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Archive for June, 2014

pisa

Well, with a title like that, I’m sure that a few of you are expecting me to swing for the fences about the new City of Brookhaven.  Sorry to disappoint, but it’s really too soon for that stuff, but it is not too soon to talk about something called “SeeClickFix“, a website that our new City utilizes.

The concept of SeeClickFix is good enough that the City has chosen it as a primary method for the citizens of the lovely City of Brookhaven to contact their public officials with issues such as potholes, missing stop signs and uncollected trash.

The premise is simple.  You log on (there’s an app of course), photograph the problem, with your phone picking up the GPS coordinates.  City officials read these reports every morning, notify the appropriate departments, post a notice that the complaint has been received and, when the problem has been fixed, post another comment stating that the work has been completed.

It’s all very transparent, the big buzzword of today.  If you’re a politician, it’s important to work transparent into your political spiel, because it sounds so, well, open and above board.  It is now one of the most overworked words in our language, right behind awesome.

Suit yourself, but there are times when I would really not like hearing about some things.  And, SeeClickFix is starting to hedge into that territory.  Consider this scenario from the old days in some rural Southern town:

  • Back in the day down at the mayor’s office in City Hall, the staff would come in on Monday morning, refreshed from a relaxing weekend.  But there was a sense of impending dread in the air, because Monday morning also meant a ritual phone call from Miss Augusta Talmadge.  Miss Gussie was quite predictable, in a Southern kind of way, and after a long weekend of stewing about a local infrastructure issue, she was compelled to contact the mayor. Each and every Monday.  Miss Gussie’s Morning Wakeup Call was anticipated with cold enthusiasm.  The staff would draw straws, or pull seniority, as to who would receive the often lengthy telephone communication.  For example, she would be upset at her neighbor’s method of pruning his crape myrtles. (and, those out there who know the term crape murder know what I’m talking about).  After a few tortuous minutes, Miss Gussie would run out of steam and all would be right with the world until next Monday.

Now, of course, Miss Talmadge has a computer and a smartphone and uses SeeClickFix.  Where before, only a select few knew that Miss Gussie was the Town Crank, now everybody does.  That’s transparency.

While SeeClickFix has noble intentions, it also has a dark side where neighbors get into firefights over local issues.  It also has the prospect of trivializing things.  Consider this posted complaint from the northern end of the City of Brookhaven:

  • At sundown each night, giant cockroaches come streaming out of the sewer through the manhole cover in center of cul-de-sac.

Well, I could not resist responding with “Welcome to the southern United States.”  I can only imagine what will happen when this person goes to New Orleans some day, where the cockroaches have their own floats during Mardi Gras.

That said, SeeClickFix suffers from the same problem that pervades social media.  Everything becomes trivialized.  Things seem to inevitably wind down to Jerry Springer.

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But the more insidious part of SeeClickFix is that it establishes and reinforces the notion that only government can solve your problems.

In the early days of the campaign to form the City of Brookhaven, some political hay was made when an individual was going around and patching potholes that DeKalb County was supposed to be repairing.  The County was embarrassed, of course.  And the political point was made.

Now, when you have a problem, you just go to SeeClickFix.

 

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