I have never been one to carp about the slowness or inefficiency of local government. Generally, I’m pretty satisfied with how my tax money gets spent. Sure, like everyone, I feel more dollars could be spent on certain problems, but well…I’m not in charge.
A problem with my street this year made me wish that I did have some control over how City dollars are spent. Early in February, a small sink hole developed on our street in Central City Toledo. At this point, several neighbors began calling the City of Toledo Division of Streets, Bridges, and Harbors. Each got the same story: “We’ll look into the problem.”
This same dance continued over the next six months. No one came out to do anything about the slowly growing hole in the street after placing the orange barrels. The hole kept growing and the neighbors kept calling. Finally, at the end of July, while watching WTOL, my mother had an epiphany. Why not get Mika Highsmith involved.
Of course, not being very internet savvy, she drafted me to craft an email to Ms. Highsmith and WTOL’s Problem Solver program. I took a tour of the WTOL website and found Ms. Highsmith’s email. I wrote what I considered a clever message and even included photos on July 29, 2009.
On August 8, 2009, after I did not receive a response from the email, I decided to search WTOL’s website for a form for the Problem Solver program. After some searching (they need to work on that), I found the appropriate form and zipped off my information.
Here’s what happened!
Two days after submitting the form, Mika Highsmith called to see if she could come to the house and film a segment for the news at noon. Ms. Highsmith worked her magic and on Thursday a crew contracted by the City of Toledo came out and filled the hole.
While the street work is not complete, drivers are not playing Russian roulette driving on the wrong side of the street and risking head-on collisions because they aren’t sure which side is safest.
My question is why couldn’t this process work without the intervention of the local press? The sink hole was an obvious hazard. Why did getting it fixed require the involvement of a local news station? Why isn’t there a process for getting small problems solved in the city more efficiently? If someone has an answer, I’d love to hear it!