By: Steve Trubilla
Do people learn from their mistakes, or are some of them destined to just repeat them over and over again?
It would be wonderful if our intuitive senses included foresight, allowing us to avoid future mistakes. Imagine if you will, you are driving down the road, about to crest a hill on a blind turn. Your extrasensory perception warns of an eighteen wheeler barreling towards you out of control and in your lane. Would you simply continue on your happy way, or take evasive action?
The answer would appear to be obvious, but I return to the introductory question. All people do not learn from their mistakes.
Maybe, as we evolve, precognition and extrasensory perception will give the benefit of natural foresight. Until then, unfortunately, hindsight is as good as it gets. This said, you should not have to get hit by a truck twice to learn.
The example of getting run over by a tractor trailer is used as an "attention getter"; illustration to make a point. Dramatic, maybe, so let me try something a bit less so.
Let's say you have trees, shrubs, and other natural growth growing into the roof and structure of your home, overtaking it to the point ignoring it would compromise the entire roof and structure of your home. What would you do?
Okay, let's say the condition exists but by the time you realized it, it was too late. You had to spend considerable time and money to save your home. Do you think you would have learned from it? My guess is if you personally had to pay for it, you sure would have.
Do you remember back in 2012 when attention due to public exposure of the lack of maintenance was finally being directed at the trees literally growing into the courthouse in Louisburg? It is not that this was not known by literally everyone responsible for the maintenance of the building, because it was. I know so because I personally talked with many of them about this.
I would like to tell you there was a good and reasonable reason for it not being taken care of before it became necessary to spend many hundreds of thousands of dollars for corrective maintenance, but I cannot.
As it turned out, the trees growing into the building were but the tip of problem as it related to maintenance at the courthouse. The roof was leaking to the point water was literally destroying the interior of the building.
The problem was so extensive that when it rained, pumps had to be placed on the roof to evacuate the water. It defies understanding that this was seen as a remedy, but it was.
I am trying to paint a picture of just how pathetic this condition was, and pathetic does not begin to describe it. Would you believe me if I told you is was so bad Resident Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood actually appeared before the Franklin County Board of Commissioners to plea for repairs to the courthouse? Well he sure did.
Thank goodness he did, because frankly, had he not, I am not sure the problems would have been addressed to this very day.
Before it was all said and done the cost to repair and renovate the courthouse exploded. Finding the actual number on the cost is difficult. At the same time, similar problems were being experienced with the Franklin County Jail.
With cost overruns and contract modification the combined costs were in the millions. It bears mentioning to this date problems still remain.
Having a very strong logistics background, I understand maintenance management models. I once asked a county executive about the county preventive maintenance program. I was told "We are not in that business." I am here to tell you no maintenance model exists without a preventive maintenance pillar.
One would think after the experience of the courthouse and jail with millions being spent, people would learn from their past mistakes. Do you think they have?
Well, if you do, take some time and drive by the Library in Youngsville. The trees and other natural growth are literally growing into the building. Then drive by other county buildings.
Like with the courthouse and jail, the condition is known. The cost is predictable.
What does it take to learn from a mistake? The outcome does not have to be the same.
How much would it cost for all of the county commissioners to get in a vehicle and do a drive-by inspection of all county buildings with the country manager?
How much will it cost if they do not?
I learned long ago if you want to influence the action, go where the action is.
An open question, who lost their job for what was allowed to happen at the courthouse and jail, and should someone have? It cost millions!
Leadership matters. It really does, and so does accountability.