Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Civics Lesson, HoCo Style

This is a happy little stop sign.

It's happy because yesterday road crews from Howard County ame and trimmed away all of the plants growing on it. There's nothing more energizing than a good haircut, eh?

I drive by this sign almost daily, and I've been watching it slowly taken over by vines. Yesterday morning, when I went over to photograph Pete's SnowBalls, I had an idea. I snapped a picture and posted it on Facebook.

I received a response from Candace Dodson Reed in less than a minute, telling me exactly what to do, with follow up from Regina Clay. By the end of the day, it was fixed. I posted the picture because I didn't really know what department was responsible, and because I knew I probably knew someone who would know.

It turns out that I did. And the reponse time was awesome, I must say. But that's not the only lesson I am carrying away from this.  There's more.

Not only did this matter get handled within the day, but I also was given information on how to report things like this directly to hocogov in the future. This says to me, yes, we respond to social media, but you also have the power to "dial direct", as we used to say back in the day. Also, it was very clear to me that I didn't need to be nasty or adversarial to get my request handled promptly. An overgrown stop sign is not the result of some secret conspiracy against my neighborhood, and hocogov is not the kind of organization that responds only in the face of threats.

You wouldn't know that the way some local folks operate.

Oh, and one more thing.  I made sure to thank those same people who helped me out. Publicly. Since I shone a spotlight on them by posting my photo on Facebook, it seemed only fair to give them their due.

This is the most important lesson of all. In the future, when you are given the resonsibiity of electing public servants, be they Village Board members or Maryland Delegates, I strongly urge you to find out the answer to this question: how do they treat people they need to work with to get things accomplished? A good working relationship is forged through respect and appreciation. You may achieve results through anger and intimidation some times, but it's unsustainable. 

So, choose civility in your civic undertakings. It's the smart thing to do.


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