Hustle Truck

Having given some 270 people short term work and graduated 26 on to full-time employment in some 4 months, the Hustle Truck program has now been suspended.  If you asked those 270 people given work or those 26 now fully employed, would they tell you it was a success or a failure?

The Hustle Truck proved at least one thing, that people on the streets aren’t lazy and there are many who are ready and willing to work if the opportunity is provided to them.  It’s goal being to achieve just that by allowing individuals from many different backgrounds, whether poor, down on their luck, living on the streets, trying to make extra cash or even trying to break an addiction, to find work.  The Hustle Truck is the opportunity for the individual to help themselves.

It is unfortunate the the scheme has now been suspended due to a row over pay.  Does this indicate that today’s Bermuda has become so expensive that just about everyone is having a hard time surviving, even those who are desperate for any kind of work?

Senator Gina Spence-Farmer described the Hustle Truck as a good idea, but questioned it’s level of planning.

“[Minister Burch] did not have a realistic plan in place to manage the people they were putting to work. You can’t just take people off the street and expect them to do spot work around the Island without proper supervision and support.”

How does one go about planning such an endeavor having never undertaken it before?  How do you deal with workers of varying backgrounds who are just desperate for a chance to work?   Could the process of trial and error have worked considering the program’s track record up until now?  Did those 26 now working full time lack supervision and support or is this a case of a few bad apples ruining it for the bunch?  Is this kind of scenario only limited to hustling?

Sen. Spence-Farmer is quick to suggest that the program did not get the commitment and resources needed to succeed, but is that truly the case?  What were the management conditions of the workers?  What resources were provided?  How could things have been done better?  What would Sen. Spence-Farmer have done differently?  How would she improve things if she were in Minister Burch’s shoes?

Unfortunately, these questions remain unanswered.  For those 26 however, no doubt they’re simply happy they’ve found work.

Comments

comments

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by . Bookmark the permalink.

11 thoughts on “Hustle Truck

  1. I don’t expect people to comprehend the real problem which most employers face in their day to day running of their business. Which is there is not enough employable Bermudians that want to work a full time job on a fixed 40 hour work week.
    In my business and I’m sure the rest of the hospitality business we are always short staffed year round. Even now with students back it is impossible to meet the employment demands of high season which unfortantly is often reflected by less than stellar service.This has resulted in an influx of foreign workers across the workforce into catorgories off limits before like bartending.
    I believe we our spoiled by our countries success and in the case of our youth our parents. This has resulted in a less than desirable work force and the social problems that our a cancer on our society.
    I will give any young person a chance to work at my establishment with an opportunity to advance and yes I’m sure I would even hire a few people off the Hustle Truck. My advice to the displaced workers of this wonderful island is clean yourself up at least for a job interview and hit the pavement you’ll have a full time job by lunchtime.

  2. All due respect Dennis, but I don’t think you are being completely fair to Ms. Spence-Farmer.
    She’s in the opposition, not the government. I agree solutions are preferable to criticism, but in order to propose them you have to have access to information on how the Hussle Truck, or any other government program, is functioning. I sincerely doubt she has that access.
    Even assuming she does, the way I look at it is as if the voter is the owner of a company, the government is management, and the opposition is an employee. If management is incompetent and the employee wants management’s job they need to demonstrate that they would do a good job, but to simply hand over their ideas and hope their boss doesn’t take credit for them in front of the owner (voter)would just be dumb.
    I supported the Hussle Truck idea and still do, but Government needs to seriously think about how to manage it effectively. If you are dealing with street people who may have alcohol or drug addictions and you send them into the community you are incurring some significant risks in terms of theft, assault, vandalism, etc.
    When you consider the fantastic state of Bermuda’s economy it also highlights that these individuals likely have other issues which keep them from holding down a job and which may accentuate the risks listed above. I mean, there is no shortage of work at 4 star or Mr. Chicken and while it’s not glamourous it’s steady work that requires no skills and pays decently.
    When a program like this isn’t managed properly its not a question of if, but when something like this was going to happen. Government is actually lucky this type of thing happened at their offices rather than in the community.
    It would be more appropriate to pose your questions to Col. Burch and Michael Scott who put the program together in the hopes of a constructive dialogue to improve this program. It would also be more appropriate to hold government accountable for any problems with their programs, and unless they consult are consulted, not to blame the opposition for doing government’s work for it.
    All that said, before anyone qualifies to be on the Hussle Truck in the future I would require them to test negative for drugs and alcohol each week. Strike one free counseling, strike two suspension for a period of time, strike three a ban. I would have each register with the government so we know they aren’t wanted by the police or are illegal immigrants–nothing onerous, but enough to know who you are sending out into the community and that they are not a danger to others. Once a month I’d have a paid free day for those with good attendance on the truck to teach them life skills such as how to interview for a job, how to access remedial learning resources, etc.

  3. “to simply hand over their ideas and hope their boss doesn’t take credit for them in front of the owner (voter)would just be dumb.”
    So what you’re telling me is that if I want my boss’s job I should do a piss poor job of my own, point out every flaw in his efforts and wait till he flubs it rather than achieving stellar reviews with the customer by doing my own job as best I can (voters are both customers and owners)? So instead of me getting great reviews and promoted over my boss we both get terrible reviews and more and more customers decide they don’t want to offer their patronage here anymore.
    “All that said, before anyone qualifies…”
    That sounds an aweful lot like a proposed plan of how you would do things in Sen. Burch’s place.
    This inherently contradicts your earlier statement of “in order to propose [solutions] you have to have access to information on how the Hussle Truck, or any other government program, is functioning”. You’ve made it pretty clear that you don’t.
    The Hustle Truck isn’t exactly prime policy strategy, it’s simply an attempt to give wayward Bermudians jobs. How would the UBP really be jeaprodizing their campaign by offering their ideas on this one?

  4. When attempting to consider Ken’s suggestion of objectivity I’ve noted that there may be one line that is a culprit that throws things off.
    “Sen. Spence-Farmer is quick to suggest that the program did not get the commitment and resources needed to succeed, but is that truly the case?”
    Likely, to have truly written objectively it may have been better to phrase it:
    “Sen. Spence-Farmer suggests that the program did not get the commitment and resources needed to succeed. Is that the case?”
    I suspect lines such as “quick to suggest” and “but is that truly” were leading people towards my position rather than offering an objective view of the facts and not opinion.
    Am I correct?

  5. So what you’re telling me is that if I want my boss’s job I should do a piss poor job of my own, point out every flaw in his efforts and wait till he flubs it rather than achieving stellar reviews with the customer by doing my own job as best I can (voters are both customers and owners)?
    Nope. You have to do the best job you can within your realm of responsibility and show potential to exceed it. The key point is that the opposition has been given different responsibilities from government when they were “hired” at the last election. Much of the oppositions responsibilities are focused on being critical of government.
    I think you and I disagree over the definition of an opposition’s “job”. I don’t think it is broad enough to include preventing the government from its own poor performance or lack of planning.
    I think it stops after they have identified where government may have a problem and have suggested that government think things through a bit more. Ideally this should happen both before and after problems occur. All of this relates to criticism and is legitimate. It also seems to be exactly what Ms. Spence-Farmer did.
    Its up to government to actually plan and implement its own strategies which includes taking into account the opposition’s criticism which has put them on notice, even if broadly, of areas where their plans may need more work.
    I’m not understanding your focus, you seem to be more mad at the opposition for not putting together a thorough hussle truck program than you are at government for not putting together a thorough hussle truck program.
    That seems like the equivalent of me getting mad at you for not fixing the bermuda laws website because you posted information about it going offline, or, a teacher getting mad at Student #2 because they didn’t let Student #1 copy their homework and #1 failed as a result.
    I could understand it more if Ms. Spence-Farmer was critical of the entire idea, but she wasn’t. She said she thought it was a good idea, but needed more thought in how it was implemented (broad). She even suggested more supervision of the people while they were out in the community (specific).
    No offence, but your position seems to lack any desire to hold government accountable or responsible for its actions. If the opposition is supposed to work out all the government’s plans for it, what exactly is the government supposed to do?
    That sounds an aweful lot like a proposed plan of how you would do things in Sen. Burch’s place.
    Yep. That’s how I intended it.
    This inherently contradicts your earlier statement of “in order to propose [solutions] you have to have access to information on how the Hussle Truck, or any other government program, is functioning”. You’ve made it pretty clear that you don’t.
    Nope. Those are several, very rough, common sense ideas. For all I know they are already implemented by government and have been since the beginning. Plus, if I really wanted to I could come up with a list of reasons why they would either be too burdensome to implement or would grossly impair the effectiveness of the program I could.
    I’m not a politician though, i’m blogging, so I offer my ideas freely and with less development and research than I otherwise might on either a more complex issue or one where I was speaking as a public person– both situations where I would never speculate.
    The devil is always in the details, especially for the majority of government programs which are a wee bit more complex than a group of guys going up the country in the back of a W&E truck.
    Without the facts you’re forced to give broad criticisms. I’m would hope that as a member of the opposition, Ms. Spence-Farmer has been provided with more facts than I got from reading the various articles about the Hussle Truck, but I think it would be naive to assume that this government is seriously going to fling open the closed doors and invite the UPB in to sit on a beanbag chair, give them all the details of their proposals, ask for their input, take it seriously, and maybe sing kumbayah afterwards. Unfortunately, there’s too much animosity and party politics for that. Human nature mate, can’t beat it.

  6. “I think you and I disagree over the definition of an opposition’s ‘job’. ”
    Noted.
    “The devil is always in the details”
    “[Ms. Spence-Farmer] said she thought it was a good idea, but needed more thought in how it was implemented (broad). She even suggested more supervision of the people while they were out in the community (specific).
    From what I gathered with regards to the further details (http://www.bermudasun.bm/main.asp?SectionID=24&SubSectionID=270&ArticleID=34715) that were released on the issue, the workers were rowdy when collecting paycheques (for the first time) at the BHC office in town, not out on a worksite.
    This hardly supports the “specific” criticism of needing “more supervision of the people while they were out in the community” because clearly the issue happened when they were not out in the community.
    The details provided hardly supports the case Senator Spence-Farmer was making with regards to poor management and thus I stand behind my criticism of Senator Spence-Farmer’s criticism.

  7. Fair enough, but I think it is a fairly weak argument to say that because the hussle truck guys got out of line in a government building there isn’t a risk of it happening in the community. We’ll just have to agree to disagree amigo.

  8. Out of line?
    Some foul language and the firing off of a fire extinguisher is hardly signs of a great deal of risk.
    If they’d done things to a more extreme extend I’d agree with you, but at the level things occured, I agree we’ll have to disagree.

  9. It was more than that D. The reports I read said that they smashed picture frames and broke some furniature. At some point I’m sure they were restrained, but if out in the community where the response time of the police is sure to be lower who knows how out of hand it might have gotten. But I digress…
    I read this in today’s gazette–“In an attempt to prevent any repeats of the BHC incident, the Hustle Truck team has also been boosted by the appointment of Shane Watson as an alcohol and drugs counsellor.”
    So apparently they didn’t have a drug counsellor before–surely we can agree that this was poor planning on their part and that it’s a good remeial measure?

  10. “The reports I read said that they smashed picture frames and broke some furniature. At some point I’m sure they were restrained”
    I certainly havn’t read anything even remotely similar to that and if I had, I would be more inclined to agree with your position. I’d be very interested if you could provide any sources with regards to further details.
    “So apparently they didn’t have a drug counsellor before–surely we can agree that this was poor planning on their part and that it’s a good remeial measure?”
    I’m not so sure I agree with you here. There are some initatives that are cut and try and others that arn’t so clear.
    For the cut and dry ones, the planning is obvious as others have undertaken similar and you can use their lessons learned and examples as a means to know what to implement and what not to implement.
    With regards to the Hustle Truck, I’m not familiar with a situation where similar has been undertaken. It’s easy to look back in hindsight and suggest that certain things should have been planned for, but obviously some lessons will be learned along the way. (now, I would recognize a fault with regards to planning if there are other similar products undertaken elsewhere that the gov failed to research as a guideline to how to conduct this one).
    Ask yourself, if you were planning this style of project from the beginning, how would you approach it?
    Let’s take the drugs issue. You don’t know how many will turn up who may have drugs problems as well as to what extent.
    If you then decide you’re going to quiz everyone prior to working you add beurocracy which may be a deterrant and people may simply lie.
    So then perhaps you decide that you’re going to drug test everyone before they can work. Again, beurocracy and a deterrant. Suddenly people who would really like the opportunity to fight their addiction are turning away because of the fear that they could be arrested and put in jail because really they’re guilty of undertaking an illegal activity.
    You’re not solving problems if these people are turned away as they may well turn to crime to feed their addiction if they cannot find work. Yes they may need counselling but there are resources available in this regards. One core problem we have is that we treat addicts like criminals rather than victims and as such, addicts are more likely to run from help when they really need it.
    Does everyone who will turn up to the hustle truck have an alcohol or drugs problem? At what point do you deem in necessary to add an alcohol and drugs counselor? How do you know that it itself won’t be a deterant to the people you hope to help?
    Largely the problem I see with this is that there are a great many variables and that this kind of initiative isn’t as cut and dry as some people make it out to be.
    Because of that, I don’t heavily fault the government for a trial and error approach and I think they’ve done the right thing in pausing things when difficulties arose in order to revise and implement new changes.
    Largely you cannot predict every scenario that is going to happen. These individuals that are being dealt with are all varied and very unpredictable.
    Ultimately I’d rather see the initative proceed as it has than see it scrapped simply because it couldn’t be planned ahead well enough.
    However, as I said earlier. Where I would fault government would be if there were clear cut examples of similar initatives undertaken elsewhere that the gov failed to research in order to get ideas and guidelines as to how to proceed. Should Sen. Spence-Farmer or another opposition member do the legwork to discover such examples then I would stand behind their criticism as clearly in such a case the gov would be proven to have not been prudent in their planning.

  11. I chatted to a guy the other day who worked the hustle truck. He said they pulled the plug because some of the guys were stealing from job sites, drinking, smoking dope, etc. There’s a reason why these people are on the street – drug issues, untreated mental illness, etc. The real problem is that there will always be a segment of society that will be unable to care for themselves. There is no benefit to throwing them on the back of a truck and dropping them off at a job site without addressind the issues that left them jobless in the first place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *