Friday, October 21, 2011

First Time for Everything

I have been in office for 22 months now and today I had to do something that I have never done before. I had to ask a citizen to leave my office. When they wouldn't leave at my request, I had to have our security guard come and escort them out. This does not make me proud. In fact it disturbs me a little. The truth is that I rarely get angry but someone today just pushed me overboard. There are always two sides to a story. I try to be fair when I describe mine. Let me start by stating that I go out of my way to make myself extremely accessible to our citizens.
I had a call to the office from someone with issues with our water billing. This person owns rental property so I could almost predict what the issues would be. They have owned the property for seven years, they have issue now. I have heard it before. The complaint is that we charge a meter fee whether water is consumed or not. This person feels that if the water is not being used, they should not have to pay a service fee. Fair enough, but you can request to have the meter removed for a $30 fee and installed again at a later date for $30. I informed the person of this but it was not the answer that they wanted to hear. The next issue that was predictable was going to be the one where we charge the water bill to the property owner if a tenant doesn't pay the water bill. The person was somewhat confrontational. It was almost as if anything I was saying was not going to be acceptable. So I made a clear concise statement. It went something like this; "If you own rental property and it generates income then there are certain expenses associated with a business that you need to account for. If you don't want your tenants to f**k you then you need to have control of the water bill. I have a rental and I pay the bill. We factor the cost into the rent." This person was offended by my use of one of the oldest slang words in the English language. Instead of telling me that they would prefer that I refrain from using such words, they said rather confidently "I am recording this conversation."
My reaction was simple. " Really?" I said. "Then you can leave my office."
" But I have some other issues." they replied.
"You can turn off the recorder or you can leave then." I stated.
"But,but ..."
"You can turn off the recorder or you can leave then." I stated again and I believe one more time.
"I have no recorder." Came the reply.
Now this person has either just lied to me once or they have lied to me twice. My reply was "You have breached my trust, leave my office now!"
They would not leave so I had security called to escort them from city hall.

Now let me state this. I really go out of my way to be accessible. I don't judge people and I listen to what they have to say. I have no problems being recorded if you declare in advance that you wish to do so. However, when you declare in the middle of a dialogue that you are recording me because you don't like what I have to say, that tells me that you made a conscious decision in advance that you were not going to agree with my statements and that you have an agenda. Your agenda includes wanting to embarrass me at some later date for whatever purpose you wish to serve. Fortunately I have never been ashamed of anything I have ever said. Being recorded hasn't stopped me from using risque language in the past either. In fact I have been called out for using two eight letter and one five letter cuss words that were used to describe me in a comments section of the local paper last year. People know that I am real, I don't pretend to be better than anyone else and I have never been afraid to speak my mind.
So to the person in question. If I offended you, I am sorry. However your violation of my trust offended me in a more permanent way.


Mitch said...

Thank you fro your honesty, and thank you for being "real." As a member of the voting public, it is refreshing to hear someone call it as it is. Foul language or not, we are all still people, faults and all. Accept them, or lets other know what is not acceptable, but Please be honest about it.
Again, thank you for your service to the City!

Mitch K

1916home said...

Gary - Im posting this from all the way in California. If only the politicians here had the guts to be real, be accessible, make sound decisions, then my state wouldnt be in the mess its in. I applaud you for hard work and efforts.

Best Regards,