Comments on: Column: Math Is Hard, But This Ain’t Math it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Eco Bruce Eco Bruce Fri, 12 Apr 2013 21:02:25 +0000 Cute analogy, but there are some edits to make.

Dan, although he does not have a gas card, does have a gas station to use – the old fashioned kind that uses attendants to disperse fuel. The CFO gets to determine how much gas Dan gets pumped into his tank annually. The CFO does this by sending out one particular attendant to the car. There are at least five attendants on standby, and each of them would use a different meter to put gas in Dan’s tank, but for the last 30 years or so that Dan has been working for CommunityWorks, the CFO has always sent the same attendant. Occasionally, the Board of Directors asks Dan to bring his car in for service, and at least once while the car was in the shop, they asked the attendant for gas to be extracted out of the tank.

Most of the Directors know that Dan does a really good job. Some think that if it had not been for Dan, CommunityWorks may have gone bankrupt during the Great Recession. Some Directors even think that because of Dan, there is more gas for everyone’s tank.

Chapter 2:
Director K, who desires to become the CEO, wants to fire Dan – regardless of his successes! When he realized that the other Directors would never agree to this, he began to plot to get the CFO to send out a new attendant to fill Dan’s gas tank. Director K is confident that any of the other attendants’ meters would pump less gas into Dan’s car. He is also confident that his actions will win praises from the shareholders and when they send in their proxy votes, they will be sure to check the box next to his name for another term on the Board.

CFO – The City Assessor
Board of Directors – City Council
Shareholders- Voters

By: James Jefferson James Jefferson Fri, 12 Apr 2013 05:19:56 +0000 I like it but still am not completely clear on the cast of characters. Who is the taxpayer, who has the ability to replace Ann’s Supervisor(s) If they are dissatisfied with the way she/he is doing their job?

By: Timothy Durham Timothy Durham Thu, 11 Apr 2013 14:09:15 +0000 [4] Thanks Dave. Got it. Thanks for the analogy, too. It helps the newly initiated get a grip on what can be a counterintuitive descent into deep, and political, bureaucracy.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Thu, 11 Apr 2013 14:02:19 +0000 Re: [3] “In what way are Dan’s clients ‘difficult’?”

Tim, what I had in mind here was, for example, repairing the parking structures – difficult in the sense that the taxing jurisdictions themselves might not be willing to undertake these types of projects. This part of the analogy was meant to capture the fact that, for example, DDA board members and staff will point to the fact that historically the city was not willing to make those investments in parking structure repair. Think of any projects that require long term planning and investment but would be easy to do without in the short term. Allison and Ann and Walter and William deal with the “clients” that would bail on the company if they didn’t get a visit today – collecting the trash and the like. Dan deals with “clients” that require long-term cultivation and relationships.

By: anna ercoli schnitzer anna ercoli schnitzer Thu, 11 Apr 2013 12:31:49 +0000 I really enjoyed (and learned from) your analogy, Dave (and particularly appreciated the key to the characters)–even though I had to read the column several times to capture and understand all the details. Thanks very much for writing this. It really simplified the so-called “math” for me.

By: Timothy Durham Timothy Durham Thu, 11 Apr 2013 12:30:59 +0000 Dave,
In what way are Dan’s clients “difficult?”

Since I have been trying to follow this, Dan’s clients have seemed like low-hanging fruit, development-wise, and profit-wise, while actually difficult clients (like Packard Square, North Main at Depot, the DTE/Amtrak site, as examples- out of Dan’s zone, yes, but still) are left to languish?

“Difficult” might also mean finding a developer to build something of universal, and long term, value to Ann Arbor civically, (but not maximally profitable) on a site that could be maximized for easy profitability but hated by the citizenry.

By: Jim Rees Jim Rees Wed, 10 Apr 2013 23:50:14 +0000 I like how this lets CommunityWorks pretend that it’s not actually using any of its client’s money to buy gas for Dan.