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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Waiting until Wednesday

Last Friday I sent the following email to my city councilmember:
My roommate is visually impaired -- not to the point that he needs assistance or anything like that, but enough so that it keeps him from driving. So, he walks to work every day and he doesn't mind it at all. He enjoys walking.

But ever since the first snow storm on December 8, the sidewalk on the … Street viaduct between … Street … and … Avenue have not been shoveled. So, he either has to walk in the street or avoid the viaduct and walk through neighborhoods that also aren't dug out yet either.

My roommate has called the city snow removal line and they say it is the state's responsibility. He called the state. Initially a representative told him they'd get right on it. They didn't. My roommate called back and this time they told him it was the city's responsibility.

All my roommate wants to do is be able to walk to work … Is there a way you could light a fire under somebody at either the city or state level to get the sidewalk on the viaduct shoveled (on both sides)? Anything you can do would be appreciated.
My city councilmember was quick to respond, asking one of his staffers to look into it with the intention of getting the sidewalk cleared by Monday. I was carbon-copied on several emails in which city and state personnel discussed the matter. This viaduct is on a state highway within city limits. It wasn’t hard to figure out why the viaduct hadn’t been touched. Nobody understood who was responsible.

The sidewalk wasn’t cleared over the weekend. Or on Monday. Or Tuesday.

Tuesday night, I was copied on another email in which one state worker paraphrased a state statute to a city worker saying it was the city’s responsibility if the state highway is located within city limits. That email did the trick.

My city councilmember emailed me on Wednesday to let me know the sidewalk was clear.

The truth is, sometimes you have to wait until Wednesday, even though it is a major inconvenience, and in this case, a genuine safety concern.

Life is messy. We misunderstand one another sometimes. We disagree with one another sometimes. We do stupid things to one another sometimes. But redemption really isn't all that far away.

In this case, my city councilmember -- who doesn't happen to be in the same political party as I am -- wasn't at fault, but he and his staff dug in, asked questions, got an answer, and the sidewalk on the viaduct was cleaned as a result. It wouldn't have happened without his help and I'm hoping he and his staff feel good knowing they made it easier for a citizen to get to work.


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