Letters to the Editor for Dec. 28, 2011

By Baker City Herald Readers December 28, 2011 09:10 pm

There’s more to travel expenses
To the editor:
Regarding the editorial “Traveling Travesty” in the Dec. 23 issue, I found this a welcome opinion piece on an important subject. We should be looking at actual expenses of government departments.
I do want to add that conferences can benefit employees and their work. Getting out of the office to address personnel relations and other issues can be effective where personality problems interfere, or where the staff deals with complex issues often, without letup.
I’ve had experience with an organization that held an annual retreat for all employees. We talked business but also practiced team-building games, which can be illuminating. Administrators talked about an upcoming system change and sought employee comments and ideas about the transition. An invited speaker could dive into those areas of the job that are normally hard to discuss. Each year it seemed a worthwhile effort in better relations, more efficiency, and respect for the other’s job.
It is surprising how many managers do not know how to communicate well or resolve conflicts. No matter what a new manager brings into a workplace, there are often dynamics present that she or he could not be prepared for.
I do believe that taxpayers and constituents really do want to know where the money goes. If a state visits another country to promote tourism and industry, it is appropriate that we receive more feedback then we do — through a public report, or a two-year follow-up.
Also, sometimes a resort offers a package for a group within the same price range as a more modest venue, and the agency decides to go with the resort. Supporting a locale that needs a little more business is surely commendable — if the entire cost is not excessive — since a conference needs to be held somewhere.
The bottom line in this editorial is that we really want to know more about what’s going on, and not just hear bellyaching. We know firsthand, for example, that our school districts are in turmoil, juggling diminishing funds while constantly facing the unexpected from their own state.
Thank you for starting the conversation.
Linda Bergeron