Brand new year
Back to an Assembly building that's oh-so-quiet and an inbox devoid of action because it's too full. Time to delete. Press releases get the chop first.
"We are ready for a General Election" says one from the Liberal Democrats. "Kirsty Williams and Nick Clegg have put the Welsh Liberal Democrats on alert for a Spring General Election - and declared they will be ready ... Kirsty will be a breath of fresh air, putting forward new and innovative ideas to help Welsh families through the recession."
Still a breath of fresh air? Hang on ... that one's from January 19th 2009.
"Positioning Wales for the upturn" comes next. At last! Is there some good news to share? Ah, no. This one's a press release from the Deputy First Minister sent out in February 2009. The positioning goes on. So, sadly, does the waiting for the upturn.
How about a quick scan of the government's decisions released over the Christmas break? Any good news in those at the beginning of a brand new year? Yes, as it turns out, for some. Or for one. It looks - on the face of it - like a happy new year for one public servant, the Chief Executive of the Sports Council for Wales.
Let me explain.
Back in July the Western Mail carried a piece in its Business Section about a bid from the Sports Council for Wales board for an 11% salary increase for its Chief Executive, Dr Huw Jones. Yes, that's right, 11%. Given the current state of public finances, the long wait for that upturn, not the most sporting, or sensitive of requests you might say, whatever the merits of the request.
It certainly didn't find favour with the then Finance Minister, Andrew Davies. He was described by sources as being "incandescent with rage" at the bid. He could do a pretty good "incandesecent with rage" and on this occasion it was, I gather, an apt reflection of his reaction. In short - dream on.
But that, it turns out, was so 2009.
As the year drew to a close the issue of the SCW Chief Executive's salary came up again. This time, with more briefing and checking of facts, it received a more sympathetic ear. The Minister for Heritage, Alun Ffred Jones - and we must assume the Finance Minister Andrew Davies - sanctioned what's described as "an exceptional increase" to the Chief Executive's salary.
How much is "exceptional"? According to a Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson the Sports Council CEO's salary had fallen out of line with roles of similar responsibility in Wales. So he'll get an increase of 10.4% but "steps have been taken to ensure that the costs of this readjustment can be met from the rebalancing of roles and reductions in the cost of the Sports Council's wider senior structure. The increase in the Chief Executive's pay is 10.4% but to minimise the costs to the public purse associated with the increase, the Chief Executive will not be receiving a performance bonus in the 2009-10 financial year."
Perhaps when the Sports Council first tried to get his salary increased some years ago, we wouldn't have batted an eye-lid. In 2010, unfortunately for Dr Jones, we do.
And then, there's this. Talk about uncomfortable reading.
At its December meeting the Sports Council Board considered two papers, the first spelling out how tough things are for the public sector. "All the indications are that the public sector will face significant cuts to its budgets going forward. Indeed, the Council, being funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, has been informed that short to medium term funding for pay awards will be, at best, scarce."
But wait. There was another paper considered by the Sports Council Board at their December meeting. Now if you have a low threshold for the work of external branding consultants you may want to get out of the box at this point and go and push an envelope somewhere.
If you're still with me, read on an extract from a paper entitled "Brand Positioning".
"Working with brand positioning agency Underground, we were able to map out our current personality, and those personality traits we were striving to achieve as a dynamic, confident sports agency.
"This work was carried out using Carl Gustav Jung's theories. He believed that universal, mythic characters - archetypes- reside within the collective unconscious of people the world over. Archetypal images represent fundamental human desires and evoke deep emotions. Each of the 12 archetypes we work with symbolises a basic human need, aspiration or motivation. In other words, an archetype is a human type in its purest form: the classic hero, outlaw, ruler, etc. Each type has its own set of values, meanings and personality traits.
"Following internal consultation, the 3 dominant personality traits as displayed by the organisation (current and aspirational) are found to be (1) Hero, (2) Sage and (3) Innocent.
"With this in mind, we are proposing to change our brand name to better reflect our personality traits. The name proposed is Sport Wales. "
As Carl Gustav Jung might have said - am I dreaming this?
And as those who've borne the brunt of "a number of compulsory redundancies (at the Sports Council) over the last two years ... always a painful experience" might feel entitled to say - am I hearing this?