Friday, June 13, 2008

What exactly are our Ft. Worth City leaders doing?

After finding myself with a business right in the middle of the homeless shelters and really digging in to the issue, I found that the municipal courts were a inefficient, ineffective mess because the criminals running around town who declared themselves "poor," suffer absolutely no consequences, not even community service, nothing that would serve as a motivating factor to improve their lives. I wrote many emails to the Mayor and to the City Council members about this. I'm so glad to see the Star-Telegram reporting the sloppiness of our court system. And we wonder why our taxes are going up!! It amazes me to see the opportunities for good that politics in our City, block, and/or suppress. All but maybe a couple of our City Council members are so caught up in big money politics, redevelopment and personal political advancement that they are ineffective as a leader.

Posted on Thu, May. 29, 2008

Municipal fine collections not fine and dandy
Star-Telegram


Fort Worth's sloppy, inefficient municipal court system is sending a terribly wrongheaded message to people who receive tickets for offenses ranging from speeding to illegal dumping.
The message, in essence, is this: You're a chump if you pay your fine quickly. If you wait long enough, you might not have to pay at all.
Abysmal record
The
court system has one of the sorriest fine-collection rates -- 43.7 percent -- among Texas' biggest cities, according to an audit by the state comptroller's office.
A report by the city's internal audit office shows that the court system has management and operational problems, dating back at least three years, that have hindered its efforts to collect fines.
The system's worrisome warts were outlined in a
story in Sunday's Star-Telegram by City Hall reporter Mike Lee.
The city potentially is facing its toughest financial crunch in more than a decade as the City Council works in coming months to adopt a budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The city can ill afford reductions in revenues resulting from a haphazard, Keystone Cops fine-collection effort.
Revenue reversal
The city's internal audit report showed that, from 2005 to 2006, the number of citations rose from 366,000 to 423,000 -- a 15.6 percent increase. But the money collected from fines fell 2.4 percent, from $20.3 million to $19.8 million.
Thousands of people simply didn't pay after they had received permission to pay off their fines over time, the audit showed.
What's needed
City Manager Dale Fisseler and new court administrator Deidra Emerson (who replaced the retiring Elsa Paniagua last fall) must put a high priority on making the system and its employees function more effectively by keeping better records and aggressively birddogging those who don't pay fines on time. Emerson appears to be making some progress.
The City Council must ride herd on Fisseler and Emerson, requiring regular updates until operations are up to snuff.
Ironically, the system has had difficulties with a new $1.7 million CourtView system that was bought to improve operations. As an example, CourtView apparently was programmed improperly and therefore was miscalculating the amount that the courts owed to the state for its share of revenues from traffic cases. Better employee training appears to be needed.
The city needs to hire a law firm to go after those who haven't paid fines. It hasn't had such a collection agent since the city's contract with the firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair Pena & Sampson expired in 2006.
The city's 12 full-time and nine part-time municipal judges need to reassess the practice of giving people extra time to pay fines, because it obviously isn't working in numerous cases. If a person can't afford to pay, perhaps community service requirements could become a more frequently employed alternative.
Ongoing problem
The problem will only grow if more and more violators find that they don't have to pay their fines. They'll be more likely to continue breaking the law. Why play by the rules if there's no punishment for breaking them?
The court system needs a major overhaul, the sooner the better.
ONLINE
www.fortworthgov.org/municipalcourt

http://www.star-telegram.com/225/story/669684.html

Posted on Sun, May. 25, 2008

Fort Worth issues more tickets but sees revenue drop
By MIKE LEE
Star-Telegram Staff Writer


Fort Worth's Municipal Court has one of the lowest collection rates among big cities in Texas, according to the state comptroller's office, and a report from the city's internal auditor shows an array of management problems going back at least three years that have kept the court from collecting money it is owed.

From 2005 to 2006, the number of citations that passed through the court went up 15 percent to 423,000 from 366,000, according to the internal audit. The money collected went down 2.4 percent, to $19.8 million from $20.3 million.

http://www.star-telegram.com/news/story/662728.html

Please email your Mayor and City Council members and ask them to do a better job at managing our court system and quit taking the road of least resistance by asking the taxpayers to foot the bill for their sloppy work.

2 comments:

Michael L. Gooch said...

I enjoyed the employee training aspect of this article. If you don't mind, I would like to add my two-bits to this conversation. In these trying times of finding adequate labor and skills to run the operations, we certainly are spending much more on training costs. However, I have get frustrated with the organizations that throw training at a crowd as if one size fits all. This is a horrible waste of these training resources. Choosing the right audience sounds like a simple endeavor; however, we hardly ever get it right. In many training sessions, you have a few who really would benefit more from a synopsis or a quick email rather than the full-blown course. As you choose your audience, try to get away from the group or department mindset. Training the wrong person not only wastes your time and the company’s money, but it also aggravates the person you have at gunpoint.

As a whole, we all developed our training model after old Mrs. Snodgrass in the third grade. She was the teacher, you were the pupil, and you better sit there and be quiet as she drones on about the ABCs. Adult learners are quite different. Unlike third-graders, most adults see themselves as responsible for their own decisions and lives. Adult need to know why they need to learn something. In addition, each class may have a wide variety of ages in attendance. As much as it hurts me, I will be the first to confess that the older people need more time to learn than the younger set. People in their fifties, sixties, and seventies can learn new techniques and acquire new knowledge just as well as younger people. However, the older ones will need a little more time. When you mix your training class with both young and old, you will have some who are bored and some who are struggling. Be aware of this and come up with creative solutions. Michael L. Gooch, SPHR Author of Wingtips with Spurs: Cowboy Wisdom for Today’s Business Leaders http://www.michaellgooch.com

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