Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 27, 2010

You’re the inspiration

As I mentioned on Friday, I get quite a few anonymous tips sent to my email box.  Some things are easy to verify and a few key Public Records Requests will do the trick.    Others I sit and wonder what the heck I’m supposed to do with and realize that uncovering if said information were true and finding out if someone would be willing to step forward and verify the information, I would fricken win the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize in Alameda.   Unfortunately, given the nature of the information, it is unsurprising that no one is interested in speaking on record about these issues.   So while some folks tend to believe I throw up every random rumor I hear up in a post, in actuality I’m fairly judicious in what I decide to write about.

This item was easy, but what made it newsworthy — at least for me — is that I find it hilarious.  One of my sources told me that Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant has made a whole bunch of purchases for City Hall decor.   Specifically, motivational posters.   Yeah, you know the kind I’m talking about right?   Photos of some scene in nature with a buzz word below it like “Honor” or “Special Sauce” and some inspirational quotation that is supposed to make you want to work even harder at your job.    Even though what would probably make people want to work harder is being treated like they actually are respected human beings instead of some cheesy poster.

According to my records requests, all departments got a framed version of these deep thoughts.   Thoughts such as this one about Opportunity.  Because you know,

“You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Here’s the funny thing about the poster, if you click on it, it has a photo of a basketball hoop, but the quote is by Wayne Gretzky.   So, wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to have a hockey net?   That’s probably what the folks sitting in an office staring at that photo wonder every damn day.

Or perhaps your taste runs more toward the the nature scene as opposed to sports analogies.  How about this one for “Perseverance” which has a gorgeous photo of the Grand Canyon and a quote that says:

“In the confrontation between the river and the rock, the river always wins…not through strength but by perseverance.”

But by far, the most popular choice to distribute to City Staff because six copies were purchased and framed was one that urged folks to “Believe & Succeed” the quote is:

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’ – Mary Anne Radmacher

You get the picture right?   So there is a great site called Despair, Inc. that mocks motivational posters like the ones City Staff are now saddled with.  The traditional “Opportunity” posters is answered by Despair’s one for “Futility” which responds to the Gretzky quote by saying:

You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, and, statistically speaking, 99% of the shots you do.

The one for “Perseverance” is equally funny:

The courage to ignore the obvious wisdom of turning back.

Personally, if I get around to it, I might purchase this one and donate it as a gift to the City.

So how much did this all cost?

Well, there were two separate purchases made for the posters.  The first was to in the amount of $908.68.   Later a few were returned which credited $209.42 back to the City.   There was another purchase made to in the amount of $271.90.   This brings the total for the posters alone to $971.16.   Additionally there was the requisite framing, because City Hall is not a dorm for folks to stick up posters with bits of gum and scotch tape.   However, this time Alameda Custom Framing was blessed with the “Opportunity” to make some money off motivating City Staff.  The framing alone cost $4276.   Bringing the cost of inspiration to a grand total of $5247.16.

I’m sure you all found this to be well worth the cost and I’m sure City Staff are so much more eager to work with these additions to their offices.



  1. I feel very inspired.

    Comment by John piziali — September 27, 2010 @ 7:54 am

  2. With just a few clicks, the city could’ve saved a lot of $ had they purchased the posters at or any of the other online stores. Perhaps

    The Opportunity poster is 12.99 vs 29.99, which is what the city paid.–b7702/opportunity-posters.htm

    But then, cost has never been an issue for the city — esp when it involves frivolous expenses!

    btw, what is the Aramark invoice for?

    Comment by alameda — September 27, 2010 @ 8:05 am

  3. Is this really accurate…It cost $5000 for all of this? I find this sort of hard to believe. Is there someone at the City who could confirm this officially?

    Comment by Alameda2000 — September 27, 2010 @ 9:39 am

  4. Here’s a poster that a certain attorney may have posted in his office…

    Comment by David Forbes — September 27, 2010 @ 9:46 am

  5. 2: So much for the judicious use of limited city funds.

    Even if buying the posters for motivational purposes IS effective (and I have my doubts), buying them at “full list price” instead of at a 56% discount is a basic, avoidable, and inexcusable error in judgment.

    Imagine what we could have done with a branding survey that had been 56% less expensive for the same superb results! 🙂

    Comment by Jon Spangler — September 27, 2010 @ 9:50 am

  6. Alameda 2000: I linked to the invoices that were paid for the posters and framing above.

    And regular Alameda: I have to reconfirm what the Aramark one is for again.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 27, 2010 @ 10:04 am

  7. Inspirational posters? What a waste. Some of the described scenes and “inspiring” tag lines remind me of the old “Deep Thoughts — by Jack Handey” comedy videos on Saturday Night Live.

    Comment by Mike K. — September 27, 2010 @ 10:15 am

  8. I was wondering where those came from. As a former picture framer, I’ve seen enough of those posters to last me the rest of my life – but at least they’re supporting a local business.

    Comment by Alex — September 27, 2010 @ 10:18 am

  9. Lauren: I just opened the link. Thank you. I don’t really know what to say. This is unbelievable. I didn’t realize there was all of this extra cash laying around the City..

    Comment by Alameda2000 — September 27, 2010 @ 10:21 am

  10. I’m no financial wiz, but wouldn’t the $27 bill from Aaramark Uniform Services be for, um, uniforms and irrelevant?

    Comment by Neal_J — September 27, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

  11. Isn’t it interesting that the ICM could not find $1,500 to fund advertising for the Sunshine Task Force meeting and forced the community (League) to pay for it but has some $5,000 for motivational posters and framing? I wonder what else she has found money for?

    Comment by Kate Quick — September 27, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

  12. Oh, yeah, I forgot about the some $100,000 she found to pay an outside attorney to persecute Lena Tam fruitlessly. Plus whatever her time, the City Attorney’s time, the information technology department’s time and software purchases, as well as a couple of month’s of the County DA’s office time (still taxpayer money). Of course all of that is “secret” still. I think there may be some erosion in her “creds” as a big money saver.

    Comment by Kate Quick — September 27, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

  13. My favorite from is “Government: If you think the problems we create are bad, just wait until you see our solutions.”

    Comment by Vote Kahn! — September 27, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

  14. Can’t afford a disk drive for the email system, but can afford posters. Priorities seem a little backwards to me.

    Comment by Tom Schweich — September 27, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

  15. #11: She also purchased area rugs with the City’s logo. I don’t know how many or for how much (Lauren?), but I saw them at City Hall and the APD.

    Comment by Richard Hausman — September 27, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

  16. Reuters puts Gilmore and Dehaan neck and neck for mayor. I think Mattarrese is in trouble.

    People don’t really see him as a leader. I have to agree.

    Comment by Jimbo — September 27, 2010 @ 8:29 pm

  17. I have worked in places with these thinly-disguised
    worker oppression pieces and always hated their superficiality and uninspired non-content.

    If I were a city employee I would want to have the freedom to post something on the wall – or not – that I had chosen to inspire me.

    Some of my own choices might be:

    * An Ansel Adams Sierra Club poster with Yosemite or the Grand Tetons,
    * An inspirational bike racing photo,
    * Something gritty about justice or democracy that made sense to me as a core value,
    * Something scriptural that reminded me of ultimate values, or
    * A nice art poster or framed art photograph.

    Any or all of the above would contribute far more to my productivity than someone else’s idea of “motivational” pablum….

    Comment by Jon Spangler — September 27, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

  18. 16. Wow … didn’t realize Alameda warranted a poll by Reuters 🙂 But it is good to see Gilmore ahead (albeit marginally for now) … hope she gathers more support in the weeks ahead.

    Thrilled to see Frank not make the cut. I hope we see the last of the Johnson/deHaan/Frank troika come Nov!

    Comment by alameda — September 27, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

  19. #16: From a sample of 383 people in a city of 70+K? Did you read all the way to the end where it says “This survey was paid for by a private client”?

    This is undoubtedly the outcome of the anti-Matarese robocalls that were going around last week.

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — September 27, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

  20. 19. Geez, you sure are dumb. Ever heard of statistical sampling?

    Comment by alameda — September 27, 2010 @ 10:13 pm

  21. #20 And you sure have purty lips. I like it when you talk mean.

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — September 27, 2010 @ 10:38 pm

  22. 18. Well, before anyone gets too excited about the results of this poll, just remember that Undecided has more than twice as many votes right now as any candidate (42% vs 18% for the highest).

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — September 27, 2010 @ 10:39 pm

  23. Richard H. and Neal_J and alameda: Just to follow up, the Aramark invoice in the amount of $2725 was for the rugs with the City logo. It appears that 10 were ordered but only 5 were delivered at $500 a piece.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 28, 2010 @ 10:36 am

  24. Thanks Lauren! Looks like we have our very own Marie Antoinette aka ICM!

    Comment by alameda — September 28, 2010 @ 11:26 am

  25. Way to go Adam. What a class act.

    We do need you to represent our city!

    Comment by Dave L. — September 28, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

  26. The ICM has got to go! Who on the Council has the cojones to make it happen? How arrogant!

    Comment by Not. A. Alamedan — October 2, 2010 @ 11:48 pm

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