Friday, August 08, 2008

is the mayor's honeymoon over?

something significant happened in today's indy star: matt tully wrote a column critical of mayor ballard. that's right: matt tully, who's told us more than once that he thinks the mayor's plan to "build a chinatown" on the south side is a good idea, has stopped writing love sonnets to the mayor and begun looking critically at his performance.

the column is about ballard's neglect of the mayor's action center, the main hotline by which citizens report things like potholes, poor trash pickup, and nonfunctioning crossing-walk signals (one of tully's pet peeves). under mayor ballard, callers to the hotline now have to wait 10-15 minutes or more, which tully finds unacceptable, considering the line is only open until 5:30pm monday through friday:

Not to be Mr. Obvious, but here's one way to improve service to your customers: ANSWER THEIR PHONE CALLS!

Taylor said the MAC has 10 workers who answer phones and do other clerical work. She said 15 would be ideal.

But instead of adding staff, the mayor hit the center with a 5 percent budget cut this year. And, Taylor said, he won't include funding for new operators in his 2009 budget.

It should be noted that these jobs pay about $22,000 a year. This isn't where a city with a $1.1 billion budget should skimp.

By not funding the MAC as well as it should, the mayor's office is making it hard for citizens to report the kind of basic problems that trash up a city.

Such as trash.

Of course, you can file a report at But when you do, the report is printed off of one computer system and given to a MAC operator, who then must enter it into another system -- instead of answering phone calls.

This is nonsense.

The mayor needs to take his so-called action center seriously. He's the one who vowed to do a better job than his predecessor of listening to the people. It's awfully hard to listen to the people when you're not answering their phone calls.

apparently to mayor ballard, the MAC is just another example of "fluff" for him to purge from the budget. answering phone calls? what a waste of money!

here's hoping that tully continues to watch mayor ballard with a critical eye. someone needs to.

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