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UVA-OB-0618 Chicago Park District (A)

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CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT (A) In the spring of 1993, Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago called his former chief-of-staff, Forrest Claypool, into his office and offered him the job of general superintendent of the city’s park district. Claypool had become familiar with the park district while working in the mayor’s office and was concerned about the magnitude of the job that attempted to serve the recreational needs of the 8.6 million people who lived in the Chicago area. He also knew that a local advocacy group, Friends of the Parks, had recently graded the district a “D−” because of the “deeply rooted and long-standing problems that resulted in poor service to citizens.” Mayor Daley’s request came at a time when the park districts of other major American cities faced major financial difficulties. County supervisors in Los Angeles had just proposed closing 24 parks in their system along with massive personnel layoffs. New York City officials had already cut their park system to half what it had been in the 1960s (from 4,500 employees down to 2,500), so that one official noted that trying to make any more cuts would be like “giving liposuction to a skeleton.”1 A 1993 study of cities across the country showed that state and local park administrations had faced budget shortfalls of more than $37 billion collectively between 1987 and 1993. Background The Chicago Park District (CPD) was an enormous organization. By 1993, it had grown to include 550 parks on 7,400 acres with 259 field house/recreation centers, 191 gymnasiums, 90 indoor and outdoor swimming pools, 850 baseball and softball diamonds, thousands of game courts and playgrounds, 2 conservatories, 1 internationally known zoo, a major league sports stadium, an underutilized and underperforming concession business, a $500,000 annual revenue parking operation, and 6 golf courses as well as 31 miles of waterfront recreation facilities with few amenities, and commercial locks on the Chicago River, which fed into the second largest harbor system in the United States. In all, CPD’s assets totaled $2.3 billion at that time, some of which were unique in the country. For instance, Chicago had a uniquely accessible harbor system, managed by 1

Charles Mahtesian, “The End of Park-Barrel Politics,” Governing (January 1995): 38.

This case was prepared by James G. Clawson. It was written as a basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation. The Darden School expresses its thanks and appreciation to the officers of the Chicago Park District who made this case possible. Copyright  1996 by the University of Virginia Darden School Foundation, Charlottesville, VA. All rights reserved. To order copies, send an e-mail to [email protected] No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of the Darden School Foundation. ◊



CPD, in which a person could leave work in the financial district and be on his or her boat in less than ten minutes and headed for Lake Michigan. Sixty-million people a year used the waterfront recreation facilities alone; this yielded about $30 million in concession revenues—and 8 million pounds of garbage. CPD also maintained a variety of historical buildings, monuments, and statues, and owned an airport, Meigs Field, on a landfill island near downtown that it leased to the city. One of the largest CPD facilities, Soldier Field stadium, home of the Chicago Bears of the National Football League, also hosted a variety of public events and was slated to have the World Cup soccer games in 1994, as well as concerts by the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones. CPD was truly a huge, important Chicago asset. A map of Chicago divided by CPD park host districts as of 1993 appears in Exhibit 1. The CPD story began in the late 1800s when Chicago citizens, notably Jane Adams and Jens Jensen, began building a grand vision of how neighborhood parks and recreation facilities could simultaneously provide anchors to the local, often ethnic, neighborhoods and a means of binding together the city as a whole. They envisioned a system of attractive green neighborhood parks encircling the city that would give respite from the harsher side of urban life by providing affordable recreation and leisure activities. This system of parks, it was thought, would be the lungs of the city, offering breathing room to millions of nature-starved urbanites.2 Adams and Jensen along with other interested civic leaders organized efforts to build parks in neighborhood centers here and there around the Chicago area. The era’s most famous landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmsted, Daniel Burnham, and others, joined in the work. Twenty-five years later, in 1907, Theodore Roosevelt said that the CPD was the most notable civic achievement he had seen in a modern American city. At the same time, the various completed parks had not yet been molded into a single system. The Chicago Park District Act of 1934 consolidated the neighborhood parks into a single system and gave the CPD the authority to levy property taxes for their support independent of any other tax measures. In subsequent years, however, the CPD became a growing case example of the dark side of government and its related bureaucracy, the classic patronage system. CPD officers gave park management and supervisory positions to their friends and family members. Community-oriented programming and activities planning declined. Monies allocated to maintenance and improvements were siphoned off into personal accounts. With independent authority to levy and a close affiliation with the appointments process in city government, management of the CPD increasingly lost contact with the original purpose and intent of the park system, which was to provide leisure and recreation, so that service to the various communities deteriorated. By the early 1990s, this course had produced a park district that was enormous in its scope and complexity, but a glaring example in the public eye of government run amuck. One CPD official noted that the system “served CPD employees and politicians, but not the public.” One reporter summed it up:


Mahtesian, 34.



Even though the Park District [was] legally a separate entity with its own budget and taxing authority, a succession of mayoral appointees managed to commandeer the district and bloat the payroll with thousands of patronage workers, almost all of whom came equipped with a letter from their ward committeeman and an attitude not especially conducive to public service. The legion of politically connected employees had little incentive to respond to the communities they served. Their jobs, for the most part, depended more on voter turnout than on park user turnout.3 Claypool understood that the mayor was asking him to clean up the CPD and turn it back toward its founding mission and purpose. Claypool also knew that there had been many attempts in recent history to improve the situation at CPD. First, Ed Kelly had supervised CPD for 13 years, then Jesse Madison had tried, and finally, Bob Penn, whom Mayor Daley had hired to run CPD after a national search, had given his best efforts. While each had made some progress, each found the system unyielding to their efforts; not much change had taken place. Each successive unsuccessful attempt had further eroded the CPD’s morale and reputation. Problems at the CPD Given the lack of change up through the 1990s, local reporters, citizens’ groups, and advocacy groups had begun to focus on CPD. Newspapers and television stations ran features periodically highlighting the poor CPD service. In 1990, the Chicago Tribune sent reporters to visit 30 CPD facilities. Their investigations and those of other interested citizens brought examples of CPD’s ineptness to public light: •

People reported that it took up to four days simply to register for a class being offered by CPD. One study concluded that it took on average 29 hours to register for a CPD class.

Many of the classes and recreational programs were poorly attended or utterly unattended because they were never advertised. “The park programs were secret and basically designed for people who were in the club and who knew about them, but not for the general public who were paying the freight for those programs,” said one well-informed observer.

Parks were referred to as “ghost towns” by the Tribune.

Property taxes levied by the CPD had increased significantly each year in recent times to cover deficits.

A woman who called the CPD office to find out if a class she wanted to take was being offered was told, “That’s confidential information. It can’t be given out over the phone.”4

One CPD facility began to offer boxing programs. When the people in the neighborhood said that most of their children were little girls and that they wanted ballet instead of boxing, the answer came back, “We’re doing boxing!”

3 4

Mahtesian, 34.. Maureen Ryan and David H. Roeder, “Glasnost at the Park District,” Chicago Enterprise (May/June 1994): 17.



Many citizens went to CPD facilities at the times announced to attend classes and found the buildings closed and dark. One study showed that CPD classes occurred on average only 56% of the scheduled times! Reasons for this included instructor in absentia (34% of the time), no enrollment (19%), schedule changed (13%), building closed (8%), outside event (5%), program cut (3%), no supplies (2%), and no explanation (9%).

A taxpayer took his family to a CPD pool and was disgruntled to discover that the staff closed the pool every hour for 15 minutes in order to “check the chlorine.” During this time, swimmers had to leave the pool, dress, and wait outside chain link fences before being readmitted to the pool. Furthermore, swimmers could not leave the pool during the 45-minute swimming period, because the staff padlocked the pool gates.

Children in one field house were not allowed to play on the gym floor because, the supervisor said, they might “scuff the floor.”

In one widely discussed incident, a CPD officer visited a field house anonymously, and observing trash around the entrance went in to see the manager. Seeing a person behind the counter with his feet up watching a football game on television, he asked about the trash outside the door and was told, “I don’t know. That’s not my job.” When the officer asked what the person’s job was, he replied, “To sit here and collect a paycheck.”5

This last anecdote became a rallying point in the city for demands for changes in the patronage system at CPD. But the public association of poor service with the patronage system did not adequately describe the condition of the underlying systems within the CPD organization. Human resource concerns First, no one could tell how many people CPD employed; some estimated as many as 5,000, but it was not clear. It was clear, though, that CPD employees were represented by 37 different trade unions—although roughly two-thirds of them were members of the largest of these, the Public Employees Service Union. One union leader said that the problem with CPD was not the employees, but management. Absenteeism among CPD employees (which included trade and operations people, attendants, cultural instructors, physical instructors, and park and playground supervisors) was high and viewed as one of the worst characteristics of the patronage legacy. (Absenteeism was later discovered to be about 16%, three times the local private industry average and well above the national average of 9%). The way the system worked was explained inadvertently and eloquently one evening at a public retirement dinner for a senior park official, when one of his subordinates made the following statement:


Forrest Claypool, “Remarks to the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce,” (27 January 1994): 1.



Twenty years ago, when I was a young clerk in the system, I used to roll out of bed when I rolled out of bed; go to work when I felt like it. Usually arrive about 11 o’clock. Make a couple of phone calls, go out to lunch, come back, make a few more personal phone calls, and go home. [The retiring senior officer] was great. He covered me for all those years.6 Subsequent analysis7 revealed that firing a nonperforming worker like this required 84 administrative steps and more than a year’s time, but then an appeals process took effect, so that practically speaking, one could not be fired from CPD. Consequently, poor performers were simply transferred around the system. One park’s castoff became the next unsuspecting park’s nightmare. One reason for this kind of result was that most of the decisions regarding CPD’s activities were made in the district’s headquarter offices at the north end of Soldier’s Field on McFetridge Drive. Previous administrations had recognized, in part, that this centralization was inefficient and had tried to push decision-making out to the parks. The present administration, for instance, had organized the district into clusters, groups of parks with a central “host park” and, on paper, decentralized control of decisions affecting the parks. (See Exhibit 1 for a map of the host park clusters.) In reality, though, it was generally recognized that all of the major decisions still came from the headquarters. Park supervisors were told they were responsible for their local park’s activities and condition—but also that they had no say in the budgeting process, that they were not allowed to choose what programs and/or classes they would offer and that they had very little say over who their staff was to be. Park supervisors could hire some of their staff, but only from a list of approved candidates circulated by the head office, and it took literally 38 administrative steps to do so. Between four and ten people were involved in the hiring decision, so that a low-level personnel specialist isolated in headquarters, in effect, had more say than the park supervisors. Even then, no one seemed to be responsible for decisions that were made. There were thirteen divisions reporting directly to the general superintendent including two deputy general superintendents of finance and parks, superintendents of general services and engineering as well as the offices of the General Attorney, Secretary, Investigations, Labor Relations, Budget and Management, Employment, External Affairs, Communications, and Research and Planning. Of the thirteen divisions that reported to the general superintendent, only one focused on parks and recreation, the core mission of the CPD. The superintendent’s energy was scattered. In addition, there seemed to be no sense of a core mission in the previous administration. Attention on the daily business of running the parks was diverted regularly to special services having nothing to do with parks, such as Soldier Field, parking garages, and golf courses. An organization chart showing the 1993 organization appears in Exhibit 2. Over the years, the central bureaucracy had grown, and grown more ineffective, while the local parks were neglected. Neglect had, in turn, led to alternative influence and, by 1993, several of the city’s parks were known locally to be “run” by the neighborhood gang. One interviewee 6 7

Mahtesian, 36. “Subsequent analysis” was performed by the new, incoming CPD management team.



compared the CPD to the old Soviet Union: “No accountability, no sense of needing to work hard.”8 Claypool himself had noted that “the old bureaucracy was run like the Kremlin. And it was equally ineffective.”9 Another independent organization, the Civic Federation, had labeled the CPD as “dysfunctional,” and another, “a patronage system for jobs, not citizens.”10 Media interest in the district had become so intense that CPD employees avoided any contact with reporters or disgruntled citizens for fear of appearing in negative press. Morale at the CPD was very low, and few employees had a sense of pride in their organization or work. While the CPD had many real human resource problems, Claypool was also aware that there were many excellent employees who delivered on the district’s mission—in spite of the system. He called these people renegades because they had gone around the system to deliver services. John Duda, the Mozart Park supervisor, for example, had an annual budget for cleaning and recreational supplies of only $1,500. He said that “I’m the type of supervisor who will take a rule and bend it ‘til it frays. I won’t break it.”11 With limited budgets, supervisors had to use their own funds, work out trade deals with other parks, and/or find other ways of covering the costs of necessary items. Two employees on the south side, for instance, had built a music studio with their own money and resources when their request for a new studio, approved, had gotten lost in the system. Another trying simply to get 15 aerobic steps for her aerobics class gave up after many attempts at working through the system and got 15 friends to test drive new cars at a dealership where the owner was advertising a free aerobic step with each test drive. These employees, stellar though they were, received no recognition or additional compensation. Hourly wages for typical CPD employees were $9.70 without medical benefits; park supervisors made about $35,000 a year. Yet, somehow, there were those who believed in the mission of the district enough to continue to sacrifice their own resources for the good of their customers. One example of a dedicated employee who came into the system not through the patronage system was Roger Konow, who had been with CPD for 20 years. As one of fifteen children, Konow used the Chicago park system extensively growing up. He began working for the District while in high school as a landscape aide in the mayor’s Summer Program picking up trash papers in the parks. Then he became, in succession, a summer day camp leader, weekend recreation leader, physical instructor (no benefits, just hourly wages), and then, after taking the civil servants’ examination, playground supervisor, park supervisor, a host park supervisor, and finally a cluster manager in the organization set up by the current superintendent. In the meantime, he earned his bachelor’s degree part-time from the University of Illinois in parks recreation, physical education, and business management.


Ryan and Roeder, 18. Mahtesian, 36 10 Claypool, 1. 11 Ryan and Roeder, 19. 9



Race relations had not gone well at CPD, either. In 1983, the federal court system had ordered CPD to remedy a pattern of racial discrimination in its organization and services. In the years following, CPD spent $50 million on facilities in minority neighborhoods attempting to rectify the situation, but later, many agreed the sum had been spent foolishly. Although the buildings were put up, the central office still controlled the programming assets so that many new buildings had few staff or programs. As a result, minority communities continued to suffer inadequate recreational facilities. One observer noted that Latino children were playing soccer on a softball field in part because the CPD seemed to be locked into a 1940s view of the world. Facilities concerns Facilities management and maintenance in general was also a disaster at CPD. Supervised parks in the CPD system were denoted as either A, B, C, or D facilities. “A” facilities were full service sites, while “D” facilities had an on-site supervisor and a few programs. Green spaces with park benches and grass but no staff, regardless of size (some were 15 acres), were not rated. For all of these, there were few preventative maintenance programs in place. Instead of inspecting roofs on a regular basis, for instance, CPD staff used a “repair-by-exception” approach and would wait for a roof to leak and ruin the hardwood gym floor beneath before sending in a repair team. At one location, the floor was so badly damaged that the gym had been locked shut, even though exercise classes had been scheduled and announced for it. One winter when the temperature dropped to 25 degrees, ill-maintained heating pipes in the Garfield Park Conservatory broke and hundreds of rare plants on display died shortly thereafter; 80% of the conservatory’s tropical plant collection was destroyed.12 At Soldier’s Field, a painting crew painted the lines on the grass for football games on Mondays. The grass was watered on Tuesdays. The paint crew returned on Wednesdays to repaint the lines. Elsewhere, a gold dome roof had been leaking rainwater onto an expensive, ornate marble floor for over five years leaving it stained and ugly. According to one observer, park employees would be advised of the district management’s park inspection schedule in advance and spend two weeks prior to inspection readying each site on the schedule. When the management team incumbent at the time came around, chauffeured in Lincoln Continentals, the parks looked “fine,” yet for the rest of the year, the parks fell into disrepair. New facilities projects also had major difficulties. Building and contractor relationships with management were in a disarray. As one observer noted: The accounting books and records were in horrible shape. The capital projects—you never knew what was started, what was finished. They did a very, very poor job dealing with the contractors. Nobody really cared. I don’t know if it was a bad round of patronage or whatever, but whatever a contractor wanted, they got. It didn’t matter how many change orders there were or what percent of the contract it was, if they said they needed more money, if they said they needed more time, they got it, and nobody questioned it. ... Nobody was watching the bottom line. So, when they decided to relocate Lake Shore Drive, which was a $90 million project, the Park 12

Mahtesian, 36.



District agreed. Oh sure! We’ll do the trees, we’ll do this, we’ll do that. In fact, it went so far that when there were hurricanes down south, they volunteered our pumps. Take them down south to help, you know, with disaster relief—which is a very admirable thing to do, but then when we had problems here in Soldier Field, we weren’t able to address them because all of our equipment was elsewhere! Financial concerns Management of the CPD’s financial resources seemed anarchic. Although specific figures were never reported, observers suspected huge cost overruns on capital improvement projects, which sometimes never seemed to be completed. CPD had recently committed to $60 million in capital improvements projects, but no one seemed to know how they would be paid for. The building design and execution process, managed by CPD’s Capital Improvement Division, was very loose: a division of engineering design drew up blueprints and passed the design on to another division, which made alterations and passed the plans on. After three or four iterations of this, the plans eventually got to a contractor who never spoke to any of the design teams. Waste was often the result. The Mozart Park building, completed in 1991, had a roof that “leaked like a sieve.”13 One project, the Don Nash Center on the south side, was a year behind schedule and $1 million over budget, yet when one visited the building site, it looked like little more than a bombed-out shell. One consultant described the process as “professional anarchy.”14 Some also thought that the Soldier’s Field complex was losing several million dollars a year. The purchasing department took 6 to 9 months to deliver on requests, so most people at CPD had begun to circumvent the department, ordering instead on vouchers. This meant that vendors were presenting bills for payment when CPD management had no idea of the amount of outstanding bills. One officer reported that after receiving a bill from the “T” company with a 100 days overdue notice attached, he called down to accounts payable and asked when this bill was going to be paid. He was told that the person was paying bills in the “G’s” and wouldn’t get to the “T’s” for some time: invoices were not paid based on age but were paid in alphabetical order. This same officer also had discovered that for an organization with a $400 million annual budget, the accounting department was only keeping track of a single expense account, “expenses.” At the same time, however, the CPD’s tax levy had increased 40% since 1987.15 A concise summary of the problems facing CPD had begun to emerge from the various groups examining the CPD. This list is presented in Exhibit 3. This litany of concerns comprised the situation facing Forrest Claypool as he considered the mayor’s request.


Ryan and Roeder, 19. Ryan and Roeder, 17. 15 Ryan and Roeder, 16. 14



Forrest Claypool Claypool had no previous park management experience. He had been a political consultant, a congressional campaign press secretary, and deputy commissioner of the Cook County board of tax appeals prior to coming to the mayor’s office as his chief-of-staff. Following that position, Claypool was deputy state treasurer and then a member of the treasurer’s office staff when Mayor Daley called him in. Claypool had been raised in a small town of 1,300 in southern Illinois and graduated from high school there in 1975. After graduating from law school, Claypool began working for a large Chicago law firm. By 1993, he was married and had one child. He commented on his interests: I’d always had a life-long interest in politics, worked in campaigns, cared about public issues, so I had done some work for different elected officials, and I had a series of government jobs in management progressively at the local, county, and state levels. I was a deputy state treasurer. And I was Mayor Daley’s chief-of-staff in his first term. By 1993, Richard M. Daley had been in the mayor’s office for six years. He had served part of one term and been elected to his own second term. As for why the mayor would request such a change in CPD at this time, one CPD manager explained: I think he’s committed to having a city that runs well and where the quality of life is high. I think he was frustrated with the parks. You know, the parks are not high tech. It’s not rocket science.... When you talk about the patronage [system], you know the rule [now here in Chicago] is, you have to do your job and you have to do it well. Another CPD officer said that she thought the mayor’s goal was to “turn the empty [CPD] buildings into teeming community centers.” When asked why he would even consider Mayor Daley’s request, Claypool responded: For a lot of reasons. One is it’s the ultimate management challenge, a classic turnaround situation. You couldn’t really have a more dysfunctional bureaucracy. The editorial boards of the major papers in town and the civic federation had, for years, chronicled the abuses and problems of the Park District. You know, Friends of the Parks had been formed precisely to try to monitor the abuses. The Park District had been held in contempt by the federal courts for race discrimination in the ‘60s and the ‘70s and was actually under a consent decree for some time. So, they’re really intractable problems in an intractable culture. But more importantly, I think, from the positive side, the Park District in Chicago is unique in the nation. We have more facilities here than any other program park system in America.

-10Exhibit 1 CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT (A) Chicago Park District Host Parks Map as of 1993



-11Exhibit 2 CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT (A) CPD Organization Chart as of January 1993

The People of Chicago Deputy General Superintendent for Finance and Management

Board of Commissioners

Personnel Board

General Superintendent

General Attorney


Superintendent of Finance and Administration



Risk Management

Deputy General Superintendent for Parks and Recreation

Superintendent of General Services and CIP

Superintendent of Engineering and Landscape Management

Labor Relations

Treasury Security Program Planning and Support



Superintendent of Special Services

Budget and Management Central Services



Auto Parking

Certain Administrative Services


Petrillo Music Shell

Soldier Field

Golf Concessions Southshore C.C.


Engineering Department

Landscape Department

Design Division

Landscape Architecture

Engineering Services

Landscape Architecture

Research and Evaluation

Parks and Recreation North Lakefront Loyola Portage Rills Independence Harrison LaFollette West McKinley West Lawn South Lakefront Fuller Turnbull Ridge Tulay Foster

Superintendent of Employment Personnel Health Benefits

External Affairs

Communications Engineering Division Research and Planning



Exhibit 3 CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT (A) The Chicago Park District’s Case for Change1 This report is the result of intensive investigations into the current management practices, analysis of services provided, and spot visits to various parks throughout Chicago. Eight formal employee teams participated in the process, with input from their colleagues and countless park users. A strategic plan is being developed to respond to the major findings. That plan will be revealed next month. THE CHICAGO PARK DISTRICT IS NOT CONSUMER-FOCUSED. There is no systematic or aggressive market research to understand our communities and their needs. •

Facilities and employees are often not available during peak hours.

Hiring decisions made downtown prevent park supervisors from staffing to meet community needs.

Coordination with other community organizations is sporadic.

Information about programs and activities is inconsistent. •

Marketing efforts to inform the public on programming, facilities, and events are limited.

Programs are not eliminated, if interest and attendance are low.

No consistent program schedule information exists.

There is no standardized registration process.

It took an average of 29 hours to register for a class, because knowledgeable staff is not available.

PARK OPERATIONS ARE UNRELIABLE. Scheduled programs are only available on average 56% of the time. •

Front-line employees are absent from their jobs 16% of working hours (corporate average is 5%).

Total paid leave allowance is close to 30% higher than the national average for parks and recreation departments.

City-wide tournaments and repair work often disrupt or halt local park programming.

Park usage and attendance rates are low. •

Of nearly 200 instructional programs observed at 80 parks, the average number of participants is 9.

In one region, it was as low as 6.


Chicago Park District, “The Chicago Park District’s Case for Change” (undated).



Exhibit 3 (continued) PARK RESOURCES ARE INEFFICIENTLY ALLOCATED AND MANAGED. Financial resources are not allocated to effectively support the parks’ core mission. •

Only 15% of the total 1993 budget went directly to parks and recreation.

As much as 32% of the total 1993 budget went for administration.

42% of the total 1993 budget went to maintenance and improvements to facilities.

Park staff cannot easily get the supplies they need. •

The purchasing process takes approximately twenty steps, requires at least nine approvals, and requires roughly eight weeks to process an order.

Park supervisors and instructors often have to purchase recreation and art supplies out of their own money.

There is no discretionary funding for supplies at the park level.

Park staff do not understand or have ready access to the lengthy and complicated central purchasing process.

Park supervisors and instructors are pulled away from their parks to pick up supplies at the storehouse (the storehouse is located up to an hour away from many parks).

Trades workers, paid at high salaries, waste time picking up their supplies at the storehouse.

Repairs and landscape maintenance at local parks are not efficiently managed. •

The work order system allows for favoritism and a “squeaky wheel gets the grease” approach to service delivery.

There is no planning or preventative maintenance program.

Approximately one-third of work orders for repair and maintenance take longer than three months to complete.

Repairs are driven by complaints or repeated requests and there is no way to assure equitable distribution of maintenance resources.

Nonemergency work orders are traditionally handled only the first three days of every month, often causing park supervisors to wait a month just to have their work orders reviewed.

Many nonemergency work orders are handled as emergencies at a greater cost to the district.

Central administration prioritizes and controls all work orders with little knowledge of parks’ actual needs.

Trades work is not sufficiently coordinated with programming schedules: often ball fields and outdoor pools are not ready for use at the start of the season.



Exhibit 3 (continued) •

Trades workers waste time responding to work orders that have already been completed because work orders are not taken off the list.

Trades workers arrive at parks ill-equipped to handle work orders because the work descriptions they have received are incomplete or insufficient.

The current budget process does not include modern accounting practices. •

No attention is given to increasing revenues for the Park District.

There is no opportunity for budget planning by field or park staff.

EMPLOYERS AND MANAGERS ARE NOT GIVEN THE TOOLS THEY NEED TO DO THEIR JOBS EFFECTIVELY. There are no systems to evaluate, discipline, or reward employees. •

Employees are not evaluated against defined performance standards.

Poor supervisors and instructors are often transferred from park to park rather than terminated.

Good employees are frequently promoted and transferred out of their parks and into administrative positions. There is no career path for them in the parks.

Personnel policies consistently detract from the park’s performance. •

The termination process, without appeals, requires 84 steps and more than a year to complete.

Filling a park staff opening requires 38 steps (with as many as 10 employees involved in these steps), 4 approvals, and anywhere from 10 to 30 weeks to complete.

High turnover and frequent employee transfers lead to a lack of continuity in local park staffs and hampers the development of stable community relationships.*

* In the Chicago Park District, 40 % of the park supervisors have been in their positions less than 2 years.