Sunday, December 21, 2008

How long does it take for two city councilors and the mayor to answer a simple question about pay as you throw?

Like, forever, it seems ...
I'm on a short vacation right now. But before I left, I read the column offered by City Councilor Keith Nyhan in the Concord Monitor advocating a pay as you throw program on Tuesday: ["Raising recycling rates will save taxpayers money"].

After reading the column, I sent an email to Nyhan, my own ward councilor, Rob Werner, and Mayor Jim Bouley. In it I stated that I would like one question answered before I addressed my concerns about the program to the council directly [I won't be able to attend either hearing on the matter, due to work conflicts].
To start, I was under the impression that there would be a one or two bag exemption in the program but I didn't read about this in Nyhan's column. In other words, residents would only have to pay for the second or third trash bag they used, not every single one. So, I asked, Will there be an exemption or not? Nyhan's piece insinuates that everyone will have to pay for the trash bags, with no exemption at all.
Well, it's been almost a week and none of them have responded to the question or the email.
Now, I'm not surprised Nyhan didn't respond. He is notorious for not responding to emails from residents who are not his constituents, as if corresponding with us is beneath him or he doesn't have to do it. Historically, ward councilors have always responded to everyone in the city, since issues often cross over wards. Certainly his column and this plan crosses over wards. My question deserved a response from him.
Werner usually responds with an offer to talk on the phone but there was nothing for him. As my ward representative, I was owed a response.
Bouley usually just calls. But this time? Nothing, nada, silence ... from all three. It really makes you wonder ...
So, one has to ask: What are they so afraid of? Why can't a simple question be answered via email ... Here's how easy it is: "Yeah Tony, sorry, it should have said two bag exemption ..." "No Tony, the plan doesn't include an exemption ..." Wow, that was easy ... especially when you consider that they are going to start charging everyone for their trash ... something the tax bill has always historically addressed.
Question: Does anyone out there know an answer to the question? Can you let me know before, I don't know, say, Christmas?


Anonymous said...

I believe Councilor Werner lives on the section of Hooksett Turnpike that lost power for several days due to the ice storm. That may be a factor in his lack of response, but I do not know about the others.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes i will pick up the phone and call someone that did not reply to my e-mail. most times they did not recieve the e-mail.

both councilors number is in the phone book plus the city web site.

Tony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony said...

Both good points.

I did receive a call from one city official who responded within an hour or so of the entry being posted after he Googled his name and saw the post. He gave me some pretty good reasons why he was unable to get in touch right away - snow storms, etc. He said he would be happy to talk with me about the proposal at a later date. I've been meaning to post this but I've been a tad busy.

To Anon 11:32: I hate to sound like a crybaby but I don't have a lot of time to be calling people, leaving messages, and hoping for a call back, which often never happens. I know folks, especially elected officials, are busy. But it is my preference to work electronically and then hope that they get in touch when they have time. Admittedly, this puts me at their mercy. But so do phone calls. And phone calls take more time than email so I would be wasting more of my time waiting for them to answer phone calls than email.

In addition, with the exception of at-large Councilor Red Brochu, God rest his soul, I have found city councilors in Concord to be lacking in regards to returning phone calls which is why I don't waste my time calling. It has also been my experience that phone calls don't seem to work when trying to influence elected officials [blog posts and Monitor columns seem to work sometimes though].

Don't get me wrong: I have had some pretty interesting phone conversations over the years with elected officials and I do truly appreciate those who give me the time of day [Mayor Bouley, Councilor Werner, and Councilor Coen have done this in the past]. But trying to influence public policy via meetings and phone calls? That just doesn't seem to work. Most officials seem to have their minds made up no matter how logical opposing ideas might be, unfortunately.

I guess I'm wrong in assuming that email would be easier than bugging councilors with phone calls over silly little questions. But, again, with a young family, 60-plus hour work week, and a long commute to get to work, it is easier for me to work with 21st century technology and just send a short note, hope for the best, and then tickle them a little when they don't respond in a timely manner.

As I stated in the post, answering the question was a simple 10 word reply to the email. I wasn't looking to debate, discuss, bitch, interact about, or whatever, the merits of the proposal. I just wanted a simple question answered so that I could respond to them in an official capacity at a later date. It shouldn't be that hard to just answer the question electronically and be done with it, should it?