northanger (northanger) wrote,


phone ringing in the middle of writing this. ignored until it becomes insistent. my sister's (P) been laid off ... again. weepy, feeling like a lonely failure. owie.

P's been in city government her entire career. there's city, state & federal with each level providing services (police, fire, education of course plus food programs for the elderly, free adult classes, teen & afterschool programs, etc). city budgets come from local population via taxes, fines & whatnot. also state, federal & non-profit grants & programs. while the federal budget has grown enormously, many city services experiencing deep cutbacks — especially in california. (issue isn't just government getting bigger but where it's getting bigger). most city services funded/staffed by the city. however, P's city has a bickering constellation of non-profit agencies fighting over the same 10%. she works with them & city staff to ensure 100% service coverage.

the city is primarly black-hispanic with NO high schools of its own — all kids are bused. city used to be the #1 murder capital of the USA. huge problem if it's right next to richer cities like Palo Alto. how do i explain that 10% in 25 words or less? um, i'll use Bono since i read a lot of UK blogs (like infinite thøught) discussing his philanthropy. Bono sees the same 10% of the problem everyone else sees at his level (if they're lucky). doesn't mean he shouldn't do what he does, but it may create a philanthropic glut. that's where my sister comes in because she's closer to the ground. she'd extend Bono's ability to impact as many people as possible (improve his ROI). unfortunately, Bono may never meet her. non-profits usually have their own initatives & agendas & may not understand (or like) how state & city governments actually work. otoh, my sister is aware of the demographic makeup of a city & the necessary services required. why is this important?

after Katrina, my sister explained the city emergency process & said she was already pre-assigned a task. that means you'd been at NOLA's convention center? yes, or the superdome. listening to my sister explain all this (she's really good) helped me understand how a mayor AND the city staff work together to provide city services. most wealthy cities can cover all service areas & avoid service gaps. however, poorer cities have greater service gaps, which means more folks falling through the cracks. adding deep cutbacks doesn't make things any easier. many of these cities won't know their weak areas until an emergency occurs, but non-profits can fill some of these gaps.

back to Bono. okay, he's only solving 90% of the problems for the 10% (if he's lucky) he's helping — service gap. eg., teens in P's city complained of feeling unsafe walking from school to afterschool programs & back home. P coordinated a new collaboration between the city, schools & non-profits to provide free busing. however, it didn't solve all of the problems. so Bono needs to be aware of the percentage of folks he's actually reaching & eliminate any gaps to obtain the services he's providing.

my hope for my sister is that she reads Marx & understands use value & that pesky transformation problem. failing that, i hope one of those silly non-profits hires her because they recognize that her experience, knowledge & training increases their service range. they will consider themselves lucky they're able to scoop her up. they'll be cool with her MS & dyslexia. she will have fun working there & call me constantly to tell me about it. & when TIME wants a cover photo for that non-profit they'll say sure, but take her picture coz she's the one doing all the great work — we just give her the money.


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