Spotlight on HROn 23 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Clive Morton writes on his views of the latest initiatives in HRThe world of work has changed dramatically, for employers, employees,consumers and communities. There is little doubt that the notion of “jobsfor life” has ended and security is based on performance, not paternalism.The perspective on what gives employability is light years away fromprevious experience. Gone is the predominance of qualifications, enter thechallenging issues of “soft” skills, competencies and personality.Communication is not just about understanding; today it is concerned withemotional commitment, buy-in and energy. For employers, speed of response is everything. It used to be about totalquality – now that is a qualification for market entry, not sustainability. Consumers, we are told, are learning six times as fast as producers. Speedof response is a function of agility, while agility is a child of culture.Being faster does not necessarily produce speed and quality of response – itcertainly does not produce innovation. How do organisations evolve the rightculture for success today and a business of tomorrow? Networks, e-commerce, B2B, B2C we find all need stronger degrees of trust inrelationships than yesterday’s transactions, so the limiting factor is nottechnology or money after all, it is the people. “To be sustainable you need trust, social glue and networks” Changes in the world of work affect consumers and communities. Communitiesembrace all but often feel confused by the changes around them. What businessis that of HR? Everything. This is the context in which business operates. Today’s trainees are tomorrow’s employees. Internal branding oforganisations must match the external brand in order to excite demand forproduct and to attract, retain and motivate employees. Organisations need tounderstand and influence its context to give growth and sustainability. Where can HR make a difference? Every aspect of the scene above is not only relevant to HR – but it oftenhas a central role. One area where this applies is in leading change. This is an area ofexpertise for HR and where often other managers and leaders need guidance and astrong interventionist approach from HR. The psychology of change, relating tothe grieving process, is often lost on those coming from a technicalbackground. HR needs to persuade that the leader who empathises with those going throughchange is the leader who will inspire and energise those involved in theprocess. Not an easy message to get across. Managing diversity is not often an attractive subject. From one perspectiveit can be seen as boring compliance with somebody else’s rules. From another,it can be seen as the key to creativity, leading to new business. HR can putthe business case and can demonstrate real gains. What’s the latest initiative? Fads and fashions come and go. They all havetheir detractors and “dangerous enthusiasts” and neither helpsbusiness. HR needs to remind the management team that such initiatives need tobe seen from the individual’s perspective, “What’s in it for me?” and”How does it affect me?” Any change also needs to be faithful to the principles of the organisation(vision and values). I am sceptical of the “best practice” syndromethat encourages the “sweetie shop” where attractive jars are accessedaccording to whim and fancy. What to do when the obvious solutions do notprevent decline and demise? I have discovered the need to go beyond dealing with operational excellencein organisations. This is all about efficiency and effectiveness, highlynecessary to be part of the action. But unfortunately not enough forsustainability. Organisations need to be employee-driven, which is about buy-in and energy,not employees making all the decisions, although they do need to be deeplyinvolved. HR needs to help the peer group with assessing where the business is interms of its market place and the competition. Leading benchmarking studiesinto other organisations not only sharpen the HR contribution but also gainsupport from other leaders and managers. Having done this, HR is in pole position to contribute to business strategy.External knowledge is available to HR, employees are involved, they understandand contribute, effectiveness is achieved and the organisation can bestrategically led. Carefully chosen measures can help the organisation raise its game andreinvent through shared vision and values. Terrific, what can stop us now? Behaviour. I’ve discovered that great change can happen at the”coalface”, “shop floor” or wherever. People have oftenbeen undervalued at that level and in the right circumstances become corks outof bottles, contributing in a way both they and others never thought possible. However, managers and directors are a different kettle of fish. With astrong individualist culture and concerns over position, status and control,change is fraught. The first step, in my view – and where HR contributes again, is to convincemanagers and directors that inappropriate behaviour from the top can ruin thebest of initiatives. They must understand the impact of their behaviour and whatthey need to do to support change further down the organisation. The next step is to tackle middle management, the most neglected section ofindustry. It too has been progressively marginalised over the past two decades.However, middle managers can become knowledge engineers, and help reinvent thecorporation, it needs a mind shift but HR can be formative – encouraging themto think laterally and share knowledge. Last, develop the antennae. A sustainable business must be in tune withexternal trends and act with innovation and creativity. HR has a key role asthe conduit between internal organisational factors and outside trends andinfluences – and encouraging others to get involved. Dr Clive Morton runs his own HR consultancy, The Morton Partnership.Leading HR is published by the CIPD. ISBN 0852929226 price £25. To purchase,contact Plymbridge on e-mail: [email protected] Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed.
Previous Article Next Article Succeeding with OKRs | – 16 Mar 2019 […] It didn’t work before and it won’t work now. Linking salary increase and bonuses to individual performance evaluation for knowledge workers is a fatal error that can destroy your company. Well-known examples: Dieselgate in VW, sub-prime crisis in USA or ENRON. […] Trackbacks/Pingbacks Did HR fuel the demise of Enron?On 19 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Jane Lewis examines the risk-taking, entrepreneurial work culture of theenergy giant and shows how HR played a leading roleFew companies have risen so quickly then burned down with such intensity asEnron. The collapse of the Texan energy giant, once hailed as a model for all21st century companies, has shaken America to its roots – some commentatorshave even claimed its long-term impact, at least in terms of how the countryviews itself, may be stronger than that of 11 September. This is not just because Enron, thought to owe a staggering $55bn, is thelargest corporate bankruptcy in history; nor because so many thousands of itsemployees now face the misery of personal financial ruin. The real point aboutEnron is that it is a wound the US inflicted on itself – and there is notelling where else the gangrene may be lurking. If such a seemingly invinciblepowerhouse can be exposed as little more than a house of cards, who will benext? As one corporate anatomist has remarked, much of the US population is nowsuffering a mass epidemic of “Enronitis”: a nervous condition broughton by implausible company accounts. But as Enron’s leading managers brace themselves for a prolonged circus ofCongressional hearings and investigations, it is increasingly clear that thecause of the company’s downfall goes much deeper than improper accounting oralleged corruption at the top. The real problem that hastened Enron’s demise,claim the many management experts now raking over its ashes, is the very samerisk-taking, entrepreneurial culture that first propelled its high-octanegrowth. And if you believe that, says Martin Goodman, a consultant in WatsonWyatt’s strategic change practice, it is but a short step to concluding that”ultimately the responsibility must lie with HR”. Who else, he argues, was responsible for framing and policing Enron’scorporate values, its recruitment policy, and the cut-throat performanceprocesses that did so much to shape a culture in which the survival of thefittest, by any means necessary, came to be the paramount consideration? But, as Goodman is the first to point out, Enron’s HR department, whileclearly responsible, should not bear the full burden of blame. Faced with amanagement board that not only condoned the subversion of accepted corporateethics, but which often appeared actively to encourage malpractice, thedepartment’s hands were tied. “You cannot expect people to act in anethical manner, if those at the top of the business are not doing so,” hesays. What Enron represents, therefore, is the inherent conflict in the role ofHR: a department responsible for corporate ethics, yet seemingly powerless toenforce them at the highest level. Above all, the scandal highlights one of themost fundamental questions that every HR practitioner should examine. Is thedepartment merely an agent of senior management, or does it have aresponsibility to act on behalf of the interests of the workforce as a whole?In Enron’s case, as we will see, the path taken by HR was clear-cut. Which way wouldyou go? Culture and ethics During Enron’s glory period (circa 1995-August 2000, when shares hit a peakof $90), it was often remarked that this was a company in love with itself. CEOKenneth Lay was only half joking when he suggested a fitting tribute to the‘coolest’ corporation on the planet would be to wrap a giant pair of shadesaround its Houston HQ. Enron employees were easily identifiable by their swagger. The rewards forthose who performed well were high: bonus day at Enron became known in the cityas car day because of the lines of shiny new sports cars cluttering up thestreets; its most opulent suburb, River Oaks, looked in danger of becoming anEnron dormitory town. Anyone working for the company, in whatever capacity, wasconsidered a person with prospects. If the city of Houston was impressed by Enron’s freewheeling, sassy cultureit was nothing to the praise lavished by the armies of management experts whoflocked to Texas. As the new economy model took off, Enron seemed to be doing everythingby the book – indeed, from an HR perspective, the company was virtually writingthe book. Enron, said management guru Gary Hamel, had achieved the holy grailof modern people management: it encouraged a “hotbed of entrepreneurialactivity” in which staff were encouraged to take risks and become careerbuilders. Retaining talent was never an issue at Enron because the HR departmentmodelled itself as a kind of internal employment agency and kept an up-to-dateinternal database of CVs that encouraged managers to recruit internally.”If you make it easy for people to move inside the company, they are lesslikely to look outside,” said vice-president of HR, Cindy Olson last year.It was not unusual for high-flyers to change jobs two or three times in as manyyears. The point, she said, was to enable entrepreneurs to “buildsomething of their own within the company”. “Everyone knew,” says another executive, that if [CEO JeffSkilling] liked you “the leash was very long”. But with hindsight,the downside of this approach is obvious: inexperienced young MBAs wereroutinely handed extraordinary authority to make multi-million dollar decisionswithout higher approval. And because they tended to move between businesses,rather than within them, experience was not made to count. “If you moveyoung people fast in senior-level positions without industry experience, andthen allow them to make large trading decisions, that is a riskystrategy,” says Jay Conger, a management professor at London BusinessSchool. In many ways the culture at Enron could not have been more straightforward:make your numbers or else – and executives were particularly highly rewardedfor originating money-making ideas. Women did especially well in thisenvironment: two of Enron’s most profitable trading centres – its weatherderivatives business and online trading division – were begun by ambitiousyoung female executives who were noisily proclaimed corporate heroines. The counter-balance to this risk-centric culture was supposed to be a strongcode of corporate ethics, written up in a 61-page booklet and centring onEnron’s guiding principles of RICE (Respect, Integrity, Communication,Excellence). These were prominently displayed on wall-posters, key rings, mousemats and T-shirts and all employees had to sign a certificate of compliance. Inpractice, however, the unrelenting emphasis on profit growth and individualinitiative tipped the culture from one that awarded aggressive strategy to onethat increasingly relied on unethical corner-cutting. The corporate ethics werein place, but they were rarely policed and frequently ignored if they stood inthe way of the more ‘important’ business. The lead for this came from the top. In an interview two years ago, Skillingrecalled his impatience with the mundane business of approving expenses claims.”You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said. Here was a new world ofopportunities to be tapped “and I’m going to sit here and go through anexpense statement line-item by line-item?” Henceforth, he decreed, expensereports would be routinely approved without review. The lesson to be gleaned from this is clear, says Goodman at Watson Wyatt:it is no use having a corporate ethics policy “unless you have processesin place that ensure these codes are enforced.” If you want to preventpeople taking “expeditious routes” you need to “spell out thepenalties”, even to those at the top. The decline of corporate ethics at Enron was no sudden event, but rather the”gradual erosion of standards”. This made it very easy to turn ablind eye to malpractice because, eventually, breaking the rules became thenorm. As one employee points out: “Towards the end everyone knew thecompany was a house of cards. But people thought if they were getting away withit now, they would get away with it forever.” Performance management and incentives One of Skilling’s undoubted achievements at Enron was to put the notion ofintellectual capital firmly on the map. His belief that the main engine drivingthe company’s growth was talent meant he was prepared to go to almost any endsto nurture his growing pool of thrusting young MBAs – and discard anyone whofailed to make the grade. Skilling claimed that Enron’s ruthless system of performance evaluation –swiftly christened ‘rank and yank’ – was pivotal to forging a new strategy andculture “It is the glue that holds the company together,” he said. Ata senior level, he presided over a peer-review process imported from managementconsultants McKinsey and Co. This was, in effect, a star chamber, consisting ofsome 20 executives who regularly sat in judgement over every vice-president inthe company, ranking them numerically. The stakes were high: the top 5 per centof ‘superior’ managers were typically rewarded with bonuses some 66 per centhigher than the next grade down. The process was also laborious, because thecommittee’s decision had to be unanimous. Skilling claimed the system helped eliminate a ‘yes man’ culture because”it was impossible to kiss 20 asses”. In practice, the reverse becametrue. The best way to get a good rating, employees agreed, was to not”object to anything”. Further down the company chain, rank and yankbecame even more cut-throat. Skilling decreed that every six months the bottom10 per cent of the workforce was to be eliminated regardless of individualperformance. The upshot was a regular frenzy as employees jostled to make theirnumbers by hook or by crook. Although one of the criteria on which Enron staffers were supposed to bejudged was team-work, in practice this became the first casualty of adog-eat-dog system in which an individual’s ability to ‘add value’ to thebottom line was paramount. Far from operating as a collective entity, says onecommentator, Enron began to resemble “a collection of mercenaries”.It became common practice, when working on a project, to bring in as few peopleas possible “so you wouldn’t have to split your bonus”. This survival of the fittest system, while undoubtedly ruthless, may havehad a certain efficacy while times were good. But as the new economy souredthere was much less success to go around, and the process took on a new andhighly corrosive viciousness. As employee denounced employee in a desperateattempt to survive selection for the chop, the system became more political andmore crony-based. It also encouraged desperate pragmatism. Some managers lied,altering the records of colleagues they wanted removed, others made use ofEnron’s much-vaunted whistle-blowing system, to submit negative reviews againstpeople they were competing against for rankings. One of the first casualties of this system was corporate transparency, and asinister use of euphemism crept into the corporate vocabulary: employeesscheduled for “redeployment” were told they had 45 days to find a newjob within the company. In reality there were no such jobs available: the HRdepartment was instructed to deter managers from other divisions from hiringthem. In common with many of its new economy peers, Enron made a point ofrewarding successful executives with stock options. The logic was unassailable:by linking performance with shareholder value, executives aligned their actionswith the wider interests of company stakeholders. “If you have incentivesthat aren’t aligned, the risk is that executives operate in a manner thatdoesn’t give the best return to shareholders,” says Duncan Brown,principal of Towers Perrin. But at Enron, where the vast bulk of executive remuneration comprised stockoptions – senior chiefs cashed in some $1bn in stock in the years immediatelypreceding the company’s crash – the environment was ripe for abuse. Thepersonal interest that senior managers had in keeping the share-price high atany cost encouraged corruption, greed and financial impropriety and discouragedtransparency. Far from promoting the best behaviour, the incentive system atEnron frequently spawned the worst. What lessons can be drawn from all this? It all depends, says Brown, onwhether the investigation into Enron shows that an abuse of the system was toblame, rather than the system itself. But what happened at Enron should spell aclear warning to HR of the dangers of monitoring and rewarding performance bynumbers alone – there is now widespread recognition that a more qualitative,well-rounded approach is needed. The benefits of using a balanced scorecardapproach are plain. Finally, although executive bonuses in the UK have yet to reach theexorbitant level of those routinely doled out in the US, HR needs to startasking tough questions now about whether executive pay rises can actually bejustified objectively. PensionsProgressive HR management thinkers have long been vocal advocates ofemployee company ownership because of the huge benefits it offers in terms ofemployee buy-in, commitment and loyalty. But the miserable fate of the manythousands of Enron employees who lost everything when their company stockcollapsed exposes the inherent danger of putting too many eggs in one basket. Like many US companies, Enron had begun the process of shiftingresponsibility for its employees’ retirement back on to the individual via theintroduction of pension plans known as 401(k), which offered a diverse array ofinvestments. But thousands of employees, still mired in their ‘I’ll be takencare of’ mentality, ignored every alternative investment to plough 100 per centof their pension plans into Enron stock, with disastrous results. In the UK, of course, the system is very different. But the alreadypronounced shift from defined purchase plans to Money Purchase Plans and ShareIncentive Plans means employees are now more exposed to risk. The main lessonwe must all learn from Enron is the importance of diversification. If yourcompany matches your retirement savings with company shares, it makes sense notto invest in any additional stock, however tempting. It is commonly agreed, however, that the real scandal revealed by thecollapse of Enron was how the company’s pension scheme was managed. Far fromacting in the interests of plan participants, the fund’s trustees – includingHR vice-president Cindy Olson – consistently put the interests of the companyfirst. This was most apparent in the decision to ban employees from sellingtheir stock in the weeks before the company filed for bankruptcy. In the US, there is an active campaign to eliminate such abuse by insistingthat companies which have traditionally selected their own trustees must now berequired to appoint truly independent individuals. While the regulatoryenvironment in the UK post the Robert Maxwell affair is undoubtedly muchtighter than its US equivalent, it is clear that we can still draw some usefulguidance from what happened at Enron, in particular, the suggestion thatemployees should have a greater input in selecting trustees. Whistleblowing Enron encouraged whistleblowers: its policy was to allow employees tocomplain anonymously about their co-workers. So why wasn’t the whistle blownearlier about what we now know to be widespread malpractice in its accountingand financial departments? In fact, financial executive Sherron Watkins was not the first voice toraise concerns within the company. Two years ago Enron’s treasurer, JefferyMcMahon questioned the propriety of some of CFO Andrew Fastow’s ‘partnerships’– and found himself swiftly ‘promoted’ out of the action to a post in London.It now emerges that Enron’s corporate lawyer, Jordan Mintz, also questioned thepartnerships and sought outside legal advice. The answer, it is clear, lies in the autocratic system of hierarchy that(for all its boasts to the contrary) continued to prevail at Enron. Sincewhistleblowers appealing to the highest level of the company were discouraged,ignored and ultimately punished, what hope was there of being listened tofurther down the ranks? In many respects the climate prevailing at Enron was nodifferent from that of most other companies: while catered for on paper,whistleblowers run a real risk of becoming corporate pariahs and damaging theircareers for good. Frequently tarred as ‘disgruntled’, they continue to be seenas a risky hire even if they leave a company. But it is not just fear of reprisal that prevents people speaking out. AtEnron, as we have seen, the culture itself discouraged it. People became soidentified with the organisation and its practices that they stopped seeingthat something was wrong. As Goodman points out, it is the responsibility of HR to put in place aformal system – independent of senior managers – in which complaints and doubtscan be freely expressed without fear. The failure of Enron’s HR department toachieve this was the main reason why malpractice was allowed to flourish for solong. Employees knew the system was crooked, but felt powerless to change it.They were right. All Enron’s whistleblowers behaved in an exemplarily fashion:they did not steal documents or go to the newspapers, they took their concernsto the top guy. And nothing happened. Could the Enron scandal signal a new movement in corporate challengers? OneUS hot-line operator notes that calls to its centres have risen exponentiallysince the scandal broke. Cynics may argue that this is transitory – deep downmost employees know the consequences for whistleblowers are usually grim. Butwhat Enron has shown us above all is that ignoring misconduct can have trulyterrible consequences for everyone. The most optimistic outcome of its fallfrom grace is that it may issue in a new era of employee empowerment. The players Kenneth LayFounder and CEO Lay founded Enron in 1985 following the merger of two naturalgas pipeline companies. One of the first to grasp the opportunities on offerfrom the deregulation of the US energy industry, he presided over the company’stransformation from a parochial utility to the self-styled ‘world’s leadingcompany’. Famously chummy with George W Bush, who habitually referred to him as‘Kenny boy’, by the mid-90s Lay was essentially a hands-off CEO – often absent,smoothing Enron’s path with politicians and investors. Described by onecommentator as a chief who seemed “to benignly float on the surface ofEnron’s shark-tank”, he was recently painted in congressional hearings asa well-meaning boss who did not fully grasp his company’s condition.Whistle-blower, Sherron Watkins, who was Enron’s financial executive, claimedLay had been ‘duped’ by his top lieutenants. On the advice of lawyers, Lay hastaken the Fifth Amendment and maintains his silence.Jeffery Skilling Former CEO Formerly a management consultant with Mckinsey & Co,Skilling joined Enron in 1990 and quickly made it a laboratory for progressivemanagement thinking. Skilling, who became chief operating officer in 1995,bought wholesale into the idea of establishing an ‘asset-light’ company whoseprime expertise was market-making. He was the chief architect of Enron’semergence as a new economy giant. One of the few corporate leaders to haveengineered the successful transition from ‘bricks to clicks’, he was lauded asa management visionary: under his tenure Enron was consistently voted America’smost innovative company. Renowned for his obsession with intellectual capital,Skilling – whose abrasive style made him widely feared within Enron – was alsothe main shaper of Enron’s ruthless performance management strategy. More thanany other individual, he stamped his own personality on the firm. His shockresignation ‘for personal reasons’ in August last year, six months after takingover from Lay as CEO, was seen by many as the first sign that the edifice wascrumbling.Andrew FastowChief financial officer Fastow, a former banker, was hired by Skilling as a youthfulfinancial money wizard, primarily for his ability to think out of the box.”We didn’t want someone stuck in the past,” said Skilling. Fastow,who was praised by CFO Magazine for his ‘unique financing techniques’masterminded hundreds of off-the-books operations that paved the way forEnron’s explosive growth and enabled it to report huge profits, while quietlyretaining control of its loss-making hard assets. He is estimated to have madea personal fortune of $30m from these ‘partnerships’. Having resigned inOctober, Fastow is at the forefront of the federal investigation into Enron. Ifconvicted, he is considered likely to testify against his former colleagues.Sherron WatkinsFinancial executive A financial executive who worked with Andrew Fastow last summer, Watkins is nowfamous as Enron’s chief whistle-blower. Two days after Skilling’s resignationin August last year, she sent a memo to Kenneth Lay stating she was ‘incrediblynervous’ the company would soon ‘implode’ in a wave of accounting scandals.When this warning was ignored, she alerted him again in person the followingmonth. A key witness in the federal investigation, Watkins is still employed atEnron.Cindy OlsonVice-president, HR Olson, who became head of Enron’s HR department last year, was a newcomer tothe profession. Having spent 15 years as an accountant, she worked for threeyears in community relations before assuming the top HR job. Although privy toSherron Watkins’ August 2001 memo, she took no action, in her capacity as an‘independent’ fiduciary and trustee of Enron’s 401(k) pension plan, to alertfellow employees. She later told a congressional hearing she believed Watkins’assessment to be untrue. Even more controversially, she agreed to a moratoriumlast October, which banned employees from selling the Enron stock in theirplans while it still retained some value. “We didn’t have a crystalball,” she said. “We didn’t know where the stock was going togo.” Nonetheless, on the advice of her own financial advisor, she admittedto cashing in some $6.5m in Enron stock, most of it in the year before thecompany’s collapse. The Power of Cognitive Computing – Orbit Analytics – 25 May 2020 […] Conducting performance evaluations is one of the most unpleasant tasks for management. On top of this, poor performance management practices can pose a risk to an organization, by exposing them to lawsuits for unfair treatment of employees, or from self-destructive promotion practices (like those that helped destroy Enron.) […]
Taste of honey may not be so sweetOn 30 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Guru was concerned after discovering that a private investigation firm is advertising in job centres for flirtatious men and women to work as ‘honey trap’ agents. The company, cunningly called The Honey Trap, offers £30-50 per hour for smart and confident people to ‘detect infidelity in personal relationships and report back to the client’. Hours are given as between 10am and 9pm, six days per week, including evening and weekend work. The work is advertised in job centres across the UK on the computerised Job Point database. There is a website for interested parties that explains that employees are required to observe or flirt with a target to test their fidelity. However, Guru – who knows only too well the forbidden thrill of extra-marital temptation – fears that the service could break up happy relationships as well as expose dishonest partners. CIPD members should be worried too – the service is based in Harrogate. Spanish practices sure to turn heads Strikes to the right of Guru, strikes to the left of Guru, strikes in front of Guru… It could be the beginning of a poem to match Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade, but alas it is just Guru skimming the papers over his morning tea. It seems to Guru that things are just too evenly balanced these days and one side needs to bring in some heavy hitters – and Guru doesn’t mean those of the stature of Bob Crow or Digby Jones. When he wants to tip the scales, Guru just puts in a quick call to the appropriate celebrity colleague who will then come out in support of his latest, morally unjustified crusade. Like many of Guru’s strategies, this idea has spread, this time all the way to Spain, where staff walked out of a luxury hotel over a pay dispute. The venue was supposed to be full of actors who were staying in the San Sebastian hotel during the San Sebastian film festival and a chambermaid took advantage of the presence of Sean Penn, an actor who often champions the underdog, in her fight for justice. She said if Penn showed solidarity, she would invite him to stay in her flat: “He can come and stay with me instead,” she said. “He can come into my bed if he wants.” Little in the way of job satisfaction Antipodean disciples will be sad to learn that ‘leprechaun hurling’ may soon come to an end in New Zealand. Officials from the Little People of New Zealand organisation (LPNZ) say that four-foot-six Andrew Roigard is demeaning small folk while putting in his hours as the entertainment at Mount Mellick bar at Mount Maunganui on the North Island. Roigard dons a helmet and boxer shorts and, having smothered himself in vegetable oil, is paid by punters to be launched the length of the bar on a plastic sheet. The LPNZ also claim Roigard is putting his health at risk because his condition puts immense pressure on his spine, joints and muscles. Guru would like to point out that Roigard must be maintaining good work-life balance, otherwise the vertically challenged chap would end up lying in a pile of grease on the floor (something that Guru also recommends for a weekend’s entertainment). The final word on the work-shy fops Guru was impressed by British Waterways’ HR manager Andrew Johnson’s approach to tackling ‘sickies’, which he outlined in the final limerick of the great absence debate: Our post-room spotty yoof Roger, The proverbial work-shy dodger, His phoning in sick, Was a regular trick, Til we threatened to chop off his todger. Guru would like to thank everyone who sent in their poetic gems and leaves disciples with this advice: Those that wrote about others who shirk, And head home from the office to lurk, Should stop writing in rhyme, And stop wasting their time, And get back to doing some work. Comments are closed.
The U.S. National Indian Gaming Commission approved a class 2 facility, allowing for bingo parlors and video lottery terminals. It would be the second casino in Suffolk County, following Jake’s 58 Hotel & Casino in Islandia, which opened in 2017.The Shinnecock Nation has attempted to open casinos several times, but those efforts were repeatedly halted.The casino is part of the tribe’s attempts to increase revenue, according to the report. It recently constructed a second 61-foot digital billboard/monument on Sunrise Highway, with advertising revenue going to the tribe. It also plans to open a gas station and convenience store on tribal land near the signs in the coming year, along with a medical cannabis facility that will be located on its 900-acre reservation in Southampton.Members of the Shinnecock Nation have opposed other development efforts. In December, a group of Shinnecock members protested the construction of the Hampton Boathouses townhouse project, calling it a “stain” on the area’s heritage. The project will bring 37 units to Hampton Bays, but members of the Shinnecock Nation say it will contribute to the deterioration of natural resources in the area. [Newsday] — Sasha Jones Contact Sasha Jones Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Tags casinosCommercial Real Estatehamptons-weeklySouthamptontristate-weekly Full Name* Message* Email Address* Share via Shortlink The Shinnecock Nation seal and an aerial of Shinnecock Nation in Southampton (Photos via Facebook, iStock, Google Maps)The Shinnecock Nation says it will build a casino on its Southampton reservation.Newsday reported that in developing the property, the tribe will work with Jack Morris, principal of Tri State Partners. An announcement is expected on Wednesday. Tri State has worked on a casino project with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, owner of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino chain.The Shinnecock Nation and Morris have been in talks since at least September. Hard Rock International said in a statement that it will have no role in the Southampton project.Read moreShinnecock Indian Nation protests project near Montauk HighwayShinnecock leaders sign development deal with Hard Rock Hotel & CasinoShinnecock Indians protest development at unmarked graves and allege Southampton inaction
Message* Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Share via Shortlink (iStock/Photo Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)Imagine you wanted to stop denser housing. What would be your strategy?You would spread word that new housing would be unaffordable to locals and cause their own rents to rise. You would demonstrate, demonize developers and run candidates on a Real Estate is Evil platform.And you would back up your argument with a study — manipulated if necessary.No anti-development playbook is complete without a study. Nothing turns anecdotes into facts, and predictions into certainties, quite like scientific-looking analysis does.What if the evidence contradicts your claims? Worry not. You can finesse data to say just about anything. The expression “lies, damn lies, and statistics” doesn’t come from nothing.ADVERTISEMENTAnti-development activists in New York City have played this game well. City planners, not so much.Case in point: the 2005 rezoning of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Some of the apartment buildings it yielded had income-restricted units, but many did not, because the Bloomberg administration and City Council incentivized, rather than mandated, affordability.Read moreWhen NIMBYs attack: Why regional planning doesn’t flyWhere de Blasio went wrong on property tax reformWhy Ron Kim blames real estate for poverty Full Name* The northern Brooklyn rezoning has since been weaponized by opponents of market-rate housing. Key to this effort is the nonprofit group Churches United for Fair Housing, which blames the zoning change for driving Latino residents out of the area. Needing a study to underpin their claim, it conjured one up.The big takeaway of the analysis, released in 2019, was that over 15 years the rezoned area added more than 20,000 people yet lost 15,000 Latinos.The study had two major flaws that were either unnoticed or deliberately ignored by advocates, politicians and many reporters.Most obviously, it counted population changes beginning in 2000, five years before the rezoning passed the City Council, and part of South Williamsburg that was not rezoned.Second, it omitted that the area’s Hispanic population had been falling since 1990.In a nutshell, it cherry-picked data to blame the rezoning for a trend that had been happening for 15 years.Even folks who don’t know the first rule of statistics — correlation is not causation — should have figured that out.City planners certainly did. They put out their own study, which pointed out that the Hispanic population decline slowed down after the rezoning. That is, the residents who Churches United said were pushed out by the rezoning were actually more likely to stay after it passed.Could it be that the thousands of new apartments gave all the newcomers flocking to Williamsburg somewhere to go besides existing housing, so they were less likely to displace Latinos?A smaller potential factor is that some residents took note of the gentrification and became more inclined to stay — even if many disliked the Starbucks, trendy bars and other changes that came with the hipsters and the yuppies.Some observers offer that hypothesis to explain research showing that low-income children in gentrifying areas of New York City from 2009 to 2015 were more likely to stay in their neighborhood than low-income children in non-gentrifying areas. In both cases, poor children changed addresses a lot, but they were less likely to leave areas where property values and incomes were rising.City Planning buries the ledeThe Department of City Planning’s view is that if new housing is not built in gentrifying areas, newcomers will outbid locals for existing housing.As noted above, the agency’s own study debunked Churches United’s. But City Planning buried the key findings on page 24 of a 57-page, generically titled report and made little attempt to promote them. Another agency report, innocuously named “The Geography of Jobs,” tucked a key statistic about low housing growth hurting affordability into page 27. No rallies, no op-eds, no media blitz, no political campaigns. After all, it’s an agency of planners, not publicists.Mayor Bill de Blasio knew the facts and had a platform to amplify them, but instead focused his media appearances on more politically beneficial topics such as providing legal assistance to fight evictions. In that void, Churches United’s fiction has become fact in the minds of advocates and local elected officials.At a hearing last month, City Council members confidently cited the study to undermine the testimony of administration officials, who corrected the politicians timidly and politely — and were dismissed as naive wonks. It was a crucial lost opportunity.Churches United stands by its study and criticizes that of City Planning officials.“By not looking at earlier time frames, they ignore the speculative behavior that often occurs before rezonings and often drives low-income residents out before zoning changes are implemented,” said Maxwell Cabello, the group’s senior land use and policy analyst. “Our report was intentional about addressing these qualitative and well-known aspects of developer-driven rezonings while also working within the limitations of what data is publicly available.”But it’s impossible to know what, if any, “speculative behavior” was caused by a potential rezoning years in the future. The Bloomberg administration did not even exist until 2002. Countless other factors cause population changes. There was a recession in the early 2000s, for example, and the rent-stabilization law incentivized landlords to replace tenants; it no longer does.I think Churches United means well. While NIMBYists oppose development for selfish reasons, Churches United tries to help the disadvantaged. It just mistakenly blames upzoning for making the city more expensive, when in reality it does the opposite.Brooklyn boomIn New York City, gentrification typically means an area gets whiter. I saw it happening before it showed up in the Census data. Well into the 2000s, whenever Brooklyn-bound subways opened their doors at my stop, Grand Army Plaza in Park Slope, virtually every white rider would exit. A decade later, about half would stay aboard, bound for Prospect Heights and Crown Heights.Fort Greene gentrified too. For decades I have biked past its stately brownstones and sweeping shade trees to play tennis in Fort Greene Park. In the 1980s and 1990s, white folks were few and far between. Now they are everywhere. Many have British or French accents. They moved into Bedford-Stuyvesant too, a once unimaginable trend.There was no big upzoning, no building boom, in these historically Black neighborhoods. But critics of rezoning did not blame the lack of housing construction for the displacement of minorities. That would have contradicted their narrative.Similarly, little housing was added to white neighborhoods such as Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, which — given the law of supply and demand — became increasingly unaffordable to young New Yorkers.One analysis found that from 2010 to 2018 the city added only 19 dwellings for every 100 new jobs. As employment boomed and housing didn’t, white people pushed out into minority neighborhoods, where rents were half as much and crime had fallen precipitously.The de Blasio administration is now making an overdue push to allow more housing in heavily white Soho and Gowanus. The City Council and advocates for the working class support these efforts because more low-income New Yorkers will be able to move into these so-called high-opportunity neighborhoods. The research — the honest research, that is — predicts the newcomers’ children will reap lifelong benefits.Calls are growing to upzone other wealthy areas. By law, that would require affordable housing in new developments. Local opposition motivated by NIMBYism, racism or plain old self-interest make these fights difficult, but they are worth pursuing.Proponents of adding housing in rich districts can cite data to show why. But they cannot turn around and tout pseudoscience when it suits their political agenda or preconceived notions. Not only does that undermine their credibility, it hurts their constituents.Think about it. As New York recovers, people will continue pushing out to where housing costs less. Absent new zoning and new development, they will bump others from existing homes. This has happened before. If we ignore that history, we will be condemned to repeat it.Contact Erik Engquist Tags DevelopmentHousingPoliticsRezonings Email Address*
The patterns of growth and seasonal changes in body weight and fat reserves of three herds of introduced reindeer on the sub‐Antarctic island of South Georgia were investigated. Two of the herds, derived from the same stock, were at different densities but the higher density herd was on the better range. In this herd there was a significant growth advantage to the male reindeer, but not to females. The third herd, of a different stock, was also at a lower density on a range which had become overgrazed. The two lower‐density herds showed the same annual changes in body weight and only slight differences in the fluctuation of their fat reserves. In addition, body weights in both these herds fluctuated to the same degree as those of a barren‐ground caribou in the Northern Hemisphere but fluctuations in the fat reserves of South Georgia reindeer were considerably more severe. The results suggest that the South Georgia reindeer herds are limited by forage availability.
1. Canonical correspondence analysis of a diatom and water chemistry dataset from fifty-nine maritime Antarctic lakes situated on Signy and Livingston Islands showed that nutrients and functions of nutrients (NH4+, chlorophyll a) accounted for a significant fraction of the variance in the diatom data. 2. Weighted averaging regression was used to construct a diatom-based transfer function for inferring chlorophyll a concentrations from sediment core diatom assemblages. 3. The transfer function was applied to 210Pb-dated sediment cores from three lakes (Moss, Sombre and Heywood) receiving different levels of nutrient input from fur seal populations, i.e. low, medium and high, respectively. 4. Moss Lake showed relatively stable reconstructed chlorophyll a values, and no evidence of recent eutrophication, agreeing with measured chlorophyll a concentrations at the site. 5. Changes in diatom assemblages and results of chlorophyll a reconstructions at Sombre Lake suggested that nutrient enrichment had occurred, which could be clearly linked to fluctuations in the measured water chemistry over the last 10–14 years. 6. Despite recorded increases in recent nutrient inputs there was no apparent diatom response at Heywood Lake.
Commercial sealing in the 18th and 19th centuries had a major impact on the Antarctic and subantarctic fur seal populations (Arctocephalus gazella and A. tropicalis) in the Southern Ocean. The intensive and unrestricted nature of the industry ensured substantial reductions in population sizes and resulted in both species becoming locally extinct at some sites. However, both species are continuing to recover, through the recolonization of islands across their former range and increasing population size. This study investigated the extent and pattern of genetic variation in each species to examine the hypothesis that higher levels of historic sealing in A. gazella have resulted in a greater loss of genetic variability and population structure compared with A. tropicalis. A 316-bp section of the mitochondrial control region was sequenced and revealed nucleotide diversities of 3.2% and 4.8% for A. gazella and A. tropicalis, respectively. There was no geographical distribution of lineages observed within either species, although the respective ΦST values of 0.074 and 0.19 were significantly greater than zero. These data indicate low levels of population structure in A. gazella and relatively high levels in A. tropicalis. Additional samples screened with restriction endonucleases were incorporated, and the distribution of restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and sequence haplotypes were examined to identify the main source populations of newly recolonized islands. For A. tropicalis, the data suggest that Macquarie Island and Iles Crozet were probably recolonized by females from Marion Island, and to a lesser extent Ile Amsterdam. Although there was less population structure within A. gazella, there were two geographical regions identified: a western region containing the populations of South Georgia and Bouvetøya, which were the probable sources for populations at Marion, the South Shetland and Heard Islands; and an eastern region containing the panmictic populations of Iles Kerguelen and Macquarie Island. The latter region may be a result of a pronounced founder effect, or represent a remnant population that survived sealing at Iles Kerguelen.
A series of 10 samples from sediment in and adjacent to a shallow coastal iceberg scour at Signy Island, Antarctica, were taken by hand coring from 17 December 1993 until 23 August 1994. Scouring by the iceberg led to more than a 95% decrease in meiofaunal abundance and to a certain degree of reduction in diversity. Nematodes were always the most dominant group of meiofauna. The return of major meiofauna groups to control levels was accomplished in 30 days, although a decrease in abundance on the 50th day made interpretation difficult. The pioneering meiofaunal colonisers were copepods and ostracods, followed by nematodes. Microlaimus sp.1 was dominant among the nematodes throughout the whole period. Epistratum feeders and non-selective deposit feeders were highly dominant over selective deposit feeders and predators/omnivores. The Maturity Index, a measure for stress within nematode communities, was relatively low at all times and in controls, which indicates that r-strategists prevail in this community. In spite of the catastrophic destruction, nematode community structure was not affected by the iceberg impact, and there was no evidence of succession during recovery. This suggests that the nematode community in the shallow subtidal coast at Signy Island is well adapted to ice disturbance.