Saturday, 9 June 2012

How Things Work in Bama

I tend to follow Bama news, and there's always a comedy of sorts that occurs.

Yesterday, the folks down in Jefferson County....our big county in the central part of the state that is moving toward bankruptcy.....had to shut down it's computer network that collects bills and handles deposits for the county.

If you were on this road to bankruptcy....you'd really want what money does exist and should be in your pocket.....arriving.  And getting bills out to residents of the county would be priority number one.  But the county had this issue.

From about a decade ago.....they'd gone out and built up a pretty good computer server system.  At one point, they had around sixteen servers operating.  There were back-ups being made, and weekly maintenance done.....to keep all the servers up and operational.

Over the past decade, there were all these debt issues, plus the sewer-system episode, then they had the loss of local jobs which meant less tax revenue.  The county did what they could....laying off employees.

Well....one of the cuts that they made along the way....was the normal life-cycle of the servers.  Typically, you'd start planning on your replacement servers at the beginning of the fourth year, and you would have replaced it by the fifth year.  The county is nine years into operation, with one server operating, and it finally failed this week.

The county admitted that it failed Sunday evening of last week.  My humble guess is that the one technician that they have for maintenance and back-up services.....probably noticed some problems on Saturday, and kept hoping (praying probably) that when he rebooted the server on Sunday....it'd come back.  Well....it didn't.  I'm guessing he rebooted several times, and then finally called his boss.

You can imagine Monday morning.  The IT support boss is talking to the county management folks.  He was probably begging for $20k, and the management guys just weren't going to give it to him for a new server.  They didn't have the cash. So the boss probably went back to "Jimmy"....his one and only smart server guy, and asked what they might be able to do.  Jimmy probably hinted of hard drive replacement....figuring the cost around $3k for all the hard drives he'd need.

The boss likely went back....pleaded for the money and eventually got the money.  They wait till Wednesday for the hard drives to arrive, and then start the rebuilding process.  Friday, things came back together, and the nine-year old server is back into action.

How long will the nine-year old server continue?  Well....with new hard drives, and hopefully a decent cooling temperature....it might be around for another three or four years.

The sad thing here is that this one IT server support guy probably deserves a raise for his fine work.....but with the county in dire straits.....he'll be lucky if the boss buys him a Subway sandwich and a soda.

There's another sad thing here....in that there won't be a replacement for this poor server for 2012.  So that IT server support guy will likely find the critical nature of his job doubling over the next couple of months.  Comments made via the local news indicates that the county swears they are budgeting enough money to buy several servers for 2013.  One can only hope that's true.

The Wage Issue

There is a bill slowly moving across Congress....the Paycheck Fairness Act.  Basically, it is this "game-changer" where female executives (and just about any level of female employee)....can come up and ask the company for salary information across the board without any fear.  It also makes it much easier for a lawyer to walk in, declare a law violation, and start a court suit.

The President, and most Democrats would like to see it passed.  The odds are....it won't pass in the current form.

The push on this is obvious....if you go across the business communities of America....there's a difference in pay.  Over the last twenty years....it's been correcting itself.  Obviously, people believe it's not fast enough.

I've sat and pondered over this, and it creates a terrific atmosphere where a company would have an open position, and just plain refuse to hire a female.....because she might bring in a lawsuit eventually, which they really don't want.

You can imagine a company of five hundred people, and five divisions.  The developmental division has a sixty year old guy, who has a masters degree in electrical engineering, and forty years of experience.  Down the hall is a second division, with a 39-year old female business manager with a MBA.  She learns one day that this old guy is making $50k more a year than her.  She approaches the boss to demand a lofty pay-raise.  He declines....citing the forty year of experience being the qualifier.

She goes to court.  Relations within the division are turning negative, and half the employees of the female manager are contemplating moving because of bad blood.  Months pass, and the court date is about to start.  The company offers her $100k to just drop the case and forget about this whole mess....trying to save legal costs.  She refuses.

The judge reviews the entire case, and eventually decides that the company was right.  Because of the Paycheck Fairness Act....she comes right back to work the next day.  She's angry and hostile toward the whole company.  They can't fire her or do anything with her.  There's a steady turn-over now within her division....almost five percent a month of the divisions employees leave.

Two years pass, and the company is in serious trouble with this one division.  It's causing potential distractions within the other divisions now.  So they offer the paycheck-queen a simple $500k deal to just plain leave, with no legal action.  She refuses.

The company hires a $10k a week expert to come in and tell them how to fix the problem.  Simple.....he draws up a reorganization chart where they go from five divisions to nine divisions.  The division of this female manager?  They chop eighty percent of the personnel off into a new division.  With fewer people and responsibilites.....the company can now offer a wage cut.  She gets angry.....starts another lawsuit.  Another $100k is wasted on legal fees, and the company wins yet again.  So she finally agrees to leave, with a $500k pay-off.

The problem with Congress getting involved in the business world.....they really aren't helping in the ways they think.  They simply fix one problem.....to create a much bigger problem in the end.