But in a recent interview, Grant defended the spending as a part of a broader effort to bring a new sense of purpose to a shabby public agency and remake it as a world-class organization, even if he spends only half of his work week there.Pretty typical with these people. Proper management is really all about projecting an "image."
“This is an old, tired place,” he said. “We want it to be really leaning forward and managed well, top down.”
The Mayor’s Office refused a request to let The New Orleans Advocate photograph the renovated offices.
Grant’s office makeover, detailed in receipts and purchase orders obtained through a public-records request, represents a negligible amount of the S&WB’s nearly $300 million annual budget.
But records show that taxpayers plunked down $10,000 to paint the rooms and another $30,000 for an interactive “white board” and computer monitor that Grant said is a more efficient way to manage infrastructure projects. Furniture and other equipment brought the grand total even higher.
“Yeah, it cost a little money, but I think it was a very wise investment in relation to our ability to manage better and bring ourselves into the modern age in relation to how we need to manage and communicate with people,” Grant said.The water department isn't an "economic development organization." Its job is to maintain critical city infrastructure while trying to deliver service to residents at reasonable value. But all of that is really considered a secondary priority for the leadership elites and their planner-entrepreneur friends they do business with. They're really more about trying to impress one another, network, and make money together.
What’s more, he said, with the agency undertaking a major building program to replace aging pipes and other infrastructure, and New Orleans aiming to become a world leader in water management, the agency needs to look the part of a sophisticated operation. He couldn’t, for instance, host foreign leaders in an office with peeling, yellow wallpaper and a “nasty” vinyl couch, he said.
“What’s the image that we need to put forth?” Grant said. “The image of the organization needed to be one of a professional, public organization.”
Although the S&WB is a government agency, Grant said he plans to manage it more like an economic development organization, meaning it will both look and function in a more progressive way.
Cedric Grant seems like he is especially good at this stuff.