My Nov. 21 column about insensitive, unresponsive public officials earned the following emails:
From Gipper1: I happen to be a public servant who takes offense to your column regarding “public servants need to do a lot more serving.”
I work in the department of San Bernardino County that takes the complaint phone calls for health and safety issues which is the Code Enforcement Division of Land Use Services Department.
Before something like this is written I guess it is not necessary to get both sides of the story?
I have worked in public service for over 18 years and the last few years with the county. The public never feels that we do enough, fast enough and that we are their servants, therefore they can say anything, anyway they would like to us.
It is daily that we get yelled at, cursed at, belittled and stomped on and yes we do have to take it because yes, we are public servants. The public expects to call and we will respond without due process. Believe it or not there is a process that we must follow because everyone has rights.
I know my job is important and I know that the staff in my office understands our importance. We are concerned with the health and safety of the community. We would love to run out and take care of things immediately—we know there is no excuse but we must follow the rules.
I am very disheartened that we are never portrayed as important in the community, only that we are lazy and unresponsive. I would like you or a member of the public to sit with us for a day and see how we are treated. It’s not good and it’s sad that ‘servant’ means jump when I say jump whether it’s something I can do or not do.
I will continue to do my job to the best of my ability giving my 100% to the communities that I love whether the public feels this is true or not.
I just wish that things like this didn’t have to be the highlight of the Sunday Sun Newspaper.
From Dennis Bell: Greetings, there IS an “insidious virus” that afflicts public servants at all government levels: it’s called laziness and having job protection from demotion and firing. That’s why good people who work for government leave. I know, I used to work for San Bernardino County.
From Ken DeHart: Your article was right on and I hope these public servants take heed.
To date I have sent e-mails to the city council, the mayor, city administrator and his assistant, the director of development services, the supervisor of code enforcement and city clerk and haven’t heard a word back from any of them.
Friday I sent another e-mail to my congressman regarding a property that I reported last March, that was in violation of our local RMC and no response thus far. I have been trying to get updates on this property, but only get BS from our local code enforcement. It’s now Oct and this property remains in violation. The last update I requested from code enforcement was last week — NO REPLY. I am very tired of being ignored by these self-centered morons.
Is there a source that you know of where complaints can be sent regarding these slackers?
Thanks for writing the article. Who knows, it may have done some good.
From Michael Young: I read your article on Public Servants this morning and I must say, you seem to be a tad upset.
Good for you, so am I. Although I don’t have many opportunities to contact public servants, those few times I have, were not encouraging. Here is an example of one.
I was recently given a “fix it ticket” . I was working in my office on a Sunday morning As I left around 10:00 am, I hadn’t gone a block when I was pulled over by one of Beaumont’s finest. I had pulled into a shopping area instead of parking on the street.
I don’t have a lot experience with police procedure but apparently I did a no-no by stepping out of my car. The officer (very young) yelled at me to get back in my car. Now I’m not an expert on profiling but my guess is that a white male over 50, short gray hair and no beard in a late model car, is not exactly a model of anarchy. What prompted his overly energetic response beats me.
He asked me for my registration, proof of insurance and D.L. I responded with Ok, but you first, why did you pull me over? We volleyed this back and forth a couple times and he finally tells me, I have a tail light out. I respond that couldn’t be possible since I didn’t have my headlights on, nor was there a need to have them on. I knew what he meant, but I couldn’t resist the response after his rudeness.
He stuttered a little and corrected himself by telling me it was a brake light. Really, I said, which one? He replied, the right one, I think. Naturally, again I couldn’t resist, so I remarked “you think?”
The whole time we are exchanging barbs, he is writing. When he presented me with the ticket, I asked him, couldn’t you just tell me about it instead of writing up an infraction. His response was, “he was doing his job.”
Again I couldn’t resist. This guy was leaving himself wide open. Yeah, I said, I can see how this would endanger the public, and you are here to serve and protect, right ? I also asked him, how could I possibly know a brake light was out unless someone told me about it? Since this was a company car which he knew at this point, I guaranteed it would be fixed promptly.
All this dialogue was useless, he was determined to write it up.
Here’s the kicker. I went directly to an auto parts store, purchased the bulb and went home to repair it myself. I returned to the Beaumont police station on Tuesday the following week, to have it signed off. I then went directly to the Banning court to submit the signed-off ticket.
First off, there is a $10.00 processing fee, even for a non-moving violation ! This is ridiculous. I’m already paying for this guy’s salary. What would he be doing if I didn’t have a ticket for him to file?
Oh yeah, guess what, I can’t even pay the illegal $10.00 (tax), because my violation isn’t even in the system yet. What a crock! If my actions were so outrageous that a ticket had to be written and society protected from my presence, you would think they could record it in a timely manner.
I was told to come back in another week, and it would be on file. They’ve actually given me a month before my court date to have the repair done. Can you imagine, here’s a violator of undetermined danger roaming around our highways and byways with a burnt tail light. This is so severe, surely we must record this infraction and collect a fee.
The monetary value isn’t going to break me. My issue is the principal. How can they arbitrarily assess a fee when the state doesn’t require a fine? With modern computers available, why would it take a week to get the information to the court? Not only is there the cost to me ($10.00 ) but now they’re telling me I must reschedule my life to fit their calendar!
Like I said, I don’t have many if any contacts with public servants. However, this situation just seemed to be so consistent with the bureaucratic ineptness we often hear about.
Besides that, if you had time to read this, you might get a chuckle out of it. It’s all true.