Thursday, December 09, 2004

Calling 311...this is supposed to be easy?

Walking home from work I realized the "dodge the broken sections of the sidewalk" stretch was a good reason to try out New York City's 311 service.

The 311 service, in case you are unfamiliar with it, is a central clearing house for information from the city. All you have to do is dial "311" on your phone and talk to a person about your problem.

So I described the situation as being "Missing and broken sidewalk blocks on Joralemon outside Brooklyn's Borough Hall right near where the Court House parking lot entrance crosses the sidewalk near the corner of Adams street."

I talked to the first person and told my story to her twice. She then transferred me to Buildings Administration who said that I got transferred to the wrong department. I told her that I was just letting the City know of the problem so that it could be fixed and that she should send the proper paperkwork to whatever city department that does this type of thing in order to have it fixed. She protested and I said deal with it as I am only a concerned citizen.

I hung up and then dialed 311 again. The guy refused to hand me over to a supervisor to look into the situation. So I told the above story again to him. He put me on hold and then looked up some ridiculous law saying the sidewalks in New York city are inspected every five years in commercial areas and that this sidewalk was suposed to be repair the sidewalk. He told me this twice.

I basically wouldn't let him speak again saying that this is a heavily travelled area and that if you were to walk the block around 5 P.M. that you would pass at least two hundred people while walking up Joralemon from Adams to Court Streets. I responded by saying that this section is not commercial it is totally institutional. How much more governmental can you get when the Borough President might walk on this sidewalk right outside his office? Bottom line, I told the guy on the phone, "this isn't rocket science," have someone sent out to assess the situation and have it repaired as soon as possible. Otherwise somebody will trip and fall and sue the city. I also added my taxes don't need to go up because of someone suing the city for a simple repair job. I then said that was it.

The guy asked "is there anything else you need to talk about" in his bureaucratic way. I said, no, just fix the sidewalk, thanks, and hung up on him.

If 311 is supposed to be easier to contact the city and get things answered and fixed, then why the run-around and idiocy. Just take my call, record my complaint on your computer and send it off to the department responsible, no need to transfer me. All you need is the location of the incident (in my case) and send someone out to look at the situation and ways to remedy the situation. But that would be too simple wouldn't it?

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