News and outlook – March 6, 2010

Thursday March 4, 2010 (Daily News page 3) : The FAA suspended an air-traffic controller and his supervisor pending an investigation into a couple of incidents in which he allegedly allowed his nine-year old children to communicate with pilots.
The transcript is pretty tame. The pilots understood the air-traffic controller’s instructions and nothing went amiss. The air-traffic controller was there the whole time and was clearly monitoring the situation.
When I read the article I couldn’t find a legitimate reason for all the hubbub. Obviously, the father broke the rules and should be spoken to. Does he deserve to lose his job? Should his children feel guilty and like they cost their dad his job? (As I feared, Friday’s Daily News (page 12) has the children feeling guilty for their dad’s predicament.
The fact is no one was in danger. The whole thing should have been reported as an oddity or handled quietly.

Thursday Daily News (Page 30) : After a decade of New York city wasting $722 million on a system, CityTime, that would make it harder for city worker to cheat on their clock-in and clock-out times, City Controller John Liu has asked Mayor Bloomberg to freeze all contracts and payments.
It seems to me that the amount of money wasted on the system is far in excess of the amount of money the city would save by paying workers for working when they aren’t really in the office.
CityTime relies on biometrics to ensure that the actual worker is clocking in. Currently, non-managers who earn under about $60,000 are required to slide an identification card through a system called AutoTime. Some workers took advantage of the system to have co-workers swipe their cards. When they are caught they are almost always fired. The benefit isn’t worth the risk, so the number of actual abusers is probably very low.

Thursday Daily News (Page 34) Editorial by Charles Brecher :
How to save $2B without slashing city services:
Adopt a 40-hour workweek. Savings: $500 million. About 70,000 civilian municipal employees (not teachers or uniformed workers) are required to work less than 40 hours a week, according to an analysis by the Citizens Budget Commission. Most have 35-hour schedules, some 37.5 hours. If the city workers put in 40 hours as do similar federal and municipal workers around the country, about 8,500 fewer positions would be needed to provide the same service.
If you read the above out of context, you might think that city workers work a 35 hour day, in that they can come in at 9 and leave at 4. That’s not the truth. City workers that work a 35 hour day, work 8 hour days, from 9 to 5. City workers are not paid for lunch, so it works out to a 35 hour week.
If they changed it to a 40 hours week, it would just be a numbers game. Productivity would not go up or down.

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