Friday, August 08, 2008

Tully Hits Mayor's Action Center, Again

Star political columnist Matt Tully has taken great interest in Mayor Greg Ballard's Action Center since he took office in January. He pens another column today complaining about the hold time callers to the MAC must wait before getting a live operator. I feel compelled to share an unsolicited story from a neighbor who has had many issues with his landlord, including unsafe conditions. He tells me the Mayor's Action Center could not have been more helpful to him this past week when he took his complaints there. As for the wait time for calls to be answered, as someone who calls government agencies and insurance companies frequently, it's part of life. Get use to it, Matt.


Sean Shepard said...

Too bad we can't go back in time and have Tully do the same to Peterson's regime. I don't recall them being very responsive.

And when we're talking an age up budget cuts to keep the finances in order, why would anyone be pushing this button?

Bart Lies said...

Let's just shutdown the MAC and go back to having a 1000 small-print numbers in the blue pages of the phonebook.

Paul Hill said...

First of all, get over it. Bart Peterson is not Mayor. Stop blaming everything on him.

Second, Bart's MAC was pretty damn good. Just read Tully's GLOWING review of the MAC under PETERSON from last year.

May 4, 2007

Does Mayor's Action Center take action? I found
May 4, 2007

After years of calling the Mayor's Action Center to report everything from graffiti to
malfunctioning streetlights, I decided a test was in order.
I wanted to get a sense -- however anecdotal -- of how well the MAC serves the citizens of
Marion County. Are complaints lodged by local taxpayers resolved? Or are they ignored?
I wanted to know.
So last month, I reported and catalogued a series of problems I came across during routine
walks and drives. Over four days, I called in three burned-out pedestrian signals, three
potholes, two cases of graffiti and two sets of "We Buy Homes" signs that someone had
illegally nailed to street poles.
I called in problems from both work and home, and filed two complaints through the Mayor's
Action Center Web site.
The test rules were simple: I would report 10 easy-to-fix problems and give the city two
weeks to fix them. My evaluation would be based solely on how many of the problems the
city addressed.
Starting out, I had no preconceived notion of how good or how poor the city's response
would be. Would the action center live up to its promise, or down to the negative nickname
some have given it -- the Mayor's Inaction Center?
Let's find out.
As I said, I initially had no idea how my test would turn out. But it didn't take long to see
results. Just one day after my first calls to the MAC, the city repaired a broken pedestrian
signal at Pennsylvania and New York streets that I had reported. Two days later, another
set of signals by the Statehouse was fixed.
Then a pothole on 14th Street was filled, along with another in front of a big home at 4750
N. Meridian St. (Yes, that's the governor's residence.)
The MAC was performing well. At this point, a few days into my test, I found myself rooting
for the city. "Go 10 for 10!" I thought.
The progress continued.
Two illegal signs nailed into street poles in Broad Ripple were taken down. A pothole near
6600 E. Washington St. was filled.
Then, a day or so before my deadline, the city cleaned a street pole on Pennsylvania Street
that was tagged with graffiti. I drive past the site most days, and by Day 10 of my
experiment I'd begun to doubt the city would address this problem.
But it did.
I actually did a little cheer as I drove by the suddenly clean street pole one morning, excited at how well the Mayor's Action Center was performing.
All told, the MAC, which fields more than 300,000 reports a year and forwards them to
various city agencies, resolved eight of my 10 complaints.
That's good service.
My advice: If you have a problem, from an abandoned car on your street to garbage that
isn't being picked up, contact the Mayor's Action Center. The number is 327-4622. Call it.
Your tax dollars fund it.
One final point. A colleague wondered whether the city knew the test calls were coming
from a newspaper employee -- even though I was never asked for my name -- and if that
had led to special treatment. I'm certain that was not the case.
Here's why: The only two service requests not addressed were a splat of graffiti on a
Northside stop sign and a burned-out pedestrian signal just a few steps behind The
Indianapolis Star's main office.

Bart Lies said...

Maybe the city fell into massive disrepair during Barton's Last Hurrah. Maybe people now figure it's now worth the effort to call now that Barton's gone. Maybe the 'problem' isn't really a problem at all, just a bunch of whiney folks looking for a reason to vent their still-bruised spleens.

Unknown said...

Sorry, AI, but there is no excuse for bad service. In business, you put someone on hold for 14 minutes before talking to them, you lose a customer. I'm not sure why we should be forced to expect crappy customer service because it's government.

Having one phone number to channel all calls through was never a good idea anyway. The times I've used the Mayor's Action Center, they connect me to the wrong person. So I ended up going around in circles.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

I just betcha Mattie feels a shiver go up his leg every time he thinks about Peterson, democrats, and liberals.

Shofar said...

As far as Tully's article praising the Peterson MAC all the problems he touched on were minor to say the least. Burned out pedestrian signs and illegal signage on poles are not what one would consider serious issues. Potholes and graffiti yes.

I can give two personal examples of my dealings with MAC, one under Peterson and the other under Ballard.

Under Peterson my neighborhood suddenly suffered from an infestation of rats. No, I am not blaming Bart for the rats, they came from a neighbor that was stock piling trash in his garage. There were literally dozens of these nasty things running amok in the area, and I called rodent control. They stated that they had to have an order from the MAC to come out and bait the area for Willard. I called the MAC and was told I needed to call the health department. Called the health department, guess what, call the MAC. This went on for over three weeks, and the rats got bolder and more numerous. Finally, I came home one day at lunch and there was a dead rat lying in my driveway. I took two large ziplock bags, double bagged the rat and took it to the CCB. The MAC was still on the first floor and I walked in dropped the bag on the counter and asked when they were going to do something about the problem, as it had been three weeks of trying to get something done. Within a week rodent control was out and the problem was taken care of.

Ballard's turn. At the end of this past winter a large pothole formed on my street. Size? Three feet long by about 18 inches wide and six inches deep. I called the MAC and reported it. I left town for several days on business and when I returned the hole was filled.

With both incidents, the staff did ask for my name and address, contrary to what Tully wrote,

Is Ballard's Mac better than Peterson's? I think it's too early to tell. Ballard has been in office less than a year, and Peterson had eight years to get the city to where it was. Tully needs to stop pontificating about Ballard for a while, and just observe. Better to be quiet and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

garyj said...

Since it's inception there have always been 2 things citizens cannot get from the Mayors Action Center.
1. You cannot get the Mayor.
2. You cannot get action.

Doesn't matter who the Mayor is/was. The MAC has always been a snow-job for the citizens to believe in.

Sean Shepard said...

Of course, testing a staff in their 7th or 8th year of service and then testing the new folks several months in isn't really a fair contest either.

I do know that every police officer I've spoken with in the past several months says that things are much better than they were under the previous administration.

I know the couple of times my wife used the Mayor's action line under Peterson she was not happy. HOWEVER, our Township Liason (Karen Terell) was great and always responsive if contacted directly. She even showed up at some of our HOA meetings and helped us with some projects.

Unknown said...

I use the web to report illegal signs and inops all the time.

It sucked last year and it sucks this year. You can send in a thing about a gas station or liquor store plastered with illegal signs and half the time the city does NOTHING.

Code enforcement in this town is non-existent vs Carmel's.

Jon Easter said...

I've never had a problem with the MAC under either Mayor Peterson or Mayor Ballard. I have called in and used the online function, too.

Bart Lies said...


Then do what I do, I don't bother the MAC office. I take down or remove illegal signs myself, rather than relying on somebody else to do it. My humble contribution to Keeping Indianapolis Beautiful.

One of the problems with adding on government services is it seems to eradicate personal movitations. Why pick up that piece of trash at the curb when, 'the City will get it'?

Some people adopt medians, I have adopted all the street corners of my township.