I believe there’s usually a better way to do almost anything and, as a business person, well understand the value of customer complaints as a tool for driving improvement.

Complaints are like canaries in the coal mine alerting you to developing negative conditions – many organizations, though, would rather kill the canary than respond to their plaint.

In 2005, then Town Manager Cal Horton, made sure that the candidates for office were tied into Council’s information stream. This included citizen mail, status reports, early agenda items and advisory board work product.

After the 2005 election, I asked Council to make this information available to the wider public. In spite of professing an interest in transparent governance, the majority of Council decided not to expose our residents to citizen complaints or alert folks early to developing policy problems.

The Chapel Hill Police Department reports that last night’s Halloween bash, attended by 82,000 folks, went fairly well – at least based on the numbers:

Simple Affray(4),Assault on a Female (1),Simple Assault(2),Drunk and Disruptive(3),Assault on an EMS(1),Disorderly Conduct(1),Assault on an LEO(2),Resist and Delay(3),Failure to Disperse(1).

Orange County Emergency Medical Services responded to thirty-one calls and eight people were transported to UNC Hospitals. Twenty-one of the calls were related to intoxication.

Sounds good but not everyone was happy about our Town’s effectiveness:

The control on our street, NORTH STREET off Hillsborough tonight was ridiculous! By 10PM, the street was filled with cars that didn’t belong here. I spoke with the “traffic control” people and they said “…nobody told us anything…”. They let anyone down the street to park who asked them to, they had no cones until they found some up near Rosemary Street, and had no clue what they were supposed to do. This is the most ridiculous traffic control during Halloween I have ever seen. Someone at the Town needs to take control of this Halloween disaster and protect the neighborhoods from the thousands who invade the Town each year.

There is no reason to spend this much tax money on an event and NOT
protect the people who live here!

Now, we could look at this an isolated complaint, be comfortable with the overall numbers and not investigate any further OR we could look at this as an opportunity to do better next year.

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