What We Got Here Is a Failure to Communicate!
Strother Martin's word never rang quite as true as they do in Geneva.
Communication! It’s what we’re all about!
We may not manufacture anything any more, but we sure as heck know how to facilitate communication. There are smart phones, instant messaging, email, texting, Twitter, robo-calls, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, and let’s not forget that tried and true traditional land line.
For better or (mostly) worse, our stream of consciousness can now literally move at the speed of light. If you’re not connected 24/7, then you’re nobody.
Unless, of course, if you’re the city of Geneva. Their motto is, “Don’t worry your pretty little head—we’ll tell you everything you need to know. Isn’t life better that way?”
Because whether it’s straying Settlers Hill methane, sticky fingered street superintendents, or the real reason for repeated multi-hour power outages, the the folks headquartered at First Street firmly believe that knowledge is power, and they aren’t about to share it.
What they don’t know won’t hurt them.
The only reason we got wind of those fascinating tidbits is the aforementioned information superhighway makes it very difficult to keep anything a secret. Just ask all those former Arab despots how well it worked out for them.
To be fair, the city, specifically City Manager Mary McKittrick, did provide somewhat of a power outage play by play on Twitter, but that specific medium is fraught with all kinds of peril.
For example, when I discussed this lack of communication with my favorite alderman, Ron Singer (sorry Craig), he referred me to “The Tweeter.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making fun of Ron—I like that appellation so much I’m gonna use it from now on—but with our median age sitting at 36, there’s bound to be a plethora of older folks who think Twitter is the sound a sparrow makes.
Not only that, but it tends to be difficult to access a social media website when your power’s out. Yes! I know! You can get tweets via text message, but only 46 percent of Genevans have the required smart phone and the other 54 percent probably think those devices are something that sasses you back.
And call me curmudgeonly, but as scintillating as McKittrick’s power outage conversation can be, I’m not willing to pay the going rate just to get those texts. While some folks might acquiesce to their teenagers’ demands for unlimited texting, I ain’t one of them.
While I’ll give Ms. McKittrick some credit for attempting to keep us informed, her first tweet didn’t come until 2.5 hours into the last blackout, by which time the police were well on their way to fielding 3,600 calls.
Considering the challenges a long-term power outage presents, the last thing the GPD needs to be doing is taking a boatload of calls.
One alternative I suggested in an ongoing Patch commentary was to have a couple of on-call Public Works Department managers come in and field the inevitable calls on the rare occasion we’re off the grid for more than an hour.
Of course, our suddenly fiscally conservative mayor’s City Council response was to say we can’t afford pay the additional cost!
Puhhhllleeeeaaasssse! The Wall Street Journal recently noted that the average private-sector professional now works at least 50 hours a week. So, you know what? When they’re too busy not stealing from us, perhaps a couple of those six-figure (pay and benefits), salaried, non-union public works managers could manage to get their butts into the office and field some phone calls.
God forbid we should have to resort to something that drastic, and thankfully, we don’t.
One alderman noted that whenever Downer’s Grove embarks upon something as simple as mosquito abatement, they inform their citizenry via robocall. If every politician on the planet can manage to issue those heinous automated commentaries, then the city of Geneva can do it to.
An even easier option—and one that I understand we’ll soon be undertaking—is to regularly update a recorded telephone message. If they have time to use Twitter, then they have time to do that too.
After all of this is said and done, to this date, no one from the city has made any public proclamation as to why we west siders are suddenly enduring three-plus hour power outages. They’d rather—literally—keep us in the dark.
Alderman Rich Marks told me the last one was the result of a feeder line problem, which really doesn’t really explain anything and only means it’s gonna happen again. We all know ComEd has no incentive to improve their infrastructure as evidenced by the facts that the first outage occurred well after the storm had passed, and the second one hit 10 minutes before the storm.
And if it is ComEd that’s screwing things up, then why not give ‘em what for right here on Patch? If our generally hyper-communicative mayor had time to run the city while blogging about his county chair campaign, then he could make even more political hay by letting the rest of us in on exactly what he’s doing to get us better electrical service.
But no! Rather than take the direct approach and nip citizen frustration in the bud with a simple step, they’d rather wait until everyone explodes during the next major outage so they can then swap stories about how unreasonable we all really are.
Perhaps our city motto outghtta be “Why make it simple when making it difficult is so much more fun!”
They could even put it out on The Tweeter.