just wish the funding was there to do my job! We are in the cross-hairs of disaster. For the last several years, we have been funded at 85% of what it actually takes to run the place and top that off with the wisdom of Congress that tells us we must operate as if we were a private business. We will not know our actual funding level for 2008 until probably October. Again, how many private businesses could function?

On one hand, running as a private business, is an excellent idea. More control (not enough, but more) of the budget, more freedom to experiment with cost-cutting measures, more control of inventory and cost are some of the advantages. I also like the accountability that goes with it. The big disadvantage is starting out in the hole. How many "private businesses" could function; let alone survive, if they started off with 15% less funding than what the realistic budget called for.

Maintenance staff has been cut all the way to the bone marrow! I frequently say that we are holding it together with bubble gum and Band Aids. Furnaces and water heaters need to be replaced. Wood trim needs to be painted. And that is just the beginning of the laundry list of repairs and maintenance I want to do. I would love to replace playground equipment equipment. Thank goodness, the Dream Center and Mission Peoria painted our old equipment last summer. It looks better, but it is about played out!! Their painting of the fence was a great help, too.

I look out one of our office windows at the open space and beautiful view of the Illinois River and dream of what could be. I will be retired long before those dreams become any kind of reality. I know all the comments that are made about Taft Homes and public housing in general. Let me assure you that the view from the inside is quite different from the perceptions. Of course, there are problems, but there are also many hard working families. Just like in other neighborhoods. I look at the development at RiverWest. That development began with the HOPE VI grant in 1997. It is still beautiful and well maintained, despite the calamity that was predicted. I look at the new development at Harrison Homes with envy. Again, the naysayers will make their predictions. I have real hope for that redevelopment; the new school and other growth (improvements) that may very well come as the city develops south of downtown. Time, investment and dedication can accomplish a great deal.

I love my job, I really do.


East Bluff Barbie said...

Maybe you could find someone to donate paint and time to paint the trim. That is a small fix that will make a big impression. One of our neighbors was picked for Christamas in April and she has been on cloud nine ever since. She got a new roof, her ceiling is being repaired where the roof leaked, she is getting ceiling fans since she doesn't have air conditioning, and they are painting her porch. I love watching her so excited and she really deserves it. She is a good person who has had a rough life, probably like a lot of your residents. Hopefully something will work out for your residents.

Ramble On said...

Thanks, Barbie! I will mention it to the Dream Center volunteers. They have done so much for us, but are willing to do more. I didn't even think to mention it to them!

Anonymous said...

Private businesses don't have "funding" that they can rely on next year. Private businesses have to put out products or services that customers choose to buy thus generating revenue. Due the 2006 pre-buy caused by the 2007 on-highway truck emissions regulations my business unit experienced a $366 MILLION dollar drop in on-highway engine sales in 2007. Private businesses certainly have no more (and I would argue less) stable "funding" from year to year than do government entities. We have to answer to shareholders every quarter and customers with every sale.