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Archive for December, 2013

2013 YEAR-END WRAP-UP

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 30, 2013

BRYCE ON 2013

– My most popular columns this year.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

As you know, I write on a variety of subjects, such as management, systems, technology, social issues, politics, and observations of our changing world. Sometimes my work is instructional and informative, other times it is controversial or humorous. I certainly hope it isn’t boring. By the number of subscribers I have, their comments, and the hits I have on my web site, I do not believe this is the case.

For my year-end column, I decided to look at my statistics and see which were my most popular articles and speculate on their popularity. Herein, therefore, are my “greatest hits” for 2013.

THE REMINGTON RAND ADDING MACHINE, MODEL 41013-10

This was written in December 2012 as a fun piece describing our ancient adding machine, marveling at its simplicity, and questioning why people tend to discard office equipment as opposed to maintaining it (in our case, for 42 years and still chugging away). I was surprised by the thousands of people who read it. It caused several of my subscribers to reminisce about such equipment. Typical comments included, “Sure wish most items would last nearly as long,” and “Yeah! They sure don’t build things to last any more.”

TEN THINGS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOES WELL

Written in June of last year, people from around the world read this article on a daily basis. Overseas, Europeans reference this piece regularly, particularly people in the United Kingdom. In an age where we tend to believe government is incompetent, my article piqued people’s curiosity as to whether government can do anything right. I also received considerable reader feedback on this one, including a woman from West Virginia who wrote, “It has come to the point that I no longer believe a word the government says. I don’t trust the media either.”

STAND UP FOR MORALITY (PART 1 OF 8)

Beginning last April, I published an eight part series encouraging people to think about and openly discuss morality in our society. This, of course, became my book, “Stand Up for MORALITY!” The comments from my readers were encouraging. The subject became a hot button topic on the Internet and caused me to produce a presentation on the subject.

WHAT IF THE SOUTH HAD WON THE WAR?

I originally wrote this column in December of 2011, but it is still actively read on a daily basis. The article considered what our world might look like today if General Lee had won at Gettysburg and captured Washington, DC. This stirred the imagination of a lot of readers who commented accordingly.

BRYCE’S LAWS – MINI POSTERS

Earlier this year I devised a series of mini-posters based on our popular “Bryce’s Laws” which are axioms on life, both personal and professional. Four posters were made available, including: Life, Management, Information Systems, and Project Management. These small posters can now be found in offices and cubicles around the world.

TODAY’S SLAVE MENTALITY

This was another piece I wrote towards the end of last December. Like the others, it has been frequently read all year. Basically, it is a comparison of today’s welfare state versus the the early American slaves. Although it was considered controversial, I received a lot of positive comments from my readers.

PRINT ON-DEMAND (POD) – VERY COOL

This was a technology related piece I wrote describing an interesting means to publish a book. Although it requires an author to be savvy in desktop publishing, it is a great way to free yourself of the yolk of publishers. Someone at Amazon should be thanking me for writing this.

LIBERAL VS. CONSERVATIVE PERSONALITIES

This has been a favorite subject of mine for quite some time. It examines how people develop their political beliefs, e.g., Why does a person become a Democrat or a Republican? This generated considerable discussion from my readers. Bottom-line, I think I was on to something in terms of people’s personalities ultimately dictating their political preferences.

WHO IS TEACHING MORALITY?

This article described the various factions who are truly teaching moral values in this country, regrettably it is not the parents.

THE DEATH OF PROFESSIONAL COURTESY

This column was touched off by an incident I experienced at a company whereby I observed how people treated others callously. This too resulted in considerable feedback from my readers who experienced similar situations. Regrettably, I am seeing more and more of this in the corporate world.

AMERICAN MORAL DILEMMAS

The article was a precursor to my series on morality. Basically, it contrasted the moral values of capitalism versus socialism.

In terms of my columns, 2013 will probably be best remembered as my “Morality Year,” where I openly questioned the values of our culture, particularly how they are formed and taught. I consider the erosion of our morality in this country a serious problem, something that may very well lead to our demise. Maybe I’m an alarmist, or maybe I am seeing something people are glossing over. I have always believed in the Bryce’s Law, “You cannot treat a patient if he doesn’t know he is sick.” Since I started researching this subject, I found morality is something most people take for granted and never discuss. This is why I found it important to bring this to the attention of my readers. I just hope people were listening.

I want to thank all of my readers who commented on my columns this year, both in print and on the radio. Although I may not have time to respond to everyone, rest assured I read all of your comments, both good and bad. Thank you. It’s nice to know people are listening.

Happy New Year.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  HI HO, HI HO, IT’S BACK TO WORK WE GO – Now is the time for management to stimulate the work force.

LAST TIME:  THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS – It is certainly not about the commercialization of the holiday, or Santa.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Life, Literature | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 23, 2013

BRYCE ON CHRISTMAS

– It is certainly not about the commercialization of the holiday, or Santa.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

He arose in the morning groggy and disoriented. He didn’t know where he was or recognized the surroundings. It was a small room, very neat and clean, with a sofa, desk, and big bed. Anyone would recognize it as a hotel with all of the amenities. He had no memory of how he had gotten there. Sunlight peeked between the curtains. The television was playing a Christmas gala, complete with classic holiday music. The entertainment was broken up by the occasional commercial where announcers were promoting everything from toys to clothes, jewels, and automobiles. Each announcer admonished viewers to hurry as there was just one day until Christmas.

“Christmas? Where am I, where have I been?”

He slowly stood up and went over to the window and opened the curtains to look outside where the grass and roads were covered with a thin layer of snow. It was cold, but not frigid. People could be seen walking on the streets carrying packages, cars moved quickly along a boulevard, and pine trees were adorned with tinsel, bulbs and lights. He didn’t recognize any of it which confused matters further.

He washed himself in the bathroom and then spotted some clothes neatly folded on the sofa, complete with shoes and socks. The clothes fit remarkably well. The shoes, which were actually a set of leather and rubber boots, also fit comfortably. He combed his hair before putting on the jacket and wool cap hanging on the chair at the desk. He unlocked the door and stepped outside into the cold air and surveyed the area around the hotel. Nothing looked familiar; did Europe look like this?

A woman dressed in a heavy black coat passed by him and greeted him good morning.

It was English, but the accent wasn’t recognizable. He replied, “Good morning,” to the woman who hurried away before any other questions could be asked.

He watched her hurry down the street heading towards a large building where several cars were already parked. A sign in front read, “Springdale Town Mall.” He was curious and thought people at the building might hold some answers. So He followed the woman to the mall, crossing the street carefully as it was busy with vehicles. The traffic lights seemed strange to Him, as well as the lines on the street, along with the the commotion of the cars and their horns. As He approached the entrance to the mall, He could hear the sounds of Christmas music coming from the mall’s PA system in the parking lot. In between songs, announcers touted their products and admonished shoppers there was just one more day until Christmas. He really didn’t grasp what was going on.

He entered the mall which was the largest structure He had ever seen. Inside was a cavernous multitude of lights, more music, and thousands of people circulating. There seemed to be hundreds of shops offering a variety of wares; toys, cutlery, sporting goods, jewelry, and many other goods. Virtually all had signs in their windows promoting sales and reminding shoppers there was now less than a day to Christmas. He paused by an electronic store where many television sets were displaying Christmas shows. The shows were mesmerizing and He became somewhat intoxicated by the sights and sounds emanating from the televisions.

He wandered the mall examining the various stores carefully. Each was decorated in red and green colors, with wreaths, and the smell of pine and sweet candy hung in the air. Electric lights, snowmen, and miniature railroads offered animation. Gifts were wrapped in a special type of green and red paper and ribbons. All in all, it was a feeding frenzy of shopping. He wondered what the purpose of all this activity. There were several signs mentioning “Christmas,” but He didn’t make the connection.

There was the smell of food in the air which caused His stomach to growl in hunger. He passed the mall’s Food Court which featured several restaurants offering a variety of strange looking ethnic foods. He watched cooks prepare Japanese sushi and Chinese cuisine, none of which He recognized as something edible. The Mexican restaurant smelled of spicy hot peppers. The only restaurants which somehow resembled familiar food was the Italian restaurant, although He balked at pizza, and the Greek restaurant featuring gyros and souvlakis, both offered on pita bread.

He asked the clerk for a gyro as it appeared to be made of lamb. The young clerk prepared the meal accordingly, complete with French Fries and a cola drink.

“That will be $5 for the gyro special,” she said.

He looked perplexed by her request but quickly figured she was asking for money of which He had none. He tapped his trousers with his hand and heard the distinct click of metal. He reached inside his pocket where He retrieved some coins valued at $2 each. “Will you take these?” He asked.

The clerk took three of them and presented him with a $1 bill saying, “Here is your change. Thank you. Next!…”

He walked away from the restaurant with his tray and found an empty table to sit and eat. He studied the $1 bill carefully. He had never seen
paper money before and didn’t recognize Washington’s portrait. He ate the gyro hungrily. He enjoyed the taste of cooked lamb as well as the pita bread. The French Fries seemed peculiar to him though. He picked one up and inspected it carefully. Nearby at other tables, people were eating them. He then broke one in half and tasted it, and it was good, even though He didn’t know what it was. “A French Fry? Hmm…,” and He ate the rest. He examined the cola drink suspiciously. He took a sip and found the taste medicinal in nature, and the bubbles tickled His nose. Spotting a nearby water fountain, He emptied the cola down its drain and replaced it with water which tasted remarkably clean to Him.

He saw others dumping the trash from their trays into the garbage and followed suit. The meal had served its purpose and He felt refreshed. He then returned to wandering around the mall. The music and hubbub was beginning to give Him a small headache.

It was mid afternoon when He came to the center of the mall where He sat at a bench on the second floor. He marveled at the immensity of the mall and as He looked down to the bottom floor He discovered a long line of children waiting for someone named “Santa Claus.” Dozens of children waited patiently to sit with a fat man dressed in a red and white costume. He assumed the man was elderly as he wore a white beard with matching color hair.

An elderly woman came and sat on the bench to rest her feet. She was loaded with several packages and looked tired from her trek around the mall.

“Excuse me, but who is that man down there?” He innocently asked the woman.

She looked down to see the object of His attention.

“Are you kidding me?” she said, “It’s Santa Claus and his elves talking to the kids of course.”

He said, “I’m sorry, I am not from around here. What is a Santa Claus?”

She looked at him inquisitively but gave him the benefit of doubt. “He is actually called by many names, St. Nicholas, Kris Kringle, and many others around the world. He is considered the patron saint of Christmas and is best known for delivering presents to children on Christmas.”

“Christmas, there is that name again,” He thought.

He watched the children one-by-one visit with the old gentleman. Some appeared timid and scared, others enjoyed a good conversation with the man, others were loud and animated, demanding certain presents on Christmas Day. It was all rather unclear as to the purpose of the meeting with Santa other than it was an outlet to promote the purchase of more gifts. He was amazed by the length of the never-ending line and requests for more gifts.

The greed and opulence of the season was too much for him to stomach any longer. He took his leave of the mall wanting to head back to the safety of the hotel room. Unfortunately, He became a bit disoriented and couldn’t find the same door from which He entered, and exited on the opposite end of the mall where nothing looked familiar.

He had spent considerable time at the mall and it was now late afternoon with long shadows and the sun beginning to set. All He could see were rows of neat wooden homes adjacent to the mall. He was unfamiliar with the architecture and wanted to take a closer look. He entered a subdivision and was amazed how orderly the houses were aligned and well maintained.

As the sun set, decorative lights were switched on and lit up the houses and the adjacent trees and shrubbery. Various statues of snowmen, Santa Claus, and angels were also lit and music could be heard in the air. There also seemed to be reindeer everywhere; on top of houses, pulling sleighs, or metalic statues on front lawns, some were animated appearing to be grazing. In was very reminiscent of the storefronts in the mall.

He walked several blocks in amazement as the houses turned darkness into light. Other people also walked the neighborhood in order to see the decorations. Cars began to enter the streets where they moved slowly so parents and children could admire the decorations. As pleasant as this all ways, He was at a loss as to what it all meant.

As He exited the neighborhood, He was presented with two large structures, one with a crucifix atop it, and another with the Star of David. He was appalled by the crucifix and began to wonder if people still practiced the tortuous custom. The large cross stopped Him in his tracks and He began to tremble. He noticed the other structure bore the Shield of David, a symbol He was familiar with through Judaism.

It was nighttime now and both buildings were active with people, the Temple celebrating a Bar Mitzvah, and the Church preparing to celebrate Christmas mass. Being more familiar with the Shield of David, He approached the Temple, where people were exiting for the evening. Still inside was the rabbi who was bidding goodnight to the attendees. He worked his way to the rabbi, a middle aged man who appeared to be of good nature.

He said, “Rabbi, I am a stranger to this area. As I have walked around the village I notice there is a fascination with ‘Christmas’ here. I would like to know more.”

The Rabbi smiled and said, “Well stranger, you are actually in a good place to learn. I would like to sit down and tell you more, but the hour is late and I have another appointment. However, I recommend you visit the church next door where they are getting ready to celebrate Christmas. I am confident they will tell you the full story tonight.”

He took his leave of the rabbi, who locked the Temple after He exited. Many people were entering the house of the crucifix, men, women and children. As it appeared to be safe, He overcame his timidity and reluctantly approached the church. At the door, He was warmly welcomed by greeters. The inside appeared to be a place for religious retreats, with several rows of pews, and an altar at the front.

As the service began, the congregation rose to its feet and began to sing, accompanied by an organ. He was startled by this, but found the music strangely comforting. He looked about and saw everyone singing in unison, along with a choir which sang as one. The pomp and circumstance was impressive. He looked on in horror as a small boy walked slowly down the center aisle carrying another crucifix with an effigy of a person nailed to it. The boy proudly presented the cross at the front of the congregation before placing it in a stand. He was bewildered by the display and was prepared to turn and run, but something inside him told him to stand his ground. After the entrance of the clergy, the music stopped and everyone returned to their seats.

The minister welcomed everyone to the evening’s Christmas celebration. This was followed by a sweet celebration enacted by the children of the church who were dressed in colorful costumes. The minister narrated the story of the birth of Christ and the children acted out the story. He listened intently. He heard the names of Joseph and Mary, which were well known to him, as well as a place called Galilee. He listened to their story of the birth of their savior. Aside from the shiny costumes and some obvious literary liberties, it was a story He knew well, and his spirits perked up noticeably. He was no longer afraid but felt quite at home.

After the play, the minister asked all first time visitors to rise and be recognized. One-by-one he welcomed each visitor, asking who they were and where they were from. The minister finally asked the stranger to introduce himself.

“I am known as Jesus of Nazareth,” He said.

The minister thought He was mocking the congregation and quickly confronted the stranger. Anger was in the minister’s eyes but before he could utter a harsh word, He said, “I am a stranger to this area,” and raised his hand in peace to shake the minister’s.

It was only then the minister saw the scars from the crucifixion. There was something in the stranger’s demeanor and eyes that made him realize he was now in the presence of something special. The minister froze until He placed his hands on him in comfort. The minister smiled and knelt to his knees. The congregation didn’t quite comprehend the situation, but followed the minister’s lead and knelt.

He said, “Please rise, you are all my children. I’m not sure why I was sent here but I believe it has something to do with the meaning of Christmas, something I didn’t quite understand until I witnessed your pageant.”

“Yes, this is your birthday, your eminence,” the minister replied.

“I have been among you this day and have witnessed many things, most of which I do not understand, particularly the greed of this day. I hope they are not using this day to celebrate such a weakness.”

The minister was embarrassed, “I am afraid a lot of people have forgotten its purpose. It is not about shopping, it’s about You.”

“In my time, we celebrated birthdays by the breaking of the bread. We didn’t have opulent presents. Instead, we offered our love, fellowship, and trust to others. If this is truly my Birthday, let us celebrate likewise,” and loafs of bread appeared in His hands.

Jesus moved to the altar and broke the bread into small pieces for everyone to consume. The minister assisted by pouring wine.

“Here, eat and drink. Do this for the remembrance of Me. My message is simple: I love you unconditionally. You may not believe in me, but have confidence that I love you. Do not dwell in hate. Practice love and do unto others as you would have others do unto you. It’s really not that difficult, is it?”

As the last morsel of bread was consumed and wine drunk, He turned and disappeared into the ether with the exclamation, “Remember!”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  2013 YEAR-END WRAP-UP – My most popular columns this year.

LAST TIME:  ALL IS FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR…AND POLITICS – How the office of the president has been reshaped.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Christmas, Life, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

WHAT? ME RETIRE?

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 20, 2013

BRYCE ON RETIREMENT

– Not any time soon for me, if ever.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

When you listen to the commercials by financial planners on television, you get the impression life begins only after you retire. They claim, “It’s now your time to enjoy life.” From this perspective, one would assume everyone hates their job, and to continue working is madness. As I approach 60 people ask me when I’m going to retire. I am bewildered by such questions. What am I supposed to do, sit around and play golf 24/7? Not bloody likely.

When people proudly proclaim to me they have retired early, I send them my condolences. I guess I am one of those rare birds who happen to like what they do and cannot imagine doing anything else. I have an illustrator friend in Cincinnati that I’ve known since high school. We’ve discussed this issue many times. He cannot image not being able to perform his craft, and I cannot imagine not being able to write or offer advice in a consulting capacity. Retirement would be like chopping off both our hands. Both my friend and I would rather blow our brains out than surrender to retirement.

I can see slowing down a bit as the 5:00am wake up is getting a bit old, but I enjoy my work and cannot imagine life without it. I should mention that Bryces tend to work until we drop. I have never known a Bryce to willfully retire. It’s not in our DNA I guess.

As I do some of my work at home early in the morning, people wonder why I shower and get dressed for business. It’s called discipline. I may be a bit groggy early in the morning, but as I shower my mind is thinking about the coming day and what I have to accomplish. I know it might be a foreign concept to some, but my work stimulates me.

Many people do not feel this way though. I believe those people anxious for retirement generally do not like their job. Either that or they have squirreled away so much money, they are bound and determined to spend it all. Even if I had more money than I require, I would still need to feel productive. I’ve heard stories about people who hit the lottery, only to burn through the money and be destitute again. Even if I hit the lotto, you wouldn’t find me on the golf links. Instead, I would probably breath a sign of relief, pop open a bottle of champagne, and go back to work.

I believe it is important we should all lead a worthy and meaningful life. We have to have purpose. As such, I firmly believe our professional life is an extension of our personal life. To my point of view, severing one from the other is very much a true amputation. This is why I say, “What? Me Retire?” No, don’t look for me to play Mahjong until the Grim Reaper comes along. I’ve got things to do.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS – It is certainly not about the commercialization of the holiday, or Santa.

LAST TIME:  ALL IS FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR…AND POLITICS – How the office of the president has been reshaped.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

ALL IS FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR…AND POLITICS

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 18, 2013

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– How the office of the president has been reshaped.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Washington politics wasn’t always as visceral as it is today. True, there have been several knockdown, drag-out fights over the years, but nothing like the “take no prisoners” approach of today.

President Obama’s legacy will likely be how he changed the rules of the presidency. It is no longer about governing, but constant campaigning instead, be it for himself, his programs, or members of the party. The fact that a community organizer with no demonstrable management skills is indicative of this.

Instead of “give and take” a la President Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neal, it is now common to smear the character of your opponents and claim ignorance of any wrongdoing. It is attack politics at its worst.

The president keeps the media on a short leash and uses them to do his bidding for him. Case in point, the media has been successful in manipulating the psyche of the country into believing anyone but a Democrat is a racist. I have been active in Republican politics for a number of years. I have also met and spoken with a lot of members of the Tea Party. Not once have I heard a disparaging comment against President Obama regarding the color of his skin. I’ve heard a lot about his ideology, his programs, and questions about his religion and birthplace, but virtually nothing about his race. Not once.

However, I have heard several comments from the left claiming conservatives are racist by definition. This is particularly true for the talking heads on NBC related networks. If you say something enough times, people will believe it. This racist claim has been said so many times, they have brainwashed the American people. I have friends who now claim Republicans are racists. When I challenge them to name a specific person or incident to verify their claim, they come up blank but contend, “Isn’t it obvious?” Not to me. Then again, I haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid yet.

President Obama is more in tune with the media culture than any of his predecessors. The media understands if they get out of line, they will be taken to the woodshed, something they greatly fear. If a reporter questions anything the president does or says, the White House contacts the person and threatens their livelihood. To illustrate, CNN anchor Carol Costello is quoted as saying, “President Obama’s people can be quite nasty. They don’t like you to say anything bad about their boss, and they’re not afraid to use whatever means they have at hand to stop you from doing that, including threatening your job.”

Such intimidation is common today which explains why the president is given a pass by the media. He owns them. The message is clear: Get out of line and we’ll turn the attack dogs loose.

The president also claims ignorance of anything wrong during his administration, be it the Affordable Care Act, Benghazi, the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious, etc. This either makes him the least informed president or he is covering up. He simply will not tell the truth as it may have an adverse affect on his supporters.

Even his alleged apology regarding Obamacare was shallow at best; “I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me.” He didn’t apologize to the American people for misleading them, only how sorry he is that people acted on his advice.

The administration even went so far as to get Senate Democrats to change the filibuster rules, the alleged “Nuclear Option,” thereby paving the way to expedite the president’s judicial appointees, as well as others. This is tantamount to a declaration of war.

The point is, politics today is no longer about discussion, compromise, and building consensus; instead it is about intimidation, character assassination, and brainwashing the public. We should have known this after the Affordable Care Act was shoved down our throats. There was certainly nothing “transparent” about how it was produced or passed.

Now the question becomes, is this the state of American politics from now on? Hard to say. In the pending field of presidential candidates from the Democratic party, I see many who understand Capitol politics, but none with any governing experience. This tells me they are likely to take a page from the Obama play book.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHAT? ME RETIRE? – WHAT? ME RETIRE? – Not any time soon for me, if ever.

LAST TIME:  RECOGNITION – Are we giving awards to the wrong people?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

RECOGNITION

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 16, 2013

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Are we giving awards to the wrong people?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Each year, Hollywood holds its annual love-fest; you know, the Academy Awards which recognizes the entertainers and technicians in the motion picture industry. As a kid, I used to watch the Oscars and pulled for my favorite stars to win, but as I’ve gotten older I have become more jaded about it and pay less attention to the show. One reason for this is because I believe we have too many awards dedicated to entertainers. In addition to the Oscars, we have the People’s Choice Awards, the Emmy Awards, the Grammy Awards, the Golden Globes, the Tony Awards, the SAG Awards, and I’m sure I’m overlooking at least a dozen more. There are so many entertainment awards now that I believe they have lost their luster. I now see them more as an integral part of the Hollywood publicity machine than anything else. So many people win these prizes now that you would be hard pressed to find anyone working in Hollywood who hasn’t won or been nominated for one thing or another.

There are also awards for athletic competition, such as in baseball, football, soccer, basketball, hockey and the Olympics, but a lot of these could be construed as entertainment related as well.

There are of course some other noteworthy awards, such as the Nobel Prizes, the Pulitzer Prizes for journalism, and others for courage or some other significant contribution, such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Medal of Honor, the Bronze Star, etc. Back in 1989, the Disney people started to recognize teachers for their vital contribution. This was greatly appreciated by teachers who often feel overlooked and neglected, but interestingly, it seems the public puts more weight in the entertainment awards than these other more important prizes.

People like recognition, some actually crave it as it strokes their ego, but most just like to know their efforts are appreciated by others, be it in their companies or in their industry. I can’t say I’m a big fan of “Employee of the Month” type of awards as I have seen this lead to petty jealousies and affect teamwork in companies. I’m more inclined to favor industry specific awards, of which we have far too few. For example, I think there ought to be a series of awards for outstanding craftsmanship. Such industry recognition might encourage others to emulate the recipients, which could lead to better workmanship.

Instead of the millionaire entertainers and athletes, to me the real heroes are the people who pay their bills, obey the law, successfully raise their kids, volunteer their time to help others, and do a good job at work. In other words, how about honoring the poor slob who bears the burden, tries to lead an honorable life, and performs a good job at work? As far as I’m concerned, the Oscar is far too small an award for such a person.

(First published: March 11, 2008)

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  ALL IS FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR…AND POLITICS – How the office of the president has been reshaped.

LAST TIME:  FRIDAY THE 13TH – Why some people are afraid of it, while others love it.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

FRIDAY THE 13TH

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 13, 2013

BRYCE ON LUCK

– Why some people are afraid of it, while others love it.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
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I never did quite understand why people are so superstitious regarding Friday the 13th. There are many ancient myths and legends regarding it, but nothing of any substance. My personal favorite is the day it represents in 1307 when the Knights Templar of France were to be arrested on charges of heresy, which led to the demise of their order. However, this is still nothing but a legend and not rooted in fact. I tend to believe the reason Friday the 13th is unpopular is simply because it is based on a number and day, both of which are considered unlucky independent of each other, and putting them together means double the trouble. I truly believe it’s as simple as that. At least it makes more sense than what anyone else can offer, pro or con.

People are particularly leery of the number 13. For example, it is quite common not to have a floor in a building labeled “13th”, even though there certainly is a 13th floor. I guess that makes the 14th floor “13th” in disguise and we certainly shouldn’t set foot there, right?

When it comes to Friday the 13th, I have seen people who I had previously thought to be rather rational cancel all appointments, refuse to work, and not make any business deals in fear such actions will be jinxed. Some take the day off completely in fear something catastrophic will happen that day. Nonsense. It’s all a self-fulfilling prophecy where people will likely run into trouble if they are predisposed for such a negative event. They could easily make it a lucky day if they were more inclined to think positively.

Then there are those who take the superstition to the sublime and believe such preposterous things as:

* If you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, someone in your family will die.

* A child born on Friday the 13th will be unlucky for life.

* If a funeral procession passes you on Friday the 13th, you will be the next to die.

I don’t think Granny from the “Beverly Hillbillies” could explain it any better.

Hollywood perpetuates the myth as it is good business for them to do so. Not only have they created a movie bearing the name “Friday the 13th,” the producers of slasher films are inclined to release their trash on that day thereby capitalizing on the mood of the people.

The date is also good for authors and publishers specializing in books and articles pertaining to the paranormal. Let’s face it, Friday the 13th is just good business.

As for me, regardless of the number of cracks in the sidewalk I step on, or the number of black cats that cross my path that day, Friday the 13th has always been a lucky day for me. I started to notice this when I was in grade school. Whereas some kids were intimidated by the superstition, I somehow managed to have a very fortuitous day, either getting straight A’s in my classes or perhaps hitting a home run in Little League. It seems I can do no wrong. If anything, I seem to have a problem with the rest of the days in the year, but I definitely do not have a problem with Friday the 13th. In fact, I welcome it.

(First published: May 13, 2011)

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  RECOGNITION – Are we giving awards to the wrong people?

LAST TIME:  SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ENTREPRENEUR – How a Mister Sparky franchise is changing things.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ENTREPRENEUR

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 11, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– How a Mister Sparky franchise is changing things.

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There are lots of people out there looking to make a quick and dirty buck, but every now and then you come across someone who does it right. Someone who not only has found a good business venture but is cultivating it properly. Enter Dennis Bryant, a Mister Sparky franchise owner located in Dunedin, Florida.

Founded in 1996 by Pat Kennedy in Atlanta, Mister Sparky is a company specializing in residential electrical services. In a day and age where local tradesmen come and go, Kennedy has brought brand name recognition which is quietly replacing local electricians. Kennedy stresses the development of a professional image of his company, thereby bringing consistency to all of his franchises and encouraging people to contact a Mister Sparky regardless where they live. Although the company started in the South, it has quickly flourished and gone coast-to-coast.

Dennis Bryant’s operation started in 2007 in tiny Dunedin, but has quickly taken over the whole Tampa Bay market and then some. I have known Dennis for a number of years, but recently sat down with him to discuss his operation. The first thing you notice about Dennis is his unbridled enthusiasm for his company. He developed a bond with the founder whom he strongly believes in. As part of buying into the franchise, Dennis and his people had to spend three days of training with Kennedy where they learned not just the business, but administration, marketing, and particularly customer service.

What I found most interesting about Dennis is his approach to his employees. He realizes to be successful, his people also need to be successful. To do so, he doesn’t hold their hand or micromanage them, instead he manages from the bottom-up. This means he empowers his people, delegates responsibility, and turns them loose, which is something you rarely see anymore in the corporate world. By doing so, Dennis is basically saying to his people, “Look, you’re an adult and a skilled professional. I should not have to supervise you; you should supervise yourself. That’s what professionals do.”

He also affords them ample training to keep them abreast of their business, the industry, and the development of skills.

By treating his employees accordingly, Bryant is building a bond of trust with his workers. And it appears his employees are responding positively to this treatment. Morale is high, their sense of professionalism is excellent, and they are more amenable to learning and improving. His technicians come dressed in uniforms, are neat about their appearance, and have been trained to act courteously. If they feel professional, they act professional.

There are also some excellent information systems supporting his operation. This does not just include the usual administrative tools for managing finances and personnel, but inventory and scheduling are all tied together with an emphasis on customer service. After a service call, the customer is encouraged to do a simple evaluation, either on-line or through the mail. This data is compiled through Mister Sparky’s corporate office and sent back down to the franchisees. Bryant can then see how he is doing in comparison to other Mister Sparky sites.

The company’s obsession with customer service is of paramount importance. This, coupled with treating employees fairly and encouraging their participation is the real secret to the success of Dennis Bryant’s Mister Sparky. “I don’t believe in sweating the small stuff,” he said, “I just want us to stay focused on what we do best, service.”

Whereas many companies today have evolved into politically correct bureaucracies, where supervisors sit over workers with a whip and a chair, thereby resembling gulags, Bryant has done just the opposite; he treats his people like professionals, stresses simplicity, and remains focused on customer service.

What is refreshing here is that Bryant is being successful not by any slight of hand or dirty tricks. He is doing it with some good old fashioned hustle, and respect for the dignity of the human spirit.

Dennis Bryant and Mister Sparky are doing it right.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  FRIDAY THE 13TH – Why some people are afraid of it, while others love it.

LAST TIME:  MORE PROBLEMS IN DOCTOR OFFICES – Poorly designed systems, as dictated by the federal government, are strangling physicians.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Management | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

MORE PROBLEMS IN DOCTOR OFFICES

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 9, 2013

BRYCE ON HEALTH CARE

– Poorly designed systems, as dictated by the federal government, are strangling physicians.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

In the past, you have heard me talk about system snafus in Doctor offices, both systems and their inordinate dependence on fax machines. Suffice it to say, doctor offices are perhaps the most barbaric from an administrative point of view, not because they want to run this way, but because the federal government is forcing them to. Now, it appears it is going to go from bad to worse, thereby stretching their patience to the breaking point.

As I’ve written earlier, the government is forcing doctors to prepare extensive electronic records on their patients. This means doctors and nurses are spending more time performing data entry and less time caring for people. I might understand if the data is assembled according to standards, thereby providing the means to easily transfer it from one system to another. Unfortunately, it doesn’t which explains why doctors are so dependent on fax machines to transfer patient data, a horribly primitive approach in this day and age.

According to my doctor friends, more trouble is brewing. On October 1, 2014, all medical diagnosis coding will convert from ICD 9 to ICD 10 codes. The number of codes will increase from 17,000 to 141,000. The codes are supposed to be very specific so that disease processes can be narrowly described with one code number. Here are some examples:

W59.22 Struck by turtle
W59.22XA … initial encounter
W59.22XD … subsequent encounter
W59.22XS … sequela
W59.29 Other contact with turtle
W59.29XA … initial encounter
W59.29XD … subsequent encounter
W59.29XS … sequela

V96.01 Balloon crash injuring occupant
V96.01XA … initial encounter
V96.01XD … subsequent encounter
V96.01XS … sequela
V96.02 Forced landing of balloon injuring occupant
V96.02XA … initial encounter
V96.02XD … subsequent encounter
V96.02XS … sequela
V96.03 Balloon collision injuring occupant
V96.03XA … initial encounter
V96.03XD … subsequent encounter
V96.03XS … sequela
V96.04 Balloon fire injuring occupant
V96.04XA … initial encounter
V96.04XD … subsequent encounter
V96.04XS … sequela
V96.05 Balloon explosion injuring occupant
V96.05XA … initial encounter
V96.05XD … subsequent encounter
V96.05XS … sequela

V91.05 Burn due to canoe or kayak on fire
V91.05XA … initial encounter
V91.05XD … subsequent encounter
V91.05XS … sequela
V91.06 Burn due to (nonpowered) inflatable craft on fire
V91.06XA … initial encounter
V91.06XD … subsequent encounter
V91.06XS … sequela
V91.07 Burn due to water-skis on fire
V91.07XA … initial encounter
V91.07XD … subsequent encounter
V91.07XS … sequela
V91.08 Burn due to other unpowered watercraft on fire
V91.08XA … initial encounter
V91.08XD … subsequent encounter
V91.08XS … sequela
V91.09 Burn due to unspecified watercraft on fire
V91.09XA … initial encounter
V91.09XD … subsequent encounter
V91.09XS … sequela

Seems kind of silly doesn’t it?

For each injury or symptom, the physician will be required to enter one of these codes into the electronic patient records, from a list of 141,000. Hopefully, there will be some on-line help to point doctors in the right direction, but more likely they will have to reference a paper manual in order to look-up the proper entry.

In systems parlance, the code itself is referred to as a “group” data element, meaning it is a concatenation of data elements. We can find examples of “group” data elements in such things as a telephone number (area code-exchange-number), credit card numbers (financial institution-branchID-account-number), check numbers, power company numbers, and many more. It is simply a way to uniquely assign numbers in order to prevent redundancy.

In the example above, the code is probably decomposed accordingly:
First character (alphabetic) – Type of condition
Positions 2+3, Accidents/Conditions by general category
Position 4 – a decimal (presumably to delineate categories from treatment of conditions)
Positions 5+6 – Specific accident/condition
Positions 7+8 – Treatment

In other words, it’s a taxonomy for specifying a specific medical action. The government’s solution though is to force medical personnel to memorize these codes or look them up in a voluminous document or on-line help. A simpler way would be to provide a series of simple prompts to guide people through the taxonomy and assign the proper code.

One doctor friend claims he was told the new coding system will be very difficult to implement, such that insurance claims submitted will not likely be processed because of “computer glitches” in accepting the claims. Errors in uploading and downloading the encrypted codes are likely. So much so, the government is encouraging physicians to secure a six month line of credit to ensure their practices can remain open while the claims fiasco is corrected. He claims this is described by the government and mentioned on Medicare websites in many states.

I have dealt with a lot of information systems over the years, but I’m beginning to think we no longer know how to build them. Obamacare is as glaring an example as I can think of, this is another.

Currently, physicians are spending as much as 2-3 hours each day on meaningless computer work to satisfy government regulations. Time which does not improve the care of patients. Unfortunately, as of next October 1st, it will get worse and we’ll likely see many experienced doctors finally throw in the towel.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ENTREPRENEUR – How a Mister Sparky franchise is changing things.

LAST TIME:  THE INVASION OF THE MAINTENANCE WORKERS – Does your neighborhood turn into a factory during the day? Mine does.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington,  “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Doctors, Government, Healthcare, Systems | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

THE INVASION OF THE MAINTENANCE WORKERS

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 6, 2013

BRYCE ON NEIGHBORHOODS

– Does your neighborhood turn into a factory during the day? Mine does.

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Like a lot of people, I leave my neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning, before the sun comes up, only to return at night. Consequently, I do not see what goes on in the neighborhood during daytime. Recently though, I took some time off and stayed around the house. When I went to run some errands I found the roads in my neighborhood clogged by a variety of trucks, mostly pickups. Only then did I realize what a beehive of activity my neighborhood turns into during the day. It was like a little city where trucks jockeyed for parking, making it difficult for others to navigate through the gauntlet.

For starters, I saw the garbage men making their rounds, as well as my USPS letter carrier. This didn’t surprise me. Instead, I was amazed by the number of lawn maintenance people at work. It was a Thursday, and I presume homeowners wanted their lawns taken care of before the weekend. I also saw a tree trimming service with a cherry picker.

There were also a myriad of utility companies represented, including a local cable operator, the power company, and the water/sewer department checking water lines. Different delivery services were visible as well, one delivering furniture and another with a new washing machine. There was also someone delivering salt for water softeners. Let us also not forget UPS and FedEx who prowl the streets late in the afternoon. Although I didn’t see it this particular day, I have seen movers clog the streets as well.

Next, there were a variety of vendors hard at work, including a couple of painters and a roofer. Repairmen were also present, one fixing an air conditioning unit, another working on a dishwasher. An insurance claim adjuster was in the neighborhood making a report. Different maid services were also present, as well as a man cleaning windows. Pressure washers were visible cleaning driveways and sidewalks. There was also a carpet cleaner, a couple of pool services at work, and a lawn sprinkler repair service. A small group was checking for sinkholes at one residence (after all, this is Florida).

Finally, I saw a pest control business checking insect traps around residences, and a fertilizing company spreading their product on lawns. As for the latter, I found the names of these companies rather amusing as they all had some permeation of “Green” in their name, “Green”-this and “Green”-that. I guess colors such as mauve, chartreuse, puce, and scarlet are considered inappropriate names associated with such businesses.

As busy as it was during the day, by 5:00pm all of the trucks had disappeared, leaving the streets empty for commuters returning home. It was like a massive factory had shut down for the evening. Frankly, I hadn’t anticipated the level of activity in the neighborhood. Sure, you expect a few people to come in and work, but nothing to the scale I witnessed. Dozens of trucks stealthily descend in the morning and perform their Entebbe Raid before withdrawing at sunset. It all seemed like a well orchestrated covert operation. Check it out sometime if you get a chance, particularly Thursdays.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MORE PROBLEMS IN DOCTOR OFFICES – Poorly designed systems, as dictated by the federal government, are strangling physicians.

LAST TIME:  PROBLEMS WITH THE PRETRIAL SYSTEM – Career criminals are slipping through the cracks.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Life, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

PROBLEMS WITH THE PRETRIAL SYSTEM

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 4, 2013

BRYCE ON CRIME

– Career criminals are slipping through the cracks.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I haven’t been sleeping well lately, and I suspect I’m not alone. We need to believe we are safe in our homes, that law enforcement personnel are patrolling our streets, and the bad guys are being locked up behind bars. Unfortunately, this is not always true as career criminals with long rap sheets are being released rather than incarcerated. Let me explain.

Even though crime rates are declining, there has been a significant increase in jail populations over the years. Not surprising, the cost to imprison suspects in county lockups have skyrocketed, including here in Pinellas County. Reports place it at $126 per prisoner per day. If all arrests resulted in a stay in the county jail, even if it was for just one night, the sheriff would quickly exceed his budget. Consequently, there is an effort to pre-release suspects with lighter offenses. US Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced the start of a new program allowing people arrested for minor drug offenses to be released as opposed to being locked up in jail. This means more and more people are being released under their own recognizance, referred to as “ROR” in the justice system.

The supposition is there is no need to incarcerate people arrested on low-level, nonviolent offenses who are not considered flight risks. Aside from the most serious crimes, such as first-degree murder, bail is set in most cases and intended more as a guarantee the accused will show up for court. However, many poor people arrested for minor crimes cannot afford bail. In addition, the pre-release program is considered a more humane way of treating people, particularly indigents who may have family members depending on them.

This may reduce jail costs and help balance budgets, but there are side effects. The system is certainly not perfect. To illustrate, ROR suspects may decide not to return for trial, thereby costing taxpayers money to reschedule court appearances. They may also flee the county completely, again costing taxpayers to pay for their return. More troubling though is if they are released and cause more mayhem in the community, and herein is where I have trouble sleeping. According to a report by the Florida Legislature OPPAGA (Dec 2012, No. 12-13) on the Pretrial Release Program in 2011, 144 warrants were issued for ROR people failing to appear in court (5.9% of the study), and 160 ROR people were arrested for committing another offense while released (6.6%), for a total of 304 misfits.

Those people who have bonded out of jail, instead of ROR, are more likely to make their court appearances and behave for two reasons; first, the financial incentive to do so, and; second, bail bondsmen are good judges of character. They will not issue a bond to someone they feel are a risk and will not live up to their commitment. The bail bondsmen also keep an eye on their people, something the police do not have time or resources to do.

What concerns me is the criteria by which people are released on their own recognizance, especially if they have a history of prior offenses. I have recently been reviewing Subject Charge Reports from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office which details the history of individual arrests. Such reports are available through the sheriff’s web site, “pcsoweb.com“. For example, one suspect from Treasure Island was arrested for violation of the pretrial release (failure to appear, a misdemeanor). His prior arrests included domestic battery (multiple), DUI, and other minor offenses. Even though he was released under his own recognizance, he was arrested three days later for violation of pretrial release (again).

In another report, a Largo man was picked up for resisting arrest without violence and was ROR by a judge. The suspect’s rap sheet included grand theft auto, reckless driving, possession of just about every illegal narcotic you can imagine, loitering and prowling, driving while license under suspension, and several moving offenses. Yet another report involves a St. Petersburg man picked up for possession of cocaine. His priors include multiple counts of burglary, theft, criminal mischief, and other drug offenses. This is just a handful of examples. I saw dozens more.

I might understand seeing a person released with one or two misdemeanors, but those mentioned here are career criminals with a litany of felonies as well as misdemeanors. By releasing them early, we may be saving a few bucks but, more likely, we are putting the public safety at risk. Case in point, the Melissa Danielle Dohme incident in 2012 where her ex-boyfriend from High School was arrested for battery, only to be ROR where he attacked and stabbed her multiple times. Although the attack was brutal, Melissa somehow miraculously survived. The story highlights the flaws in the pretrial release system.

In 2010, the “Florida Pretrial Misconduct Risk Assessment Instrument” was published which reported on the effect of the pretrial release programs of six Florida counties, including Pinellas. The report concluded by stating the average success rate for the six counties was 87%, meaning the defendants returned for their court appearances and didn’t cause any additional problems. Statistically, 87% sounds somewhat successful, but when you consider Pinellas had 3,361 defendants released as part of the program in 2010, this means 436 failed the program. 436 potential time-bombs in our community.

So the question becomes, are these career criminals statistical anomalies or can we do a better job of preventing them from causing more problems. I would like to believe we can do better, beginning with a standard and consistent approach for evaluating prisoners based on industry standards. I would also like to see our judges, who issue the RORs, operate in a consistent and predictable manner. I also believe bail bondsmen can play a more active role, particularly in the screening process of career criminals.

Tightening up the system with some simple, common sense methods, would do a world of good for the system. It would take a harder look at career criminals, reduce the number of problems slipping through the cracks, thereby allowing us to sleep a little sounder at night.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE INVASION OF THE MAINTENANCE WORKERS – Does your neighborhood turn into a factory during the day? Mine does.

LAST TIME:  MANAGING COMPLEXITY – Are we juggling too many balls?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Crime, Government, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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