Skip to comments.A City Looks To Its Moral Compass in Lean Times [Alexandria VA Hires Ethicist to Make Budget Cuts]
Posted on 12/20/2008 9:47:21 PM PST by freespirited
Faced with painful choices about who will suffer most from looming budget cuts, Alexandria officials have taken the unusual step of paying a professional ethicist to help them grapple with the moral issues involved.
Just a few of the vexing decisions his advice helped Alexandria policymakers confront in recent weeks: They took apartments being built for the mentally ill and temporarily turned them into housing for the disabled. They cut a parenting counselor for jailed minors with kids but preserved aid for belligerent preschoolers. They scaled back drug prevention but kept the methadone pills available to ease the cravings of withdrawal.
"It is very uncomfortable to admit you're going to have to say no. It's very uncomfortable to make decisions that, quite frankly, are going to make some people's lives go worse," said Michael A. Gillette, an ethicist who helped mental health officials in Alexandria write guidelines for prioritizing assistance when there's not enough money to go around. At the urging of top city officials, Gillette also pushed more than 100 other senior and mid-level managers to wrestle with the ethics of shrinking government.
"If the limb comes off, at least you saved the life. That's what true scarcity feels like," said Gillette, a Lynchburg, Va., City Council member who often uses the battlefield clarity of old "M*A*S*H" episodes to goad his listeners....
Alexandria, social service officials first began seeking Gillette's advice on clinical quandaries, which represent the bulk of his work. But over time, especially since the weakening real estate market stung the city last year, money questions have gained urgency. They now pay him a $9,000 annual consulting fee.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
There is one rule-of-thumb that will cut through a lot of crap. Pay the lawyers last.
This city is out of control. The taxpayers fund all of those programs? Belligerent preschoolers? Good grief.
I applaud them for their actions. Making cuts are never easy. No one wants to play God, and having a second opinion to help you out is never a bad thing.
If he were really ethical, he'd cut himself first.
Thank goodness I got the heck out of that liberal cesspool four years ago. Maybe if they had not spent $125 million on a gold-plated new high school they might not be in such a mess.
I would laugh if only it didn’t make me want to cry. Welcome to East San Francisco.
God help YONVA.
Essentially they pawned off the responsibility on someone else so they wouldn’t have to bear the blame from whoever got their panties in a nicker from having their favorite social service cut.
And on another note. I certainly can’t be the only person to see eminent disaster in the concept that ethics is something done by a specialist and not the responsibility of those in actual positions of leadership.
Their problems are more serious than monetary if they have hire someone to make ethical decisions for them.
A “City Council member who often uses the battlefield clarity of old “M*A*S*H” episodes to goad his listeners....
Oh please! Battlefield clarity? From a silly t.v. show?
No wonder they’re in trouble!
Oops, I forgot: it's all in the contract. And there in a nutshell is why state and local government finance is a mess. Good times or bad, the salary escalator keeps running.
Have a couple of relatives that live in Alexandria that I’ve visited on several occasions. It’s a wealthy lib paradise. Reminds me a lot of Princeton, N.J.
Drove by that new high school you were talking about in your post and my jaw dropped. The building(s) reek of money. Taxpayer money, that is.
This the exact reason why there is no hope of us ever shrinking this out of control Government monster. It has gone way out of our reach and going even further with every passing day.
>>They scaled back drug prevention but kept the methadone pills available to ease the cravings of withdrawal.
Oh, decisions, decisions.
It seems to be a tacit admission that politicians have no sense of ethics.
I don’t necessarily disagree with getting second opinions about anything. However, the problem with the political elite is that they are are devoid of soul or conscience. And they are absolutely paranoid about being seen to make so-called “tough” decisions. That’s why they hire consultants to provide cover for them.
Did I mention that they are also devoid of courage?
Bottom line: If these idiots cannot find even one thing to cut they are blind incompetent fools. For example, in NJ we have school breakfast and lunch programs for so-called needy kids. Have I not already paid for these meals through any number of already existing programs—welfare, food stamps, Wick etc.? Parents or guardians who are not feeding their wards should be prosecuted.
Yeah, I thought preschoolers were perfectly capable of being belligerent without anyone’s help.
Maybe if they had not spent $125 million on a(n) UNNECESSARY gold-plated new high school they might not be in such a mess. Sorry, needed fixing; I still am captive here.
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