All for a Good Cause

I sincerely hope that the periodic United Way competitions we engage in at the City are not a window into the souls of our leadership team.  I am sorry to report that I witnessed multiple acts of shameless cheating by department directors and an unidentified City Manager during this year’s festivities.  In my defense, I only cheated in response to the cheating of others.  I also rationalized that my cheating was on behalf of a good cause.

Every year, City employees generously contribute to United Way and the many community services it supports.  Our voluntary contributions are directed to concerns that almost certainly would demand tax support if not for the efforts of United Way.

I also admire the creativity and humor of City employees like Scott Rolen and Katie Nooshazar, who invest their time and energy to make giving a team-building experience.  I think people really enjoyed watching the Police Chief muscle the City Manager out of a pool filled with Styrofoam peanuts while searching for buried rubber ducks.  You had to be there to understand this reference.  The antics of directors and the serious effort of all those who organized and participated in the United Way campaign are, in my opinion, a good example of a value I discussed with new employees at our December orientation meeting.

Our Strategic Plan states that, “We are a humane organization that honors diversity and protects individual rights.”  Being humane requires more than a statement in a plan; it also demands some sacrifice and effort.  I have seen many selfless acts during the three years I’ve worked at the City; so it’s easy to illustrate my point when I talk to new employees about values.

Of course, we also emphasize personal honesty and integrity in our core values.  I hereby confess that on Wednesday, December 03, 2008, at or near 11:30 a.m., near City Hall that I did knowingly jayrun (?) in violation of established rules in order to secure an advantage for my team in a humiliating competition.  I also ignored efforts by referees to enforce the rules of this competition.

The moral of this story is that it does little good to cheat when there are 50 or more people watching you.  My team was eliminated at an early stage, and some irresponsible party hid my shoes while I was competing.  I am privileged to work with Laura Hyde, who always personifies integrity and was gracious enough to find the missing shoes and deliver them to me.  I would add to whoever hid the shoes that I do have a vindictive streak that surfaces when sufficiently provoked.

Police Chief Ed Boyd and Jeff Woodward from Public Works ultimately prevailed in our annual competition, and I would extend my congratulations to them.  Tuesday’s competition raised some extra dollars for United Way and culminated the month-long giving campaign in which City employees gave generously in support of many agencies that support the citizens of Albany.  In all, City employees gave more than $19,000 to the United Way, which in a tough financial year by any measure exceeded the giving of years past, and actually surpassed our goal of $18,000 in contributions.  I applaud our staff for their generosity and commitment to community partnership.  I also hope our support provided some entertainment for people headed to lunch, and helped observers and participants gain some insight into our values.