Once again Lucy Eidam Crocker has jumped into a roiling cauldron, this time with a contract to help the city of Sacramento get public input as it moves forward with plans for a new Kings arena downtown.
"I'm known for facilitating really controversial public meetings, and I love doing it," Eidam Crocker told me. "Most people don't understand why I do it. I'll bring new employees to these public meetings and they think I'm crazy.
"I think it's important that everyone in the room has an opportunity to speak and be heard. A lot of times, the loudest person can try to dominate the meetings, but it's also important that the person that is quiet and thoughtful can speak up."
Over the last 20 years, Eidam Crocker has created websites, forums and literature that educated the public on such hot-button issues as the measure that ended use of "the Claw" to pick up green waste in many neighborhoods, construction of the water intake facility near Old Sacramento whose futuristic dragonfly design was hotly debated, and crisis management after shootings in midtown Sacramento tainted the Second Saturday art walk.
Eidam Crocker recalled receiving flak for the format she devised for a public meeting after the shootings. She positioned officials from parking, public safety and Alcoholic Beverage Control at stations around the room, then had residents speak with the representatives before posting their questions on the wall.
"I knew it was working when I couldn't get anybody to sit down," she said. "I had a person at each station take down questions that were prominently asked."
Then Eidam Crocker had the experts sit in a panel up front, and she peppered them with the questions.
Audience members "heard their question being asked, but they never got to ask them themselves," she said, "and by the end, everybody stood up in a standing ovation."
Eidam Crocker's Sacramento-based firm, Crocker & Crocker, is negotiating on the scope of the work she'll do for public outreach on the arena, but the city will pay $50,000 for initial work on research and strategic planning.
Her livelihood, she said, depends on all materials being absolutely impartial, and once any project goes to the ballot, her firm steps away from the process. Crocker & Crocker, a firm with 12 employees, had billings of $1.1 million in 2012, and Eidam Crocker expects revenue to grow by 10 percent this year.
It's Real Pie, really
Kira O'Donnell sent me an email Monday evening to tell me that she is relaunching The Real Pie Co., news that will surely send a frisson of excitement through the local foodie community.
You'll understand why when you read a Yelp review written several years after O'Donnell closed her shop on F Street. One highlight: "That slice changed my life."
Bring cash if you want one of O'Donnell's pies, as she's not yet set up for credit cards. She explained how and when you can get them starting Friday: "The pies will be available on the 30th at East Sac Mercantile (http://eastsacmercantile.com) from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The pies will then (after the 30th) be available every Thursday and Friday afternoon from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Mercantile is located at 3257 Folsom Boulevard."
O'Donnell closed her F Street shop in 2008, saying the long hours were taking too great a toll on her family life.
Evolving labor market
You've heard of just-in-time production, the strategy that has companies reducing their costs by ensuring that inventory doesn't sit on shelves.
Well, what about a just-in-time workforce?
Peter Van Deventer, the former chief executive of Synapsense, sees a future where U.S. companies employ only those personnel essential to their core business. They will leave tasks such as marketing, sales and technology development to a team they need pay only when they launch a product or explore new markets.
"What ends up happening is that management is ready to go and do something whether it's expanding their marketing activities, expanding their engineering, taking on a new project ," Van Deventer explained, "And they're outsourcing to an outside company that can accommodate what we call surge marketing, surge sales, surge development. When they want to put some effort there, they can just throw some dollars at it and not invest in all the resources of the head count associated with it."
Van Deventer launched a company last month to meet the demands he sees, partnering with marketing guru Dan Francisco and technology developer Jeff Boone. Their company, El Dorado Hills-based Integrity Global Management, offers assistance with sales, marketing and hardware or software development. Van Deventer has moved hundreds of different products computer chips, mini-blinds, housewares, shower curtains to markets around the world, and he will lead the global sales effort.
"You become an integrated partner, and they rely on you for a core part of their business," he said, "and we're already finding that's the case in our initial engagements with the new company."