Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The 411 on 311 ($1.99 at 7-11)

[Yesterday's post was deleted by a State Senate clerical error. ]

I'm of mixed mind on the new City-wide 311 information system.

In its technologically advanced format, Ravenstahl's Response Line allows city residents to register non-emergency concerns, ask questions or make comments by dialing 311. Operators will log the concerns, assign them a number for future follow-up and forward them to the appropriate departments for action.

Two years ago, at the height of the city's financial crisis, former mayor Tom Murphy closed the former service center to save money. The late Mayor Bob O'Connor started the process to reopen a service center, and Mr. Ravenstahl continued the project when he took office Sept. 1 after Mr. O'Connor's death.

Mr. Ravenstahl said he isn't concerned that the system will be overwhelmed with calls about unfilled potholes and unpaved streets. He said he wants to know about all of those situations so the city can deal with them in a timely fashion, regardless of the city's tenuous finances.

OK, so on one hand the new 311 system will reduce the calls that I receive from people in the City (and parts of the County) that think I do everything. On the other hand, however, I will now be inundated with calls directed to me by a phone system that thinks that I do everything.

So, of course, I'm concerned, ever if Hizzoner is not.

Now, there's going to be a big difference, of course, between "taking appropriate action" and "solving the problem"... but I doubt that the general public understands that nuance and there's always going to be some level of bureaucratic leakage in getting anything done. We have TPS reports to fill out.

There's also that whole thing about redistributing limited resources across an increasing number of problems. At least when we didn't know about the problems, we didn't have to solve the problems. Now we have to solve the existing problems and the new problems.

But that's just my gripe as a bureaucrat; my gripe as a citizens is that people like me are going to be trying to solve my complaints.

That's scary.


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