Thursday, July 8, 2010

I want it now

Miss V is becoming increasingly a high maintenance citizen and I make no apologies for it. Like Miss Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I want it now. The one thing I learned from working as an urban planner in other jurisdictions around the country is the people who make the most noise usually get what they want. Now Miss V isn't trying to make noise for the sake of making noise. I feel like I have very basic issues, needs, and wants.

I've noticed that other Wards have a lot of "stuff" that my Ward doesn't have. For example, find me one (just one) bike rack in Ward 7 that is not at a library or recreation center. For those of you rolling your eyes at my example, because it may be deemed a "luxury" and not a necessity, let me pose another example. Having a maintained road is a "basic" city function, right? Right now driving down my road is equivalent to off-roading. Even the strongest of stomachs will get motion sickness. I put in a 311 request over a month ago. Still not fixed, so Miss V took to tweeting DDOT. According to a tweet back from DDOT, some repairs will be done on my street in the next few weeks.

While Miss V has been putting in a lot of legwork for her community, we need more voices from the community to get what we want. Here's what YOU (as a taxpayer) can do:
  • Put in a 311 request no matter how minute the issue seems to be. You can call 311 (make sure to get the confirmation number) or go online to
  • Once your 311 request has been resolved, complete the customer satisfaction survey
  • If your 311 request has NOT been resolved in a timely fashion, follow-up with that respective agency or submit a new 311 request.
  • If you have a concern that isn't necessarily 311 related, call the respective agency and ask questions until your issues has either been resolved or addressed in some manner.
Now that you are ready to take on the DC Government to get what you want, let me give you nine tips based on my experience working in public sector and dealing with DC government workers:
  1. Always ask the name of the person to whom you are speaking with.
  2. Keep a copious record of conversations, emails, meetings etc related to your issue. Always note the date, time, and what that person said. Do NOT delete any emails until your issue has been resolved.
  3. Repeat back the information you've obtained from said government type to ensure you understand what they are saying.
  4. If follow-up is needed, ask what are the next steps and press them for when you can expect to hear back from them. In your copious notes, make sure to write down the date and time.
  5. Follow-up any face-to-face meetings and/or phone calls with an email recapping the conversation within 48 hours. Don't forget to thank them for their time.
  6. Do NOT allow agencies jerk you back and forth between agencies. Trust me, it will happen. When it does happen, send an email to contacts from both agencies, CC the director of both agencies, outline your issues, outline the discussions you've had with employees in both agencies, and request that they resolve the issue.
  7. When number 6 doesn't work, email the Councilmember that has oversight of the respective agencies, CC your respective Ward Councilmember as a courtesy, and request for them to resolve the issue.
  8. Boil your issue down to 140 characters and Tweet the respective agency. Everyone in twitter land can see your tweet. Believe me, they will respond.
  9. When all else fails there is one more tactic. Miss V can't tell you what it is because some of you may try to use it all willy-nilly. But, at least you know it exist.


  1. now c'mon, you have to share #9!

  2. If I ever have to use #9, which may be soon, you'll be the first to know. LOL.

  3. Thanks for your post. These are great tips. It really boils down to knowing your worth (and your community's worth). As a Ward 7 resident, I don't mind making some noise to ensure I receive the services my taxes pay for. Never underestimate the power of a few committed citizens. Keep up the Good work!