A beleagured Mayor Daley promised reform in his State of the City address last month, saying "We're instituting reforms to root out, prevent and prosecute misconduct in government."
It's easy to dismiss such talk as lip service, and assume the "city that works" will continue to work for itself: for the powerful, and not the public. But is it really business as usual? Take a closer look at what's happening inside City Hall, and you may think differently.
Huberman: Red means that's something we want to take a look at because there's a problem. Green means they're right on target...
Metrics, measures, targets, and goals. You expect this talk at IBM, not the fifth floor of City Hall.
Huberman: At the end of the day, commissioners are held accountable, did they get it done? Are the streets clean? What's going on with crime? What's going on with education?
Here's how far they're taking it.
Huberman: How much garbage was picked up that day? How many miles were put on the truck? Through GPS, [we can ask] was it on its route?
Bills are paid faster, phones are answered quicker, and city workers are less likely to call in sick.
Huberman: and when you look at those barometers, I think we're doing tremendously well.
Make no mistake, it's not all about efficiency. The Daley administration is counting on this high-tech, color coded warning system to help root out cheaters, liars and thieves.
Huberman: While it's impossible to say for sure that we're going to find the next hired truck, we're pretty confident that we're rooting out a lot of wrongdoing that may be going on. And you know, Mark, it's easy for someone to get the impression in city government that this is wholesale, that's everywhere... As these systems go in place, more often what we find than what we don't find, are creative, innovative people who are committed to doing good.
So who is this young man the Mayor has put so much trust in? Ron Huberman is best known as the former street cop on a fast track. He practically wired the entire police department.
Suppelsa: You've been called a computer wizard. You work for a guy who I don't even think has a computer in his office. And if he does, he maybe barely uses it.
Huberman: While he may not necessarily be on the keyboard himself, and may not understand how the technology's driven, the mayor has a great vision for technology.
Suppelsa: In your eight months as Chief of Staff, right hand man to the mayor, behind closed doors, have you ever seen him really mad?
Huberman: He's one of those managers where I think people reflect, after having worked for the Mayor, "Wow. He's really tough. But he was tough in a really good way because he expected more of you than you expected of yourself."
Suppelsa: How old are you?
Suppelsa: When you're 54, where do you want to be?
Huberman: Great question. I want to make it to 35 right now.
Suppelsa: Ever think you want to run for office?
Huberman: No, you know, I don't have any political aspirations. I like being on the operational/professional end of government. I think it's the best fit for me.
Suppelsa: What keeps you awake at night?
Huberman: What keeps me awake at night is the possibility that there are things that we're not measuring, that we're not tracking. Where there's wrongdoing in city government.
Suppelsa: Through your models, through your efficiency, have you figured out who hired Angelo Torres?
Huberman: You know, it's a great question. And it's a question that I wish I could sit here and give you a very clear answer.
Torres is the former gangbanger who ran the now-infamous hired trucks program. He was the first of 42 indicted in the scandal, and we still don't know who hired him.
Suppelsa: Do you have an idea?
Huberman: Do we have an idea? No. We really don't. And it would be very unfair to be speculative about anyone's name until we actually have a good answer to that.
Every Friday, department heads are ordered to his office where, Huberman says, he grills them on every detail: sick time, graffiti clean up, the works.
In this case, the public sector turned to the private sector for guidance. This system Huberman put in place is modeled after two wildly-successful American companies: General Electric and Schaumburg-based Motorola.
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