We Gotta Get Out Of This Place!

Two weeks ago, I mentioned that I’d been doing a lot of manual labor at work and that I’d explain later.  Here’s the story… 

During his campaign last year, our new Governor’s favorite sound bite was that my agency was a “job killer.”  He was referring to the role that the planning division had in reviewing comprehensive plan amendments for developments for consistency with the local government’s own comprehensive plan. Although most amendments were eventually determined to be consistent, the label stuck.

After the election, there was an inconvenient truth: the planners were the agency’s tip of the iceberg.  Even the new Secretary was surprised to learn that most of the agency’s budget, and impact, is attributable to my division, particularly my unit.  There’s $300 million in hurricane recovery funds, another $100 million for a housing stabilization program, and $25 million for infrastructure and economic development in rural areas. (Your federal tax dollars at work!) 

But the Governor had pretty much promised to kill off the job killers, so the agency was abolished.  Most of it was just sent to other departments. But technically, the agency is gone. 

While the planners were sliced and diced in the new budget, my division of “job creators” didn’t lose a single position and was transferred intact to a new agency responsible for economic development.  But that new agency will be housed two blocks from the Governor instead of the office park in the suburbs I’ve enjoyed for the last 15 years. 

So week before last I was packing for the move, which happened last week.  I ended up with 12 boxes, after I decided that there were many documents (some going back to 1983 and which I inherited when I arrived in 1993) that I really didn’t need anymore. 

This is my second move with the agency.  The first one was 15 years ago when we moved into the building we just vacated.  It was brand new at the time.  That move went very smoothly.  Much of it happened over a weekend, so there was minimal work disruption.
 
Not this time.  We were told to be packed by Wednesday of week before last.  But we didn’t begin moving until last Tuesday.  So for about a week, I had almost nothing to do – all my files were in boxes and I had no computer. 

The movers used Tuesday to move our desks and work tables.  Wednesday, they moved the boxes but file cabinets, bookcases and chairs stayed.  I went to the new office on Thursday afternoon and arranged my desk and work table.  I had nothing to sit on and no computer.  Friday, I had a “temporary” computer and my visitor chairs but no book case.  At least I was able to put my project files into the filing cabinet.  

I heard that my bookcase and office chair will arrive Tuesday. Not sure what the movers are doing Monday.                                                                                                                 

I’m going to miss my old office in the “suburbs.”  I’ll especially miss my lunchtime walks around our peaceful office park with lots of trees.  The thought of walking along the downtown sidewalks is unappealing and so a daily exercise routine during the week is now dead. 

Nor do I look forward to navigating the horrendous downtown traffic, even though I’m taking steps to minimize the hassle by leaving at 4:45.  While I’ve found a good way home using a one way street, I’ve not settled on a route to work.  I’m checking out two different routes which involve one way streets for most of the trip.  Friday, I left early (7:15) and made the trip in 15 minutes because the traffic hadn’t built up yet.  But usually, I leave at 7:30, very prime time.                                                                                                                                                                
The move has some silver linings.  I’m closer to work – about five miles now compared to ten miles before.  I park in a garage, so my car will not be 100+ degrees in summer and my paint job should last longer.  I can use that parking space for a guaranteed spot two blocks from downtown when there are special events, such as the upcoming Asian festival. No more looking for a space in the suburbs and hiking in. 

Also, my office is larger than my previous one and has a window.  On the other hand, the window limited my office design options and I had to give up the filing cabinet with those 1983 documents.  Since the window faces west, I expect it’ll warm up the office in summer and I’ll have to get a fan.  I can hear street noise and a train from the window.                                                                                                         
But I only have to suffer for two years and then…adios, amigos!
 
Here’s my old office just before the move: (yes, that’s Vegas on the wall)
                                                                    
                                                                                                                                                     
Here’s my new office as of Friday:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Fn2rOHVUzY
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12 responses to “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place!

  1. What? Walking the downtown streets is unappealing? Not so, Grasshopper! The Chain of Parks is lovely, and there are all sorts of things to see and do. I once took a visual “tour” of downtown, taking pictures as I went, to send to my friend Sue in Canada. I laid down on the steps of the Supreme Court to take a picture of the Capitol, and fretted about being arrested 🙂 Plus here’s another upside for you: we can have lunch sometimes now that you’re in my “neighborhood”. The biggest downside is being that close to the governor (for you and me both). He once gave a speech or attended an event or something at the Mary Brogan museum, and FDLE swooped in in their big black SUV’s, with their bomb-sniffing dogs and assault rifles, and announced they were taking X number of parking spaces nearest the elevator. They were not “asking”. I was like, please! Whisk him out of here as quickly as possible! I figured I had never been more in danger of being blown up than by having him nearby.
    In spite of my disgust at the dismantling of your department, I have to laugh because it reminded me of something Jon Stewart said. These days you can’t say anything complimentary unless it involves “job creation”. “That’s a lovely dress you’re wearing–it’s sooo job creator”.

  2. >The Chain of Parks

    What? I’m looking for a stroll…not a trek! LOL! I only have 45 minutes for lunch, so my walks need to be no more than about 15-20 minutes. It’d take me that long to get to the Chain of Parks. Now, when Cascades Park is done, that’ll be a stone’s throw away, assuming they properly cleaned up that SuperFund site….

    As for lunch, maybe we can meet on “my side” of the Capitol. Been to Bahn Thai for their lunch buffet? (I’ve not, so I don’t know if it’s any good.)

    Yes, job creation is the phrase du jour. Would you believe someone sent us a letter wanting funding for a civil rights museum in a tourist town south of Jacksonville? It’ll create jobs! It’s easy to be a job creator with OPM. (I don’t want to name the “saintly” town in case someone does a Google search for it and it leads them here.)

    But you know what? When we ask for “accountability” in the form of them signing an agreement to repay us $35,000 for each job NOT created that they promised, there’s a lot of hemming and hawing. If they don’t believe in their own business, why should we?

    And check this out (Patrick H. works with me):

    http://www.newsherald.com/news/doubt-96241-funding-application.html

    I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of this OPM….

  3. BTW, I am in Collins building on Gaines at Bloxham. Except for us, the building is Attorney General. That’s the closest they could get us to the new agency’s “real” home: Caldwell. Don’t know why they didn’t stick what’s left of the planners in Collins and us in Caldwell. But then again, maybe being away from the big bosses is good!

  4. Gaines at Bloxham…you are definitely on the outskirts of downtown, but not much longer. I almost mentioned Cascades Park, but that’s assuming they finish it before you retire for good, or for that matter, in our lifetimes 🙂 Just kidding. I saw a presentation about it and it is well on track and it’s very impressive. There are a bunch of whiners about it, but you know how I feel about whiners.
    I read the News Herald article and couldn’t agree more with you and your co-worker Patrick H. The developers are just looking for free money. TINFL (There is no free lunch.)
    Bahn Thai. I’ve been there twice and liked it. I think you would find it acceptable, but sort of a watered-down version of “real” Thai. It’s the only Thai restaurant I’ve ever been to (sadly), so I can’t really compare or say whether it’s “good” or not. But seems like a great place to start for a lunch! You’ll have to let me know once you’re all settled in.

  5. And furthermore (!), it makes me sick when cities and states throw money at private developers in the name of “job creation” and an “expanded tax base” with no guarantee that the project will even be finished. Have you followed, by any chance, the boondoggle that is the Civic Center hotel?

  6. BTW, I loved the Animals video. My favorite song by them.

  7. > the Civic Center hotel?
    I thought that died long ago!? Is it still kicking around?

    > Cascades Park
    The County person I work with on these grants offered me a private “tour” of the park with the designers when he goes but I declined. But it does look like it will be nice.

    > throw money at private developers
    In our news clips today, I saw an article in some paper in the state about how details of some of the incentives provided by the State can be kept secret for at least one year. I don’t agree with that at all.

    Once I get settled in a bit, we’ll check out Bahn Thai.

  8. Going from the newish DCA building to the oldish Collins building is like a penal sentence its good that you only have a little while left.I spent time in both and know them well.

    Re boxes of old records. I had a supervisor once whose philosphy om memos was to put them all in a box under his desk. If he got a second notice asking for a report on the first one he would then dig it out and read it. Saved a lot of paper shuffling as the one constant in governing is change.

    Re streets in Tallahassee my philosophy is to use the one ways as much as possible. I never use Tennessee,Monroe or Apalachee Parkway. I use Meridian from Mcclay to Pensacola to avoid Thomasville as much as I can as well.

    Re economic incentives: sunshine does not apply. This was enacted for 2 main reasons.Private companies don’t reveal proprietary details of their business and second it’s a competitive situation and making everything public would be giving away advantage to the competition.

    • When were you in DCA building?

      I’m taking Duval home and it’s fast! Faster than Gadsden, which is also one way. Using Duval, I do have to get onto Monroe for just a short distance but I turn just before John Knox and turn onto John Knox off a side street next to Staples.

      That exemption doesn’t apply to us. Plus, since it is federal funds, there is FOIA.

  9. What? No complaints about your drive home from downtown? Lol. I must mark this day on my calendar! But you have definitely chosen the right route. The advantage for me is that it goes right by Publix!

  10. I know exactly how you feel my brother

    • Hey Intimidator! Been a long time! I was wondering if you had moved to Costa Rica by now…lol! It’s still on my “short lsit” but so is panama; heard nice things about Boquette from a co-worker who spent 3 months in Panama.

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