John Settle.jpg

John came to Shreveport in January of 1977 when he was transferred to Barksdale AFB.

He’s been active in Shreveport politics since deciding to make Shreveport his home.

John practiced law for 40 years and he now monitors local politics. He regularly attends Shreveport City Council and Caddo Parish Commission meetings.

John is published weekly in The Inquisitor, bi-monthly in The Forum News, and frequently in the Shreveport Times.

He enjoys addressing civic groups on local government issues and elections.

 

MPC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR LISTS REASONS WHY OFFICE CLOSED FOR LUNCH

In a two page email to MPC Board members, MPC Executive Director Mark Sweeney listed the reasons that the MPC office has a “Closed For Lunch” office policy. His reasons are as follows:

1. Having a designated hour off for lunch increases productivity. 
2. Having a designated hour for lunch is a “no cost perk ”that MPCemployees prefer.
3. Having an hour off increases an employee’s efficiency. 
4. If the MPC was open between 12-1, and lunch breaks for employees werestaggered, that does not necessarily mean the office will be more efficient. 
5. Its unhealthy not to take a lunch break. 
6. American workers sit too much, and its killing them. 
7. There have been virtually no complaints about the office closed for lunch. 
8. We are not the only deer in the forest!Sweeny’s memo advises that “if it is the will of the majority of the MPC Board members that the MPC office stays open during the lunch hours, as Executive Director I will immediately comply with that request.” (See letter below).

The next meeting of the MPC board is on Wednesday, September 6 at 3 p.m. in the Counsel Chambers at Government Plaza. The Board should have on its agenda a vote on the “Closed for Lunch” policy. Readers are invited to express their opinions to the MPC Board of Directors:
Theron Jackson-Chairman-(318) 636-6172
theron.jackson@shreveportcaddompc.com
Nancy Cooper-Vice Chairman-(318) 205-8809
nancy.cooper@shreveportcaddompc.com
Winzer Andrews-Secretary-(318) 631-8480
winzer.andrews@shreveportcaddompc.com
Alan Young-(318) 686-8181
alan.young@shreveportcaddompc.com
Ronnie Remedies-(318) 603-5315
ronnie.remedies@shreveportcaddompc.com
Bessie Smith-(318) 222-6025
bessie.smith@shreveportcaddompc.com
Dale Colvin-(318) 673-3253
dale.colvin@shreveportcaddompc.com
Lea Desmarteau-(318) 222-0885
lea.desmarteau@shreveportcaddompc.com
Curtis Joseph, Jr.-(318) 221-1600
curtis.joseph@shreveportcaddompc.com

Councilman James Flurry will introduce an ordinance at the next Shreveport City Council meeting (Tuesday, August 8 at 3p.m.) for the City to have an internal planning office, effective January 1, 2018. If it passes, the City would no longer fund the Shreveport-Caddo MPC. Flurry believes an internal office would serve the city at least $400,000 a year, provide for more accountability and improve government efficiency. Flurry is hopeful that there would be a large citizen turnout at the Tuesday meeting to voice support for this ordinance.


Metropolitan Planning Commission
Shreveport | Caddo Parish

To:          MPC Board
From:     Mark W. Sweeney, Executive Director
Date:      July 31, 2017
Re:         WHY THE MPC IS CLOSED FOR LUNCH?

Per the administrative authority delegated to me as MPC Executive Director by way of my approved Employment Agreement I initiated a ‘Closed for Lunch’ office policy starting in January 2015. I utilized the same effective business model I was familiarwith at my previous employer, CAPCOG, — which has provided many benefits for its employees. In order to be more productive in any given day, I felt that all MPC staff needed to move away from their desks during lunchtime. Several recent surveys suggest few office workers actually get out of
the office to eat the way they once did. In fact, a 2012 poll found that 40% of North American
workers regularly eat lunch at their desks and 25% don’t regularly take lunch breaks at all. Here are the main reasons why the MPC is closed for a designated one hour lunch break:

1.    Having a designated hour off for lunch increases productivity. MPC employees work hard and need time to unwind. Studies show that a guaranteed 60-minute lunch break is better at allowing the mind to take a real rest and focus on other things, so that employees are refreshed enough to perform at their best. A 2001 study by the Families and Work Institute found that employees that were not given a designated lunch hour were more likely to experience reduced engagement at work, resulting in poorer performance and a dip in productivity. Further support for this comes from a recent University of Toronto study that found that employees who took a lunch break because their office was closed experienced increased work satisfaction. While the study doesn't directly show that lunch breaks cause more productivity on the job, it does show a link between taking a lunch break and other important outcomes that employers may care about: higher job satisfaction; reduced emotional exhaustion; and greater efforts by employees to undertake work above-and-beyond their job description. Lunch breaks shouldn’t be an option, but a necessity to promote a healthy workforce as well as a productive workplace.

2.    Having a designated hour for lunch is a “ no cost perk”  that MPC employees perfer. Remember that like most organizations we do not pay our employees for their lunch hour. The paid work time is from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. When asked the primary reason that MPC employees prefer having the office closed during lunch there answer was – “it gives them more time to recover from work-related stress”.  Numerous studies show that having a dedicated hour off for lunch shows employees that their employer values their mental health and work/life balance. Because efficiency is not measured in hours, giving employees more time to relax ensures that the hours they are at the office are spent in a more productive environment.

3.    Having a hour off increases an  employee’s  effeciency. Since MPC employees know that the office is closed for lunch, they are more efficient in dealing with applicants and their needs and, as was previously stated above, having a dedicated hour off for lunch shows employees that their employer values their mental health and work/life balance.

4.    If the MPC was open between 12―1, and lunch breaks for employees were staggered, that does not necessarily mean the office will be more efficient. The current policy requires the MPC to place their trust in their employees on how they manage their time with their applicant/ customers, teaching them the important skill of time management. And, because some employee’s duties are very specific to certain applications/tasks, staggering lunches around an employee’s schedule puts the customer at a disadvantage in the long run. Having a set time schedule in which all employees are available to serve the public is actually a more business friendly policy.  Please note that an organization is only as fast as our slowest process. To be successful, we need to target and eliminate  bottlenecks. In general, a

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bottleneck is a process in an operation where the capacity is less than demand placed upon that operation and having a ‘staggered lunch’ will only create more bottlenecks.

5.    It’s  unhealthy not to take a  lunch  break.   Being mindful and present while you eat has
many health benefits. Breaking from work for 60 seconds to chow down your lunch between applicants doesn’t count as a lunch break. Part of the problem is the sheer volume of work expected from employees in today’s economy. To simply keep mounting up demands on their time, many workers who do not have a designated lunch hour have opted to skip the break altogether and carry on getting things done. In many cases, the American work culture reinforces this no-break philosophy, making stepping out for a midday breather seem like an act of professional rebellion or bad customer service.

6.     American  w orkers sit too much,  and  it’s killing  them .  Most American employees spend way too much time sitting down at their desks. The body needs to move. In fact, research supports the fact that sitting for too long is extremely unhealthy. By having the office closed at lunch, most MPC employees actually leave the office, which gets the body moving. This can be in the form of taking a walk, eating lunch away from Government Plaza or getting some quick errands done. Getting active midday not only improves one’s health, but it can also improve one’s mood at work.

7.    There have been virtually no complaints about the office being closed for lunch.  Since this
policy was initiated in January 2015, there have not been only three public complaints regarding the MPC’s office hours, all orchestrated within the last month. The office hours are posted on our website, the front door, and are announced as part of our phone messaging system, which prompts callers to leave a contact number so the staff can call them back in a timely manner. Applicants/customers are encouraged to make an appointment with MPC staff to avoid any scheduling conflicts. Please note that if a meeting with a customer extends into the lunch time hour he or she will always be accommodated regardless how long the meeting takes. Likewise if an applicant requires a lunch time meeting with me or any other staff members they will always be given the courtesy and opportunity to do so.  Also, because this policy has been in place for over 2 ½ years the public has acclimated to this schedule, resulting in very few customers ever showing up at the MPC door during the lunch hour. In other words the inconvenience factor is not an issue as some individuals have recently proclaimed in the media.

8.    We are not the only deer in the forest!  While the City of Shreveport Permits and Revenue
Divisions on the First Floor are not closed for lunch, both do close at 4:00 p.m., which is one
hour before all other offices in Government Plaza close to the public. If access is the greatest
concern of certain Council or Commission members, the MPC has no problem opening its doors at 7:30 a.m. to accommodate its applicants/customers.

In conclusion, if it is the will of the majority of MPC Board members that the MPC office stays
open during the lunch hour, as Executive Director I will immediately comply with that request. 
However, I wanted you to clearly understand that our current policy of being closed from 12:00 Noon – 1:00 pm has worked effectively for both the general public and for MPC staff for over 2
½ years. Please note that the recent complaints did not come from the development community, the average citizen or the majority of the elected officials that we serve on a daily basis. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me accordingly.

MWS

Metropolitan Planning Commission | 505 Travis Street, Suite 440 | Shreveport, LA 71101 | 
318-673-6480 | fax 318-673-6461                                        www.shreveportcaddompc.com                                                                          
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