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Links of the Day:

– The City of Rochester has thousands of unpaid bills…because no one checked the inbox. The Democrat and Chronicle’s Brian Sharp continues his great coverage of the city’s computer “upgrade” that turned into a nightmare:

“One of the things that sort of disturbs me about the whole (computer system) thing is now we are getting involved in kind of finger pointing,” (Councilwoman Carolee) Conklin said in an interview. “And, God, I don’t care about who made the original mistake. We have got to get together on this.”

Among the upset vendors was Verizon, she said, which threatened to shut off city-issue cellphones.

– Rochester has a community of “junkers.” The Democrat and Chronicle’s John Hand takes us into the world of metal scrappers and the “pile.”

– Did your boss make you sign a form confirming your salary? Mine did. Here’s why.

– There’s no rust in Rochester. A University of Rochester professor writes in the New York Times about why Kodak didn’t kill us.

– Why the heck is Fujifilm excited about a new drug for Azheimer’s Disease? Because the company is on an acquisition binge.

 – An Associated Press article joins the few media outlets strongly making a case for conversion disorder in the LeRoy girls:

Experts elsewhere have looked on curiously at the Le Roy story. One piece of footage prompted laughter this week among a group of physicians. They were watching a BBC report on the cases, which showed one girl with a jerking arm that suddenly became very controlled as she applied eyeliner and then jerked around again when she was done.

“It’s almost impossible to conceive of a true neurological disorder that can allow for that complexity of switching back and forth,” said Dr. Jose Maldonado, chief of psychosomatic medicine at Stanford University, who mentioned the group’s reaction. “It also looks very purposeful. I’m not saying she’s making it up. I’m just saying that it doesn’t look neurological.”

3 Responses to Dear Rochester, Check Your Inbox

  1. Re city in-basket backlogs: something’s wrong with this picture.

    Let’s assume it’s near impossible to miss a backlog as big as this. Then, there has to be some kind of reason for it that goes beyond excessive data enty worloads or absenteeism.

    Maybe there’s a conscious or sub-conscious work stoppage going on among the troops over the chaos they see before them. Maybe they’re taking time off to escape it. Maybe they know of the backlog but are sandbagging the management in retribution for the mess they’ve created. Maybe they’re angry at temps being brought in to do their work.

    Then again, maybe management is rudderless and the workers see that the new system has some permanent flaws that won’t possibly ever be corrected and will make their lives miserable in the long term.

    An aside: many HMO doctor’s offices in our region are undergoing system changeoverrs due to new record consolidation mandates and technology upgrades. All the ones I know doing it are running parallel systems until they’re confident the new system works. The one I go to still gets out my insurance coverage paperwork on time.

  2. When I was supervisor of the City of Rochester’s Accounts Payable operations, I did not leave my desk at night until each and every invoice on my desk had been paid. Before retiring last May, my advice to those implementing the new system that went into place on July 1st was to leave the old system in place until all the kinks were ironed out of the new technology. Since my advice fell on deaf ears, I am not surprised by the current fiasco, culminating in 6,100 unpaid bills.

    Since the budget crisis resulted in my not being replaced upon my retirement last May, the City was left with no Accounts Payable Supervisor. It was assumed that my duties could be distributed to remaining persons in my office. This turned out to be another very bad management decision. Fortunately, they decided to replace me after all, whereby a new supervisor was put in place a couple months ago.

    I can testify to the fact that many workers in City Hall have a good work ethic. Sadly, I suspect the few with poor work ethics helped to drag things down to the level we are currently witnessing. I nearly worked myself to death as Accounts Payable Supervisor, inclusive of working through my lunch hours, sacrificing vacations, and never taking sick days. (I was out sick once during my 23 years in City Hall.) Part of the reason I retired in May was the fact that I saw trouble coming with the new payable system, and my input was not being taken seriously.

    I hope the latest news will result in better results from those responsible for maintaining the City’s new hardware/software.

  3. RG: isn’t it nice of Rachel to let someone like you tell it like it is?

    Way back I was responsible for the Equipment Services Bureau and we installed a new fleet maintenance/management system to increase productivity, account for reair work, bill it to users, track parts and fuel usage and keep credible inventories of fleet units and life cycles.

    It was a then state of the art on-line IBM dedicated mid-size puter replacing a basic main-frame batch system, complete with keypunch advices.

    Our fleet consultant demanded that we run the old system for a least six months parallel with the new, even after we loaded the new one with baseline information. He needed the experience as much as we did during the shake-out period.

    One thing that always has to be factored in in any municipal accouting or management system is that cities don’t use accrual accoutning. Around the 1st of June, P.O. and P.R. are usually frozen and accounts cleared for closing the books by the end of the fiscal year. This gets really messy if you’re in the middle of or haven’t finished a system switch-over.

    I mean how else are the accounts with surpluses going to be able to be swept into other lines and spent berfore fiscal year end?

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